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Being in the know is a big part of self-preservation.

I never take the local advice for granted. It’s usually earned and worth paying attention to.

Behind my hotel is a lane with a coffee shop.

It leads to the back of a Malay coffee house that has its back doors open to the public.

So even on my side of the street, it’s potentially dangerous.

The riff-raff can and do make a quick escape that way.

They won’t be going through the back exit of the Chinese Coffee House, though, it’s shut for seven days over the Chinese New Year.

The fireworks have begun and scared the shit out me. Terrorism flashbacks and all that jazz.

There’s a promotion going on at the local laundry says the owner of the iconic short time shag hotel.

‘Only two of the rooms are reserved for that,’ says the owner. They are on the reception floor. The walls are painted white and the white Formica counter is minimal, and behind it are a few certificates and a simple price list for drinks in bold stencil font.

I’ll be hitting the laundry tonight with one of the staff who will wash the hotel sheets. I’ve got a few crusty T-shirts to wash and dry too.

An old Malay couple checks out of the two-hour shag room. She’s gotta be in her sixties, and Bang (uncle)  isn’t any younger. Good on her, I tell the owner, that she’s still shagging at her age.

He says a tourist was around the back of the hotel at the Malay warung where I had a milky tea just the other day when a drunk Malay came up to him.

‘He was a big guy like you. And the Malay asked if he could take a selfie with him.’

When the white tourist agreed, the Malay pulled out a curved knife and slit his face, ‘from his mouth to his ear.’

Did the guy manage to steal anything?

‘Only his camera.’

He says the problem is that most offenders usually know someone in the police force so no one ever gets arrested.

I said it sounds like a familiar tale.

He warns me not to walk at night on the promenade, ‘east of the Brooke monument. Too many drunk Malays who love nothing more than stealing then knifing a tourist.’

I had been loitering around there for the last few days.  I was wondering why I received hostile looks. I told him how I saw a Malay guy sitting at a table with three women, and how he gave me hostile glances when I said a cherry ‘g’day’ to the girls.

‘He had three chicks with him and he still wasn’t happy,’ I said. Party pooper big time.

He says another friend of his was knifed in the gut in the alleyway that my hotel room faces.

‘He died with his intestines on the pavement.’

I tell myself, don’t get paranoid.

I tell him I have experience with fat Indians on the mainland.

‘But you can never be too careful.’ he says.

Too right.

I noticed that there are many budget hotels near ‘cut-throat’ alley.

It’ a criminal paradise, easy to avoid being detected and with access to rich Western tourists, it’s the ideal criminal lair I’ll be avoiding, thank you very much.

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