I have traveled to Malaysia on a number of occasions, yet it has yet to figure in the Pickledeel. No doubt to the disappointment of PJK Tan at the Malaysian Travel Guide – I told him I would have something up here much earlier than this. The rolling palm oil plantations, the seafood, the highlands, the remarkable new government city built on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur are all the normal highlights for a visitor to this country. And if you are looking for that sort of thing the city centre offers any number of genteel clubs and pubs with sufficient vibrancy to have you forget you are in a Muslim country. Saudi Arabia it is NOT!
Three of us decided we should avoid the city centre and would have a meal and drink in a local bar on the outskirts of town. The evening started out sensibly enough. We found a quiet bar, had some fish curry and a jug of beer. For a couple of hours we were squeezed into a corner of rowdy locals enjoying the evening but the food and drink were kept up to us and we felt very relaxed. It took us a while (the beer might have had something to do with the slow reflexes) but we eventually twigged to the gradual dimming of the lights which had been happening for about an hour, and the concurrent increase in the volume of music. By midnight we could barely see each other in the flashing coloured light and conversation had ceased altogether. Then the fun started.
She was slightly built and very attractive. Actually all three of them were – as best we could tell in the dark. In tight jeans and tank tops. As she perched on my knee and leaned inwards she pressed the top of her jeans into my side. I was slow (stupefied?) and I could not work out for a moment or two what she was trying to ask with her raised eyebrows and shy smile. That was partly because I was also trying to comprehend the meaning of the marble sized shape that was in the fob pocket of her jeans and which was pressing into my side. It turned out my colleagues (both long term Malaysian residents I hasten to add) were as equally mystified by the hard marble in the fob pockets of their new friends. Suddenly it dawned on me what she was offering.
Clearing the chair, paying the bill and getting to the sidewalk took only seconds, colleagues close on my heel. On the sidewalk, if one cared to look, there were small ruptured pieces of latex – like small broken balloons. I knew these were broken containers of drugs and it had suddenly dawned on me that the reason a pretty girl wanted to sit on my knee had nothing to do with how handsome I was (it never is) and everything to do with her attempt to sell me drugs. Deflated ego is better than broken neck – they hang Australians (and others) in Malaysia for messing with dadah!!
When I explained to my colleagues why I had scampered post haste from our cosy corner they whistled in surprise. As payment for being so dull I left them to deal with the cute pusher (she looked even better in the street lights) who had rushed out onto the street after me, in tears professing undying love and affection at the top of her voice while I tried not to break into a run as I made for the car. The last thing I needed was her supplier thinking I was dodging a deal. Needless to say drinking holes in Malaysia have been less risky (and far more prosaic) on my subsequent visits to the country.