At midnight I got in a car with two Vietnamese women I had met on the internet. Sixty kilometers later I was swapping trousers with the taxi driver……meanwhile back in Indonesia.
Blimey! Where did the months go?? Bali, that’s where. After getting a ferry to Bali and arriving in the middle of the night during a storm which had caused a power cut I was unable to see any hotel signs as the lights were out. I sailed straight past the street with all the hotels on and as the rain poured down I took shelter under the roof of a shop front. The owners let me put my tent up on the porch and I headed towards Candidasa the next day. I found a bungalow on the beach and a visiting massage lady who charged £2.50 an hour and there I stayed. Three weeks later I moved 20 metres up the beach , lost the use of the pool but gained one extra meal a day and a cheaper rental. I also lost the services of Putu my massage lady. This turned out to be a “blessing in the sky” as the new massage lady took a shine to me and was happy for the company and supplied her services for free. Needless to say I stayed there a while and occasionally took the odd day trip on a moped I hired. Not a lot of cycling got done.
The world cup started and although I had a TV in my room the signal was so bad it was like watching Argentina ’78. England went out in typical pathetic style and the real business of getting my snorkel on could take place with a decent nights sleep.
It was only because my visa ran out that I decided to leave. The plan was to head back to the UK on July 30th flying out of KL, so I found an amazingly kind man on http://www.warmshowers.org who let me store my bike at his house in Kuala Lumpur . I then spent my remaining weeks flitting between my old residence in Bukit Bintang in KL and Peter’s house between BB and the airport.
As the days passed my need to be back in the UK was not so urgent. A quick enquiry to the Vietnam Airlines office told me I could change my ticket for 100rm. So now I’m hanging around Malaysia for another 6 weeks.
Being a lone traveller and a single guy and enjoying the company of a lady now and then I was intrigued when a guest at the hotel told me about an app called Wechat. For those that don’t know it’s a bit like Whatsapp and Viber. For those that still have no idea what I’m going on about it’s a bit like sending a text message but with lots more possibilities and it’s free. The guest had told me how many girlfriends he had because of wechat and I was intrigued to see what he meant and also what his idea of a girlfriend was? The thing that makes wechat interesting is that it tells you who else is using it nearby. Set the search to “female” and up pops a list of females within a 1000 metres. Usually a photo is next to the name and also a little introduction of a few words. Fifty percent of these are in Malay or Chinese. A considerable amount are older ladies who will tell you they are married or given to Allah and they are just seeking friendship. The rest tends to be local prostitutes and shemales offering a good time. Then you have the guys who have put their status as female. Some are gay and some it seems are just desperate to make a friend and they know that other guys will be searching females. Very occasionally there is a woman who is not a prostitute , a man, a man that wants to be a woman or a woman that is taken by her husband or god. I wasn’t impressed and deleted the app straight away. A week later someone I got chatting to over lunch asked if I used wechat as they wanted to stay in touch so I reinstalled it. Curiosity got the better of me one night whilst drinking Japanese single malt into the daylight hours with a few expats who had just arrived from Tokyo. When I woke up the next day I had various replies from people I don’t remember contacting and realised how much booze I must have drunk. I went back to sleep and forgot about it.
A few days later around 3am a Vietnamese woman contacted me asking if I was awake. I was and we started chatting. Looking at the chat history I could see she was one of the people I contacted whilst getting Japanesey. One thing lead to another and I thought she was inviting me over for a nightcap, because of slight language difficulties I decided to cut to the chase as I was a bit tired. I asked her if she wanted me to come to her hotel? This received an embarrassed response and the grey area was now clearly white. We said good night and I went to sleep. Clearly bored and awake she just wanted someone to talk to . I thought no more of it. A couple of days passed and at 10pm “Che” calls me again. Asks me what I’m up to etc. I suggest we go out for dinner and she says she would love to but needs to call me back later. If there is one thing that I’ve learnt from my time in Indonesia and Malaysia it’s that people and especially women love to arrange to meet up and have absolutely no intention of doing it. Now that I’m used to this I take no notice what so ever when someone arranges some sort of meeting. So once Che had gone I forgot about our dinner plan. Thirty minutes later she contacts me again and explains that she is sorry but can’t make it. It barely registered with me and I went back to watching my movie. One hour later she’s back chatting. She tells me to call her on a number, she wants to go out. I phone her and she tells me her and her friend want to go to the casino in Genting Highlands.
This starts the alarm bells ringing as now money is involved. Random woman in cyberspace wants me to go with her to the casino sixty kilometres away, ummm. So I start to make some excuses. First off I point out that I don’t have any trousers which is actually true. I sent all of my clothes home or gave them away thinking I would need to make the weight limit for the plane. Che assures me this wont be a problem. Then I go to my de-facto line for testing anyone to see if they are just after cash. I explain my ATM card has been eaten by the machine and I only have a small amount of money until the new card arrives. Che says its not a problem, she just wants some company whilst her friend plays the tables. They will pay for the taxi and don’t worry about money. I’m still suspicious but what have I got to lose. So I get ready in my shorts, take 90rm (£18) with me and meet their taxi outside. The girls are in fine mood, a little drunk and me and Che cuddly up on the back seat whilst her friend is flirting with the Malaysian taxi driver. The casino is in Genting Highlands miles from KL and it takes about an hour to get there. As we go I get to see the huge gold Buddha at Batu caves which I have been meaning to visit and so I already consider the night a success. I joke with the girls that I’m half expecting to wake up in a bath of ice with some of my organs missing. We arrive at the casino after an hilarious drive up to the top of Genting Highlands which sees me and Che rolling about from one side of the car to the other as the driver navigates the hairpins.
Of course as expected as soon as I try to walk into the casino the security guards point to the sign reminding patrons of the dress code. Red shorts with penny farthings on them are not considered appropriate. The girls are unphazed and we ask if their are any shops still open. By now it’s past midnight and everything is shut. Then Che phones the taxi driver who is waiting for us to take us back when we have finished, she convinces him to swap trousers with me. We go back outside and me and the driver swap clothes in the car park! I’m quite a bit bigger than him, the trousers are a 32” which I definitely could have got into after some heavy months of cycling but the dim sum and stout and lack of exercise have seen a few lbs added. If I don’t do them up I can get in them and try to ignore the fact they nearly come up to my knees. We go back through the maze of 5 star hotel and posh shops back to the casino , the guards give us a smile and let us through.
Che’s friend goes straight to the electronic roulette tables and starts piling in cash. We go for a walk around and Che sits down to play blackjack. I go off for a walk in this huge casino and see what there is to see. I’m not too keen on spending any money as I still have a sneeky feeling I might be going home on my own at some point. I find some fruit machines that are 2c a play. I ask one of the security guys about something and he tells me I need my passport or some ID in order to cash out if I win anything. Apart from 90rm I have nothing on me except my phone. I deliberately left everything at home. I go and find Che and she’s lost all her money without even winning a hand. We go off to the cafeteria restaurant and I end up buying us food as the card terminal is broken and che wants to pay with plastic. So far so good, a fun random evening and I’ve still got most of my money left and all my vital organs. We go back to see how her friend is doing and I have a quick go on one of the roulette tables. I win so have another few plays and come away with 100rm more than what I came out with. I’m happy with that and we call the taxi and go to leave.
On the way back home more cuddles in the back until halfway down the hills and Che starts to feel sick, we have to pull over so she can get rid of the plastic bag. She goes to sleep on my shoulder and we arrive back at my hotel. She asks If she will see me again tomorrow and I say sure give us a call.
It’s now 5am and Khalid on reception wants to know where I’ve been. I give him a quick rundown on the story and he tells me to be careful.
Next day I send Che some messages to arrange to meet up for dinner but I’ve been blocked I don’t get any response. I try the phone number and again nothing. So what’s it all about??
Of course it could be a genuine situation and my company just wasn’t what they wanted for a second night. But after talking to a few people it seems the scam probably goes like this.
The casino pays for girls to bring in men to gamble at the casino. If the girls think the guys will spend big they will go to any lengths to get them to the casino. Sometimes over the course of a few days if they can’t get them to come or to spend big the first night. Was I being tried to see if I would come again once I had some money. I mean I told them up front I didn’t have any cash. Who knows.? A lucky escape or just plane jilted…who cares, it was a good night out. It’s nice to know the adventures are still happening even when I’m not on the bicycle.
Having had some adventurous fun I decided to move neighbourhoods. From a road full of prostitutes , she-males and massage parlours with happy endings to a road full of family run brothels, massage parlours operated by blind people and lots of Indians. Let the vegetarian feast begin :)