18th - 23rd October - The black jack scam, Singapore
After sorting out my memory card, i walked around the shopping mall in search of boxer shorts, i bought 2 pairs yeterday, supposedly large, turned out to be for a large action man (no jokes about the lack of genitals please!), the ones from the department store said 31-33 inch waist, thought they would be safe, but no, I am now singing surprano! A local woman asked me the time and started talking to me and as i had bugger all to do i agreed to meet her family. It was supposedly her brothers house, her cousin prepared some nice food which i ate and then her brother, a card dealer at a casino showed me some tricks. His slight of hand was amazing, no matter how much he or i shuffled he could always turn exactly the cards he wanted. He told me about a bloke from Dubai who would be coming round later who had stitched him up by saying he would give him a percentage of his winnings and then giving him much less the previous night. He said i could play the Dubai bloke at black jack with him as dealer making sure i got the right cards and he'd take a cut of the winnings, it was fool proof but i didn't like it and all of a sudden the guy turned up for a game. The brother had given me 200 dollars to play with, which i must have doubled 4 times in 4 hands, at which point, on cue i said the next game would be my last. I had 21 so couldn't lose, the dealer was signalling that the guy had 20, but he raised the stakes to 50,000 dollars (which he placed on the table) but requested to see some proof that i could cover my losses if i had to. The dealer asked if i had a credit card or travellers cheques or something, my credit card was in my money belt and although i knew i couldn't lose the game, i wondered what would happen once i took the card out, so I claimed not to have any money at all, my travellers cheques are at the hotel, the dealer asked how much (to which I was very vague) and the game was declared void and I was driven to where i wanted to go (shitting myself the whole way). I went to the Petronas towers, at 84 storeys high they claim it was the tallest but is now second, but they only take us as high as the 42nd floor skywalk between the towers. That night my KFC food poisoning set in with fever and bad stomach and little sleep. The morning bus to Mersing started ok but by the end i had a headache and was dehydrated. The Mersing heat was unbearable so I checked into an empty dorm room in the East Coast Hotel and laid on my bed, read 'First they killed my Father' (I recommend you read it)and slept. I forced myself to eat a few mouthfuls of Pakora in the evening (my only meal of the day), went to an internet cafe, sat down, farted and left very quickly. One pair of my new tiny pants straight in the bin!
The next day started bad but after a while in the toilet i was feeling better. I took a boat to Tioman island, Salang resort and checked in to a very dingy chalet with mosquitos and ants running riot. It's only 10 metres from the sea when the tide is in though so i sleep well listening to the sound of the waves while insects feed on me. Malaysia is currently covered by a thick haze caused by deliberate forest fires in Indonesia, this happens every year and stays for maybe a month until the monsoon washes it away. The sun still manages to burn its way through though and the beach is very nice despite the onslaught of sand flies biting my feet. There are loads of chinese and indians here on holiday and because of some indian festival there are bangers going off at all times of day and night on the beach or in the street without any warning - it's lucky my stomach has hardened up or this may have caused another accident!
My four days here were spent reading on the beach and scuba diving. It felt good to be back in the water after 3 months and we did some excellent dives in groups of 3 or 4 off of a small boat. I saw my first turtle amongst many other things but the best dive was like an adventure playground of rocks and coral - it took a good bit of buoyancy control to get through all the narrow gaps and through the tunnels especially as there was a bit of surge to contend with - my best dive ever, having now done 14.
Unfortunately, as this is low season, there isn't too much to do in the evenings; there are a couple of restaurants but my appetite has not fully recovered yet and there is one bar. I did manage to watch the Liverpool v Man U game in an internet cafe where the local lads all cheered for Man U who won 2-0. I finished 'first they killed my father' and also 'the sorrow of war' which is a very dark and depressing fiction.
On my final day, i did a wreck dive which turned out to be not as exciting as I had expected, took a boat back to Mersing and tried to bring forward my Melbourne flight so that I could be there for the weekend, but it isn't possible so now I am wondering how to kill a few days.