A few years ago I went on an epic journey through China, Malaysia and Brunei. I almost fell off the Great Wall, got into a fight with violent Hong Kong kung-fuists and passed out under more palm trees than you’ve had hot dinners. When the proud people of these wonderful Oriental nations finally decided they’d had enough of me and sent me back to Australia, I got some bloke with a pencil to draw up a few comic strips about my wacky adventures. They appeared in wank rag The Picture and really captured what the Drunk and Jobless World Tour is all about. Enjoy my rice wine-soaked awesomeness in animated form. I’m like a fucking Marvel superhero, so go fuck yourself Chris Hemsworth!
I’m 10,000 metres about the earth, with endless darkness outside my window and an overweight Malaysian dude drooling onto the lapel of his Hawaiian shirt next to me. My holiday is over, and it’s time to head home and face the real world.
Fortunately, my last day in Asia provided all the drama and excitement that I could hope for, which is why I’m currently so tired I can barely lift my can of beer to my lips. With a boat taking me back the Malaysian mainland at midday, I headed out for one final snorkel in the delightful ocean. All I wanted to see was a turtle. Just one. They’re all over the place in the Perhentian Islands, but in three days I hadn’t seen one. I splashed around, chasing fish and savouring every minute of my time in that underwater kingdom, but there were no turtles. Finally, reluctantly, it was time to head back to shore and pack my bags.
And there it was.
Centimetres from me was a giant sea turtle, elegantly soaring through the water while I stared in amazement. I just stopped, treading water while I soaked in the beauty of this incredible creature. As the turtle swam further out into the blue, I paddled alongside her, diving deeper into the ocean, not wanting to lose her. I finally had to let her go, and she disappeared into the deep while I reluctantly returned to shore.
I dragged my bags out into the sun and waited for my ride back to reality. And waited. Turns out they forgot all about me, and a special water taxi had to be called so that I could actually start my journey back to Australia. When it finally arrived, there was a pretty Japanese girl in it. Her name was Anri, and she’d also been forgotten by the ferry, so we travelled back to the mainland together, struggling with the language barrier as we both tried to come to terms with our holidays ending. We shared a taxi back to the airport, then caught the same plane back to Kuala Lumpur, where we both faced a few hours of waiting around for planes in opposite directions.
We had time to get to know each other. We shared photos of our families, talked about what we’d seen and what we had to go back to. She was off to teach scuba diving courses in Thailand, which I thought sounded a lot better than writing about tits in a cold office in Sydney. We held hands, an innocent act that meant so much. Anri couldn’t even pronounce my name, but when it came time for her to catch her plane, I farewelled her with sadness. I wish I’d kissed her as she left for her flight, but I didn’t.
In six or so hours, we had a complete relationship – from meeting each other, to being introduced to the family, to breaking up. In some ways, it was the best relationship I’ve had, one without the inevitable fighting and sadness. And it was the perfect ending to a great holiday.
And now here I am, fighting the need to sleep and cradling a warm can of Heineken. The Great Wall of China and the Petronas Towers are behind me. Cled and the Chinese bloke who liked Norm Peterson from Cheers and the dude in Guilin who rooted the dog are nothing but memories. It’s been an incredible experience, one full of wonder and excitement and adventure. It’s been my first solo trip overseas and I’ve grown so much. I grew up thinking I could barely go to the shops by myself, and here I am, coming home from a month in Asia on my Pat Malone.
Travelling can never be simple for me. If everything went to schedule I’d be catching a taxi to the airport, a plane back to Kuala Lumpur, another plane to Kota Bharu on Malaysia’s west coast, a taxi to a tiny little town called Kuala Besut, and then a boat out to the beautiful Perhentian Islands. But there was a possible problem between me and the final destination of my adventure – the time between landing in KL and jumping on the next flight was a slim 95 minutes and if anything went wrong there, I could say goodbye to a one of my three nights on the islands. Even Clementine Ford’s bedsprings aren’t under that much pressure.
I got my shit together and walked out of my room, and was shocked to see a huge pile of garbage opposite my door. As I walked past, fuck me, one of the bags moved! When I looked closer, it wasn’t a black plastic bag full of garbage at all, it was a black plastic bag full of sweaty, naked Cled. For some reason he was wearing the bag as a sort of one-piece suit and was hiding in amongst the rubbish, doing his best to not be seen.
“Cled, mate, what’s the deal with your clobber?” I asked, and he pretended like he’d just seen me.
“Oh, this? Everyone’s wearing garbage bags this season,” he swanned, then blushed.
“That’s a load of crap, what’s the real story?”
“Alright, but keep this on the down-low. The girls,” and as he said this, he raised his hands, “wanted a bit of public sex. You know how kinky chicks can get. So I took them out and we had a saucy threesome in the lift.”
“Alright, and then what happened?”
“Well, my body may be beautiful and sensual and covered in a fine layer of fur, but it doesn’t have any pockets to put keys in, so I was locked out of my room.”
“So you decided to climb into a dirty garbage bag and sit in a pile of rubbish?”
“I figured the cleaners would be around at some point, and when they opened the door I could sneak in like nothing happened.”
“Oh yeah, there’s nothing as inconspicuous as an obese American climbing buck-naked out of a fucking garbage bag.”
“Glad you agree, buddy.”
“See ya, Cled.”
“Oh, you’re going? Have a safe trip.” With that, he stood up and a gentle breeze lifted the bottom of his bag dress, exposing the tiniest, hairiest little cock the world has ever been cursed with. He chucked out a hand, and I politely declined. Shit, I almost cut my hand off after touching him the first time, so I didn’t need to do it again.
I mate it to the airport alright, but or some absolutely batshit crazy reason the good people of Brunei don’t use scanners to check carry-on luggage before the flight. Instead, they had two or three little blokes who would open up ever pocket of every bag and rifle through it. And they were slower than a retarded turtle. The woman who checked my bag grabbed a pair of my undies and gave me a big smile, but I wasn’t in any mood for returning the grin, and it wasn’t just because of the skidmarks.
I made it onto the plane, took my seat and waited while the other passengers s l o w l y filed in. Our departure time came and went, and still people were climbing on. Ten minutes late… 15… 20. Finally, 22 minutes after we were supposed to have pissed off, the doors closed and we started moving off. Crap.
As you can guess, it wasn’t a particularly fun trip. For the next hour, I was on the edge of my sleep like a bloke with haemorrhoids. We landed, I pushed my way through the other passengers and sprinted the 2km to the baggage terminal, dodging fatties and diving past strollers and champions in wheelchairs. I cleared customs in seconds, got my bag without too much trouble, and blazed my way to the other side of the airport to check-in. Tick, tock, the clock counted down. With only minutes till check-in closed, I made it to the counter…where a dozen fat, useless pricks were flobbing around in front of me. To make it worse, another half-dozen chubsters pushed in front of me, claiming they were there with some prick in front of me. I told them to get fucked. Tick, tock, tick, tock.
The check-in time passed. I’d missed my flight. I wouldn’t make it to Kuala Besut in time for the last boat. I’d be stuck in a rubbish little town for the night rather than a beautiful island paradise. I might even get raped. And all because of the incompetence and selfishness of others.
And then an angel appeared. A spunky young chick walked over and asked if anyone desperately needed to check in, and then took me to an emergency counter. I handed over my details, and the girl smiled. Hoo-fucken-ray, I made it onto the plane just as it was about to taxi out! I didn’t get the spunky young chick’s name, but ya can’t win ’em all.
With that out of the way, the flight was relaxing, and before long I was in delightful Kota Bharu. I say it’s delightful, but I wouldn’t have a clue, because I jumped in a cab and pointed him towards the village of Besut, an hour south. As the towns and villages rolled past, I was obvious the eastern side of the island is very different from the west. Almost everybody was in traditional islamic dress and mosques decorated the skyline.
I’d heard that Kuala Besut was a boring little nothing place that was only worth staying at if you missed the last boat to the islands, and they weren’t wrong. I had a decent amount of time to kill there till I set sail, and after five minutes I was bored out of my skull. There’s one main road with a handful of shops, a couple of deserted side streets, a polluted beach and… that’s it. There wasn’t even an ATM, which was kind of shitty since I knew there wouldn’t be one on the Perhentians, and I barely had enough dosh in my wallet to pay for my accommodation and food. Shit.
The boat finally rocked up, I dragged my suitcase onto it, and we set out into the blue. And, as we drew close to the Perhentians, it was astonishingly beautiful. I’ve been to Thailand, Vietnam and Newcastle, but nothing could prepare me for the unspeakable glory of these islands. Rainforest-covered mountains climbed out of crystal-clear water before my eyes. Thousands of fish danced below me, while cute little huts hugged the beach, with just a smattering of suntanned visitors wandering along the sand or snorkeling. It was like a computer screensaver come to life, but I definitely wasn’t sitting at my desk.
The little boat dropped off a handful of people at different beaches, and then we puttered along to Petani Beach, which was perhaps the most wonderful of them all. At the eastern end a dozen bright red bungalows ran up the hill and disappeared into the forest. In the middle sat six tiny, rustic huts that looked like they’d been washed up in the last high tide – my accommodation. Not a person was to be seen, and it was exactly what I’d hoped it would be. It was, in a word, paradise.
The captain of the boat honked his horn and a little Malaysian dude came rushing out of one of the huts. He dived into a dinghy and came out to meet us, and I carefully stepped into his ride, making sure not to fall into the bright blue ocean beneath me.
He introduced himself as Ebu, and after a short but fun blast, I was dragging my can-filled suitcase along the most wonderful beach I’d ever seen.
I walked into a hut that looked like it must’ve been the front office, and was appalled to see a bloke choking the chicken in his living room. What, no, don’t have such a dirty mind! He wasn’t masturbating, he was actually choking a chicken so he could cook it for his dinner. After Ebu raced over to tell me I’d just wandered into some strangers house uninvited, he led me to my room and handed me a towel and a snorkel set. No key, but then a key wouldn’t be much use when my door didn’t have a lock on it.
Wasting no time, I changed into my boardies and raced the 15m to the beach, then dived into the water. It was wonderfully warm, and incredibly relaxing after a long day of travelling, but I wasn’t here to splash around like a downie in a bath, I was here to see some fish! And shit, did I see some fish! Just a few metres from the shore was a reef that was absolutely crawling with thousands upon thousands of the scaly little bastards. There were clown fish, blue fish… ah, red fish. I even saw a sea cucumber, but enough about my penis.
Life under the surface of the water was every bit as wondrous as the mountains and beaches that rose above it, but far, far busier. I spent over an hour just following fish around, taking photos and generally just floating around with a big, goofy look on my face. When I finally got out I relaxed on the beach, dividing my attention between my book and the spunky, bikini-clad babes spread out on the towels next to me. I got so turned on that I almost had to rub my sea cucumber.
With the sun setting, I had a cold shower and headed over to Petani Beach’s only restaurant, a wonderful little wooden shack that’s completely open to the beach and made entirely of driftwood. The sunset was astonishing, and after a seafood dinner I decided to see what the island offered in the way of nightlife.
There’s only two ways off Petani Beach at that time of night – a bush path to the east, and one to the west. Both were pitch black and scary-looking, but I took the one to the west and walked blindly through the gloom, with only my mobile phone for light. After an hour I found the main backpacker beach, which wasn’t exactly Surfers Paradise, but there were a few little bars that served the liquid medicine I required – beer, glorious fucken beer! And there were also girls, glorious fucken girls!
An hour later I was shitfaced and dancing like a fucktard on the beach, when one of the hot Germans from Petani walked up and started dancing with me.
“Hello,” she said in a voice that made me think she wanted to either suck my dick till my eyes exploded, or murder me. “My friend and I, we see you back at resort. You masturbate in water?”
“Uh, yeah,” I blushed.
“Were you thinking of us.”
“What were you thinking about us doing.”
“I was thinking about slamming you harder than a sledgehammer into the Berlin wall.” Smooth.
Good old-fashioned romance won the day, and the chick said we should probably get back to our shacks – and that her mate should come with us. Ooh la la, as the Germans say.
Things were looking great for the Row Show, and I would’ve had a great night if it wasn’t for that bloody hour-long walk through the darkness. My torch gave up halfway back, the moon wasn’t nearly strong enough to light our way, and it wasn’t long before Helga and Eva (or whatever their fucken names are) tripped over a root and slid down a muddy slope, ending up in the ocean at the bottom. I, of course, acted like a perfect gentleman and laughed my arse off, which obviously wasn’t the correct response, because when we got back they went into Ebu’s hut instead of mine.
Easily confused, those Germans.
I wrote this back in May, 2012. I wish it was still May, 2012.
Brunei is an incredible and surprising place, full of beauty and wonder, so how did I end up sleeping next to the weirdest, grossest, creepiest bastard in the whole country? I woke up early to a sunny morning, scoffed a balanced breakfast of a packet of chips and a can of Red Bull, then heard the first signs of someone else being in my hotel – a couple having a noisy, grunty root in the next room. Shit, they were having a good time! They were knocking furniture over and I could hear the bloke screaming, “I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming… wait, no I’m not… oh, I just did!” at the top of his lungs. I had a chuckle to myself, and then grabbed my stuff and stepped out the door.
Just as I was locking up, the door next to me burst open and a fat, bald, sweaty bloke wearing only a tiny pair of undies fell out of it, panting, then gave me a wink.
“Bloody hell, mate, you and your girlfriend sounded like you were having a good time,” I grinned.
“Oh yeah… my… girlfriend,” he replied in an American accent, looking round suspiciously.
He introduced himself as Cled and stuck out his hand. I shook it happily, then asked him where his girlfriend was.
“You’re shaking her,” he laughed, and I snatched my hand away.
“Well, gotta run!” he chuckled. “Miss Righty was just the warm-up! Now it’s Miss Lefty’s turn, and she’s one kinky bitch!” I watched his slimy, bulbous body disappear back into his sex grotto, vomited heavily into a pot plant, then went down to meet my tour bus.
Wait, tour bus? No, no, no! Turns out I’m the only person in whole city who actually wanted to go on a tour, so I was on my own with two locals, in their car. Well, at least I’d get personalised service.
I can’t for the life of me remember their names, so I’ll just call them Cheech and Chong, for no reason other than the fact I think it’s funny because smoking pot is punishable by death in Brunei and they almost certainly don’t smoke the herb. Anyway, they were good blokes, and pointed out a bunch of cool stuff as we drove out of Bandar and into the countryside… which took about 10 minutes. It’s not exactly a big city.
We hooned through forests, occasionally passing cars going the other way. As we travelled further into the middle of nowhere, it occurred to me that Cheech and Chong could easily shoot me in the head and take everything I had (about $25 in Brunei cash and a half-eaten packet of Twisties). But they didn’t, luckily. Instead they took me into some sorta nature park and took me for a tour through some sorta boring museum. You know the type – photos of animals, a few stuffed beasties and fuck-all else. There was, however, a great view from the back deck, out of a crocodile-infested lake.
From there, the boys took me for a quick bushwalk, pointing out the various trees and vines and ferns, and what they were used for in olde-timey medicine (for some reason, most were used to give old blokes stiffies. I though about grabbing some for Cled, but decided it would be like handing a tin of petrol and a box of matches to a pyromaniac). The weird thing was that the trees and shrubs were very, very similar to the patches of rainforest back in Gosford – it felt like I was strolling around in the bush back home, which was comforting. I didn’t find any filthy old sploodge-covered pornos here, though, which was disappointing.
Next stop was a truly breathtaking lake, with a rickety old wooden footbridge taking us across to the other side. Bizarrely, there was a toll of a few cents to cross, and my guards dropped the cash into an old ice cream container that was tended by no-one. In Australia 1) no-one would pay the toll if there wasn’t anyone there and 2) any cash in the bucket would be stolen, along with the bucket. Brunei, eh, what a place!
We ended up on a tiny island with a few picnic tables, and Cheech told me traditional story about a giant turtle while he had a ciggie. When he got to the part of the story where some dude supposedly gathered up a bunch of wood and built a ladder to the moon, I wondered whether he had more in common with his namesake than I’d given him credit for.
It was a truly beautiful spot, though. Still water all around us, running into deep rainforest, with a handful of rotting sheds standing like ghosts amongst the green. The absolute silence was broken only by occasional boats puttering through the sunshine. I would’ve liked a swim… if the water wasn’t full of bloodthirsty crocodiles.
I could’ve stayed there all day, enjoying the view and chatting to the boys, but time was marching on and I was getting astronomically hungry. Back into the car, a drive through more forest, and we were at a near-deserted shopping centre in a tiny, nameless village. It’s kinda earie just how few people there are in this country. We ducked into a restaurant and I ordered some sort of traditional chicken meal and a giant glass of tea, which came with the ingredients – tea, milk, brown sugar etc – layered, and tasted great.
Chong didn’t have a lot to say, but Cheech was more than happy to talk about sport, work and drinking with me. Drinking, but isn’t this a dry country?
As a Christian, it’s cool for Cheech to drink in private, and he can bring in 12 cans of beer across the border from Malaysia every 48 hours. So what he likes to do is drive out to the nearest border, where a bunch of pubs cling together. From there he gets absolutely shithoused, dumps a couple of six-packs in the boot and weaves his way home.
“Don’t you worry about getting breath tested?” I asked.
“It’s a dry country,” he replied with a grin. “We don’t have breath tests.”
Shit, this place gets better and better!
With that, the tour was over bar the ride home. It wasn’t a great tour – and pretty disappointing compared to the trip I’d wanted to go on, which involved a canoe ride down a river and a walk along a boardwalk through the jungle canopy – but the lads made it a fun day and I even handed them a tip at the end.
I had time for a quick nap and a dip in the pool, then it was back into bustlin’ Bandar for a proper squiz at that water village. This time, rather than dipping my toe into it, I plunged head-first into the maze of brightly-coloured huts that stretched out over the water for as far as I could see.
There’s a specific ‘tourist’ area of the village, and I certainly wasn’t in it, and as I wandered further into the belly of the beast I felt more and more out of place. But not once did I feel anything close to fear, or as if I was in danger. Everybody smiled at me, said hello, waved, followed me around chatting. There’s no real poverty out there at all, just a peaceful lifestyle and happy people.
In the middle of the shacks rose another huge, golden mosque, which looked both completely out-of-place and incredibly fitting at the same time. Brunei really is a wonderfully surprising country, and not in any way how I suspected. Those visions of a barren, Middle Eastern-style place were as wrong as a Wayne Swan budget.
With the sun plunging below the skyline and the village rapidly descending into darkness, I hit the frog and got out of there. With walkways going this way and that, and the village turning in on itself, I didn’t think I’d make it out without the fading light of the Asian sun.
I took another wander along the waterfront, again marveling at the speed boats zipping around, before stopping off at the same restaurant as the night before for a bite. This time I added a bucket of chips, so by the end I was as full as a fat girl’s shoe.
It was nice just sitting there by the water, watching happy locals wander about and enjoying the incredibly laid-back atmosphere. If only I had a pretty girl there with me, it would’ve been perfect. Ladies? Anyone? Hello!
I took one last walk around the town, headed back to the hotel, grabbed my towel and went down for a final swim before knocking off for the night. Of course, the pool was deserted… except for a blubbery figure in a dark corner.
“Cled! How’s it going, bro?” I asked, and the chubby pervert let out a pained hello. He was pushed up against one wall of the pool, and as I got closer I could see that he was struggling with something, as if he was trying to get out of the water but couldn’t.
“You right over there, broski?” I enquired, putting down my towel.
“Yes, yes, feel free to leave me alone,” he spat, and waved me off. Something was obviously going on, so I walked closer and fuck me dead if Cled wasn’t buck naked, his arse cheeks shimmering like two heavily-cratered moons under the water! And then I realised why he was so panicked and embarrassed – his dick was stuck in the pool filter!
“Don’t be embarrassed, dude,” I laughed. “Who hasn’t decided to fuck a hotel pool filter and ended up getting their schlong sucked into it?”
He was red and sweaty and telling me to get out of there, but I couldn’t leave the poor prick stuck like that, so I went in and told the bloke at reception what had happened – that Cled must’ve slipped, lost his trousers and somehow fallen penis-first into the filter.
“Mr Cled must be very clumsy,” he chuckled, “because that’s the third time he’s done that this week!”
With a swim out of the question, I packed my back and lay back for a snooze, with visions of the beautiful Perhentian Islands – and the next day’s horribly long trip to get there – floating around in my brain like a fat dude with his dick caught in a pool filter.
I originally wrote this in May, 2012, shortly after washing my right hand with bleach.