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Monday, May 04, 2009

Do You Like Genting? I've Never Gented!

E@L is going to persist with this "joke" until someone laughs.

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Genting Highlands Malaysia is where Kafka and E@L went for their holidays...

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"Must take leeceet to counter for bus travel agency len you alive at hotel," said the helpful travel agency girl to E@L and K as they sat in the exclusive front seats of the Platinum bus.

"Kokay," said K with his thick Polish accent. His deep-set eyes and dark floppy hair seem attractive to the girls despite his gaunt, bony frame. E@L's high round eyebrows fool nobody.

Up the high hill, in the chill, they dragged their bags to the crowded desk of the bus travel agency travel counter and pushed through the queue, pretending to be lost so that they could ask if we were in the right place and therefore jump past those waiting in line.

"You in long place," the girl said, leering into K's eyes and twirling her pen suggestively. "Must be hotel check-in. Preese, go up to there." She pointed into the mist-swathed heights of the First World Hotel where the howling winds tossed newly formed clouds across the car-parks and the covered walk-ways. Hundreds of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian tourists dragged their baggage back and forth between the counters and queues, their copious and essential but always inadequate paperwork desperately clutched in chilled hands. The longer queues, those to important counters in the bus stations and in the hotel(s) lobby(ies) were routed into short paths by means of red bands staggered on short chromium poles. Baggage stations with chaotic queue-less crowds took bags and gave back a coupon with a number on it.

They dumped their bags first.

K and E@L then fought against the random statistics of the crowds (as they would later against the fall of cards) to find a path to the right counter at the right hotel. Again they used the Slightly Lost Expression paradigm (one they would try later on, against the rumour of hookers) to jump those queues that led to the allocation of numbers for the selection of desks at which be assessed for the possibility of being checked-in today.

The lady sat silently for a minute, reviewing K's documents, turning them over once, twice, a third time as if there was another, secret side with even more redundant stuff written on it.

"You must take this not to here," she said. She lent forward, towards K, as if trying to smell his after-shave. Man, the power of floppy hair, E@L thought.

"Must to Bus Travel Counter. Back Starbuck," she indicated with the wad of papers.

Again, only in reverse, K and E@L fought their way out of the hotel against sea of oncoming tourists and their kids, past the Starbucks, past the Strawberry Tea shop, past the Monkey-Brain sushi stand. Just where the crowd was thickest and noisiest, K turned into a room that E@L had not noticed. A man sat at a desk alone. He, like the others, had a machine that produced tickets with numbers. But this room was silent, somehow it existed between the walls of the other rooms, yet was quite spacious, if forgotten. The room had many seats but they were all empty. K showed the man their paperwork. He quickly assessed it, stamped three of the pages and pressed a button on his machine which printed out a piece of paper with the number 10047 on it.

"Come back, 2 o'crock," he said to K, handing him the freshly printed page.

After 3 hours, it was 2 o'clock, and the sign over the counter said, "Now Serving 11077 and when they returned to the room K said to E@L, "Where is your passport?" He would need it to prove he was who he said he was in order to sleep in his room. It was in his luggage, E@L said, back at the hotel. He hurried back to the hotel where the baggage was, with the coupon with the number on it from the chaotic baggage men. He rescued his passport easily enough. Many of the people who had left their luggage had already come to retrieve it as their buses had been scheduled already.

Going in both directions, back and forth past the the Starbucks, etc... E@L had to fight again against the crowd; it was the same TYPE of crowd, it was the same TYPE of fight - their random acts of acceleration and deceleration, their directional drift, their moments of indecision and lives of quiet desperation, their whims of hunger or thirst prompted by deftly positioned marketing ploys, their fears of the fleetingness of things and the needs to capture the moment digitally in blurry, overly bright ghost images or chiaroscuro moody silhouettes of loved ones partially obscured by indifferent people passing between the camera and the focused object, those who have no time for this shit, such as E@L, who was in a fucking hurry if you don't fucking mind!.

K had let several people go past him in the queue while he waited for the out of breath E@L to return. Which, eventually, sooner rather than later, he did.

"No need see passport," said the man behind the counter as E@L plonked his on the desk. "See yours, is OK," he said to the mysteriously charming K. Everything was in K's name. That was true...

E@L put his head in his hands...

He took a deep breathe...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And the time in the internet cafe expired...

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Rumours that if you cut and paste Expatatlarge.blogspot.com into Google Translate it just gives you "blah blah blah in German", or "blah blah blah in French" are NOT to be believed, OK!

E@L

10 comments:

rambeaux said...

You should have thrown yourself off a bridge as the ending...

dh said...

Well I used to like Genting...not so sure anymore...

expat@large said...

Those of you who caught Draft 1 of this post would have noted even MORE casesofwordsrunningtogether. The spacebar in that particular internet cafe had to be bribed with $0.50 and sledgehammer to do its job.

~~~~~~~~~

When I did run out of time (at the point in the story as mentioned) I turned to the gentleman from the sub-continent who ran the show and asked, "How much is it for the minimum amount of time I can extend?"

I could just make out his blank expression in the darkness of the room's subdued lighting, although he was leaning on the counter right at my shoulder. He shook his head, very slowly. (As if to say "There is no amount of money in world you could offer that would convince me to allow to continue using our computers..." commented MercerMachine [stepping out of his role of Kafka] when I told him this story.)

"No," I asked again. "How much to continue? I mean, I want it for the shortest possible time." (I just wanted to tidy up the most blatant of the typos.)

Continuing to shake his head in the darkness, he said, "Your time has expired." The clouds of mist swirled around the mountain top, the wind howled, children on metal trolleys screamed, adults who baulked at paying 7.5% on top of $2.50 for a huge bowl of laksa fed money by the $100s into glittering, pinging machines never to see it again...

"I know my time is up," I replied unironically, "I want to buy some more." (But I didn't HAVE the salmon mousse!)

"You cannot continue at this rate," he said. With the shake, still.

"I'm sorry?" I shuddered, my abdomen clenched in another convulsion, something from the drugs no doubt. I had to consciously allow my diaphragm muscles relax, to breathe out slowly, to calm down. I felt drunk, giddy, weird.

"It is 15Ringitt for one more hour, or 10 Ringitt for an extension of 30minutes." Ah.

Just love Malaysia. Just fucking love it.

Mark said...

Man! You call that a holiday? Boracay, now this? ..... so where the hell can one who drags a bag from airport to hotel to airport in their daily job actually go?

expat@large said...

Mark: please point me in the right direction for a normal fucking holiday, please man!

expat@large said...

Mark: swear to God, I'm lying by the pool outside my room for 2 weeks and telling everyone in the office I'm somewhere exotic sounding...

knobby said...

"chiaroscuro"?? really, where do you get your vocabulary from? when i reads expat, i needs ubiquity

expat@large said...

I read. Some words I remember. I used to read dictionaries as a pasttime...

Mark said...

"a normal fucking holiday"

... well, that'd be Bangkok, .... or maybe Manila .... or

But seriously, good question,

Requirements ... nice hotel, nice room, (NOT having a view of a wall or a car park, quiet, but near enough (ie 5 minutes walk) to a place surrounded by life (ie bars, restaurants, cheap local eateries, some shops) (I have tried the isolated resort type thing - after two days desperate to escape - one needs to be able to stroll out into an interesting world).

But ... how can I get to these places without going through an airport or standing in a queue?

But we should not complain, in my parent's time, a holiday was simply the time when the kids didn't go to school, no-one actually went anywhere.


hmmmm "copig"

(very apt somehow. Does it mean 'with pig'? ... or does it mean 'coping', but with a cold? .... or swine flu perhaps?

expat@large said...

Mark: BKK is not a holiday destination for me. I am here 10 -12 weeks a year for work. I have finally found a decent enough hotel, only lack is a decent pool. Majestic Grande. As Iget piucked up for work ealy each morning I can't drink or play around at night, as with the drugs and the old age the hangovers nearly kill me.

Shit, HK is still my idea of a good time, although the party pace in Singapore has picked up of late due to my flat-mate and to other social networking (mainly through Indiana Jones) and to half of my HK friends coming to live in Singapore as well!

But when I get home, I lie flat on my beck on the bed and clutch the sides like the cartoon cat used to do the ceiling.

DON'T MAKE ME LEAVE! Four days later I'm stir crazy.

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