The car ride from the airport was daunting to say the least. We were doing about 50mph through curves that would have been signed for 15 in the USA. Honestly it was probably bad enough that I should have left questionable feedback for the Uber Driver, but I was having fun and wouldn’t do that.
After about twenty minutes of bouncing from curb to curb, riding through tight and frequent twists, we were finally nearing the hostel. The car ride reminded me quite a bit of Atlanta, in the sense that this was a very large city, yet was sprawled out all over the place that you hardly knew whether you were in the center or not.
Rolling hills, short but yet very steep, which were covered with wide roads that wound back and forth…so much that you hardly knew which direction you were heading.
Arriving at the Hostel
The day dragged on longer than expected, and I didn’t arrive at the hostel until just after 9pm. By that time, it appeared we were already in full evening party mode. I could barely get in the door of the damn place!
It was the smallest and shackiest looking building I had gone inside of during my entire time in SE Asia. The roof was flat and from street level, appeared to be about two feet shorter than I was.
There was about a 2 foot wide area of open sewer grate in front of the entire building.
I made it 3 steps through the door before being forced to stare down at the floor in pure amazement at the number of shoes that encompassed the area. All over Asia, people remove their shoes before entering a building and leave them at the front door.
I had certainly grown accustomed to seeing shoes outside of buildings. Sometimes they were organized….sometimes they were not. This however, was an entirely new level of shoefuckery.
I was force to remove my shoes with the opposite foot while standing up, as there was nowhere to sit, lean, or do anything besides drown in shoes.
It took an entire minute to walk, no joke, 12 steps from the front door to the front desk. This was one of the most challenge short hikes of my entire life. Carrying 16 pounds of gear and climbing across a crumbling shoe mountain, while surrounded by people of unknown origins was quite the oddity among oddities.
Jersey and MexiCali
After wading through the impossibly narrow corridors, I went downstairs and claimed my bed. It was late and I was tired from a long day of traveling, so it was time to go upstairs and grab two 24 oz beer cans out of the fridge.
After about 45 seconds outside, I ran into two gentlemen a few years younger than me. It seemed pretty likely that they were American, or at least that was the impression in the moment. In three months I had seen about 6 Americans in my entire trip.
They were taking the entire trip together, although they were not from the same place. One was from New Jersey, while the other was from a recently awarded citizenship from Mexico and now living in California for college.
The three of us connected instantly and were chatting about nearly everything we could put our mind on, and then some. I had not even been to New York City before, but for some reason I found myself able to chat with Jersey about the city with great ease. It wasn’t because I actually knew anything about the city.
There is something hardly describable about coming into contact with your own kind after being away from home for an extended amount of time. Language and dialect is a non-issue. The thick accent barrier disappears and makes conversations flow more naturally.
Random character traits that you didn’t even know existed start to make themselves unavoidable. The tone in voice, the word choice in sentence, the subtle cues of sarcasm, the list goes on. Drinking of course helps with everything.
Food is Required
Before long, time decided it was suddenly after midnight. The others were hungry, but I was absolutely starving. No food had been discovered since prior to the afternoon in Brunei.
A quick search on Google Maps led us to a very authentic Malaysian and fairly chic 7-Eleven convenience store, which Google can only describe as “Pit stop for snacks and sundries”.
Alas the only snacks in here, despite us walking back and forth 17 times, were beers in varying containers. There was no choice left at this hour, in this location, and with this level of exhaustion and inebriation left to go but Asia’s favorite restaurant.
Returning to Pong Base
After that delicious and wonderful piece of shit meal, we returned to the road in front of our hostel where the pong games and general debauchery were still taking place. There was definitely not a rowdy party going on, but it wasn’t quiet and boring either.
We hung out on the right side of the pong table, looking back up the slight incline of the one way road into oncoming traffic. About 80 feet up the road there was a dumpster on the right side of the road.
What I had failed to notice prior to this moment was the amount of traffic around the dumpster. A large rat, easily mistaken for a small dog, quickly trotted its way underneath the receptacle.
Holy shit. I had never seen a city rat before, other than a few very small mice. A few moments later, another large rat ran in the opposite direction.
The situation quickly escalated to become our sideshow entertainment for the rest of the night. During conversational breaks, we would briefly peek over at the dumpster and observe the rat circuit running in full swing.
The Older Guy Among The Kids
Before we go any farther, it is necessary to stay how much I prefer to hang out with people older than me. I enjoy the maturity, the wisdom, the conversation matter…a lot more than mindless goofing off.
That said, I knew immediately that something was off about this gentlemen. We are out in the road in front of a $5 per night ‘party’ hostel in Malaysia. Nearly everyone in the area ranges from 17 to 28 years old…so I’m already at the upper end of the spectrum.
This gentlemen was in his early 50s and was hanging in the middle of the late teen crowd drinking. His demeanor indicated that he was, at the least, a frequent and heavy drinker.
It was hard to tell where he was from at first, and then I assumed he was Russian.
Alaska: The Final Frontier
Myself, Jersey Kid, his Mexican friend, and a new girl from New York were discussing our travels in the states. Someone had brought up the topic of Alaska and I mentioned that Alaska was the only state I had not visited.
“Ha! This kid wants to go to Alaska!” – The Man interjected from about ten feet away, surrounded by a different group of people. It was as if someone had said the trigger word and this man’s head’s wire fired poor signals.
Nobody paid any attention to the remark, and we continued our conversation for about another minute.
He made his way closer to us.
….”Alaska! That’s funny. Why do you want to go to Alaska? There is nothing there!”
Me: “Uh well, I prefer nature travel to cities actually. There are many incredibly beautiful national parks in Alaska, as well as the northern li–“
Him: “No! There is nothing to see in Alaska! It is a very boring place!”
Me: “Ah. Well we were only discussing which states we had not visited…anyways I’m sure it will be anything but bor—“
Him: “DON’T GO TO ALASKA! Go to Kamchatka instead. Much better place! Kamchatka has volcanoes. Does Alaska have volcanoes!? No because it is a terrible place to go!”
Me: “Wow, amazing I didn’t know—“
Him: “Plus it is in Russia, much better country than United States! HAHAA! ALASKA!”
It was at this point I realized this man was at the very least….an irrational maniac.
[WARNING — EXPLICIT LANGUAGE COMING]]
“Alaska is in US which is terrible country, Russia is SO MUCH BETTER THAN CRAPPY UNITED STATES!! WHY THE FUCK WOULD ANYONE WANT TO GO TO ALASKA!?”
At this point, the man was facing the four of us North Americans. We stood there at exponentially increasing level of amazement and wonder, holding our beers, and staring at the man who was about a foot taller than all of us.
“LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT USA…….I needed to get new contact lenses and I went to see a doctor there….I was told to get this lens instead of that lens…..”
His rant lasted for nearly three minutes and consisted of him getting the wrong contact lenses in America, only to go to Canada and receive the correct one….along with a lot of mumbling, stumbling, and questionable usage of profanity.
“AND ALASKA BELONGS TO RUSSIA!! AMERICA FUCKING STOLE ALASKA FROM RUSSIA! AMERICA STOLE ALASKA LIKE THEY FUCKING STEAL EVERYTHING LIKE THEY STOLE CALIFORNIA AND VERMONT!! RUSSIA IS SO MUCH BETTER COUNTRY THAN AMERICA!! AMERICA IS A FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT AND SOON IT WILL BE WORSE THAN AFRICA…I CAN’T WAIT TO LAUGH AT YOU WHEN AMERICA IS THE NEXT AFRICA….”
The screaming tirade continued for about another 30 seconds before he finally ran out of hot air. This entire unhinged lunatic rant lasted for nearly ten minutes, while we all stood their silently drinking our beers and enjoying the show.
By the time he had finished, about 20 people were standing around him in a circle. After he gave up, he quietly retreated to the people he had been clustered around before, although no one was talking to him.
Shocked with Empathy
I couldn’t believe the entire event. What happened to this poor man as a child!? We were having an innocent conversation about what states we have been to and it sent this man into maximum screaming rage mode that had absolutely no correlation to do with us or anything we were discussing….or anything based in reality for that matter.
“I feel bad for him. You know how some lonely older folks get when they are hanging out with a younger crowd. He just couldn’t handle it and took it to a whole new level.”
You don’t say. His temper rocketed right past reality and deep into another dimension.
For the next three days at the hostel, I went out of my way to avoid this crazy man. It seemed like he never left the hostel even once.
When I would run out at 6:30am to start exploring, he would be outside by himself. When I stopped back in the early evening to shower, here he was again drinking by himself. Finally when I finished exploring Kuala Lumpur for the day…you guessed it, he was outside the hostel drinking by himself.
I felt pretty bad for him. I would have liked to have conversed with him the way I did with any hostelier…but it clearly was not going to be possible.
Has anyone ever come unhinged at you for no apparent reasons?