The taxi takes us out of Chinatown and back towards the center of Kuala Lumpur where we kind of just walked. It’s wall to wall traffic though so our driver pulls some fancy footwork to cut across town down some side streets and alleys. Now we’re starting to pass by some cool areas of town with funky restaurants and bars. Ok this is more like it. We pass some hostels I recognize from our brief online reconnaissance late last night in Yangon. I believe we’ve entered.. the White Guy Zone!!… buuut we’re out of there quickly, back into some traffic, slip down a side street and voila! We’re outside the Trader’s Hotel.
“Thanks!”, drop some ringgit in the driver’s mitt and mosey up to the posh entrance way. We walk into their fancy smancy lobby area and with one swift look at our lack of shopping skills the host can tell we need the elevator and not a room. He directs us to the left. Doo doo doo, rooftop pool pleeeease. Click. And we’re rising to the top floor.
When the elevator doors open the boots and cats of thumpy dance music instantly floods into the space. We exit into a little foyer where a lovely Malay girl gives us the long unfolding welcome arm which leads us into the Trader Hotel’s bad ass poolside bar area.
Well that’s pretty awesome, but not actually why we’re here. We scope out some drinks. At the far bar we find a chalkboard with some very interesting cocktails on it. One is called the Black Widow and it consists of Red Label and.. jam? Well I’ve got to try that. And so does MacKay. And so does Drisdelle. It tastes just like the red freezie from when we were kids. And just like the red freezie from now too. It’s delicious.
While we wait for a second Black Widow we take in the real reason why we’re here. The Trader’s Hotel has a spectacular view of the Petronas Twin Towers. Probably the best in the city. The amazing club and deadly cocktails are just a bonus. You can reserve cabanas overlooking the towers on the side of the pool but of course that would take fore-planning, a skill we simply don’t possess. We do dip into an empty cabana before the patrons arrive to snap some pics of them majestic towers though.
Our grumbly tummies order up some wings and we sample a few other signature cocktails from the Trader’s bar. On the ride here we’d dropped a pin on the white guy zone and it seems we’re now ready for that mode of the evening. One last look at the impressive towers and we’re descending in the elevator to the fancy entrance and back out into the KL streets.
We’d passed a place en route to Trader’s that seemed cool called Taps. Looked like it was a giant craft beer place. After a million lame-ass Asian lagers a day, finding some craft beer spot seems like a blessing. But when we walk up we get turned away. It’s filled with some semi-formal event and MacKay is wearing an AC/DC shirt. Cool looking spot though, too bad it’s res’d out.
We walk on towards the white guy zone, passing assorted Christmas decor adorning the streets
A few more stumble blocks and we can hear it already. The mixed madness of music and drunks from competing pubs. Turn the corner and it’s on. One big long strip of bars on both sides, packed to the gills with sloshy tourists.
We do a once over down the strip to see what suits us. Nothing really stands out per se. A fairly regular mix of jam packed watering holes. So we decide that the next place we see with open seating on an upper patio will do the trick. The Never Mine bar near the end of the row meets these requirements.
We open the door to the Never Mine and are greeted with the crunchy guitar of a cranking Malay rock band. There is a 5 piece on stage playing some alt-rock that sounds familiar. Take a look around and it feels like a locals place, don’t really see any tourists in here at all actually. This instantly meets a bonus second, unspoken requirement.
We zig through the place and up to the balcony to grab some seats by the railing. We’re the only ones up here and we order some cocktails from a waiter who followed us up. Ahhhh settle back and take in the scene. Hmmmmm.. actually it’s loud as fuck up here with the din from surrounding bars making a chaotic medley of irritating white noise we can’t even hear ourselves over. We also don’t have a great spot here for people watching so really there’s nothing too appealing about it and we decide to go back down to check out the local band.
Turns out these guys are damned good! They’re running through an eclectic mix of genres that basically get the fuzz treatment by their stellar guitar player, be it reggae, disco, pop, metal or rock and roll. While we piled on the drinks they played through them all. A girl and guy switch off singing/backing each other through the songs and after just a couple tunes it’s apparent that the talent level in this band is legit. As a result the place is getting Lit AF.
They put their own spin on each of the songs for sure, teetering more towards rocking the shit out of everything which definitely put a smile on our faces. During our first few drinks they ran through Lips of an Angel, Simply the best, Total eclipse of the heart, Rolling on the river and Smells like teen spirit. (This reminds us, “Why the hell didn’t we get that shirt in Saigon that said Nirvana but had the Hanson kids on it?!”, “I dunno man, major fail.”) They end the set with the bass player singing My Way by request of some angel in the crowd.
They set down their instruments to take a break and the dude singer beelines it straight over to our table. I think our chronic fist pumping probably made it fairly noticeable that we were digging the tunes. He introduces himself and wants to know where we’re from. “Canada, eh? We will play songs for you!”, “Sweet!”, “Do you like Chelsea?”, there’s a live soccer match on the TV above the bar. I could tell he was eyeing it in between songs, “Yeah, Chelsea is great”, “Ohh yes! I hope they win tonight.”
Singer dude takes off to get a drink and the waiter comes around to see if we need more cocktails (woo hoo!). For some reason we leave MacKay in charge of the ordering and the dude comes back with three devastating concoctions called Ak47s. They are quite large and quite toxic to say the least, Drisdelle has the gag face on, “Why did we leave MacKay in charge of drinks?”, “I believe this will be the TSN turning point of the night.”
Indeed it is and just half way through the (first) Ak47 Drisdelle has assumed ‘The Position’: Elbows on table, head in hands, eyes totally shut. Head slipping forward and down, down, down, only to jilt him awake enough to reset The Position. Action Shot!
While the band is on hiatus the house music is thumping out clubby dance tunes. The Mustache Ride anthem comes on and MacKay and I get wide-eyed and giggly. Sorry for Party Rocking billows out of the speakers into the bar whipping the place into a circus.
I jump up and start hump-dancing sleepy Drisdelle in his seat. He’s thrilled. He’s loving it. He busts out of The Position to push against me with all the might he can muster, “Fuck aaaafff!” Ok so he’s cranky but the girl in the seat next to me suddenly grabs my hand and launches out of her seat to dance with me. See, it’s contagious! I get some hard looks from the dudes at her table.
When the tune trails off we sit back down and we start talking. She’s from Kuala Lumpur and she’s getting married at the end of December in Louisiana to some American guy. That’s interesting.. While this conversation is happening a guy comes purposefully into my periphery and catches my eye. He takes his thumb and rubs his nose. He actually does this, as a signal. Ok, that’s weird.
When we came in these girls were sitting at a different table. These older dudes were here for a birthday and bought the girls a couple drinks and invited them over to their table, which they accepted. As far as I can tell the dudes then basically ignored them and stood over the table loudly drunk talking. I couldn’t hear what they were saying over the band but summarized from the dazed expressions of the girls that it was sophomoric boasting of some sort that clearly was only interesting to the inebriated deliverymen. Occasionally there was some awkward draping of arms over the girls shoulders and hands getting a little too frisky to which the girls fake smiled and squirmed away.
Now I’m getting the nose rub? “Do you know these guys?”, “No we just met”, “Hmmm, please excuse me”, and I get up to go to the bathroom. I need a break from my AK47 to think about this and possibly coax out a confrontation in the men’s restroom. No one follows me. I finish up and make my way back through the bar to the table.
The birthday boy comes up to me before I get there and cuts off my route. I don’t spot anything in his hands. He puts one on my shoulder and uses it to aim me at another of his friends, “You see that guy over there?”, he’s pointing at some large guy on the other side of the table in a black leather jacket. “Yeah, I see him”, “He’s a big police guy”, “Ahhh ok. Are we doing something wrong?”, “He’s in the police. High up. Understand?” I turn and look this douchebag in the eyes to see if he’s for real. He’s dead serious. Ha! What an asshole. I’m not interested in starting anything, really not worth it. “Yeah, understood”, and he claps me on the back with a smile. The ‘fiance’ watches the whole thing worriedly.
I get back to the table and MacKay comes right over to me, “You gotta stop chatting up that girl dude, these guys are fucking pissed, one just talked to me”, “Hey man, she started talking to me. She wants an out, dude, these guys are shitbags”, “Not worth it man”, “Oh I totally agree. Apparently that one there is a dirty cop”, “Fuck sakes.” Thankfully our waiter appears and we get distracted ordering another round of AK47s and some bar grub to smash.
The guitar player swings by our table on the way back to the stage to introduce himself as well. He looks at Drisdelle in The Position and the collection of empties we’re amassing and just smiles and points. “Sorry for party rocking?”, he laughs and is back to the stage.
We disengage from the table next to us and turn our attention back towards the band as they blast into another set. They point and give a shout out to us as they go into some classic Canadiana: Bryan Adams, Summer of ’69. Haha, it rocks. This is followed by Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll and Holy Diver by fucking Dio? (I couldn’t believe they played this, my eyes bugged out for a sec). We get another shout out from the band when they go into Hells Bells on account of MacKay’s AC/DC shirt (shopping points awarded). This is followed up by Journey’s Separate Ways and they ended their night with an extended version of Metallica’s Enter Sandman.
Ahhhh those guys were awesome! Alright we’ve been here for hours, time to mix it up. We get some high fives from the band on the way back out to the white guy zone. Places are dying down now near the end of the night and there are just a handful still open. We hit the sidewalk patio of the place across the street. A super eager server dude bounces right up to us, “Whaddya need, guys?”, MacKay eyes the drink menu for a split second and looks up at us, “Long Island Pitchers?”, Drisdelle is mortified, “Long Island Pitchers?!” Of course this response only encourages me to support the stupidity, so I turn to the server, “3 pitchers of long islands, please”. “What?! Why the hell is MacKay in charge of drinks?”
While we’re waiting for our drinks a Vietnamese hooker ambles up to the table and starts chatting us up. We make it known that we’re not interested but she says she’s just board and stays anyways. She’s mowing down sunflower seeds like nobody’s business. We just look at her like..
Drisbomb is drinked out so MacKay and I split his pitcher. Server guy tells us the place is shutting down so of course MacKay rampages into a totally unnecessary second round of pitchers. The logic here actually leaves me a little stunned as well.
Now we have a pitcher and a half each of long islands to finish in probably less than 10 minutes. “How many shots are in these things, like five?”, “Yeah I think so. Vodka, tequila, rum, gin and.. maybe triple sec?”, “Yeah, why in the fuck do we EVER let you be in charge of drinks?!”
Wanting to get the full KL WGZ experience, we force chug our pitchers and immediately step out to the street and hail a taxi back to the Mingle. The sky scrapers are no longer stationary. The lights dance and whole floors of lights flick on and off in time to the cabbies soothing house music. The road arches into roller coaster rails and we’re melting into the pleather seats.
Dropped back at Mingle, Drisdelle gives us the finger and goes straight up to the room for beddy bye. On a distinctly different tangent, MacKay and I hit the closest 7/11 for after-beers. We take these up to the roof of Mingle and begin making drunk designs for our next adventure (DFN seguridad lvl9).
Around sunrise some blonde girls come up to get their laundry off the roof rafters. They’re off on a flight to Cambodia this morning and we eagerly fill them in on all the awesomeness to expect from it. They’re thankful and also a little wary. No idea why. Just a couple dudes with beers on the roof for sunrise.
After they take off, a giant hyperglow koala descends from the rafters and scoops us into his cozy little pouch pocket. So warm. MacKay puts his ear drops in my crusty eyes and we swing away to dance on a neon crane high above the city. We get back just in time for bed.