Out of bed feeling rough after a heavy night of getting into the Sir Winston and 100 Plus. Tired. Hungover. Even an impromptu morning tickle fight doesn’t snap us out of our funk. Ooof, this is going to be rough.
It’s another puddlejump from the Penang airport to Langkawi, enough for a twenty minute nap and we’re descending. It looks amazing on the way down, lush green mountains and beaches. Even though we’re technically in the rainy season for these parts somehow we’ve gotten lucky and haven’t been rained on yet, hopefully that keeps up.
After grabbing our bags we hit up a taxi service desk on the way out of the airport. One big difference between Langkawi and the other three Malaysian locations we’ve visited is how common the hijab is here – it’s almost ubiquitous aside from women who are clearly western tourists – and there are even a few niqabs here and there, clearly a much more conservative environment than George Town or Malacca were. When we approach the service desk there’s a hijab’d woman there confirming that she’ll have a “lady driver” – looks like they cater for the separation of the sexes. Murphy asks whether we can also have a lady driver. The older lady behind the desk crooks her head in the “tsk tsk” way and says “Ohhhh sir” as if to a naughty wayward child.
The ride to our guest house, Zackry’s, confirms what we saw on the flight in – this place is nice. Not much in the way of garbage or industrialization or tourism overload until we’re right on the main drag of Cenang Beach, and even then it’s not too bad, just a few obvious tourist traps like tax-free shops, tour booking joints and White Guy Zone restaurants. Zackry’s itself is quaint, a cluster of small buildings with a handful of rooms in each, the staff is very friendly and we’re checked into our room.
Zackry’s rents scooters. We’re on it, rent them for the day. They also rent jetskis. So fucking baller. We book those for tomorrow. A quick look at the map and we know how to get to the Sky Bridge, one of the huge tourist traps here that we intend to knock out first.
We jump on the bikes and roll and they’ve actually got some balls. They’re only little 125 scooters but after e-bikes in Bagan they feel like Ducatis. Helmets are a big deal here apparently – not wearing one is a fast way to look cool but get fucked by the law, according to our helpful front-desk lady – but everything else seems to be on the table, we’re passing every chance we can get, zipping in and out of traffic. Wooooo! We wind them out on a few straight stretches and in one I barely manage to brake and lean enough to avoid missing a pick-up coming around the corner. Hee hee!
We stop here and there for a few pics and bomb down a twisty narrow jungle road, now it’s getting really fun with some tight passes. We pull our bikes into a parking lot of what is some kind of Langkawian Disneyland, 100% tourist trap, souvenir shops and overpriced restaurants, kids everywhere, looks like there’s a lot more to this than just the cable car and Sky Bridge above us, but none of it looks that interesting to us so we go straight to the ticket lineup for the cable car.
The tickets aren’t cheap but it’s only $10 more for the “Express Glass-Bottom” tickets, which means we get to take the special glass-bottom cable cars but more importantly skip the two-hour queue and do this right now. Being baller is a no-brainer in this case, we throw down the cash.
There are several hundred people waiting in line but one of the employees guides us into the VIP line and straight past all of them onto the next car that comes (coincidentally happens to be a glass-bottom car). Douching it so hard, a myriad of stinkeye descends on us but we’re on our way up.
This thing is fucking massive. It climbs fast and the glass-bottom exacerbates the sense of it. I don’t usually think of myself as afraid of heights but this thing climbs at a rate far beyond what I’ve ever seen a cable car do before and I have to admit it makes my butt pucker a tad. Looking it up on Wikipedia afterwards we found that it’s got a 42-degree incline, the second-steepest of any cable car in the world. Woo.
We jump off but we’re not at the Sky Bridge, it’s some kind of midway stop where everyone is taking selfies, so we do that too. We also put our own love-lock up. Dawwwww
We walk past a green screen and pose while the staff snaps us acting like fucking idiots, but really that seems to be the only thing to do here – aside from getting into a second line for another cable car that leads to the actual top where the Sky Bridge is located. Once again we douche it hard, pull out the VIP tickets and skip ahead of a bunch of people. Yeeeeaaaaah.
The next cable car is a quick one, we’re out and it’s another 5 ringgits to actually walk on the Sky Bridge – why someone would come this far and not pay the extra $1.70 or so is beyond me – so we pay it but not the additional fee to let us take an escalator, instead we take a footpath that’s got some gnarly steps and signs warning of monkeys. Fuck I hate monkeys. There’s also a little cafe up here but, presumably owing to the religious conservatism of where we’re at, scoring a beer is out of the question, which is a real shame cause it’d be a hell of a place to down a few.
The Sky Bridge is great, it has its own glass bottom and a bit of sway to it.
How the fuck can we not buy a beer up here though? We’d stick around for longer but keeping it dry is a drag so we hoof back up the gnarly stairs, it’s only like 500 metres but it works up a good sweat.
We head down, jump back on the scoots and hit up a gas station as Murphy’s running on fumes. He fills his tank for about two bucks. There’s an Indian joint next door – no beer on the menu but one of the staff says they’ll sell us some, he says this quietly – so we fill up on rogan josh and vindaloo, some meze on the side, and a few brews each to loosen up our scootering-muscles.
Getting back on the bike, Murphy points the camera at me and tells me to look like an asshole; I’m more than happy to do so.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Let’s just get a little close up of that shall we?)
Back on the bikes we cut out in front of a line of traffic but I pull over because I think I forgot my wallet. I double-check my shit and it turns out I didn’t, now we’re stuck behind about 25 vehicles but on the upside we’ve got 25 vehicles to pass on the twisty windy jungle road, which makes the drive back a lot more fun.
When we hit the straightaways we’re full of piss and vinegar, Murphy is making some ridiculously dangerous passes – on the shoulder of the road, but not our shoulder, the opposite shoulder. I’ve got the throttle all the way open and bombing straight past everything right on the yellow line. Wawawooo!!!
A pickup flashes its lights at us, back home that’s the universal sign for the fuzz are up ahead so we calm her down a bit and play by the book and sure enough there’s a massive congregation of people and vehicles up ahead, but strangely I don’t see any cops around.
What I do see is a scooter on its side, a Hilux stopped in the middle of the road, a lot of debris and the body of a teenager with his head on backwards. A hundred or more people are standing around looking at the corpse, large vehicular traffic is being rerouted through an adjacent parking lot but scooter traffic like us is passing right through. The front wheel of my bike passes the body by less than a meter, crunching over broken pieces of what used to be the scooter’s fairing, two hundred eyes on us – no stinkeye, just a lot of staring and no one really sure what to do. Jesus this is fucked. The kid’s head is twisted backwards and his shoulders and hips are all jacked out of place as well, he took it hard, but there’s very little blood for some reason.
As we pull away from the crash scene we start speeding up but not too much, that kinda put a damper on the whole thing. I know that kind of shit can happen any moment no matter how careful you are but to be fucking around hard one moment and then see that immediately afterwards makes you a little wary about opening it right back up again. We bring the scooters back home but do so a lot slower than we took them out.
We have a pretty chill evening on account of the Sir Winston 100’s last night. Just grab some grub and head back to the hostel. There are a handful of people milling about the common area but MacKay feels like donkey nards and will not be convinced to hang.
I go out to the common room and meet a couple dudes named Steve and Tyler, they’re from Colorado. Well, Iowa and Arizona originally. They both live in Co now and were each travelling, found out that they were both over here and met up. They both have also quit their respective jobs and are traveling indefinitely. And they’re well aware that their names combine to form Steve Tyler.
The vending machine at Zackry’s sells beer for about a buck. This is an incredible service. You don’t even need a hostel worker to be there. Kind of reminds me of the honor beer system we’ve seen in other hostels.
A girl named Alyson comes over to join us at the table. She’s from London. And then Mehrad from Vancouver walks in and joins and a finally a guy named Jimmy from Finland. We’ve got a strong posse now, Alyson offers to get a round of vending drinks. 6 beers, 6 bucks.
We get into telling stories like crazy. Of course “…that one time in Siberia…” comes up and people are relatively shocked. I lighten things up with another 6 dollar round. Jimmy tells us how to say Cheers in Finnish, “Cat piss?”, “No! Kippis!”, “Ahhhh Kippis!”, and another round goes by.
Jimmy and the Americans head off to their rooms and I’m left with Mehrad and Alyson. They start asking me what I do. After a moment or so I decide to just tell them the truth. That I’m one of the World’s greatest Adventure Detectives and that Dr Birdrito from The Agency has sent me on an intel gathering mission here in SEA. They find this intriguing and another 6 dollar round goes down.
It was a relaxed evening meeting people and just telling stories over some beers. Nothing too crazy, just right. I get back to the room and MacKay is up in bed on his compy (apparently I missed Boxer Time?). “Do you know about Pissass?”, “Pissass? Is that ‘Cheers’ in Finnish?”, “No, there’s a twitter account with the user name Pissass. They have 12 followers. Obama is one of them!”, “Well that’s fucking weird”, “Who the hell is Pissass? Is this some Pizzagate shit?!”, “Ahhhhh probably? You wanna put some drops in my eyes?”, “Pissass….”