After our kickass day of baller jetskiing we sauntered over to the common area and toss some ringgits into the vending machine to get a few beers on the go. A couple of folks are around from the night before including Mehrad from Vancouver, the previous evening Murphy’d been accused of fabricating my existence when I called it an early one but he’s now vindicated. With a few coldies in our guts we figure we should get some food in there too if we’re going to make this a big one, and let’s be honest, we are.
A couple minutes down the road is the Cactus Restaurant. Cool place, it’s covered in soccer jerseys and souvenir t-shirts from all over the world, a lot of the usual suspects from around Europe and Australia but strangely a lot from the Stans as well. They’re playing the Standard Southeast Asia playlist we’ve been listening to for six weeks but inexplicably the songs are sped up by about 40%. On one hand it means Bieber’s “Sorry” is over faster but on the other it means all eight songs in the playlist are finished 40% faster and we’re back where we started, so it’s kind of a wash.
Back at the hostel a bit of a crew has assembled in the common area and brews abound. Along with Mehrad are a couple of Coloradan boys named Steve and Tyler, Alicia from Spain, Fernanda from Chile, and Syti, a local who works at the hostel but hangs around even when she’s off the clock. We pull out Jenga and see who’s got the skills to pay the bills – Murphy shows off his “flick”, most of us cheat by not-so-surreptitiously sliding our left hands into action, many beers are downed and much shit is talked.
Things get sloppy fast. I back out early – from playing, not so much from shit-talking – but the tower seems to fall faster and faster each time. During one of Murphy’s turns I elbow the table and just knock the fucking thing over cause I’m a dick (it was legit accident). At one point no one touches anything and it just comes crashing down. I say “I’m going to call that one WTC 7, because it fell for no reason whatsoever.” Murphy looks at me horrified. At this point Jenga has lost its shine though, it’s time to get some cocktails and since the vending machine doesn’t offer them, our crew rallies up and heads out.
Five minutes down the road is The Woods, a pretty standard bar – pool table, couple of dart boards, little patio out front, standard bar music on the speakers. Murphy and I get a round of Black & Cokes and hit the darts, he beats me but it’s a close one. He moves over to the pool table while Alicia and Fernanda take over the board next but they don’t really know the rules, I try guide them through a little bit but completely fuck up several of the nuances. I’m particularly baffled what the rules say about this shot Fernanda makes:
We both forgot to get cash before coming out and the nearest ATM is way the hell over in town, so after two rounds each our pockets are empty. Given past experiences in similar situations I reckon I can work something out with the manager, his English isn’t great but I explain that I want liquor but have no money, however would he accept my driver’s license as collateral until I come back tomorrow to pay everything up? He shrugs and says sure and we shake on it and ultimately doesn’t even want my license, just takes my word for it that we’ll come back. Two more Black & Cokes.
“They’re pretty good here aren’t they?”, a 40-something guy with a British accent says to me from a couple seats down the bar. He introduces himself as Jez, lived here in Langkawi for 16 years, owned a couple of different restaurants during his time here, hooked up with a local girl and plans to stay indefinitely. Our conversation quickly turns political – I’ve been trying to avoid this since the election but he clearly wants to talk – and then it turns to government corruption, lies and… 9/11 conspiracy theories. My WTC 7 joke earlier coming back to haunt me. He’s a pretty hardcore conspiracy theorist and when I show skepticism towards some outlandish claim he follows it by some variation of, “Most people don’t know this but you have to Google author ______ and then you’ll know what I know. Okay?” We argued for a good half hour and it got pretty heated but never confrontational, exactly. Murphy comes over and asks what’s going on here and after a quick introduction we push him straight into the deep end of the tinfoil hat pool. Conspiracy man then starts talking about how the pyramids were built by aliens and are actually electrical generators that can produce unlimited amounts of power, and how pyramids are also in China and Antarctica. This is the point I need to pull away and talk to someone else, but we shake and he invites us to his restaurant sometime, promises he’ll hook us up.
Most of our crew has split by this point so we end up outside on some couches with a different crew, a couple of British girls, one who’s dating a guy named Dan who owns the Bamboo Bar down the road.
Dan is on the coach ramped out of his mind on cocaine or something. He’s dying to hear a certain song, but doesn’t want anyone to know what it is, but has to put it on right this second and can anyone fucking help him do that?! His GF comes through and he plugs in a little speaker and it’s an obscure Eminem song. Dan goes crazy, “Isn’t this the best?!”, it is pretty good actually.
Dan’s drug infused ADHD draws him to Murphy’s shirt with airplanes on it, “Which one are you?”, and Murphy points to a little one in the corner that is actually a paper plane hidden in the mix. He loses his mind again. he didn’t even see that one. He can’t stop laughing and bouncing on the couch. “Oh my God, you guys are the best!” He’s all over his girlfriend and a little friendly with the waitstaff too. Everyone acts like this is fairly typical behavior from Dan. Guess maybe he’s a big deal round these parts. We reassess Dan’s drug of choice to be ecstasy mixed with coke, viagra and pixie sticks.
We go back in for another round. Murphy gets wrapped up talking to some Nigerian dude for a bit. He fills me in after that his name is Leo, he sometimes DJs here at The Woods. He used to live in America for a bit. Had a rough upbringing there apparently and his Uncle got jailed for stealing baby formula for little Leo when he was just a kid. He’s still not out. Leo is just trying to stay out of trouble and make a good time for himself in the world. Langkawi is his favorite spot so far.
On the way back from The Woods while staggering down the middle of the road I fill Murphy in on the deal with the bar manager, how we’ve gotta go back tomorrow to square up, and how I used to do this all the time back in 2001 when I lived in Ottawa – back then I used to go to a local bar that didn’t have an ATM and the nearest one was a good 20-30 minute walk away. It was a pain to do that while I was trying to get drunk so I’d get them to open a tab for me, and give them one or more of the chains I used to wear as collateral.
“Wait. Chains, what?” Murphy interjects.
“Yeah back then I used to wear a chain on my neck and two on my wrists so if I wanted a tab I’d just be like ‘Hold my chains’ and it was no problem.”
Murphy’s eyes are wide and he’s slowly shaking his head. “Hold my chains? HOLD MY CHAINS??”
“Yeah man, hold my chains”
He puts his hands on the sides of his head, looking stunned. “Holy shit. You wore chains?”
“Yeah and I had eyebrow rings and my hair was dyed red down the middle but black on the sides.”
He’s laughing, then stunned, then laughs some more, then shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s a good thing I met you later in life or we wouldn’t be friends.” He keeps muttering “hold my chains” as we make our way back to Zackry’s, grab a couple of nightcaps from the vending machine and call it a night.