Sunday, June 27, 2010

Miri, Malaysia

It took 2 hours to reach Miri from the capital of Brunei.

"Thanks, man," I said to the driver as I exited the large vehicle.

"You're welcome," he responded, "And the next time you come to Brunei, give me a call and we'll play some basketball."

"Sounds good," I told him before I hopped off and shut the door.

Once the 10 wheeler truck drove off and it's exhaust cleared, I found myself at a bus stop amidst many curious bystanders starring at me.

"Hey, how's it going? Good? Okay . . ." I received a few smiles from some of the women, but everyone remained silent.

I took off my bag and sat down. I'd called my friend Ghana from the truck driver's cell phone and told him where I'd be. So I sat and patiently waited for him to pick me up. As I was waiting, I noticed a suspicious man approaching me. I was picking up nothing but bad vibes from this guy, so I stood up and threw on my backpack. Seconds later, a security officer approached the man and inquired what he was doing, as if he noticed he was up to no good as well. It wasn't but a few minutes later that Ghana and his friend, Jimmy, pulled up.

"Hello, Mr. Adam!" Ghana said to me, as he exited the car, "How are you, my friend?"

Boy was I sure glad to see him. Perfect timing, really. I tossed my bag in the trunk of the car and got in.

"Adam, my friend, " said Ghana, as we drove off, "I have to go back to KK this afternoon, unfortunately."

"Aw, really?" I disappointingly said.

"Yes, but don't worry," said Ghana, "Jimmy and my friends will take care of you when I'm gone. If you need anything, ANYTHING at all, you let Jimmy know, okay?"

"Ummm, okay."

"I have a meeting in KK this evening, so I'm going to try to catch a flight back to Miri tomorrow. I must be back in Miri tomorrow! I must!"

They took me to a hostel called the Highlands, where I quickly checked in and put my luggage. Next they took me to a Chinese cafe for lunch. It was delicious. After we finished, Ghana had some business to attend to and said he would meet up with us in a short while. In the meantime, Jimmy drove me around the city, taking me to some temples, food markets, and a scenic view point overlooking Miri. Real nice. All of which I wouldn't have seen if I wasn't with a local. So go local. I recommend it.

We met back up with Ghana and his friend, David, who was in Miri on business from Kuala Lumpur, at Jimmy's cafe called the Ming Cafe. For the next hour or so I got acquainted with Ghana's friends at the cafe, where I would spend much of my time in the coming days. After we dropped Ghana off at the airport, Jimmy took me to my hostel. He told me to meet up with him and his friends later that evening at the Ming Cafe. Sounded good.

That evening I arrived at the Ming Cafe a bit later than I said I would, and was told that Jimmy and the crew had just left.

Darn it.

That's okay, I thought, I would just relax, eat and watch the World Cup at the bar. It didn't take but a few minutes for every woman in the bar to hone in on me. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating either. It was a bit overwhelming, really. And I began to feel suffocated. I looked around the bar and noticed that there were plenty of other westerners present. I clearly wasn't the only guy at the bar. Maybe because I was the only guy by himself that women felt like they could approach me the way they did. I realized that I found myself in a position that every man dreams about, but all I could think about, honestly, was Sheila, and how I wished she was with me. As soon as I finished my meal I went straight back to use the computer at my hostel, as I was anxious to speak to Sheila.

And she was online, too.

[Typing to Sheila in all caps] "HEY YOU!!!..."

I devoted the following day strictly for writing. That evening, however, I met up with Ghana, who'd just returned from KK, and his friends at the Ming Cafe (where else?). Ghana introduced me to his friend and business partner, Syed Shaffi. Shaffi was a wealthy business man and owner of Blue Spot, a multinutrient fertilizer. Shaffi, who wants to begin selling his product in other countries, began speaking to me about his fertilizer and how to begin selling it in the States. He gave me literature about his product, as well as his information, and told me to contact him once I made it back to the States if I was interested. I listened to him while women continually bought drinks for me. Geez.

The next morning I joined Ghana, Shaffi, and Jimmy on a business trip to Niah. I enjoyed listening to the 3 of them talk business with one another and with people in Niah. I particularly enjoyed watching Ghana, who always seemed to seal the deal.

"It's done!" Ghana said, while patting Shaffi on the back, "It's all taken care of! He'll be in touch."

It should be mandatory to observe and follow the 3 of them if studying business. It's quite the spectacle.

I went back to my hostel for some R & R before heading out again. However, as I was about to leave it began raining cats and dogs. I waited for awhile, but it wouldn't let up. I just went back upstairs and waited for Sheila to go online.

The following day at the Ming Cafe, I had brunch with Ghana and the crew. Ghana began talking to everyone about the night I'd hung out with him in KK. Funny stories. Good memories.

"You know, Adam," said Ghana, "the following day when you left, I didn't know what to do with myself. I was so bored." And he began to laugh as he gave my shoulder a smack.

Of course I spent my last night at the Ming Cafe. I'm gonna miss that place. It's always nice to go somewhere where everybody knows your name. I was beginning to feel like a character from the television show Cheers.

The next morning Ghana, Shaffi, and Jimmy drove me to the bus station. I was leaving for Kuching. And of course the bus station was miles and miles outside of town.

"What is this?" Shaffi said in dismay, "Why is the bus station so far from town?"

"Thank you!" I said, " That's what I'm saying." It was nice to hear someone else express the same sentiment for once. And especially from a local.

We arrived at the bus station just as the 10 am bus was departing. I quickly retrieved my bag from the trunk of the car, said my goodbyes, and hit the road.

It's amazing to think that my entire experience in Miri was the result of me asking Ghana if I could tag along with him to the laundry mat back in KK.

Next Stop: Kuching, Malaysia


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