Though I have remained silent since Bali - a necessity to keep my image as International Man of Mystery - I feel I have found an experience here in Langkawi worthy of putting my pen to paper. I have found The Holy Grail, an experience worth the expanse of sea miles and bilge stains I have collected so far. Lo, BEHOLD! I found…. the Beer ATM.
We arrived in Telaga anchorage, Langkawi only a day or two before my cousin was scheduled to arrive. I felt an obligation to do what I do best: find affordable grog in a sea-kindly location. I felt the chances were good in this anchorage, as it had a few characteristics that indicated the presence of grog. Do you see that a sailor sleeping off a rum or two on the ridge line of the mountain?
To one side of us is a man made island with a white sand beach, a zip line, and a fleet of jet skis for rent. Random acts of karaoke occur at whatever hour a tourist happens to arrive. From what I can tell, there is no other business on the island and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the timing of karaoke.
Every now and then a big red catamaran motors-circles around us, towing behind it a big fishing net with floats keeping it buoyant on the surface. For just a few Malaysian Ringget, you, too, can be towed around in a net like a captured fish.
The anchorage is filled with pot bellied Russian men on sailboats that seem not to have moved for a while. One Russian man, shirtless and wearing a gold chain with a pendent, dangles over the life rail of his boat, waving Grin over and offering us a mug of 10:00 a.m. Vodka.
Yes, there must be grog in this port.
As we head into the marina, we pass a lighthouse that will do well to mark my right hand turn from the marina out to the anchorage, and rows and rows of squid boats.
But first, the important stuff. We must check into Langkawi Customs and Immigration. Immigration and customs offices are located inside an ornate building with a bell tower that plays Arabic music, then chimes bells to count the hour every hour. There are cannons on the front lawn, and a row of flags. This is the Immigration office building i’d build if I were in charge.
We visited the officials, and to my surprise they had us in and out in less than fifteen minutes. I feel as though surely something must be amiss. Too easy!
We walk around the edge of the marina, and see a sailboat that seems to be up on land. A close look demonstrates she’s been craned onto a platform, set on a pile of old tires, and offered a viewing platform: a place of honor due to her efforts in a past race.
“Ooooh, Sonrisa would not approve.” Leslie says. Probably true.
We continued walking, and then, I saw it. Tucked in a little restaurant, center stage, is a large, black device labeled: “Beer ATM.” Not sure exactly what treasure I’d found, I loiter at the edge of the establishment’s front door. A server from the restaurant next door approaches me to explain. You can buy an “ATM Card” load it with money and then buy a whole liter of Carlsberg beer at ten Malaysian Ringet (divide by 4 to get US equivalent). SO CHEAP!
I hand my money over immediately. We load my card. I pour, and without waiting for anyone else to control my fate, have a crisp, cold, bubbly, draft beer in my hand. I settle in to pet the bar kitty and drink my beer.
A week or so later, the waiter knows us by name and he knows our order: Grilled Chicken Sandwich, topped with baba ganoush (eggplant spread), feta, tomato and lettuce on crisp rosemary brioche, sesame dressed coleslaw, and french fries…don’t forget a side bottle of ketchup…also an economical 20 Malaysian Ringget or $5.00US. This is pretty great. Halloween was coming up, and I knew right where I’d be spending the evening.
I carved my pumpkin, Leslie dressed up as a pirate, and with Sergio the Parrot perched on her shoulder we headed straight to the Beer ATM…with the pumpkin…
…who also enjoyed a beer.
It would be wrong of me to keep the magic of the Beer ATM all to myself.
Now, I’m not sure the heavily Muslim culture of Malaysia and the people of formerly pirate infested area of the Melacca Strait appreciate either Halloween or Pirates as much as we Americans do, and I’m pretty sure Leslie culturally appropriated the majority of her outfit, but the marina crowd took it in stride and laughed. They took our pictures, and gave us the side eye for enjoying our beer in the company of a Pirate Raja Jack-O-Lantern. By the end of the night, the squid boats were out in full force giving the pumpkin a perfect green glow to bring out his eyes.
Then, we ate him.
I stand by my decisions.
P.S. As you can tell, Leslie is really behind on this blog. Halloween at Christmas? Floggings will continue until her morale improves.