worst day traveling koh tao to bangkok backpacking malaysia thailand what not to do tips and tricks

Malaysia – A Cautionary Tale from your Bird Abroad

If you’re familiar with my blog the following story may not surprise you. I’ve been known in the past to make some poor decisions under the influence of alcohol and this story is no different. This is the trouble with being a hedonist with a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out), I just can’t say no to a good time.

My trip to Malaysia started with some epically poor decision making. I hadn’t actually been ‘travelling’ (read: with a giant pack and comfortable footwear) for quite a while. I’d been too busy on weekend jaunts around Europe with my wheelie carry on and had forgotten a key lesson, one that I was set to be reminded of in a most cruel fashion.

ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS seperate your cards and cash. Don’t do what I did and drink too much Tiger beer, before venturing to the beach for a night time swim, with your entire means of paying for things in a little pouch that you leave in the sand. It’s a really bad idea, like really bad…this is a time where you can learn from my mistake, no need to go making it yourself.

I had arrived off the plane from London that evening and had gone into Langkawi town for a cheap leg wax (Asia is the only place I can afford beauty treatments). I bought some beers to share with my hostel, (Two Peace Hostel – Highly Recommend, the owner is a total Dude) from a restaurant because it’s nigh on impossible to buy them from a store in a predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

When I returned to the hostel my strange bedfellows were drinking a prestige whisky called ‘King Robert’ which was much better than Tiger apparently, so suddenly all six beers were for me. Lucky me.

This bunch of kind young dutch things were very impressed that I had just arrived from throwing myself into the freezing waters of Scheveningen beach. They invited me to join their game of Ring of Fire, or King’s Cup, or Circle of Death, or one of its other equally unappealing names. It’s one of those games that everyone knows but it has an entirely different name and set of rules depending on where you’re from. The only constant is the central vessel and a pack of cards, much like spaghetti bolognaise, it’s a pretty basic concept but everyone makes it differently.

It was obvious from their slim waists and clear skin that these girls had not been to university yet. When I said I was 25 they were all amazed that this geriatric, who outstripped them by half a decade, was still keen to sit on the floor and recite Premier League Football clubs. (Thank you England for your obsession with football and making that an unavoidable part of my time in London.)

In a sad attempt to prove I was still ‘hip’ I joined in the gang as they headed out for a late night swim. This is the point where Future Bella should have arrived to tell slightly pissy-eyed Bella to leave her purse behind, reminding her that there is nothing to buy on the beach at night, so a purse is a wholly unnecessary accessory for a trip to the seaside. Future Bella let current Crapulous Bella down, she was probably hungover and hadn’t remembered to charge her time turner or something.

So we swam, we laughed, we drank beer, we made friends and I went to sleep in my bunk blissfully unaware of what I had done. It wasn’t until the morning when I was trying to get my taxi to the ferry terminal that I realised my purse was gone. I ransacked my dorm as quietly as I could, hunting for the stray purse, I double checked all of my bags and ran all the way back to the beach on a one-woman grid search. It was nowhere to be seen. 

My hostel owner, the Dude with a capital D I mentioned earlier, woke up and tried his best to help me but it was clear that I was going to miss my ferry to Koh Lipe. He said my best plan of action was to get money wired via Western Union and then pick it up in the main street. Western Union seemed awfully quaint for some reason, I hadn’t even considered it, but it turns out it’s actually a wonderful service (Thank God). I made the shame-faced call to my Mother to inform her that her 25 year old daughter had done a silly and was still needing help from afar. Mother came to the rescue and did it all online in a matter of minutes so I just had to find a WU office to pick up the cash from. Simples.

Langkawi doesn’t actually open until 11am and many shops don’t open at all on a Monday. I waited outside the first WU I saw but soon found out it was closed until 2pm, a strange guy also kept trying to sell me weed so I moved on pretty quickly. The second office told me they had no cash left and to try further up the road. The third office told me my reference code was one number short, I had to run into a cafe and beg to use their wifi so I could call mum and get that extra number. I went back with all my digits only to be told their systems were down and they couldn’t serve me.

Time is marching on at this point and I’m in danger of missing the second and final ferry of the day. As I rounded the last bend of the main road I saw a hut off in the distance with the WU sign on it, all my hopes were resting on this place being open, functional and stocked with cash.

That benevolent black lady in the sky also known as God must have been looking down on me because this little hut was all of those things. Praise be to Lucretia and her infinite wisdom. 

I got my cash and jumped in a cab to the ferry terminal where I could finally rest easy, knowing I would be seeing my friends soon and they would be able to bail me out of my self inflicted crap heap.

And if it couldn’t get worse than that, the leg wax was patchy and she had burnt my skin. Bugger me Malaysia, I know it was basically all my fault but what a shitter of a time that was.

Leave a Reply