WEIGHT: 57 kg
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No hot shower, no air con, no TV, no TP, just a bed and a fan and an attached toilet with no light bulb. I drop my bag on the floor, exchange my jeans for a thin pair of shorts and my shoes for thongs.
I wander down to the nearest convenience store, buy a Bintang and a packet of kretek cigarettes and prepare to gulp and inhale. I want to gulp and inhale the streets, the people and the music but I am held up by two girls at the counter.
The clerk smiles knowingly, but both are oblivious to his reaction and to my presence as I wait to be served. They are incredibly tight and working the crowd like a true cover band: shamelessly tacky, far too rehearsed and predictable, but appealing perfectly to the mess of drunken tourists. They have a solid stage presence and I can see the appeal.
A fat Australian man in board-shorts notices me, perhaps aware of the rigidness in my posture, that I am sipping my beer mechanically or that I am not quite comfortable here. He comes over and shows me that he is comfortable here and suggests that I should be too. I accept his offer, inwardly cursing myself for doing so. I sit down at the table. The fat man takes a bottle of vodka from the table, fills a tumbler halfway to the top, lights it on fire and gulps it down in one.
Minutes later, he finds a soggy cigarette that has been left on the table and eats it, filter and all. A waitress hands me a beer and the fat man gestures to pay for it. I attempt to resist, not keen to owe him anything, but he insists and, as if staking his claim, launches into a rant. I own eight houses over here and my wife and kids are asleep in one of them right now. Her body looks dangerously unhealthy. She is gaunt and skeletal but wearing a proud and genuine smile.