Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rough landing

I'm finally getting around to writing about my recent vacation to Kuala Lumpur and Bali. Here is the first post in what is sure to be an epic series.

I started my vacation on no sleep. No sleep. Two nights before I left, I got liquored up to hell at a work function. The night before I left, I didn’t drink a drop and tried to go to sleep at 11 for my early trek to the airport. I can’t sleep at 11. I go to sleep it 5 most nights. Between 3 and 5, I probably stole five minutes of sleep. My alarm was set for 6:45. I got up an hour early. Didn’t sleep on the airport bus. Didn’t sleep on the plane - but then again I never do.

I landed in Kuala Lumpur a pile. I left my headphones on the plane. I realized it on the jetway, but I’d come to far to bother retrieving them. I didn’t like them anyway. For some reason, it took me two hours to get from my gate onto the hotel shuttle bus. 5% of it was unfamiliar airport, another 5% was airport inefficiency, but 90% was fatigue retardation. I kept wandering into random wings of the airport for some reason that had escaped me by the time I got to the wing I wandered into.

I headed for the Concorde Hotel near the airport, where I had a reservation. It cost $70 a night, which would prove to be over triple the price of the second-cheapest hotel I would stay at on this trip. I didn’t care. It was 5 minutes from the airport. It had beds. Sold.

I ate dinner at the hotel. I’m not one for eating at business hotels in foreign countries, but I was too beat to bother looking for anywhere else. I dined at around 7:30. The restaurant was largely dead. It was packed when I walked by it at quarter to 6. There was a three piece band. There were festive decorations. There was all kinds of promotional literature about events at this restaurant. Yet, Friday night at 7:30 - empty. This made me like the Concorde more. The Concorde, despite its outmoded 70’s style architecture and decor, desperately wanted to be a hip hotel. The whole place had the ambiance of a party that nobody showed up for.

After dinner, I headed to the hotel bar. I was beat, but still wanted a beer. As much as I appreciated the restaurant’s depressing failed-party scene, I had to move on. Plus, I love airport hotel bars, maybe even more than I love airport bars. The airport hotel bar, of course, was as dead as the airport hotel restaurant. More so. Only two Brits sat at one corner of the bar. I sat in the other corner. I was too wiped to talk about lories or lifts or allumminnum. I just wanted a beer.

A girl walked in. I saw her from the mirror behind the bar. I watched her walk through the door and walk toward the bar. I’m pretty sure she saw me in the mirror too. The place was chock full of empty seats, but I watched her walk to the barstool next to mine. She sat down. She was local, if not Malaysian than clearly from this part of the world. Attractive, of course. If she wasn’t, I can’t imagine I would be telling this story.

She started singing along with the American song being played over the PA. I ignored her. Why? I’ve been in Asia awhile. This was the start of my 6th trip to Southeast Asia. This was a cute girl going out of her way to sit next to the only dude who was alone at the bar, a hotel bar, an airport hotel bar. She was further calling attention to herself singing. It didn’t take me long to do the hooker math. There was no way this girl wasn’t working. She started singing louder and moving around a bit, touching my knee with hers. I stared daggers directly into my beer glass.

Two more people came in, Malaysian, a dude and a chick. They walked to the stage area. I recognized them as two of the three band members from the restaurant. The girl next to me got up. I saw her in the mirror walking toward the band. I turned around. Fuck. I knew this girl. She was the third band member. I saw her singing in the restaurant 20 minutes ago. She wasn’t a hooker at all. She may have even legitimately liked me. Other dudes came in. It was too late now. Actually, it was 9 p.m. On the first night of the trip, that was late enough. I went to my room and slept. I had to be up by 6 for my flight to Bali, after all.

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