Tag Archives: Pinang

Day 18: “Ketamin, Opium cocaine…” – Ipoh, Malaysia

Biggie and Kel drove us 140 km and then dropped us off at a petrol station, near Pinang, about 150 km from the Thailand border. We waited there for nearly two hours until someone finally picked us up. The vehicle that stopped, though, was certainly worth the wait.

A shabby white bus pulled up with three men inside: two older men, Hasni and ‘The Chief’, in the front, and a younger man, Daud, in the back with us. The men were part of Malaysia’s anti-narcotics squad.

Drug law in Malaysia is one of the strictest in the world. Long jail sentences and heavy fines are mandatory for suspects caught with controlled substances and the death penalty is prescribed for drug traffickers.

After some brief chit-chat, Hasni turned around from the passenger seat, looked me straight in the eye and asked, “ketamine, opium, cocaine? You want to try?”


“You what?” I asked, eyebrow raised.

“Would you like to try some ketamine, opium, cocaine, or ice maybe some ice?”

A silence hung in the air for a few seconds, before the three policemen all erupted into howls of laughter.

“Your face”, wept Hasni, as Daud slapped me on the back. “If you had said yes”, continued Hasni, wiping a tear from his eye. “We would have had to kill you”.

As he said these words the minibus went deathly silence once more. No more laughing, no more smiles.

I looked at each man. Daud and Hasni seemed to be staring into my soul and even The Chief, who was driving, shot me a glare from the rear-view mirror.

The whole bus then exploded into howling laughter once more.


Day 17: “Do you like hiking?…” – to Ipoh


“So, anyway, do you like hiking?” Michael asked the driver, Andy, for the second time in ten minutes.

“No, not really,” replied Andy. He seemed a rather deadpan, serious kind of guy.

“What’s the name of the tallest mountain in Malaysia?”

“Errm, I am not sure”

“Have you ever hiked up there?”


“How long would it take to hike up there?”

“I don’t know”

About nine seconds passed before Michael asked, “Are there many mountains near Ipoh?”

“Yes, there are a few,” said Andy, checking his watch.

“Have you ever hiked up any of them?”

Erm, no. But I think I may have driven up one before with my family a few years ago”.

“Oh wow!” said Michael, with wide-eyed sincerity, “how long do you think it would take to hike up there?”

“I do not know, I drove up there”, he sighed, “I do not go hiking”

“How tall was the mountain?”

“I don’t know”

“Can you recommend anywhere to go hiking in Ipoh?”

Andy turned his head and through squinted eyes studied his interrogator, Michael, for a few seconds.

His moustache twitched slightly on his upturned lip and he visibly shuddered. He then turned his head forward again, took a deep breath and turned the radio on. I was nearly crying in the back, chewing my seatbelt, with repressed laughter.

Despite Michael’s bizarre hiking integration, Andy kindly dropped us off right outside our hotel, the Sun Golden Inn, in Ipoh.

“Thank you very much, Andy,” I said as we got out of the car.

“I really admire what you are doing” he replied. “Every day must be a real struggle for you. Your powers of patience and determination are truly commendable”

“Yeah, hitchhiking can be tough sometimes,” I replied.

“I wasn’t talking about the hitchhiking,” Andy said, as he eyed Michael trying to untangle his backpack from the gear stick.