The Nightmare from Down Under: Paying the price for gluttony

 |   |  1 min read

The Nightmare from Down Under: Paying the price for gluttony

The small city of Melaka two hours south of Kuala Lumpur is considered the cuisine capital of Malaysia, and my happy task there for a few days was to sample then write about the various foods -- notably the highly-spiced Baba-Nyonya style for which Melaka (aka Malacca and other variants) is renown.

But with so many styles still to be sampled I decided to stay on longer and, to save money, check into a ridiculously cheap guest house ($7 a night) in Chinatown.

And all that day I ate well and with great frequency: breakfast of rice porridge and dried pork at a spit-floor Chinese place in an alley; mid-morning laksa and sweet coffee by the riverside, lunch of Baba Nyonya-style chicken, then at dusk the local bus to the Kampong Portugis area just outside of town for dinner where their speciality was Portuguese-Indian food.

That night by the Straits of Melaka I again traversed the menu with professional determination: a brutally hot devil’s curry, tart ginger clams, baked cuttlefish; and prawns sambal washed down with a couple of large beers. My research that night cost about $25.

Later at the rundown guesthouse I fell into a sound sleep only to be awoken an hour later with a sudden and unwelcome feeling in my stomach. I had to very quickly tiptoe along the old wooden corridor past where other guests were sleeping and down two flights of uneven stairs to find the unlit bathroom out the back.

However the ancient floorboards squeaked with every urgent footfall and the guests stirred and grumbled loudly. As they did on my return -- then every hour or so afterwards as my days of gluttony reached their foul and often sudden conclusion.IMGP0001

Just before dawn I finally fell asleep, but was jolted awake by the call to prayer from the nearby mosque, gongs from the Chinese temple, an elderly neighbour having a cigarette and morning spit, and finally a dog fight below my window.

I got up drained and weary and knowing that my day was only going to get worse.

Ahead of me was five hours on a bus to Singapore, one without modern conveniences.

I knew that I and, more worryingly, my fellow passengers might have to endure the awful consequences of my gourmand greed . . .

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Something articles index

THE ROLLING STONES REVIEWED, NOV 22, 2014: It's all over now

THE ROLLING STONES REVIEWED, NOV 22, 2014: It's all over now

So this is the end. The final concert on the Rolling Stones 14 on Fire tour. And there are no other tours scheduled. They won't go on the road again, and we can dismiss Keith... > Read more

SOUL FOOD Y'ALL: Inna German style?

SOUL FOOD Y'ALL: Inna German style?

To be honest, for many decades I thought succotash was some kind of cuss word. That was probably because I'd seen the perpetually angry Loony Tunes character Yosemite Sam bellow out... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Hank Wilson: She Thinks I Still Care (1973)

Hank Wilson: She Thinks I Still Care (1973)

Back in '99, the country singer Garth Brooks adopted an alternate persona as the Australian-born pop singer "Chris Gaines" and released an album under that name. The idea was that Gaines... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Patti Smith; Original Classic Album Series

THE BARGAIN BUY: Patti Smith; Original Classic Album Series

Although few have done it as successfully, or with such frequent inspiration, Patti Smith has had her followers, acolytes and copyists. Which makes it a little harder to come to her innovative... > Read more