I’d only been in KL six weeks before I got my second plane out of central Malaysia. The first time, if you remember, was our trip to Kuching and Miri in Sarawak, less than a month ago. This time, as I explained on my last blog, it was to abandon Ian on the day we moved into our new flat and head to Phuket, Thailand for a five day writing retreat.
The flight to Sarawak took a little over two hours. The flight to Phuket was half that. I hardly had time to drink my too-hot tea before it was touch down.
So, sorry, KL, but one of the best things about living there is the wealth of brilliant places I can fly to in the blink of an eye. Oh, and there’s a low cost airline too, Air Asia (not that it is always the cheapest!).
I arrived lateish on Friday and by Sunday evening I felt so relaxed, refreshed and renewed that if I’d had to fly home after just a long weekend I’d not have felt too cheated. Only, if I had flown home Sunday I’d have missed the twice weekly treat that is Nok and Jo’s.
When Anne, the leader/organiser of our retreat, told us that our entertainment that night was to go to a buffet and lady boy show, I was underwhelmed. I’d seen them before, wasn’t much of a fan of buffets and thought the shows could be a bit corny.
Melinda and I arrived early, spotting Ian (our lone male in the group and who confusingly shares my husband’s name and age but there the similarity ends as my Ian cannot ride a unicycle) already perched on a bar stool made of driftwood behind a large cool bottle of Chang beer. Willingly, we grabbed our own mismatched stools in a bar that was pretty much like any other bar I had been into (though I don’t expect every landlord makes his own chairs). Rugby shirts from all over the world hung from the ceiling, the general decor was ‘sports bar’ with splashes of clashing colours. We could hear some music coming from somewhere, could have been a bloked with a guitar, but we chose to stay at our bar for a while and wait for the others. This was chilled. This was nice.
Soon we were shown to our table, right at the front, beside a small stage on which sat a Filipino with the face of a chap lost in his music, with a voice like Neil Young. Ian ended up with the frontmost seat, but as he is a trained actor, he was prepared to be sat on and caressed by a dodgy looking bloke in a dress later.
We all clinked our beers and wines and settled down with our buffet. I was surprised to find chili con carne on offer as well as some fine pork ribs in the otherwise Thai buffet, but I guess they wanted to make everyone happy. And oh boy, they did that!
When the show began, three gorgeous women took to the stage, slim of waist and svelte of limb, wearing bikinis, feathers and perfectly applied make up. They could not be men, could they?
The music belted out. They mimed. One of the girls had to be new to this as I was reminded myself as a young girl, desperately trying to join in the Time Warp but not knowing all the moves, so throwing nervous glances at the others to check on the steps, so I could follow, only a second behind everyone else. Then I realised, two of the three had boobs, one most definitely did not and when they did have a pair they were rather too round and stiff to be natural. I was beginning to realise I had been had.
As they slinked down from the platform and away back stage, the rear view of a dark slim figure with Diana Ross hair approached through the crowd. She turned. Her greying white satin dress, with just a few snags, revealed very prominent nipples, modeled on what my father would call ‘chapel hat pegs’ and a salmon pink g-string visible below. She burst into ‘One Moment in Time’ and slowly it dawned on us that her face was almost an exact replica of Whitney Houston’s complete with cheekbones and lips that had been created by collagen. The trouble with her lips, combined with the fact that she probably did not really know the words to which she mimed, meant that they were barely able to enunciate the letters. I decided to try to lip read and see what she was really saying and the word that made me stifle my giggles behind my hand was ‘destiny’, pronounced each time as ‘destimwee’.
Next, after a singer so sinewy that she was either an ex-bodybuilder or about 65, the trio reappeared to sing ‘Man I Feel Like a Woman’ and I could not help but stare at hole the lead singer had in her fishnets and wonder whether other ‘bits’ had been chopped off. The entire act was a glorious a spoof and the comedy was not lost on us. We ordered more drinks and settled in for what would turn into a great night.
It was the large bloke with a moon face and pockmarked cheeks, whom we all nicknamed separately, The Diva, was our favourite. Belting out silent opera his lips over-trembled and cheeks shook with the skill of someone who knew exactly what kind of humour would transcend all languages and culture. Anne said he used to perform ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’. I’d love to have seen that. I apologise to any gender-aware folk out there that I should be so disrespectful by calling him a bloke, but hey, he did have hairy legs.
Yes, Ian was sat on, but frankly, it was not at all scary for him to experience nor us to watch, and we all loved the fact, after the show, that we could sit up on stage with the cast for cheesy photos.
Yet, even when the show was over, the fun didn’t stop. The superb singer-guitarist returned, this time taking requests and inviting the audience to join him. An Aussie borrowed his guitar and sang a song with the word ‘F**k’ in it a lot, and then a Russian tried out the bongos, followed by his mate who sang what may have been a folk song (who knew?) but whatever it was, it might have done well at Eurovision.
By 10.30 we were one of only three tables left. We’d sung ourselves hoarse to Hotel California, Brown-Eyed Girl and Saw Her Standing There (sorry, Ian (my Ian this time) but I can’t resist asking for all the songs you usually do, especially when you are not here to join in the fun), it was time for a young Australian girl with gorgeous long blonde hair to take over the microphone. Inevitably I requested an Adele song and she and her friend took it in turns to wow us with their voices. I think even the guitarist, by now relegated the bongos, was blown away.
Soon, it was only us and the youngsters who were left, and though the staff didn’t exactly start turning the stools upside down and putting them on the vacant tables we did decide that maybe it was time to leave. Our new young friends were aged between 19 and 21, younger than Sam and Josh, and yet, we felt like old-friends right away. Is that the magic of holidays? Or is it sunshine and beach? Or beer? Or just the fact that for once in my 50 odd years I really ‘went out to play’. I wish they could bottle Nok and Jo’s.