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Malaysia 1974

December 16, 2011

I met Martha in Mill Valley after returning from several months in Indonesia in the summer of ’74.  I was visiting some shops in Mill Valley to try and sell some of the curios I purchased in Bali, on that trip and raise enough money to get my next ticket over there.  One of the shop owners was Susila Kreutzmann, wife of one of the Grateful Dead.  She had some girlfriends there when I walked in and one, Lynn, was really nice and told me to come over her house that evening to show my stuff to a bunch of her friends.  It was a great night with lots of wine and good weed and her friends bought a lot of my collection of Indonesian pieces.  I went back to visit a few times the next couple of weeks and eventually was introduced to Lynn’s younger sister, Martha.  Martha just got out of a stint in rehab having developed a real Jones from drinking Tanqueray and popping valium  like they were candy.  They told me she’s a great lady as long as I keep her away from booze, at all costs.  I was unsuccessful keeping her away from it two times.  The first was at a cowboy bar in Novato where she threw down 5 double tequilas when I went to the bathroom. When I came back she was the only one on the dance floor gyrating right in front of the band.  I took her to a Denny’s coffee shop to get her away from the bar and while in the waiting area she bit me on the cheek and wouldn’t let go until I slapped her.  The second time was at my cousin Jeff’s party and again she sneaked several shots and the rest of the night demanded I punish her since ‘she’s  been very bad’.  She wanted me to hit her and I refused.  Not my thing.

In the meantime I was saving my money for an eventual next trip back to Indonesia.   Lynn and her friends had a great idea.   Why don’t Martha and I go to Singapore, buy up a bunch of Chinese silk and have 100 cowboy shirts made that we can bring back  to California and sell.   Sort of a test run for a more large scale push, if it is successful.  So we took a Vogue pattern to Singapore, the classic cowboy shirt to have the tailors use on the first 100 shirts.  We got a cheap hotel in Singapore.  As  we emptied our luggage in drawers and shelves in the bathroom Martha noticed a plastic jar with pills in it.  I told her my sister who works for a doctor’s office gave me 100 codeine pills just in case we have a need for pain medication.  That’s all Martha needed to see.  She told me she had a bad headache and obviously continued to have for the following week because she took those pills 2 or 3 at a time day in and day out until they were gone.  It was pretty boring for me to watch her zoning out every where we went as she could seem wide awake one moment and then nod out while waiting for the light to change at a cross walk.  Mostly she just stayed in our room in her underwear to stay cool.  Singapore was very hot and humid and our room only had a fan.  After a few days I started spending a lot of the afternoons and early evenings at a outdoor cafe across the street from our hotel.  It was a place where both students and businessmen would hang out.  One day while sitting with a few Indian students and drinking liter bottles of Guinness, one of the students points across the street and says, “Ken, look at that girl”.  There was Martha in her panties and bra on the sidewalk.  I stood up and called over to her asking whaqt she wanted.  Martha yelled back across three lanes, “Ken, come over here and fuck me”!  The students got a big smile on their faces and all gave me a big thumbs up, as I walked across the street to get Martha back inside.   our room.  I was glad to see her finally finish the bottle so we could get down to doing our task buying the Chinese silk fabric for the shirts.  So after we bought it all and found a good tailor to do the job, we headed to Penang, Malaysia to hang out for a month, until our shirts were ready.  We got a hotel room, a cheap one, on Love Lane, in downtown, Georgetown.  First afternoon we find a money changer to change some traveler checks.  He asks us if we like to smoke heroin?  I told him I’d like to find some opium and he said he could get it but it would take a couple of days.  So, we sat down with him at a cafe, outdoors, in a good area for people watching, and he took out what looked like a very long coke spoon.  He hallowed out the middle of a cigarette. Then he poured some white powder, heroin, down the hallowed out part.  After twisting the end closed tight, he painted the whole outside of the cigarette with sweet coffee and lit it.  He passed it around to us and it was burning very slowly and evenly.  It lasted quite a while and after finishing we felt a little nausea but also pretty good, at the same time.  He did another cigarette and then we sat there for a couple of hours drinking coffee and sometimes talking and other times closing our eyes and falling into a dream world.  They call that ‘nodding’.  He told us if we’d like a really nice afternoon in the country to come to an address that he wrote down on a piece of paper.  The next day we got a tri shaw to take us to this really cool house with a huge porch, just outside of the city.  The money changer was sitting on the porch with a woman.  They took us inside and up to a bedroom with a beautiful king size bed.  They gave us one of those cigarettes and Martha and I smoked it.  We got very high and again the nausea hit us.  We laid down on the bed and the woman waved a big fan trying to cool us off a little.  She said if we took off our clothes we might feel better.   So we got naked and laid there holding each other and dreaming away.  It did enter my mind that maybe this guy and woman might rip us off or maybe something even worse, but, we were so stoned out from the heroin we were pretty much helpless.  The woman left the room and after a couple of hours came back and brought us some tea.  Then the guy showed up again and he gave us 50 balls of opium that we had paid for, in advance, the day before.  We got dressed and got out of there feeling very lucky that there had been no foul play.    Martha and I had a three room corrugated metal shack with a thatch roof in a fishing village called Batu Ferringhi.  It was very cheap.  Something like $1.50 US a day.  It had a front room and two bedrooms and the bedrooms had a plywood bed in each.  The first day we went into Georgetown and found a business that sold foam rubber and we got two pieces that were about 4 inches thick cut to the size of the plywood beds.  Now we could lie down in some type of comfort at night. Or as I did a few times lie down during the day, too.  When I was in Singapore I found a shop that made custom cassettes with whatever music you wanted.  I really loved Blind Faith’s ‘I can’t find my way home’ so I had them make one tape with that song only, over and over again, both sides.  It came in handy when I smoked one of those balls of opium and laid on my foam rubber bed.  The same song playing over and over again and I’d just lay there and dream away the days.  To think how I loved beaches so much but my love for the ‘nod’ was greater so I continued to spend days lying on my bed with the beach just several meters away.    These shacks had no air conditioning or electricity for that matter.  There was a Coleman lantern in each room.  There was an outhouse about 10 yards from our front door.  We were able to use the bathroom of one of the families who lived near our shack, to wash up.  Nights were a real adventure.  One of the corrugated metal walls in my bedroom did not reach the ground.  It was about 8 to 10 inches above the ground, so on occasion I’d be laying there in my ‘nod’ state, always with beads of sweat all over my body, and hear a chicken running in and around the room.  I didn’t bother with them. Eventually they would leave.  Both ends of the bed had walls and on both, all night long, I would hear the pitter pat of hundreds of small feet, which turned out to be geckos running up and down the metal walls.  It was pretty unsettling knowing they were just inches away from your head, but, they never crawled on me so I didn’t get too freaked out.  It bothered Martha more than it did me.  Some afternoons Martha would disappear for a couple of hours.  One day she told me I should come with her to her massage appointment.  So we walk to a home in the village and a very tall and beautiful Indian girl with hair down below her butt comes to greet us.  She shows us a room where Martha gets on a table, after taking off her clothes and the Indian girl strips down to just panties.  I sat close by and observed.  She oiled up Martha and proceeded to give her a full body massage and at the end she performed some sexual favors on Martha and I was almost foaming at the mouth to join in.  Finally the Indian girl leaves the room and Martha called me over to join her on that table and fool around.  It was great.  The visual foreplay was a new one for me.  So this was where Martha went on those afternoons.  I looked forward to the next visit.  Hahaha.  That night we went to a fun outdoor restaurant and just before we went I ate one of the balls of opium.  There were long tables where lots of people sat and it was easy and fun meeting people from all over the world.  Across from Martha and I was an Irish guy and his English friend.  After coming out of one of my many ‘nods’ at that dinner table I noticed Martha and the English guy sort of locked in on each other.  I looked under the table and they were playing with each other’s crotches with their feet.  I could swear Martha had an orgasm at that table.  I got pretty pissed off and we left and went back to our hell hole shack.  The next day was the day Muhammed Ali fought George Foreman in Zaire and we were able to watch the fight on a TV in a cafe nearby.  After the fight was over we walked back to our shack and I felt a wave of nausea come over me, just a few feet away from our front door.  I bent over and vomited onto the sandy ground.  I looked at what came out of me and the food was very identifiable.  The opium I ate the night before totally stopped my body from digesting the food at all.  While I was perversely enjoying that detail while feeling like crap, a commotion happened.  About 5 or 6 chickens ran over and started gobbling up that food I was contemplating over.  Wham bam, it was gone, just like that.  Immediately I felt cramps and had to use the outhouse.  Diarrhea took hold and I went back and forth to that outhouse from my bed so many times in that first day I must have worn a path into the ground.  I knew I had a fever and my body was aching and after the first few trips to the outhouse all that was coming out of me was water.  This went on all night long.  Finally the next day I slept pretty good until early evening, so weary and worn out.  I got up and walked into the front room heading for the front door and what I saw hit me like a ton of bricks.  There was Martha on her hands and knees with the English guy behind her and the Irish guy standing in front of her.  All of them naked and in the midst of an international threesome.  They all glanced over at me as I opened the door to head to the outhouse.  When I came back they were getting dressed and ready to leave.  They mumbled some kind of unintelligible half baked apology as they went out the door.   Martha brought me some water and lomotil to help get me through the night.  I always had lomotil around.  I knew it would immediately stop any type of stomach problem.   I had discovered it in east Africa a year before.  So on the third day I told Martha I was leaving that night and heading back to Singapore to get the shirts ready for shipping back home and that I would be going to Jogjakarta.  She hadn’t paid her share of money yet for the fabric and the tailor to get the shirts made and she said she’d send it to poste restante to the post office in Jogja, since all she had were traveler checks and I wouldn’t be able to cash them.  That night when I got dressed I noticed my clothes were very very loose on me.  I took the ferry to Butterworth and then got the midnight train to Singapore.  On the train I took some valium and the next thing I knew a guy was shaking me.  It was morning with the light pouring into the train and a Malaysian border immigration officer was asking me for my passport.  He examined it and told me to gather my stuff and come with him.  I got off the train and walked with my day pack to an office just a few yards this side of the fence where Singapore starts.  We sat in that office all day.  One guy after the next grilled me on why I was still in their country while my visa had run out 2 days earlier.  Finally late in the afternoon they felt sorry for my emaciated looking state and let me board a train from the border into Singapore.  I stayed at Peony Mansions, a travelers’ hostel type place.  I met some great new friends there.  A German named Detlef was one I got really close to.  We’d go do all kinds of fun stuff for the next couple of weeks.  I had to wait for the shirts to be finished and then ship them, and then I’d be free to head down to Indonesia.  The one thing that really stands out in my mind about Peony Mansions was the shower.  The pipe that came out of the wall with the shower head attached had an area around it that was totally open.  Maybe two inches of space all the way around the pipe.  Ever time I turned on the water, a half dozen or more flying cock roaches would come out from behind the wall and fly around in the falling water and they would bang into me and the walls, continuously, while I was soaping up and rinsing off.  It made me sweat it was so unsettling.  These cock roaches were 3 inches long, at least.  This was not a luxurious place.  Hahaha.  So, one night Detlef tells me we’re going down to Bugis St. for the open air market.  He says they have a tradition that at midnight, on Saturday nights, they clear all the stalls off the intersection and the transvestites come out and perform.  After watching some really beautiful girls, uh, boys, playing instruments and singing we were hungry, so we went down a side street where there were tables and chairs and people eating some great stir fry noodle dishes.  Before we sat down I realized that this was not one big restaurant, but, several restaurants.  Every couple of rows of tables had a guy on the sidewalk with a cart cooking up the food.  At first glance one would think it’s just one restaurant.  So the tables in the area closest to the intersection had more patrons than the ones further down the street.  Me and Detlef went down a few restaurants from the intersection.  All of a sudden a bunch of American sailors started showing up.  Three sat down at the first restaurant and I yelled over to them, ‘Hey, why not come down here and give this guy (I pointed over at the guy on the sidewalk) some business”.   So they got up from the table and walked down to where I was and chose a table where I had beckoned them to.  Now, everyone was happy except the big huge Chinese guy who owned the restaurant near the intersection and where those sailors were sitting until I yelled over at them to ‘come down here’.  He walked quickly towards me and said “you stole my business” and I saw the fist coming straight at my nose and quickly turned my head to the side and he caught me square on the jawbone between my eye and ear.  I went flying off my chair onto the ground.  I was pretty stunned.  The guy who hit me turned around and walked away.  Detlef helped me back onto my chair.  The pain was intense.  I told him I needed to find a hospital emergency room so we went and got a taxi.  I asked Detlef if he thought about coming to my defense, as he was 6ft. 6″ tall.  He said it was a better thing to not do anything otherwise 20 Bruce Lees would come out of the wood work and descend on our asses, doing way worse damage than that one punch I received.  The taxi driver asked me why I needed to go to an emergency room and when I told him what happened he suggested we go get the police and go back and have that guy arrested.  I told him no thanks, I don’t want to see that guy again and anyway it was my fault.


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