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Friday, April 20, 2007


Update on card-game scam

At my guest house I got talking to Sarnta who is from Lithuania. She has a friend, another traveller, who is Norwegian. As far as I can remember, this is the story that the Norwegian woman told to Sarnta.

She met some people in KL and was given the story of a daughter visiting Norway and could she come and reassure the mother that the daughter would be safe there. She went.

After she had reassured the mother, she was given a nice dinner and was introduced to the father. He works in a casino dealing cards. He asked the Norwegian if she would like him to teach her how to cheat at cards. She said she wasn't interested as she never played cards. 'No, it's OK. Just for fun.' he said. So she goes along with it. Next he says that there was a man coming who is from Brunei. He had had a big win at the casino and now they wanted to win the money back. 'Would you like to join in, just for fun. You don't have to put up any money.' Once again, she goes along with it. She's not putting up any money. She has nothing to lose.

The man from Brunei is apparently very rich, is very well dressed and wearing expensive jewellery. They start to play. He starts to loose and she starts to win. At one stage there is about $US50,000 sitting on the table. Most of it would be hers except she didn't put any money up in the first place. The man from Brunei needs to leave but he is returning in an hour. After he goes they put it to her -- if she can go to the ATM and draw out $7,000 and put it into the game, she can keep half the winnings from the next round. She stands to win quite a lot of money. She tells them that there is no way she has $7,000 in her bank account and asks to be excused. They take her back to where they picked her up and she is safe.

This scam is not particularly Malaysian. I know a man who had a similar experience in Bangkok. His drink was drugged. He lost a considerable sum of money.

After a friend read my earlier post he pointed to a story that his brother wrote after a visit to Bali. It's a good read -- maybe required reading for all travellers. You will find it at http://www.geocities.com/joekarnt/ . From that page click on the 'Joe in Bali' link and from the drop-down menu 'Death story'.

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Monday, April 09, 2007


The last blacksmith

The unofficial name of the street I'm currently living in is Harmony Street. In this street there are quite a range of temples: Taoist, Hindu, Moslem and Buddhist and also a Methodist church. The mosque broadcasts prayers over the PA several times every day. Apparently these times are negotiated with the other temples so there isn't a clash. Hence the name.

The official names in the street change for every block and relate to the shops that traditionally filled the street. One block is Jalan Tukang Emas -- Goldsmith Street. Our part of the street is known as Jalan Tukang Besi -- Blacksmith Street. I'm told there was a time when the shop-houses in the block housed mostly blacksmiths. When I first visited Melaka in 2004 there were only two left. They were still active and could be seen working every day.

Two days ago the second-last blacksmith died. Apparently he was only in his late fifties. Blacksmiths' lungs are perhaps not in good condition with all the coal vapours they breathe. The only surviving blacksmith in Jalan Tuking Besi, I'm told, is over sixty. Each of these guys was the last in his line. Their sons have followed other careers.

I wonder how long until Blacksmith Street is only a name.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Who says you can tell where Asians are from?

At the ticket window I was told the Melaka bus left from platform seven at 10.30. It was already 10.30, there were two buses there and neither was going to Melaka. I asked a girl who I thought was Chinese and therefore local. Turned out to be Japanese and more lost than me. Still we managed to catch the bus. Miyoko had no accomodation booked and I was able to introduce her to Sama Sama when we reached Melaka.

That night a few of us were talking around a table. There was another woman who I knew to be Japanese and she was chatting with Miyoko. I wondered why they were chatting in English. And then the other woman said to Miyoko, 'Where are you from?' After Miyoko told her, they started speaking Japanese.

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