Sam Khoo’s Mini Camp (M$4.50)
Monday 18th Nov. 85
This place is described in Lonely Planet as a backpacker’s centre. It being the start of the Malaysian school holidays, it’s also a centre for teenagers from KL and Penang to come to for a couple of days. Like teenagers everywhere, but immeasurably better behaved than those I’ve taken camping from London, they are noisy and sleep little. They’re also curious, that is when they’re not practising dance steps and drowning out conversation with their portable ghetto-blasters set at full blast.
I probably wouldn’t mind so much if the popular music here was as good as a lot of western music can be. But the universal music they play is euro-disco, a conveyor belt on auto-reverse of computerised beats, mindless rhythms with no impact on the soul, just on the soles.
I had a conversation on the beach with Aznam, a fifth former who was escaping his classmates and teacher in order to sneak a smoke, tobacco rather than marijuana which is a capital offence/drug. When his two days were finished he would have to spend the rest of his holiday with his school books. With demanding pressures from both parents and school, the only road to success is through study. He wants to be a mechanic, or maybe a bus driver, because they pay well. And so the aspirations of the fathers are visited on their sons.
View from hill top near the Chandek Kura Resort, formerly Sam Khoo’s Mini Camp.
We all stay in A-frame thatched shacks, which we westerners refer to as chicken coops. It’s lights out at 11pm, which is just as well because the youths wake up at four or five in the morning. For me it’s not so comfortable, but it’s certainly of interest.
In the papaya tree behind the outside wash basin I was using this morning, a pair of black and white hornbills gorged themselves. I recall seeing a crocodile swimming down the river which ran beside the bus station in Malacca and realise that for a while I’m getting back to nature before it gets back at me.