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Advertise on the Tentacle

December 2, 2015

The Monkey Bar

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The Matang Wildlife Centre has a unique way of raising money. They opened a bar.


The establishment is located on Jalan Song about 3 kilometers from the old section of town. Within walking distance of several large and small hotels, it is a perfect tourist location. Unfortunately, the visitors rarely visit.


The bar is long and narrow with tables on the inside and outside of the pub. They park about six people. To the rear sits a short area where liquor is brought to the patrons. There are about six bar stools where customers can converse with the barkeep.


The walls are decorated with art work of the denizens of the jungle. Orangutans, clouded leopards and various reptiles burnish the brown walls.


The music is loud; very loud and not recognizable by me. My friend and I had to yell at each other. I now understand how my Dad felt when he first saw the Beatles on television and promptly played a Glen Miller record.


Liquor is cheap, the cheapest in Kuching. Since my drinking days are over and have been for the past 20 or so years, I ordered a seltzer water with a twist of lime. The cost was 75 cents. Beer was about $1.50. In comparison, other bars charge $3.00. Well, okay, expensive by Malaysian standards.


The Matang Wildlife Centre has many volunteers. Too many. There are only so many cages that need to be cleaned and other tasks so they place people in the bar. To them, it's a big holiday serving drinks and knowing they are benefiting the wildlife center.


They split the proceeds with the owner of the bar 50-50. Lucky guy.


The female customers are incredibly stunning. They are tall, willowy, long black hair, tanned skin and moon eyes. They usually sit in groups of four or five with a male companion. They are always on their cell phones. I am not sure who they talk to, but I have espied enough times to know they are usually playing games. I guess it's just too loud to talk. They sip their drinks very slowly and carefully to make sure they last. The Orientals have zero tolerance for alcohol, and two beers make them high. The one young guy just seems to sit there.


The guys, usually Malays, sit in groups of five or six. They order a bucket which is a bucket filled with ice with six beers. They also drink them slowly. They do not seem to bother the girls. And they smoke. A lot.


The owners say things really get going after 10 P.M. Every time I have been in there, I have been the only one except for my friend where we have to shout at each other. Sometimes, later, around 9, the girls and guys wander in. I usually stay about half an hour because the music is just too loud for these 64-year-old ears.


At one time I would have enjoyed it, but not now. I listen to music from the 60s, 70s 80s and 90s. I just read that Justin Bieber has tied John Lennon's record by having the same number in the Top 10. Also, Adele has an album, whoops, CD, called "25" that is supposed to be greater than the Michael Jackson one called "Thriller." I will have to listen to all these releases.


...Life is good. . . . .


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