June 06, 2005

The Weirdest Thing

I have to mention this because it's happened 2 times already since I've arrived in KL. I'm not sure if there is some tourist scam going on or if I am having the wrong assumptions about these genuinely honest people. Everyone is really so helpful and quick to start up a conversation, that I feel bad to be suspicious.

So... my first day here I sat down and not more than a minute later there was a happy 30-something woman commenting on how white I am. Here name was Vanessa and her friend sat on my other side. When I said I was from Toronto, she said her sister will be moving there in about a month and her family is very worried for her. Vanessa asked me if I would like to chat with her sister and give her some information about Canada. I felt there was no harm in that and if their place was only a few minutes away, why not? We ended up in a cab out in some KL subburb and I was introduced to her Uncle. Apparently her mom was ill and the sister had to take her to the hospital. She would return soon and in the meantime the Uncle made small talk about Canada, what I do, what he does. He has worked in casinos all around the world. He volunteered to teach me a fool proof way of winning Black Jack. In 10 minutes he taught me the game and how to cheat with hand gestures. The subject changed to his friend Mr. Chow who would be coming over to play a game... for money. Everything happened so fast and next moment I was sitting next to my partner (Vanessa) with $100 US of the Uncle's money in my pocket to bet against Mr. Chow who placed $2000 US on the table. Flaberghasted is probably a good word here! Everyone was so smiley and nice and said "don't worry, this is for fun!". I took Vanessa aside and said I wasn't comfortable betting someone else's money, that I expected to only be talking with her sister, and that I need to get back to the city. Ok, it was fine. As quickly as it all happened, I was back in a car downtown. Vanessa was smiling when she said bye, but I also saw a glint of sadness which made me wonder if I was over-reacting.

And then... today as I waited to cross a road, a different 30-something named Kaka asked me where I was from. "Where you going?" To the monorail. "I'll take you!" She grabbed my hand and guided me across the road down the street to Burger King. "Here, come." She bought me an iced Milo and we sat down to talk with her cousin who had followed us (but remained behind us). When I replied "Toronto" to their question, the eyebrows raised and what would you know, she has a sister moving there!!! "Yes, many Malaysian are moving there because it's easy to get a Visa, not like the United States." I am then invited to go to Kaka's house and have her mom's home cooked Malay meal and talk about Canada. I said thank you for the offer but how about we meet at a coffee shop tomorrow? I ended up on her cell talking to Lisa the sister, and her telling me it has to be today, at her house. I said no a hundred times but thanks for the drink and felt awful for refusing her generosity. And there was that exact same glint of sadness in her eyes. What is this, REALLY??!!! P


  1. Pam, you got out in time!
    When I was in KL, I was stopped on the street 4 times in three days with identical stories, always involving a younger sister who just happened to have plans to go where I came from (Amsterdam in my case). In all cases she was a nurse, going to work for the biggest hospital in Amsterdam (which would trigger me to name it, and then they say: yeah, that's it! such a stupid trick!) and the family member who stopped me on the street (with a broad smile) insisted that I came with her/him to talk about it. I never went so far as you did, I mean, I like adventure, but I have to have some control (he he ;), so I just wish the sister luck and walk away, fending off an army of foot fetishists along the way. KL is real life man!

  2. Anonymous1:39 am

    pam, i am glad to hear that you got out and are safe and sound. i found this link on the internet about the same thing that you just went through. i am sending this to you to ease your mind about hurting those scamers' feelings. apparently, this is some old scam going on in southeast asia. read for fun. so you know. but please be careful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i am sure you can meet locals without having to go to their homes. by the way, be careful of all drinks offered by any strangers. buy them one instead to make friends.