I used to think jet lag was a myth propagated by people who secretly wanted to boast about their travels, but for the last week I've been a zombie, psychotic with tiredness yet unable to sleep. Sue and I occasionally meet up in the living room at two in the morning to catch an old episode of a Jamie Oliver cookery programme or a sniper competition. If only they could combine the two.
We had been away from Saratok for five weeks and now everything seems strange again. The day after we arrived I sleepwalked into Everise, our local supermarket, to be greeted as a long lost friend by one of the assistants who urgently directed me to the storeroom. "Tiger beer" he said proudly, indicating a pallet load of blue cardboard wrapped twenty-four packs. His logic was clear - a pink man coming to the store on New Year's eve must be in need of beer. I staggered to the check-out with a case while smiling dutifully. Then I witnessed another mystery I've yet to get to the bottom of - at the check-out the price of the pack was marked down from the 167 ringgits on the label to 67 ringgits. This always happens to me at this supermarket on the rare occasions they have cases of beer, while in the big towns the price is typically around 160-170 ringgits. At the other supermarket in Saratok they simply mark up beer at a low price, 45-70 Ringgits per case. I'm guessing that because of its remoteness Saratok has arbitrarily declared itself a duty-free zone, but I'm scared to ask in case I open up a can of worms. Maybe it's a special beer-addicted pink persons' discount?
By the way, every town in Saratok, maybe the whole of Malaysia, has its own symbol, which is usually represented on a large piece of urban sculpture somewhere prominent. Kuching has a big statue of a cat and Sibu a swan, while Sarikei has a pineapple. Opposite is a photo of Saratok's symbol. I think it's a catfish on crutches trying to make love to a prawn. The nobbly thing at the bottom that looks like an HIV virus is actually a durian, the vile smelling but tasty fruit popular throughout southeast asia. Somehow it seems to capture the spirit of Saratok.