Location: the remote island of Perhentian Besar, South China Sea, religiously Muslim and alcohol comes scarce, if at all. It has been two dry days now and desperation is kicking in. I scour the island in hope of even the quickest of drams. Stumbling on a sandy beach cove on the west coast I find a small shack store hidden beneath leafy palms on the perimeter of the jungle. Inside I meet a scruffy gent, gold on his fingers, one wonky eye, no doubt a pirate of a former life. Behind the counter he peddles local toddy and my eye quickly catches a bottle of Hook’s Rum, 40 percent proof. “How much’s the rum matey?” – “35RM.” – “I’ll give you 33RM for it?” – “Not a chance…. You can have half for 18RM?” – “Done.” He pours half the bottle into a wine glass and hands me the half bottle. I scurry back to the jungle. Five minutes and three sheets to the wind later, I’m back on the beach swaggering to the pirate shop. “What you got for 14RM?” – “I have half a bottle of Gin?” – “Pirates don’t drink gin! What about rum?”….. no response. I point to the now glum looking glass of rum from earlier. “What about that?” – “Fine, 14RM, Take it!” – “Have you a bottle for it?” – “You already took the bottle…” He pours the rum to a paper cup and grudgingly hands it over. I signal my leave “Ahoy there matey” to which he replies “that’s wrong….” – “You’re wrong ye olde poop deck…”. I quickly make for the treeline with my booty of booze.
The pirate had offered 35RM for the Rum with no chance of 33RM. I take the full bottle for 32RM. I am the true gentleman of fortune. With my 1RM gains I splurge on Oreos then settle back to the jungle canopy to share my spoils with a friendly tree squirrel. We sit beneath a chorus of squealing bats and curse the slow loris camouflaged to the tree above for his refusal to join us. The night is a jovial one filled with drunken sailor songs and stamping feet. Fanfan’s obligation for the night is to call me Captain Jack Sparrow (but she doesn’t).