the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

In The Navy…Kuching KFC


While on HMNZS Wellington (F69) we sailed into Kuching on the island of Borneo, Malaysia; a lovely if not out-of-the-way city at the end of a slow, long cruise up river from the ocean…in transit we passed the kind of wooden canoes you normally only see on Discovery Channel, and while we were lined up on deck in 35 degree heat we couldn’t help but think what hell we had entered.

TK (left) and Cookie outside KFC, Kuching, 1991

So, after laying up alongside the wharf about 1100 local time (we always aimed to be in any port about 1000, tides pending) the rest of the working day was spent ‘chipping and painting’ and other ship husbandry. I remember distinctly on of my mates losing his ‘placcie’ – standard issue plastic jandal – over the side, and the water was so dank and brown with a thick film of oil and scum on the surface, this sandal sat on the surface for an eternity before finally breaking through the film and sinking out of sight. Another rating went into the water chasing his wallet and spent the afternoon in hospital having his stomach pumped!

But the time all sailors await finally came round, Shore Leave!

I went ashore with a couple of mates, TK and Cookey (everyone has a nickname in the Navy) and we wanted to get a feed before a bit of shopping before a night on the town. Quickly we stumbled upon a KFC, and in we went…

I have to say here, outside there was a crowd of young guys all trying to look and act like Marlon Brando standing by their scooters. These scooters were tricked up with all manner of extras, not unlike what we boys used to do with our push bikes as kids; big whip aerials, large awhooga horns on the bars, high wide and handsome rear view mirrors, and an assortment of stickers and coloured panels and seats (has anyone seen Tommy? Similar to those scooters!). Anyway, at one point the call must have gone out as these young lads stubbed out the smokes and all boarded their steeds and one by one peeled off into the street to their new destination, like a flock of birds on migration. One hell of a funny sight, but the sound was like nothing I have ever heard! Over 100 Singer sewing machines firing up!! Hilarious!

So back to KFC…we went up to order our snack, and noticed that they sold beer in this restaurant, on the basis food was ordered as well. We had never seen anything like this and felt it would be rude not to partake in a couple of local lagers (Singa and Anchor are everywhere). So we ordered a dozen each and a six-pack of bread rolls and so started the afternoon towards blotto…

I kick myself for not taking more photos while in the Navy (I do have plenty but some moments will be lost to my memory only) but I had taken one of us three in the same KFC, some three or four hours later with a pyramid made of cans that stood about 6 feet tall! We had locals joining us for drinks and word had gotten to other boys on board and a trickle of them came through and joined us and added to it…I cannot say for sure, but the base would have been at least 20 cans across the base.

We didnt shop until the following afternoon…

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