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Death of an Adventure Traveller, Malacca, Malaysia

November 11, 2012

After several weeks of constant travelling and sight-seeing, when I got to Malacca I didn’t move for a few days but sat with my sketch book and caught up with a few tattoo design requests. Ringo’s Foyer Guesthouse was something of a hippy commune and I never did work out exactly who worked there, who was a guest and who had just turned up at some distant point and never left. Upon discovering that I was an artist they soon had me sitting on the steps, paint brush in hand decorating the staircase in the entrance. Since it was my brother’s birthday and he has a thing for lizards I painted one for him. Happy belated birthday bro, there’s a permanent tribute to you in a Malaysian hippy den.

At some point in the evening a door cracked open and an exceptionally decrepit-looking creature wobbled slowly out blinking its enormous house-elf eyes and looking for all the world like the product of a diabolical union between a gremlin and a sewer rat. On closer inspection it turned out to be a very small, ugly Yorkshire terrier named Bonsy. Bonsy had limes disease and her owners; a young South African couple who’d turned up at the hostel a few months ago and not got round to leaving, doted on her with intense parental love. Bonsy’s fur stuck up at angles and was sheared straight off in patches, including on the top of her head which made her look a little like a skeletal Bill Bailey. This was all in aid of tracking down the ticks which had caused her illness. I did attempt to get to know Bonsy when she pulled herself up and staggered across the rooftop garden like a slow-motion drunk, but in true Yorkshire terrier style she still had the energy to try and take my fingers off so I had to learn her story from her owner.

The South African couple had taught in South Korea for 2 years and found Bonsy dying by the side of the road. They fixed her up and adopted her and when their 2 years were up they took Bonsy with them. Instead of heading home though, the trio headed to Beijing where they bought bikes and started an epic adventure, cycling 3000 miles south to the southernmost point of Malaysia – Malacca, taking in China, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Singapore was off the cards since it was the first country that wouldn’t let Bonsy in. Bonsy had guarded her owners through Dengue fever in a remote village in Cambodia, passed through jungles and over mountains, run on beaches and river banks and rice paddies all over Asia and jumped up and down every morning to be put in the basket on the front of her owner’s bike and start a new adventure. I found it hard to reconcile the image of Bonsy intrepid in her basket, front paws on the rim, tongue and glossy coat flying in the breeze and eyes fixed on the horizon with the grumpy little bag of chicken bones and dull fluff growling on its cushion.

The next morning I was sat on the staircase trying to paint Alex’s lizard with only two colours and a cheap plastic paint brush when Bonsy’s parents returned from the vets’ in dark glasses and shuffled slowly towards their room; their trio down to two. The only Yorkshire terrier in the world to travel 3000 miles through Asia on a bicycle; gone but not forgotten. I decided it would be a good idea to actually leave the hostel and let the hippies grieve in peace. Malacca was wonderful and I’m honoured that I got to meet a true adventure heroine. Here’s a few snaps.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Suze permalink
    November 12, 2012 10:13 am

    You have your whole life to ‘shove your life into a canvas sack and get lost miles from home’ too – the only thing stopping you would be you …. xx

  2. November 12, 2012 5:21 pm

    How fabulous to leave your mark (and Alex’s) as you travel. You are evry fortunate to be able to do so – even with a cheap plastic paint brush. Very sad about the dog now. x

  3. November 12, 2012 9:00 pm

    That is such a sad story. What pain! I can feel it from here. What a shame that you could not paint a picture of the younger Bonsy somewhere at the hostel.
    I love the lizard though. Nice to think that the spirit of Alex has managed to get further east than Germany.

    • November 14, 2012 2:28 am

      I did contemplate doing a Bonsy tribute on a step but by that point all I had left was neon orange and navy paint (and a chunky plastic bristle brush) – I thought it would probably be more terrifying than reassuring!

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