We got on a plane to London without revealing my condition to the airline, which would never have flown me in that condition. In London, a friend met us with an ambulance, and took me off to a private clinic. There, once again, they didn't operate. Instead they put me on a mixture of (I think) phenergyl and Valium, and basically knocked me out for a week. During that time I had terrible dreams of fighting with Abby, and once or twice I thought she was there to kill me. When I got out, we completed our breakup. I moved to a flat in Highgate. A month or so later I began my trip to the Far East. It seemed a good idea at the time...
I left for the Far East with a minimum of clothing and a maximum of manuscripts. Also a portable typewriter. The only thing I did not have was a portable sound system, and I determined to get this at the first opportunity. My plane made a fuel stop in Calcutta and then went on to Singapore. I stayed only a day or so -- the extreme cleanliness and neatness of the place put me off, especially since I had heard stories of people being arrested for throwing away an empty cigarette pack. I had no intention of doing this, of course, but it set me on edge anyhow.
My next stop, Kuala Lumpur, was not much better. I was suddenly in an unruly Moslem world. Some sense of terrorists-to-come might have infected me. I did my obligatory sightseeing tour to the great mosque, which I had heard was the largest in the world, spent one night, and flew on to Penang.
I liked Penang at once. It is an island home to at least three different groups -- Moslem, Hindu, and Chinese. Each with their separate religions and holidays. I stayed at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, with its memories of Queen Victoria -- and there dropped my first acid in the Far East. My psychedelic trip was not a happy one, however. On the lawn below me, couples were dining and dancing. I was desperately lonely. I played Pink Floyd on the boombox I had bought earlier, and wondered, not for the first time, what I was doing with my life.
Penang was good eating. I found a market area outside of the city where there were dozens of individual food stalls, each serving just one dish. It was the style of eating I most enjoy, little dishes, each specially flavored. A sort of spread-out far eastern smorgasbord, or an 'al fresco rijstafel. And it was a lovely walk from the E & O along the channel to this place.