As I leant on the bar, I was half expecting a large tattooed barman to greet me with ‘alwiiight maaaate, what can I getcha’. Instead, a small local gent smiled and gestured towards the draught taps. After being away for a while, Guinness on tap was a bizarre but beautiful sight, as were the dry roasted peanuts dangling from the wall, so I ordered a pint and a bag and settled into my stool.
Of course, supping a cold pint of Guinness in a wood cladded pub is a regular occurrence where I’m from, but I wasn’t in South East England; I was in rural Malaysia.
It wasn’t until I escaped the smoggy clutches of Kuala Lumpur, ascended the clouds and arrived at the rows upon rows of emerald tea fields, that I truly began to appreciate the magical properties of the Cameron Highlands.
From the sticky, humid cloaking of the South East Asian air, a cool, tepid breeze began to emerge. For months prior to my arrival in the Highlands, I had been sweating profusely in shorts and a vest, and after a mere ten minutes of being there I was reduced to a shivering wreck – but I liked it.
I was by no means finished with my travels but after months of fighting the blazing heat, I had grown tired and weary.
Back in Kuala Lumpur someone rather mystically told me that if I wanted to return home for a few brief moments, I should head up through the tea fields and look out for The Tavern at the top of the hill.
So I did.
I walked through blankets of green but there was no real sign of civilisation. I negotiated my way through a dense wooded area and ended up on a main road. I was lost. It was getting cold.
After a while of walking with my thumb out, a friendly local pulled over and offered to give me a ride to the top of the hill after I summoned the magic word ‘Tavern’.
I hopped in the back of his truck, closed my eyes, took in the breeze, and if by magic, I was home.
The man was no ordinary Sullivan and his truck was no ordinary vehicle: he was a sorcerer in a beaten up Delorean.
Typically British looking trees dangled all around me and in the very centre stood a red London phone box with The Tavern proudly towering behind it.
A few moments later, I leant on the bar, pint in hand marvelling at my teleportation achievements. Neither a plane nor boat was required, just a colonised place in a faraway land that stood out like a sore thumb; the everyday monotony of home had come back to greet me, but right there and then it was welcomed with open arms, even if only for a moment: and for that moment, it was bliss.