Beng in Brazil: Visiting the favela
Sometimes bad things happen for a reason.
I really believe in that.
Like when I first check into B Hotel here in Salvador, Bahia, I got a shock.
The room is as small as a cell, and the single beds were smaller than standard coffins.
And it is like jail also when the receptionist Sousa keeps telling me it's not safe to go out, especially in the day.
WTH? But the beach and the ocean look so beautiful.
If I come from so far and get so near but cannot touch the sand and water, I might as well Google Image right?
And I can easily check into Changi Prison without paying thousands of dollars, you know?
So I assure Sousa. Ah Beng not scared. Ah Beng got balls.
Ah Beng got go India and Little India before and survived.
Bring me to the most dangerous place you have here.
He look at me as if I tao nao pai (brain damaged).
Sousa say okay, let's go to a favela (Portuguese for slum).
But he was going to bring Silvio along in case anything bad happened.
Silvio is a master of the Brazilian martial art Capoeira. His fist is as big as a baby's head and when he shake my hand, another part of my body tighten.
My face, okay? My face. Cus he squeeze so hard, my face cannot maintain.
So off we go to the favela market at Nordeste de Amaralina, on a public bus (they got something like EZ-Link too!).
When we got there, there were like hundreds of people doing their groceries.
They were curious that a Nakata-lookalike is in their neighbourhood.
No seriously, they keep shouting at me: "Japon! Japon! Honda! Honda!"
Silvio just laughed and high-five with almost everybody that I was worried he had brought me here to sell me.
When I took out my handphone to take pictures, they got up close to take a peek, and I immediately tarik (pulled back).
I will let the pictures do the talking, but it's like a messy, dirty pasar malam bustling with life.
It's simple, cheap, not clean at all, but everybody is happy.
Beggars ask for money, and thieves steal only when they are desperate.
It is not something Singaporeans are used to, but it is their way of life in a Brazilian slum.
I'm sure Sousa and Silvio brought me to the safer part of the neighbourhood and not into the heart of the favela.
But that's okay because in this short time, I've learnt quite a lot.
I have a small but clean hotel with clean running water and I complain.
Some of these people have close to nothing but they cannot stop smiling.
I am just thankful that I get to have this experience and life lesson.