KUALA LUMPUR: Benjamin Holst, the notorious traveller with one swollen leg, has been spotted panhandling here.
The 32-year-old German, who is known worldwide as a professional beggar, depends on the generosity of locals to fund his travelling and partying lifestyle and is said to have arrived here on March 2 by train from Singapore.
His recent social media posts showed him enjoying the night-life, food and scenery of Bukit Bintang and Penang island.
“Time for cheaper girls and beach,” he wrote in one post depicting his journey from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.
For the past three years, the controversial figure, who suffers from a rare form of localised gigantism called Macrodystrophia lipomatosa that has caused his left leg to be severely swollen, has been seen begging on the streets of Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia.
His Facebook page is filled with photos bragging about his exploits in these countries.
University of Nottingham student Lauren Sula, 23, warned locals via the Backpackers Buddies Malaysia Facebook group on Saturday to stay away from Holst.
“He takes advantage of people all over Asia by begging for money, which you may at first think is to help fund his healthcare for his disability,” she wrote.
“However, he brags on his personal Facebook page about how he’s staying in expensive hotels, eating in nice restaurants and spending endless money on prostitutes,” she added.
Several Malaysians told The Star Online that they had seen the foreigner begging around the city on Sunday.
“I saw him begging on the covered walkway near the Imbi monorail station at about 3pm. He sat on the floor and was waiting for people to give him money,” postgraduate student Muhammad Afi, 28, said.
Eliza Hamdam, 38, said she had twice spotted Holst. “One evening last week, he sat and begged with a small transparent plastic bowl in Bukit Bintang where a lot of homeless people are often seen,” she said.
She saw him again on Sunday night wandering around Jalan Alor.
“Although one of his legs was swollen, he walked normally,” she said.
Holst’s antics first came to light in September 2014 when his plight as a disabled tourist whose money and passport were said to be stolen in Bangkok went viral on social media.
Concerned Thais raised 50,000 baht (RM6,300) for him only to be shocked the next day by photos of him drinking and partying at a bar in Pattaya.
According to a Sept 26, 2014, report in the Phuket Gazette, the German Embassy was informed of the situation and Holst would be deported.
Holst has also reportedly run into similar trouble in Cambodia and Indonesia. The Star’s attempts to reach Holst were unsuccessful.