Jakarta : All In A Spin ( or 'A Life of Perfect Error' )

Jakarta Travel Blog

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One of my early favourites in Indonesia - Solo city style pancakes (sold from the back of van "Yum!")

Backwards

It's okay.  I've given it some thought.  I think I've worked it out now.  Where or why it all started to go just a little bit wrong, even though everything was alright. 

You see, it's no good.  Everything's back to front, and I haven't even begun.  How can something be going wrong when it's going alright?

But there must be a reason!  A reason why upon arrival in Indonesia the now well trained and honed traveller that I had almost become starts to fall apart a little.  Starts to make foolish decisions, mistakes, require emotional attachments and just generally start to ever so slightly split at the psychological seams.  To lose himself a little.  A reason why I find myself cupped to a prostitute's bosom rather than running away with my moral tail between my legs; a reason why I don't know where I'm going anymore even though I'm sure I knew yesterday (or did I?), why I start spending money like it's water (relatively speaking), hit the bottle again ( yes of course it’s a woman!.

'Bajaj' art (Indonesia's answer to the Tuk-Tuk)
.. sort of ) get involved with a maybe-ex-CIA alcoholic Americans rather than keeping to my own (safe) company; why my heart starts crunching gears; why I start thinking in invisible ink and why there are thin bars of daylight streaking across my bedroom wall when they really, really shouldn't be there!

You see, for the first time in my life I have crossed the equator.  The zero line of latitude.  A southerner by upbringing, to the English mind, I am now truly a southern traveller.  In the southern hemisphere for the first time in my life.  And what happens when you cross the equator?  Remember all those science shows on TV as a kiddy?  Water running down a plughole in the northern hemisphere spirals clockwise.  In theory if you pull the plug directly on the equator it washes straight down.

City movements
  But empty your sink in the southern hemisphere and the water spirals counter-clockwise.  It starts spinning in the opposite direction.  Around and around the 'wrong' way round.  Everything is suddenly backwards.  Depending on your point of view.  Poles reversed.  Gravity.  Magnetism.  Whatever.  The mechanisms of my northern hemisphere heart and mind are wired to run clockwise.  Thought processes, the flow of blood, the Milky Way of emotions constantly spiralling like little galaxies within me.  All taught to turn one way and now told to turn the other.  Sensible becomes foolish.  Happy occasionally becomes sad and vice versa.  Logicality and practicality get their knickers in a twist.  Frugality starts frittering.  Sanity becomes, well.
High Rising
.. something else.  A heart set to stably auto-pilot around the globe suddenly finds itself switched to manual and struggling with pockets of turbulence... like I said, it's okay now.  I figured it out.  So everything's going to be alright... even when it starts going wrong.  Maybe.

[ REWIND ]

‘A Life of Perfect Error’ : Part One

'Oh but my friend, I promise you I can give you the best blowjob in the whole world!'  I extricate myself from April's copious bosom wherein she had forcibly entrapped my head.  'Well April, really, I've no doubt... um?... I'm sure you can... that would be very... um? .

Urban Inhabitant
.. but really it's been a long day.  I'm very tired and I think I'll just go and read my book.'  'But my friend why go read your book when you can come now to my room and we can fark?!!'  'Really, I've only just arrived in Indonesia and a book and bed would be just right, right now.'  No energy for a fark for sure.  'Oh but your book it will be so boring when we can fark all night long.  I have farked absolutely everybody!'  Not a great sales pitch that one April. 

I've been in Indonesia about two hours and Jalan Jaksa (Jakarta's tourist trap rat run) about two minutes when I am accosted by 'April', her copious bosom and her transgender friend Mina.

Jakarta Wheels
  Apart from the surly lady at the Soekarno-Hatta airport immigration desk (who did not offer me a blowjob or a fark) April is the first woman to speak to me in Indonesia.  It's all harmless not-so-innocent fun to be so propositioned before you even know how to say 'Hello' in a nation's language I suppose and whilst I scamper away from an offer of the best blowjob in the whole world I can't help but feel it's an appropriate enough welcome back to beautiful 'boom-boom' world.  Southeast Asia.

The next morning I am sat in the Margot Cafe reading The Lonely Plonker's Guide to Indonesiania.   Sat across the other side, sipping Coke with her back to the world is So-called Cynthia who I don’t have time to introduce you to properly.  So-called Cynthia, like April and friends is a ‘kupu-kupu malam’.

Urban Lines # 1
  I apologise friends.  I’ve been learning Bahasa Indonesia for 5 weeks or so now and this little bit of seedy poetry remains one of my favourite linguistic learnings.  ‘Kupu-kupu’ means ‘butterfly’ and ‘malam’ means ‘night’.  So-called Cynthia, an attractive curvy little Asian Angelina-Jolie with a tattoo upon the back of her neck that reads ‘Love Hunter’ is a ‘night butterfly’.  A prostitute.  Or so the rumour goes.  Such a beautiful turn of phrase for such unseemly trade.  These ladies (and occasionally gents), with their bright colours flitting from the arm of one man to another by night and drying their wings sipping Coke in the sun by day.  Just one of Jalan Jaksa’s colourful characters.  I also love the fact that in Bahasa Indonesia 'hati' means heart but 'hati-hati' means 'be careful'.
Urban Lines # 2
  A cute little moment of linguistic association... and one perhaps to bear in mind when night butterflies are fluttering about.

I turn back to The Lonely Plonker’s Guide to Indonesiania.  So far a one page guide to the land of Indonesia written by and for lonely plonkers.  It's my intention to travel Indonesia for two or three months without giving in to the purchase and use of a guidebook.  Sick to death of having my travel vision skewed through the prism of guidebook opinion forming.  And anyway I fared just fine for six weeks in Eastern Europe with only the one page Lonely Plonker’s Guide to the region didn't I, if you recall. 

But speaking now with a month and mores worth of hindsight I can clearly flag this up as one of so many minor but nevertheless completely foolish and inefficient decisions I make during the early phase of my time here.

Momentary Mosque - prayer mats laid across the side-street for prayer time
  A nation that constitutes somewhere in the region of 17,000 islands and (I am told) is described by the Lonely Planet (a lesser known rival publication to The Lonely Plonker) as best considered as a continent rather than a country requires a guidebook!  It’s not like I can’t remedy this in an instant with a flash of the cash or by accepting the kind offer of a loan of said tome from friends Simsim and Rini et al, but when it comes to dumb decisions and travel, I can be a stubborn little fecker in sticking to them.  The length of this journey as a whole another prime example of this tendency.  Two years.  Maybe more.  Absurd!  ‘But G*d dang it I’m gonna see it through!’  (I hope.) 

Jalan Jaksa is one of those classic when-a-city-and-tourism-get-together-between-the-dirty-sheets streets.

'One Little Girl and Her Cup'
  A little strip of seedy ease where the flotsam and jetsam of the travel and ex-patriot communities wash up on route to or from somewhere else, sometimes forgetting for a time (occasionally for all time) where they were going in the first place.  Trapped in a neon-beer-bar blur of easy cheap good times in all its unseemly guises.  A thriving micro-economy where all of your needs can be catered to.  Just mind you don't cater to too many.

Essentially it's a people street.  Not an exclusively foreigner ghetto.  Small traders, businesses, bike, watch and cell phone repairers and cheap eats stands for local people proliferate in the spaces between and in front of the travel agents, internet cafes, bars and hotels for out-of-towners and tourists.  Just one step off the main drag and you are in the winding concrete lane, washing draped sludge-gutter-lined runnels of ‘real’ peoples lives and happy homes.

Bajaj Wheels
  Mopeds slaloming around pot plants and toys and washing tubs.  Here my first glimpses of the often rudimentary 'shiny tin onion' topped mosques that are the standard edifice of worship in this most populace of Muslim nations.  Not too many grand-domed mosques a-la Istanbul here.  A much more earthy, make-do take on the practice of faith.  As the call to prayer is about to go out, the avenues and alleys are temporarily covered over and effectively blocked by a momentary wash of woven prayer mats.  To be rolled up again once the submissives’ prayers have percolated to the clouds.  Religion under the skies, reclaiming the streets.  I like this.  

But Jaksa, I would say as a professed people watcher, has more than its fair share of cracks, nuts, loops and bums if you look in the right places.

One of the zillion itinerant street musicians (known as 'Pengamen' I believe?) who populate Jakarta's streets.
  Those places being anywhere you care to let your eyes follow your ears.  But normally the crazies'll come looking for you.  There's something about being a solo traveller and becoming a lightening rod for other peoples attentions, need for attention, boredom and insanity.  I can't spend five minutes alone with my notebook in the total of nine or so days I have since spent there without some Looney Toon or drunk (it doesn't matter what time of day or day of the week) vomiting his or her unwanted conversation and craziness into my lap - metaphorically speaking.  So after a while you just slap on a big fake smile say ‘uh huh, uh huh, riiight’ lots and go with the flow... 'Sorry what was that, you said you threw your ex-wife's cat into the pond?!'  'Yeah, WELL the little b*st*rd BIT me.
Smilin' Bakso Man :) I am SO happy to be back in Southeast Asia with its busy, delicious streetfood scene!!!
.. and, AND the fish THEY'D bitten me TOO so I thought, YA know, they'd wanna get to KNOW each other!' 
'I see.'  Welcome to the Cuckoo's Nest.  

Finding my feet and a friend

It's true to say I would have been lost in Indonesia before I'd even arrived without my TB friend Simsim (Justasimsim).  Where to stay in Jakarta, precisely how to get there from the airport, early days recommendations for what to see in the country she has warned me is 'dangerously beautiful' are just some of the boons she grants me.  You name it, you gotta a question, the info's been streaming down the fibre-optic cables and bouncing off satellites and into my brain for some weeks ahead of my arrival.

'Don't Slip Off'
  Who needs a guide book when Simsim's on hand!  Armed by her with the knowledge of which bus to get into the right part of time and from there how to get to Tourist-ville (and prices to expect therein) I am able to bat away the hordes of touts and taxi drivers that throw themselves into my path at Soekarno-Hatta International airport, to make my way safely and cheaply to my bed (via April's arms) on night one.

On my first evening proper in Indonesia it's my good fortune to meet the lady herself.  My first of a host of wonderful TB ambassadors to Jakarta and Indonesia.  I sit in Starbucks.  An air-conditioned little bubble of modernity the likes of which I have rarely experienced on my journey.  People sit tapping their WiFi laptops and Blackberry phones in smart business dress and the security doorman with his laminate badge glowers over and implies with frowns and fingers that I should be purchasing Product.

Kiddies in the Old Town
  No free-loading travel tramps here Sonny Jim!  Fortunately as I sip my latte and nibble my two inch diameter 'free' doughnut Sim glides in all high cheekbones, smiles and smartness and elevates my presence to one of Starbucks acceptability.  After some sipping and chatting ( the usual 'howdoyoudos', 'pleasedtomeetyous', 'howasyourdays' and 'sowherehaveyoubeens' ) it's time to leave the coffeehouse coolbox and be introduced to my first little tastes of Indonesia proper.

In fact, being Ambassador Number 1 Simsim ushers in a range of important firsts for me.  My first lesson in Bahasa, a pastime that will soon arguably become the most important facet of my journey through Indonesia.  'Terima Kasih' [ 'Thank you' ], 'Apa kabar?' [ 'How are you?' ] and 'Sampai jumpa lagi' [ 'Until we meet again' or some such expression ].

'Crumbling Beauty'
  I get my first taste of traditional Indonesian food with our trip to a gado-gado restaurant.  A hot pile of chopped, boiled and stir-fried vegetables with crackers and other little treasures swimming in a lake of flavoursome peanut sate sauce.  "Yum!"  My first quick sample of Indonesian creative culture with the 'traditional' batik shop atop of the Sarinah Cafe mall.  Brightly coloured cracked-wax and stipple-patterned dresses, shirts, skirts, scarves, sari-style attire for women and traditional hats for men. 

Next, my first lessons in Indonesian table etiquette.  A hot cup of some milky-ginger concoction ( a favourite I now know as 'susu jahe' - literally 'ginger milk' ) that Simsim swears blind I am to descant from the cup into the saucer before drinking it from the latter.

New Street Art in the Old Town (Kota Tua)
  ???!!  'Are you serious?!  You're not just having me on?'  I reckon she is!  Making fun of the ignorant guest.  'So I'm supposed to just lick it from the plate like a pussycat with a saucer of milk?'  'Yeeees'.  That oh-so cheeky smile set between those gleaming high cheek bones.  For the sake of a comedy moment I bend my head to saucer and slurp away, managing to get half of it on my trousers in the process.  Heck!  What a weird way to drink a drink.  Serve it in a perfectly serviceable glass and then slop it all over the saucer, table and your lap.  Turns out she wasn't pulling my leg after all.  A nation of saucer lickers.  But like I say, I understand now.
The Card Players
I'm over the equator.  Everything's just a little bit 'the wrong way around'.  Drinking from plates.  Whatever next?!  Eating from cups? 

Most importantly of all my firsts ushered in by Sim though - my first experience of the great warmth, kindness and generosity of the Indonesian people that I will soon become well used to.  Particularly within the TB community!   

‘A Life of Perfect Error’ : Part Two

'My friend I see you're a WRITER.  Whatcha writin' THERE?'  You see I told you it wasn't possible to have more than five minutes to yourself here.  'Oh just thoughts, observations.'  'That's good.

A street scene seen
  WELL, I'm a writer too.'  My addressee rummages around in his threadbare satchel pulling out a thick, beaten up yellow notepad and handing it over to my table for my inspection.  It's falling apart bit by bit but comprises a garbled, expletive-riddled autobiographical text in the shaky near-illegible hand of an alcoholic.  ( 'I am NOT an alcoHOLIC... though it WAS the drink that WAS A  PROBlem for my B*TCH of an ex-mother-in-law.  I cut DOWN by 80 percent... but it was the OTHER 20 percent that killed her, yah, hynyuh, hynyuh, nyuh' )  His crumpled tome bears the biro-scrawled title A Life of Perfect Error by Mark T.Rex and with his permission I've transcribed the opening paragraph for posterity as no doubt he will lose his text at some point as surely as he seems to have lost most other things in his life thus far.
A stroll in Kota Tua
..

'This is a testament to a life lived to the fullest in a true Hunter S.Thompson fashion, begun before his renown and continued after his demise.  This is being written for the benefit of my two man cubs, Thomas Jefferson Trengaro Rex and Jack London Rex so that they may have a record of their father's life in the wake of his sudden demise.'

I apologise.  I hadn't properly introduced you.  Of all the part-time nut jobs I interact with in Jalan Jaksa Mr Mark T.Rex ( 'T-Rex' to his friends) is undoubtedly the Chief Bull-Goose Looney, to borrow a term from the literary tradition of the asylum.  A tall, brash, bristling white moustached American who's been here for 'twenny ONE an' a HALF years', is divorced from a native lady with two kids (sent by mother to study and grow up in Australia), suffers from insomnia and hypotension, who claims to be an ex-CIA employee, is a polyglot (speaking seven languages) and a polymath (apparently teaching psychology, philosophy, politics and history on top of the languages) and is given to causing great embarrassment and offence for the fun of it whilst wielding omnipotent control over the remote control of the Margot Cafe TV where he sips fridge-chilled glasses of beer Bintang all day watching Sponge Bob Square Pants ( 'You GOTTA love cartoons man!') and the Fashion Channel ( 'My friend, look, those there ladies are not wearing any bras hynyuh, hynyuh, hynyuh' ).

Kota Tua train station
    

An earlier version of this entry contained large transcripts of 'T-Rex' moments but space dictated that they 'ended up on the cutting room floor' as they say.  But undoubtedly a highly intelligent if now somewhat troubled man, he's sure a character.  And whether it's Barry the equally beer-addled Irishman who's just had his first baby boy with his Indonesian wife of three years who's mouth sounds trashier than a landfill site and whose father-in-law freaked him out by bringing a clay pot into the birthing room to collect the placenta and 'bits of their bodies my son and wife didn't need anymore' to bury in his back garden or whether it's Ivan the Serbo-Croat-Australian oil-rig supervisor who at the prompting of T-Rex tells a ripping yarn of daring-do and escaping from the former Yugoslavia following Tito's rise to power (provided you can understand a narrative comprised with 99% of its content and grammatical structure deriving from the root word 'f**k' delivered in an incomprehensible accent), or the bonkers ojek (motorbike taxi) driver always trying to bum drinks and ciggies and known only to me as 'orang gila' [ 'crazy man' ] Jaksa is not short of characters.

Pirate Skies

T-Rex grins over his chilled beer and laughs his cheeky schoolboy laugh 'hynyuh, hynyuh, hynyuh' having just knowingly offended our fellow diners with high-decibel observations of the finer, firmer attributes of the figure skaters' forms on the TV.   'Don't mind ME.  Why, I'm JUST a SWIRLing mass of ATOMS in a state of FLUX' he proudly announces.  He is one to often throw such lines of philosophic semi-profundity into conversation.  'I just like to give a little piece of my heart as Janis Joplin once said.'  'Wherever you go, there you shall be' one of my favourites from his internal encyclopaedia of always fully credited quotations.

The Dutch era town house in Kota Tua ( Old Town) Jakarta
  'Stop.  Go.  Don't Cross - Now those are words you can live by', he quotes Kurt Cobain's philosophic response to observing a traffic crossing sign.  And T-Rex's personal catch phrase : 'It's a funny world my friend.'

Electric Ladyland

Check the watch.  Eight o'clock.  Look left.  And there it is.  No mistaking it.  Even at this distance.  Half a street away.  Blinding.  That legendary smile.  After months of TB ‘smiles’ and interactions over our experiences of India, the Real-Deal super-stylin’ smilin’ Rini is on her way.  Fran, Rini's self-declared 'partner in crime' beaming at her side with glowing skin, beige shorts and green top - a vision of a truly Asian Tinkerbelle.

'Urban Jungle'
  Members Two and Three of my TB Indonesia Welcoming Committee.  Introductory hugs and 'howareyous' and my pupils contracting to adjust for the glow of That Smile and we're off for some eats. 

But within 2 minutes 36 seconds (or there about) of having known the girls who should be coming our way down Jaksa... but Mr Mark T.Rex.  'Sh*t!' Of all the people!  He pulls up, towering over us, beaming his cheeky smile.  I sense the perpetual beer on his breath and stand still, terrified that with one sentence he'll say something to put a wrecking ball through those all important first impressions the girls'll be making of me ( 'What kind of company does he keep?' ).  Certain crude observations could be made by one such as he about a Westerner strolling down Jaksa with two beautiful Indonesian ladies for company but thankfully he opts for buffoonery and self-parody.

The 'Kitchen Goddesses' (L-R) Siska, Asri and Rini
  Brief introductions dealt out, perhaps sensing my discomfort he blurts 'Oh don't mind me I'm just, ya know,' he jumps up onto the curb stone and tries to conceal him sizeable form behind a potted palm plant, 'I'm just on reconnaissance, ya know, hush-hush, secret-ops!' he comedically parts and re-closes a couple of palm fronds across his face, spying us between them to demonstrate Inspector Clueso levels of inconspicuousness.  Those CIA skills coming to the fore.  ’I’m not really here.’  Good!  I take this opportunity to usher us onwards.  ’Phewf!’  

The ladies kindly treat me to a delightful dinner of so many (to me) novel dishes that their names mostly escape my memory despite a (now broken) promise to myself to follow in Fran’s foodie footsteps and pay great attention to the plethora of gastronomic pleasures that I’m sure Indonesia’s soon to offer me.

My Jakarta TB Meetup (#2) Gang (L-R) Sandy, Henny, Asri, Rini, Eliz, Amelia & Siska
  The oddest and tastiest on the night though is a plate of grilled banana halves topped with a combination of grated cheese and chocolate “Mega-yum-yums!” 

After weeks of wibbling on about visa hopes and woes I proudly show off my passport with the ’b*gger off by 13th May’ Visa On Arrival in it and then ask the girls to contribute something to the authorship of The Lonely Plonker’s Guide to Indonesiania.  The Indonesian flag bears a bar of red for courage and white for (spiritual) purity I’m told.  The nation is comprised of some 17,000 islands.  ’Phewf!’  Asked to name and then invited to draw a national animal Rini very bravely commits to an impromptu illustration of the lesser known Bird-Eating Komodo Dragon.  Whilst The Lonely Plonker’s Guide to Indonesiania was fated never to be published in the end - a creative bit of silliness abandoned in favour of concentrating on Bahasa study - a picture is herein included of Rini’s masterpiece, representing as it does a unique moment of great artistic and zoological interest (and a means of embarrassing a good friend) ;P

The rest of evening number one in the company of the Partners in Crime is spent back on Jalan Jaksa where to the clink of drinks my new friends and I exchange travel chatter amidst the melee of morally questionable nightlife to be found in these parts at such times.

'Foot Food' :D
  Fran, my new favourite drinking partner... chiefly because I haven’t had a drinking partner in such a long time, helps me get The Bottle firmly back on my travel menu after a long spell of absence.  A keen collector of English idioms and synonyms etc I teach her the British call ‘bottoms up!’ in relation to downing a drink and in return she teaches me a fateful little piece of Bahasa, ‘satu lagi’ [ ‘one more’ ].  A call to the waiters to keep the beer Bintangs rolling.

The next night finds me 14 stories high and on TB Cloud 9 in south Jakarta for a group Meetup at Fran’s apartment that the girls have kindly organised to welcome me to Their World.  A ’Pot Luck’ meetup that will have every attendant providing a tasty traditional dish of some national or regional significance.

Stevie in Electric Ladyland :)
  Taste buds at the ready!  But in fact it’s an evening that will rollercoaster many of the senses in this jaded little traveller.  Upon arrival it’s the Troublesome Twosome and friend Asri (acy_jkt) that greet me.  The ‘Kitchen Goddesses’ I dub them in reference to the indulgent fine-foods-and-good-looks winning combination of a certain sensuous celebrity British cook. 

Despite having showered , even having dug up some ancient ampoule of Izimiake and generally tried to make myself as presentable as my hobo-wardrobe will permit (i.e. not at all), two Trans Jakarta buses across town in 30 degrees and a trudge to find Tinkerbelle’s tower does enough to wilt my appearance and rather travel-weary self esteem.  A little nervous and surrounded by such pretty hostesses it’s hard to regain control of my internal thermostat even in the air-conditioned flat, sweating like a hog and fielding introduction and travel questions ( ’Six months in India?!’ becoming practically a catchphrase exclamation for the night) and I try to focus on the important task in hand of eating.

Bornean style crab "Yum!" ... and fun and messy too!
.. and eating... and eating some more!

Sandy (?) turns up to double the male quotient for the evening.  Fresh chopped fruits with spicy sauce.  Asri stands, elegant in red frying up fish cakes on the cooker.  In rapid succession Eliz and Amelia show up and soon Henny ( Trineebooster) and Savitri (Savitri) too.  Amongst other treats and in no particular order this adds red wine, cake, ‘baso’ (meat balls in a kinda broth), buckets of rice and fiddly but fabulous (and fabulously messy) Bornean style crab to our large menu.  Towards the close of the evening, vociferous games of Uno underway, Rini (Green8) pops up with a massive tray of ’sate ayam’ ( chicken sate on sticks doused in thick, sweet peanut sauce).

Mushu and The Smile :))
 

It’s a wonderful evening and I remain eternally grateful to all the TB gang for such a warm welcome to their city and country.  Since my early mega-Meetup in The Netherlands (Leiden) in only the second week of my journey I have rarely had the opportunity to hook up with the TB community in the Real World although many of you have become my friends and frequent companions on this journey through the medium of online Blogdom.  Amongst the numerous things my beer-loosened tongue had blabbed to Rini and Fran (nicknames, family history and the revelation of the final line that will ever be written for this blog etc... really!) is the statement that ‘without TB there’s a chance that by now I’d just jack it all in and head home.‘  The writing process and the kind responses from you guys therein having become such an important part of this particular journey.

Stevie and Simsim on the Jakarta streetz :)
  Whilst in hindsight a little bit of an over-zealous statement, there remains a certain truth at its heart. 

To meet the Jakarta gang was such a fabulous way to say “Hi!” to a country I know nothing about but hope to learn so much from.  After Sandy makes an early departure little Stevie is all on his own as the only one with a missing X-chromosome and finds himself in a truly ‘pinch me am I dreaming’ situation.  An absolute ‘the boys’ll never believe this one when I get home’ moment.  Southeast Asia, Jakarta, Indonesia, 14 stories high ( ’Six months in India?!!’) surrounded by good food and a crowd of stunningly attractive ladies.  It remains the ‘Electric Ladyland Meetup’ in the curious and colourful gallery of my travel memories. 

Jesting aside and more importantly it’s the impact of so suddenly being so surrounded by happiness and friendship - the latter for sure not a rarity but an all too fleeting phenomenon on The Road - that most effects Stevie’s happy heart.

'Demon Days' on Jalan Jaksa
.. causing it to slip out of gear and it into a little tail spin in the coming weeks.  A positive tail spin.  But a troubling one nevertheless.  Watching all these pals giggling and screaming away together, and briefly being a part of their shared joys, it’s a smack in the heart and mind reminder of what it is to have a ‘normal’ life with good and constant friends around you, and a life that in some way revolves around ‘Home’ and a work and leisure and pleasure routine.  And crunching the hearts gears, trying to get it back to stable travel autopilot mode, I struggle as I realise it’s really probably time I started getting ‘real’ and thinking about Home and a ‘future’ whatever and wherever it may be and - with jokes abounding in this room full of beautiful lady members of the 'TB Dating Agency' - with whomever that further adventure should be.
'Pull'
  You can’t set down roots of any kind, anywhere, if you’re whizzing through over 30 countries in less than two years.  This much I know.

It’s the pursuit and start of new friendships that has kept me six days in Jakarta, a city tourists normally don’t spend any longer in than it takes (I presume) to receive ‘the best blowjob in the whole world.’  But I’ll soon be leaving all of these wonderful people behind.  And I’m not sure I want to.  The fast formation and sudden severance of ties of any kind ( mere company, necessity, respect, happiness, attraction, whatever) whilst travelling long term is an exhausting emotional process.  Forever resetting, or having to jump-start the psychological clock.  Starting over again.  And over again.  And over and over again.

'Scrub'
  ‘Hi how are you?  Where are you from?  Where’re you going?  Where’ve you been?  Six months in India?!‘  Your life a little comet hurtling through the spaces of the world with a glittering trail of friendly stars fading behind you as you blaze your forward trail.  Stars called Simsim, and Rini and Siska (who together form one of my most cherished constellations to date) and so many, many hundreds more.  You know who you are.  And I’ll meet many of them again someday I hope.  Comets either impact or come around again eventually.  A slow orbit.  Often taking many years.  ’It’s a funny world my friend.’ 

‘A Life of Perfect Error’ : Part Three

I awake.

Rini's previously uncategorised new species of Indonesian fauna, the Bird-eating Komodo Dragon ;P
  Fuggy headed.  It's dark, but then it always is in this pokey windowless Jaksa room.  I dislike rooms without windows.  They mess up the body's  natural rhythms and relationship with the sun.  But as a budget 'what's the cheapest room you've got?' traveller windows are fairly rare.  An unusual level of traffic is audible for this time of the morning.  It's dark but as my eyes adjust, there are thin bars of daylight streaking across my bedroom wall.  Shining through the gap above the door.  Wait a sec?  What time is it anyway?  And why didn't I awake to an alarm?  And why are there bars of light streaking across my bedroom wall when they really, really shouldn't be?  And what was all that last night anyway?... ’Hey Steve!’ .
The pulped before it was even half-finished 'Lonely Plonker's Guide to Indonesiania'
.. ’Hey T-Rex’... and then beers... and then crazy Ivan and his lexicon of ’f**k’... and then pretty Herpreet from England whose name partly means ‘love‘... and ’satu lagi!’ ( Fraaaaan!?’*@!! why did you teach me that!)... and more drinks... and cocktails... ... and a pyschopathic Jordie-lass... and ’satu lagi!’ (Fraaaaaaaaaaan!!!) .... and a very, very expensive bar tab and... and... ?

Uh-oh!  I try to focus on my watch face without my glasses.  The time 9.15am eventually makes itself legible.  Great!  My flight to Banda Aceh took off ten minutes ago.  Fabulous.  My first missed transport connection in 20 months on The Road and it had to be one of the most expensive... and due to alcohol.  Of course!

I'm strangely calm about this fact.  It's a true 'nothing can do' situation.  Everyone's allowed at least one mistake right?  So I stagger into my clothes and stagger up Jaksa back to the same travel agent who's eyes open wide when I step inside, communicating the obvious message 'What the heck are you doing here, aren't you supposed to be on a plane right now?'  I just slump down in the swivel chair, still fuggy headed.  'I missed my flight.  I need another one.'  I can't hang around this alcoholic ex-CIA agent, expletive-riddled, love hunting, kupu-kupu malam and Bintang besieged nuthouse a minute longer!  'Would you like the same flight tomorrow morning?'  'NO. No thanks.'  You and I know what'll happen.  'When's the next flight to Medan?'  'It's in three hours time.'  'Book it please.  Thanks.'  Time to roll.  I wobble back to my room and pre-packed bag and wobble onto an ojek and to the bus station and on to the airport.

At the airport a five minute panic as it seems finally, terrifyingly the inevitable has happened and I've lost my passport!!!  I took it out the other night to show Rini and Fran my visa and then... then?... what did I do with it?!  Sh*t!!!  Cold sweats.  Sobering effects.  A top three worst possible moments for a traveller.  (I'm not sure what the other two might be, but I'll let ya know should they ever occur).  What the f**k is happening to me today?!  This week?!  Since arriving in Indonesia!  Across the equator.  Everything running in the wrong direction.  Currents switched.  Backwards.  Spinning out of control.

But it's okay.  It turns up.  Panic over.  Through to the departures area.  Still fuggy headed.  I wobble into a book shop and without checking the price (for fear this will kick in the mental budget-brakes and stop the transaction) I buy a Berlitz Indonesian language guidebook.  This is singularly the most important (and only sensible) action I take in my first weeks in Indonesia. 

My next decision's not so good.  There's something about being hungry and either drunk or hung over that compels us to purchase food products with the least possible nutritional value.  So it's to Beard Papa and its assortment of cream filled puff-pastry buns that I turn for breakfast.  [ Switch to voice of Homer Simpson 'Mmmmmm, lots of chocolate covered buns being filled with hand-pumped cream by pretty girls.'  [ Snap out of it! ].  What are these things suddenly in my hand?!  I seem to have two chocolate covered buns filled with hand-pumped cream by pretty girls in my possession.  Oh well, better eat them now I've paid.  I bite into one of the buns and instantly a humungous fountain of globbulous cream ejaculates out the far side of the bun splattering down my trouser legs, onto my hobo shoes (through the tears in the Gore-tex lining)  and 'slappa-slappa-splat' onto the immaculately tiled airport floor.  I am slightly embarrassed now.  And still hung over.  Wipe-wipe.  And have dubious stains all down my clothes.  Wipe-wipe.  It's been an unusual, faltering, folly and friendship filled start to proceedings in Indonesia.  And I can see, it having only just begun, that today is clearly going to be a good day.

[ Coda : Invisible Think ]

... oh, and the ’thinking in invisible ink.’  Well, it’s self evident enough I guess.  My first Indonesia journal entry, a right old garbling mess and coming nearly seven weeks after I arrived.  Finally exhausted.  All outta ink.  All outta think.  My mental travel pen run dry now for quite some time.  A little to do with focussing on learning Bahasa.  Quite a lot to do with fatigue, and not helped by that heart that slipped out of gear in Jakarta.  The usual writing process my mind seems to have nurtured of its own accord during this journey suddenly stopped forming inspirations and thoughts, or writing images that were any good or ones that just plane faded away leaving me with little or nothing to say.  Thinking in invisible ink.  But hopefully I’ll get this show back on the road... there‘s not so long left to go after all... do I see a finishing line in sight?... ‘To Be Continued’... I suppose :)   

Stevie_Wes says:
Hiya Phie, yes, strangely I feel I am in a duller place being back in England where the only creatures that drink from saucers are cats :) I miss my plates of 'susu jahe' very much!
Posted on: Apr 20, 2011
phieraditya says:
Last time I drank from saucer 15 years ago but maybe sometime I will order coffee milk and drink from saucer again :D
understand it as a way to made your hot drink cooler quicker :D
Posted on: Apr 20, 2011
Stevie_Wes says:
HaHaHaHa! Sooo good to see that picture of Rex. Perfectly captures him. I was uncharacteristically camera shy around him and din't get a snap with the lad - probably scared he would grab my camera and start taking lewd pictures of all the guests in Margot Cafe :D) Do you mind if I directly add that snap to this blog page Visser?
Posted on: Nov 01, 2010
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photo by: cicie