Thanks guys, you could have told be BEFORE I entered the country...
24th November 2009
Indonesia: Java (S.
E Asia trip part 2 of 3)
Jurassic Park 4 budget cuts were almost unnoticable...
Current Mood: Discriminated!
Category: Travel and Places
Now there is a downside to coming to a place without many tourists – it’s called Bule Tax. We know what tax is, but what is Bule (pronounced Boolay) and what does it have to do with tax you ask? It is a tax for being a white dude – and I thought Britain were a bit over the top with their taxes, but they’re just a babe in arms compared to this example.
Cos it’s a novelty for the locals to have a white person in their crowd they thought they’d take advantage of my bank balance. The simple equation goes like this: White = Money. So came about the Bule Tax where I pay almost double the stated price on attractions and stuff, of which I will give you examples of later. If I had known about this I would have worked more effort on my tan in Kuala Lumpur – no wonder tourists avoid fucking Jakarta. People I met on my travels kept asking me ‘What you going there for, no one goes there’ and after reading the Lonely Planet guide of the place after purchasing my ticket I had to agree with them, there did seem to be fuck all there. But what could I tell them – the only reason I bought a ticket to Jakarta is because I have an album on my MP3 by a band called Jakarta? And yes, of all the reasons I’ve ever bought a flight for a destination that one clearly ranks as number one in stupid reasons. But hey, what they didn’t know and what I was about to discover was what they’re missing ain’t all that bad.
Poor Hippo - little did he know the carot was a cleverly desguised stick of dynamite. Anyway people, the barbeque is a 4pm if you want to make you over by then...
Skippy the Kangaroo's new weight lifting exercise program was going great...
‘Welcome to Indonesia. Death Penalty for drug traffickers’ This was the sign that greeted me as I entered the country. Personally a ‘Hello, how are you?’ would have been a better option but each country to their own greeting I guess. To get out of the airport I needed to get a visa for 25 US Dollars, which was unexpected and in turn totally sucked, but the good news to counterbalance the karma was in the form of a man who kindly informed me that the busses are no longer running to central Jakarta, but not to worry as his taxi will take me where I want to be. What a great guy! Screw your taxi I said and I hopped on a bus to Jakarta.
It was on the bus I discovered a contrast between Jakarta and London – traffic. Not many years ago London officials moaned and groaned about how there was too much congestion in London and eventually used their whinging to introduce a congestion charge to ease the traffic. Fuck that. Those same London officials ought to take a trip to Jakarta and discover what real congestion is. From what would usually be a 45 minute trip to Gambir Station took over 3 hours, whereupon I was almost devoured by the locals offering me a taxi ride to wherever I wanted to go. There was even a dude on a small scooter called an ojek offering me, my 17kg bag and my other backpack a ride. What’s the dude trying to do here, create a group suicide pact? Unable to get hold of my couchsurfer Ryan I made my way to Jaksa and sorted a hostel for the night before going out to explore the area.
Sports News: Crocodiles offer up wresting challenge after permanently retiring Steve Irwin
This place was going to be a contrast to Kuala Lumpur – though probably just as developed in some places the vibe of the city is completely different.
And the people. I now nominate Indonesians as the friendliest people I’ve met, or at least Jakartans. Walking down the street I was getting stopped by everyone who wanted to talk and I eagerly obliged. Unlike Malaysia they weren’t aiming to sell me anything either – except maybe the ladyboy in the text below – these people were genuinely interested in who I am, where I come from etc etc and I of them. Approaching a chick sitting on a chair she shouts over ‘I’m a lady boy, want to have some fun with me?’ Good for her I thought, for telling me straight up she is what she is. Sitting down I attempted to have a conversation with her but like a used car salesman on speed she was spitting out a list of services available to me. Oddly enough it’s not the first time I’ve been offered a fuck in the ass. I had to say no – I’m on a budget you see, and carried on my walk through Jakarta talking with the weird and wonderful locals I met along the way. By the end of the week with all the attention I was still receiving I eventually had to resort to plugging in my headphones.
Who ever thought I’d find peace and quiet in the form of The Prodigy?
Goldilocks didn't agree with him...
Next morning I met couchsurfer Ryan who decided to blow out work and take me to Bogor. I liked this guy already! Bogor is known as the city of rain, cos it rains a lot. And if you didn’t figure that one out you really should go back to school. In Bogor BULE TAX ALERT!! I paid only 100,000 Indonesian Rupees (RP) instead of the usual 60,000RP to enter and drive around their famous safari. To enter the park we had to wait for these giant wooden doors to open – it was then I was convinced we were about to see a tyrannosaurus rex and feed him some carrot through the window.
As it was we fed carrots to Rhinos, monkeys, giraffes, wilder beast, jaguars, tigers, velociraptors and all sorts of funky animals – but no T-Rex. On the way back to Bogor we pulled over at a restaurant to eat some cow’s brain. It tasted like liver. It was over the brain that Ryan told me of monkey brain. This is a delicacy, whose delicacy I’m unsure of exactly, whereupon a baby money is put in a box with the top of its head poking through a small hole. In a swift movement the top of the monkeys head is sliced of and in an even swifter movement the chef, if that’s what you can call him, jams a straw into the brain of the monkey for you to eagerly suck upon like a male porn star getting rehydrated on a Lucozade after a particular long sex scene. I’ll just stick with coca-cola thanks…
Childrens book 'Where's Wally' didn't offer much of a puzzle when surrounded by Asians...
On the way back from Bogor Ryan got a call on the blower from his old boss – we were going to meet him and his mates at a karaoke bar.
Righto then, my only karaoke experience was a total cop out when I was completely pissed in Portugal many years ago. I sang Oasis Wonderwall, which no matter how bad you sing it, which I did very badly, people will always sing along with you. So this was the chance to redeem myself! Me and Ryan, along with Uti and Ronnie found our way into an underground car park, then up into a building that looked like a hotel before finally meeting Ryan’s ex-boss and friends. It was here I discovered another culture contrast between here and home – karaoke bars. For me I was expecting a bar, lots of people drinking and a stage of some sort to sing for everyone – you know the score. Only not in Indonesia. Instead I was in a private room with a bunch of guys reading from a TV screen the words to the song they selected. No people, no bar, just a room with a bunch of guys, except for Uti. It all honesty I thought it was a bit crap. After a short while of drinking over priced whiskey I sang one of the few decent songs available for selection, Chilli Peppers Give It Away – which fucking rocks, though me not so much.
And then Ryan announced it: Here come the bitches! Bitches? And like a team of tarted up cheerleaders walking onto a football field 6 chicks came walking into the room and stood in front of us. Fucking hell I thought! And guess who got to play Quarterback? If you’ve seen the movie Rush Hour 2 there’s a scene in the movie where Chris Tucker gets to choose which girl he’d like when he’s in a Chinese massage parlor. Friends of Del - I was Chris Tucker. And I almost done a Chris Tucker by selecting 3 women an all but a quick math calculation told me this would leave one of the guys without a chick. I honestly thought the guys were having a giraffe when they asked me to select one. I said how – do I point to the girl or tell the madam, I haven’t done this before! So I chose only one who far and away was the best looking of the bunch – sorry guys! Sitting with her I learnt her name, though I never learnt it very well cos I’ve forgotten it here, and that she was Indonesian. Always good to know what flag I’m collecting, I thought.
And not much else was learnt after that. What with her little English and my non-existent Indonesian our conversation was pretty lame for a long fucking time after the introductions. In fact going off for sex would have been a relief from this mute situation, but there were issues and obstacles to get my head around. Firstly there’s the morals of it. Through choice I’ve never been with an escort, not that I believe the business to be wrong, I’m just unsure how this girl became an escort – though I admit as soon as I looked at her thighs those concerns of mine went out the window. Then there was the bed – only one. And to get to the bathroom you had to walk through this bedroom, so there’s no such thing as privacy. There must be more beds for the other guys, I thought. And what about the other guys – it would be rude of me to say ‘Cheers guys, I’m off for a shag at your expense now!’ and disappear with my chosen brass, so I waited for them to leave first. And waited. And 3 fucking hours later I’m still waiting.
Del auditions as Tom Cruise in the movie remake of Cocktail... get's offered Tom Hanks roll of Forest Gump instead
There was only one thing left that could improve this desperate situation I found myself experiencing – I selected another song to sing. Screaming out Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet I thought was a funny song to sing considering the predicament, but I think the joke went completely over her head. Maybe the language barrier again? More time passes and whist I know this sounds completely wrong, I’m asking myself ‘Are we going to get it on or what?’ I mean anything, absolutely anything would have been a welcomed change – sex was the obvious answer when you’re sitting next to an already paid working girl, that’s all. And then disaster – Ryan tells me the girls are only paid for company! If I had known that at the beginning I would have asked for the one who spoke best English, cos through no fault of her own my chosen chick was as about as entertaining as a blank DVD. If I did want to plonk her I was going to have to pay somewhere around 30 quid. Even Ryan’s mates offered to pay the chick for me but by this time, with Ryan drunk and Uti and Ronnie bored off their tits it wouldn’t be fair to keep them waiting any longer.
Every rap group needs their token 'White Boy'
And I was as bored as them by this time, so we went home.
Del washes in the Fountain of Youth. The next day he wakes up with face covered in acne, listening to bad music and is back to being a virgin...
Back in 1950 Indonesia gained its independence from the dope smoking and mushroom munching nation of Netherlands and the President, one fellow by the name of Sukarno, decided to hold an X-Factor style competition amongst a load of architects to design a monument worthy of this recognition. It took over 10 years to select a design cos, like true X-Factor fashion, all of the entries were crap and it wasn’t until 1975 that the big candle looking thing was finally finished. And in 2009 it had the privilege of being visited by a true British icon. Me. Before I got into the Monument itself I had to walk across a courtyard but was stopped by four teenage girls who ran over asking to have their photo taken with me.
Really I should have taken this as a warning of things to come, but me being a bit of a photo junkie was too preoccupied enjoying the attention.
And then it happened – I walked into the monument only to be faced with 3 or 4 schools on a day trip. The history Indonesia is dictated by panels and models running around the edge of the interior wall, although what happens after the 18 century is beyond me. The moment I entered the hall it was all eyes on me and as I began to make my way through the exhibition it suddenly became clear I was more popular than the exhibition itself. First it was the trainees who worked there wanting to talk and take their photo with me, then a school – and the teacher was proper encouraging it too.
He even got his snap with me. It was nuts! Same thing happened with another school with one of the girls nicknaming me ‘Handsome Handsome’ but at 15 years old she was far too old for me! Realising I’m never going to read through the history of Indonesia without getting stopped every two minutes, I decided to cut it short and find some sanctuary at the top of the monument – and fuck me if it didn’t start all over again. This time though it wasn’t only the kids but everybody was getting in on the act. From group photos to literally having my photo taken with one person, next person, photo, next person, photo, okay who’s next? One at a time please – plenty of Del for everyone. I could have made a small fortune charging people to have their photo taken with me. Escaping past a school of 5 year old kids they all started up a chant of ‘Bule! Bule!’ whilst running circles around me like they’ve been fed too much sugar.
In the end I cut my visit short as I just had to get out of there. Never, and I really mean this, never have I had so much attention in my life before. This was proper film star stuff without the autograph signing – and to think movie stars have to go through this every day of their life, it’s no wonder they get a little pissed off from time to time and attempt to punch a man holding a camera. But as for me, I fucking loved every moment of it!
Poison Warning: It smells like a baddgers arsehole around here
In the Jaksa area of Jakarta I was hanging in there was a man attempting to sell a go on his traditional blow dart gun. He offered me a go and I politely declined.
Now here’s the thing – there ain’t many bule white folk in Jakarta, and there ain’t certainly many who have a mohawk hair style or look like me – so you can imagine I’m starting to think this guy is taking the piss a bit when he’s asking me every time he sees me. Over the course of the week my replies to his offers gradually went...
It took several attempts, but Del finally managed a direct hit on the unsuspecting tourists...
‘No thank you’
‘No thanks, I’m okay’
‘Nah mate – I’ll only end up killing someone’
‘No no no’
I was eventually tempted to say Yes and fucking blow a dart right between his eyes just to shut him up.
Sure, offer me a go on your stupid blow pipe, but take a hint and leave me the fuck alone if I say everything I said above!
One day we went to the capital of the West Java Province, Bandung. It’s home to several volcanoes which BULE TAX ALERT!! I paid a lot more money than Ryan to go see. At the top there was a big fucking crater to stare into and see the gasses rising from the depth of hell and coming into my breathing space. Which wasn’t pleasant cos it stank like a badgers arsehole. Blagging ourselves a cheap guide who doubled as a spiritual healer he took Ryan and I to enter the mountain via a small cave. Inside there was a tiny little space where if a spiritual healer has some nasty things to get rid of he’ll go in and meditate for 40 days – I was half expecting to see David Blaine in there with a television crew promoting his next shitty ‘stunt’.
Anyway, either the Java people are all well and healthy or they can’t afford a descent spiritual healer cos the space was currently vacant for me to squeeze my ass in and do a 40 second meditation. I washed myself in a supposedly Fountain of Youth too, which caused loads of problems for Ryan later on when the police pulled him over wanting to know why he was driving around a five year old British white boy. Walking down the mountain we see a group of people coming towards us who stopped at the request of their spiritual guide. Then our guide stopped. I could see the spiritual guide facing us had a wonky eye, so he really looked the part – ours was suddenly a bit lame in comparison. So our guide’s not moving facing the other guide who’s also standing still, then it suddenly occurred to me: It’s a face off! Great I thought, we’re going to see some Big Trouble In Little China moves (remember that movie??) with lightning strikes, flying and all sorts of spiritual shit. All on the side of a volcano too! The loser will probably get thrown into the crater and down the badger’s arse, maybe with a little luck he’ll plug it and give my nostrils an oxygen break.
My money was going on Wonky Eye as he was your stereotypical spiritual man whereas ours looked like he came out of Peckham Market. They bow towards each other. My lungs are beginning to combine with my voice box and is well on its way to screaming, ‘Yeeeeaaaah!! Fight! Fight! Fight!!’ Then Wonky Eye bows towards me. I’m thinking, ‘Hey, you want a piece of me you’ll get past my man first – I mean that’s what I’ve paid him for!’ I look him in the eye as I bow, he looks me in the eye – he’s also simultaneously looking at my nose. Quite a neat trick if he meant it. And then everyone starts bowing at everyone else. What is this, a brawl? Apparently not, with a bit of caution we circled each other and Wonky Eye went hobbling up the mountain with his group whilst our spiritual guide took us to see if we could throw stones into the badgers arse.
Talking to Ryan, Ronnie and Andi amongst other people about nightclubs it was clear The Stadium was the crazy place to be at the weekend.
It opens on Thursday and keeps going all the way through until Monday afternoon at some point, not that I intended to stay that long – I had a flight to catch that day. They kept emphasizing the drugs and criminal side of things, that it was one mad club but to be wary of criminals. In fact the more they talked about it the more it started to sound like a squat party / illegal rave back in London – something I’m ever so slightly familiar with. If after hearing this lot about The Stadium wasn’t enough I then went and met a local called Anton whilst I was out grabbing some food on Saturday evening. Over a beer he was telling, or rather I should say warning, me about all the things to watch out for in the nightclub. Again there was the emphasize on drugs, though I was still unsure at this point if the club did have a junkie problem or, what I expected, the club merely had a fair share of happy drug users and all the stories are exaggerated cos there is no other club freely using drugs to compare The Stadium to. He warned me about pickpockets and gave me sound advice to carry nothing but what I need. He told me of the gangs spread out across the room, the women coming onto me to see what they can get from me be it drinks, drugs, paid sex and fuck knows what else. If I go home with a chick and have sex with her she might call some guys to beat me up if I didn’t pay her. All this is cos I’m white by the way. And he said very clearly to me, the very moment I enter the club I become a target. Well, thanks for that Anton – you sure know how to make a guy completely un-paranoid! What the fuck was I letting myself in for?? And what if I do decide to drop some pills, will I become this paranoid wreck who questions everybody’s motive if they approach me? Ah well, only one way to find out I guess – to The Stadium people!
Watch out for undercover police officers - you'll notice them with them question mark bags over their heads
Recruiting was required though and back at the hostel I’d managed to twist Americans Garret and John’s neck into coming with me. We shall call ourselves The Bule Boys and we shall go forth onto this strange land full of hidden dangers, deceitful people and untold horrors, and not only shall we go forth but we shall come out of the club standing on top of a pile of bloody dead bodies of whom we have conquered. Well maybe not that full on, but we intended to have fun. And with an Indonesian party boy called Rico, a friend of the Americans tagging along with us, we had our very own mole to infiltrate the Indonesian gangs and report back their intentions. Or we could just use him to buy us pills. Which we did. Exploring the club inside we realised it isn’t really as big as I imagined, or maybe I’m a hard bastard to please what with coming from London. Of the four floors one of was devoted to Karaoke and sex, so that floor didn’t really count. There was a dance floor on another floor was open but empty. Another small dance floor on another floor which could have passed for a steam room if the steam never smelt of cigarette smoke and had a naked fat Turkish man sitting in it. Then there was the main dance floor which was packed – why couldn’t some of these people go to the empty floor and give me some space to swing my arms around like a raging elephant? And not only that, it was full of guys. So many guys in fact that even a lady boy would have been a welcomed site. However it didn’t take long to discover all the chicks for some reason or other hang out around the edges of the floor and when one gave me the eye it didn’t take any more convincing to go over and meet the local. Turns out she’s a local working girl. Not a good start then, though considering she was standing in a line of other good looking chicks I really should have noticed. So it was time to drop the pill. I’d waited a couple of hours just to see how people reacted to The Bule Boys and there seemed no noticeable concerns, so I was ready to rock and roll. And fuck me was it a strong come up, only took 10 minutes an all considering Garret had taken his over an hour ago and was only just getting his. On the stage I caught the eye of cute Indonesian chick. Aha, I thought – she’s not standing in a line so she ain’t any working girl, plus she’s far too small and petite to be a lady boy – I think I’m onto a winner here people! And I hooked up with her for the night. Righto, I thought, let’s see what she tried to get? She asked if I had pills – I said no. At cloakroom she asked me to pay the 10,000 the cashier wanted – but I had no money on me right at that moment, shame really. With twisting words and batting off her requests I eventually convinced her to go and get me a pill – how about that eh?? Sure she was going to blag it off another guy, but then she was going to give it to me for free – and who says it’s the women always trying to get free stuff from the guys? But by this time I passed on the pill, I just did it to see if it can be done, and at almost 9 in the morning I left her with a promise to call and meet up later that night.
The next day my time in Jakarta was up and I was ready to leave, but not before Indonesia got in one last little tax to see me off on – airport tax. What the fuck?? I get charged for entering, charged for leaving – make your minds up will you? Either way this experience was just what I needed before moving onto my next country in Asia, cos if the island of Java in terms of economy, attitude, food and sights represented the Heads side of a coin, I was now heading to a place that was going to flip me onto the Tails side – Singapore.