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Published: March 18th 2008
He was always hanging out in the trees outside my hotel room. Never said a word haha
Before heading to Indonesia from India I planned a 4 day break in Thailand. I remember just last month upon my arrival in Bangkok. I found it to be a bit dirty, with crazy traffic, well compared to Japan anyway. After spending a month in India, I now find Bangkok to be a really clean, well run organized place. I love Thailand! It's always a pleasure to come back to.
I left Bombay at 7:30pm, took a plane at 11:20pm that was full of 500 mosquitoes for 6 hours arriving in Bangkok in the early morning without a moments sleep. For some reason the local bus that drops me at Khao San road has been canceled so I had to take a series of very packed local buses taking 3 hours to get there. This is where I met up with Aim and we headed for the 4 hour bus ride and 45 minute boat ride to the beautiful island of Koh Samet. By this time with no sleep I'm exhausted!
Aim and I walked around the beautiful white sand beaches aimlessly sipping on Pina Coladas, while the turquoise blue glittering sea gently tickled our feet. We felt the
Nasi Goreng, Fried Egg & Satay
Typical meal in Indonesia....delicious
fresh persistent warm breeze and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. She's been teaching me Thai words as well as the more difficult to remember Thai tones. Which I'm terrible at, but it's fun to learn. She loves to laugh at me as I butcher their language. I'd love to laugh at her English, but she's just so damn good at it. She's also been teaching me to eat where the locals do, sampling real Thai food for a fraction of the over priced tourist restaurants. The food I find, is much better also. Isaan Food. I'm beginning to enjoy the extreme chili attacks! We spent just 2 nights here as it's actually very expensive for my budget, costing me double as I'd pay elsewhere in Thailand. I also accidentally erased all 500 pictures from Japan & India, and then blew up my head shaver. Bad luck! All I can do is laugh I guess, it really sucked though.
Waiting for my airport bus for 5 hours I sat, drank beer and read my book occasionally looking up and watching the Thai people go about their daily routine. I remember back at the peer near Koh Samet, Aim looked around and
Isaan Thai Food
Cat Fish, Sticky rice and all kinds of goodies. Really spicey and really gooooood
said to me " I love Thai people". I think I do to, there's just something about them that is so genuine. Next time I'll be back in Thailand for 3 weeks.....I can't wait.
But until then, I'm starting the next chapter in my epic journey which is Indonesia! With 18 000 islands, 108 000 kms of beaches, 400 volcanoes (130 being active and the most dangerous in the world) and 220 million people, 90% of them being Muslim, there's an incredible amount to see, do and learn. It's also a place where my Mom and plenty of others wish I wasn't. The news is full of stories of natural disasters, tsunami's, volcano blasts, landslides, floods, terrorist bombings, war, Islamophobia and political instability it makes it seem like a place that one should keep far away from. While that is all true I believe it's all over sensationalized by the media and overall this is a great place to visit. It's a big country and while there may be a problem somewhere, it doesn't mean it will be where I am that moment.
The first thing I noticed about the Indonesian people when I got off the plane
On the beach.....near dinner time
in Jakarta at 2am is their smile. It's so big and bright. "Hello Mister, where you go? You take taxi now, only 150 000 ($15.00) to your hotel" I know from asking around that is should be 1/10th that at 15 000, but finding a real regular taxi seemed impossible. As I watched other helpless tourists get into their unlicensed overpriced taxis, waited 20 minutes until I found Bluebird Taxi. Exhausted I went to the nearest airport hotel.
It's a shock at first sight (and smell): a sweltering, steaming, heaving mass of some 10 million people packed into a vast urban sprawl, the contrast between the obscene wealth of Indonesia's elite and the appalling poverty of the urban poor is incredible, with tinted-window BMWs turning left at the Gucci shop into muddy lanes full of begging street children and corrugated iron shacks. The city's traffic is in perpetual gridlock, its polluted air is matched only by the smells of burning garbage and open sewers. Some guidebooks say safety is a concern especially at night. However I didn't feel unsafe at any moment. There are few sights to speak of and most visitors transit as quickly as possible. That being
Tony and I
said I decided to stay for at least 3 nights to get a feel for the culture, and I'm glad I did. It's not half as bad in Jakarta as everyone says it was. The traffic isn't as terrible as India, it's cleaner and is quite modern in many areas. The city has many beautiful areas to hang around in.
The air is moist and the temperature is hot. Dark black, swollen clouds line the sky ready to burst. It's rainy season now. I haven't seen a drop of rain yet, but I'm sure it'll come in torrential downpours. I headed an area called Jalan Jaska in Jakarta. It's where all the budget guest houses and bars are located. I'd like to say similar to Bangkok's Khao San Road but it's not really like that since there's maybe only 20 or so tourists around. The country's bad press has really contributed to a huge downturn in tourism. Most foreigners I've met, live here.
Smiles and "Hello Misters"all around as I walked down the street. It's just what I needed after finding out that my video camera is broken and I'm not sure I can get it fixed. After
near Medaka Square.
accidentally erasing 100's of other pictures from my other camera this is really beginning to suck! The local people usually invite me to sit and hang out with them. With little job opportunities here it seems people have a lot of time on their hands and you'll see people hanging out on the streets all over the place. I met a guy named Tony. He showed me were to get the best local food for less than $1.00. We drank some beers on the street while sitting on buckets, listening to Indonesian punk rock and just spoke for hours. We drank Kopi (Coffee) by pouring the coffee from the cup onto the saucer and sipping it from the saucer. It seems unecessary to take that extra step but I guess when in Rome......
He seems fairly well educated and has travelled to Japan, Australia and a few other places, but he hasn't had a job in the last 3.5 years so he's just been hanging out like everyone else ever since.
The neighborhood seems rather lawless and is rough around the edges. But I found that all you have to do is meet a few people and you instantly
become friends with the whole neighborhood. Just hanging out with locals, other locals see that and all come and introduce themselves offering clove flavoured cigarettes. The restaraunts are full of prostitutes. It's hard to tell who is and who isn't since they will just come talk to you, introduce themselves and since they have lots of time and no other tourists around they'll talk for hours. During a bite to eat I spoke to some lady for my entire meal before an expat (foreigner who lives here) warned me what she was up to. Their style is to spend the entire day and night with you as a girlfriend and expect to get paid at the end of the day/week/month even if there has been no verbal agreement in place. I tend to only speak to men now haha!
I was awoke at 5am by the eerie but beautiful calling of prayer over the loudspeaker from the Mosque. I rolled over and turned back asleep waking up late. Nothing opens around here until about 10am. My goal today is to find out where I can repair my video camera in this gigantic city. Luckily I found a Sony repair
beautiful Beach on a Tropical Island
shop only blocks away. They suggested I send it to Singapore and wait a few weeks. Frusterated, I went to find a camera shop and bought a new one for 3.9 million rupiahs ($420.00). Upon placing my transaction I was being stared at by all the workers with big smiles on their face astonished by the rich foreigner spending a few months of their salary on a camera without even blinking an eye. Didn't make me feel to proud. My videos from my last trip are what I cherish, they've provided such amazing memories that at no matter what the cost I need to continue producing them, even if I can't really afford it.
That night, I asked Tony if he could bring me to a nightclub. Jakarta is famous for having some of the biggest and best nightclubs in all of southeast Asia. The first one we headed to was Embassy, a massive nightclub for Jakarta's elite, but unfortunatly it was closed so we headed to another one called Stadium. It's massive inside, and set up in a gothic style, 2 floors with a giant sound system. The type of club that I wish we had in Vancouver.
Getting a shave
This man has got skills!
A few hours went by and the nightclub got packed. That's when a lady in her mid 40's, in a black business suit came up to me and asked to speak with me somewhere quieter. I would've never guessed what she wanted. I followed her into an area and out of nowhere came all the pretty Indonesian girls. "You like pretty girls?" she said "Please go ahead take your pick" Besides the fact that I don't pick up prostitutes it was such an akward situation that I backed out right away saying my girlfriend was waiting for me in the nightclub. She then pulled out a big back of drugs, a big enough bag to land you the death sentence in this country if you were caught with it. "Beer no good, you like to have fun?" she said. I got myself out of there pretty quickly, made it back to the dancefloor where Tony said.....Don't talk to old ladies they're always up to no good! They didn't bother me anymore and the rest of the night was pretty fun which I spent dancing and having a good time drug and hooker free haha.
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