8.21.2009

IT'S NOT PARIS THAT IS BURNING





















(Jakarta and I have one more late night rendezvous before I leave, last of the trash fires I swear)

After the islands, back to Jakarta on our way out:

- Hellish overnight 12 hour thigh-to-thigh cramped economy train ride from Yogya to Jakarta. As unpleasant as it was there were a lot of friendly characters on board and some good food. Our bikes doubled the ticket price as "cargo," which meant that they just stuck one in the bathroom (half in, half out) and the others in the walkway.
- While walking down an alley I pass a food cart with some guys sitting around. One calls out hello and I answer the same. Just as I pass by, one guy leans over toward me and hisses "Osama Bin Laden" at me. I look at him and reply "Barak Obama" (it was the only equivalent that came to mind). He repeats himself louder, I do the same but with some laughter mixed in. He announces it once more with some intensity as I walk away.
- A lawn-mower-engine-powered rickshaw.
- Walking around alone at night I meet a guy who tries to pull the "art exhibit" scam familiar to me from China. Give away #1: "It's officially state-sponsored." Give away #2: This "official art exhibit" is down a dark side alley.
- Being warned three times in one night that I was in danger. There was some confusion with one guy who was warning me with head-cutting-off gestures. It turned out he was trying to explain that someone had recently been decapitated on the train tracks I was on.
- The mobile band system with generator cart.
- Running into three different streets totally blocked off to the public for wedding parties in one night.
- Meeting friendly guys in an alley who force me to hang out and drink some homemade liquor they called "manis"(?). My wandering got pretty stumbly for a while after I bid them goodnight.
- Accidentally coming across the #1 gay cruising spot in Jakarta (so I was told), which made sense since it looked like Times Square in the 80s.
- Some kids throw a bag of water at us from a balcony while at a local night market.
- Giving stray kittens fish heads.
- A mis-press of an elevator button lands Greg walking onto a floor of a building with nothing in the lobby except a security desk, and a ping pong table. Within seconds he has challenged the guard to a game.
- Going to a really cool Wayang puppet museum.
- Getting clipped by a tuk-tuk while riding alone around Jakarta.
- New favorite food/desert: es tyeler/buah ("Dizzy ice").
- Favorite new drink: avocado shakes.
- Seeing giant shark fins for sale at the Jakarta airport.

And off to Japan. . .





MP3:

• Santogold and Diplo - Right Brigade

A band's place in myspace

8.08.2009

TOO MUCH EGO, TOO LITTLE REMORSE















(photos from our trip to and time in Bali)

We leave the road for a little r & r:

- Night swimming in Bali.
- Cramming five of us (secretly) into a 2-twin bed room at a hostel which was a bunch of free-standing rooms decorated to look like temples separated by tiny alleys filled with birds in cages. Ira tried to sleep in a rooftop shrine he found, but decided the floor was better the next night.
- Riding pretty far to go to the market in Denpassar and getting there just as they closed.
- Feeling that if we stayed in Kuta too long we'd probably end up getting into a fight.
- Another friendly stranger taking Greg all over Sengiggi on the back of his scooter to help us find a room. He wouldn't even let Greg pay for his pack of cigarettes as a thank you.
- All the affordable places in Sengiggi were full, but the nice woman at Sonja's Hostel let us sleep on the (concrete) floor in a back room next door to some of the workers for free.
- Ira chasing a gecko all over our neighbor's room at Sonja's while we were hanging out with them.
- Meeting a bunch of very friendly devout Muslims returning from a religious conference on the four hour ferry to Lombok.
- Having to wade to and from the little wooden ferry boat to the Gili islands, since there isn't a dock it just pulls up close to the beach.
- On the islands are a fair number of bikes, but none of them have brakes. The only other form of transportation is horse-drawn cart.
- Being without out bikes for the first time on this trip feels weird (it was too expensive to get them to Bali).
- We find the Gili islands to be much more expensive than we were led to believe. So we sleep on the beach on these cabana platforms and eat at a local woman's house a bartender introduced us to.
- We are educated on the local cock-fighting tournaments.
- Lots of wooden outrigger-style canoes that use plastic bottles for their pontoon and coconut shells for the end cap.
- Being able to see tons of stars and the milky way out on the islands.
- I come within inches of stepping on a poisonous banded sea snake while wading in the tide pools.
- Going snorkeling and getting stung repeatedly by small jellyfish.
- The reefs are huge expanses of dead grey ghost towns, devastated from illegal dynamite and cyanide fishing.
- Having to climb over piles of broken coral in bare feet is quite unpleasant.
- Back in Bali, Greg gets picked up by a friendly deaf guy on a scooter who helps him find a mask, and later turns out to have a crush on him.
- We sleep on the beach on our last night in Bali, in what turns out to be a spot infested with stinging ants and sketchy dudes in the shadows all night.



MP3:

• Bat For Lashes - Use Somebody (Kings Of Leon cover)

A band's place in myspace.

8.02.2009

TOURIST TERRITORY























(photos from in and around Yogya, Indonesia)

- Riding through rice fields at sunset while a smoking volcano looms over us.
- Amazing bamboo scaffolding.
- Indonesian driving style: casual carelessness.
- Riding to the southern coast and swimming in a natural-spring pool that is completely covered in green slime. Chicken battles in the pool are very very short.
- Saddam Hussein is still a fashionable icon here.
- Having a campfire on the beach and being joined by a really drunk guy who is always laughing strangely and cooks us some casaba in the fire. For some reason one of his friends that joined us kept asking us not to hurt him over and over.
- The beach on the southern coast is really windy, the waves are huge, and the current is so strong it is a no-swimming beach at all times.
- Exploring an abandoned resort on a cliff, until we get kicked out.
- Karaoke-ing in a giant club shaped like a pyramid that is completely empty.
- Visiting Taring Padi ("Fang of the rice plant"), the radical political print-making collective. Yusuf showed us a bunch of his giant woodblock prints that take him a month to carve each one.
- Getting some street musicians to play Metallica for us.
- "Roti bakar" = like grilled cheese but with chocolate and strawberry jam inside instead of cheese.
- Doughnuts here are a gamble, especially when they end up having cheese on them. Probably the worst-tasting thing I've had in Indonesia.
- Trying out all the homemade liquors in Yogya that are basically the lowest grade alcohol mixed with something else, like coffee or ginger tea.
- The admission price for foreigners at Borobudour Temple is marked up 1000%.
- Playing a round of Exquisite Corpse while lounging on the top of the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
- An interesting thing about riding in Indonesia has been that cars/trucks/buses are in the minority, after scooters. And they actually behave like it, being more likely to yield to other traffic.

Learn Indonesian:
"Lagi" = Another/more.
"Satu" = One.
"Dua" = Two.
"Tika" = Three.
"Mpat" = Four.
"Rima" = Five.
"Nam" = Six.
"Tugu" = Seven.
"Telapan" = Eight.
"Su belan" = Nine.
"Su pulu" = Ten.



MP3:

• Exuma - Monkberry Moon Delight

A band's place at last.