Posts in Batch 9
47 - Ambiguously Gay Evening (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Things got queer (as in “odd” or “strange”) fast. Indira took a liking to me. Was it my convivial magnetism or the liquor? I’ll go with a little of both, emphasis on the latter. Either way, a slew of personal details followed, details I might not share ten minutes into a new friendship. But, then again, who the hell am I? He had two wives—one Indonesian, the other Russian. Um, ‘kay. (Polygamy is legal in Indonesia.) He just married his Russian bride two months earlier and had apparently been paying the price both literally and figuratively ever since. I asked if they lived in the same house and was given the “No fucking way!” expression posthaste.

Apparently, there was animosity between brides. (Can't imagine why.) Team Russia was a money pit and loved to quarrel…

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48 - Trafficking & Mall Madness (Jakarta, Indonesia)

You’d think the strategy would be rock solid, but it was impossible to determine which folks were following the rules and which couldn’t give a rat’s ass. On this occasion, I apparently followed someone of the “rat’s ass” variety. (Assuming they were native to the area, of course.) He curved right, I followed. We ended up facing the opposite direction (mid-circle) stopped at a red light. This just happened to be in front of a traffic police post. I realized this when I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, two members of Jakarta’s finest strolling in my direction. I assumed fault in my neighbor, the motorist’s who’s lead I followed. Leave Johnny Tourist alone, right? Just to be safe, I went with Jedi protocols. Can’t see you if you don’t look. Can’t see you if you don’t look.

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49 - Kalinda’s Other Plans (Sumatra, Indonesia)

There’s something to be said about just being. No camera. No packs strapped to the bike. No real destination. No need for an enhanced state of hypervigilance. Just ride. And smile. Feel the breeze on my knees. Take a breath before death. Chill without a pill before you’re over the hill.

The coastal road led me through a series of small villages, one picture postcard after another. Quaint and tidy with a touch of drowsy. Perfect place to dodder as the day winds down. The sun retreated, casting its orange glimmer across the rocky beaches, old stone houses, and rickety wooden harbors in one final act of rebellion. Beautiful. But, of course, I didn’t have my camera, did I? I wonder…

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50 - Kiss My Baby Krak (Mt. Krakatoa, Sumatra, Indonesia)

Seeing Baby Krak requires a boat. My hostel arranged one. Low season. Solo tourist. It’s never cheap to do things alone, so the “tour” set me back sixty dollars. Normally, you’d frolic with a group. Normally, I’d be thrilled to have my own private vessel, guide included. Normally, I’m down with “normally.” Buuuut one client equals small boat. You don't want the small boat. Really, you don’t. (Boat? More like watercraft as in “arts” and “crafts.”)

Come the morning, I drove to the home of el capitan and waited patiently as preparations for our voyage ensued. I sat outside a small shop sipping coffee with my guide and three unknown Sumatrans listening to what I can only describe as Indonesian prom music from a high school “Enchantment Under the Volcano” dance…

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51 - Honkey On A Harley? (Krui, Sumatra, Indonesia)

Case in point. Petrol stations were now few and far between, so mom-and-pop kiosk operations filled the void. I patronized a small roadside stand in my quest for fuel. Given the abnormality that was me, I was invited for coffee, free of charge. I sat and at once became the center of attention to four young males. A few months earlier, the scrutiny might’ve been unbearable, but I’d come along way since then. I even started to enjoy it. (This assumes the absence of perceived danger, of course.) I sipped. They stared. I smiled. They stared. I tried not to burst with awkward laughter. They stared. If all that wasn’t strange enough, there was monkey tied to a nearby tree for no obvious reason. PETA wouldn’t approve (nor did I), but it probably wasn’t the best time for a “Free Willy!” confrontation…

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52 - Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (Sumatra, Indonesia)

In town, I entered a restaurant for information and lunch. On the topic of park exploration, I received the Indonesian equivalent of No way, Jose. The owner said it wasn’t possible. If I wanted in, I’d have to enter from Kota Agung. Fooey. I asked around. Same answer… repeatedly. Not possible. I sulked over a bowl of chicken and rice, and then I asked again. (As in, “Are ya sure, sure?”) Still no. Fiddlesticks.

I straddled the Phantom and began my dejection tour back to Krui. I mentally flagellated myself for the defeat but wasn’t so self-absorbed in pity that I missed the park entrance I’d failed notice on the way in. So much for situational awareness, eh gov’nah? Across the road was a ranger station…

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