I hate malls. I hate shopping. But this was like wandering the halls of Future World. I spent over three hours exploring tomorrow, awestruck by the contrast. Just outside the mall were humble rural reminders, three-wheeled bicycle taxis engulfed by modern chaos. Part of me considered getting back on the ferry to Maumere and returning to the past. II think. Or not? Is. Isn’t. Dunno. Ever been to Chicken, Alaska? Me neither. Imagine a direct flight from there to MOA (Mall of America) in Minnesota. ’ve mentioned the “In Between” in earlier posts and will probably continue to do so ad nauseam. Lots and lots of thinky time on a three-day ferry…from Maumere. Point “A” to Point “B”.Read More
I have many ideas, some of which are actually good. This day was a “good” one. I hailed a becak (pronounced beh-CHALK), a three-wheeled cycle rickshaw, and somehow conveyed my wish to cruise aimlessly around Bondowoso’s center. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. That was the idea. It worked out spectacularly well. Bondo holds little tourist interest on its own. It’s more of a means to an Ijen end, a stopover on the way to somewhere else. As such, most of the population have little contact with tourists. A mutant white dude trolling the streets for shits and giggles is a rarity to say the least. People loved it, enjoying my photofest as much as, if not more than, I did. I traded smile for smile and giggle for giggle…mostly.Read More
The view from the caldera’s edge was spectacular. Sulfur vents billowing fumes beside a turquoise lake as wind wisped smoke above the water, skimming the surface. It was not time to linger. Not then. Not there. Miners were busy carrying sulfur from the hill bottom near the water and tourists were trickling up. I hastened toward the crater’s western border and left everyone behind. I reckoned the farther I went along the rim, the less likely anyone would follow. I was right.
There was a chill from the wind lapping at my face, but this only invigorated me and was little match for the warming sun rays bombarding the scene.Read More
He knew the deal. White asshole wants an exotic snack? C’mon down. I didn’t have to ask. He knew I was there to eat serpent. (Also, it’s the only menu item.) On the ground near the grill sat a bag full of cobras. How many? In my estimation, somewhere between a few and a shitload. Hard to tell considering how long and tangly they are. Seeing them all coiled in a bag ball wasn’t unsettling. Not at all. I’ve read he’s upgraded to a glass tank for storage. More dramatic that way, I assume. Who can resist cobra bingo?
The chef nonchalantly put on fingerless gloves and dove in for that night’s lucky winner. Nag was not amused. In fact, he was a cantankerous fucker. Who could blame him? The chef did nothing to assuage his anger. Quite the contrary.Read More
I ARRIVED IN Yogyakarta AND TOOK A LOVER. Well, no, but that makes for a better intro, does it not? Alas, such is not the case. No lovers taken. Yogya is a mere hour and forty-five minutes from Solo (Surakarta), so the trip was brief… a refreshing change. The road inevitably wears you down. Important to break things up and avoid frying your circuit board. My candle burns at both ends… and all that shit.
My Yogya memories are spotty at best. Looking back, I should’ve taken more interest, but I guess I wasn’t feeling the vibe. The city is ruled by a monarchy, an anomaly in Indonesia. For its contribution during the revolution against the Dutch colonials, it remained under royal rule as a “thank you” by the newly formed republic.Read More
We had a delightful discussion on the proper context and usage of “Kiss my ass!” I felt a special responsibility not to corrupt Indonesia’s youth, but they were already throwing it around with reckless abandon. Guidance was my only gift and came in the form of explicit instructions for use among trusted cohorts. I tried to impart the prudence of not getting carried away. My benevolence knows no boundaries.
One boy, Bryan, asked if sex is free in America. That threw me for a loop until I realized he wanted to know if sex before marriage was customary in the good ole US of A. I told him we fuck like rabbits. No, I didn’t, but I validated the whore-like status of Americans. Pre-martial sex? Definitely a thing. Where did I stand on the issue?Read More
I can’t say I disliked the man, but I immediately questioned his hiking forte. No rain jacket. No flashlight. Dress shoes. Jeans. Jean jacket. Um, Fabio, WTF? An extra in a Broadway production of Grease? Sure. A member of the Merapi summit party? Negative. Fabio didn’t share my reservations. He was ready to crush that shit. He as much told me so in broken English on the ride to Selo. Though the language barrier was substantial, I heard a story about hiking the jungles of Sumatra and how this prepared him for Merapi. Easy. That’s what he said. Easy. Faaaaaabio…
In Selo, the rain fell and fell hard. Dogs and cats. Goats and chickens. Lions and tigers. Have I mentioned Fabio’s lack of rain gear? His killer jean jacket?Read More
What the hell is it? Temple? Stupa? Shrine? Mountain? It don’t know what the hell it is. Mostly Buddhist. Distinctly Indonesian. Hindu flaring in between. What does the name “Borobudur” signify? Who the hell knows? When was it built? Who the hell knows? Best guess? Around 800 C.E… probably. Why was it built? Who the hell knows? Why was it abandoned from 1000 C.E onwards only to be rediscovered in 1814? Who the hell knows? I like mystery in my meat.
Ideally, I would engage a flux capacitor (it’s what makes time travel possible) and travel back thirty or forty years , before Borobudur’s fame, and wander the site for days with an expert guide or enough knowledge to soak the majesty and grandeur out of it. I had to settle for a morning trot through the…Read More
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.Read More