Up 6am. Barely slept. Late dream. I forgot I always have insomnia the first night regardless of sleep deprivation, then eventually crash. There's plenty of sleep time available when travelling between cities.
My left pointer finger was stiff the day before I left LA. Harbinger of an arthritis flareup. These last couple years I've had arthritis flareups and every time they follow a period of sleep deprivation. I didn't sleep the two nights before I left LA, then barely on the plane, then barely last night. The flareups progress through joints (each one is a problem for maybe 2 days and then goes away) and today it's my right elbow.
Cats outside the hotel. Every cat in Indonesia meows!
Met Ryan on the bus. Carrie and Stevie are on the bus too. The group is fully assembled.
Left the hotel 7:02am for a tour of Jakarta.
Monumen Nasional (aka Monas).
Jakarta has its own Citywalk. (I live near Universal CityWalk, and also the restaurant called City Wok, which was parodied on South Park as Shitty Wok.)
On the way out of Jakarta the bus scraped a bridge. Barry said it's because of higher asphalt after repeated repavings and they haven't remeasured the clearance.
Stopped at Sunda Kelapa Harbour. According to Lonely Planet, "This entire area is rundown and its waters grotesquely polluted."
Our bus (just for this ride around Jakarta and then to Bandung). I know a guy named Adi who's engaged to a girl. I reminded him that we gotta get that annulment ASAP.
Ooh, here's a fun thing that didn't cost extra. We split up into three motorboats and rode up the canal to the mouth of the harbor. Also, this reminds me that I still haven't gotten an OMB (orphan motorboat) on account of my dad dying last year. I sort of did, but it was in public on stage, and over a bra. I think you're supposed to get more than that when a parent dies.
Us in boats. Each boat had water bottles strapped to the sides. I thought they might be for ballast, but no--as bumpers. Ballast was a stupid guess anyway. People could just shift their asses a few inches to balance the boat instead of having to fill or empty bottles.
We docked at one of the bigger boats and embarked. Here's a skinny-ass chicken. Right around here I talked to Carrie (one of the latecomers) for the first time. I always love talking to someone whom I should have already talked to, like someone I've been Facebook friends with for 10 years. Or if I've talked to someone for years and we take things to the next level and find out each other's name. Like the human friend of Riley next door (the dog known as the Mayor of Bluffside Drive). I call Riley by name all the time, but I don't know her name and neither of them knows mine. Or the staff at Fama Hair Salon where I've been getting my hair cut for 28 years. I introduced myself to a hottie UCLA student who cut my hair there once, but otherwise none of the stylists know my name--not even Mauricio who owns the place. Someday it'll happen. Oh who am I kidding--they've googled me.
Three chickens with very little meat on them.
Bigger boats, from the bigger boat we were on. We spent a few minutes in the room with the big wheel that the captain steers with (it probably has a name) and it was sweltering in there.
The whole boat thing went 7:40am-8:10am. Then back on the bus to the old Dutch city formerly called Batavia. Arrived there 8:45am.
Taman Fatahillah, the old town square formerly called Stadhuis Plein. [As I type that on the 28th, shivering with a cold while wearing my winter coat over my hoodie trying to stay warm at my desk on a rainy day when the high temp in LA was an absurd 48°F/9°C, I feel like I should be in chilly Amsterdam riding the tram and there's an announcement for the Stadhuis Plein stop where I get off.]
Included (in the cost of the tour) was admission to Museum Sejarah Jakarta (Jakarta History Museum), housed in the old Stadhuis. Nothing really exciting. Just a lot of artifacts on display, and photos and timelines on the walls.
On the grounds of the museum but next to the steps into the Stadhuis, there's an old women's prison.
The square as seen from the Stadhuis. On that building on the right you might be able to see a KFC logo. KFC is everywhere in Indonesia.
Outside the museum, in the courtyard within the museum grounds, I met Stevie for the first time. OK, now I've sort of talked to everyone.
Hello Kitty! He was hanging around a bunch of us as we sat and rested before exiting the grounds. Right here I enjoyed my most refreshing Coke in a while. I thought I hadn't had a Coke in a long time, but I did in Taipei, which seems way more than a day ago.
Still on the grounds. Sometimes I take a photo of an identifying sign just so I can properly caption the previous or following photo, and then delete it. I kept this one because the capitalization and definition of HOAX seem to suggest that the local historian who made this sign was particularly bothered by the corpse rumor.
I should have sent my love down this well. It might have cured my insomnia.
Fine Art and Ceramic Museum, housed in the former Palace of Justice building. I wanted to walk around here but you had to pay for museum entry just to access the lawn.
South of the square on the street that goes to the train station. This is indeed an Excellent Adventure.
Jakarta Kota Station. This mostly serves commuter trains within the metro area.
The square once again, near the meeting point. Those pink bikes are rentals.
Stadhuis/museum. Remember when I took a photo out the window next to that flag?
*You're (I took this photo just so I could make the correction)
Before we got here, Barry said local youths might ask to take photos with us, because they rarely see white people, and also they think we're all Dutch. I get that. My parents told me about the first time I saw a black kid at Houston Playground and I called him a "darkie". Humans are amused by strange new things. Sure enough, three boys asked me here. I posed with two while the other took the pic. I caught another guy sneaking a selfie with me. (BTW, selfie sticks are still a thing in Indonesia.) Other people in my group got interviewed--I think it was university students doing it for a project.
Back to the bus 10am. Arrived in Bandung before 1pm, but there was traffic and I forget when we actually stopped for lunch. That was at Kedai Belacon, where I had nasi goreng belacon (shrimp fried rice). Huge meal. Slightly spicy. Fried rice is better than average in Indonesia. Plus I had Coke with ice! If you haven't travelled in warm countries with unpotable tap water, you might not appreciate what a treat it is to get ice. Of course it might be frozen tap water, but you tend not to care. I noticed this place charged a 10% tax and a 5% service charge, so for the rest of the trip I was mentally adding 15% to everything, but restaurants seemed to add random surcharges (less than 15%).
Riding through the city I saw a pickup truck with three live rams in the back. Passed too fast for a photo.
At 2:45pm we arrived at Saung Angklung Udjo, a school and performance center for angklung, a traditional bamboo instrument with 2-4 two tubes that are shaken against the sides of the instrument to produce sound (same note, different octaves). This is one of the optional (extra cost) excursions on this tour. Originally I was thinking I'd do the bike ride in Yogyakarta, but neither of the music things, because in the experience of me and my past tourmates, those usually aren't worth it. But in this case Barry said if anyone didn't want to see the angklung show, the bus would go all the way to the hotel and drop those people off, then go back to the show. I got it. Part of these trips is going with the flow and sometimes making things easier for the CEO and the rest of the group. It was only 150,000 Rp anyway. Later in Yogyakarta, Barry mentioned the other musical optional, but just very briefly in passing, on short notice, with no details. I got that too. I've done a few tours where there's an optional and you can tell the CEO barely mentions it out of obligation but would really rather no one do it because it saves him a lot of work.
Angklung workshop. That guy is using an electronic tuner to adjust the length of the tubes. Traditional doesn't mean antiscience.
Entered the arena 3pm. Free water and popsicles! My last time in SE Asia we talked a lot about popsicles. Go read my 2010 travelogue after this one--the Family Guy link is probably in there.
The arena. This makes it look like it was just our group but it was packed, with mostly locals.
Act 1: puppet show. This guy operated and did the voices for all of them. He deserved at least half the gate. It was all in Indonesian so I have no idea what was happening here. Puppets and dolls are scarier than clowns. Clowns take their makeup off at night, whereas all puppets and dolls come alive every night and join together in a macabre dance while children sleep in blissful ignorance. It was hard getting photos of the subsequent puppet scenes because of the motion. There was a puppet smack, intricate martial arts scenes including one with a slo-mo Matrix move, and a puppet shot an arrow out of the arena. Damn. This master of puppets was clearly the Brock Lesnar of the show. He's the main event, but he goes on first and doesn't have to stick around for the rest of the show, because he has that much clout. I told people a few times that the puppets were the best part of the show.
The other 8 acts were all music and dancing. Here's Act 6. I don't know what was happening but the kid playing the king/emperor/god was good in the role. I think at the end of this they tried to get people from the crowd to go down and dance, and the number of people refusing to dance warmed my heart. I've ranted about forced dancing in previous travelogues. Smart people create and lead and entertain. Dumb people imitate and follow and don't entertain. Never invite someone to dance unless you're 100% certain that they're dumb.
Act 7: Angklung were distributed to the crowd and we played them as conducted. Whenever 3 was signalled, I played mine. It kind of worked. The songs were slow but identifiable despite the large error rate. We didn't get to keep these. I got a smaller one on a necklace but it is inoperable. I'm putting it on my table next to the nazar (blue eye amulet) from Turkey that's been collecting dust in that spot for 6 years.
Bob Cobb leading us in angklung performance. It took a while to figure out the notation. Each column of 2-4 numbers means anyone with an angklung with that number plays on that note. So if your number is also in the next column, you continue without stopping.
At the very end we had Act 9: Dancing Together. Many more people participated in this one. Some refused multiple times. I was on my phone so I wasn't asked (in case being a smart straight white American guy wasn't enough of a clue, I avoided eye contact with the kids coming into the crowd).
By the way, why does every country narrowly focus on traditional music and dance? Not just on these trips; also for example at ethnic festivals in the US, like at a Greek festival where everyone joins hands and does that dance where everyone looks at each other's feet and laughs because they're sheeple who were told this is supposed to be enjoyable. Countries contribute to culture in lots of ways. Just once instead of these kinds of performances I'd like to see a modern pop singer, or tour a TV station, or visit the local university's chemistry department and see what they're working on. Show us that people in your country can do things more advanced than music and dance. In India we saw a Bollywood movie--that's the kind of stuff I'm talking about.
Noticed my shoulders and neck were now hurting. Arthritis progression continues. The trigger is always insomnia/severe sleep deprivation.
Show ended 5:30pm. On bus. Arrived at the Arion Swiss Hotel 6:15pm. Nice big room (compared to Jakarta). I showered and tried to poop but nothing happened. My body shuts down poop production when I travel. Usually I go a couple days at the beginning of each trip, and there were the 4 days on the Inca Trail. Probably a combination of dehydration (poop is mostly water, and 99% water a lot of times for me) and my brain going into survival mode in unfamiliar surroundings or when it knows pooping/peeing will be extremely inconvenient (e.g. on a plane).
I noticed that the tan on my knees was gone. I hike a lot in the mountains in LA, mostly in summer (my goal is to walk more steps than in the previous month, except in October because of baseball and it starts getting colder and darker and rainier, so that's my reset month), so I generally have decent color. But I went to the Rams game the last weekend of September and in my seated position my shorts hiked up over my knees, exposing untanned flesh to the sun for 5 hours, and I got burned. Peeled off a 2-inch section of skin. But I was left with a couple extra inches of color. Evidently in a month and a half of staying indoors, it faded.
Left for dinner 7:30pm. On the way to the restaurant I saw a bunch of signs that said "Dago". A giant DAGO sign, Royal Dago, Dago Bakery, etc. Barry said it's the name of the neighborhood. I informed him that it means something else in the US (epithet against Italians). As a kid I played baseball at a field called Dago Louie's. It wasn't renamed (to Salvatore Pachella Field) until the 1980s. Big controversy recently on the Review Archives (neighborhood newspaper in Philly) Facebook page about using that word. I've always thought it was akin to polack for Poles. Polack and dago refer to people of those ethnic groups from days of yore who are so cartoonishly stereotypical as to be semi-fictional. Kind of like redskin for American Indians. No one is making a connection between tomahawk-choppers from the 1600s and present-day normal people who happen to have Native ancestry. I'm Polish, there have been a lot of polacks throughout history, and I'm better than them. Dago isn't anywhere near the realm of the N-word and I don't know of anyone regarding it as a problem. It refers to negative qualities of people who no longer exist. Also, speaking of cartoons, I remember an issue of Mad magazine with a joke about Italian tires: "When dago flat, dago wop-wop-wop!" Also, I love when Mr. Burns saw a Joe DiMaggio card and lamented that they were letting "ethnics" into the sport.
Arrived at the Stone Cafe.
Dory? Also, tar-tar sauce. Wow, two Simpsons references in this travelogue and no Seinfeld so far.
First time I've seen Fanta on any menu anywhere.
Tourmates sitting in increasing order of age and tiredness. I got a large (620-mL) Bintang and spicy lamb friend rice. When I told my brother I was going to Indonesia he said "get the fried rice", and now it's 3 straight meals. There were some pieces of chili peppers in this rice and a squirt of sambal on the plate, but overall on a scale of 0 to 10 it was not spicy. Nothing like the place I go in LA for Thai food, or when we ordered Indian food at work and the Indian guy in my group placed the order and told them to go in their back room with all the spices and dump everything into my food (on a subsequent trip to India I learned that every house has such a back room, and also I bled the day after eating this). I told someone I've cooked with ghost peppers and I think they were impressed. I like food (or any stimulus) that creates an emotional response.
There was loud music here that prevented conversation. I still don't get the purpose of this. People want to talk at dinner, or not talk, but they don't want additional noise. Our heads are full of enough noise. (I had to correct a typo there because I spelled noise as "noice". Noice!) But then it quieted down enough for me to be interviewed by Carrie. Not that this was a date, but before I went into age-mandated retirement from dating, most of my dates were interviews. Girls hate when guys don't ask questions, guys hate when girls do nothing but ask questions instead of talking about themselves, but I get that I'm more interesting than most people and I'm resigned to answering questions instead of having a normal back-and-forth conversation. Also if I wasn't severely sleep deprived I might have turned this interview into a conversation.
Oh yeah, we were eating in the top level of the restaurant on a patio and this was the view, but better than this. Also we were sitting on the floor on pillows, and I was having trouble lifting my beers because of my elbow, and had a lot of trouble propping myself to stand. Stupid arthritis. Stupider sleep deprivation.
This was the original title of Jersey Shore.
After the taxi and tipping kitty and angklung I was already running low on funds. Indonesia can be quite pricy. Even with 1.25 million rupiah. So across from the hotel I withdrew another 2.5M. Toomas also got money out there. Found out the next day Missy used one of those ATMs and it shut down and confiscated her card. Yikes. I always bring enough USD just in case, but it's still a moderate inconvenience.
Had beers at the hotel. Bed 11:20pm.