Wednesday, May 13, 2009

first weekend in indo: not too shappy!

sooooo, my first weekend in Indonesia was pretty swell! watch out, this is a long one, it will soothe your eyes, and hurt your ears!
there was a friday night taxi fiasco that i don't even want to talk about (we passed the hotel office 3 times before i flicked the driver in the ear- hey, are you done making a fool of me yet??! then he started to cry. first day on the job, i guess. how was i supposed to know he didn't know how to make right turns, only left??)
i checked into my new fancy hotel. woowoo. a french rugby team is staying here and they didn't even make a dent in the insane breakfast 100 meter long buffet.
at 8 am saturday i boarded a high speed boat from Ancol marina, headed for the Thousand
Islands, Pulau Seribu, more specifically, Pulau Sepa. the boat was a torpedo shaped vessel, a
veritable people oven with little airholes for you to stick your nose out like a dog. less than 4 minutes in my seat and i started to hallucinate and so i went and sat out back with
the dive gear next to the thousand decibel engines and delightful motor oil fumes. we left jakarta towards the java sea in a meandering circuit to avoid all the floating
garbage. several times we had to halt from full speed as something was stuck in the propeller
- plastic bags, flip flops or tighty whiteys (or at this point, soggy brownies). the boat guy
would do whatever he could to avoid touching the toxic water, using a pole or piece of
floating garbage even to free the engines.
smog, floating garbage.
after a while a french guy came out to sit with me, named alex. he's your typical cynical
very talkative racist flamey frenchie (who would have a cigarette in his hand if it weren't
for all the gasoline around.) "oh les asiatiques ca va jusqu'a un point mais les gens qui me
fouent vraiment en rogne, c'est les africains de la gard du nord, putain ceux-la!" he yapped
the whole way long, pretty funny stories about living in malaysia and singapore, his favorite
place in the world "oh, it's the switzerland of asia!"
cool dubai-ish buildings.
we passed rickety fishing boats with sails made out of billboard material, all these little
islands with trees and white beaches, and after 90 minutes..welcome to Sepa!i elbowed through everyone in front of me and ran right to the desk to check in my bungalow -
flipper 3B! i'm relishing all the foliage, cute little rattan huts with front porches.
the inside of mine left a little to be desired, a sortof 70s marie antoinette thing happening, with a spooky calendar and a charcoal drawing of the canadiens hockey team (?!) and the bathroom....ewwwww.
but who cares, there's a shower outside, and i'm hitting the beach! i threw on my suit and ran out to the little spot with the wooden lounge chairs, spread out my towel...ahh.
i snorkeled, i drank out of a coconut, i read, i napped. at one point i decided to explore the island and made my way around in less than 10 minutes. then i turned around and tested out every little beach i found on the way. paradise.though not quite, even miles from jakarta, the places was covered in trash. light bulbs, cans, the ubiquitous flip flops. at one point one of the staff was sweeping up the beach - only he swept up all the leaves and branches and left all the trash. weird.
i found the pool table, the volleyball court, the weird ostrich-like thing, the staff
quarters and all these little hideouts for me to read and just relax. at one point i became
very courageous and told myself that i should actually do something to be proud of while
here, instead of just sitting around getting a sunburn. so i decided to jump off the pier and
snorkel around the edge of the reef to the boat launch, pretty far. i pictured being dragged
out to sea, shark attack and a number of other grizzly deaths but i did it anyway. and it was
spectacular. one would never imagine less than 20 feet from my bungalow, bright blue staghorn
corals, really huge fish that were coming right up in my face because i was on
their turf and they scared me so i swam faster and faster, and then fish that i thought were
barracuda but they weren't and i was swimming as fast as i could i did it all in 10 minutes,
but i was very happy with myself and went back to my chair.
this really hot old german guy asked me to put lotion on his back...happy to oblige! i thought of it as a good omen for my moving to berlin. later he asked me to take his picture, for his family (oh, the wedding ring, and he's like, old) still as i had him in the frame of his camera i thought, what if i just take a picture of his crotch, hehe. ok, inappropriate.
at lunch we met another french couple, and german guy joined us, as he speaks french too.
there was some obnonxiously loud cover band playing at every mealtime, which sorta ruined the whole relaxation vibe. so we sat as far away from possible. our french conversation continued
as we were all comparing our accomodations and it became abundantly clear that i was staying
in the utmost crappiest room on the island - and paying way more than everyone else. ripoff!
alex had the cheapest room and it was spotless, impeccable. the others all had cabins
like mine, but somehow they landed the ones that didn't have mold, leaky ceilings, ants, poop
smell. so that was the recurring joke of the weekend...
"i hear Kabul is pretty bad right now..."
"is it as bad as Flipper 3B?"
"ouais chez nous c'est plutot le 16eme, mais le flipper 3b, c'est meme pas gard du nord, encore plus loin que barbes, je dirais meme que c'est la cite!" jerks.
i watched the sunset from a little spot in front of my crappy hut. i heard rustling in the
bushes, the elusive 6 foot long lizard that everyone on the island has seen but me.
alex comes over to chat and this scratchy muslim prayer starts playing over the loud speakers. "oh la la ils vont pas commencer a nous faire chier avec ca! bordel si ca recommence a 4h30 du
matin je te jure que ca va mal se passer, oh, non mais!" and he storms off. after dinner german guy bought us all beers and asked us all blunt intrusive questions. so german.
the full moon was high above with distant lightning. some chinese guys were catching
crabs on the beach and alex says between puffs "ah ca alors, les chinois ils sont doues pour
manger n'importe quoi!" we went out to the pier to watch the lightning and feel the wind and
we finally come back to see what this annoying band is all about.live music in indonesia is never just live music - it's live karaoke band. we go into the
restaurant hut and this brother sister team they're all, want to sing? want to sing? everyone
on this paradise island has gone to bed, or anywhere far away from this band, perhaps to listen
to the swaying palms and lapping waves but now we will now annoy the shit out them with our
karaoke. bring it.
i ask to see 'the book' which is a folder of random sheets of torn notebook paper with handwritten lyrics, song titles in high school girl bubble letters and so many typos, someone must have transcribed from the radio. they don't have any bonnie tyler (karaoke classic) or elton john but they have pretty much any phil collins or lionel richie you chould want, and radiohead. it's all a mess of papers and really hard to find a song, much less a song that both alex and i know, since apparently it's duet karaoke.
so we pick the shortest song we can find 'unforgettable.' it's like 8 lines, perfect. so we go up there, in front of the french couple, the german guy, and a couple of koreans, and this video team that had been on the island all day. this is our golden opportunity to make it onto the Sepa island resort promotional video!
the band starts up, there are blacklights and everything, but we can't figure out when to sing - this is for pros here, there's no little bouncing ball on a screen, you have to know what you're doing - and so alex is all stop stop stop! you're doing it all wrong! don't zou know unforgettable?! and continues to yell at the band in a mix of french and english. they're a bunch of indonesian guys they have no idea what he's saying and so they start over and i sing the first verse and alex storms off like a primadonna - i can't sing like zees! and sits down and pouts. hilarious.
so german guy comes up and asks me to sing 'my way' with him and we're absolutely terrible and we think, just hilarious, but the band, the 2 other people in the audience and the video team have these horrified speechless looks on their face.
video
well screw you guys i didn't grow up singing karaoke. so the koreans get up and that's when i yell "korea-oke!" [zing!]
and they sing some asian song, without lyrics, looking eachother in the eyes tenderly...so this is how it's done. alex retaliates with hotel california, but changed to hotel pulau sepa, complete with references to flipper 3b. at this point we feel we've tortured the islanders enough and call
it a night. i somehow slept through a fierce rainstorm and was the first at breakfast..mmmnoodles. when we all meet up again, we compare all the little areas we missed with sunscreen - i have a weird pattern on my chest and oh, crap, the german guy has my handprints on his back. woopsies! we also all have terrible back pain, as the lounge chairs aren't as much lounging apparatus as they are spine shattering devices.
i have the brilliant idea to put three of them together to make a bed and go back to sleep. i awake to some rain, a weird contrast happing in the sky where the water is really dark blue and the reefs around the islands are a dazzling turquoise. but it's time to go. people are milling around the boat area and the wind is picking up. really picking up. there are whitecaps in the distance.
we board the torpedo and set off, flying and crashing over waves, giving my breakfast a nice
ride, i get that free falling feeling in my chest. ugh, i'm trying not to lose my lunch on
german guy. i ask him to to openthe little window and as soon as he does we hit a wave and
water splashes all over his face. but it's too hot to keept the window shut, i tell him. he's
going straight to the airport and back to germany, isn't a salty face a good souvenir? we
play with the window the whole way home, trying to find the perfect amount of dry air. we
pass one of the smaller boats that alex is on, and three people are puking over the side. we
stop a few more times to free the propellers and soon enough we're back near jakarta and you
can smell the nasty. everyone in the boat is totally asleep, how do they do it? it's a
freaking roller coaster. i get german guy to open the window one more time because it's just.
so. hot. and as soon as he does we hit a big wave full of garbage, but this time the brown
smelly water doesn't hit him, or goes right by his head and all over a sleeping grandpa. his
glasses and shirt are soaked and he doesn't wake up. awesome. we arrive at port and i share a super sketchy cab with alex - the driver, a muslim and therefore usually the more trustworthy of the lot is somehow arguing that his meter is broken and he wants a lump fare, which is the first sign of a major ripoff. we're haggling between 4 and 5 dollars (which is the like the most expensive cab ride possible) and finally realize it's kind of ridiculous and so we just go. we drop alex off first, give the guy the cash and then i'm all, ok, now me and the guy is all park lane hotel? no problem and turns his meter on. mutherfucker.
after i shower i find a scooter taxi guy that has a spare helmet - yay!- even though it has a huge dent in it, no strap so it just sits on your head, and it smells like pee. i go to the ambassador mall which is an insane zoo of electronics and clothing stores and one lone skanky salon where i get a much deserved $1 pedicure that most likely came with shoe fungus but hey, when in rome.
i bought some noodles, got a ride back with a toothless scooter guy, and that weekend is a wrap, folks!

1 comment:

ivles said...

I got Flipper 2B and it was okay. But Flipper 2A was horrible. My friends stay there.

But even in Flipper 2B the water and electricity are usually off. Luckily I'm sharing it with a friend, or else I don't know how to ask the hotel to fix it when I was in the bathroom with soaps all over me. LOL.