Sunday was a bit of a big day for me. I caught the Trans-Jakarta bus way into town to meet another AVI, Alice. I’m starting to get the hang of the bus-way, since I’m using at least once a week. It’s a recent system which everyone says is a great improvement. It goes all over town and has it’s own dedicated lane, so it cuts through the traffic. It can still be effected in really bad traffic, because other jerks start using the bus lane. It’s still the best way for me to get around and at about 40 cents to anywhere who can complain.
I met Alice at Plaza Indonesia, one of the many huge and extravagant malls in the center of town, where all the obscenely rich (and just ordinary rich) Jakartans hang out. Afterwards, I met Jon to go to the weekly expat soccer game. It was my first time there, the first time playing any sport in a tropical climate and it was crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life. I had to pace myself so I didn’t pass out. It was intense and now, 2 days later, I’m still very sore and walking like an enfeebled old man.
For some reason, I find walking around at night nicer than in the daytime. All the street sellers are out with their carts frying various edible goods, making juice or whatever their specialty happens to be. It’s a more interesting, exciting mood. It’s not as stiflingly hot and sticky. It may sound harsh, but at night you also see less of the dirt, rubbish, open sewers, etc. It just doesn’t look so bad in the darkness. The strange, ugly street cats with stumpy tails and various battle scars and ailments are less disturbing to look at. These are definitely not the same breed as the graceful, androgynous felines of Western countries. They are decisively male and female. They still have their junk intact and on proud display. You don’t want to go near them or touch them in any way, let alone pat them.
The place is crawling with all kinds of life. There are some whopping great rats and cockroaches. The open sewers beside the road teem with… some little squirmy-fishy-things. There are some cool ones too. I mentioned the bats and geckos earlier, but when it rains, you see the occasional frog too. It’s funny to watch their strange, fluid, ploppy jumping. It’s like watching a half-filled water balloon with legs.
The reason for the lack of photos is more complicated than you might think. There probably won’t be many photos from Jakarta. It just doesn’t feel right pulling a camera out here. Being the only whitey in the neighbourhood, you’re watched everywhere you go. Not in an obtrusive, being followed kind of way, it’s just the fact that so many people are on the streets at any one time and you stand out. Even getting a photo of the center of town would be hard because there’s no fixed center. It kind of sprawls in all directions and gradually the buildings get less tall. I’ll try later, but no promises. Most of the photos will come from trips out of town.
I might go away for a day or 2 this weekend, because it’s a 4 day weekend here. Thursday is the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday and Friday is (Easter) Good Friday. There are a lot of public holidays here because they have them for all denominations. Last month there was a one for Chinese New Year, a couple of weeks ago, one for Nyepi, a Balinese holiday. Now an Islamic and a Christian.