Notes from the weekend

#1 – After dinner and buying banana pastries (fantastic) and donuts, I stopped off to get sop buah (fruit soup; basically a variety of fresh fruits sliced up into a cup then doused with milky syrupy juice). While waiting at the juice stand, an old guy comes up to me to beg. He’s quite smiley and friendly and when I shake my head to say ‘not this time’, he grins and gives me a thumbs up, then raises his hand up to marvel at my height. I reply with “tinggi, ja?” (tall). He agrees, impressed I know the word, then wanders off smiling.


SAT – Moving kost this morning was an interesting/nice experience. It was a little awkward leaving the former one, but Ibu Olga took it amiably. Icue and her friend Lukman (who I’d never met but lives in the new kost) came to help me move. He had a bike, she walked. Lukman took the 2 smaller, heavy bags on the bike, I started walking with the big backpack and Icue carried the groceries bag. Not far down, Luckman stopped and got me to hop on the back of the bike. I was hesitant at first because of the weight of both bag and myself, considering what he was already carrying, but it was all good. It was a little hard work and hair raising, because the bag being large and kind of top-heavy, made it harder to stay on/balance, especially while accelerating. No dramas though, we all survived.
I was hanging out in the room, alone, wondering if I’d made a mistake, leaving the little community I’d started to build up around Ibu Olga’s, when there was a knock on my door. It was the people who run the kost, wanting to through the house rules/papers. They’re really nice and friendly and relaxed. They’d also lived in Sydney for 5 years, so we had stuff to talk about.

Aside from that, there’s more privacy and autonomy, the room’s larger and there’s less outside noise (no construction site on the other side of my wall). A lot of other people live in the building who are a similar age to me, an there’s a common area where we can hang out and watch tv and things. Should be good…


General notes:¬† The center of Jakarta is hug and sprawling with massive office buildings and huge malls everywhere. I guess what you’d expect in any large metropolis (or megatropolis or whatever it’s classed as). Thing just seem bigger and more extravagant here, though it could just be the contrasting poverty so close by. There are a few things I’ll eventually get photos of, but every time I see them, it’s whizzing by on the bus-way. My favourites right now are Da Vinci Tower, glimpsed yesterday on the way home. It’s a massive gothic style apartment building that looks straight from Gotham city, complete with statues and gargoyles. The other is the mammoth fountain near one of the biggest, fanciest malls. It’s the centerpiece of a roundabout and must be seen to be believed. So I’ll get a photo soon. The name escapes me for now…. Otherwise, there are some huge Sukarno era bronze statues and more skyscrapers. And Monas, the national monument.

Breaking things

I’ve just finished upgrading to the new version of WordPress and would like to see if it fixed my comments problems, so if you can try to leave a comment and let me know if it works, that would be great. I have my reservations…

Meanwhile, I have a snapshot of some of the work I’ve been doing here.

Pekerti test site

Click to enlargen

I may or may not have mentioned that I also have a column, which I should start putting on here, or at least linking to.

This weekend should be pretty busy. I’ll be drinking on Friday night, probably moving on Saturday or Sunday, then most likely playing soccer on Sunday night. Somewhere in there I’ll also be buying dvds. I got part of the first season of Studio 60, which got me hooked,so now I need the rest.

On a less overcast day, I’ll try to get some photos of the houses in my current area. Some of them are whoppingly huge, though they probably have 20 people living in them. My neighbourhood isn’t even a classy rich part of town; there are some really gargantuan mansions elsewhere, with probably only 4 people living in them (with 1.5 servants for each person). Over there, they may not have heard of my suburb. Nevertheless, there are some big ones near me.


Tree hands

Well, here are some things I’ve been working on as an idea for something at work, though I may not end up using any variation of them.

I’m fighting with the scanner, so no sketches for now. These are from scans, but then the computer I was using to scan them stopped working and no drivers exist for macs for this scanner.

branchhands.jpg treehands2.gif branchhandscol.gif


This is first of what I hope will be a flood of posts with images soon. I’ve now got access to a scanner, and there are a few things I’ve been designing at work that I’d like to put up.

I knocked this one up last night in Illustrator, based on how I sign my initials.


Coming soon: tree hands, header/site designs, sketches (old and new)… Stay tuned.

Also, if you could leave a comment here, that would be great. The system may or may not be working with all the tinkering I’ve been doing.


As promised, the site’s got a bit of a redesign, which I may or may not keep working on. I’ll get some new images up soon, once I start scanning and taking photos. This weekend turned out to be a bit of bust and I didn’t do much or get out of town for the whole 4 days. Now further notes on life here.


For Dave, the VoiceBox crew or fans who might be reading this, I’ve seen something you’d appreciate here in Indonesia; real Street Karaoke. People walking the streets with a backing tape, amp and mic, annoying people for money. Fantastic to see. Not usually as good as the bands of up to 5 people who wander around the street restaurants playing for cash, but entertaining nevertheless. I particularly like their tactic of having the amp turned up really loud, so people have to pay them to away. There is no such thing as a public disturbance here; disturbing the public is a way of life here.

Something that just astounds me, having seen and been part of the inner workings of a tv show, is this show on tv here called (I think) Superstar Idol. It’s a live talent style show that runs for 5 hours, 5 days a week. That’s a total of 25 hours to fill every week and it’s hosted by just 2 guys, who have incredible stamina and energy. They’re backed up by the panel of 3 judges, which consists of one middle-aged woman, a large transvestite and a crazy bule (white guy), who also dresses rather effeminately. The talent show side of it is all about pairs; sometimes husband and wife, sometimes friends, sometimes mother and daughter, you get the idea. They get introduced (and sometimes mocked) by the hosts, then get to pimp themselves to the audience for a while before doing their song or 2. Afterwards, there’s the usual judging, interspersed with random antics. It’s pretty entertaining, but for 5 hours every night; pretty insane.


While I’m here and on a posting roll, I’ll just say that I’m planning some changes on this site pretty soon. Since I’ve been working on the Pekerti site, I’ve learnt a few new things that I should be able to apply to this site pretty quickly and easily, once I find the time/energy. Working full-time on web design doesn’t really make you want to tinker with sites in your spare time, so I’ll get onto it when I have a decent break from work, or when the site’s done and I’m concentrating on training or other things…

I’ll have access to a scanner next week, so expect a flood of drawings either here, on my flickr or both. Tomorrow I’m in all likelihood going on a trip to Bogor, not far from Jakarta, but up in some mountains, where there’s a palace, botanical gardens and apparently tons of animals. Must remember the camera and hope for some goodness.


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.


So, I’ve been here for a couple of weeks now, and it’s all been a bit crazy, which is part of the reason I have struggled to write anything here. A couple of days after I arrived, I came down with a stomach bug, which lingered for a week and drained me of all energy. It was pretty miserable and I was seriously regretting coming.

Now that I’ve recovered and have been healthy for over a week now, I’m settling into the place more and starting to enjoy it. Being able to get around, meeting a few people and finally feeling up to doing things I normally would, like exercise and draw, has made things much better.

The accomodation situation is a little weird at the moment, but that’ll change at the end of the month, so I’m pretty relaxed about it all.

I have so much I want to say about this place, but right now, I need to get to the supermarket before it shuts then get some serious sleep. I’m also getting attacked by mosquitoes, while tiny ants are crawling around on my computer.

Basically, I’m alive, work is good, life is improving and I’m starting to have fun here. More very soon…