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He only went out for some milk A blurb of monstrous proportions - it was only supposed to be a couple of lines and the odd photo.

Jakarta

INDONESIA | Monday, 13 August 2007 | Views [1042]

You can climb the 'tower', but not the horse.

You can climb the 'tower', but not the horse.

I'm a millionaire!  Alas my million rupiah don't go that far and my 2006 copy of the lousy planet is well out of date.  I feel I paid a lot for one mosquito infested room in a seedy area of sleaze town - the rat in the room was thrown in for free.  Hawkers, beggars, and prostitutes galore, and what's that smell - mmm urine.  I love the smell of urine in the morning.  I'm back with a bump into the Asia I know, love and hate.  It's certainly interesting after my time in Singapore. 

I want to go to the old town in the north, and it's too far to walk, so I decide to take the nearby train.  What was I thinking?!  Amusingly the cops (of which there are many) direct me to my platform by a co-ordinated effort on their walkie-talkies.  I think I'm the first white man to ever use their trains, i feel like I'm the first white man ever in town.  45 minutes go by of watching overflowing trains, with people hanging out of doors, sat on the roof, jumping off non-stopping trains and crossing lines when trains are approaching.  The noise is incredible, a thousand voices, a hi-de-hi tannoy introduction that never stops and screaming trains.  There are no signs i can read, no announcements i can gleam a glimmer of understanding from, the cops have abandoned me and it's with blind judgement i get on a train.  My map says it's one stop, so I get off at one stop, but one stop isn't my stop.  I'm in the middle of slumville - unusually for me I am worried.  I feel very uncomfortable.  The people laying around on the floor near me don't even ask me for money, and everyone of their eyes is on me.  I don't hang around for long - it's with relief and forgotten joy that i jump on the back of a kids motorbike.  My helmet seems like painted cardboard - for police he says - forget my safety!  We zoom along the night filled roads, I hold onto my helmet for dear life while we defy death at every junction, passing road side carts where grandad is selling Viagra and grandma is frying rice.  It's a fragrant mix of food and fumes.  This is GREAT, this is freedom, this is what i love about Asia.  There are seemingly no rules here, just hit the streets, see life and do your best to stay alive.

I can't say i love Jakarta though; too many people, too much pollution and too few sights.  I met an American girl who'd been teaching here for 8 months and she was very eager to get out.  I'm surprised she lasted for so long, 2 nights was enough for me.  Strangely i had a good time, even with the bit of culture shock i experienced with coming straight from Singapore, the rat in my room and the nearly not getting in the country - as i don't have a printout of my onward flight (it's scary to eventually recover your bag and see it revolving all by itself).

 

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one ruined t-shirt and one ruined pair of trousers.  cool.

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