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Indonesia

INDONESIA | Saturday, 12 May 2007 | Views [433]

The beauty of flying into Bandung for the first time was that we were able to get off the plane and go straight to Wenny’s family’s house, which is not far at all from the airport. Flying into Jakarta involves getting a bus for an hour, a train for four hours, then a taxi or minibus at the Bandung end. Bandung’s where I’ve spent most of my time in Indonesia, and where I worked a few years ago. It’s a nice city at about 700m above sea level, which stops it getting too hot.
We didn’t end up doing too much in Indonesia other than spending lots of time with the family and seeing some friends. We only ventured out of Bandung once, to stay with Wenny’s brother’s wife’s family for a couple of days. After moving around so much in the previous months we were due for a break, so were happy to hang around and do nothing much, as half the local blokes do between the ages of 18 and 75. We have a niece and nephew over there now, who provide ample entertainment. When we were away the house flooded up to shoulder height. Some walls of adjacent houses were washed away. Not good!
We took advantage of cheap cinemas prices and saw a few movies, featuring acting that was arguably the best since Jon Bon Jovi starred alongside Alice Cooper as a black female boxer in Million Dollar Baby. On a less dazzling note, while I only really turned on the TV to watch the English Premier League, I was frequently exposed to Indonesian TV shows. There’s an overabundance of soap operas, which are just appalling, with predictable storylines, bad camerawork and horrible overacting. TV dramas/soaps seem to be all emotion-based – fear (ghosts), anger, love, sadness etc. It drove me absolutely bonkers. You don’t hear people fighting there very often in real life, but on TV they’re always shouting, then crying, then seeing a ghost, then screaming, then falling in love with the ghost, who promptly cheats on them, so they shout and scream again, throwing vases and tantrums. Oh dear, I’m pretty sure my IQ dropped at least 25 points by seeing that stuff. There’s nothing remotely clever about any of it. Well, that’s one thing I wasn’t sad to leave behind! That’s not to say that Australian TV is all that flash.
I was trying to think of what’s improved there since I first went there ten years ago. Unfortunately I couldn’t really think of much! I suppose in many of my earlier trips I noticed mainly good things, but the longer you spend in a place, the more negative aspects you notice. Well that’s how it works with me anyway. It’s a great place for a holiday, but not a great place to be a poor resident (is anywhere though?). Kids drop out of school because their parents can’t afford the fees, people die because they can’t afford to pay for treatment a hospital, in many cases you have to pay a bribe to get a job etc etc. It sounds just like John Howard’s vision for Australia. However, this does not affect tourists in the slightest, and I get more than a tad annoyed when people stay away from the country as a whole because of bombings in one or two areas. When Bali gets bombed, people stop going even to Sumatra (a long way away). I don’t hear of many people avoiding England or Spain because of the London and Madrid bombings. Like Zambia, Indonesia could learn a thing or two from countries like Namibia and Thailand on attracting tourists. The governments don’t exactly do themselves any favours in that regard. I might be giving the impression that I’m negative about Indonesia, but really I’m not. It’s a lovely country with loads of friendly people, and has a lot going for it.
In the Qantas check-in queue at the airport in Jakarta on the way home an employee came around asking if we had any liquids. I showed her an unopened bottle of water and asked if it was ok to take it onboard. She said we couldn’t take it on because the bottle could be used as an aerosol. Genius!

Tags: family

 

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