Thursday, 9 July 2009

Indo blog 1: Getting there: 20th-22nd June

I shall spare you the dull details of a long haul flight from Glasvegas to East Java, save these: if I could only take three things onto any long haul flight they'd be a decent sized pashmina scarf, a cushee travel cushion and one antihistamine sedative. Job done. Oh, and small, fat, indonesian kids with a propensity for staring should be stowed in the hold with all the other overweight baggage. Zat is all.

Ah, now where was I?

Oh yeah. So I arrive in Surabaya, East Java at about 7pm local time. Instant geography FAIL: I didn't realise that on the equator it gets dark about 6pm. And it gets dark fast. But to be honest this is a bit of a blessing when, even after dark, getting off an air conditioned jet in Surabaya airport is like walking into a city-sized Swedish sauna: 38C and 90% humidity. Oooft.

However, before i can meet the lovely Mr & Mrs Renan I have to be visa'd, scanned and decontaminated. Simple enough process, but I nearly cock the whole thing up by pissing off the Officious Fat Man at the visa counter. I got the long-haul hysterics cos I had just noticed that 'Closed' in Bahasa Indonesian is 'Tutup'. Which reminded me of that 'Supplies!' joke so much I cracked up (if you don't know the joke email me and I'll tell you it. Its mint.). Officious Fat Man thinks I'm laughing at him; decides to try to find a problem with my passport, and takes his damn time sorting it. For several long horrible minutes he lets me think I'm not going to be allowed in the country. I nolikey OFMs.

Decontamination was fun tho. Since I is a diseased foreigner from diseased foreign climes I must be liberally spritzed with some unidentified gassy substance in a metal booth. Yaaas. Some people pay for that kinda shit.

Anyway. Fun bureaucratic procedures dealt with, I meet the lovely Mrs Renan in departures and she and her heavily tattooed teddy-bear of a husband Rizqy drive me back to their place in their big red jeep. We have just enough time to have a few Bintangs ('Star' beer; ubiquitous, like Indonesian Tennents), grab some munchies from some street vendors (chicken satay and a sorta veg roti), have a quick Mandi (Indonesian bath; basically a square, floor-to-waist-height basin of cold water and a plastic saucepan in a wet room; go nuts) and repack, before Rizqy's mate Antok comes to pick up us and our new travel companions; Josh, Margaret and Margaret's Mum Samantha, to drive us all to the coast.

Now that sounds rather nice doesn't it? A wee jaunt to the coast in an air conditioned MPV. Lovely. Only driving in Indonesia, even in the major cities, is like taking part in a demolition derby. The road we took to the coast, I find out much later (blessedly), is notorious for traffic accidents. Not hard to believe when the road is only occasionally tarmac'd, barely two lanes wide, and rammed with motorbikes carrying two or three people, trucks carrying live chickens, jeeps, MPVs, cars and vans. Oh, and every single one is driving at breakneck speed, often on the wrong side of the road.

Indonesian overtaking procedure:
step 1: Pull up to the bumper of the live-chicken-stuffed truck in front. Beep horn.
step 2: Veer out wildly into oncoming traffic. Repeat as required. Continue beeping horn.
step 3: Overtake, beeping horn angrily at whatever vehicle had the temerity to be travelling in the opposite direction of what is now OUR side of the road.
step 4: Return to step 1.

We continue on this awful mobius loop of attempted vehicular manslaughter for approximately six hours, until arriving, miraculously intact, at the ferry port around dawn. The ferry to Karimunjawa leaves a couple of hours later, giving us time to grab breakfast (Nasi Goreng, thai green curry, jack fruit and sambal chilli sauce. FOR BREAKFAST) and stop hyperventilating.

The six hour ferry crossing over to Karimunjawa was pretty uneventful by comparison. We get to sit in the VIP area (nicer seats, with air con and a TV showing 'in the night garden'- ???), while the locals mostly sit on the car deck below on heaps of coconuts and cardboard boxes. A small child called Karin stands by our seats and stares at us all for about two hours. Completely unabashed. Cute for the first five minutes and after that just plain unsettling. Omen music stuck in head.

By the time we arrive at Karimunjawa and check in to our basic but pretty wee hotel, I calculate I've been awake for 52 hours, taken three planes, three cars and one ferry, and stared death in the face; all to get here: Karimun. Which, as it turned out, was totally, totally worth it. :)

Photo: Rizqy Renan

1 comment:

Scarf rings said...

Beautiful sight, beautiful photo