A Travellerspoint blog

Bali and Gilis...

...my final week in Indonesia...and in south-east Asia...at least until next time!

Bali. A word or destination that many people hear these days and grimace about skeptically. After they say “don’t take drugs” of course… Nevertheless, I was looking forward to a week of relaxing and party before coming to grips with the reality that it was almost time for me to return to the real world.

I met Lena in Bali and we stayed in Kuta. It was actually a good spot though as the place was really nice, right near the beach and the cheap shopping and where you go out and what not, but wasn’t right in the middle of the trashy going out district. Which lets face it was trashy, but that can be fun from time to time. And to be fair, it was not much different to places such as Chewang Beach in Koh Samui.

The people in Bali were really just as lovely as everywhere else we’d been in Indonesia, if not more lovely as they are used to drunk Aussie bogans hurling abuse at them unfortunately. We would speak Bahasa and they would say “oh, you’re so polite!” even if it was just “ma kasih” (the shortened version of thankyou). Definitely didn’t have the problem of being accosted and held for photos and autographs in Bali that seems to be the case in the rest of Indonesia, although one Indonesian lady, who seemed quite out of place in Bali (which is predominantly Hindu – literally it’s like going to another country compared to Java) did accost me in front of the memorial and practically hold me down until she got her photo.

I expected to see the memorial, but it haunted me quite a bit to see it, which I didn’t expect. Mainly because there are groups of people posing for photos in front of it, as they drunkenly stumble on their way to a big night out, similar to how the victims of the bombings would have been. As you drive past the places that have been built from both the 2002 and 2005 bombings (only the Sari Club hasn’t been rebuilt – can’t say I’d want to go to it though, or any of the places that they have redone for that matter) the taxi drives point them out and say “Bali bomb 1” or “Bali bomb 2”. Also security in that place is crazy, but it’s good. There are boom gates across every driveway, and security guards check under the cars with mirrors, and check the boot and doors for trip wires before a car can drive in anywhere. Also all bags are scanned or searched before entering anywhere, and guys are patted down when going into clubs (although bribery is still rife, and I heard of one guy who managed to pay a security guard off to avoid a strip search as apparently they suspected him for carrying drugs). Still sometimes I wonder – one security guard inspected one of the girls’ boxes of tampons for an unusually long amount of time!

I guess the threat is always there, but unfortunately for the victims of the bombings I fear it was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I guess it’s up to the individual to decide how much the threat of extremists is going to stop them from going places that they want to go and doing things they want to do. But as for all of the stories that make the front page of Australian newspapers claiming that Aussie tourists have been bashed and assaulted by Indonesians, I can guarantee the Indonesians wouldn’t have started it. They want us there! I was in a taxi with Jenee and Talia (the Kiwis) one night, and he asked where we were from. They said “Selandia Baru” and I said “Australie”. As soon as I said that he said “Bagus! Australia means good money for me!”

We barely spent any time at Kuta during the day, unless it was at our infinity pool on the top level of our hotel that looked out over the sea (so how could you blame us?!) There was a mini-ACICIS crew heading to Bali from Jakarta, so we all got to hang out with each other and our respective friends who had come over from home to meet us, and it was a lot of fun. During the day we went to places like Ulu Watu, Padang-Padang beach, Dreamland beach (apparently not so dreamy as Lena got stung by a jellyfish there…although it was stunning), Ubud and it’s surrounding rice paddies, Candi Dasa, where I went snorkeling…I will write that again for effect/in case you though you misread it – where I went snorkeling! Yes that’s right people. There are photos on my Facebook to prove it. And there’s more where that came from.

Everyone knows Bali can be done very cheaply, and this isn’t just if you stay in a dive, don’t eat and do nothing but lie on the beach and get sunburnt. No joke, going out every place has promotions like ‘buy one, get one free’ and ‘free welcome drink’, but my favourite was Sky Garden, where shamefully I admit I went every night whilst staying in Kuta, purely because of the free drinks on offer every night for an hour for guys and an hour-and-a-half for girls. The place we went all the time had three levels – the Asian level, the old men level, and the free drinks level where all the ‘normal’ people (a.k.a. Aussies) hung. If you are smart, you wont buy any drinks at all. Most nights we were smart. But if you are not smart you are in big trip, seeing as most of the drinks you buy are about $6 with 3 shots each in them!

A couple of nights we decided to exude a little bit of class at a posh bar in Seminyak before heading out. One of them was Talia’s birthday, which ironically was also Valentine’s Day. Best night out in Bali for sheezy. We started off at Potato Head, a renowned bar in Seminyak that everybody had told us we ‘had’ to go to. And OMG it’s amazing! For those of you who has seen episode 1, season 2 of Gossip Girl (and yes I am exercising my GG knowledge and writing skills at the same time here) picture the white party! There’s an infinity pool with a swim up bar that is right on the beach and then a big lawn area and a DJ and tables by the pool and then a restaurant. And to top it all off, it was the most amazing sunset I think I have ever seen! Being Talia’s birthday and all, we splurged and ate dinner there, but it was quite funny having this long table and a loud group of Aussies (and Kiwis) when everyone else was sitting around in tables of two, talking quietly by hushed candle light. What made it equally as funny was that it was me, Talia, Jenee, Ella, Kate Raous (all from ACICIS), Ella’s two friends, Ellie and Kaitlin, and then Ben. The only boy at the table, happily sipping away on cocktails with the rest of us, completely comfortable with his sexuality. Then as we were leaving some middle-aged man commented something along the lines of “he must be having a good Valentine’s Day”, so we decided to propose in an appropriately cheesy, ‘The Batchelor’-style Valentine’s Day-special, type photo. I don’t have it, but I wish I did…stay tuned…hilarious…

Being the pov people that we are (may I point out that we weren’t aware of the free-drinks scenario at this stage) we went back to where Kate was staying with her mum and her sister (as they had their own private pool!) to have beers and birthday cake. We got a bit too carried away with the pres, so much so that we missed the free drinks! Meaning that we HAD to resort to the three-shot drink option. I didn’t take any photos that night but I feel like other peoples on Facebook will say what else needs to be said. However, it was a very fun night. I’m jealous, I want my birthday to be on Valentine’s Day!

Towards the end of the week, everyone was either heading home or to the Gili Islands, off Lombok. After much deliberation and a flood of messages telling us how amazing the Gilis were, Lena and I decided to make an impromptu trip there for two nights. And thank God we did, as it is literally paradise! There are several Gili Islands. We went to Gili Trawangan, which is meant to be the ‘party Gili’, which don’t get me wrong, it is, but it’s no Bali or Koh Samui or Koh Phangan (at least not yet), which is awesome. The only form of transport on the island are pushies and these little horse and cart things, so in a way, it really is quite remote. Talia and I rode around the island one day and it took us about an hour, which included stopping to take copious amounts of photos, as it truly was so beautiful.

Unless you’re really into diving, there’s not a whole lot to do on the island besides lying on the beach and going out, which is awesome! Although be proud – I did do more snorkeling, and one day we possibly think we saw a shark (which Talia was very excited about because she loves sharks, me however, no so much…) There are also copious amounts of beachside bars around the island, where you can go and have a Bintang and watch the sunset over the volcanoes of Bali. Another easy way to pass time. Although riding home can be somewhat of an adventure…

I really wish I could just explain how amazing Gilis was, but unfortunately my writing (and photographic) talents cannot do them justice…so you’ll just have to go there! And take me – I want to go back!

And then just like that, four months came to an end. And I’ve never wanted to go home less. Similar to how I was upset about leaving home back in October, because I was scared everything would change while I was gone (even though I should know by now that it never does!) I had tears in my eyes in the cab on the way to Denpasar airport. (I know that you should never trust emotional writers, but this is true!) Sure I’m excited to sleep in my own bed, and see my Mum and my friends and eat rice crackers and cheese, but it would be nice if I could just go home and do that for a week, repack my bag so I have a new batch of five t-shirts to wear for the next few months, and head back out into the world again. But unfortunately tidak funds and the fact that I would like to finish uni in under the six-year time-frame, are preventing me from this at the moment, so I will just have to take comfort in the fact that the reason I’m so sad at the prospect of going home is because I had more fun than I ever thought was possible. So without being too sentimental and soppy, thanks to each and every person I encountered on my journey – I will never forget our crazy antics and the amazing experiences that we shared, and wherever you all live in the world, I aim to re-enact them again with you all, STAT! So until then, look me up if you’re in Melbourne (as as much as I don’t want to go home, it truly is the best city in the world!). And if you ever need a travel buddy (and I haven’t annoyed you to death just yet), I’m there!

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Cahill.

xoxo

Posted by ljmac2 04:00 Archived in Indonesia Tagged beaches melbourne snorkelling taxi sunset bali beach volcanoes memorial security english bars scuba_diving lombok kuta dreamland ubud seminyak gilis gili_trawangan gili_islands bahasa_indonesia bali_bombings pedang-pedang candi_dasa acicis infinity_pool potato_head Comments (0)

My final week in Jakarta...

...and second last week in Indo :(

Now it’s time to cast my mind back to those last fond Jakartan memories. I never actually thought I’d use the terms ‘Jakarta’ and ‘fond memories’ in the one sentence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tough city to live in, but with the right crew, you can have a lot of fun.

So work that week was actually quite tough for me (comparatively) seeing as wait for it, I had to source my own stories, and didn’t just get the press conferences or contacts handed to me. This meant that it was a much less productive week for me (I only got two or three stories published) but still a fair effort. I also spent a fair bit of time posting things I though were incredibly witty on the ACICIS page on Facebook (well at least I thought they were) as I was doing my research…oh that’s one thing I’ll definitely miss about ACICIS…how witty we all thought we were posting articles or incredulous blogs or embarrassing photos of each other on Facebook whilst we were meant to be working. And don’t deny it – you all did it! Anyway, I found my story, got the article published (even with a really dodgy photo that I took and got the credit for), and also got an opinion piece and an article, believe it or not about gym, published that week, so it was a good work week.

Outside of work, it was a week of ‘lasts’. Last of our kos meetings (which really just consisted of eating oreos and dancing to Beyonce), last week of eating at our local warung, last week of going to the canteen lady at work and ordering ‘satu’ strawberry juice and ‘satu’ Silver Queen. However, it was also a week of a few out of the ordinary activities. For instance, Royksopp. It was friggin amazing. Actually it was more than just Royksopp, it was like a whole festival thing (where the tickets cost $35!) but Royksopp were headlining, and the only other band I had actually heard of that played were Bag Raiders. Still it was awesome. Much different to festivals at home which are held in parks or showgrounds, large open spaces that are in the city but in places that are supposed to be as resident-friendly as possible, this gig was held in a shopping centre carpark, surrounded by a select group of Jakarta’s many skyscrapers. It was a tiny space compared to what we’re used to at home, but unlike the rest of Jakarta, it was immaculate. They had rolled out fake grass, and amongst other quirky things there was a bar (this is quirky for Jakarta), free photos booths, stickers that people could wear to indicate their relationship status (e.g. “single and ready to mingle”), and wait for it, girls that gave out free cigarettes. And you wonder why Jakarta is not a very healthy city to live in… However, Royksopp, the reason we were there, was amazing. I can’t actually describe it, but no joke, one of the best live gigs ever. Once again we thought the whole crowd was really going off and totally into it, but they were probably all just standing there, bobbing and videoing on their phones whilst us crazy ‘bule’ chanted ‘satu lagi, satu lagi’ (one more song) for a good few minutes. Once again, we all thought we were tres witty.

The next day was a bit of a blur, due to the craziness of the night before, but I would like to point out that on my last day of work (and the day after Royksopp mind you!) I worked until 10pm! So yes. Dedication much? Or maybe nerd much…

Friday was a day of ceremonial proceedings and goodbyes. The Jakarta Post invited us for lunch to talk to us about how our experience had been there and what not, but mainly they just wanted to hear our stories of how we had found Jakarta as ‘bule’. And they laughed at us a lot. I think that’s actually why they gave us a free lunch…

Then we had to go back into Atma Jaya for some ceremony where basically the point of it was to get out certificate and our transcript from language class, and wait for it, duh duh duh, guess who got 100%? Yes that’s right, yours truly. Oh if only Signora Simoncini (my year 12 Italian teacher could see me now). Saya fludent di Bahasa Indonesia (except for the word fluent apparently…) So it seems I can learn other languages, maybe it’s just that two weeks is my limit. And remember how I said how me and the guy sitting next to me in the test (Ben – I guess he’s worthy of getting his name mentioned in here by now…) were talking during the test and our teacher thought it was hilarious? Well guess who got second top of the class…oh yeah.

Then that night was the shindig at the Australian Ambassador’s house. First funny thing about that was that the dress code on the invitation said “lounge suit or Batik”. Firstly, what the hell is a lounge suit?! And secondly, wearing Batik is like wearing a Hawaiian shirt – how is that Ambassador – appropriate?! There were a lot of us there, as there are people who do ACICIS programs in Indonesia for the whole year and all ACICIS students were invited. However, they had to do performances and stuff, so we had the luxury of making the most of the free alcohol. This was a very exciting prospect for us. However too exciting for some, as wine was served (Shaw and Smith to be exact) and not having drunk wine for six weeks, we got a bit excited. We literally drank him out of wine. They had to go down to the cellar to get more, and then they had to go down again, only to find out that it was all gone. Don’t think some of the official ACICIS people were too pleased. However the Ambassador himself seemed like a true Aussie bloke who loved a good beer (or wine), so at least he didn’t seem to mind. Only problem was that the Ambassador’s house was meant to be our pre-drinking location for our final night out, and some people didn’t even make it out. Some did but probably shouldn’t have. So props to those of you who lasted until 6.30am – bagus effort!

Being the intelligent person that I am, I foresaw this potential problem, and so had not booked my flight to Bali until the Sunday, meaning that I had all of Sunday to recover and pack up my room. To be honest, this had to be done in half hour shifts, but I got it done. Then that night, those of us left caught up for a ‘quiet one’ and the Beer Garden in Kemang. It was a quiet one comparatively to the night before, but still, I didn’t get home until 3.30am! I felt quite sad that night actually. I was the only one left at my kos and there was such a small group of us out. Unfortunately due to many of our antics the night before, not many people got to say proper goodbyes. But luckily, compared to with my time in Siem Reap, most people on ACICIS live in Australia, and a large proportion of this is Melbourne. So I shouldn’t complain.

There are a lot of things I won’t miss about Jakarta. The traffic. The taxi drivers who drive past with their light on and don’t stop. The taxi drivers who don’t know where they’re going. They taxi drivers who say they know where they’re going but don’t know where they’re going. Well to be fair, most of my issues with Jakarta were with the traffic and the further problems that that causes. (Oh and the prayers – did I say that at our local mosque in the last week during the prayers they said “Australia New Zealand” in English? They must have been talking about us, counting down the days until our departure…) But there are many things I will miss. Warung food. Ojek rides. Hearing “hello Mister” as I leave my kos every day. Crazy gigs like Foster and Royksopp that I would probably never be able to afford to go to at home. And of course all of the amazing people I met and friends I’ve made. Honestly after my time in Siem Reap I didn’t think it was possible to have that much fun again, and I won’t deny that it was a polar-opposite type of different experience, but I had an absolute ball. To everyone I met whilst in Jakarta, thanks, it’s been a pleasure. (And of course the obligatory “sorry for whatever it was I did last night/thanks for taking me home”). And I sincerely hope that we all do keep in touch via the miracle of Facebook, which we all managed to spend so much time on whilst earning us those credit points, and when we visit each other’s cities. So until next time teman-teman saya…terima kasih banyak. xxxx

Posted by ljmac2 03:46 Archived in Indonesia Tagged buildings people parties planes mosque taxi jakarta indonesia siem_reap festival wine bars kos prayers beer_garden batik atma_jaya jakarta_post australian_ambassador ambassador's_house lounge_suit kemang ojek royksopp foster_the_people bag_riders Comments (0)

JOG-JA

Indonesia with a side of culture

sunny 27 °C

Well I have just got back from a cracking weekend in Jogja (more formally known as Yogyakarta but preferably pronounced in a very bogan accent as “jooogggjjjja”). Actually, I lied. I have not just got back. On account of getting up at 3.30am, 7am and 5.30am three mornings in a row, I was rather tired last night so did not have the energy to write this. But it was totally worth every ounce of lost sleep. As a wise person once said; “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.

So after trying to do an all-nighter on Friday night (and failing – I caved in for two hours sleep), we arrived in Jogja bright and early at 7am on Saturday morning. And once again, it was literally a breath of fresh air. It felt like we had flown to another country for the weekend – we actually saw sun and blue sky and the grass was so green! – but it fairness, I think Jogja might give a truer representation of what Indonesia is really like, it’s just that living in Jakarta, we are led to believe that that is it. But if Jogja is a representation of the real Indonesia, then it truly is a beautiful country. And for all the ignorant bogans who don’t know anything about Indonesia, Jogja is closer to Bali!

We hit the ground running when we got to Jogja. Water Castle, tick, Sultan’s Palace, tick, silver markets, tick, ride in a becak (three-wheeled bicycle tuk-tuk type thing), tick. We saw batik and puppet making. Totally touristy I know, but it was nice to actually experience some culture that had at least attempted to be preserved. Although I didn’t think the Sultan’s Palace was particularly impressive – he should have just stuck with the Water Castle…

That first day we also made a vain attempt to see one of the renowned temples of the area at sunset, but as luck would have it, we got there before the sunset, but it was already closed. Never mind, we made up for it by unnecessarily blowing some money at the markets that they make you walk through as you exit the temple to try and trap you…well there was no need to trap us!

It turned out for the better though, as Sunday was just such a perfect day. Although the whole thing your meant to do with Borobodur is see it at sunrise (Borobodur by the way is a 9th century Buddhist temple, so it’s a pretty big deal now that Java is predominantly Islam) we decided that there were only so many pre-sunrise get ups one could handle in a weekend, so we slept in until 7am! (And for me personally I’ve seen a few temple sunrises in my time so all was good.) Anyway, it was amazing! Packed with tourists and all that jazz that you’d expect with the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia, but it was so well maintained, and the beautiful sunny weather just topped things off – we were all excited to actually get sunburnt, being away from the protective UV layer of smog that descends on Jakarta. I must say though, the people coming up and asking for photos and interviews of you was getting a little tiresome, so much so where we had to start saying no just so we could get to see the thing! School kids would come up wanting to interview you about what you thought of Borobodur, and all I could reply was “I don’t know, I haven’t got a chance to see it yet!”

Next stop was Genung Merapi, one of the many volcanoes that looms over the Indonesian landscape. It’s not the kind of one that you can walk up to the crater on a day trip – it’s more like a three hour trek that usually starts at 1am because of the heat – but you can drive up through all the villages on the mountain side, and then walk a bit further to take in the amazing view. It’s last big eruption was in 2010 and it killed something like 153 people, so it was a pretty significant one. It was interesting to see the remains of houses and graveyards and what not that had been left behind, and what people had already rebuilt. For instance, a stall that shows phone credit. Because God knows, you wouldn’t want to run out on your hike to the crater!

Our last stop was Prambanan, where we had met closed gates the day before. It’s a Hindu temple, which is once again significant being on the island of Java, which is dominated by Islam. It’s meant to be ‘the’ spot to go at sunset, which I wasn’t really too fussed about having seen a fair few sunsets in my time as well, but we were lucky that we weren’t let in the day before because the sunset was stunning! (And I’ve got about 300 photos just of that to prove it…)

Prambanan

Prambanan

So yes, that was Jogja. Then the next morning it was up at 5.30am and straight back to reality. But I even got an article written – as Nick Faldo emailed me back! – so at least it was productive.

Hmmm, what else did last week contain… Well obviously I wrote a few stories here and there. One was about the fact that Liverpool have also opened up a football academy here, so I interviewed one of their coaches who also used to be a player for the Liverpool reserves, and I went out to see one of their trainings.

Another story was about a sports marketing seminar, which was run by Inter Milan as they are also thinking of opening up a football academy here. That was interesting enough seeing I love sports marketing, but then at the end I got to interview the CEO and CCO of Inter – crazy! It seemed so normal at the time, but when I got home and thought about it, it was so surreal. That actually is one of the good things about being a Caucasian journalist here – you may have to sit through a five-hour seminar in Bahasa (although luckily this Italian mob decided to speak in English!), but then at the end everyone is keen to talk to you, whether they’re a foreigner or whether they’re a local. Personally I just think they want to ask what the hell you’re doing in Jakarta, seeing there are virtually no bules (white people) here!

On Friday morning I did decide to treat myself and make the most of having mornings off, by going on a shopping expedition to Grand Indonesia. It might sound like a rather uncultured experience but honestly, Jakarta is practically a city of malls, so instead I will say I ‘saw the sights’. Yes I did buy a few things – not too much thankfully – but I figure I can chalk it down to some ‘cultural immersion’. Plus I only went to what I would consider as the ‘big 3’ – Forever 21, Topshop and Zara. Yes I know we have Topshop and Zara at home now, but everyone says they’re no good, so I’m just going to take their word for it!

Anyway, only three more days of the program left now, and because we have formal ceremony stuff and a shindig at the Ambassador’s house on Friday, that means only two days of work left. But they say time flies when you’re having fun…

Posted by ljmac2 07:42 Archived in Indonesia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises football jakarta indonesia yogyakarta market shopping sport islam prambanan borobodur jogja merapi nick_faldo sports_industry Comments (0)

How to pack when heading to Jakarta...

Step 1: Bring heels!

storm 27 °C

When packing for South-East Asia, heels didn’t come to mind as a ‘must pack’. In fact, they didn’t even make the ‘maybe’ pile, as lets be fair, they’re not really my thing. I mean the last pair I bought for the races I took home and showed Mum, who replied “Really? You’re going to actually wear those?!”

So yes, they’re not my thing.

Jakarta though, apparently loves them. And also apparently, you are not ‘cool’ or can’t go anywhere ‘cool’ without them. So after being rejected because of my inappropriate footwear both last Saturday and this Friday night just gone, I finally caved and bought the cheapest, shortest pair of heels I could find. Sucked in Jakarta, two can play this game!

And yes, I got in. Although we did go to watch the Liverpool versus Man U match at a beer garden before we went to le club so I did feel rather ridiculous, but oh well. Probably about as ridiculous as Talia felt when we went shopping with me to get them and all the one’s she suggested I turned my nose up at…”they’re too high…they stand out too much…” Etc. Etc.

So yes, in a nutshell, I spent the weekend going out, getting turned away, buying shoes, and going out again…ahhh the luxury of staying in one place for a long period of time so you don’t have to be jumping out of bed early everyday to go and see the Monas or something. Truly, it’s not really worth it anyway.

Although, those of us who were still alive on Sunday did settle back for a relaxing six-hour tennis watching session…totally worth it! And thank god we decided to do that for the men’s final and not the women’s, otherwise by the time we got there, with the Jakarta ‘macets’ (traffic jams), it would have been all over. It was quite an odd experience though, with at the end of the fourth set it being so tense – would Rafa make it to five sets? – whilst there was Rasta music playing in the background…just wasn’t the same atmosphere really….

Also how could we forget Australia Day last week!? Another year and I’ve celebrated it in another country…although in quite an unusual style, sitting at work and streaming Triple J’s Hottest 100, whilst everyone else from ACICIS is also doing the same thing and commenting on in on Facebook! Then that night we went out to a pub which wasn’t remotely Australian, but apparently it was owned by an Australian…surprisingly there aren’t a huge number of Australia Day parties in Jakarta…I wonder why???? But it was great in that Thurdays is free martini night for ladies! Sucked a bit for the boys, but it was the cheapest night out ever!

Then on the Friday night the Australian Embassy had another drinks on for Australia Day, so we all dressed up in our finest and hit the town for a night at the embassy! I must admit, it was a rather odd feeling having your passport and camera checked in and going through about a thousand security checks before you get to the bar. Fair enough though…we were all in a bit of a sitting duck situation really. But it was good though, even just to be able to drink wine instead of beer…I’m so sick of beer! And there was karaoke – how many people can say they have sun Spice Girls at the Australian Embassy?!

Anyway, once again I am distracted from the real reason I’m here…hmmm work…last week, what did I do? Well on Tuesday was that Women in Sport seminar I think I mentioned last time. It was long seeing it was five hours all in Bahasa, but I sat with Greg Wilson, the guy I interviewed from the week before, and his wife, who luckily is Indonesian so she gave me the rundown of what was going on. I also got to interview the some athletes and coaches, and the President of the Indonesian Olympic Committee. Plus the Minister for Sport was there, and everyone seemed very excited that he actually turned up, as apparently his brother is involved in some corruption scandal at the moment. (But then again, so is every second person in Indonesia right?! ) So the Minister gave a speech at the seminar, and then was answering questions outside for reporters in Bahasa. I went up at the end as asked him if I could ask him a couple of questions in English and he loved it! He pretty much relayed his whole speech in English to me, whilst all these people stood around and took photos of him talking to a token white girl…hilarious.

Then on Wednesday I went to a press conference held by Barca FC, as they are opening up a ‘football’ (I really should try and use the correct term I guess) academy in Indonesia, which seems to be a pretty big deal seeing Indonesian’s love the sport so much, but their national team is shot due to all the internal politics. So hopefully this will work out for them…Barca seem to think they’re the bees knees so it better! When I got to this press conference I thought “yes, white people” thinking they would speak in English for a change…but no, they spoke in Spanish and it was translated to Bahasa! It is almost a little bit of a perk being white and English-speaking at press conferences over here as people seem to want to go out of their way to talk to you.

Speaking of press conferences, they are somewhat of a shenanigan here! Jakarta is a very inefficient city in terms of the fact that people seem to work a lot longer hours and get a lot less done than they do in Australia, and when you go to the press conferences you can see why! They’re all in these grand hotels or function rooms that would cost and arm and a leg to hire, and there’s an hour-and-a-half allocated at the start of each one for eating all the free food they give you and mingling with people, then the actual conference itself actually goes for two hours, and at the end there’s question time, where you could literally ask questions until the cows come home, and everyone would still be there. Most sleeping or on their phones, but they would still be there. Jenee, the other NZ girl who is also working at the Post, went to a press conference last week that was a preview for a concert. Only half the band was there, and so someone actually asked, “is there going to be another press conference?” How much can one write about an event that hasn’t even happened yet?! Plus they love taking photos of press conferences and they actually end up in the paper…what boring viewing, when you could have a photo of the band performing or whatever. Anyway, this is just one of many incredulous differences between Indonesia and Australia…

Ironically, that’s what I have pretty much spent my time at work from then until now doing – writing a feature on the differences between the Indonesian and Australian sporting industries. It’s been so interesting, but I have discovered that I don’t think I am a very good feature writer – luckily my editor is lovely and very patient with me, so he helps me out with my structure and the technique and what not, so hopefully that will get in the paper in the next couple of days. But I think I’m better at hard news, as apart from that, it’s just been writing short stories from press releases to fill up the pages – with the Australian Open on that has dominated the whole two pages devoted to sport since I got here (although to be fair, the entire paper is only 28 pages long), and all those stories come from wires.

Anyway, that’s about all my news for now. It’s actually amazing how much work (at least I think) I’ve managed to get done, when work is so relaxed! We can pretty much go in and leave whenever we want, plus I’ve never spent so much time sitting on Facebook or literally watching the live cricket and tennis scores scroll up the page! And look at me right now writing my blog…I guess I better get back to it. Although no tennis or cricket on now – what am I going to do?!

Posted by ljmac2 01:33 Archived in Indonesia Tagged people parties night football jakarta indonesia australia siem_reap australian_open language jakarta_post sports_industry barca_fc Comments (0)

A guide to making the most of prayer time...

...it's pretty indie...

semi-overcast 27 °C

So have totally worked out how to combat 4.30am prayer time – don’t come home until after they start…then you’re already awake! Ok so I feel the stage that I reached in Siem Reap when I can start using names in my blog… Talia, one of the NZ girls on this trip (apparently New Zealanders flock to me over here!) who stays at my kos and also works at the Post, is a very light sleeper and constantly woken up by the prayers at 4.30 every morning. No joke, she can tell whether it’s Jim or Bob rostered on for the 4.30 shift each day by the tone of their warbling. Sometimes they even work in a bit of a harmony/competition with their neighbouring mosque to see who can be the loudest. Anyway, we got home at around said prayer time Saturday morning and were banging on the gate of our kos saying “malam, malam!” (“good evening” – It sounds weird in English, but that is the appropriate evening greeting), before we realized that possibly we world get a better response if we said “pagi, pagi!” (good morning), and then the prayers started up and Talia yells “haha I beat you, I’m already awake!” Hilarious.

As a side note, we read an article when we first here about an American man here in Ramadan last year, when the prayers are super loud, who unplugged one of the mosques loud speakers and got jailed for five months. Talia was very glad she read that early on…

Anyway, this weekend is a long weekend in Jakarta because of Chinese New Year, which I find very interesting that it’s a public holiday here and not at home, when we are supposed to be more accepting of other cultures and religions and what not. However similar to at home, being a long weekend it is quite expensive to go away, and also being a ‘journalist’, you do not have regular working hours, so a bunch of us spent the weekend hanging in Jaks.

On Saturday I went to the Monas, which is the national monument and also Jakarta’s main (and pretty much only) tourist attraction. However, unfortunately for Jakarta, it is nicknamed by the locals “Suharto’s last erection”. Awesome. Pretty much it’s just a big statue/tower thing in the middle of this park which is quite nice (the park I mean). You can go up the tower and view the metropolis that is Jakarta, but somehow I think that Jakarta is not really worth the three-hour wait in the queue. However, I think the Monas might be known as a ‘tourist attraction’ as locals just go there to hang out and get photos taken with us whiteys. No joke, we have so many photos taken of us…what do they do with them, put them on Facebook? Even just wandering down the street our kos is on, all the locals say “hello” as they are following us with their camera phones. I mean seriously? We’ve been here for three weeks now, surely they’re over it! Anyway, at the Monas people just yell out at you “Mister, Mister” (everyone is ‘Mister’ here apparently) and ask to take your photos. Ella who I was with (she’s from Tassie, but it’s ok, she’s still pretty cool…) would say to them “No…Mrs…”, and they would look back at her oddly and say “No…Mister…photo?” Haha.

So Saturday night we went to I guess what you would call a club, Red Square, and it was first time we’d actually been clubbing in Jakarta. By Jakartan standards I’d say it was quite small and relatively tame, but it was the closest I’ve seen anywhere I’ve been so far to Pub Street…there was like this runway thing to dance on, and they played the classics such as “We No Speak Americano” and like all of Rihanna’s back catalogue. Although no buckets…poor form.

One minor glitch from Saturday night was that my camera got stolen. No biggie really though, as it turns out getting a police report in Jakarta is even easier than in Siem Reap! Not that it was hard in Siem Reap, but it shocked me at how easy it was here! Maybe just because I could only speak “sedikit sedikit” Bahasa Indonesia (very little!) so they couldn’t be bothered to question me about it. Although apparently my religion is vital fact required when filing a police report. I said Christian. Apparently ‘Atheist’ (or ever ‘Jew’) doesn’t go down that well here…not that I really look like a Jew…just thought that was an interesting fact.

It was nice not having to rush around and sightsee on the weekend as it meant we could have a lazy Sunday. No Gossip Girl, but we did manage to find real Western brunch. Unbelievable. It turns out that Jakarta is just a city of malls. Like at first you may think most of them are trashy ones with a few high-end one’s in between, but no, there are as many posh ones as there are un-posh. And obviously I belong in (and can afford – not) the posh ones! But the one we went to yesterday, Pacific Place, had a massive dragon for Chinese New Year that stretched from the top to the bottom floor (maybe 6 or 7 floors?), and then the level we were on had a lake with boats on it and a lighthouse…crazy! The place we had dinner was so cute too – like kitsch, Asian cute – but amazing! It was called ‘Nanny’s’ and made into what I assume was meant to be your Grandma’s home. So we ate in a shower, but there were sinks and what not scattered all around…very bizarre.

Last night we went to a gig at the Jaya Pub, which according to someone on Google is the “worst place in Jakarta” but actually it was so cool. Plus, calling it the worst place in Jakarta made me want to go there more! All these Indonesian bands played, but each one of them was a different genre…you know the usual…Indonesian Irish folk rock, Indonesian power ballads…and a band that were basically like the Indonesian version of The Presets, except cooler if that’s even possible (The Presets are pretty cool…) as they wore sunnies that lit up and made noise. No expenses spared.

So yes, that’s been the weekend…but I guess I should actually mention something as to the real reason why I’m here. I’m struggling a bit to remember I’m here for work experience and learning – so much fun to be had! But actually I am really lucky with my placement. I’m loving it at the sports desk and despite the fact that the team there is so small – two reporters and one editor – they look after me really well and give me cool stuff to work on.

On Tuesday, my first real day of work, I went to a amateur golf tournament which is run by six-time major winner Nick Faldo’s charity. It’s a tournament series run all throughout Asia and Europe with the aim of making it easier for up-and-coming golfers to make it onto the tour. So I got to interview of the CEO of Nick Faldo’s organization, and the head of the committee for the Indonesian event, who is this guy called Rudy Hartono, and apparently is an Indonesian sporting legend! He used to play badminton and won the All-England Championships (equivalent to World Championships back then apparently) and won it seven times, six consecutively. My editor who went with me that day didn’t know he was going to be there so he was so stoked! We had photos taken with him and everything.

Then on Wednesday I went to a press conference with another one of the other reporters, Niken, which was about the National Games, pretty much the Indonesian version of the Olympics. It’s held every four years and like Aussie kids grow up dreaming of winning the Olympics, Indonesian kids grow up dreaming of winning PON (the National Games). However, as with everything in Indonesia, it was running super late, so we all just sat in the foyer outside the lift. People were very amused that I was there, and were taking photos of me and interviewing me…I think I was also on Indonesian TV that night saying that I though Barca was going to beat Real Madrid 1-0 – they care a lot about the Spanish soccer here since they won the world cup apparently. That particular press conference was all in Bahasa so I only picked up a few words such as ‘teman’ (friend) and ‘teman-teman’ (friends)…but it was an interesting experience.

Oh and there was a letter from FIFA being passed around that day, to the Indonesian Football Association, as they are in all sorts of strife. Everyone was taking photos of it so they could take it home and make it into a story, which was pretty cool.

On Thursday night I went to a press conference about this Indonesian group that are climbing the Seven Summits, which I found fascinating seeing really, you don’t associate the words ‘Indonesian’ and ‘mountaineering’. But they were a full on professional outfit, with only one peak remaining – Everest. The press conference was all in Bahasa again, but I got to interview the chief climber afterwards, who spoke very good broken English. I got a good feature out of it though – it even made the caption for the sport section under the title on Saturday’s paper.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/01/21/mountain-climbing-next-stop-everest.html

Then on Friday I had the true journalistic experience of working from home – lucky I have a Mac now so I can compete the SATC cliché right?! I wrote up my mountaineering article in the morning, went for an interview with a guy at lunchtime, and then went back home to write up the article. The guy I spoke to was really cool. Greg Wilson was an elite Australian weightlifter, won bronze and silver medals at Worlds’ back in the 80s, then became a sporting academic, and now in between coaching Indonesian athletes in strength and conditioning, works with the Indonesian Olympic Committee. So we were talking all about the differences between sport in developing versus developed countries, using Indonesia and Australia as the case studies, and about why Indonesian athletes have little to no motivation to compete well on an international scale. Basically they get paid millions of rupiah when they win at a national or regional level, and at the Olympics they are not going to win anything, hence get no money, so why would they try harder? I know – unbelievable. Also, apparently they are incredibly good at blue ribbon events such as dragon-boat racing and wall running – both which are unfortunately yet to fit into the Olympic schedule.

So this Greg Wilson guy that I interviewed invited me to another press conference tomorrow about women in sport and so hopefully I will get an opportunity to get some more sources for my big feature that will compare sport in developing versus developed countries. Anyway, I better go – I’ve got an hour and ten minutes of interview material to transcribe, which I swear takes about three times the length of the actual interview. And also I am lagging a bit after the long weekend…it’s been a good month since my Siem Reap days now, I’m out of practice ☺

Posted by ljmac2 06:58 Archived in Indonesia Tagged people parties night jakarta indonesia siem_reap sport english bars islam pub_street jakarta_post nick_faldo rudy_hartono seven_summits Comments (0)

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