A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about football

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)

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