Night out in Jakarta - #2 Dec 2013
My days at the moment are quite indoors-y. I get picked up from my hotel (in the middle of nowhere some 4km from the venue) about 3pm and my shows are at 5 and 7 so by 8.30/9 I’m done and I eat some dinner at the mall, before heading back to my hotel. Pre show time, I generally catch up on emails and mix my bubble solutions.
I did go out with some locals last Sunday, but the down side of this is that I haven’t really been out much.
The only other time I’ve really explored was on Tuesday when I had a quick trawl around the mall’s proximity to find a closer hotel. Traversing Indonesian pavements and road systems by foot is no easy task in itself. The highlight for me was giving my days per diems away to a young woman with 3 children begging at the side of the street. Not so much money to me, but it was a lot to her, and her face when she noticed was a picture and made me want to do this kind of thing every day.
Then last night I met up with George from Churros Bros – a fellow festival stall owner from the UK who lives out here with his wife and child during the winter months. He was hanging out with James, his brother who is currently on a slow round –the-world trip. I was just putting some 'foam boobs' on the grown up i chose to go in a bubble (one of my favourite parts of my show) when i look up and see George and his brother - nice to see a familiar face in the middle of a bubble show! Also great to get a chance to get out of the mall for the evening and go and see another side of the city.
George, on his night off from Daddy-day-care, decided to take us over to Jalan Jacksa – the Koh San Road of Jakarta. It’s the travellers area, except there’s not an awful lot to do or see in Jakarta, so most of the ‘boulay’ (foreigners) are probably just passing through on their way to Bali or back again.
I haven’t seen where they live, but his wife works as an English teacher at the British International School here which not only commands a decent wage, but lots of benefits and I know they live very comfortably over here. So we were picked up by their driver and drove past a million motorbikes, and got stuck behind a pick up truck with a thousand chickens as it’s passengers.
Arriving at our destination, a seedy street full of bars and street-food, we found a restaurant and I was glad of the chance to have food ordered for me and try something new.
Passing musicians collected money along with someone in a colourful and slightly freakish national costume that looked like something between Day of the Dead and a Christmas tree.
We followed on to a bar, pausing briefly to be interviewed by a group of students on a project about boulay.
The bar, was great! Full of little tables everyone packed with Westerners and a mix of Indonesians, young and old A live band playing covers surprisingly well. The back wall filled with books rammed to the brim.
We managed to find an empty table right at the back, and ordered some large local beers, Bintang (means Star). I’m not a big drinker – I haven’t really got the build for it! So after a few of these, I was feeling decidedly jolly. But not as jolly as James who proceeded to get up and dance with the local Indonesian equivalent of Tina Turner, who in turn took to the stage and sang her guts out brilliantly!
The band slowed and we moved on to another place – this time an open bar with a more rock/reggae/punk/motown band playing underneath the hot dusty palms. George found his spirit too, and the next thing I know, he’s grabbed the microphone and is leading the audience singing an old Motown track.
The evening was drawing to a close, and George offered to drop me back.
Now Jakarta is a bit of a undeciferable code when it comes to getting around. Aside from the lack of any organised public transport, there’s no such thing as a Metro system, let alone “the knowledge” here. Taxi-drivers don’t tend to know where somewhere is unless it’s a major destination, so I was fairly relieved at George’s offer.
James had met Luci, a local lass who, once James made certain of her intentions, jumped in with us and we set off.
George’s offer (and perhaps patience with his brother?) were running a bit thin however, and about 2/3rd’s of the way back, he realised his need to get back to his wife and baby, and politely suggested that I get out here.
Drunk and without local knowledge, I was a bit concerned at this suggestion, but I figured Luci might be helpful, and she helped explain where I was going to a taxi driver and they drove off.
The taxi driver drove off in a direction I wasn’t sure about.. and 15 minutes later pulled up outside the Grand Asian hotel. Not where I’m staying…
Feeling a little lost I wondered how am I going to get out of this one?
25 minutes later, we pulled up at another hotel I’ve never heard of and I got a bit panicky!
Another hotel and an hour later, at the point of me saying ‘I give up’ and ‘take me to another hotel for the night’, my driver suddenly chanced upon it and I was there.
I crawled exhausted into bed at 4.30 in the morning.
Might have a night in tonight… wonder if there’s a good film on?
Tomorrow - school show at 10am!