Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Indonesia or Bust 5

Turn the key and let the engine roar into a life of fire, oil and pistons pummelling inside a metal case. Listen as she humm and the reverberating sound is music to your ears. Buckle your belt as you slip into first and floor the best before doing a magnificent hand break turn and at full speed head straight for the launch pad.
Yake one last deep breath when at 60 you hit the ramp and rocket into the ri wearing your white leather with go faster red nd blue stripes. You fly though the air and suddeny as you open your fear closed eyes you realise where you are. Its Ben's Indo Adventures. Indonesia or Bust number 5. Good job you are wearing your seatbelt as this edition is going to be a bumpy landing!
Welcome my dear readers and followers of Ben's hedonistic fun loving and sometimes just damn right naughty tales from over 9000 miles away from London town and the surrounds. So far I can proudly say that even though I have teken every delight in breaking, or shall we say bending the rules here I have so far escaped cleanly and havnt got into the charecteristic trouble which normally follows me around like an overprotective shadow. So then let me tell you my first litte act of naughtiness. It is against the rules for anyone on the VSO GX programme to go on a motorbike at anytime whatso ever in the programme. Let me juts say that a wee jaunt thought he city wedged inbetween the large bulky frames of Miftah ad Mr. Ame on the back of his Honda when he took us to his house is my fist indescression. But as none of you will tell the project supervisor then I am claen and can get away Scott free. We even drove down a flight of steps to get to his ouse, I kid you not. Wedged inbetwee two chubby men, I wanted to scream and really flet like I was being digested alive!
Anyway that my first act of naughtiness. The other is that to be honest I have discovered the secretive place where we Brits can go to divulge in the anciet and practised art of beer drinking. Or Guinness foreign export drinking as I like to call it. As we are white and therefore considered rich we are allowed into a local hotel to use the pool. So in we go with a bag full of cans and in the sun drink til the locals look gorgeous. Then with a swagger leave the place without spending a penny. Well thats a lie we have to paid about a quid to use the pool for the entire day. But the pool is a safe haven away from the cries of 'hello mister', 'where from you', 'you Dutch mister' and the best of all 'are you married' or 'is he wife'! yes id HE wife. I havnt worked out what they mean by that. But here as they call to you in pigin English I like to reply in my pigin French or German jts to confuse the fellows. So far many people in my street think that I am Benoit from Paris and am an artist looking for inspiration. Whether they belive me is another think coming but they all know that if they kick their football towards me once more while I am writing I will not juts shout 'have it' and pelt it over the fence to where the chained monkey roams, but will feed the ball to Miftah.
Well let me start properly and tell you about the mots bizarre yet intruguining week that I have had so far here in Indonesia.
Work started awfully this week as I have developed the dreaded Bird flu. Or the common cold as it is properly known. I woke a big bag of snott and no matter how long I stay in the searing sun it refuses to burn off and bugger off back to whom ever gave it to me. But out of the British volunteers I think I have had a good deal as many of them have been really constantly sick. I am juts Mr. Nose blow at the moment. Thats ok jbut toilet tissue is few and far between. It got so bas that I stole tons of tissue paper from the hotel!! So work started quite mindnumbingly boring with me and the Miffy man being on blood donation duty with the roaming blood bus. We spent a mindnumbigly boring day at the University of Mlang with the mobile bllod unit. I was harrassed all day by these studets who had no idea about life in general who wold not leave me alone. I muts have been asked over 100 times if I was maried, am I a muslim, am I Dutch and the pierce de resistance 'do I want to arm wrestle them'. Everywhere I go people want to arm wrestle the bloody toke white man! Why? Are they trying to overthrow the memory of Dutch colonial \ism by taking on the whiteman at arm wrestling and I hasten to add always losing!!!
I am getting rather pissed off to be perfectly frank with being the token whiteman whos sole job it is to coax people top give blood. That is such an easy job as all I do is stand there and a crowd appears a\rund mr. white. Why am I so amaizing to them? I have counted 78 white people to date in Mlang. Albeit each one was middle aged and Dutch but Indonesians have western tv, movies, magazines, newspapers and the intenet. So when they see a white man, why the fuss and hassle to run up and in most cases ask bloody annoying questions and occasionally reach out and touch him! Some man today when I went to a festival got full cuppage of me! The touching I can handle, but the holding on and staring is just freaky. But not as freaky today as when I returned to my host home to find a small child massaging my host fathers bottom with an automatic elcronic massage machine!!!!!! He is juts odd and he has a very incestious relationshiop with his 17 year old daugheter. She also massages his bum! But who's child was it and why are there always so may random people at his house?
Anyway I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, people holding on to you. The Indonesians juts love to come up to you and as though they are Mr. hake-hands-man from Banzai hold on to you for as long as physicaly possible. Now this becomes quite funny when you give their hand a good crunch as the Indo way of shaking hands is like a small child caressing a frog. Its too gentle o be considered normal quite frankly and to watch them wince is a great oy to me, although rather sadistic I know but so much bloody fun.
Work with the blood donor team does on the bright side take me all over the city and as the red cross is a rather large ornagisation we have different areas within its walls that we can wor for. So when we are not working for the blood team we are either disater relief or ambuloance crew. As there is a lack of disasters at the momen but everyone seems really on edge as the volcanoes in the Asia ring of fire are hotting up and smoke is on the horizon literally they are all on tenterhooks. So with disaster looming but not actually happening we go out crusiing with the wind up siren from a 1920's Al Capone ganster film and patrol the city. Althoigh sometime you meet things in the job that sober you up instantly. For example on Friday Miftah and I along with a man ionly known as the war hero (an ancient man with more wrinkles tha actual skin and no teeth to boot) had to deliver a dead bosy to the cemetary for burial.
When they said dead bopdy I juts assumed in my minds eye an old man. bUt when we got there and a stern looking uncle carried a five year old boys body wrapped in ornate batik fabrics ltying draped in petals and essence on a reed woven mat into the back of the ambulance my heart fey weak and limp. This poor lad, only 5 years. No age to die. He hadnt live yet. I asked how did he die but the language barrier only responded with an asnwer of 'he sick'. The procession to the Islamic burial ground was a short one. We arrived and the the body was laid wrapped in a white sheet bound round the head with arms folded facing west as is their custom. I stayed sober and thoughful for the rest opf the day but the only thing to sj\hock me was that when they had put juts a couple of inches of soil over him they stamped the eart down to compress the soil. I could sence the poor body being crushed. The smell was so overwhelming, one of intense insence and that now familiar small of decay. Now I am not squeemish or any stranger to seeing death, but a child is another matter.
Away from that sobeing entry as a team we have been doing our EAD's each week on the Wednesday. This is an Educational avticty day. Each counterpart pair has one and they all must be justifiable as educational. Miftah ad I are plannign a massive trip to seethe oran-utans at the recue centre to learn about the illegal trade in what translates as man of the forest. Other are taking us to see the tea fields, a trip to a Buddhist temple to see the shoalin (kung fu deadly) monks and many more. But this Wnesday gone we had a day of autism awarness and went to a speacial centre. One unique for Indonesia where they cater for the special needs that autistic children require. I learnt an awful lot that day. Not only the tell tales signs of autism and how to interact with children with the illness but I also got to put into practice wht I learntand had a fantastic time playing wiothn the most adorbale kids I have ever met. There was a little fat one who sat on Miftahs lap and we all laughed and said that they looked like father and son. He got offended at that. But apart from autism there was a down symdrome boy who would copy all movemtns I made. That was good as I did a brain gym session with them where I acted out movemetns. Simple obnes like touch your nose with your finger to stimulate brain activity and get them all to copy.
I have never before been moved so much by six kids. You had to handle and approach them in the correct manner and speak simple Bahasa Indonesian to them btu it was so rewarding working with them. There was one little boy who came up to me and held on to my leg. So I stroked his shaven head and it sent him into a trance. What a little star he was.
When we left the autism centre we wre quite far outside the city in Mlang regency so we decided to all utilise that fact and go to this reound mask place. We wre not dissapointed as we discovered up a dirt track an amaizingly rundown house where an old deaf man in a wheelchair carved these fantastically ornate and decorative masks. Of course the impetus was us to buy them, I couldne resist and when I bought mine it was blessed by the old man who looked at me through watery eyes and through translator Rizky in his batik shirt he told me never to put the mask on the floor and walk over it. For this mask will protect me. The blessing or whatever it was was his muttering to himself and waving his hand repeatedly over the mask. I am glad I have anauthentic mask and know the actual place where it was carved with rudimentary tools and blood sweat and tears by an old man from a time and tradition long lost. That day we also visited the new Hindu temple outside Mlang and I was told off for standing on a sacred prayer stone. I immediately jumped off and apologised but qwhe I turned round so was evryone else so I watched my footing from now on as I wandered around the Vishu and Shiva looking down at me from large podiums carved in black stone that glinted in the brilliant sun.
In the first part of this little tale I mentioned that I went to a festival. Indeed I have been and what happened there I would never have imagined that would hapen to me. I have been to the festival grounds twice. I went during the day and on the opening night. The grand opening was a trenendous schene. The festival to selebrate the 92nd birthday of the founding by the Dutch of the city of Malang was a grand old thing. Streets galore were turned into a mass parade with many people dressed up in colonial attire with the large British armyesque hats seen in the film Zulu. Old cars drove up and down and the streets were a mas of bodies. Everyone in this city seemed to have turned up to see what was happening. The military, the police even mobile dentists where all out in force. There were about 5 stages with different music being played. Traditional music taht sounded very oriental, operah and the worst excuse for a rock band I have ever seen. I explored the stalls selling antiquities, masks, all sorts of food and batik clothes that even a clown would turn his red nose up at.
The sounds and smells weer an assult on my sence. The road was heaving with peolple and the pedi cabs and horse drwan carriages that are common on the strets of Malang were a hindrance as you tried to navigate though the throngs of people to see the sites. The foods and exotic (non alcohlic) drinks on offer were incredible and I sampled so much diferent kinds of the most delicious and moresome coffee in the world.
But when I went there in the day time with a group of us he fun began. The rain had started and we were cowering under a verandah drinking street coffee when suddenly the skies cleared and the sun gazed its eye down on us. So we followed the flow of all the pople ad avoidin a spooked horse pulling a gold orbate cart and a horse painted with spots we found past the performing monkeys that I am secretly planning to free under the clak of darkness, a stage.
Everyone seemed to be forming a large rings around the stage and the ground in front. I did the typical ting and barged to the front which would later tur out to be a mistake. From this point I witnessed barechested men soaking and covered in street filth diving elabortale on to the ground in a fight dance while fire breathers were locked in their own flame besotted dance. Soon the barechested men had stopped pretending to be dragons and now were riding around on reed woen and bamboo horses. This is know as the Kala Lumping or in English the Horse trance. They road around in mock fight ad battle with their horses falling into puddle sand themsleves rolling on the floor as if an unuly and u broken wild stallion had chucked them off their backs. All the time fire still was blown into large plumes into the air with gasps from the crowd.
The they men on their horses ran straight into the crown and a group of about 5 white faces stood out like a sore thumb. As it transpired they wanted two volunteers to dance with them. Of course muggins here was shouted at and thrust forward as Hajrah laughed haughtily at me and they othere chanted my name as I walkled ouy. Face was also picked and with the dirt and grime covered man holding my hand he led to to juts in front of the stage. The crowd went silent and looked at me what where they expecting I wondered. Then I was presented with a whip and a wicker horse . There was a man in the centre of the circle with fag protruding from his lips crackign a whip that had bangers on the end. His Indiana Jonesque cracks could be heard a mie off. By my whip was a mini runt of the litter version and the fiorst time I cracked it I wholloped my self with it accross the back and forehead. Good one Ben!
Soo I had to copy eleborate dabnce manouvers and this odd thrusting action. Then I was made to run around acting as though I was really on a horse. For on moment Iin my vest and cowboy hat I really thought that I was a cowboy and I bucked ad reared and charged at the crwod. Allt his kids gasped and backed away as I charged reared up and generally pissed around. Then I had some sort of grass shoved in my mouth. It tsated vile and was probably some sor of ndonesian date rape drug but I chewed the sour tasting greenery and swllowed the lot.
I had to copy these fancy foot movements and by now my antics had endeared me with the crowed who shouted, laughed, gfas[ed. jeered, heckled and gae all sorts of noise to me. My ears were bombarded my the nopise. Not juts from the crowd but from the drummers and percussionists on classical Indonesian instruments who accompanied us. Then I was made to stand in the middle wavingmy whip around my head doing this thrusting action. This caused many girly screams from the crowd not to mention out little section. I was like a girating bunny rabbit on speed with a wicker and reed bamboo horse. Oh look at me go. The there was move fancy footworkd manaouvers and suddenly without warning the man I had to copy who had blood ouzing from his mouth where he had burn t it with all the fire breathing leapt on the floor in some silyl role and leap up again onto his gfeet. Then signalled for me to copy. So as I am sensible or rather didnt want to be covered in bird flu infested street filth and rain slosh I did a beautifaul leap into the air, a spin ad landed on my feet to applause from the crowd. The man of course did another roly poly thing and wanted me to copy, so I replied with an Eric Morecombe leap and heel clap. This caused much laughter and then the geezer gave up. I was paraded around the circle and then did a large bow. Claping all round met me and I couldnt resiet shouting 'thankyou Mlang, I will be here all week'! Very corny I know but it was spare of the moment. Then I went pack into the crowd to watch the next act which was bizarre mulitaion ats doe in a trance by a heavily tattooed man who must be come druggie caner.
The moral of this story, dont let me go in the front row as you know I am game for a laught!
The masochistic acts which followed as this tattoed man road around on a wicker bamboo wild boar where glass eating. Yep the nutter and head case eate big clunks of glass and when he chewed them blood pored down his chin onto his chest. He then ripped open coconuts with his teethc and head butted them before he randonly put his head in a puddle and ate stones. What a weirdo, but great viewing fund. Suddeenly on the same stage a band started up. They started to play really shit rock music that sounded like man man with wooden spoons for fingers was on the lead guitar and this masochist went mental and tarted to throw things at them. All [part of the act but even tough the new band had matching pink hair and shirts they lots me and I went off in the newly started drizzle to explore more.
Well thats it realy. Tomorrow is a Sunday and I will go to the part and drink beer like a 13 year old. What a life style. I feel naughty all te time out here. I am too rebelious for Indonesian culture but I was filmed dancing with a silly hobby horse inbtween my legs thrusting all over the shop by Mlang TV. So tonight I many be on the box. Fame at last. Soon I will be singing autographs and posing with the Indo elite.
Year right!!!!
Take care all and where ever you are do a horse trance dance for me. The thrustuing part is actually really fun (especially if you are naked)!
Peace and love
Added extra
Monday 1st April 2006
May day is upon us and juts like in the UK the Indonesians like to ornaise a protest march. But unlike us it isnt the anti capitalist marches that harass London year after year. Here in Indoland they were protesting about making May day a public holiday. I was working today for the Red cross and our duties wre to be the first aiders on site if there were any violent clashes between protestors and the police. But apart from one pick pocket being chased by several beige clad gun ho police officers before recieving a beating and a large meat wagon jobby with a huge water cannon, the day was uneventful.
I looked at the protestors filing past my vantage point where I stood by the side of the road in my Red Cross uniform and thought to myself 'how pathetic'. They had no idea about how to organise a rally, march or protest. They milled about walking slowly silent only for a few dicks on megaphone singing inane songs. Occasionally some joker would drive by screaming from a sepedor motor. But apart from that the entire parade and protest was awful beyond comprehension. I stood in an area with loads of policemen all running their fingers over their batons in apprehension and the fire brigade who had taken their 1960's engine our fof retirement for one day. I couldnt belive my eyes to how lacklustre the protest was. Was there really any point in this protest at all? I mean if you have something to get off your arse and complain about and organise a protest about, then make it one that the government will look at and think 'oh our fellow countrymen are passionate about this, we may change it'. But the way they protested was so awfully mundane that anyone in office will just laught at them and think, 'well if they cant be bothered to protest properly then we wont chnage anything'. I wanted to run at them and incite anger and violence in the crowd. But they were so pathetic that I mearly laughed loudly as they passed. It was a far cry from when a load of tweed clad country folk got a battering in London!
Finally after the mundane and boring parade had passed and dispersed all the coppers along with the fire brigade and us lot wearing our red and white red cross adorned unifroms had to make our way though the city back to the police HQ for a ceremony. This poxy ceremony was held in full throttle rain that made my clothing stick to my skin and drips fall off my nose. We had to all line up and stand to attention, then at ease and then at attention again. Then some random Indo copper said that I looked like Chuck Norris!!!! Chuck Bloody Norris, no I sodding well dont!
Finally after a pointless ceremony and a bit of gay marching we buggered off to piss around back at the hq.
Last night
Last night I made the mistake of staying for far too long at the closing ceremony. Therefore after a puppet show where I got a sharp elbow in the ribs for mouthing my own version of what the Indonesian traditional puppets were saying I had to walk for two hours avoiding the many ladyboys who come out after dark to get home.
One of the other volunteers loves puppets, well adores them to be more precise. I am not sure why but I am sure she has had an orgy with the cast of Fraggle rock and is in a fierce love traingle between Captain Scarlet and Basil Brush. But she sat next to me watching these puppety things do their business. I was bored out of my tiny mind so do what I normally do when I am bored. Make up the story which was in some traditional Javanese language. A sueeky voivced kid sat on a stage talking in his hight pitch tones into a microphone while an orchestra of gong players banged about and created the atmospherics in front of him. I found my self telling the story to some of the other volunteers delight about how the puppet with the gold crown had slept with the zebra striped puppets brother and that because their Mum had gone to Iceland all hell had broken lose and their dad had slaughtered the cat and all the other puppets were the cast of Eastenders except Pat as she was off in Las Vegas having a sex change (yes into a woman)! This was enough for a series of sharp elbows.
So after the puppet show whoch had no hard core team America sex scenes in which I was very dissapointyed about I decided that I really should get home. But as all the bloody angkots had decided to stop running I did the long trek accross the city.
This trek is quite a hazardous trip. Not as hazardous as running the gauntlet of fear,but the lady boys come out to play and if you pass them by unknowingly then you get full cuppage!!!! So I walked home doing a series of the most elaborate roll dodges I have ever executed and with such athleticism that it made the ladyboys more wanton!!
So to end this account, remember tis one ladyboy rule.
Wink at them so they blush , and when their head is pointed down and they are fidgeting their feet in some girly manner like they do in rubbish films, RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tickles and kisses

I have been here about a month now and am loving it. But I really miss alcohol. At least in Africa you could get drunk and then kiss Dutch girls. The problem out here is that they are all so religious that alcohol is seen as eveil. You can buy it and it is the same price as in Ghana but not as good .
I miss Africa a lot, I really preferred the wild rugged back to basic harshness of African life. The people were wilder and more fierce, here they are all wimps and I am the biggest man in town. If there was a fight out here I would win it hands down all the time.
In truth I had more fun in Africa because at our work placements we could go off and travel, go up North and all over the cou try. But here they want us to stay in the city where we work. Its not fair and I am rather pissed off about it. I have seen many Buddhist ancient temples here. But I want more. I want to go off in search of wild tigers, konodo dragons on exotic Islands and island hop to see tribes untouched by western culture.
But the bloody organisation I volunteer for are too scared to let me do anytthing as I may get injured or hurt. I could die crossing the road in Britain, here I am free juts let me go off and explore. I long to wonder the islands and see the sights that I dream about.

Thats my moan off my chest. Now I can go out and void all the dangers which they are so overprotective about. Such as old women with piercing stares and ladyboys with wandering hands. Oh the hardship of life out here!


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