Sunday, May 14, 2006

Indonesia or Bust 7

Indonesia or Bust 7
Horses, Volcanos and hypothermia!
Aim ready fire! Its that time again so sit down make yourself a moch-locha-poker-achino and sip it gingerly. This one is truly fruity!
I decided after one hell of a weekend away that my diary entry and my writings online will be combined for the first time and probably only time as I am feeling the following:tired, lazy and slightly weather beaten. Therefore thsi number 7 is my actual diary account so its going to be a full throttle no holds barred afair. So lay on McDuff...........
Day 40 Friday 12th May 2006
the entire group met at Kwarcab in the eveing and we waited in anticipation for our two hired buses to arriev and scoot us off to the wonders of the Mid Project Review (MPR). This of course is only the Indonesia phase MPR and therefore as the powers that be, or the no fun crew as I like to call them ruled out a trip to either of the B's (Bali or Borobudur) as apparantly it is too far and we may get mauled by a badger or something. So instead of our preferred destinations we awere off to Mount Bromo national park.
I was eady and waiting making things burn to a chrisp on the BBQ with my newly bleached blonde Germanesque hair and when the cars arrived what should some bright spark do? Well that idiot put all the big people in the smallest car and the little ones all got the masssive bus thing. Yes I am one of the big people and outr journey Itlain job stylie up the mountain was nothing than bloody uncomfortable while the bright spark in question rode shotgun. Sometimes Indonesians possess no common sense at all. Many of the little weeny Indo's were curled up in a ball like cats in the bloody bus.
So let me get off the rant and on to our arrival after a vomit stop for one of the British girls. We arrived at about 4 am in the freezing cold of the elevated height of the national park. Of course us Brits being hardy buggers coped admirably with this sudden change from hot to cold. But the poor old Indo's, well that couldnt cope with anything. We had peole wearing every item of clothing that they had and they still cried because it was cold. Bt even at 4 a on our arrival there were little men tying to flog you stupid looking wooley hats. I of couse like to wind these people us a great deal and get them to rummage to the bottom of their tray and find th oddest scarf or whatever they were selling and then say that I dont want it.
So after a sleep and the realisation that the hostel thing that we were staying in could not add up we didnt have enough beds to go round. But we were tired and bumpy from the journey so thought sod it and I slept in two beds pushed together in an Indo sandwich.
The sun arose on the Friday morning and the site that met my esyes was astonishing and awe inspiring. A vast plain lay in front of us banked on all sides by looming ominous looking mountains. There on the very far side stood out a large mountaisn which name escapesme, but I am more interested in the thing next to that. Mount Bromo. The giant volcanioc crater pummelled out giants plumes of smioke into the air reaching high up into the atmosphere. Oh waht a site and I stared accross the arid volcanic dust and sand plain laeding to the feet of Bromo. Behind bromo but not visable to the eye except for an every 15 minutes like clockwork puff of smoke loomed mount Semeru. Semeru is another volcano and to see the two towers of smoke rise fom the gates of hell made a shiver run dow my spine.
But in true Global xchange no fun, oh we can look but not touch style we had a day of what can only be described as nimd numbing bollocks, boredom, painful activies and shiteness. Basically we had to do loads of sessons such as 'how can we get more out of our volunteers plavemsnts', 'any problems with our counterpats, host homes and other isues'. I kno it all has to be done, but fuck me sideways with a broomistick is it dull. Especially when you have a view like the one which I described outside smiling at you and begging you to com hither. What enticed me more was the Hindu temple at the foot of Bromo. The place froma distance was teeming with horses, large off roaders and people all milling around in the distance. Horses ferried people top and fro and all the local people all decked out in balaklavas and arctic tundra attire loked remarkably like sherpas from Nepal. It must be the weather beateness.
I wont bore you with the sessionms that we had as one I cant remember them and two sod all actually funny or worth writing home about occurred. Except two things. Firstly a local nutter woman wearing painted on moustache and sideburns in a police hi vi jacket and a oficers hat accosted me. No she wasnt a police officer, juts the local nutter. She followed me into the dining room where we were holding all our meetings and sudenly this large Papuan man from behind the reception desk/bar/jacket hire/burlesque house literally chucked her out. He had her off the floor and through the air in under a seconds. Bye bye crazy lady! She would l;ater re-appear but this time she had found more prey to attack in the form of small children with their parents. The second thing that is worth a jot down was the fact that we had to do a conselling session where you do a listen to peoples problems about their counterparts (I apparantly dont eat enough bloody rice according to Miftah!) but I got one of the young Indo girls. The one who is most definately the oddest of the lot. This one )no names mentioned) wont eat while walking as 'animals do that', but contradicts her no animal actions atance by only shitting with the door open!!! This is the same Indo who thought that Valentines day in Britain was a day of free love for all where we all shack up with anyobe we come accross and when talks sounds like a robot. So I shout 'exterminate' and try to look for a plunger! Anyway she was giving councellor Ben some bollocks of a story about how she hates explaining things to her British counterpasrt who only naturally asks questions about the many ideocrncracies of Indo culture. I changed this whole session to indoctrinating her to belive that one of the Indo boys loves her and that he is the Adam to her Eve, he is the Sampson to her Deliah, he is the kid to her Gary Glitter and she is the throbing to his loins. This last bit confused her even more and she ater was crying. But honestly it was nothing to do with me. Any sexual inuendo fired at an Indonesian goes right over their heads. I know I therefore shouldnt do it, but in the words of Miftrah 'I love it'. Only today diid I ask Miftah that if he loved his girlfriend would he give her a 'pearl necklace' an did he belive in big gay bears! He said yes to both!
That day we also had to fill in a nominations sheet for a series of awards whivh were to be handed out in some lavish presentation ceremony that night. I was later told that I was co -presenting the awards so camped it up on the red light lit stage on the microphoen cracking all the Billy Conolly and Eddie Izzard jokes that I could remember ad basically abusing people. I was in my element! The nominations were in and the awards were for the grand titles suvh as: Queen o scream, The bottomless pit award, ther eaten aliv award, the cmots likely two to get married award. Well I co-presented wthe awards with Daisy and Miftah ran away with 4 awards (including future presdine tof Indoland) his acceptance speches were hilarious. his cathcphrases basically are: 'aaaah never mind', 'I love it very much' and 'what, what, what'. When we counted all the awards we made sure that everyone had won at least one award so it was fair. But I won two therefore one was given up. I won and was awarded with the most likely to go insane award! My acceptance speech caused riotious laughter between the Brits but bemused yet again inuendo over their heads expressions fromt he Indonesians. I said 'Thankyou for this award, I think I am three quarters of the wayu to insanity anyway. Only yesterday did I wake up wearing nothing but Miftahs smile'!!! He then shouted 'what, hwt, hweta' and we all giggled, but I guess you had to be there. But the award whivh I did win but had to present to Anhah was the most likey to be a Bond Villian award. I really wanted that and rightfully won. So in my mind I am Mr. Scaramanga!
All the time I kept referring to our houise band and getting a blast from Hugh in my Dick van Dyke hat on the bongos. It really was a classy affair!
With a day of pure mental work and questions, writing and more flip chart paper than I ever want to see again it was Bintang time. So the Cheeky Bintang club of me, Katie, Daisy, Fae and Hughie no show all stayed up drinking illicit bintangs from our personal stash and the guinness that Hugh had nucked from the bar. The funny thing was that when we went for dinner we started to randomly steal hings or rather Katie, Hugh and I did. Katie wanted this little penguin pot thing sdo in my pocket it went (its all rubbish crap but funny). but before the end of the weekend was out e had managed to sneak away with the elephant ashtrap and the amaizingly placed breats with glazed nipple in hand cuppage candle holder. Katie nicked it under a blanket but when I got home the cheeky mare had put it in my bag, but a finger had afllen off!!!
DAY 41 Saturday 13thy May
It was a cold cold night and many people resulted to going to bed fully clothed and snuggling. Rizky was in betwen Hugh and I in our room and we scared the poor boy to death. We kept saying things like 'Hugh hold him down its my turn' and 'is that your hand lover boy', the result was that he was so freaked out and couldnt sleep a wink while Hugh and I had a good nights rest. We still managed to wake up early however and see the sunrise over the distant mountains. As soon as the actual ball of sun pops its head over the horizon it was like a nuclear exlosion of lights filling the landscape. The only thing that ruined it for us as Hugh, Katie and I stood wrapped in mildrew riden blankets was the mental dog barking at us all the whiel. But after I threw some random scrapnel that was on the ground at it, the mangy thing hot footed it off.
Once again the view of Bromo called to me. Come here Ben it was saying. Or take me now as I enterpreted it!
But things changed this morning. The no fun gang suddenly had a dayu off and we were given free time and all our personal two to one discussions were re-scheduled and other stuff was moved around to accommodate the fact that the Hindu temple which I mentioned was having a festival. Now we could get there by one of three ways. Walking, in a jeep. Or the pierce De resistance, go by horse. So horsey times ahead it was for me.
What a great day and time we had. The jeep lot all crammed in and sped off accorss the plain leaving a trail of dust in their wake. Some people didnt bother to go so no one walked and the others well let me tell you. The people on horse back went and found the horse which corresponded with a name written on a back of a cigarett pack that soem dirty old man holdin whip with a fag between his yellow teeth and one eye gave to us. I was on some horse with a silly name beginnig with S. But when I rounded the corner ad found him, it was a bloody pit pony. Sod that I thought and refused to get on the little thing. All the horses were ill tretade mal nourished gaunt buggers and many of them didnt have any shoes, where their hooves should have been were a rounded stump o many. Well anyway I kicked up a fuss and wouldnt get onthe little bugger, even though he had the biggest bollocks for a horse I had ever seen. So I swaped with Bex. She took little Shergar and I jumped up onto some big balck beats called Kuat (strong). This turned out to be an inspired move as not only was mine full of hoof and a big strong lopoking bugger but he was obdient and easy to handle and manipulate. Then my second fuss kicked off as every one seemed to have a man with a dirty jacket and wrapped in blankets leading them by a rope. Blow that I though and said 'Tidak' to the man who approached me. Then using all the skills from a childhood spent on horses walked down the steep slope perfectly, rains held in the correct manner, leaning back conrolling the horse. The n onto the plain. I saw loads of the others ahead of me as they had had a head start fdue to my changing horse shennanigans. Bex was thrown off by the big bollocked little bugger to boot. I then looked around and assessed a clear area with no motor bikes with local youth doing doughnuts or big jeeps hell for leather tearing accross the plain. Then one crack of the crop ad a good kick and I was off. I went into a trot, then canter and then full out gallop. The man who wanted to lead me thought 'shit he is going o die'. But he hadnt banked on the horse majesty of 'The Whateley' as I am caled by Katie out here. Soon I was tearing past the other shouting abuse and then loopg round the pass them again. This inspired a few of them to come with unce Ben and off we went galloping all over the plain. The back drop could have been Nepal or the Himalayas, but Bromo in Indonesia juts looked so amaizing viewed from a galloping horse. The vest bit about this and Naomi has a wonderful picture that I will copy to prove it was that I was in my trusty cowboy hat which made me look like clint Eastwood and John Waynes love child. I gallped up to these large sand dunes and stood gazing into the distance and Naomi took the mots amaizing picture postcard photo of me. I looked so cowboy fantastic. I also had shorts on so by the end of the day when I had finally adjusted the styrups to the rigts level so I didnt have to ride the ball destroying Westerb style and the more poncy Ebnglish style I got huge chaffing blisters or war wounds on my calfs!But the little pain was woth it as I had ages of true independance on a horse and juest gallped anywhere I wanted to. I even said howdfy to these ladies on tour who all giggled (maybe my flies were ope again).
The Hindu temple was a bit of an anti-climax for me. The entire thing from a distance looked old and rustic in a perfect juxtaposition with the beautiful and looming to use personification Mount Bromo. But up close it was a concrets and breeze block hideous statue laden monstrousity. Even so I still waleked all over except to the bit where brightly dressed people were coming out as it was for Hindu's only. I was then told off for standing on a wall, so went up the tower to avoid all the Indonesians trying to take photos of me as though I am a five cocked man in a circus freak show!
We would not be going up to Bromos top today, that was for later. So I galloped around for about an hour exploring the dune sea and the volcanic landscae before the light dulled and I went back up the steep path to meet the others stinking olf old shabby horse. God job I had some mints handy for my trusty if not now knackered steed! I loved the activity and to gallop in front of a volcano pumping smoke into the air was juts our of this world. I wish I could do it again.
That evening We gethered around an old tv in the restaurant/disco/love den/ wrestling ring and watched as Mount Merapi about 7 hors drive away from us spewed molten lava out and down its sides cau\sing people to evacuated the towns. So the South East Asian ring of fife is off. How long before the chain recations hits us I wonder!
The evenings activties were a quiz organised mby myself on global issues. I tried to re-create the pub quiz feel but only 3 of us sipped beers through out. I read the questions out anf then Jessica transl;ated them foe me. What surprised me was the lack of knowledge the Indo's have about their own country. For example Indonesia Invaded East Timor in 1975. All got it wrong except one and then all protested that each and every one of the wrong answers were right!! It was suppposed to eb a 50 question quiz but time was ticking away and dinner was coming so it whittled it down to 25. This was a more fun activity and everyone even though some looked baffled at my questions, I think all enjoyed it.
Dinner came and I pised myself laughing at what we got. Pigeon. But this was Indo pigeon. What they do is get an entir pigeon lightly pluck it and chuck the entire thing into a fryer. The resuly greasy pigeon head , feet and all. I was dared to bite the head off so did and then oput it in one of the penguin toothpick holders so when you pulled off the penguins head it bacem Darth Vader penguin. This caused all the gilrs to either scream or give me dissaproving looks. Once again the evening was spent drinin beers and copius amounts of coffee as we huddled togheter around ads of candles. When bed came I found Rzky tking up all of the two beds so a bundle ensued!
DAY 42 Sunday 14th May
I went to bed for two hours to get up at 1am so we could all get bussed to this mountain top vilage full of hat stalls and coffee shacks on stilts to watch the sun rise over the volcanic plains an mountains. The trouble was yet again Indo organisation let us down as it was supposed to be a 3 hours trip, ego we left at 1am. But we were there in 45 minutrd or so? Gary goodopne whoever worked that out. Therefore we all were up some mountain with nothing but bitty Javanese coffee and a tiny fire with tramps around it for company. I fell asleep on a table in a canteen (The indo version of a greasy spoon). Fnally the time was nearing so we all climbed up to gt a better view. Then my heart sank. I imagined a nice hiltop deserted and over looking the plain. But there were about 100 people including a white man with an uber mounstache that was waxed and piointed and curled upwards there. Sod this I thiough bu we managed to get a spot in the crowd and wrapped in blankets we watched as the sun slowly and then suddebnyl wham illuminated the horizon. The sight was beautiful, but slightly ruined by the men wlking around trying to sell bright pink and green I have been to Bromo hats. Coincidently mots of the Indonesian volunteers purchased the hideous things!
I was a bit annoyed a in true Indonesian fashion no one told us that it was a tourist attraction. I was led to believe it was a scared and isolated spot. But many things are lost intranslation and they dont see thinsg the way we do.
The sun was up and the temperature was slowly increasing. Then we drove down ionto the plain and had the choice again of how to go up t the craters edge and top. Horse for 700 tiny yaers or an extreme walk over the rocks. The rocks won and the Brits headed off. I was utterly shocked to see the state of the Indonesian volunteers fitness as we ascended the crater. All of them had to stop for multiple breathers and looked exhauted as they clutched their stiche in their sides.
Wow, wow, wow. I got to the top and then looked down on a massive crater. It was ike looking down into a stadium where a hole in the ground billowed our thick white smoke. I ws off. Katie and I went exploring as all the volunteers seemed to emalgamate around the area where the pathway climaxed. But not us to intrepid explorers (minus Hugh who said he would come but didnt, hense Hughie no show). We traveresd the craters edge sometime perilously cose to falling down into a smi\oky doom. We wanted to circumnavigate the entire crater but time ran out and the others from the far side could juts be heard shouting for us to come back. But we went the furthers and stood gazing out at the landscape formed by lava flows and liquid magma from ancient eruptions. Nature at its mots powerful, destructuve best. I was awe struck. The shear size of the crater, it was also great for loud shouted echos that rang around the valley!
The other volunteers were dots i the distance to where we were standing, as we were now dirstly half way and the dots were lots behind te bilowing smoke. I wanted to try and get down into the crater as I found a pathway which even though looked perilous could be done I think. But alas after more time than the no fun crew allocated us (the cars had to be back) we returned with beers in hand smoking a cigar between us to celebrate our coquest of the volcano.
When we got doen and past te men shouting 'horse' at us and random old women throwing flowers into the pit and trying to sell them to un-suspecting French backpackers for 5000 rupiah, e discovered that many had left to go back already. Some on horse back for an inflated whiteman prce some in the bus. So it was the small jeep fo us. But even though the driver wouldnt let me drive it I hung off the back as we bumped alsong past the Hinu temple blasting out music accross the plain back to the awfully bad but fantastically awful Hotel Permaii, which was our home.
By the time I arrived dusty and sweather beaten back all the lunch had been devoured and so I managed to get some hot water and have my first hot wash in ages. It wa a strange feeling to be honest. Now the time had come for us to go. But before the hustle of Malang beckoned we would be popping by a place recommended by Mr. Bing who randomly turned up with his little mini Bing daughter, we were going to a waterfall where you could 'apparantly' swim in it. But as with all things in Indonesia I wasnt expecting anything. They say 'oh yes we have 3 beds' then there is two in a room for 5 girls. They dont exactly invite my confidence. Especially the man called Coco who is apparantly filming ou weekend aweay. But he missed all of the horse riding, the Bromo climb and instaed films fucking trees out of the window, please excuse my French. I flatly refused to tip him!
Well anyway we drove to this watefall where you walked along a path that followed the flow going upstream of a winding rock and boulder filled river. Suddenly I rounded the corner and loads of people decended upon me trying to hire an umbrella to me so I wont get wet! Its a bloody waterfall, getting wet is essentail. So Hugh, Daisy, Katie, Emma, Ibby, Lucy, Naomi, Fae and I (all the Brits) stripped down to our skivvies and waded up stream past the umbrella hawkers following the thundering of the noise of a mass of falling water. We were drenched by the time we had navigated up and over and round these massive boulders and reached the waterfall. The river downstream was in a raveen and now we came to a clearing with the roar of tons o water hitting the surface of a pool where massive logs had collected after a fall from the top.
Once again it was only thr Brits who were willing to risk the extreme cold and altitute temperature water and plung whole heartedly in. I giggled and thiougth what a bunch of plums as the Indos under a brolly tried not to get wet at all and made their way behind us screaming when a drop of water tiuched them! They are juts so uneadventurous and comical that it pains me to think about it, let alone type about how they went 'oooh ooooh ooh scream' every time they had to traverse a bloody rock! Meanwhile Hugh and I had swam to behind the water fall and climbed the rocks and were plunging through the falling water screaming (manly screams) into the incredibly deep water. As we jumped through the falling water it stung like hell, but was funny anf un. Two concepts alient to many Inuendo oblivious Indos. The cold was so biting that I soon lots the power of speech and my body shook violently. My teeth chattered so hard that I was sure I would need the dentist and it was hard to move as my muscles contrated for warmth conservation. We couldnt spent long there as the cold really got to you and we had a long walk semi naked and dripping wet back to where our clothes were. Then on the way back a frog jumped out on me and I dropped and smashed my amaizing 3 quid sunglasses, but no matter how hard I tried I culdnt catch the bugger!
So that was my weekdn o fun and boy did I love som of it. The bits where we sat around talking shop bored me. Especaially those 'team' exercises such as if the team where a car what would you be? Also we played this game where you had to pass a string to someone an say why you respect them, then they do the same and so on. I then announced 'Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first choose to decieve' this amongts many of the Ben comments have caused eye brow raises from the project supervisors. Especially when I critise our insuranmce where we are only just covered for breathing and going to the loo. Its all to bloody over protective, that why I made a point of galloping around on my horse for all to see. ying 'go one break the rules' and be mad ad enjoy yourself, have bloody fun while you can. Dont let rules and insurance spil your life. Hnang off the back of cars, out of angkots and traveres those volcanos. because one day it may be oo late.
So then where ever you are or whatever you are doing. Have a bloody good one.
Have a Bintang!
Take care my lovelies

Oh it is official. I am scary and cannot be approached by the Indonesians. But they also reckon that all the Brits are sleeping with each other. All the time, proper nympos and all. That proves that they are not the mots perseptive of peoles really!


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