To keep this from getting very long, I will summarize my trip in bullet form for easy digestion…
- 2 lanes means 3 lanes of cars and 4 lanes of motorcycles squeezing between the cars in each lane and the cars and the curb
- Some customs officer pocketed USD$50 for taxes on some equipment we had to bring over. No forms filled out, no receipt…
- I hear Bali is fun, but with late flights and early morning flights, I wouldn’t know…maybe if flights to Asia become cheap someday, I can find out!
- I became a millionaire while there just by changing USD$100 for Indonesian Rupiahs…
- Most of my pictures here were taken from inside the cab on the way to the airport…
32 Jawa – My home for 4 weeks
- Sure we had cable, but 1 english channel out of the 4 available, does not make for good channel surfing
- Somehow HBO Signature, Cinemax, Fashion TV and Star Sports are shown on the same channel at random times during the day. Interesting movie on HBO? Don’t bother starting it, because Cinemax or Fashion TV will be on before it is over…
- Key makers in Soroako are not very skilled. After 1 week of 2 people working different shifts and sharing 1 set of keys, we had 2 more sets of keys made. Long story short…after a long day at work with roommate at work, neither of the new sets worked and had to wait in the car listening to THE radio station until my roommate left the plant at 11 pm.
- Same night as above, upon finally getting into the house, housekeeping locked my room door…that door’s key was not in any of the sets we had. It took 3 security officers to break into the room. One with a crowbar, one with a semi-automatic rifle and one to supervise…
- Still, same night…sleeping in a car while waiting on someone can really mess up an “exiting car routine”. I found out after security broke down my door that my keys were locked in my Toyota Kijang! Great way to end an already wonderful night…
- All the clothes I wore while there will be permanently marked with J32 thanks to the daily laundry service. All the clothes except the ones washed by the dyslexic worker who wrote J23 on some of my clothes. This really had us and security confused the night of the key/door fiasco since there is no 23 Jawa, but the shirt I was wearing said otherwise 😉
- I didn’t realize cockroaches came in jumbo!
- I have never lived with so may geckos. Thankfully they were quiet, unlike that stupid Geico gecko!
- Vehicle of choice – Toyota Kijang
- Right hand drive is strange. I was expecting opposite pedals and shifter, but they are the same orientation as right hand drive cars. Wipers and blinkers are opposite, which screwed me up a couple times, and so far has screwed me up a couple times since being back.
- Driving on the wrong side of the road took very little getting used to. However, looking both ways for right hand turns did take a bit of practice. Just ask the motorcycle taxi I almost ran over! 😀
- 1.8L is not enough to get you up large hills unless you keep 3rd gear almost to redline.
- Kijang’s are fairly easy to break into. Notice nothing above about calling security or the rental company to get the keys out of my locked car 😀
- Motorcycles can carry a family of 5. And they will pull out right in front of you, day or night, with or without head and/or tail lights.
- Pedestrians walk on the side of the roads with their back to same direction traffic. One lady was run over during my trip there. Apparently this is common.
After Work/Weekend Activities
- Forms of Entertainment
- 1 english TV channel? Hardly entertaining!
- Boating – daytime only – This involved loading up the raft with food and beer for an hour trip out to “the island”, a couple hours of swimming, and almost 2 hour trip back once the wind picked up…
- Golfing – daytime only – The company golf course there was pretty good and scenic for how cheap it was to play. 9 holes was 50,000 rupiah (a bit over USD$5) and 20,000 rupiah (a bit over USD$2) for a caddy that would fetch your ball from ponds, rice paddies, and any out of bounds spot…
- Nighttime activities? Drinking or that 1 english channel…needless to say, we drank a lot!
- Hash runs followed by the On-On (more beer drinking). More on the hash runs below
- Pub crawl…again more beer drinking. More on the pub crawl below
- There are 2 main beers that are enjoyed by those that are not locals. Anker Bir and Bintang Bir. Others are available such as Bali Hai, Guinness (mostly enjoyed by Indonesian females), and Panther Stout – a Guinness knock-off, but Anker and Bintang were by far the most popular. Anker is the better tasting of the 2 but less popular with the locals, so it usually ran out fast meaning that we unfortunately had to close out the night many times with Bintang.
- The selling price for beer at the bars ranged from 10,000-13,000 rupiahs or about USD$1 to USD$1.25
- 5% beer can be evil to someone who drinks all drinks fast, like me! It took a couple trips to the bar to figure out that drinking a 6-pack of 2-3% beer at home meant no problem in the morning while a 6-pack of Indonesian beer meant a headache in the morning.
- Raft = pontoon boat, not a bunch of logs bound together like you would see in an episode of Gilligan’s Island…
- I have never seen such clear water. You can easily see 20′ down in all areas of Lake Matano.
- Most of the time, we ate the the TAB, which is an abbreviation for something in Indonesian. It is the company subsidized cafeteria. Most times the food was good, but sometimes it was a bit shady. On those days I would order a selection from the grill, usually a steak.
- I discovered the greatness of ABC brand Sambal. It is a garlicy, spicy sauce that adds great flavor to anything you put it on. I grew so fond of it, I brought home 2 bottles.
- A couple times we ate at a local restaurant called Pelangi, Indonesian for rainbow. The food there was great and I had a wonderful grilled squid!
The Hash Runs
- No, this has nothing to do with drugs! 😀
- A hash run is a run/walk through the jungle. A different path is set every week by the hash hares. You find your way by following trails of shredded paper through rain forest, rocks, mud, and water while trying not to follow any false trails.
- There are no winners or losers and the only reward is cold water and beer at the end of the hour long adventure.
- If you are clean when you finish, you cheated somehow.
- Housekeeping does a wonderful job at cleaning mud soaked tennis shoes and clothes.
- The first run was fairly dry, but the clay hills get very slippery when damp. I had one fall on my 1st run.
- On my second run, it had rained the entire day before, so it was very wet. at several points, I stepped in mud that covered my foot up to my ankle. I slipped and fell on my butt twice on that run.
- After the hash is the On-On, where everyone gathers in a circle and for various reasons people get called to the center to chug a full or mostly full beer. Needless to say, you end up drinking quite a bit…
- There are Hash Houses all over the world. See if there is one near you…
The PPPP Pub Crawl
- PPPP stands for Piss Pot Perambulators Pedestrian Pub Crawl
- At each stop everyone drinks 1-2 beers, depending on the place or how fast you can drink…
- We started at the Boat Club and took Katinkatinks (a native Indonesian style boat meant for about 2-3 people) with about 15 people on each to the 1st stop, a raft on the other side of the lake.
- 2nd stop required another Katinkatink ride to Theiss bar on the edge of town…
- After Thiess bar were trips to CC’s bar, then Colours (which was closed), a trip to Rakmah Satu (Rakmah 1) and then Rakmah Dua (Rakmah 2). Rakmah 2 only had Bali Hai and warm Bintang, so many people headed back to Rakmah Satu for some cold Anker.
- The 7th stop was Sinar Haripan, a hotel bar and then a hike to Luciana’s and Pelangi (a couple of restaurants). Then another hike to the Golf Club where we had some pizza, courtesy of the TAB.
- The 10th stop was to a small store near the houses that is the size of many large houses walk-in closets. The final stop was back at the TAB, close to where we started.
- With 11 stops and average of about 1.25 beers per stop, I would estimate that most people who were drinking beer had 13-14 beers.
Asian Air Travel
- Overall, Cathay Pacific, despite my flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong on the way there, was a pretty good airline and business class is the only way to fly. They put American Airlines business class to shame!
- Singapore Airlines and Garuda Indonesia Airlines were both top notch as well. Again, much better than business class on American Airlines.
- Airline food in the above airlines is actually very good!
- Free beer in business class really helps you sleep on these long flights. Typically, I can never sleep on the pane for any appreciable amount of time.
General Notes About Indonesia and Soroako
- You will not find a dumpster there. Most trash ends up on the ground and the downtown areas are very dirty.
- Airport security guards are not very bright, especially the one who decided to take a nap in a chair while using the barrel of his loaded rifle as a pillow. The top of his head was missing when he wake up a brief second before he died.
- Bob Barker should never visit Indonesia as the cat population is out of control. There were even cats living on site at the smelter…
- Indonesian karaoke consists of a bunch of Indonesian songs and some American songs that have been slowed and mellowed into unrecognizable crap and all songs are played at the loudest volume possible at most bars…
- For what the people have over there and the conditions many of them live in, they seemed very happy and carefree compared to how most from the US or Canada would act living in similar conditions.
For pictures, go to the gallery to have a look around…
I hope that one day Tasha and I can travel to Asia together to see the many beautiful areas of the world that I saw while out on business.
Well, I think I have written enough. If you want to know anything else, email or call 😉