Musings - Day 44
Day 44 – 8th February 2020
Keep with me guys, in the penultimate country, then at the end of next week, hopefully Australia!
This was always going to be an easy decision to make – what they call at home a no brainer. Rather than do another helter-skelter minibus marathon, I have purchased tickets on an overnight train. (Did not know there was one until this morning.) This actually means I get to choose, albeit have a hand in, my own death rather than lend a scenario from another suicide driver. It goes the long way round, I don’t have a bed, just a recliner seat, but I am assured that we have the railway tracks to ourselves. Praise to the god of morning television! (Good luck Phil!) I can do nine hours in a seat in the dark, no problem. Because I will be arriving at 05:55am it gives me the day to continue on to Jakarta via the long ferry. (Not the size of the boat – it’s the distance it goes.) I have extended an Airbnb for the existing capital (Soon to be relieved of its capital status because it is the fastest sinking city in the world – going under at a rate of a metre a decade – So I should be alright until next Wednesday, hopefully.) If it gets a spurt on I may have to buy flippers.
I got run over today! Yes you read correctly. Bruised backside, bit shook up, but no problems with the looks. However the poor scooter driver wrote his bike off. He was really shaken up and extremely apologetic. The poor bloke was in tears. I told him not to worry, it wasn’t all his fault as I had been run over before, in the nineteen seventies. I waited with him until his Dad arrived, who tied his scooter onto the back of his Ford pick-up, and left as if he’d got to pick up another accident prone kid.
Today, for me, was a good opportunity to get some laundry done, have a few beers, window shop, (thankfully never bought a window) and generally chill until my train. Last nights hotel kept my back pack for me, so all was well. Did a little bit of ferrying around in Grab taxis, (at the most ridiculous rates – 3 miles for £0.80p) and had a laugh to myself. One taxi guy was the most wonderful mild mannered chap you are ever likely to meet. So immediately I met him I knew that I would have to play the ‘Very’ game. Never played it? Okay let me run you through the objectives and rules. First set your own target – mine today was nineteen ‘very’s’ before he dropped me off in around ten minutes. So target set, the rules are simple – You have to reach your target by the combined total of ‘very’s’ said between you and your victim, by saying no more than half of the ‘very’s’ yourself. Got it! Right so here we go – I’ll try to be as accurate as possible, but I am writing this some five hours later.
Getting in the taxi, pretending to be ordinary.
Me: - “Hello my name is Bob. How are you today?” (Warning: gesture required. Both hands together in the prayer position, pointing at the recipient, with your best toothy grin.) Accepting that you both wish each other well and that all your feet have shoes.
Taxi fella:- “The world is good, yes?” (Meaning: - are your piles playing up?)
Me:- “Very hot today?”
Taxi fella:- “Yes very hot sir.”
Me: “Phew – Very, very hot today.”
Taxi fella:- “Yes sir, very, very hot.” (Up to six already – you get the way this is going?)
Me:- “How long you been doing taxi?”
Taxi fella:- “One year plus sir.”
Me: “One year plus? – Very, very hot today.”
Taxi fella:- “Yes sir, very, very hot today.”
Me: “Have you got the air conditioning on? Because its very, very hot today.”
Taxi fella:- “Yes sir, it is very, very hot today. The wind blows east this time of year. Air conditioning on sir. Very, very hot today though sir.” – Now it’s time to start shaking your head from side to side gently as an admission of appeasement. Note for the nubile traveller: Not actually appeasement. Just a gesture, which I guarantee he will follow…
Taxi fella:- Shaking head as though shrugging off dementia, “yes sir very, very hot today. (See how this is going? I still have half a mile left!)
Me: “Do you have family?”
Taxi fella:- “Yes sir two boys and a girl.”
Me:- “Two boys and a girl? Do they live at home?”
Taxi fella: - “Only one sir the others have their own families.” – Now for the closure. The point when all salesmen do their internal bingo shout.
Me:- “Oh boy – so very hot today.”
Taxi fella:- “Yes sir, very, very hot today sir.”
Hand me the coconut! – smashed it!
I always leave with a pearl of wisdom, knowing they haven’t got a clue what I am referring to…
Hands together in prayer position – look him straight in the eye after you have paid him, “Never eat Shredded wheat…” he has to respond, it is culturally correct to do so.
Taxi fella:- “Let the spring bring new life sir.”
After taking the usual shops, monuments, parks etc. I decided on a mid afternoon beer and some eats because I knew it would be late if I got anything at all on the train. The gaff that Taxi fella dropped me off at was called the Nobu, a Japanese place, that looked like I needed a kimono to get in. No matter just a few doors down I found a place that seemed okay. Not many eating downstairs, so after I had told the girl my requirements she led me upstairs to their other restaurant. She said I will give you the best table. I could’ve had any one of them, I was the only one in. No consequence to me. Behind me there was a five a side pitch, so when my beer came I mused myself with watching that. Good game really the whites and orange beat the blacks and blues by 79 to 63 according to the scoreboard. The waitress brought the menus to me and I went for the chicken. I was into my second beer before the food arrived, which were served in really quite small portions. That didn’t matter so much, if I could’ve spotted any chicken. There were a few bits of crispy duck, but even that was not identified absolutely. It could have been an unlucky rook for all I know. Tasted good but not particularly fulfilling. They seemed to forget about me upstairs so I went down, offered to pay me bill, but instead had one last beer. The only other people around were a motley crew that just looked so out of place. Everyone seemed happy enough for me to be there, but something just didn’t sit right. The one guy, who was never off his phone, had the kind of odd hairstyle that suggested he’d had a sub cranial lobotomy, with both sides shaved, but all the rest of the head normal. In fact quite long. He reminded me of a cockatiel in a balaclava, but I am sure he was good to his mom. Anyway behind the three other guys just merrily chatting was a huge glass divider with a door. When the door opened, it stayed open with no effort from anyone inside to close it. There were around six or seven people sitting around a felt covered table gambling, it seemed quite seriously gambling. I could see wads and wads of notes on the table, with some emotive carryings on. I think that the game was Pai Gow, which from my cruising days I seem to recollect is a form of baccarat. I noted that there was a fulsome croupier impassively passing the cards over, but the enthusiasm was high pitched to say the least. What happened next was really unexpected. The girl who had first served me, after talking to the cockatiel, prepared my bill and brought it over before I had asked for it. She said to me in a hushed voice, “We are about to close could you settle please.” Oh my life! I was out of there like a shot. It was none of my business and I didn’t want it to be either.
Laundry and backpack retrieved I made my way to the station and onto the train. There were only four people in my carriage and the train was due to take nine hours. You just know sometimes that it is going to be a long night.
Position: 04°21'15” N 105°41'26”E – Miles completed: 12832
Location: Somewhere towards Bandar lampung, Sumatra 23:00 - 8th February 2020 - Journey 44 days 23 hours