• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 45

Day 45 – 9th February 2020

Huge thank you to the recent contributors far and wide! It gives me real pride to understand that people are behind this project, and I want to thank you all for that. People who have followed the Musings have been great, without your support, I may have floundered many weeks ago. Brilliant guys – keep it up.

A quite uncomfortable night, I thought that I was back in Kazakhstan, it was that cold! I mean thirty degrees outside, and ten inside with the air con stuck. As I looked around at about one this morning all four other people in the carriage, were either huddled together or covered in the provided blankets. I had a plan B! I have been discarding clothes as the journey has progressed in favour of lighter, more practical sub-tropical wear, due to the intense humidity. But I remembered that I still had trackie bottoms and a thermal vest, somewhere in the dark recesses of my backpack. Found them! Lottery winner! I felt warmer than a toasted muffin. Even managed about two hours shut eye.

It is 05:33am the train arrived early. A cup of coffee in the local station concourse café is most definitely the order of the day. Take stock, formulate a plan, and caress the stained glass of turgid black spiralling goo I got served. Imagine a cluster of dead tadpoles carrying volcanic sand. Okay well, if your mind has taken you there, then we are somewhere close to the delightful coffee of southern Sumatra. I was also offered a plate of rancid blue hens eggs as a little breakfast appetiser. Thanks, but no thanks Mrs Café, with faint regard to the custom of not refusing offered food.

Even though I promised myself not to use one of these local minibuses again, believing that life was precious, I had to. The seventy mile journey came in at around £2.80 ($3.50) a complete rip off in anyone’s book. If during your own cultural experiences, you have a love of visiting art galleries and museums, with the occasional concert thrown in, then maybe this wasn’t the choice for you. Bearing in mind that I am in the vehicle, a small Suzuki with six seats (nine passengers - so more than enough room the driver insists) and it is 06:15am, we drive through an exceptionally busy market. Now when I say drive through you are naturally thinking that we were using the roads that skirt the markets venue. You will also probably be thinking of a market place that has stalls and pathways between them, so that orderly people would be able to find the produce required, simply and effectively. Hmmnh…. No - you already sense that you are going to be wrong. Right? Fresh fish, vegetables, meats, bowls of dishes with homemade produce, (yoghurts, dairy, jams etc.,) all laid on the dirty street floor. A tarpaulin or blanket the only hygiene precaution used against the dust and grime of the street and the produce. Flabbergasting! Traders had to lift up their tarpaulins to allow marginal access for our tyres to weave a way through! Eventually freeing ourselves from the manic trading taking place, we followed the coast down to the ferry.

You have to understand that these vehicles are so cheap because they trade on the way. People get on or off wherever they request. Chickens feet tied and flapping are on and off the bus together with a slaughtered goat that dripped over the carriers shoulder, who had boarded for around three miles or so. Today there were over forty stops for one reason or another. One included a nine car queue to get fuel for the Suzuki. Now, what I hadn’t told you was that I feigned car sickness at 05:45am so that I could get the front seat. A chap actually got out of the seat, looking me up and down for medical signs of the condition, before spitting under his breath and relocating rearwards. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? As far as the musical entertainment for this trip was concerned, we were about to scale new heights. Try to get to a position in your mind where you can hear Frankie Valley singing while his nuts are in a trouser press. This is coupled with what I can only describe as an electronic wizardry of sound, shadowing along in the background. The driver, pleased as punch passed me the new CD cover for me to read. “Then 2020 – the Eunuchs remix.”

I made the ferry terminal with no idea of schedule, cost, wait times, crossing times or even a destination. (Bizarre really considering the only definite was that I was leaving Sumatra.) But lucky me again it was sublimely simple. A huge transporter ferry was leaving in sixty minutes, giving me enough time to buy a ticket, walk to and board the vessel. Now if you think that you have heard it all in terms of bargains, wait until I impart the cost of my undertaking to you! The ferry was two hours across the channel, at a breath-taking one way cost to foot passengers of £0.80p! ($1.) There was however an agonising draw back. There was a microphone, a two piece band, and a karaoke compare! – OH MY GIDDY AUNT!

I read this morning that it has been discovered the Coronavirus has been traced to a Pangolin (Aardvark kind of beast – eats termites, rolls into a ball when scared, and has scales – Although why any creature would want to constantly weigh themselves I don’t know?) I felt quite comforted to know that I could feel assured of not having the virus because I definitely haven’t eaten one of them. There are still people on board this large car ferry who are wearing the masks. It must be in an absurd belief that it will offer resistance against this virulent strain. So the ferry slowly pulls away from its moorings to a position, some thirty feet away from the wharf, when the band feel that our position is now into International waters, and they can strike up a tirade of notes in any order they choose. I think that I preferred Frankie (Eunuch) Valley! They could’ve been aptly named the ‘keyboards akimbo combo.’ Oh my goodness were they bad. Chords were randomly selected whether they had been chosen by the original songwriter or not. When any playlist starts, and is introduced by the Roy Orbison lookie-likey as, “You give ‘ruv’ a bad name,” by Lon John Bovi, you absolutely know from the pit in your heart, that it is going to hurt. There followed renditions of Cyllene Dion, Michael Jackson, Take That and the worrisome Elvis Presley. The classic was yet to come from an exuberant audience member who gave us her screeching interpretation of ‘Lod Stewats crassic song Sayring.’ The audience went…........

away ( Oh come on - you thought I was going to say wild) Please, Please let this madness come to an end soon.

He just couldn't cope with the karaoke

Why it that all Eastern Asian people love karaoke? Do they all believe that they have talent or is it that generally they are hard of hearing? I am sure they must have believed that Louis Walsh from the X factor was in the audience. He actually might have been behind one of those masks. This must have been the second scouting mission that Simon Cowell sent him on, because the first one he came back after a week with four survival badges. (Boom! Boom!) I had had enough of this caterwauling noise going on, so leaving my backpack in its very comfortable seat, I went for a walk around the deck. I have always liked looking out to sea. Looking at the passing islands, watching diving sea birds hoping for breakfast. I even saw a couple of seals cavorting in the frothy wake of our vessel. As I watched intently I thought that I saw a shark with its fin out of the water, but it turned out to be an abandoned surf board bobbing along. I actually saw a human splashing around, seemingly out of control, looking to all intents and purposes like he was drowning. But then he gave an exaggerated wave at the ship so I thought that he must be alright. Probably on his holidays. I could hear that there was no letting up from the world of entertainment set next door, so I went back in. Roy Orbison was introducing the Suplemes tibute act, singing the famous ‘You can’t Hully Ruv,’ the one and only ‘Habibtones!’ I actually had thought that I had seen it all. Three Muslim women sharing one microphone singing Asian Motown. I wouldn’t mind but the Dianna Ross part of the triplets was wearing a bloody surgeons mask as she belted out the runaway hit. I wanted my money back from the prescription suicide pills! (I think that they are still under warranty.)

Not big enough for a helipad - so they painted a drone pad instead.

My next endeavour, and this time I was determined not to get in a mini bus, was to ride in a luxurious bus to Jakarta. The lofty charge of £3 ($3.75) was the heavy yolk around my neck, but when needs must. All was going well until the similar principle of trading on their vehicle applied. (Whatever happened to a bus service taking you from point A to point B with any other function other than transportation!) We stopped for half an hour at a market so that everyone could fulfil their individual need to buy sack loads of bread. Three, yes three,(I exaggerate not) different lots of entertainers boarded during this three hour marathon. A guitarist who sought clinical assistance. An evangelical ukulele player whose dreadlocks got caught up in the strings and had to be assisted by a kind Muslim lady, who then got one of the tassels on her own Habib, jammed somewhere near the second fret. Thirdly and much nearer the rain soaked city of Jakarta a duo boarded with their own battery powered amp, housing an extendible mike. I don’t think I ever want to listen to music again!

Sane people - fantastic!

Jakarta at night from Barts bar round the corner from me.

Position: 06°11'24” N 106°50'26”E – Miles completed: 13085

Location: Jakarta, Indonesia 22:50 - 9th February 2020 - Journey 45 days 21 hours

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