Back to that place, Bangkok, the transit centre. It felt strange being back here again. Like I was defying my travel rules, but I have realised my expectation of not flying on this trip is ruined now.
It was quite a funny arrival to this place, the scramble of the busy bus station, and arriving in Khao San at 5 in the morning, the streets reeking of puke and echoes of last night’s shenanigans. I must have been a little drunk from breathing in the air, as I stumbled unbalanced with my pack, and fell to the ground in a hopeless mess. Bleeding from the knee I walked the streets saying hello to the hangers on (mostly lady boys) having a cigarette and a chat with one, her sharing the tragedy of not picking up last night (this morning). I found a place to leave my pack for a few hours, and a park by the river to sleep the day away. And rested. Awaken by a police officer and a crazy woman in underpants with wiry hair the blocked out the sun, I had to move on, no sleeping here. It was time to get to the airport anyway, so I gathered my stuff and got out of that transit town.
Arriving in Jakarta, I started the customs line with a familiar guilty feeling, always horrified and scared that I have a random bud of weed in my bag, even though I KNOW I don’t, and succesfully made it to the exit. A huge smile awaited me, RIZALLLL was there, he had been waiting 6 hours because the last bus to the airport is at 7pm and I arrived 1am, he’d smoked 2 packs of cigarettes and gone a bit crazy thinking I wasn’t coming, but his patience preceded him. It was so good to see him again, the skype screen had been giving me disillusions as it sometimes does.
A warm hug, night of chatting and catch ups, eating; and sitting on a veranda, that looked over a small portion of what is Jakarta. The next day catching a train to Cirebon and a walk, bus, motor to Majalengka. It was great coming back to this area again, when you leave somewhere where you have made friends and family and return, defying all expectations, it feels great. It is strange at first, especially when you want to jump into conversation about what they have been doing and what you have been doing, and then you remember the language barrier.
We came back in time for Aruls wedding, and it was a fun event. Arul is an interesting character, ever trying to speak English through his shy shell. The wedding was beautiful full of great music, laughter and jokes. That’s one thing about this village, if they’re not making fun with someone or of someone, you know there’s something wrong. From calling people monkeys after doing a good deed, asking people to shower because they smell, or an answer to the asked too often term ‘mau ke mana’ (where you going) oh ‘to buy condoms’. And now that I can understand more of the Indonesian spoken here, I’ve often caught people out on their jokes. One for example is when PETA first came here to stay. After a night of cooking pasta and Salad at the Hujan Keruh studio we were sitting making wigs out of plastic string for a parade coming up, all the creative crew were talking about our cooking, its taste and strangeness. One of the men, Subita, known well for his acting, silliness and joking says, “I wouldn’t welcome the food, id welcome a kiss though!” all erupt with laughter, I follow, saying to Subita, “you’d welcome what?!!!!” And realising id understood what he’d said they trail on laughing with, “oh yes, we must remember to joke in sundanese now (the local dialect) as el can understand us.”
I was so happy that Peta was coming to meet up with me, however I was curious of how it would go, me Riz and Peet all travelling around together, if the dynamic of our friendship had changed, if we were different, or if she would even enjoy spending time in this area of the world. It’s different to your usual travelling, staying with the community cooking with the mums, staying up late drinking coffee and smoking and joking with the men. And the slowness of the general day to day style of the Indonesian culture, which involves a lot of sitting, talking, listening and smoking.
We stayed in Majalengka with a friend or Rizals named Fariz, staying in his house with his beautiful Mother and family. We wandered and sat and went to roof tile factories and to waterfalls. Watched them perform their hip hop skills and talked in circles. Peta and I got the belly sickness for a couple of days here too, and it was really fun playing tag team for the toilet, poo, spew, poo, spew, poo.
After staying a week here, we went to the village of Jatitujuh. Coming up was a festival, there was to be a march through the town with the children and various groups, campaigning about the rite to vote in the upcoming election. We stayed up late nights making masks and wigs, top hats and helmets from whatever we could find. We did workshops with local craftspeople making floor mats and tacky wedding gifts. And did an English class at a school where 200 students watched Peta sing a beautiful version of Cindarellas, “Dreams come true”
The festival day came and we stayed up late making television set head dresses and a giant angry bird, the morning was a crazy run around with excited children, wanting their faces painted, top hats decorated and photos taken. The march came and it was a stinking hot day, up the street for an hour and back, whacking instruments made from recycled materials and bamboo, and waving at the watchers. After was a concert in the community meeting area near the largest mosque in the area. Gegesek the local bamboo quartet played, as did Adeo from Bandung, Rizal, and Iman Fals.
Peet and I had little time just to ourselves; we were constantly in the company of ibu ibu, mothers, children or people wanting to take too many photos of us. But it was the same, it was like we’d never been apart that long. I feel like we have both changed, but it hasn’t changed the dynamic of the friendship, Peet has become more independent, interested and motivated. I’ve always been someone who seems to assess people, not in a bad way, but in an ‘im interested in peoples personality way’ like some people are in plants or animals or fashion or whatever. And when peet came, it kind of made me realise how much we had both grown up in this year. When I first saw her at the airport, it was almost like I had gone cross-eyed and I had to readjust my vision, she looked different, more tall or older or something, and then when we talked, her accent sounded unfamiliar (maybe because I haven’t been around aussies for a while) but the comfort and interest was still the same. It was good to have a friend to joke with, just to say stupid shit with all the time, to babble and to rant and to share stories with. One of the people that I most care for in this world.
|The wedding of Arul|
|Friend love Kijun and Arul|
|Little brother Embun|
|Jojo Maldi and I before the wedding celebration festival.|
|Riri and Dicka, the beautiful bubs of Hujan Keruh|
|The river studio, up high in the flood retention walls|
|A wet trip in the river where the boat almost sunk|
|The climb up from the studio, look at the wonderful cassava plantations.|
|DAFUNnest day ever at dafun park in Jakarta|
|Mas Wukir playing his bamboo invention, "bamboo wukir" at Bamboo nusantara world music festival, Jakarta|
|Gegesek playing at the "Bamboo Nusantara world music festival" Jakarta|
|learning how to make paper flowers|
|Sunset point Jatitujuh|
|Sad times in the back of pups truck|
|English class in Kadipaten|
|Rizals Auntie and Uncle|
|A few days of painting up a wall witht eh children at Sanggar Hujan Keruh|
|Eating Pasta and Salad mmm enak|
|The beautiful waterfall in Majalengka|
|Mask making and painting|
|Studio and learning centre at Pak Dadans and Ibu Opis|
|Excitement before parade|
|Off to the festival|
|Embuns legs painted up for the Angry bird costume|
|Four beautiful creative girls|
|5 beautiful creative girls|
|The march through the villages|
|Sponge Bob Square Pants|
|Music Tarling traditional|
|Bonil and Om Ketut playing the Gegesek, Bamboo stringed instruments|
|Rizal and his biggest fans, sarpoed and Arul hehehe|
|Mosque at sunset|