Friday, March 30, 2007

more airport drama

I promised on the myspace that there would be more airports, but domestic Indonesian flights are pretty cool, They are set up like bus terminals (in capitalist counties that have more than just Greyhound that is) with each of the airlines having a counter where you can buy tickets minutes before the plane leaves. In lieu of security, they make everyone pay a departure fee and everything is very efficient and stress free. Plus there is the sexy dying factor. Planes crash in Indo all the time, I heard 75 in the last 5 years. It’s only about one a month, but news from one crash carries on for a few weeks and by then a new one has happened so there are always grieving widows and officials promising to investigate this tragic instance. I’m hereby declaring Indonesia the country with the best news. ‘Merica, Brasil, and Colombia all have plenty of folks killing each other and kids accidentally getting shot, but here there are always earthquakes, volcanoes, planes crashing, boats sinking, floods, and that mysterious underground mud that is eating entire cities. The weather here is awesomely destructive, and poor building standards combined with lack of oversight contribute to the devastation.

Sumatra is a big, big place and with only a few days left on my non-extendable tourist visa, I had to hurry. Tried to get some corruption in my passport, but dude at immigration was furious I had an airtight visa he couldn’t fix with a bribe. Coulda gotten a doctor’s not saying I was unfit to travel (that’s what former South American dictators do when they want to avoid extradition), but that seemed like too much effort. A plane ride would hurt the budget a bit, but it seemed like the right thing to do. I had an idea what I wanted to pay and an agency in town offered me the price for one of the shadier airlines. Wasn’t sure I’d make it to the airport in time for the departure though, so I passed. Got to the airport at 12:45 and started shopping. One of the first places had a 3:45 flight for a little more than I wanted to pay. If I have to haggle with people and navigate a new city in a language I don’t understand I prefer it not to be dark outside. As this plane wouldn’t arrive in time for me to see, I asked a few other places. Some were already sold out, some were too expensive, and some had too high of a death rate. Having satisfied my bargain hunting instincts, I went back ready to drop several days food and lodging expenses on a plane ticket.

“Padang, Pool”
No, no, no, no, how can it be full? I was in here only 15-20 minutes ago. This sucks. I did another lap, but there was nothing that afternoon or the next day for less than a ridiculous amount of money. Oh well, suppose a 38 hour bus/ferry/bus ride will be more interesting anyways.

Being Famous

Now I’ll admit that I’ve been a jerk a few times and mistook an innocent “Hello Mister” from someone desiring a reciprocal “Hello” and a smile for the attention getting “Hello Mister” from a taut who wants my money. Make eye contact with one of these dudes and they might follow you for half a block. The worst when the scent of blood is in the air and a whole gang of the vultures descend. Tremendous split second judgment is needed to differentiate between the “excuse me” of a high school kid whose buddies nominated him to be the one to ask if I’ll take a picture with them and the “excuse me” from someone attempting to strike up a conversation in broken English in hopes that I will then be more likely to purchase some of their overpriced tourist crap.

Occasionally I ignore and once in a while the “I know you ain’t thinking ‘bout robbing me” instinct kicks in and I aggressively eye somebody, but usually I’m pretty good at taking the imitative and providing a smile and a head nod of acknowledgement to whoever is staring at me. People have every right to ogle exotic things that insert themselves into their dialy lives. I blogged more extensively about this on the myspace a few weeks ago, but basically if a midget, a naked lady, or an elephant is walking down your street it is human nature to gawk at this curiosity. I am such a curiosity to many in Indonesia, and am appropriately scrutinized. By breaking the fourth wall and interacting, the starer’s role changes from that of observer to participant. Eyes widen and stoic faces erupt into smiles as a breakthrough cross cultural connection is made. Score one for team globalization. Getting pretty good with working class folk, loiters, and the elderly, but my bread and butter demographics remain children and adolescent girls. I am not yet the 21st century’s Fred Rogers, but I’m good with kids and have broadened the horizons of many as iconic individuals did for me when I was a wee lad. Being a teen icon is my forte though. A skill honed over many hours working in a Korean middle school, I have made young women’s hearts skip beats on several continents. For some reason, it is even more of an ego trip making chicks in headscarves swoon. It’s like I’m some kinda extra level of forbidden and the repression makes having a crush on unattainable dream man all the more intense.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Balinese Culture

Being the cultural guy that I am, I attended "The Best of Classical Dance of Bali." There were guys playing xylophone-types things and then a dancer came out. She did lots of stop and jerk movements, especially with her head and fingers. She would also do this crazy owl thing with her eyes. That was my favorite part. Then two of her friends came out. One of them was pretty cute, but they were wearing lots of clothes. In Sydney there was this Indian restaurant that would show Bollywood music videos. Now them's my kinda dancing Hindu women. Maybe if these Bali dancing chicks accumulate enough karma points they can get reincarnated as one of them. The girls left, and next this dragon came out. He danced around for a while, but not like Chinese New Year's Dragons. He was more of the move-your-head-up-and-down school of dragon dancing. Then this Planet of the Apes guy came out. He would taught the dragon and get him all riled up. I wanted the dragon to eat him, but Dr Zeaus was too elusive. After the dragon left these 4 kings came out. They danced around for awhile and then some super king maharajah guy came out. He wasn't as cool or as well dressed as the kings, but they all heeded his authority. Then the super king maharajah guy's wife came out. She started doing this sexy dance and – wait. Is that a dude? BOOOOO!!!!!! I hate transvestites, even if they are a part of The Great Mahabharata Epic. The transvestite finally left, and fortunately a whole bunch of dancing girls came out. They weren't scantily clad, but at least they were women and not mustachioed men in a dress. The girls danced for a while and then the transvestite cam back out. BOOOOOO!!!!!! BOOOOOOOO!!!!! He danced and the girls all watched respectfully.

I was starting to not like the show when out came the comic relief. These guys were hilarious, especially their leader. They were like pirates or monkeys or something. They were goofing around and having fun until these two demon guys came out. They subjected the pirate monkeys and were really mean. My buddies revolted and plotted numerous coup attempts, but the demons foiled all their wily schemes. Eventually the demons started to pray and fell into a deep trance. That's when the dancing girls came back out. The three pirate monkeys left with the 6 yellow girls (YEAH!!!!!) while the pink girl stayed behind. She woke up the demons, who weren't at all upset to see their pirate monkeys gone. They were much more interested in the pink girl. Unfortunately, neither was willing to share and a huge fight broke out. During the melee, the pink girl slipped out, again confirming Russel Crowe's theory from the Beautiful Mind movie that if you go for a backup dancer everyone goes home happy whereas if multiple people try for the Alpha female no one gets her. Worked for the pirate monkeys. Kevin Federline was a backup dancer and look at him. Some backup dancer was married to Jennifer Lopez too.

Anyway, one demon kills the other and then this ghost comes out. I woulda put money on the demon, but I guess the ghost had special powers. He killed the demon and then the dragon came back out. The ghost tried to fight him, but was no match. The dragon was whopping up on the ghost then suddenly they stopped fighting and stood next to each other. Then the dancing girls and the pirate monkeys and the kings and everybody came out and took a bow.

Even though it would mean nearly doubling my daily expenditures, I might shell out the $5.50 and see another show tomorrow. This time I'ma ask for one with no transvestites

. . .

the next day it was monsooning and the jungle hut where I was staying was too far without a boat. The day after I went and saw a fire dance one. No music, just a bunch of guys chanting. I loved it when they would start the kecak. Especially the fat guy. He would jiggle everywhere. I couldn't get enough of him. Just so no one accuses me of being culturally insensitive, check out their overview and tell me if it is any less rambling or more sensical than my description of the other performance.