Saturday, May 26, 2007


A typical scene on Friday night for me includes an argument about where to go, pros and cons are weighed, other alternatives are brought up, but generally discussions end with the consensus that Singapore's boring and there's nothing to do.

On a Friday night in Jakarta, only a fool would be at a loss of where to go.

In the last 48 hours (less actually, since I arrived mid-afternoon on Thurs), I've realised that this city is crazy. Of course it also required extremely thick-skinned behaviour on my part, and I am not exaggerating when I say that i'm solely dependent on the kindness of strangers this trip.

So there was a midnight bike ride through the highways and streets with a member of the hotel staff that had agreed to bring me on a tour after he knocked off his shift at midnight. We streaked past Blok M, something like Tanjong Pagar bar area gone mad, and the yuppified Kemang area. Then there was the Kramat Jati wholesales market at 2 am in the morning, which I would have not been prepared for if i had not already been to Kawan Bazaar in Dhaka.

I met mostly expats yesterday, during my tour to a couple of bars with the Dutch man who owns them. Lots of oil and gas players, teachers from international school and various others.

There was a man from Nashville, a pot-bellied, pig-faced man with 20-year-old twin daughters back home, an oil and gas engineer who drank his double shot whisky and grabbed waitresses hands and waists, making the young girls squeal. He took out a thick wad of 100,000 Rupiah notes and I started to take photos. He said, "Wait, I'll give you something to shoot."

And he reached into his pocket and brought out another wad of money, a rolled-up stack of US hundred-dollar bills, and began peeling them off in slow motion and I just kept shooting. He threw one on the table, and told his waitress-darlings to go "spilt it amongst themselves".

"Men are animals," said the Dutch bar. I couldn't agree more.

A song came on in the bar, some woman singing about what the meaning of love is.

"I used to love this song. What is love?" he said. "Now I don't give a fuck."