Treespotter certainly fired things up with his post on expats. I have almost bailed on that one as it seemed to be getting very personal and nasty. I was also having a lot trouble following the comment thread (although I do wonder who is the lemony guy? Is that me?.)
So today to put some personal myths to rest, I thought I would jot down some notes on what amazes me, intrigues me, astounds me (all those things that makes me love Indonesia) about Indonesia. I should qaulify that some of the items in the following list can induce a real love/hate thing depending on how your day is going:
Its bizarre, no matter what happens, how busy it is, the traffic is like a river finding its own level, it just somehow keeps moving along. Motor bikes will keep flowing around obsticles, trees, broken buses, footpathes etc. The tolerance displayed is amazing. If we tried jumping the line at home as is the done thing here, there would be gunfights and punch ups every 20 meters of the toll road.
No matter what the circumstances of the parents, it always seems that the kids are in uniform (normally white as well) neat, tidy and well presented. Don't see much of F U tshirts... studs thru the lip crap here.
For a westerner, it is simply amazing how the ties are kept and how far they reach. I remain an object of curiosity (pity) simply because I have not seen my sister for ten years. Babysitting here is NEVER a problem always someone around.
Ok, I will tread carefully (today only). I have met one Islamic Girl who simply amazed me (I am sure there are others) she not only "talked the talk, but walked the talk" Literally could not touch her (not a relative) but she never had a mean word about anyone (of any faith or failing). Most impressive to me was her complete and utter belief in her faith. I must admit I envied her peace, contentment and strength of conviction (it would never work for me, I am way to cynical). At the same time she represented to me the positive side of Islam as opposed to the ....
Environment.. (under severe threat)
Tigers, Apes, Jungle, Volcanos, some of the best diving in the world...amazing but disappearing.
The Street Venders..
These guys and women are the best. I can sit outside my house. The "Jamu" lady will come with a boxes of drinks (don't look at it)on her back. Drinks and potions that can make me "strong" hard????(true), skinny, fat, grow my hair (I ain't bald) etc etc..Five minutes later, the Vegitable guy comes on his motor bike and about 50% of the stuff he sells, I have no idea what it is! Or stranger yet, the vender outside the nightclub selling Viagra (?) Condoms (?) or would you believe it.... a Tie?
Beer is cheap, service is wonderful and you never ever open your own stubbie (bottle). A never ending passing parade of pretty girls, strange expats all who have a story, Indonesian guys who vary from the hardened regular to the eyes agoog "this is what expats do all day" type. I should add this drinking reputation can be unfortunate as the vast marjority of expats don't spend every dime drinking, most have families, loves and lifes like everyone else.
The Airlines... (QANTAS YOU SUCK)
Scary, fun, unpredictable but happy all QANTAS/BA staff should take lessons. Catch any plane with a "FLY IS CHEAP" logo and you know it will be an adventure.
Exotic, friendly, industrious, caring and slightly mystic (make that very mystic, more than one unsuspecting chap has lost his way). You have heard of the House of the Rising Sun,well every bar is like that here.
The Traditions (also under threat)
You could travel this country, for your whole life and you would still only see just the surface ripples.
To finish off, what I love most about Indonesia is its "rawness" . Australia and its ilk for all their crys of freedom and democracy are over regulated, over taxed, "nanny states" with blind, overbearing buearcrats infesting and sucking the blood out the populace like a bad case of gut worms. Not happy with giving up smoking themselves then "do-gooders" in their never ending search for relvance resort to ensuring no one else can have a puff. You want to have kids out of wedlock, fill ya boots the state (read taxpayer) will pay for them. Insult me and I sue you, punch me and the police will arrest you. Live in so much imagined fear that the airlines won't even give you a butter knife....sad sad places these days.
Now in Indonesia, the government has very little impact on the ordinary guy in the street, it exists only for a chosen few. The rest live, breath and reproduce on their own wits and cunning. Have a problem..calling the Police, Lawyer, Legal Aid is not an option, they sort things out the traditional way. You break in my house, I will deal with it personally. Have traffic issue and abuse the other driver better be prepared to back it up because the police won't come and save your arse when it gets out of control .
Yes, it is still man's world here. PC is virtually unheard of. The kind of world you make for your family here depends on the kind of man you are, its not goverment regulated its up to you....
And I may ask what the hell is wrong with that???..absolutely nothing in my book!!
Am I going to keep at those things that do give me the Sh@ts here ..you betcha