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Still Stuck in Sick Street


Whole days passed in Yogya without suitable redemption, mustering only sufficient energy for a drudgery of nonetheless satisfying hours of work on the net, and descent into pain numbing bottles of Bintang. I pained further at the now tangible supreme outlying attractions of the temple complexes of Borobudur and Prambanan, yet the hours could not roll by fast enough so that I might pop another antibiotic in the impatient hope of alleviation. The other supposed distractions of Yogya city untypically failed to stir me, the old "Kraton" fortified enclaves of the local Sultanate proving uninspiring in my compromised state, and I had twice walked past the Army Museum, normally a draw card I would have savoured, without finding the impetus to explore it. I had even failed to appreciate that in my enforced wanderings out to the hospital, I had foregone the opportunity of checking out the nearby historical home of 19th century national hero Diponegoro. It was symptomatic of symptoms which afforded little further consideration. Though Borobudur especially was a long anticipated dream, my sole focus now in spite of obvious disappointment was to get by hook or by crook up to northern city Semarang and connect with my flight to Borneo. Java was doomed to become a wash out but I wasnt going to kill myself over it, nature seemed to be doing a fine job of that herself. More nights of uncharacteristic insomnia brought little relief and it was all I could do to enforce upon myself a necessary short stroll out in search of bits and bobs such as toothpaste, shaving gel, a diary, a pen, washing powder, all requiring careful consideration since my spartan lifestyle with little inbuilt redundancy meant that such elusive seemingly unimportant acceutriments had to be up to the demanding job yet suitably lightweight and compact. In that puirsuit, a super-rare excellent English language bookshop I discovered was a tremendous bonus, offering either of 2 titles pertinent to my trip I had long yearned for yet failed to trace, even if the Bahasa Indonesia tutorials were dissatisfactory and overpriced. Devoid of energy to endure anything further, I spent a full 7 hours on the net that day, a quiet compenstaion in whittling my diary backlog down substantially, also finding the time to pay suitable homage to distant neglected friends.

At the expense of displaying overt snobbery, that night (a party Friday) served to demonstrate in its kicking bar clientelle an affirmation that I had inadvertantly succumbed to a nauseating scene of "mainstream" travellers, who raped the world of its wonders with convenient flight sectors in between. It had been palpable in the number of locals who complimented me on my still very rudimentary Bahasa that most itinerants were obviously too busy having "the time of their lives" to bother, and I felt out of place amongst people who could happily wing it home saying they had seen the world, failing to understand that in the giant game of joining the dots, the joins surely mattered at least as much. There was a growing global culture of "cherrypickers", people shy of tasting the drudgery of the sponge cake underneath, and yet I knew very well from experience that sometimes a bite might reveal an unexpected wonder in jam or cream which made it all the more amazing. Could one visit Edinburgh Castle for example and say they had seen Scotland, understood it? I thought I could indulge myself enough in asserting that experience had to be hard won and if it was fun then that surely simply qualified the degree of its superficiality.

Sure of my convictions, my prolonged sojourn in Yogya had also allowed me contemplation of a fear, a fear that I had come so far that I might now struggle to re-adapt to the mediocrity of life in an "Auld Grey Toun", where for example the drudgery of postal delivery was supposedly a desirable vocation. I wondered if I could still do that, and yet I perceived that I had to. I could still plainly recall the endearing, enduring effects a year in Australia had had on me, rendering me a positivity which had turned my life forever in a brighter direction. Asia had been much harder, and yet had undoubtedly blessed me with such insight that I had to wonder if I could ever live without such a challenge again, such an opportunity. You get out what you put in so they say, no pain, no gain. I had put in more than most, and the pain? Yes, I had felt it. But what a gain!

Back home, I also had to wonder how I would be perceived and see others. Whilst travelling I had met more than a few who by their own admission struggled to get on my level, most palpably demonstrated in Western women's inability to imagine that I honestly wasnt so desperate to fuck them, and the guys failed to understand that too. It had always been a big enough problem hitherto. In moments of reflection I imagined myself back at home, assuming the same ignominious postures in the same old cavalier bars. It made me afraid that I had inadvertantly set myself up for an enduring future of disappointment, as if I hadnt had enough already. I found the strength to laugh at the perversity.

The super-prevalent Becak parasites of Yogya finally submitted the nail on the head by extolling a very uncharacteristically partisan "Transport, woman, make love". It was the same disingratiating holler as the much more succinct "Tuk tuk boom boom" of Bangkok, yet redeemed by a naivety symptomatic of the propensity of Indonesian people to be endearing even in sin. I felt pity for the sorry desperate fuckers, and a little for myself.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Indonesia

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