Monday, June 24, 2013

Riots, Haze and Fun Times

I'm back home, after finally completed my first business assignment in my newly minted position. My butt was overheated from sticking to the office chair for too long, itching to lift off.  Jakarta was the city, not my favourite city but was glad to be going somewhere, and close enough to have my visitor drop by.

Notoriously famous for its traffic, day in day out, we experienced it going to and back from the factory.  A 20min journey takes 1H in traffic. I don't mind distance, but I fucking hate being stuck in traffic not knowing what's ahead and why. I might have been rusty in operational audits, but just like diving, it comes back slowly and surely as the days go by.  People were nice and cooperative, which for sure made the whole process much more enjoyable.  

The first week went by, pretty boring and standard stuff. Waiting for the weekend which was supposed to bring fun with a visitor coming, but as fate would have it, it was reduced down to a weekend of pretty much just watching movies and sitcoms in my hotel room alone.  Of course, I tried to force myself to sleep and catch up on sleep, but as always, sleep eludes me. Which is annoying! I'm away from home, no parents in sight, in an air-conditioned room with a big bed, and yet I still can't sleep.  Oh well, I figured Kimiko is my only solution but not happening over the weekend.

Just when I thought the week is not getting any more interesting, we were told there was a demonstration in the factory area, all roads were closed and we were advised not to go to work! Woohoo! No Monday Blues then! Yup, as fate would have it yet again, Indonesia decided to create some noise to strike against fuel price increase and coupled with our dear neighbour factory's dispute with workers, the union came out full force on Monday, blocking our way to work.  It all sounded so bloody exciting and interesting, and I could only get pictures sent in from my fellow auditee stuck in the factory showing the crowd gathered outside.  And so it was, another day spent in my hotel room, obviously working as well!

And just on the exact same day, the country I'm stationed in gave a nice present to the country I'm from!  Suddenly everywhere on Facebook, every single post on Facebook, by every single Friend from Singapore on Facebook was about just one topic - HAZE!  I never thought I would hear that word again, not when there was nothing mentioned last year and for quite some time.  As if on que with the demonstration, the world decided one demonstration was not enough, we need more news to show the world who we are!  So it was that HAZE index rose day after day after day, quite unlike the ST index.  And there I was, staying in Indonesia, breathing in fresh air and looking into clear blue skies, while my country mates suffer in the haze.  I did give a little smirk, sorry for being insensitive, but the irony of it was not lost on me.  It is just a little funny that the clean and green city was not as clean and green at that moment.  And so it was, that facebook became so boring for 5 days.  No surprising news about someone getting married out of the blue, so someone getting pregnant suddenly.  Because all I read about was Haze, Haze and more Haze.  But you know, Singapore has nothing much going in terms of exciting news, so I guess Haze is a topic that gets all citizens riled up. That's not often, which is good in a way.  But when it happens, everyone is talking about it.

Then I started to realize, everytime something really catastrophic happened in Singapore, I seem to be distinctly out of the picture!  The time when the MRT broke down nation-wide - Not in Singapore.  The time when massive flooding occurred in lots of area of Singapore - Not in Singapore.  This time the terrible Haze - Not in Singapore (as yet).  Count myself lucky to read about the misfortunates and not witness them.  And I shall not gloat about it because I do not wish to jinx it!

There were times of uncertainty in the factory, not knowing if the workers will come out again, and we were herded out of the factory early on some days to avoid being caught in any unfortunate incidents.  I tried to snap a picture of the small crowd gathered next door on Wednesday but my auditee kept advising against it.  Even my manager.  So with a security guard escorting me, I stood like 200m away from the real action, and didn't even had a good view of the crowd.  Still at least I was allowed to look for like 10sec.  Then another thought came to me - I was more excited about the fact that there was a demonstration than the fact that I need to work!  Go figure!

And then, I had a great second week in Jakarta.  The city sucks, still sucks.  Terrible traffic, and just didn't attract me much.  Just like Manila is to me.  Well, maybe Manila is slightly better than Jakarta, but still not my favourite cities. But I had fun towards the end of my trip.  The intrepid explorer from Lostbuanbajo came, and it was nice to have someone to explore the city with, have fun and to meet again! The drunken Russian couldn't make it in time though, could have been explosive and Legen-wait for it-dary if the 3 of us got together.  I can only think of one thing - ARAK. Oh and maybe just getting high :) But I know you got my virtual hug back in Bali.  It took the domestic flight from Jakarta and was delivered safely (what I was told).  If not, put a rain check on it.

If not for intrepid explorer, I would have been banned from taking the Trans Jakarta bus or any form of transport that is NOT the Blue Bird taxi.  And I have learnt not to tell/ask for suggestions from my client or colleagues because the only answer I will get is "NO, you cannot".  Fine.  A note on Trans Jakarta bus service.  I was impressed!  They are cool!  In a city like Jakarta, this bus system is like the Apple of the computer/IT world!  Air-conditioned, nicely maintained buses that run pretty often enough along selected routes, in dedicated lanes (means only the buses are allowed).  Good for escaping the traffic! And the network is pretty impressive too!  Not to mention for a price of IDR3,500, you get to travel the entire network as long as you do not exit the gantry!  Many of the main tourists spots or city centers are connected by the buses.  It is not that difficult to navigate once you get the map, but of cos the stations are not named after the landmark or specific locations, so you have to ask for the nearest stations.  Which may not always be true, given how different Indonesians give different answers.  But way cool!  A note - the section of the bus from the driver to the middle cabin is designated for women only! So no men allowed to sit in that section.  Which apparently, we found out too late.  Yup that was the cause for the pointing, staring and mumblings for all the aunties on board.    Yes, sexual harassment apparently is a major concern - for both the men and women probably.

Just when it couldn't get any better, on our last day, the factory closed as there was a planned demonstration of 3,000 protestors in the area.  I had hoped for the demonstration to come out more often during the week so I can skip going to the factory, but they decided Friday is the day they like best!  So we had a meeting in a cafe near our hotel.  But luckily that did not hinder our journey to the airport. Just when we were about to head home, the fucking PSI jumped to 400 that day.  And when I got off the airport, the second I stepped into the world's best airport, the stench hit me hard!  Even the world's best airport couldn't do anything.  And I thought to myself - Fuck, should have gone to Bali instead.  But unfortunately, Bali and Flores have to wait.  But I'll go back.  Hopefully soon enough.  I need my dose of the sea. Ah, maybe Bali not so soon.  But Flores maybe, for my rescue.

And of course, I remembered I had to come back for my powerboat course! Which I just completed.  2 day of intense theory lesson (which was as dry as paper), and a fun practical day out in the sea!  That was fun! The instructor gave us each a minute to speed across the water at full speed and the rush of air and smell of the sea was exhilarating!  And now, I have been certified as having completed my course.  Next step - take the fucking theory which only has a 50% passing rate, and you have to get 26 our of 30 questions correct!  Like the instructor said - Singapore has the highest criteria in the world because we always want to be number 1.  Yea right.  Damn it!  I now get 1 month to study for my theory.  So I need to start speaking marine.  No time to slack, have to get it right.  Practical comes after I tackle my theory.  Say, I haven't studied for years!  I think I can restart my brain.  Hopefully. After theory comes practical and I will become a certified skipper! When I get a boat, it will have a sundeck.  There is naked beach, and there is naked sundeck.  On my sundeck, it will be nude-tanning only.  Only Hunks Need Apply, Strict Conditions Apply.  Bikini babes are To Be Considered only.

Lo and behold, I am fucking tired again after I came back.  Alas, the week of good sleep was only temporary.  Solutions, Solutions, Solutions.  Maybe I do need Kimiko.  

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