November 17th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

Typical street scene, Biak

My temper had cooled by the morning, tho’ I was still annoyed with The Runt.  We were all decided not to pay any attention to a visit to the police, but simply to leave.  We also decided to give young Linus the push at the first available opportunity.  First, tho’, farewells.  We took a picture of the family, + I gave them R3000 for their trouble.  Plus our tent.  We finally decided it was time for it to go, since it’s heavy, no longer sits nicely on my pack, since we disposed of the frame, + is likely to be of minimal use from now on.  It is nice to cover oneself for all eventualities, of course, but the pros have to be weighed against the cons.

The bus down to town dropped us outside the bank, + both Kay + I changed some money.  A bit of luck there, as we ran into an Aussie guy we’d met on the plane.  He was working on some sort of water supply project for the govt., + he too was flying out of Jayapura today.  He had a privately chartered bus, so offered us a ride out to the airport, so I explained this to Linus, gave him his bus-fare home, + said a not-so-fond farewell.  The money-changing took a long time, of course – tho’ David, the lift-giver, told us it’s improving all the time.  I foolishly only changed $100 tho’ – to save inconvenience, I certainly should have changed more.

Jayapura airport turned out to have a reasonably comfortable departure lounge, air- conditioned (tho’ that wasn’t really working – it was very hot) with a coffee bar – too expensive for us – + a video, showing first a selection of Western pop music, + then a pirated version of the Fats Waller musical, “Aint Misbehavin’”.  That was fun, tho’ it distracted me from my diary, still struggling to keep up, you see.  We had quite a wait – air travel is so very time-consuming – but the flight itself was short + very comfortable.  Our first experience of Asian airline food – a box of nasi goring, or fried rice.  Not, I’m afraid, much to my taste.

Said farewell to Kay in Biak, + having rec’d our bags, marched out of the airport quickly + decisively, thereby discouraging taxi-drivers + would-be guides.  That seems to be the message – even if you don’t know where you’re going, pretend as tho’ you do.  Otherwise, you’re likely to have rather too many helpers.  Our SE Asia on a Shoestring Guide (hereinafter known as Yellow Guide) was a help here, as it told us it was a 2 km walk to town, + that there was a losmen on the way.  This turned out to be very pleasant, with a room for the 2 of us for R6000, or £6.  We dumped our bags + had a cup of tea (revolting) then went into town.

It was now mid-afternoon, but things in Indonesia (except for the banks) seem to stay open very late.  We visited 2 shipping offices in town, neither of which could help us much, as they didn’t speak English.  However, Val was able to ascertain that there was a boat in at the moment, which was sailing tonight for Jayapura, then Jakarta.  So we went along to have a chat with the captain.  It was a big ship, but by flashing the word “captain” at everyone we encountered, we were soon directed to a small cabin up in the bridge area.  There were 2 people there – a young guy (the second officer) + a rather older one, sitting fiddling with a radio.  They were very civil, inviting us to sit down, but after an initial moment or 2 when it seemed they might consider taking us along, we were turned down, first because we had no docking (whatever that meant) then because they said they were going to Singapore.  We chatted for a while – mainly for ulterior motives, I’ll confess, to convionce them we really were wonderful people – but the suitable topics were soon exhausted, + the silences grew too long, so we made our farewells, + left.

We passed some time wandering around a couple of the markets, looking in the shops.  Many, may cries of “Ello meester” – we were quite an attraction, + it seems they don’t have too many white people passing thro’ Biak.  We stopped for a cold beer in one shop – quite pleasant – + then visited a warong, or food-stall.  Val had nothing – she is passing thro’ one of her weight-conscious periods – but I had a bowl of bakso, or noodle soup with meatballs.  It was very tasty, + would have been even better if I hadn’t doused it with just a little too much hot chili sauce.  This forced me to take advantage of the cold drinking water, not very sensible when it was, as we had already discovered, slimy-tasting.

We then strolled home, only losing our way once.  We are both as yet quite happy with this gentle introduction to Indonesia.  The language is a problem, it is true, but Val is getting better at that, + even I am managing to pick up the occasional phrase.  And people have been very friendly, even, on the whole, the world of officialdom.  Provided one has patience.  That must be my key word for Asia.  Patience.

No real need for the antagonism towards Linus; I suppose we were trying to be independent, and he interfered with that. We are growing – already – a little disillusioned with our island-hopping our way through the outer islands of Indonesia. Because we have just a day or two in each place, it gives us no opportunity to explore, having to stay near the airport. And, to be honest, niot all that much of onterest to see. The places we have seen so far have been very similar, pretty much shanty-towns, and as such, not so very different from each other, either in what we could see, or in the locals’reaction to us – curious novelties in their lives.

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