December 22nd 1983

posted in: The way back | 1

Val at work on her batik

I intended to go to Prambanan, a huge Hindu temple, today, but somehow managed to get waylaid.  Val went off to her batik before I was up + about, so I breakfasted alone at a restaurant on Malloboro, the chief attraction there being that they serve fresh milk.  Regrettably, they also serve sweet bread, the usual Indonesian bread, + that’s something I have absolutely no stomach for, so my toast was quite wrecked.  On the way back to the losmen I spotted a shoemaker at work on a small stool among the stalls lining the street, so I rushed back + brought out my Australian boots for him to look at.  They are in sore need of repair – their constant soakings on the Kokoda trail + since have rotted the thread + weakened the glue, so that the soles + uppers are in imminent danger of coming adrift from each other.  I wasn’t at all sure repair was possible, but the guy seemed to reckon he could manage it, + tho’ his price was a little high, I did want them mended if possible, so after he’d reduced his fee by a token amount to mollify me, I set him to work.  An hour, he reckoned, so I thought I’d better stay around the general area at least.  Otherwise, he might reckon making more money by selling them than returning them to me.   I wasn’t all that impressed by the job he’d done when I collected them tho’.  He had sewn them all the way round the perimeter, but he’d used such enormous stitches, I couldn’t see them lasting.

The morning was pretty well advanced by now, + another scorcher, so I abandoned plans of Prambanan.  Instead, I strolled over to the town swimming pool, but once again an Indonesian pool let me down – it had just shut for lunch, + wouldn’t be open for another 2 hours, too long a time to wait.  It wasn’t a completely wasted trip tho’ – the main telephone office was also in the area, so I went in there to make some preliminary enquiries, preparatory to our traditional Christmas call home.  Mind you, even obtaining information was a huge task, so heaven only knows what actually making a call will be like.  They were undergoing a major building renovation project, the operators were separated from one by a thick glass screen, the place was very busy, + it seemed to be under the flightpath for Yogya airport.  The good news was that the place was open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.  The bad that a call home would be devilishly expensive – Rp20,000 plus.

For the rest of the day, I as good as did nothing, except laze around, talk to a few people, + drink cold drinks.  Which sounds a lot better than it is.  At idle times like this, I wonder why I’m travelling at all.  I am, after all, 30, + perhaps it’s about time I found a real occupation (in the broadest meaning of the word.)  Val has one at the moment: her batik.  She has already finished one painting, + begun another.  This will cost another Rp3000, but she thinks it’s worth it.  And I agree.

In the evening, we chatted once again with An An, the English student from last night.  In fact, as well as being a student he is also a teacher, + had brought 3 of his pupils up with him from West Java.  Presumably, they have more opportunity to practise their English in Yogya than back home.

I am fairly certain that I indulged in two rather odd conversations with one of the students… or possibly the teacher.  First off was a competition to include the most consecutive uses of the word “that” in a sentence.  And then a debate, about the relative qualities of rice and potatoes.  He assured me that rice was far more versatile; I was equally adamant that this was far from the case.  A bit silly really, but I have remembered it to this day.

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