December 28th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

For once, I was the first up.  Yet I couldn’t wash because Val had the towel with her. Such are the perils of dorm existence when one only has one towel, one toothbrush, etc.  Ah me.  Eventually, tho’, she emerged, we got ready, + headed off to the immigration office, tho’ without any more enthusiasm than last night.  For my part, there was rather less – my cold had taken a distinct turn for the worse, + I would cheerfully have boarded a plane + flown to Pontianak, if it would have made my life easier.  But a sense of duty propelled us at least to try this alternative.  We walked to the immigration office with just a minor navigational hiccup (it was the Guide’s fault) but it wasn’t to be as simple as that.  They directed us to another office.  This too was within walking distance, so on we plodded, but the heat, fumes, + my running nose made me feel quite appalling.

When we arrived, + had been directed to the correct office, the first thing that happened was that we were charged Rp300 each for the forms to apply for the extension.  There was some improvement here, since we’d had to cough up 10 times that amount in Denpasar, but we still didn’t want to get caught if we could help it.  So Val (I had surrendered to my cold + slumped on a bench) marched off to find someone to explain the likelihood of lour receiving it.  Our emotional reaction had almost been to march off at the first mention of money, but that would have been a sulk.  Rationally we felt obliged to give it a crack.  And Val seemed to have some success.  A respectably high official told her, so far as she could tell, that we shouldn’t have any problem, but we would still have to pay the Rp 600.  So we did, rec’d our forms, + followed the man to his office, where we filled them out.  (or to be strictly accurate, Val filled out mine as well, + I signed it.)  But did we expect that to be it?  We handed our forms over, our man took them.  Tomorrow, he said.  No, today wasn’t possible.  But we’d have our extension from them tomorrow?  No, we would receive a letter from them which we would take to the other office.  And they’d give us our stamp?  Of course.

There was nothing more we could do there, so the next stop was seeing Harry – we did stop at Sarinah’s to buy a litre of milk on the way.)  We caught a bus down to Kota, the old Dutch part of town, + then walked to the Pasar Ikan, the fish market – this was where all the Makassar schooners are moored.  (Did I mention that Harry’s boat is a Makassar schooner?  It is.)  We managed tho’ to get lost in the market itself.  It’s a quite amazing place, almost Dickensian, + a positive warren, with narrow winding lanes, alleys leading off them.  Picturesque, + incredibly squalid.  At one stage we were quite close to the schooners, tho’ there was a hefty stretch of water between us, but, ignoring the calls of the guys with their sampans, or flat-bottomed canoes, we kept wandering, + were led further + further astray.  Eventually, we surrendered to the inevitable, + caught a sampan across, paying twice the official rate (as we later discovered.)  Harry was busily loading the boat, so we didn’t stay long, just gave him the message that it looked good so far as we could tell, that we’d see him tomorrow, then left.

The loaders had a particularly heavy load, we noticed, so as we left I took a quick look at one of the boxes to see what it was these guys were half-killing themselves for, walking up a steep + narrow gangplank with 2 enormous boxes balanced on their shoulders.  Licorice caramels.

A bus back to Jl. Jaksa, timed perfectly to get caught in a torrential downpour during the walk from the bus-stop.  We would have sheltered but were pushing it for time as it was.  We hurriedly packed just one bag, + left the other in the care of someone staying there that we’d met before – we were intending to stay the night at P + J’s.  Donned our capes, as it was still peeing down, + clutching my faithful toilet roll to stem the flood from my nose, off we went.  Had to run to catch the bus, but otherwise the journey, way down to the southern suburbs, was a piece of cake.  We took a helocak from where we got off the bus right to their hotel – Julie has only just begun work, so they’re waiting to move into a flat.  Julie too has a cold – is that where I got it from? – but nonetheless it was a fine evening.  It’s so pleasant to spend some time normally for once, chatting with friends, even new friends.  And we didn’t swap travel notes.  Plus there were some bonuses.  A hot bath when we arrived was a big one.  And free dinner – they just signed the bill, Julie’s company pays.

After dinner (only so-so, I’d say) we had our coffee on the veranda – that was just fine.  And later, after Julie had retired, the 3 of us went for a walk over to the big market near them.  It was a longer walk than I’d anticipated, + obviously later than we thought as well, since the place was virtually shut, but I’m glad we did it.  Some great images – a rat running thro’ a deserted market, an Indonesian guy giving an absolutely perfect rendition of a Bob Dylan song – I thought it was a record of the man himself – dark + empty suburban streets.  Then home to sleep on the floor, if the Hotel Prapancha in suburban Jakarta can be considered home.

Just adding another brick of possibility to the greater edifice of us leaving on a Makassar schooner, but otherwise the usual sort of difficulties with bureaucracy, with navigating our way round the city.

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