Argh... Due to computer issues, like my power supply breaking on me and then not being in a place with internet, this is somewhat delayed! Never-the-less, here we go!
Yes, I am now 30.. I know how to say this number in far too many languages now and each one sounds no better than the last! I'm not all that bothered by it though and I actually think it's going to be a fine decade. I have most of what I wanted already in the bag and 4 years ago the last thing was to have this flying thing in place before the tens and units turned over together.. Tick.
So then, the last day of my 20's was one to remember.. I met my friend Martin at the bottom of his Air Asia flight from KL where I was aware that he had spent the night on a park bench. I was dressed in full uniform, to allow me access airside, and this seemed to put the whole of my life into perspective for an instance. The grin as he walked down the stairs was a classic. After getting through security and finally into the wide open mess of Indonesia I treated him to a motorbike ride back to my apartment. The bag was placed in-between us and off we went! Lot's to catch up with and some of it couldn't wait until we arrived back, but I remember my first day in this country and could hear lots of the same words coming from Martin that came from mine at the start! A quick change, a short dip in the pool and then a crazy trip around Medan on said scooter was next in line before getting a couple of hours kip prior to sampling Medans finest/only bars! The same words were being muttered throughout the grand tour of Medan and the general disbelief that 99% of people don't get killed daily was a very similar conversation that we regularly have here.
So I was aware of the jet lag and travel time that had been suffered and hence was happy to let him take a take a few hours out to regenerate. Mr Clinton on the other hand had a trick up his sleeve and whilst he tried not to give too much away, the logistics of what was about to happen were too much not to reveal. I was in a dazed state following a short nap myself, and no sooner had he opened his mouth to say we were heading to the airport for some odd reason, in my half awaken state, I was physically accosted by the global travel master Jonathan Harris! He and his girlfriend/my friend Frida had decided that they too would stop on by! ha ha.. This changed everything! There I was, 6 hours away from turning 30 and 8,000 miles away from home with 3 of my friends randomly being in the same room as me! We have a saying that often springs up between us, made famous by Mr Lionel Ritchie.. 'Never too much'. This was verging on it being 'way too much!' After the initial shock and excitement died down a tad I was informed that a few others were desperate to head out to this far land too, but money/timing/work and the usual life problems got in the way. Despite this, I was happy and understood! (Losers!)
Another dip in the pool followed before it was decided that a beer was in order! We first went to a local Indonesian food place and sampled some hot, hot, chili infused food!
The night was generally spent catching up and playing pool before it hit midnight and there it was, my 30th birthday. Far too much crazy stuff happened for me to list it all but generally it included things like riding Becaks (Motobike Rikshaws to you and me), dodging through traffic and playing hide and seek in the bar.. Long story, but Frida will know she was well and truely done that night!
So my birthday day was spent with a gentle wander around Medan taking in all it's wonderful (!) sights. It was coming close to 35 degrees but still we decided to be nearly the only ones on foot.. (Indonesians generally don't do the whole walking thing) I flagged down the local transport, found a Durian stall on the side of a road, walked down a really, really poor street where people looked as if they had never seen a white guy and then to top it all off went to a spa-centre with Martin.. (Oh, we didn't eat the bats!)
This was the great bit of the day. Chilling out in a luxury gym-come-spa place where I was never without a fresh towel, pair of pool slippers or cooling flannel! Weird to have so many people tending to your every needs, I'm not used to it. We had a massage and then met up back with the others plus a few of my friends from the company for a $10 all you can drink bar.. More madness continued afterwards where we ended up singing, dancing on stage, off stage and invading a conference centre..! All good fun.
The next two days were the best by far. I had organised for us to spend a day trekking in a nearby rainforest, camp over night and then hike a bit more before rafting down a river. And all of this was made even more tempting as the forest is full of wild Orangutans. Trekking was really hard work as there was not a defined path so to speak, just more like a gap in the trees and the occasional tree root abseiling challenge. All good though. Our guides were pretty good and managed to spot in the middle of the jungle a very ginger looking thing, which when came out from behind some leaves was a full-blown, wild Orangutan, with baby in arms! Nuts!
We spent ages just watching her, and being watched by here which was all very surreal. Over the course of the two days we probably encountered 8 of them - one of which had just given birth the day before - on my birthday no less! It's called Kris now.
The night in the jungle was very basic but fun. We slept under a plastic sheet with not much in the way of flooring - but luckily I had brought my mosquito net!
The finale to the whole experience was an hour long rafting trip down a fairly swift moving river. We hopped on board our truck inner-tubes and set off. Unfortunately there are no photos from this as I couldn't risk my camera getting smashed/wet/lost etc etc!
Ok, so as this has now taken me well over a month to get live I shall have to end it there. Images have been a pain to get up with the very limited internet I have been able to get, but there are many more where they came from for those of you unlucky enough to sit through the inevitable slideshow on my return!
The rest of the week went very fast indeed. It was quite surreal to have them all leave on the same day more-or-less, but I will never forget it and I guess that's what it's all about.
I am just about to leave for Papua now, still need to do some packing - but Papua. Who would have thought that a year ago!
Unless I get eaten alive I will get something up from there asap... Ah, if they even have electricity, let alone internet!
Speak to some of you soon!