Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Too much holiday.


I'm now at the start of what could possibly be 4 weeks where I'm only flying once.. So not much to tell really.  I joined a gym to help relieve the boredom and have upped my efforts to try and learn Indonesian. It's coming, but I think the maids are starting to tire a little with me asking things all the time! Oh well, all they do is cook and do laundry so I think they like me messing their routine up a little.  However, I am off to a place called Kendari and so there will be new victims to harass!

I did do a tour to a place called Malinau which was fun. The town was built up alongside a river and it seems that this serves a lot of purposes to the local folk.. Like for instance the toilets are all hovering on stilts above it, the kids use it as a playground, everyone washes in it and if I had stayed a little longer I'm sure I would have seen a recently deceased person float on by! I think the people there are immune from everything!


It was a nice change though as it's quite a quiet place. Provided me with a great chance to test my new camera.. It even makes it look like I am in paradise!

After this little adventure I now find myself in a hotel in Kendari - it's nice, but there is not a lot to do here unless you travel 2 hours by car.  We have a driver though so might be tempted to get him into action.

The flight over here was intesting though as we had to climb to 13,500 feet - without oxygen.  Now if any of you know about hypoxia, then you will know that spending 2 and a half hours at this altitude is not the best thing to be doing..  Constant checks on each other and looking out for any of the early signs were strangely at the forefront of our minds..  I think I suffered a little as I spent the first day here in bed with a headache..  Hmm..  Still, good human-gerbil experiment!

I'll do my best to write an interesting post next time, but it may be tough with nothing to do!

Bubye for now.

Friday, 8 January 2010

The night to end all nights...

Well my new year adventures were certainly not that! ha ha.  In short, alcohol is non-existent here in Banjarmasin and as such the only place you can get any form of it is near the more seedy end of town (But I cant tell the difference to be honest!).  We saddled up in our Mitsubishi StarWagon and set off for 'Boom Boom Road' as the locals call it.  Yep, every house has a fine collection of your 'finest' ladies sunning themselves on the veranda just waiting for their Bulay (White/Foreigner) knight in shining armour to come and spend an hour or so with them..  Erm, no thanks, beer is fine.  So anyway, we gave 300,000 IDR to a woman who sped off on her scooter and came back with a bag of 8 big beers.  Sorted.

Banjarmasins very own bag lady/landlord/pimp/hustler (?)

So far so good, I thought.  I sat down to watch all 4 Indiana Jones movies with the other guy who I am here with and then prepared myself for a very different NYE party.. After sitting in traffic for about 35 mins and only getting to the end of our street, the road cleared and 3 Million scooters seemed to disappear somewhere - thank you!  We all needed a toilet and the driver made a very unusual stop - into a Mosque...   Erm, this is not necessarily the best place to be I thought.  "No No, it is fine, we are all brothers" the driver told me..  So anyway, I walked inside - with my shoes off of course - into one of the most vile cesspits of a toilet you have ever seen...  I went out, put my shoes back on and made a quick escape (To the nearest tree!).  As I looked back all I could see on the entrance to the Mosque was a slogan which basically had words I didn't understand with one I definitely did stuck right in the middle..  It said 'Mujahideen'.

Now I'm not a big religious kinda guy so I don't know the ins and outs of all the nonsense, but I knew I had heard that word once or twice over the years on various BBC news reports, usually associated with someone losing their head or being blown to bits.  I made a vow to go look it up to see exactly what I nearly got myself into!  (Religious Freedom Fighters - I looked it up)

Anyway, we continued to head into the 'town centre' and managed to find a magic show, a beatles tribute band playing to about 4 families, a school disco (For kids, not the other sort!) and a 'music bar' in a hotel.  After settling for the hotel bar we had one beer, looked around at just how much fun the other 6 people were having and decided to leave.  Cheeky b......s also charged us 80,000 for a beer which is almost 3 times the usual amout..  Hmm..

Yep, the one and only ..anker beer.

So NYE came and when while I was sitting in the trusty steed, the Star Wagon.  Sigh.  The journey home was shorter and by the time I woke up it was almost 12am in London.. I thought of you all.

Life has been busy since though.  I returned to Balikpapan for a couple of days and was then sent up to the North of Borneo to cover a guy who was sick.  Turns out we have to deliver massive barrels of Ashphelt for a new runway and the odd box full of cigarettes for the workers..  So I'm now a cargo pilot too :)

Stuck in a really nice hotel now which is also great - and it's all expenses paid.  Bliss.