Sunday, July 15, 2007

A gentlemen's pub crawl

Oh my. Where to begin?

Last Saturday some friends had arranged a guys only pub crawl. Seven of us met at a restaurant at one of the older malls in South Jakarta where the party began by ordering a round of Indonesia's domestic beer, Bintang. Our waitress didn't quite understand why we only wanted to order one beer each and then leave. One bar sold out of beer when we ordered 7.

On our walk to the next bar, the cap tikus came out. Cap tikus means rat brand. When I googled it, I found this quote from an Aggie anthropologist living on the island of Sulawesi (where cap tikus is made). Cap tikus is a "harsh moonshine sort of fluid that grabs the palette by the uvula. People drink cap tikus here but also use it to prime their chainsaw motors." I would say it tastes something like bad tequila mixed with lime and turpentine.

We made our way from place to place, five beers and a quarter bottle of cap tikus down, finally arriving at the place where we decided to eat. At that point, I sent Hunter a short text message that really got to the point, "WTF?" It worked; 30 minutes later he showed up.

After a round of bowling and a few more Bintangs, we stopped for a drink at Aphrodite, a trendy restaurant at a building that happened to be hosting a wedding. Luckily, we didn't come off too much like jack-ass Westerners...I think.

From there it was time to test fate. We knew the roads would be jammed all around the stadium, so the only option was to take ojeks - motorcycle taxis. I certainly won't make a habit of riding them because I value my life, but it was definitely exhilarating to zip through traffic at nighttime.

We entered the stadium and headed for the upper decks where we watched the game with 80,000 of our closest friends. Our assigned seats had long since vanished, so we spread out amongst the crowd and passed the cap tikus back and forth in the plastic sack that they made us pour it into. Indonesia lost in a heart breaker when Saudi Arabia scored the winning goal in stoppage time.

After waiting for traffic to die at an expat bar near the stadium, we went to Blok M, an area with a strip of bars popular with expat men and scantily clad local girls apparently making a living off the men. Our group stuck out like a sore thumb as we were all still wearing identical Indonesia soccer jerseys. It was a good time, and our apologies to the Canadians for soiling their reputation by claiming their fine country as our own whenever asked.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Bagus, Bule

I just returned from a little cultural immersion through one of my favorite activities. There is a park near our apartment where I've often seen people playing soccer, so today I decided I'd walk down there and see if I could join in.

When I say park, it's not really what you might think. It's basically a big slab of concrete where they've erected a volleyball net, a basketball court and two futsal courts. Futsal is a game that's like soccer, but a little different. It's played on a court that's about the size of a basketball court and it has small goals. The ball is also smaller and heavier.

When I arrived, I immediately started gathering stares. Eventually some kids came over and we talked for a little bit. They asked me about soccer in the U.S., where I lived, how I got to work, etc... Then they let me play with their team. They said they were all 15, but I was still a good head taller than them (but then again I do have towering height). The team we played against was a little older, so some of them were almost as tall as me.

It was a lot of fun, and it felt like I was getting to know the people a little more, which was really nice. Our team won, and everyone was high-fiving and celebrating after the game. One kid wanted to do the sort of handshake/handslapping that I guess he's seen on t.v., so I showed him how. I'm sure he'll try and teach it to everyone else. As I grabbed my bag, one of the kids on the other team to me said, "bagus, bule." (Translation: Nice job, white guy)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Indonesians do Tex-Mex

Yesterday we were craving Tex-Mex and we knew there was a restaurant a good ways away from us called Amigos. So we made a few other excuses to fight traffic to go to that area of town, and we went to get our fix.

It was about what we expected Indonesian Tex-Mex to taste like. We ordered two margaritas, chile con queso, a chimichanga and chicken enchiladas. The margaritas definitely left something to be desired. The queso was decent enough, as was the salsa. The chimichanga was actually pretty good. The enchiladas were topped with a green sauce, but something about them tasted distinctly Indonesian.

Oh, Austin, how we miss you sometimes...