1985 A Year of Living Dangerously

If Singapore is the City of Lions, then Jakarta is more than just another Province. It is the Capital of Indonesia and has all the excitement and trappings of any Mega-city.

We flew into a whole new world, accented by the constant and immediate pungent odor of kretek or Clove-tobacco cigarettes. The call to prayer rings out like clockwork and a whole new buffet of the senses to sample. Traffic is to die for, literally! Our cabby almost ran over one fellow and his girlfriend on the way to our hotel, they got a little too close on their motorbike and he decided to give them a little bump, just to keep them honest!

Thank God, our time in Jakarta was limited. Before long, we hopped a train to Bandung.  Finally out of the city, we entered a land of beautiful terraced rice paddies broken up by beautiful green mountains. It was a ride to remember, my eyes were soaking it all in and the trip ended much too quickly.  Bandung is another city of millions and surrounded by volcano’s. We were taken to a beautiful house on an avenue lined with tall palm trees. It felt great to lag out there and get caught up to the local time.

I ventured out into the neighborhood and got a feel for the city, took some pictures at a Chinese Cemetery and tried not to get lost. The expense that went into the construction of these grave sites is something to marvel at, some worthy of a king! I captured it all on film, one day I’ll put it all together into a fantastic slide show.

Going out to eat was a trip in itself, seemed we lived on chicken satay with peanut sauce, many unfamiliar foods along with hot chili sauces and rice. Morning meals usually consisted of a heap of greasy fried rice and a couple cold sunny side up eggs staring back at me.  Nasi goreng as its affectionately called, we came to know it as nauseating goreng. I begged the driver to get me some papaya, mangos, anything but greasy rice!

Still on the move, we took jeeps down perilous wrong way yak paths to a mountain city called Garut.  We found a Shangri la hotel built over a hot spring. Since I love to soak this was a heavenly place, my room had its own deep tub and I could watch the goldfish swim by my front door. Like living in a dream almost!

So we finally made it to our destination, the town we would call home for the next two months. We relocated to an old Dutch style home, painted over the dirt, and settled in. Our bodies adjusted to all the changes just in time to go to work, the only casualty was when one of our mates got black tongue disease and had to have a 4 inch dirty needle shoved into his posterior. The things a person puts up with when his tongue turns black!

Surveying for Geothermal power sources on active volcano’s and caldera’s sounded exciting, trekking through small villages and cutting jungle paths with machetes. It was a adventuretographers dream come true! The people we hired on to work with us were great personalities, known by their first name only. They thought we were crazy white dudes, and they were right!

We learned some basic Bahasa Indonesia, slang words and phrases like “bagus” for thumbs up or good, and “tida bagus,” for the opposite. We learned to count quick and easily by playing cribbage and counting the numbers in Bahasa. This is a great way to learn how to say numbers in any language.

Work began by unpacking our gear, hiring a crew of locals and trekking 2 hours by foot to the job site, a mountainous steamy region of thick jungle, tropical rain forest, active caldera’s and steep, deep rivers that cut through it all. This job was not going to be a walk in the park!


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