Today I had arranged to meet up with old buddy Jason who I had worked with in Santa Barbara back in ’92 and last seen in ’96. We had arranged that I would call him at 1.00pm and sort out a place to meet up. My first stop of the day was the Taman Sari warung (local food place) for some scrambled eggs. I took the laptop with me and worked on a project I have to do for the guys back in Eugene, a little graphic design thing.
I took up my now familiar place in the Internet Outpost cybercafe down the street and tried my best to get into some e-mail. The web and e-mail were super slow today, so much so that it realised it just wasn’t a good way to spend the whole day. I wandered around the neighborhood streets with my camera and headed lastly for the site of the Sari Club, the place of the Bali bombing. As soon as I arrived so did a downpour and I had to scurry for cover. Don’t worry, I’ll get you photos soon, the place is basically just a pile of rubble.
At 1 o’clock on the dot I called Jason (“Bali Jason” as the girls in the cybercafe called him after I showed them his card…his e-mail address is balijason) and we agreed to meet at 4.30pm. After some more e-mailing I went for a plate of gado gado (peanut salad, steamed veg) and a nasi puti (white rice). This one was cheap but not up to the standard of ones I had before, the vegetables a little soggy. The young manager of the warung was playing with his daughter and I just had to snap a picture.
Back at the cyber cafe I waited for my friend and finally he arrived on his motorcycle. We rode to a Japanese place and shared a tall Bintang.
He’s put on a few pounds but still has that youthful energy and eagle eye when it comes to the ladies. Jason has been living in Bali since ’92 and I wanted to pick his brain on a number of issues such as housing, immigration (my favourite), getting a driving licence and how the bombing has changed things. Jason was very keen to give me the low down on the woman situation in Bali and at times his head seemed like it was mounted on a swivel as young ladies passed by on both sides of the street. I dug away and got to the info I wanted and tomorrow will look at more places to live. Jason works for an Indonesian silver smith company and is in charge of 100 workers. Sounds impressive except his boss won’t directly tell the 3 managers under him that he’s their boss (it’s all about saving face). This means Jason is accountable but has not got the power he really needs.
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Jason told me his personal experience of the bombing. It was very intense even though he did not directly see it. He told me he was walking through the paddy fields a couple of miles away when he heard the explosions and knew instantly it was deliberate. He was shaken and knew the scene would be chaotic so decided to go downtown the next day to see if he could help the emergency services (he’s done a paramedic course in Santa Barbara). Arriving at the rear of the hospital he turned a corner and couldn’t believe the sight that confronted him. Bodies were piled up 4ft high, 6 feet deep for about 10 yards. Jason said some of them were gelled together and burned black, others with massive wounds and eyes open gazing at him. One of his friends, a girl from Ecuador he later discovered with a 4″ chunk of metal driven through her. Grisly stuff, but Jason went back 6 days in a row.
On a lighter side he said all the food places in town were donating stuff, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC. At the hospital there were boxes of food piled up for victims and workers and everything was getting eaten except the fried chicken. So after a couple of days Jason takes a box into the morgue and says ‘anyone for fried chicken?’ His original assumption that the emergency services would have things under control was completely mistaken. He found himself ordering Indonesian policemen and soldiers around in the hospital as there seemed to be a lack of command.
We were joined by a young friend of Jason’s who’s name escapes me. She was polite and smiled and lot.
Last time I had ridden on the back of a motorcycle was on Jason’s and now he was giving me a little tour of some of his favourite hangouts and explainig the tourist / expat scene a bit more. At about 6pm we ended up in Legian, just north of Kuta at the Santa Fe restaurant. Both had some snapper and salad which was tasty though a little small. Legian seems a expat center and caters to a slightly upper scale than Kuta, although there are deals on houses right now.
Interesting side note. Jason told me as a result of the bombing, marijuana is harder to come across in Bali. I found this to be rather a stretch, but he explained that it comes overland from Sumatra and the Indonesian government has tightened up at the ports. Funny how events affect seemingly unrelated topics.
We’re looking forward to seeing Sean and celebrating his birthday.
After Santa Fe, Jason and I visited a friend named Mark who is a 58 year old guy from New Jersey. He’s been out here 30 years and has owned a couple of restaurants. His house was like a Balinese antique shop (that’s his business right now). We swapped stories and I’ll definitely visit again. Hooking up with expats who know the scene can be a great short cut.