On being home…

First weekend back home, after almost two months on the road… It’s really amazing how the human mind instantly recognizes the familiar landscapes of home… Almost nothing has changed – the trees and the houses and the mad traffic looks exactly the same, and yet it’s the subtle metamorphosis that catches the eye… The garden looks lush and inviting, scent of jasmine and frangipani lacing the air with warmness… the cats, bigger and whinier… the furniture moved ever so slightly… the kitchen with the fridge things not quite the same…

As we drive out to dinner tonight, my heart swells with joy… I’m home! I’m home! No more madness, idiots or never ending days… Back in my own bed, on my sofa watching endless reruns on Astro, doing laundry and taking Stella out for walks… True, even being home has its drawbacks, like bills and work and chores, but there is truly nothing like it… I finally understand the meaning of “green grass of home”…

Tomorrow its back to work, and reality finally, finally hits me on the head – Jasmine

On coming home…

It’s finally here, the day I return home to you…

I had a relatively late night last night, just so I’ll wake up a bit later and shave off some precious minutes of waiting for the hour to arrive… I thought I was smart, but then I woke up at 6 am…

I tried and tried to chase the elusive sheep to an even more elusive sleep… In the end, I woke up and dressed for an early breakfast. At the coffee house, apparently I wasn’t the only one with “home-coming anxiety”. About half the team was already eating downstairs, some in full regalia for the flight home…

Time passed fairly quickly though… before I knew it, time had come for us to go to the airport. For once, I had no complaints about the really lousy airport with no airconditioning and flooded toilets. Even the horrendous security checks won’t deter me from smiling today…

The flight home took about 40 minutes, just long enough to climb to 30,000 feet and to start descending… Walking out of the terminal, I saw familiar signboards in Bahasa, and the best bit would have to be the air free off kretek haze…

Sigh… I see you waiting for me, just beside the maddening crowd… 🙂

Looking forward to going home, finally – Jasmine

On being heartless…

It’s finally arrived, the ending of the expedition… actually, it’s already day 50 or something… can’t quite remember now… the days and nights simply blend into one another. Wake up, shower and pack up, drive out for miles and miles, put up with idiots, eat, check into another grubby hotel, sleep, and the cycle repeats itself… It’s easy to lose yourself in the boredom that becomes mundane. Sure its new places and faces, but most of the time I’m too tired to be fascinated or amazed. Maybe I’m just jaded…

We’ve arrived at the tsunami-hit coast today. In fact, we’ll be driving through about 300 kilometers of coastline affected by the tsunami. In all honesty, I’m feeling ambivalent. I hear stories all around me about the tragedies, about the people who’ve lost their families and homes and just about everything their lives had been… but somehow it’s difficult for me to feel sympathy or empathy…

Throughout the whole journey, what I’ve seen in my personal opinion, is a country full of shite. There is trash everywhere, literally. They throw their garbage absolutely everywhere. There is no exceptions – mosques, schools, hospitals, roadsides, national monuments, near their homes and places of business… simply everywhere…

The only exception I’ve seen is the tsunami coast. There is not a shred of garbage here. Mother Nature has done an excellent job of cleaning up. Some might say I’m being heartless, because along with the trash were swept away homes and families and belongings and livestock… But that’s the thing, is it worth the human cost to clear away aeons of neglect?

The peoples of Acheh have settled here for millenia. They’ve lived and died right here on their motherland, although it looks as if they don’t particularly care about being sanitary. Maybe Mama Earth decided it was time to spring clean? I dunno… you decide…

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Missing you angel, and counting the nights till I’m back with you again – Jasmine

On sate…

Dinner today for me was sate Madura. You’ve got to be wondering why the hell anyone would want to blog about sate right? I’m sure you know better than anyone that one of my favourite foods in the world is sate. We alwaya have sate, I would guess about once a week kan?

They say that the sate originated from these parts, and was brought to Malaysia by the immigrants. Maybe it’s true after all. It’s mind boggling, the variety of sate that can be found here. There’s sate Madura – a bit like ours, but they put kicap manis on it instead of marinade, eaten with kuah kacang quite similar to ours. Then there’s sate Minang or Padang – usually beef with all the spare parts like lungs, innards, heart, liver etc marinated in cili giling, and eaten with something like a starchy salty chilli sauce and bawang goreng. There’s also a sate Pariaman – usually kambing and some fat, unmarinated and eaten with kicap manis and raw garlic bits. There’s sate Jawa – usually a whole goat is hung at the stall and the guy carves up the raw stuff, sticks it and grills it, eaten with something like a lontong kuah. There’s also sate Wonosobo, grilled bits of unidentified beef parts, grilled with kicap manis and eaten with egg noodles and vege. Yes, egg noodles… no kidding…

I love sate. But here’s the thing, I can no longer tell what the heck or which version of sate I’m going to be eating when I walk into a stall. So how? So far, I’ve had most of the varieties described above. There are a few more, which goes against my religious beliefs, and so refuse to try. Like in Bali, there is babi guling, giant sticks of sate spit roasted over coals. In Sumatera, I came across sate babi, anjing and kucing. Yechh!

To that I say, I’m already missing the sate of home. Its definitely much better than the shite found here. When I come home baby, please take me out to dinner, maybe sate Keramat or Kajang, but not on the first day I balik la…
Thinking of the sate of here and back home only makes me want to go home even more…

So close and yet so far, not just from you but also my favourite foods – Jasmine.

On rain…

It rained today. Not the garden variety sprinkle. Rained cats and dogs and rabbits. You must be wondering why I’m so excited about seeing some water fall from the sky…

You see sayang, I haven’t seen any honest to goodness rain for the past… ohh… I dunno, maybe 45 days or so.

Remember when we lived in Shah Alam we used to say that it never rains there because it’s the land of the damned? Well, I guess I can apply the same logic here. It was hot and humid in Kalimantan, hot and not so humid in Sulawesi. Then in Maumere, Flores and Sumbawa very hot and mind-bogglingly dry. Lombok, Bali and Java, hot and dusty and sometimes muggy. Now Sumatera’s weather I can understand – still hot, still humid, but with some clouds overhead and today, it rained!

Are we to say then that Indonesia is a land of damned people? I’m beginning to conclude so. They throw their garbage everywhere, even at home. They poop and pee in the water in which their drinking and cleaning stuff comes from. They cheat, lie, beg and steal. They sell their children, and live and eat in squalor. There is nothing that is good about the people here. The shopping and scenery, yes… but not the people…

Its only about 11 days before I head home, and the thought of familiar weather excites me. It means I’m getting closer to being home. I miss home and all its luxuries so so badly… as another drop of water falls on my palm, we race through the countryside, I smile to myself… because each drop brings me closer to you…

Missing you like parched earth for blessed rain – Jasmine.

On being possessive

Today one of the PETRONAS pasu bungas, the one who calls herself “Adik”, came running out of her car, to Stingray’s car in tears. Apparently, Chicago Hope got pissed with her, for shopping so much that there’s not even enough space to sit in the car. So how?

I agree wholeheartedly with Chicago Hope. After all, it is his car. And he needs to have access to all the medical equipment and medication. What if there’s an emergency? Stop the bleeding with some fancy kebaya?

The thing that ticks me off the most is that she ran to Stingray for comfort and hoping he’ll take her side. Perhaps one would forgive this one incident, but for me, I’m beginning to get very pissed with this clingy woman.

She goes where my father goes, all the time. She eats at his table without fail, sometimes telling me to go sit somewhere else so she can tell him more idiotic stories. So tell me, am I being paranoid, or just reacting normally?

This morning, she gave me a ‘look’ for kissing my father good morning. I just turned and gave her a withering glare, and raised my eyebrows. Who is she to behave like that? After all, I’ve been my father’s princess for much longer than a month… This is the woman who asked her father to come on the expedition when she was chosen by PETRONAS. Thankfully for the rest of the team, he met with an unfortunate accident and couldn’t make it. So now since he can’t be around, she behaves as is she’s the precious of the expedition. It’s just so bloody disgusting I turn off the CB radio when she comes on air.

Everyone I’ve spoken to tells me she’s a control freak who must have the last word at every conversation every time. She thinks the world of herself, the so-called perfect woman who goes shooting and horse-riding, and has never gone to a hairdresser. So, padan muka kena marah. After all, no one particularly loves her like she thinks they do.

By the by, she’s 31. Sleeps under her mum’s ketiak and proud of it. And single. And she ordered 1000 pieces of blank wedding cards in Jakarta. ‘Nuff said.

Love you sayang, and hoping that other people don’t think I’m a self-centered bitch myself – Jasmine.

ps – this was written in the afternoon, at dinner today again she stuck by his side like a limpet, no space for me as usual…

On bullies

Tonight, we were rudely awakened from much needed sleep, to be unceremoniously told to pack up and move out of our campsite. It was already a very long day for me, as I was up in the wee hours of the morning, and already on the road at about 7 am. The driving was tough, as the roads were winding and narrow, and the traffic has been mad. Finally arriving at the riverside full of cow dung was a surprising welcome, so I can finally lie down and have some rest.

Earlier on, I was already pretty upset with the whole ‘no one wants me’ thing… now I gotta move?? I’ve already got my tent and camp bed out, and I’m in my jammies ready to go to sleep.

It was a messy affair, rushing and packing up in the middle of the night, with people surrounding you and looking at you like some display in the zoo. We were having to move out due to ‘security concerns’…

It was plain blackmail really – either pay up or suffer the consequence. Under no uncertain terms we were told that it was not safe or prudent for us to remain there. There were people everywhere that night, skulking around the campsite, and standing so close that I can feel their body heat and smell their smelly feet. It got so bad for me, I literally chased them off by swinging my kitchen knife around as I was cooking, and carried the Apollo torchlight with me at all times so at the very least I could swing it to hit someone’s head, right?

The thing is, it wasn’t about the money. It’s about the principle. We will not be cowed into paying thugs. Or so they say. Of course, I agree with the management whole-heartedly. How to sleep with people gawking at you?
How to shower when there are guys not two feet away? Literally not two feet away. Not exaggerating…
Truth be told, I felt safer the minute we moved out, although it was already 11 pm, and the drive to the other campsite is 3 hours long – more narrow roads, and more switchbacks with the clouds racing up the mountainside in the middle of the night. Its pitch black outside, and the Kerinci-Seblat National Park is famous for Sumateran tigers making snacks out of truck drivers. Just last week, the guide told us, some fella was dragged off into the bush while changing a flat. I guess I’ll be smart, and not open the windows tonight.

The new campsite is OK, no river but there are toilets. Not exactly five star, but at least I can poop in peace. I won’t even bother with a tent or camp bed tonight, just myself surrounded by cool countryside air, on my sleeping bag, catching some much needed zzzzzzzs…..

Missing you mucho mucho grande, because you always make me feel safe – Jasmine.