Out on my own


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My bud Jack is always telling me to get out of my “box,” meaning, of course, to try new things, places, you know, get away from the routine. Not that he’s said anything like that since I began my 2 Bags and a Pack tour. But even without Jack bellowing his words into my head, now there is still the memory. So, whenever I think I might have gotten myself stuck in the muck, I remember Jack’s advice and try to immediately try something new, take a leap of faith. Such was this weekend.

Admittedly, it was an endeavor I’ve been contemplating for some time, but was reluctant until I felt more comfortable, and able to make my way around, before I wanted to venture out on my own. Basically, I was putting it off. And all we’re talking about here is my going out to the bar district on my own. What’s the big deal?

Well, there are some language issues, and the tendency here is to jack up the prices for Westerners (bules). So if you can’t read it, or understand it when it’s spoken to you, then you could encounter, shall we say, challenges. Then there’s also the “fear of meeting new people” phobia, but, heck, all I wanted to do was play some pool and I’ve proven my ability to “horn” into a bar crowd or a pool game. No sweat!

I vaguely remembered a couple of the bars we went into when Doug, me and two guests did a pub crawl, and looked for them. Of course, I didn’t know their names and was pretty much geographically disoriented as soon as Hidayat (one of our drivers) dropped me off about 8, which I learned was way too early. As per usual, several children approached me as soon as I exited the car, although I have no idea what they were selling.

(FYI – The photos at the top are not mine. They come from the Smiling Hill Web site. Gives you and idea of the bars and the bar district in Batam.)

I stuck my head in a couple of the small bars, but the only people in them was the girls working there. You always get a chorus of voices when you open the door, as the girls try to get you to come in. Not what I was looking for. Somehow, I managed to find the exact bar I was looking for, one that the previous visit had only expats in, and there was a good time going on.

Boring yet?

For my pool-playing friends, I ended up playing a new game and, despite my rule against it, I ended up playing for money. We had 8 players, three of them women, two Oriental guys, an Indonesian who I pegged correctly as the stud of the group, and two bules. Buy in was 50,000 rupiah, about $5-6. Winner take all.

THE GAME: All 8 players played at once. We each took one shot in order at whatever ball we wanted to shoot; if we missed we were deducted a “life.” We each started with three lives. You could win a new life by making the 8-ball. When you had no lives left, you were out. It ended up with me and the Indonesian guy one-on-one. I lost but I have to blame it on the woman who showed up, who I knew from conversations with her at Goodies. I got distracted and lost my focus. But the game was fun and they know me at Dirty Dick’s now. (Most of the bars here have names like that.) Caught a taxi home. Smooth sailing all the way.

So I decided to go again Saturday night. This time I wanted to try one of the karaoke bars in town because the experience there is supposedly different from the downtown girly bars. But I also wanted to be in walking distance to the bar district, but we couldn’t find a karaoke bar close enough, so I just went back into the district.

Ended up in the same bar as the night before because it has entrances on two streets and I went in the one I hadn’t tried the night before. Schooled a guy on the table for an hour or so and headed out to try something new, still looking for a game of pool. Since I had been introduced to “Steps” by Risma and Somria two weeks earlier, I decided to try that again. They had a mediocre band and charged nearly $5 for a beer but I found a competitive game. And chatted up a lady, or was it vice versa. Caught a cab out front without a problem (deciding this time not to use an ojek – back on the motorcyle ride).

Challenge completed.

About Ken Anderberg

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. I'm also using this time to write, having now authored nine e-books, including photo-essays of my experiences in Costa Rica, Croatia, Sicily, Indonesia, Bali and Malaysia.
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One Response to Out on my own

  1. askewebb says:

    Schooled a guy…hahaha. Love it!

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