Friday was a busy day. First, we needed to get out the week’s newsletter, a slimmed down version from our version last week. Once that was mailed, and after a lunch of lemon chicken and salad, it was time to do an interview. My subject, Hans, was in for lunch so I hitched a ride with him back to his office. Did most of the interview in the car.
Hans runs a company here that sells/leases large gas-powered power generators. They use either natural gas or a wide range of biogases, even gas from tapioca wastewater. Brought me back to my days as an environmental reporter. After toruing his facility, taking a few photos and chatting for a few minutes, Hans offered to drive me back to Smiling Hill. When I asked if he could drop me off at the mall, he went me one better – he also needed stuff and we both went in. He even negotiated a better price for me on Jack Daniels. The grocery/department store we went into is called Carrefore. It is huge, with big wide aisles and stuff sold in volume. We then returned to ground zero just in time for free beer happy hour.
The bar was jammed when I arrived after cleaning up – it was a hot afternoon. One of the guys, Evan, has been here since 1978 and knows about everything and everyone of note here. Speaks fluent Bakasa (Indonesian). Just came back from a trip to interior India. Interesting guy.
Before too long, I had talked him into taking me into town for dinner at a place of his choosing. He was talking fish head soup. At first I objected but that caused me significant grief from a few regulars, so I said whatever he wanted to order was fine (except for hot and spicy). We drove into town, all the while with him saying he didn’t want to go to a food court because they’re all the same and he wanted to bring me to a real restaurant. So, we ended up at a food court, Utama 98, which Evan wrote a review about, which is in the just published issue of our newsletter.
I let Evan order the food, but first, of course, we had to deal with the beer girls. We were not quite so attacked as at the last food court experience but a pretty little lady selling Heineken caught my eye, so I ordered beer from her. That apparently assures you that that beer girl will stay at your table until you’re done eating.
We had some kind of steamed fish, crab claws and a crunchy green vegetable. All delicious, with our beer girls refilling our cups as needed. I did my best not to make a mess, as I was taught as a child. Evan’s food discards were all over the table, none on his plate. “This is the way you do it here,” he informed me. “They will clean it up.” It reminded me of my brother Garth, who when asked why he dropped his cigarette butts on the floor of the bar he worked in, said people were hired to clean the floors and he was just helping them keep their jobs. Dinner and beer came to about 300,000 rupiah, or $16 per, which was somewhat higher than the last food court.
Evan and I were not done. We then headed to a bar called Lusy’s (s is used instead of c because c has a soft sound here). Evan owns Lusy’s and currently is renting it to someone else. He ran it for 13 years. We ordered some Evan Williams on the rocks and I managed to get on the pool table. My game was on and had a good time playing one local and two Brits. Flirted with one of the waitresses (Norid) before Evan finally decided I was fine on my own and left me to fend for myself. I was too busy flirting to care.
Surely there would be a taxi outside. There were several, but a young guy grabbed my attention first, offering me a ride back on his motorbike. No time like the present to try something new. And understand, the motorbikes here are everywhere, very reckless, darting in and out of traffic seemingly oblivious to the cars sharing the narrow roadways. We made it back just fine and I gave him far too much for the ride (25,000 rupiah, less than $3). I was told later that 10,000 rupiah was sufficient. It was worth $3 for the experience.
An interesting day – and evening.