Hows it going?! I suppose I should probably start with an apology for taking so long to write this post but now i’m firmly back in Jakarta and back to blogging you can all go back to the day-to-day duties which im sure were hideously interrupted with anticipation and worry whilst waiting…! Unfortunately joining you from Jakarta also means i’m currently situated in the Internet cafe which seems to be slowly sucking away my ability to write more than a sentence an hour as well as my hopes and dreams (which are, as of this moment, to get out of said internet cafe). This locale means that this blog may be somewhat disjointed as my surroundings force me to google the Behasa for ‘Turn that crap down ‘, ‘you’re not 21, get off that dating site you old perv’, ‘stop looking over my shoulder, Yes, im aware im white’ and ‘why are you on a motorbike, this is a shop?!’
Anyway, after the few weeks after my last post were taken up with various friendly matches against local soccer schools and SSI’s infamous 3 v 3 tournament the 3rd of July saw Robbie and I pack up our bags, and hideous Batik shirts bought especially for the occasion, and jet off to Bali for a week off which would also feature a weekend jaunt to the neighbouring Gili Islands. Upon arrival at the infamous Kuta beach resort, the Australian equivalent of the Costa Del Sol we checked in to our Hostel to discover the pleasant yet profoundly depressing fact that the bathroom facilities in our, ten pound a night, room (a proper shower and toilet) were positively palatial compared to the squat toilet and bucket shower we had grown used to at home in Jakarta. After coming to terms with how low our Jakarta bathroom had left my interpretation of ‘palatial’ I endeavoured to take full advantage of this opportunity, a conviction which led to an overlong shower which managed to overflow and leave sections of our room resembling the everglades! After managing to flood our room mere hours after arriving we decided it would be best to head to the beach before getting dinner at a restaurant near the hostel called Chasers which was so nice it provided us with the perfect opportunity to live up to the ‘Brits abroad’ stereotype by going there every day, eating mostly western food and watching British sport (in this case Wimbledon) on the T.V! After our habitual meal we continued living up to the stereotypes by heading to the Kuta strip and starting every night in a bar called Sky Garden purely because it offered free cocktails between 9-10, after which we obviously left, straight away. After Sky Garden our nights generally took in a number of Kuta’s other nightspots, our favourite being by far and away the Apache Reggae Bar in which we spent many an hour drinking Bintang by the bucket, dominating the dance floor and wondering why, in a world where Reggae exists, anyone bothers making music of any other genre. After such nights our days were largely spent sunburnbathing on the beach whilst being inspired by the surfers, leading to big claims about taking lessons…Although whether this inspiration lasts the return to London is yet to be seen!
After the madness of Kuta the weekend offered a real contrast as we woke up early to catch our boat to the tropical paradise of Gili Trawangan, one of three Islands just off Bali. Wanting to spend as much time there as possible we had booked onto the fast boat which would take about an hour and a half to get there as opposed to almost six on the slow one; a no-brainer, or so we thought. After twenty minutes of petrol-scented wave plunging at the front of the GiliCat we were beginning to regret our choice as, along with the rest of the boat, we were fighting to keep our breakfast down. Despite this bad start I managed to salvage my journey, and earn the hatred of the rest of the passengers by moving to the back of the boat where the fresh air and taste of salt water managed to clear my head and settle my stomach before striking up a very loud conversation with the captain and laughing through the rest of the journey whilst various other passengers threw up around me. As soon as we arrived in Gili it was clear the journey was easily worth it as we were greeted by swaying palm trees, crystal clear ocean and beautiful, albeit small, stretches of beach. I would like to write a lot about the rest of our time on Gili but that jus wouldn’t fit with the philosophy of the island, 100% relaxation. In keeping with this our first day was spent lying on the best sun-loungers ever (they were like beds!) eating good food and having the odd dip in the sea followed by frequent naps before meeting up with my sister and her friend Daniel, who had arrived the day before for dinner in front of the tennis. Perfect. The next day was one of the highlights of our entire stay in Indonesia as we went on a snorkelling trip around the Gili Islands which featured a two stops at nearby coral reefs where we were able to see a ridiculous range of fish and coral before a third at which we saw 6 turtles as well as being shocked by the wall of dark blue ocean as the reef suddenly dropped off 200 feet! This, followed by a delicious lunch on Gili Air was well worth the subsequent badly sunburnt back! After watching the Wimbledon final the next day we caught the, much more enjoyable, GiliGili boat back to Bali where we sat on the roof for the whole journey and got soaking wet on what was essentially the world’s fastest, and most enjoyable log flume! (as well as getting a burn on my chest to match the one on the back!)
After a final night in Kuta we returned to Jakarta on the 10th for a couple of days work before being joined by my sister on the 12th, after spending the day showing her around (the malls) on Friday she accompanied us to Pancoran on Saturday morning as I took my final session with the u-6 group whilst Robbie led his u-16 troops in a game against a local soccer school. After training we were invited back to Simon’s house for lunch, our first sandwich in 3 months; a huge deal, before Robbie, Simon and I headed to the Indonesian National team’s training pitch to play for one of the SSI’s directors’ football team whilst Eleanor stayed at Simon’s to keep Sarah, his wife, and Mischa, the dog, company. After being introduced to the various Indonesian media personalities and other rich gentleman who composed both our teammates and opposition it was soon time to kick off in a heat more suited to roasting chickens than playing football in. Although the standard was by no means high, dwarfed by the not-exactly-world-cup games we play at ISCI, the conditions made it one of the hardest games we played in Indonesia. Despite spending the last twenty minutes in a daze I managed to make it to the much-appreciated half time break with the team ahead. The structure of the matches meant that after the first half we had 45 minutes off whilst another games’ first half took place, a break which was sorely needed as I got through about four Pocari Sweats whilst Simon’s celebrity status meant we were asked for numerous pictures whilst still sweaty messes, not the best timing! After our long break my which my leg muscles didn’t seem to appreciate as much as the rest of me we concluded our game with a sluggish second half in which we conceded one but still secured the win, although realistically I was just happy to have lasted the 90, After the games Simon took us for a tour of Central Jakarta which felt like another world from where we had been living, all towering skyscrapers, glass and Ferraris!
After our stint at home I capped off my fortnight of travel with a trip to Borneo with Eleanor and my parents, staying on a boat for 3 nights (which also, predictably, had better bathroom facilities than our house) we ate great food whilst floating around seeing, and on one occasion shaking hands with, Orang-Utans who were amazing before retiring at night so I could teach everyone an absolute lesson at cards, all in all a great trip to re-charge the batteries before confronting my last week in Indonesia in Jakarta!