Saturday, August 29, 2009

I thought I was going to Ireland! WTF?

Well it's coming near to the end of this leg of the journey. What a trip it has been! I'm not too sure what the craziest moment was. I'm looking forward to getting back so I can get some miles on the panhead and see everyone. I'm sure the babies at my house have grown a lot since I split. I can't wait to give them a squeeze. My flight is at freaking 4 a.m. tomorrow so I guess I'll just drink till then. I spent most of the day at the vintage military shop getting a dozen custom engraved zippos done for Japan. I picked out the images and the sayings last night and some old vietnamese dude is going to spend the next 5 days engraving them and giving them the ol' vietnam era patina. I think they will turn out very cool. I thought this photo of the motorbike trailer was interesting. Not much to it. They just weld on some thick all-thread and hook that trailer up and get to work! The fish merchant was another thing altogether. It looked really cool when it passed by. I didn't see any dead fish. Did you?

Well, unless the plane crashes and I live and walk myself to civilization to let you know what happened, I'll probably put this site off until the Japan trip in December. Who knows? Maybe I'll get stuck in another jam before then. I wouldn't bet against it. See ya. g

Friday, August 28, 2009

A brief overview of the hell that is Jakarta, Indonesia

I left Kuta, Bali, Indonesia and I had a one night layover in Jakarta, Indonesia. It seems that since I went thru a travel agent in Saigon, they got me the crappiest route back to Saigon from Bali. I shouldn't say that Jakarta is bad. It really isn't. I don't care where you are in Indonesia, the people are so nice and so helpful, even if the situation is grave and shitty, the people around you are so laid back and want to give you a hand. That is, unless you work at the ticket counter at Lion Air in the Jakarta Airport. I had a 4 hour flight from Bali and since I had no idea where I was or what to do when I got off of the plane in Jakarta, i just walked outside the terminal and struck up a conversation with the first person I saw. It happened to be an old Indonesian guy who worked at the airport and having been in the Indonesian Navy, had been to the U.S. ports and wanted to discuss each port in detail. I was fine with that. He was really excited to talk about his time in the Navy and speak english so we sat down for a bit and had a chat. It turns out that you go outside of the terminal and hop on an hour long bus to a tourist area called Jalan. It's three streets connected together and full of bars, restaurants, used book shops and hostels. Lots of backpackers hanging out. (How's that salon sign? I won't be getting a haircut there.) I arrived to the bus station and as I stepped off of the bus, I was overwhelmed by all of the taxi and motorbike drivers wanting to give me a lift, all yelling prices and destinations at the tops of their lungs. I made it thru the throng and started walking beside the row of busses, trying to get a driver alone so I could get a fair price. I got to talking to one guy and he told me that the minimum price to get from the bus station to the tourist hotel area was 2.50 u.s. due to the fact that it is pretty far away. I tried to talk him down on the price but he was pretty adamant about the cost and started walking away. I figured 'eh, he must be telling the truth', so I started making small talk as he walked away. I followed him into the terminal food area: a big tent loaded with rolling carts full of nasi goreng and nasi champur, all of the ingredients in bowls in display but unfortunately with flies all over it. That's the way it is here so the driver and I sat down and we each had nasi champur. It was 22,000 rupiah, which is a special tourist rip-off price but I hadn't eaten since the plane so I found a cold rhino can drink (grape this time and the best yet) and chowed down. We finished and I hopped into the cab. I needed a bank so he stopped at a couple banks but I'll be damned if all of the banks in Jakarta close at 3pm and since it was 3:10, I was shit out of luck. I had enough rupiah to pay the cab driver (on a side note, the bus station was in fact directly across the street from this tourist area but he took a long route and gave me the tourist burn) so I said later to the cab and walked hotel to hotel till I found one that took a credit card (there was only one) and I had a room and a hot shower. I got sorted out in the room and made it out to the street at about 7pm. I put down a couple beers with the last of my rupiah with the hope that I had enough for the tax to leave this place in the a.m. My flight was at 7:50 a.m. so I was going to have to get up at 5 a.m. to get a motorbike ride to the bus station ($1.00), the hour bus ride to the airport ($2.00) and I figured a $10.00 tax to leave Indonesia. So I walk around for a bit and hit the sack. Up at 5 a.m. and make it to the bus station and into the terminal and up to the lion air counter. The guy at the counter smiles and tells me that I cannot get on the flight since my visa to Saigon is expired. I explain that I can purchase an emergency visa at the terminal when I land in Saigon. He has a powwow with a few other employees, walks around the terminal, comes back and tells me too bad, I am will not make my flight AND my ticket is no longer valid if I don't make the flight, meaning I will need to buy another ticket. And he also tells me that I only have one more day left on my Indonesian Visa so I am screwed. Each day you overstay a visa, it is $20.00 u.s. He tells me that the only way to fix this is to take the hour bus back to Jakarta and beg the Vietnamese Embassy to grant a temporary visa so I can get a flight the next day. No guarantees, though. I asked for a later flight that day. No later flights. Also, no credit cards. I needed cash. I was out of that almost so I left the terminal and my flight left without me. There were no banks in the terminal so I hired a motorbike to take me and my heavy assed backpack and box of hand carved picture frames about 15 minutes from the airport to a building that housed a few travel agents and luckily, a bank branch. I was able to get money from the bank and that was a relief. I walked next door and sat down with a travel agent. How much to LAX today? Right now. Direct. $900.00 u.s. How much to Saigon tomorrow. One way. Remember, I still have a return ticket from Saigon for September 1st to LAX. So thru the travel agent, another ticket for the next morning is $400.00 u.s. Shit. Thru the Lion counter it's $139.00 u.s. but I had so much trouble with them that I was afraid that they would, thru their incompetence, not sell me a ticket or bump me at the last minute. The whole time they bumped me from my first flight, they were laughing, not really understanding or caring that 1. I could get a temp visa in Saigon airport and 2. missing my flight would cause me to have to buy a whole new ticket to Saigon. Fcuked. Well, it's 9:30 a.m so I catch a motorbike back to the airport, catch the hour bus back to Jakarta, catch a tuk tuk (see photos- it's the three wheeled, enclosed vespa) back to the tourist area and into an internet cafe for the address to the Vietnamese Embassy. I got that written down and caught another tuk tuk from the tourist area to the Embassy. I walked in, sat down at the window and pled my case to the man in charge, a Vietnamese guy who laughed the whole time at my predicament. Needed all kinds of paperwork that I didn't have like the address and room number I was staying at before I left Saigon, the address and room number I would be staying at when I arrived, a copy of my ticket for September 1st, a passport photo (which I had, I couldn't believe it) and 40.00 cash. Well, I happened to have the reciept for the room I stayed in in Saigon before I left but the guy accused me forging it. I didn't have a copy of my U.S. return flight and I wasn't going to be able to get that for him. He shook his head and said "too bad, next!"
"WAIT!", I yelled. "What if I write a statement with all of the facts so you can show the man in charge?" He stood there for a moment and thought about it. He looked around the empty office. Said something in Vietnamese to the security guard. The security guard shrugged his shoulders. He looked back at me and said "ok." He gave me a blank piece of paper and a pen and I went to work. Two long paragraphs later I slid it back thru the window to him. He took some time to read it and slid it back. In his broken english, he got it thru to me that it hadn't expressed how sorry I was that I put myself into this situation on paper. Man, I didn't know what to say to that. I was so beyond being shocked that I asked for another piece of paper and in a nutshell, wrote that I was a total idiot and should not travel, would check myself into an insane asylum when I return to America and I hoped that they would feel sorry for my disasterous vacation and grant me a visa, good for six days so I could exit Indonesia, enter Vietnam, exit Vietnam and enter the U.S. I passed this revised statement thru the slot, he took it, said "Lunch. Two hours. You come back then. No guarantee.", pulled down the shade and that was that. I just stood there and stared at the glass. I was dumbfounded. I had some lemon cookies from the night before so I went outside the embassy to the street and the tuk tuk driver, who was waiting, and I sat there for the two hours and shot the shit as best as we could, eating lemon cookies and hot water out of his bottle. Two hours goes by and the shade goes up.
"Bad news" he says. "Denied." "Just kidding!" Big laugh from the security guard. I just had to laugh. It was all so retarded, I couldn't do anything else. He took my $40.00, gave me my passport back with the new visa inside and told me to have a good day. I was very relieved but knew I had to take that hour bus ride back to the airport to deal with Lion Air again. I wasn't looking forward to that. Well, get it done. I had the tuk tuk guy take me back to the bus station, on the bus for an hour and into the airport terminal and up to the Lion Air window. Oh shit. These guys were something else. I stood there at the window for two hours arguing with them as they ate food, smoked, laughed and had a great time, all the while telling me that the visa was no good, the dates were wrong, I needed a different visa from the embassy and whatever else they could think up. I was starting to think I was going crazy. These bastards sent me to the Vietnamese Embassy to get the new visa, which I could have gotten in Saigon had they just let me on the plane, and then when I get it they tell me it's no good. I finally noticed that one of the employees was not participating in this game and when she came out I cornered her and asked her to help me out. She went inside the terminal and spoke to someone who came out and stepped into the office where all the employees were having a good old time on my account. They saw this guy and they all straightened right up. This guy was screaming at the top of his lungs, out of the 5 of them, a girl and a guy started crying. It was great. I guess they were just fcuking with me and wanted to see if I would give up and leave. The supervisor gave me my passport, ran my card, gave me my ticket, apologized and I there I was, owner of another valid ticket for the next morning's flight. I flipped the 5 employees the bird and walked back to the bus, got on for the hour ride back to the tourist area, found a cheap hostel room and hit the sack. Up again at 5 a.m. for the motorbike ride to the bus station, the hour bus ride to the airport and into the terminal and up to the Lion Air counter to check in. I couldn't believe it. They started telling me that my Vietnamese visa wasn't valid and my Indonesian visa was now expired so I couldn't fly. I just sat down and shook my head. I took a few minutes to calm down, went back to the counter and pulled one person aside, showed them the dates closely on the Vietnamese Visa, explained that the date on the Indonesian Visa was valid for the day I was flying and somehow talked them into letting me thru to the terminal. But it wasn't over yet. Oh no. So before I could go thru to the boarding area I had one more checkpoint for the Indonesians to knock me. They look at your visa and I'll be damned if this guy didn't tell me I owed him $20.00 because I was flying on the last day of my visa. I tried to explain that I was permitted to fly and he looked at me square in the face and said "You want me to cancel your ticket? Give me the money." Screw it. Here's $30.00. You win. Let me the hell out of here. He took it. I walked. I made it on the flight and wouldn't you know it, the freaking pilots invited me into the cockpit halfway thru the flight to hang out. I couldn't believe it. I grabbed my digital camera and shot video of my shocked ass as I went in and LANDED WITH THEM!!!! Are you serious? I couldn't be more stoked. Ok. So that was Jakarta. In a nutshell. The photos are as follows. The top two are of some shaft drive bmw's that I thought Rodney would like. They were just sitting in front of some closed business a street over from the tourist area. The third is of two three wheeled motorbikes. Cool chassis. There was an aftermarket chassis like that you could weld on to your harley in the 40's. A modern version here. The car here was the only V8 that I saw in Indonesia but the two I saw were well taken care of. They sounded tough and the body style was very cool, slightly lowered and both black. The chicken photo I thought was funny 'cause it's on a banner in front of a restaurant but the chicken photo does not make me hungry for chicken. It is plump. I will say that. The next is of a common toilet in Indonesia. That's what you get. Do your business squatting over that bowl, for gods sake don't slip and fall or touch anything and when you are done, there is no toilet paper, you just grab that scooper in that filthy water and splash up on yourself...explaining it is grossing me out. I had to show you the level of disgusting using the toilet is here. 12 on a scale of 1 to 10. The next photo is of naturally green eggs. I had never seen a green egg so I took a photo. I shot a photo of the 'green sands' cans for Roland. They named a drink for you here. It should be in one of those stubby cans, though. I guess you look taller in photos. Then there is a photo of the tuk tuk and a frame by frame when it broke down on the way to the tourist area. A little side of the road clutch cable repair. Those tuk tuk's are Vespa powered and too cool. I loved it. As we were reparing the cable, the locals ran up to have their photos taken. The one guy insisted that I shoot a pic of him posed down on the chair. I loved it. The locals are just great. So friendly. Not one frown in the whole month I have been here. Nobody angry. It's so different from home. People are just so cool to each other here. Lastly, a model of minivan not offered in the U.S. which I thought had a cool looking body style, some green eggs, the side of the van is for Jason Ryder. The power of underwear! And the last video is cruising in the tuk tuk. I had to. It is just too cool. It's coming up to the end of my trip here. Let's see what happens next. I'll be as surprised as you.

Could this be the high point of a crazy trip?

This was pretty awesome. I was invited into the cockpit of the jet we were on... at 37,000 FEET! I'm sure it is pretty obvious I am super stoked. It almost makes up for the torture I had to endure at the hands of the Lion Air ticket agents and the Indonesian Visa guards. No, it did make up for it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

a night out with the international crew and Ricky from the hotel

I took Ricky who works at the hotel out to all you can eat tapas last night. We met up with a small group of people that I met the night before. Joseph was from England, Amy was from South Africa, and there was another guy who was from Italy I think. I forget his name but a cool guy nontheless. They just came from Laos and will be in Bali for another few days and then they are off to Darwin, Australia where they plan on picking fruit for the next six months. Jesus! The night ended in a neighboring alley at a small shop called 'Green Box' with a tray of Arakin front of us, which is a seriously strong liquor similar to ouzo, my favorite licorice liquor. The shots were only .50 u.s. and we each had 5 or 6. I tried to read when I got back to the hotel but I was a mess. Today I had a motorbike guy take me to Denpasar so I could buy some hand carved picture frames. I stopped off at a vespa restoration shop on the way back and shot a video for Drews of the ghetto restoration process. They purchase Thai repop parts for the bikes. I asked him about the difference between Indian parts and Thai and he said Indian is junk and the Thai is licensed by Piaggio. The finished product is very, very nice. A completely restored '60's vespa is under 2k u.s. shipped to Los Angeles. That is very cheap. I have a few other odds and ends to buy before heading out to Poppies to sell my board and pack up for the flight to Jakarta in the a.m. One night there and two in Saigon and I'm back in good ol' U.S. of A.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

drunk australians like fire

I was in Billabong across from my hotel, upstairs, on the couch in front of the big screen tv they have set up and snapped a photo of the row of boards. I was foaming. In the evening one of the employees puts on a recent billabong flick with the directors audio on so I sit my ass down like it's my living room and watch. They don't seem to mind at all. Actually, they come up one at a time and hang out. The boards with the artwork were at another shop and they reminded me of Ross' Morgans painted boards so I snapped a photo of them. He did a shipwreck series one year which was very cool. The two vespas were just on the street. The red one was a piece of crap but the painted one was nuts. This guy had a matching helmet for himself and his kid! There are a few shops here with nicely painted vespas in the display windows. I'll try to get a shot of those if I can. The vid is of the fire dancer guys in front of the restaurant I was at. Most of the nicer restaurants along Legian Road hire this crew to swing fiery ropes around. Without fail, some drunk Australian guy will come up and try to grab one of the flaming ends. The flame guys hate this and I saw one of them hit a guy with an end. I had to get a shot of them. I have a few more days here and then off to Jakarta for a night, two days in Saigon and back to sunny California. I'm thinking LaSelva Beach. I am really missing Northern California. Where from there? I have no idea and that is a nice way to live for now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

...and I thought my old job had management issues!

This Kartika Plaza Hotel place is brutal! I saw this sign on the door leading to the personnel department. Damn. I guess if you are willing to submit to a rectal swab at work, you certainly aren't going to complain about some overtime or working weekends. Good way to weed out the troublemakers! I shot over to the Plaza again last night to catch the beach screening of 'A Fly in the Champagne', the new Irons surf movie but my damn hotel didn't fix the clock after the last power outage so I was an hour late and the movie was an hour long. Plus it rained on my the whole ride over. Still, I'm in Bali so no big deal. I went out to the beach anyway to see if there was anything going on and they were setting up a balinese rockabilly band on the beach. The lead singer was one of the Kuta lifeguards, I was told. I did like that a little kid jumped up on stage and danced thru a couple songs and the singer ended up picking the kid up and telling him to get off the stage. That was funny. So much for family fun. I got to talking to two girls who I recognized from the night before at 'The Drifter' premier. Tara and Ray. They had led the beach yoga before the movie. I asked how that went and they said nobody showed but the orphans that came for the movie. The hotel must have kicked all the orphans out after the film because I didn't see one orphan walking around. They girls were really funny and we had a good laugh. Hopefully I'll run into them Saturday at the Matt Archibold documentary. Ray has sarcastic humor that I really like. My mother and Carlos have the same dark wit. H-bomb does too. But then he shows you the duct tape and carpet in his trunk and the joke has gone too far. Anyway, they gave me a lift down to Poppies and I walked up to the hotel and ordered the Nasi Champur, a Mi Goreng and a melon drink, posted up in the hotel and read half of Gorky Park and one quarter of The Exorcist III. Exciting! Or not. The Macho Man is a powder that they sell where I get my melon drink. I like that it says 'top instant'. HA! How much is that?

The surf is small but the surf movies are good.

It turns out my illness was due to bad noodles and sauce, not deadly mosquitos. That's a relief. Last night was a good time. I got a pass to the screening of the Steele/Machado film 'The Drifter', which was run at the Kartika Plaza Hotel. It was a very nice affair with jim beam served before and after. There was no q and a but I was able to corner Taylor Steele after and pick his brain for a while. On my way over I took a photo of my favorite surfer, Kassia Meador, wrapped on a quicksilver delivery van. I bought a pass to the screening of her new film, 'Dear and Yonder' for the end of the week there at the Kartika. I also got a shot of a custom gas tank off of a rigid triumph that was parked on the side of the road. I would have taken a shot of the whole bike but the owner's friend decided to jump on and tear ass down the street. I was late for the show so I took off after the tank photo. That ran till 10pm. I caught a ride on a motorbike back to the hotel and dug into some Nasi Champur and the new Mario Puzo book I just traded the Dumas book for. Tonight the film 'Fly in the Champagne' is screening on the beach for free at 9 so on comes the deet and off I go. I'll catch a surf at dusk, come back for the usual dinner and hitch a ride over to the show.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Off to Lombok and really, really good waves

So anyways, I had to split because at that moment I was going to sit or heave. Pick one. I shot back to the room, took an immodium and a tradol, laid down and pulled a little shao-lin don't puke focusing. Don't move a muscle cause the medicine will come up and we'll be at square one again. I woke up a few minutes ago and was able to walk here without any stomach drama. I hope it was just the greasy chicken carbonara I ate last night topped off with a chocolate and a vanilla shake. I'm crossing my fingers. So last we spoke I was just getting my debit card sorted out. I had purchased my earplugs and the guys at the hotel gave me a ocean and earth boardbag that fits the 6'2" I bought used. I had to get a new plastic zipper put on but that $5 saved me $40 off of a new one. I picked up a new long sleeve rash guard off of Poppies also. I saw something cool at the Hurley store, where I stopped to look for the earplugs. Little Scott Stopnik was posted up on the wall in an art exhibit they put together on the second floor. I took a photo for ya. I told one of the girls who works there I knew him and she gave me a kiss. HA! Nice to see someone I know here even if it is just a photo. Carito had called the hotel the night before and told one of the three guys at reception that she would be arriving the next night so I waited for her to see if she wanted to shoot out to Lombok by rickety auto ferry and on to Kuta Lombok by mini-bus. She showed up and was all for it. As long as she was back by the 17th to split Bali to meet her guy somewhere, she was on board. We hit Legian street, which is the other main drag that cuts across Poppies II to make a reservation for the ferry and for pickup the next morning at 6:30 a.m. Got the pickup with no snags. We were driven in a cramped 8 person rickety minivan to the nearest port and waited on the street with a crowd of about 600 people for the ferry to start boarding. I didn't sleep very well the night before so I wanted to try to get a sleeping berth from one of the ferry crew. I had heard a rumour that I could ask anyone in a uniform for a berth and they would rent their own bunk out to you for a small fee. There was a big crowd forming on the dock as the ferry dropped it's roll-on auto ramp. Carito is a charger so she jumped into the middle of it waving our tickets and as they decided who was going to board this grossly overloaded ferry, she cajoled her way past the crowd and freaked the gate guy out with her broken columbian/english. She got thru and somehow I shimmied past all these yelling people and made it thru the gate, up the haggard looking auto ramp and up into the gaping maw where they park the cars. I felt like I wasn't doing my part so I hit up the guy for the berth and he led us up to the wheelhouse deck and into a 4 berth cabin. 100,000 rupiah was his first offer. Carito stepped up, being the brutal negotiator that she is and got it knocked down to 50,000 rupiah, or $5. We each had a bunk to ourselves plus two to spare so of course, she bolted out to try and sublet the other two. She dragged two super hot French girls in to look at the cabin but they balked so I calmed her down and told her to look at the bright side. At least if the ferry rolls over, it will be a quick death for us. Everyone else was piled upon each other in the aisleways and on anything they could stretch out on. It was wild. They would be tossed into the sea and devoured by sharks. We always had the chance of getting Poseidon on it. I would play the part of Ernest Borgnine, of course. So we got comfortable and woke up 4 hours later sweating and half boiled alive from the humidity in the cabins. The ferry arrived in port and we were off to find our shuttle to Kuta Lombok, another 2 hour ride across the island. During the ride we got to talking to a New Zealand couple who were on vacation from their boutique winery. Rough life. Very nice people and they had the same list of hotels we had so we searched the small town of Kuta Lombok together for pair of rooms or a room to share since every place was booked solid for the next week. We finally found a place called Kens Hotel. They were willing to rent us the employee quarters. Dirty but accomodation nonetheless. There was only one and of course Carito was first to the desk and had the transaction on lock within moments at a reasonable price. The New Zealanders were assed out by the other crowd that arrived in a shuttle moments before. We offered to split the room with them and they accepted. After a moment getting settled, the hotel opened up one of their nicer rooms for them so they hopped on that and we continued on in the employee quarters. That night the New Zealanders came out to dinner with us. We found a place called Lombok Cafe, right on the beach where they offered a Baracudda steak with all the fixins for 45,000 rupiah. Needless to say I ate that all three nights we were there. It was cooked with some special indo bar-b-q sauce that I could have bottled and sold at home. A few Bintangs and we hit the hay, ready to go exploring by motorbike the next day. The morning found Carito dashing across the street to see if there was any accomodation available at a little homestay/cottage we had been turned away from. Of course, she weaseled us in and we had a very nice room with hot shower and flushing toilet for 22,000 per night with bannana pancake breakfast included. We moved our stuff, rented a motorbike and we were off thru the Lombok hills towards a beach called Mawun. It turned out to be a picture perfect bay with a right and a left on each side of the opening. Not working that day but we were told by some Germans we met who were off surfing around that the next beach, Maui, was hitting and was good. It was getting late so we decided to head back to town and to hit Maui in the morning. We did that and oh shit. Look at the video. I wish I would have had everyone there with me. It was a solid swell so only the left was working but I saw during the smaller sets that on a smaller swell, there was a head high peak that rolled in with a perfect right and left bowler peeling right into the bay. The rights on the other side of the opening to the bay weren't working due to the tide but they were large and breaking a bit like San Ono on a really, really big day. Spent most of the day there and then back down the road towards town. It's a 40 minute ride from Kuta Lombok to Maui beach. The road is half paved, half dirt rutted from ox carts and totally dangerous. I didn't take this road at night but I guarantee someone has died taking one of the hills too fast. There are ruts, water buffalo, chickens, rabid dogs, monkeys, giant rocks, giant holes, and super steep inclines and declines. Add an incredible view everywhere you look and it's almost impossible to keep your eyes peeled for either one of those animals bolting out of the bushes to take you out or riding into a hole large enough to stop you dead in your tracks. Another think I noticed is these Indonesians live way way way below any poverty line we might draw. When we stopped the motorbike for a photo, little kids would come out and ask for water, not money. Every little village we passed thru, groups of kids would gather and wave as we rolled in and out. Everyone smiling and wanting to share the english words they know. Certainly the nicest and friendliest country I have ever been to. We made it back to the hotel just before nightfall and ran over to the restaurant where they have the incredible barracuda dinner. We caught a beautiful sunset, drank our share of Bintangs and took a cruise down the coast for an hour or so towards the largest hotel in town, Novatel Resort. This place is really well designed. Almost like a Gaudi sculpture. Full of spires and high peaked thatch buildings, temples around all of the bungalows..very nicely done. On the road I would get behind a slow moving truck or bike and kill our lights so other than the lights ahead of us, it was pitch black aside from the stars above. More stars here than on a good night in the desert. Breathtaking sky and you could hear the surf pounding on the shore. After an hour of cruising around on the motorbike, we headed back to the hotel. I had purchased the dvd's Ulu 32 and Bruno from Kuta Bali and Carito wanted to see Bruno but we didn't have a dvd or tv in our room. There was one in the hang out area at the hotel reception. We took the video up front and it was packed with all of the backpackers and tourists. There was a long table that seated about 15 people that everyone was sitting at with the dvd setup on a bookcase right at the head of the table. I asked everyone if they minded that I put on a movie and nobody seemed to care. There were about 4 french and spanish girls, 5 german guys, 4 french guys and the whole family who owned the hotel sitting around. I went up and fiddled with the wires, got the dvd in the player and hit play. I took a seat right up front and Carito sat beside and behind me a bit. I hit the volume to drown out the guy playing guitar and oh shit. I haven't been so freaking uncomfortable in a very, very long time. The movie is one step away from a gay porno. At one point it was full frontal dong for about 10 seconds on the screen and I could only guess what the French and Spanish girls were saying as they rushed out irate and swearing in their native languages. These people weren't expecting this. It was so funny, I died laughing when we made it back to the room after it was over. On a side note, the germans loved it. I'm not surprised. That was our last night and we were picked up at 9:30am by the shuttle to take us to the ferry and the ride back to Kuta Bali. We got a lot of icy stares when we were paying our bill. I ended up giving the dvd to the germans. HA! Figures.

this is how long you can sit when you feel like shit

Before I get into the gory details I must share some of the dreams I have been having. I think it's due to the deet mosquito repellent I rub into myself morning, night and afternoon. Either way the dreams I am having are wild and so vivid, I wake up and wonder if it was real or not. The latest was great. I was outside of a house in a neighborhood just south of Trask on Beach Blvd. in Westminster, CA, where I live. I was standing with some people in the front yard and two indonesian guys came up and asked if I wanted to buy some cocaine. I said no and turned to the people I was standing with and told them I suspected it was guys sent by the Westminster P.D. trying to set me up. I split from that place and next I'm riding up to a bar on the Kill Yourself pan/shovel. I'm going to throw up right now so I will have to continue this later. Ok I'm back. So a group of guys pulls up on their newer bikes and I tell the bouncer, who is standing outside that I suspect it's the P.D. again and start rolling my bike back to split. The new guys ride up and take offense to this and block my way with their bikes. One guy gets off and grabs my arms from behind and the other guy steps up in front of me. I reach back and pluck out the eye of the guy behind me and then reach forward and do the same to the other guy. They lie writhing on the ground in the parking lot as I back my bike out and split. THEN I'm standing on a street with Drews and a 1960's Customline van pulls up, faded blue, and stops on the street. The side barndoors open and it is packed with the about 6 of the Hells Angels from all of the Roth Posters. Buzzard, etc. Buzzard jumps out and gives Drews a hug and pulls him into the van where I watch them all talk for a while. Drews then jumps out and pulls me up to the van. He says that the Pres has some words of advice for me. I look in and George Christie is sitting there among the older Angels from the posters. He motions me to jump in and I do. He looks me square in the face and tells me "Next time get some punches in. You pluck a guys eye out and it's all over. Where's the fun in that?" I agree and get out. I woke up thinking, "shit, did I poke a guys eye out last night?" I can usually trace my dreams to things that happened to me the previous days. I was wishing I could find a copy of the Deadwood series in Saigon so that takes care of popping the guys eyes out. I also came across a Vietnamese guy in the backpacker area who was totally covered in tattoos. I asked him if I could take a photo with him for posterity. He agreed and when I looked on his back, I was stunned. He's got no idea what the tattoo means at home. To him, he's just saying 'screw society'. That's only one of many really cool dreams I have had. Probably pretty boring to the reader but they are so vivid, I actually feel like I was in the van talking to these guys. It's crazy. The brain is so cool.

Monday, August 10, 2009

the battle with citibank operators

The next few days are spent walking around Kuta trying to get Carito straightened out with her diving trip she is taking, hanging out on the beach and trying to kick the ear infection. The ringing is unbearable and the pain is painful. Still, I am in Bali. So Carito gets dialed in to head up to Northern Bali where she is meeting a guy so while sitting on the beach I strike up a conversation with a guy from the Santa Cruz area who is here surfing and he tells me what I need to know to get the ferry over to Lombok and off to Lakey Peak, where I plan on staying for a while. Talk to some people there and maybe head to Timor. Well, cancel that. Carito is getting her stuff together and I can't for the life of me find my goddamned debit card. WTF? I just had it. I never put it down, ever. It is always in my back pocket. I value that thing more than my passport! Well, it's not here. I still have my credit card as backup, thank god. Carito and I head over to the local bank and I'll be damned if the freaking card didn't expire in 2006! I never use it and haven't ever looked at the...ah forget it. I cut that thing in half and I talked Carito into spending her last night getting me sorted out with her Skype account. Making a call here is totally expensive-.80-1.00 per minute and I know that calling Citibank is going to take a while. We got over to the internet cafe and I how wonderful! I connected right away with a helpful and caring Citibank operator who understood my plight and truly wanted to help! Oh happy day. Carito wisely brought along the card for the hotel so I gave the hotel address, phone number and even the hotel owners email address to the operator and she assured me that a new card was being sent out right then! She would personally put it in the mail and it would be there by Thursday. It was Monday night. Well, I checked my pockets and I still had about 11 bucks in Rupiah so hell. No problem. A couple days posted up in the room, eat cheap. No beers. I can wait it out. Carito offered to loan me some cash but I put up my hand and proudly declined. I can wait a couple days. She was off in the morning and I did the usual. Off to the small cafe down the street for a bannana pancake and some strong coffee. About 4 bucks. That leaves me 7 bucks. Have a 3 buck dinner and I'm down to 4 bucks. One day to go. Thursday comes. And Thursday goes. No card and not nearly enough money left to make a call to Citibank. The three guys that work at the desk are aware of my delimma so they offer to pick up some dinner when they go to get there own. The usual meal here morning, afternoon, and night is either nasi goreng: spicy rice with a small bit of chicken, mi goreng: spicy noodles with a small bit of chicken or nasi champur, my personal favorite: rice with some sauce, bit of chicken and a small piece of tofu. Sometimes you get a little piece of eggplant if a piece accidentally gets caught up with the other stuff as the cook puts it together. The meal is wrapped up in a folded piece of construction paper and you eat with your hands. Mi goreng costs 5k rupiah, or 50 cents, nasi champur costs 75 rupiah, or 75 cents. I got down with the nasi champur. I also bought a can of melon juice with a rhinocerous on it. It tastes exactly like fresh honeydew melon. There is a photo of both. Well, Friday passes. I get one meal. Saturday passes. I get one meal. Sunday passes. I get one meal. Still no card. I pool all of my money and I have just over one dollar left. I head out to the internet cafe and get the number for Citibank. I then go to a couple local vendors and find one who will let me use their phone to call a toll free number. The next ten minutes I spent trying to convince the citibank employee that I was on a borrowed phone and she had typed my password in wrong, transposing two letters. If I could have reached thru the phone, I swear to god. I finally convinced the lady and she put me on hold. What? AAAAAAAAH! All the while the phone's owner is trying to get me to give her the phone back but I am almost there. They are going to tell me where the card is! Almost there! 5 minutes later the lady gets back on the phone to tell me that the address I gave her was incorrect and that UPS tried twice to deliver but could not. "Where is the card now?", I ask. "I don't know", she replies. "What do I do now?", I ask. "I can't tell you", she replies. I'm beside myself at this point. After I explain to her what a shitty situation I am in, she asks me if I want the tracking number. No. I don't want any possible solution to my problem. What's wrong with you lady? I get that out of her and hang up. I hand the phone back to the lady, who is visibly upset. I thank her profusely and make my way back to the internet cafe. 30 cents to use the internet long enough to get the address of UPS in Denpasar, where my card MIGHT be. No dinner that night. Monday morning rolls around and I head out to the road to get a motorbike driver to take me to the Denpasar office. Problem is I only have 10,000 rupiah left, or $1.00. It's past the airport and when I got here, it cost me 3 bucks just to get into town from there one way. I'm needing a round trip ticket here. I finally find a guy who is willing to take me. I don't think he knows how far it is and if I get the card from this office, which is no guarantee, I plan on kicking this guy some extra. Can't make that promise, though. This is my last buck. Were off and 30 minutes later we pull up to the UPS office. Up to the counter and I show my tracking number. The lady shrugs her shoulders and walks into the back. I follow her to the doorway and watch as she digs into a big pile of boxes. I'm looking for a credit card here. After a few minutes she reaches the bottom of the pile and pulls out an envelope with my name on it! Bastard! I have a look and the stupid Citibank operator didn't put the complete address. Whatever. I take out the card and try it in the closest atm. Nope. A second atm. No dice. It seems I need to call citibank to get it activated. I just have to laugh. I ask the guy to take me back to the lady with the phone. I'm leaving it up to her. If she says yes, ok. I get the card activated. No, I break the fcuking thing go sell my surfboard and my ipod on the street. We get back and the lady is in a great mood and hands the phone over to me! Nice! I get Citibank on the phone and again, with the password! Just activate the damn card so I can go to the atm. What do you mean it's not an atm card? They didn't send me an atm card, they sent me a credit card. I don't have a credit account with Citibank. WTF? Who decides how much $ I get? I just want my own money at this point. Citibank waves a magic wand and tells me to go to a bank and hangs up on me. WTF again. I cross the street to the closest bank and they don't do cash advances there but the other branch does, a mile away. I get the feet going and make it to this other branch. I show my card and my passport and they hand me money. I should have been more careful with that damn debit card.

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