Monday, September 22nd, 2003 – Day 216 to Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003 – Day 217

Monday, September 22nd, 2003 – Day 216

I am writing this bog today in a NET cafe 1km from the home of the Bali Bomb mastermind called Imam Samudra.

Many of the Bali and Jakarta Marriott bombers came from Solo and much of the planning was done here. I have seen many young men wearing Osama Bin Laden T-shirts in Java and Madura – maybe 5/6 since I arrived. Thats a high percentage. One came on board my bus in Madura and gave out letters of introduction to all (except me) looking for donations. In Madura, the bus was stopped in front of every Mosque and people threw donations out the windows.

The Bali bombers were rootless young men recruited from the dusty poverty of a West Javan village, their overseer an older, more worldly West Javan burning with the zeal of Islam and with the contacts to organise and bankroll their jihad. Eric Ellis retraces their steps as they moved from village to town, drawing up their plans, meeting the fixers, financiers and bombmakers, and finally assembling and detonating the devices that would kill and maim so many in a Kuta Beach tourist precinct. Read the story here.

It seems there is an attitude in Indonesia that foreigners are fair game. This includes Chinese whom Indonesians have a particular dislike for.

For the Bali bombing, the plotters decided to finance their jihad by robbing non-believers. Stealing from infidels was not a crime. Two Bali bombers called Andri and Andi donned balaclavas and pistols to raid the Toko Elita Indah jewelry store in downtown Serang of $A80,000 in cash and gold. It helped that Elita’s owners were Chinese, regarded by many Javanese as polluters.

I think the same goes on today in regards the attitude many here have of non-Muslims. If may think I have been too critical yesterday. Don’t get me wrong. I like Indonesia, I love the food and the people but when it comes to money they loose the plot and who can blame them.

In 1997, the country collasped. The currency went from 2500 to 1$ to 17,000 to 1$ and inflation was 80%. Many blamed the IMF and still do. Information on the 1997 crisis can be found here.

I see four people died on Saturday as troops and police tried to rescue a group of more than 800 tourists, including about 40 foreigners, being held by the protesters at a roadblock near Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Last week, indigenous Aymara Indians had blocked major roads linking the country’s capital – La Paz – with other towns in Bolivia and also with neighboring Chile and Peru.

In local news, Indonesia’s police chief has warned that militants are planning more attacks on his country (19/09/2003).

I decided that for today and tomorrow I would update my website (the one you are reading). I have left it for about 11 days and its falling behind. I hate those blogs that fit 1 month into two lines. THIS is a pictorial blog rather than a guidebook. Its to give you a visual pictorial aid to your trip plans. Basically, I found a NET cafe on Bayangkara Street that copies my photos onto disk for pnly 5,000 IR (some places in Bali charge you 65,000 IR – no kidding) and an hourly rate on a fast connection for 3,800 IR.

The only thing I did today was visit Kraton Surakarta

The susuhunan (king) Pakubuwono II moved his court to the newly built Kraton Surakarta in 1745. The palace was significantly expanded at the turn of the 20th century by his descendant Pakubuwono X. However, many of the structures were destroyed by fire in 1985 and have been reconstructed.

The kraton is still home to the susuhunana of Surakarta, which means that much of the residence is off limits. There is a museum and guided tour through parts of the kraton available.

There was supposed to be an admission fee but I just walked in. Nice museum with guns, horse carriages, costumes, art from Java.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia – Do you ever feel some one is watching you!!! (22-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia. Where’s an umbrella when you need one !!! Plants been watered at Kraton Surakarta (22-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia. Rickshaws (becaks) (22-09-2003)

According to the New York Times (21/09/2003), Indonesia Bans Foreign Aid Workers From Embattled Province of Aceh

According to the Washington Post, China’s Hippies Flock to Tibet to Sample a Simpler Existence

Found a good South East Asia News Site.

As you can see, I spent a lot of time on the Web as I have not been using it for 12 days. If anyone knows me, they know I am a NEWS JUNKIE. I did little in the evening. I just walked around looking and meeting the people. I do love the street food here.

Some recommendations:

Tempe: A soy-based solid food, remotely resembling beef. Eat with rice.

Nasi goreng or mie goreng sayur: Vegetable fried rice or noodles.

Rendang telur: Curry eggs. Eat with rice.

Tahu: Tofu

Sambal goreng kentang: Fried potatoes in chilli sauce. Eat with rice.

Bakwan: Vegetable fried in a flower-mixture.

Sayur asem: Green vegetable in a sweet and sour sauce.

Cah kangkung: Green Kangkung vegetable stir fried in a sweet soya or oyster sauce.

Lalab: Various green raw vegetables with chilli sauce (Indonesian salad).

More information can be found here. I love drinking ice here. Its so refreshing, usually 1000 IR for a half point. I only think I hate is thinking whether the ice is safe. I do not think about it. I see the ice coming to restaurants (usually on a horse driven cart, sold restaurant to restaurant a few times a day). They move it in big chunks to the bare ground and cut it up. Sometimes, they use a towel to have it safe and cut it up with a hatchet. Not very hygienic.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003 – Day 217

I decided last night to take the day off. If you have checked out the archives, you will have noticed I have been very busy for the past 7 months. I decided to sleep in and finish off updating the blog.

I was out of bed my 10.00am. They always get up so early here (5.00am) and you hear them sweeping and washing in the morning.

I spent the morning visiting the markets and eating. I had at least 4 meals before 2.00pm. I just wanted to try some great looking foods around the markets. Typical street food costs between 6,000 IR and 15,000 IR (1.80 Euro).

I enjoyed walking round. It hard to walk here as most shops keep there produce on the paths and people park their bikes there. Leading up to every business are steps so as you are walking its up and down, avoid the bike, restaurant etc. Its like an exercise mat. Its easier to walk on the road even though its is more dangerous, not that anybody walks here. I have never seen people walk any distance here. They use public bus, rickshaws or have a motor bike. When buses I have been on collect people on the road, people can be seen waiting 5 meter ahead. They never walk towards the bus. The bus starts up again and has to stop 5 meters on. Its true, they never walk anywhere!!! Yep, it hard to walk in comfort in the cities!!!

I also promised myself that I would not use my camera today. This would about the first day I have not used it. I have taken about 15,000 photos (digital) in seven months. Of course I deleted many of those soon after I took them. They were all saved to CD-R various times (except where I over wrote them one two occasions. Sorry to Sydney and Buenos Aires). It was tough not taking photos, but I enjoyed my day off doing nothing. I even had the time for a VERY cold (yes) noon beer. That felt good!!!

Back on the NET…..

I also see the Wires (23/09/2003) say more bombings are expected in Jakarta.

JAKARTA (Reuters) – The man accused of designing the bombs that rocked the tourist island of Bali last year and a Jakarta hotel last month plans to strike again in the Indonesian capital, the country’s police chief said Tuesday.

Azahari, a 46-year-old British-educated Malaysian engineer accused by authorities in several countries of being the top bomb-maker for the militant Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiah network, is still on the run and one of the most wanted men in Asia.

“The group is still planning bombings and terror in several places, particularly in Jakarta,” General Da’i Bachtiar told reporters before a hearing in parliament.

More good sites on Indonesia here.

I also found another Irish Travel blog. Three lads went from India to Ireland on motor bike during 2001. Not a great blog. I did nothing today. Thank God. I did buy a few souvenirs. Any happy anniversary to Tom and Marie back home.

I had a late dinner around 10.00pm. It was on a sidewalk mat. I had chicken BBQ. I was called over my a big guy who was eating. He was a businessman from Jakarta called Jon. His Merc was parked outside. He had good English and we spoke about Ireland, Indonesia and Finland. He had two associates (bodyguards) who never smoke and three (pay for play) local girls. I was there for over an hour and he wanted me to come to a Karoke club with him. His favorite topic of conversation was food and we spoke of it most of the time. He made me promise to ring him tomorrow to go driving round the city to sample the food. He said he would bring the three girls as well. Hmm. We will see.