Sunday, 11 April 2010

The tale of Cirebon and the girlkisser

So my planned weekend trip to Bandung has been postponed for a week... I hadn't left Jakarta since the visa run to Singapore, so I decided that I was going to get away for the weekend regardless. After talking briefly with a couple of the people that I was supposed to be going to Bandung with, there were three of us up for jumping on a train and heading somewhere random. I consulted the lonely planet guide and came up with the idea of Cirebon. It worked out quite well as Ashanti had planned to go and see Monas and the train station we were departing from is a five-minute walk from the Monas monument, so we managed to see that up close as well. I was so happy to be heading out of Jakarta – not that I mind it that much – I needed a change for a day...


Once we had arrived in Cirebon and fought our way through the mass of numpty taxi drivers trying to overcharge us – we got a taxi... and were overcharged ;) Either way it wasn't so bad and we made our way to a hotel to try and book in for the night. We were turned away by the Hotel Cahaya, but were relieved to discover a hotel with free rooms a 5 minute walk down the road. We managed to find the hotel – modestly named the Hotel Asia – and it was a shithole! We booked in regardless to save trundling around the town searching for somewhere else to stay! The room cost about 70,000 Rp (about £5) between the three of us... We left to try and find some food as quickly as we could... and the idea of returning wasn't exactly appealing!



We tried to find Cirebon harbour, which is a little difficult to find, especially considering none of us speak Indonesian fluently in a small Javanese town! :( We finally gave up trying to find the harbour after a trek across the town in some cycle taxis (unfortunately the Indonesian name escapes me!). We managed to find a Chinese restaurant that was okay, although I didn't finish the food, it wasn't particularly terrible... some of the food here can be!



After another trek across the centre of Cirebon – keeping in mind that it was starting to get late – we stumbled across a live band and watched them for a while. They were piss poor though really and weren't helped by the fact that their crowd were all still on their mopeds! Indonesians have some really peculiar habits... We also stumbled across a plethora of nice hotels and started to realise we'd made a bit of a faux pas... after being turned away by another 3-4 respectable looking hotels we stumbled across the Bentani Hotel... and there was room at the inn!!! This was a nice hotel with facilities and a bar. The room was really comfortable and we managed to get a discount for working at EF... about the first and possibly only perk of my job! Hopefully not though...



Once we'd woken up, had a nice breakfast and nipped back to the other hotel to get our stuff... we went to visit Kraton Kasepuhan! This is one of the four palaces in Cirebon and was well worth seeing. It dates back from sometime in the fifteenth century and has lots of cool stuff. Apparently the bricks are glued together with an adhesive made from the sap of a tree... unfortunately it's kind of hard to knock the idea of using what was described as 'tree glue' as the Indonesian archipelago suffers a shedload of earthquakes and this place has been standing peacefully for about 600 years!



I didn't ask the tour guide's name, so I'll call him... Jim! Jim knew a lot about the palace – not surprising I suppose as he is an official tour guide – but he was awesome and explained loads of stuff to us! He also started flapping the wings of the dragon on the King's chariot thing – which was pretty cool! Although the painting below is a picture of one of the King's grandfathers and it's eyes follow you wherever you are standing in the room – a pretty cool piece of art!...



I'm now back in Jakarta, having had a nice and random weekend! Although I've got work tomorrow and I'm feeling a bit too relaxed to be arsed to make a concerted effort tomorrow! :(


Anyway, as there has been relatively little cynicism in this post, I'll include a funny anecdote from last week. I've started teaching a class of sixteen year old boys. They are okay, but I think would try and take the piss out of me, had I not been very firm with them from the start. Last week was my first week teaching them and I was teaching them about cultural differences... which obviously bores them to death... and they don't really have much of an idea about any other cultures but their own really, besides the American influence in their malls. Anyway, one of the topics we were discussing was taboos in other cultures and they had decided that kissing in public was very taboo here in Jakarta... after a little tug-of-war trying to get past one of the cockier boys egos, I asked him if he'd ever kissed a girl (I was starting to get annoyed by his sarcasm)... he replied 'no...' and went bright red – so I asked him how he was such an authority on the subject? 1-0 me...

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