Thursday, June 11, 2009



i was in makassar recently and found out that our pm DS najib had just visited the town about a week before and a road was named after him somewhere. i don't know what kind of road it is. how major it is or if it's just an alley way , a lorong in a pijat zone of makassar. it was a first anyway as i don't think there's a road anywhere named after our PM yet apart from this one. and so soon after he became pm too. quite an achievement this. apparently najib is quite proud of his bugis heritage and the sulawesi bugis are obviously proud of him too. i wonder if the sulawesi people know anything about altantuya and the c4 stories.

but they sure know about manohara. the moment i checked in the first question the beautiful indonesian check-in girl at the hotel counter asked me was why did the sultan of kelantan beat up manohara. i said it was not the sultan. the guy is old and sick and i know nothing about the strange sex games these people play. i mean manohara is just seventeen! she could have mistaken a rough sex game with beatings, who knows. and today we hear that the prince, manohara's husband is denying everything and planning a lawsuit.

well, that would be interesting. i certainly would love to know what really happened. i don't know anything about manohara until this scandal blew over a few weeks back and i still don't know anything but i sure would like to know all the dirty details of what actually happened. i mean why on earth a prince would want to beat a seventeen year old girl and one of the most beautiful models of indonesia too? but then again, we all have heard that many bluebloods of the world are nothing but assholes.

when i told my indonesian friends that i wanted to visit makassar their first reaction was why on earth anybody want to go to makassar? there's nothing there . and that is just about quite right although i found the old port at poatere quite actual destination was to see the interesting culture of tana toraja people. and since i'm not one of these intrepid travellers who like to rough it out i simply hired a taxi for three days and the driver became my chauffer and tour guide. and tok ba proved to be an excellent driver and tour guide.

i'm now at a stage of life where i find modern western cities absolutely boring. i now have no desire to visit USA or UK or any western european cities anymore. certainly not any of the fucking german cities although i've never been to germany but i would certainly be interested to go to albania or khazakstan. and probably i will one day too.

and these days my reading is mainly travel books. my collection of travel books are getting bigger and bigger . from classics like Goethe's Italian journey to Redmond O' Hanlon's congo Journey or Into the heart of Borneo and william dalrymple's city of Djinns and so on. for the first time in a very very long time i can't remember finishing any novel yet this year. this is not to say i don't read any. in fact i started on too many and half read novels are piling up higher and higher and i had to put a small book rack beside my bed and it's now full of half read novels. the last book i finished from cover to cover was in fact a travel book . it was colin thubron's in siberia and now i'm into the last quarter of in search of khazakstan :the land that dissapeared by christopher robbins. this is quite a fascinating book and mr robin painted kazakhstan entirely differently from shall we say borat's kazakstan.

one of the most interesting sections was about the nuclear arsenals left by the old soviet union in kazakstan. there was an intense competition between the US government and the other parties from the iranians to the al qaeda gangs trying to buy these arsenals but sad to say the president nursultan nazabayev in the end sided with the US. if he did the opposite the world would have been a lot more interesting now. although mr robbins painted a rather positive picture of nursultan nazabayev from what i read elsewhere he is quite a bastard. and you know a country is quite fucked when you read that a teenage girl living in one of the remotest places on earth had her yurt wall full of posters of english bubble gum singers and listening to britney spears at full blast.

another travel book that i'm currently reading is a much more straightforward travel writing by a guy who did it the hard way. Stranger in the forest:on foot across borneo by Eric Hansen is a much simpler writing of a personal journey in the jungle of borneo with some fascinating insights about the penans and other native people of the remote areas of kalimantan and serawak. some of the old cultures of these people are not unlike the people of tana toraja.

but tana toraja people are quite something else. it's the only people that i know of that make funeral ceremonies the highlight and focal point of their lives. the burial custom is quite simply macabre. pointless for me to say anything more about it as it is so wellknown and so i'll just stop here for now. you can see some of the pictures from my flickr site here if you like....

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