Category: Observations

better

The Year of Living Better

Expat get-togethers at year’s end can turn edgy when well-lubricated newbies sound off about this nation’s defects. Those of us who’ve lived here longer and have a...

Soup

Rat’s Tail Soup

Around the corner from my hotel in the Cambodian city of Phnom Penh is a small Indonesian restaurant. Having lived in Indonesia for twenty years, I can claim to know a...

The Battle of the Beer

It was Christmas Eve 1984, and, just like I did every Christmas Eve in those days, I was running around the shops at the last minute desperately trying to find gifts for...

trains

Never the Trains Shall Meet

Not long ago, any authentic Indonesian model railway set required dozens of tiny model passengers perched precariously on the roofs of carriages. Occasionally, some...

Jakarta

Health and Safety Indonesian Style

A few years ago, my father told me that he would like to come and visit me in Jakarta. He had never been to Jakarta before, or even Asia, so this would be a great...

Keyboard Agonies and Publishing Ecstasy

It was a mixed mob that gathered at Madura’s Trunojoyo University. Mainly young, overwhelmingly female, many frustrated, a few triumphant, all infected. If they...

Public Transport: Masochism for the Masses

Daniel Pope endures and occasionally enjoys Jakarta’s improving public transport options. Travel these days is absurdly easy. Just flip open your communicator and say,...

questions

Questions, Questions, Questions

I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories and there are several reasons why: It’s too easy to manipulate evidence and tamper with videos, it’s too easy to keep...

Could It Happen Here?

Early in the morning of the June 14, 2017 a fire caused by a faulty fridge freezer on the fourth floor of the Grenfell Tower apartments in London caused a catastrophe in...

The Malls That Ate Jakarta

When humans eventually colonise Mars, it’s a toss-up what they will build first. If they’re Chinese, they might put up some casinos. The Americans would likely erect...

The Tastes of Paradise

Anyone who has set foot in Indonesia will be familiar with these local versions of products that expatriates learn to either delight in or sneer at. Some are an acquired...

going

Going at Home and Going Away

I had only been back in the UK for a day and already I was in a public lavatory watching another man’s vigorous actions. After some rubbing and squirting, he invited...

The Big Bang Bang Theory

I was born and raised in the UK, where there are around 6.6 guns for every 100 people (this is the highest number I could find in any recent statistical study). As an...

Potential is a Dangerous Aphrodisiac: Indonesia on a Tinder Box of Aspirations

I have been traveling to Indonesia on business for more than a decade and I find it amazing how pervasive and persistent the discussions on the “Potential of...