You can really depend on the gay community anywhere in the world to remind you of the international beauty pageants happening around. I was out of the loop about the schedule as I rarely watch TV nowadays but I was gladly reminded as this event is very much anticipated even by gay people here in Indonesia. And while watching it earlier with Indonesian colleagues, I get constant update from my Indonesian gay friends in BBM as well about the event. Kudos to these great friends.
Even before the live telecast, I have been proclaiming to everyone here that Ms. Philippines will win. No doubt. Ms. World 2013 is ours.
And true enough, HOORAY to Ms. Philippines, Megan Young, for bagging Ms. World 2013 here in Bali, Indonesia! And hooray also to my gay Indo friends who joined and shared with me this moment of gaping at the TV with frequent shrieks and matching jump-with-joy every time Ms. Philippines’ name is called on stage! It was like I won as I get SMS and BBMs from Indo friends congratulating me for winning. Wooooooooooooooooooooo!
During these moments, it is extra beautiful to be a Filipina.
And tomorrow I am looking forward to jests from Indonesian colleagues on why I don’t look nowhere near Megan Young. I couldn’t care less.
Yesterday, over talks on the eruption, we got hungry. A colleague asked me if I would like to try traditional Batak dishes. Batak is one of the many tribes in Indonesia and is one of the most popular in Sumatra. I actually have no preference at that particular time but at the mention of Batak, I immediately thought of Babi Panggang Karo (BPK) or grilled pork. Though Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world, many Bataknese are Christian due to the missionary work of Catholics and Protestants from a long time. Proof is you can find a church here every 10 km or so. No kidding.
After getting stuck in traffic for almost an hour just to get to that place which the colleague argues is serving very good Batak dishes, we arrived. The place has zero ambience. It’s like a hole-in-the-wall kind of place. No air condition. No table cloth. No fancy whatever. Just authentic food.
And these are what we got.
Saksang, according to the colleague, is a typical Batak dish cooked every time there are festivities like weddings and birthdays. This is mainly composed of chopped meat cooked in (animal’s) blood, coconut milk and spices. Saksang comes in two variations, pork meat or dog meat. Pork meat for now for me. I still cannot imagine eating dogs.
The colleague called this Kecap. Kecap actually means sauce here in Indonesia. I reckon Kecap manis with asin (sweet and salty soy sauce) with tomato sauce was used here. It tastes like adobo to me without the sour taste.
And this is my lovely Babi Panggang Karo or grilled pork. The pork doesn’t really taste anything special but this comes with a bloody sauce which gives this dish an interesting flavor. The bloody sauce tastes like Saksang actually, just spicier.
And these are the happy eaters.
As they say when in Rome, do what the Romans do. I have stopped asking for spoon and fork every time we eat out in places like this. Instead, you get a bowl of water to wash your hands with. I am no longer complaining, just embracing each and every moment of this wonderful culture that I was blessed to experience.
Looking like an authentic Indonesian here.
And that bulging stomach tells the whole story of how the lunch ended.
Yesterday, on my way back to the hills, I saw rows of stalls selling rambutan. Sometimes, or maybe most of the time, I forget that I am living in Indonesia. There are just so many similarities from landscape to food to people that I feel like I never left home. But of course I have to admit that stark dissimilarities are also very obvious.
So I told the driver to stop by one of the stalls. The experience of buying fruits on the wayside is very familiar to me. We do that all the time in the Philippines. The stack of fruits, the make of the display cabinet, even the seller looks very Filipino except of course the language that I used.
“Harga berapa ibu?”, I asked.
“15,000 satu ikat.”, she said.
They don’t sell the fruit by kilo but by bunch. One bunch looks like less than half a kilo to me. After doing a quick mental computation I remarked, “Mahal!”
That is about Php75 for less than half a kilo. Come on.
She didn’t seem to wince. I asked the driver and he said that is a fair price already. I still think it is expensive.
“Bisa aku coba?”, I asked the lady.
“Tidak bisa”, she said.
“Kenapa? Bagaimana saya tau yang rambutan manis?”, I continued.
“Pasti manis semua.” she replied back.
That was a short conversation of me asking if I can taste test to see if it is really sweet in which she readily declined saying all are sweet. I don’t need to try. What?!
In the Philippines, you get to try about 2 to 3 pieces before you confirm a sale. Here, it is a different story.
Nevermind, the red fruit is really calling me so I asked for 3 ikat costing me IDR45,000 which I think is too costly for the amount.
I told the driver to stay put while I quickly tried one fruit after paying telling the lady that if the rambutan doesn’t meet the standards she has to give me my money back.
I never got my money back. The rambutan was just divine. It was heavenly sweet. One of the best rambutan I have eaten recently and I am not overacting. I finished one ikat in a heartbeat.
I asked the lady if she can “tamba” aka add extra rambutan for free since I bought a lot. She said she cannot. My gad. What is wrong with these people? Ahahahahahahaha.
Indonesia is so similar yet so different from the Philippines. But I love them all the same.
I actually have no intention of visiting one but after telling stories to people that I slipped in the bathroom this morning and the side of my butt and my back hurt because they hit the toilet bowl on my fall, everybody was saying, Miss, mau yang kusuk? (Miss, do you want a massage?).
I told the story again of my ungraceful fall to our Chief Accountant and he said the same thing. “You have to see one to put everything back in order. Or else, 5 years from now you will feel the effect of that fall.”
Ok. Sounds scary. So I finally got convinced that maybe that is the way to go. I asked somebody to look for one and invite the Tukang Kusuk to come over. The person said, “Miss, tidak bisa. Banyak anak anak.” (Miss, she can’t. She has a lot of kids.)
Ok. It seems I have to do my own courtesy call.
Come 5 PM and I was on the road going to the kampong (village) of the said expert.
I was asking the driver if all Indonesians go to a Tukang Kusuk. He said only those who don’t want to see a real doctor and take tablets or injections for their illness. Sounds very much like the Philippines. So I am going to an albularyo or a faith healer, it seems.
We stopped in front of a normal house we usually pass on my way to the city. Men were sitting on the roadside while kids were playing some games with makeshift toys. I, together with a colleague who personally knows the Tukang Kusuk, came inside the house. The driver left us and did some errands as it will probably take an hour before my kusut finishes.
It was my first time to enter an Indonesian house, I realized. It was cool. It looks like any modern house made of bricks and cement except there are no tables and chairs! They only have mats on the floor. Even the kitchen, where I had my massage, only has a mat in it.
It must be cheap maintaining a house in Indonesia. There is no need for all those fixture and what-have-yous. It’s like a robber came into the house and finished all the belongings.
Anyway, so a middle-aged lady came out and shook my hand the Indonesian way. The Indonesian way is shaking hands, releasing, and bringing that hand you shook the others to your heart. I think it is a kind of respect for them. I still have to remember this. I tend to forget it all the time and people might think I am snooty, rude and all especially if they don’t know that I am not Indonesian as I look like them.
Anyway, the lady went back in. I was asking my colleague where she went. She said the lady is probably praying. She came back and ushered me to the kitchen where a mat who has seen maybe a hundred coats of oil and a sullen-looking pillow who has seen 200 heads are stationed. OMG.
And then the lady asked me to undress. What? There were 4 people in the kitchen that time. She said “Tak apa apa. Jangan malu.” (It’s nothing. Don’t be shy.) Seeing my reluctance, she asked me if I brought a sarong. No, I did not. She took one from a nearby room and gave it to me. Undressing inside a sarong was still a feat. Anyway, I made it. She asked me to lie down, face down, on the mat and the pillow. I can feel the grease sticking to my body. And I was holding my breath not to smell the pillow.
And then she started. She took some oil, whispered something into it, and started her magic. OMG. It was a pleasurable pain through and through. My feet were constantly up in the air, involuntarily, because her hands were just kneading all the air she found in my body.
Before the massage, she never asked what kind of treatment I need. She just started without consultation. But as she tries to acquaint herself with my body, I don’t need to say anything anymore. It was like she knows me just with her touch. Scary!
As she was laboriously fighting an air in one side of my back, she asked me if I take hot showers regularly. I said everyday. I will die if the water is not hot. It is just so cold here. She told me to stop. All the air in my body is caused by the hot shower. I tried to defend a usual habit which I think is very normal and she said, “Air dingin labih sehat!” (Cold water is healthier!) Ok, I rest my case.
Then she said most probably I fell down. She can feel it from my muscles. And that I am battling sakit perut for days. She can feel it in my stomach. Which is actually correct!
Who is this woman? OMG.
The gentle hands, the painful pleasure she gives, the diagnosis she can gather just from grazing her hands to my body, I AM AMAZED.
As I finished my session, there was a queue of other people who wants a treatment as well. Some were actually watching my naked body as the lady wrapped up. She said that sometimes, she can only eat dinner at 2 AM because her house gets so full with people.
I dressed up, gathered my things and thanked her. I also dropped an amount in her donation basket that is in another room. I was warned not to give money to the Tukang Kusuk directly as it is considered impolite.
As I was preparing to leave, she asked me how I feel, “Enak?” (Good?). I smiled and said I wish to come back again.
I was on my wait out where the driver was waiting for me when I heard her from the kitchen, “Ingat! Jangan air panas mandi. Air dingin!” (Remember! Don’t take hot shower! Take a cold one!)
I am really not sure about that one. I will probably have another visit with her soon if I take a cold shower as I will be jumping up and down the bathroom just to prevent the body from feeling the cold. And then I will slip again in the bathroom and probably break my bones this time around.
I shouted “Saya coba!” (I will try!). And then I was gone.