Filth in Jakarta

Just because you're paranoid
Don’t mean they're not after you

> Kurt Cobain

It’s Friday night and I am passing over the bridge at Tanah Abang where the skuzziest looking broads imaginable are placing bottles of cheap
Mansion House vodka on battered wooden tables. The filthy looking river below is no longer as wide as a football pitch and the Petamburan slums are no longer trying to imitate the buildings in Venice. A million microlet vans are between me and the fitness center, so I take the decision to turn left and into one of the side streets that only a few days ago was under 2 meters of ”water”.

Not such a good idea. It’s dark as hell and the electricity is still off. Candles and kerosene lamps have been placed in some of the shacks.

But what really hits me is the stench of the place. My bike veers to the left, as I try to stop myself from retching. My stomach muscles tight as a guitar string. I have to stay focused. I think of the aquamarine waters of Lombok's Gili Islands and scented female skin.

Nothing could stand these conditions surely? Indeed, there are no cats or other animals, just a squashed rat in the middle of the road with its guts hanging out.

But in the shacks, unbelievably, are people!

Not in the mood to stop by and have a chat though, I open the throttle. But as the bike lurches forward, the rear wheel slides in the mud, nearly taking me down. Yet somehow I manage to regain my balance, and in a short while I am hurtling past the tiny little shacks, leaving the huge piles of rubbish and filth far behind me…


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