2008-11-10 Sleep Time, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Yesterday, I think, I was in Yogyakarta, but then the alarm rang and after passing through a series of metal detectors, I woke up in Jakarta. It's not that I was actually sleeping… Not having surfed in a while due to a bit of inland exploration, I got un-synched with the daynight rhythm, sort of like stepping out of the main current of time. Since there was no need to keep track of the tides or the time of the sunrise or the day of the week for that matter, my internal clock was stopped all together and my only cues became hunger and thirst.
Indonesians themselves don't really have the notions of specific times allocated for lunch or dinner. They just eat small meals throughout the day, whenever they please. Moreover, it's still a mystery to how their sleep cycles operate, given that they get up during the night to perform a prayer. The cries from mosque wake everyone in the neighborhood, but I imagine that people go back to sleep afterwards as this usually happens around 4-5:00am. In my case, however, some Muslim imagery gets incorporated in to the dream and I don't ever actually realize which part of it is dream and which is reality.
This time, the cries of the mosque morphed into the ringing of heavy Russian church bells. Peasants with beat-up horse carriages were bowing to the passing by aristocrats who constantly mixed French into their suspenseful dialog. In the nearby saloon the gentlemen placed their wages on the roulette, lost large amounts of money but showed only curiosity for how the game was played. I took my eyes off of Dostoyevsky's "Gambler" to see a skinny horse pulling a carriage loaded with coconuts. An old man was walking beside it, occasionally tapping the horse with a leather leash. The horse maintained its phase as if completely unaware of the tapings. It was an old horse.
Horses are still commonly used as means of transport in Indonesia. You can often see them on the main streets, chugging on the left side, temporarily slowing down the swarms of motorbikes that squeeze through, inches away from one another. Here though, the streets were different. There was trash all over the place and workers were sweeping it into piles to be picked up later by the dump trucks. I heard the fearless roar of an airplane engine but it was actually coming from a kitchen set up right on the sidewalk. Intense blue flames shot up along with the jet engine rumble as the cook lifted the huge wok, mixing in it various veggies and meets. Right next to it was a heavy aluminum pot with enough steam coming out of it to give an impression of a train station with 18th century locomotives. There were a few plastic tables lined up on the sidewalk with Chinese teenagers around them. Coming here at 1:00am for them must be like going to In-n-Out after a late night movie. Except instead of choosing between cheese and no cheese on the burger, there were dumplings, stuffed peppers, fish, glazed chickens, sizzling ducks, pork, and all sorts of vegetables being deep fried or mixed in oils and spices.
I wasn't sure if this was breakfast or dinner for me, so I ordered soup, leaving the frog meat as well as the deer meat, which looked really appetizing, for the morning. Some of the teenagers got up, walked lazily across the street and drove off in tripped out B&Ws. Malaysia seem to be very different but I should really get some sleep as there will be lots to see tomorrow. Well, maybe after a stroll around the block since it's really late anyway.