Monday, December 26, 2011

Fowl Weather, Boxing Day

Roosters ready to fight
Despite my best efforts, today was very eventful. We dined late last night on tepid spaghetti and cold mince pies, and perhaps that influenced the dream I woke from at 3 this morning, convinced the resort had been overrun by zombies.

There were no zombies. There was the sound of the wind and rain, as another storm hit. I assumed it would be gone by daybreak and went back to sleep, but the gloom and downpour persisted, past breakfast, past a post-breakfast nap, even past noon and an ill-advised bowl of french fries. On holiday, I'm quite happy to spend all day lying on the bed reading, but this lassitude failed to satisfy my wife, desperate for us to do something.

We got the driver to take us out to Keluang, where you could hire bicycles or boats, except by the time we arrived there, the rain had intensified, and we spent our time huddled in a thatched hut, picking large ants out of the viewfinder of my camera, before going back to the hotel in defeat.

My wife is made of persistent stuff, and whereas I would happily have returned to bed, waited until I was weak and then persuaded me to get back in the van and be driven back out to the coast once more. This time we were smart, and had the receptionist explain to our driver that we wanted to walk around, rather than be driven past, a typical Indonesian village.

We arrived just as two cockerels started fighting. They did this on the middle of the road (like every other animal in Indonesia, chickens lack even a rudimentary understanding of road safety) before battling onto the verge. Appropriately enought, one cockerel then chickened out and the other was cock of the walk. I was gratified for this exhibition of poultry pugilism, doubly appropriate on Boxing Day. (At the same time, I was sad for the chickens' fowl relatives in Hong Kong, all recently slaughtered in an effort to stave off avian flu. Or because somebody in the government finally watched Steven Soderbergh's Contagion.)

We walked around for a bit, photographing more chickens, until passing a particularly picturesque house, the owner invited us into his garden for coffee. He turned out to be a Dutchman, retired to Belitung, and he explained to us that the worst time to visit is between November and April, when a westward wind blows rubbish onto the beaches and the rainy season is upon us. Which is very helpful if planning an excursion to Belitung; less helpful if you're already there, in rainy season, watching rubbish be blown on the beaches. Ah well.

We returned to the hotel and picked up our friends, then drove back to Keluang and got in a boat to go island hopping. Now, I can't or won't swim, and I was carrying a very expensive and utterly unwaterproof camera, on a wobbly boat in a high sea, rain coming down on us, so for our whole voyage I was silent, whitefaced with fear and worry, while everyone else rejoiced in the prettiness of the environment. I have also just read Jamrach's Menagerie, the Orange Prize-winning account of a shipwreck, so perhaps I'm more sensitive to nautical safety than usual, but I was bricking it.

Didn't drown myself or my camera, so not as eventful as it could have been, I suppose. We went home, changed, went out for a Chinese meal in Belitung (either because we're homesick for Hong Kong or because it's the only chance I had of something to eat that wasn't meat), and then chocolate-filled fried toasted sandwiches (either because that's an Indonesian delicacy or because we've gone completely mental and think we're university students again). Then back to our hotel room, to watch geckos sparring once again.


Post a Comment