Sunday, April 30, 2006


Semarang vs Jakarta

My first visit to Semarang, I was looking forward to this which just goes to show how naive football fans can be. These two teams have served up 35 goals between them, a goal feast was not on the horizon.

But then I wasn't looking forward to the football. It was the new town, new photo opportnities, new pubs. First against third, Semarang vs Jakarta was as big as they get here and tickets were at a premium. Three hours before kick off and we were parked outside the Jatidiri Stadium. It could have been 1860 Munchen or Everton, not PSIS Semarang, there were touts, vendors, early bird fans just like any football stadium on any football day in any football mad country.

We headed up to the ticket office and received a surprise. They weren't selling tickets to the general public, just to what they called agents. Touts, agents, scalpers, whatever you want to call them, they were thriving here with the blessing of the club. 50000 IDR tickets were being sold for...55000!

Next we needed a gargle so we headed back to town. One great thing about Semarang is the traffic. There isn't any. We parked up next to the Horison Hotel on Simpang Lima and hit Putri Lounge. It was empty, we objected to a Manchester United ster and they served us some beer. It was tempting, sitting in a nice bar necking cold beer, to stay. The game was going to be crap, we knew that, and the beer was very nice, very nice indeed.

But we went. There was a big crowd as we expected included several hundred orange clad Jakmania who had come up from Jakarta. They gave their side great support while the home support, divided into two were less vocal. SNEX, the Semarang Express, behind one goal were pretty silent while the Blue Panthers, along the open side terrace made an effort. But the Jakmania put on a show, their drummers must have sore arms, t e lads round us abused them but hey...give it back.

The first half was crap. Jakarta had a new forward fro Paraguay and played like a tart. He waas yellow carded for pushi thhe ref and noone can have been surprised when he got a red in the second half.

The game improved after the break, Harry of the home team, showed some nice Roberto Carlos touches, but while Semarang had the possession they rarely troubled the keeper. But the Blues' persistance finally paid off in the dying minutes when they finally breached Jakarta's stubborn rearguard action.

Semaraang are now 4 points clear of both Arema Malang and Jakrta with 2 games in hand on the latter. Victory against Tangerang City on Wednesday would be a massive boost.

Chelsea against Manchester United doesn't seem so appealing now...

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Weekend Preview

A quiet weekend domestically with a couple of local derbies to tempt local fans but the big game is in the Central Java city of Semarang where the Blues host Jakarta. This is the proverbial crucial game for both sides with Semarang still holding onto top place and, rather implausibly, Jakarta sitting 3rd, just one point behind though having played two games for. Oh, how they must be ruing those spurned chances against Jakarta North in midweek.

But while Jakarta may have problems hitting the back of the net, 15 goals in 17 games, they do boast the best away record in the Western Division so they will be traveling to Semarang with some degree of confidence. 15 of their 27 points have been picked up on their travels including 4 wins out of 9. Semarang on the other hand are a tough nut to crack at their Jatidiri stadium with just one team taking all three points this season.

I’m off to Semarang later today for the game so don’t forget to check out this blog on Sunday, when I get back, for probably the only write up in English! Tomorrow sees Jepara host Tangerang City and while I would love to make it a double header in Central Java I have an early flight back. Don’t forget also to check out
for some images of Semarang later on Sunday.

Another midweek derby was at Benteng Stadium where Tangerang City hosted Tangerang and the visitors took the 3 points with a 1-0 victory in front of 20,000 fans, incidentally the Jakarta derby was played out in front of 12,000.

Elsewhere in North Sumatra Medan visit Deli Serdang in the Northern Derby and Medan need a return to winning ways if they are to stay in touch with the leading pack. While they are 4th and only 3 points behind Semarang they have been shipping points on the road and this worrying trend needs to be halted if they are to avoid being overhauled by Pasuaruan Town or Sriwijaya.

In Northern Sulawesi another derby, this time in the Eastern Division sees Minhasa go at it with Persibom. Minhasa have the chance to go top as Kediri’s season seems to go tits up. A midweek defeat to Pupuk Kaltim means they are on level on points with Minhasa and not looking as invincible as earlier in the season. I blame the purple shirts.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Arsenal in Indonesia

It was 1983. The signing of Charlie Nicholas was weeks away and Arsenal chose to wind down a depressing season with a visit to Indonesia. This was long before Beckhammania took a hold and introduced a whole new generation of Asian fans to the English game. The game was shit, money was in short supply and fighting on the terraces was more common than exciting football. It was the end of the season where we reached a couple of semi finals, losing to Manchester United both times, it was the season we wore Green and Blue for our away shirt. It was the season of bloody Lee Chapman!

We started off in the North Sumatran city of Medan. Today PSMS Medan are holding their own at the top of the Western Division but 23 years ago we played VSP and won 3-0

Team: Jennings, Hill, Sansom, Talbot, O’Leary, Whyte, McDermott (1), Nicholas P, Chapman (Meade(1)), Sunderland (Lee(1)), Davis.

Next up was a game in Jakarta against VSPSSI which I guess was a composite Indonesian league team. We won again, this time a more convincing 5-0.

Team: Jennings, Hill, Sansom (1), Talbot (Robson), O’Leary, Whyte, Lee, Sunderland (1), Meade (1) (Chapman (1)), Davis, McDermott (1) (Rix)

The final game was at the Eastern city of Surabaya. This season Persabaya Surabaya are missing from the top league after kicking up a fuss in the Big 8 last season, they are probably most famous for their large hooligan following. Anyway we lost there 2-0 against VSNIAC Mitra!

Team: Jennings, Hill (Robson), Sansom, Talbot, O’Leary, Whyte (Lee), McDermott, Sunderland, Meade (Chapman), Davis, Rix

The team line ups were strong suggesting either we took the trip seriously or we didn’t take many players! The only non first team player involved was Terry Lee and he must have been pleased as punch playing with the first team. And then we signed Nicholas!!!

Today there is no chance of Arsene Wenger allowing such a grueling schedule. We played 60 games that season and 6 weeks after touring Indonesia we were off to Germany.

Beyond these facts which I got from Arsenal – A Complete Record, I know nothing about these games or the trip. What I will do is contact Ken Friar at Arsenal and see if he can shed any light on the games and the circumstances. If I hear back from him I will do a follow up.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Travel Advisories

Hardly a week goes by without some 'helpful' arm of some 'friendly' government advising that being in Indonesia is akin to being in a warzone. We are told to keep away from crowded venues which is kinda difficult in a city of 17 million people. Maybe visit a local library???

We are told that people out there are going to kidnap us, to attack us on footbridges, whatever, yet what are we supposed to do? Sit at home and watch Indonesia Idol? Puh-leese...

But while Indonesia is flagged on the Foreign Commonwealth Office site as beeing dangerous and the risk of terrorist activity is high, I'm trying to open the page as I type but on my broadband access it is painfully slow. Indeed here is their summary

We advise against all travel to Aceh, except for those involved in post-tsunami humanitarian and reconstruction work or in the Aceh Monitoring Mission. Aceh remains affected by long-running internal conflict. You should exercise caution when travelling to remote areas.
We advise against all travel to Maluku Province, especially Ambon which is experiencing civil unrest. We also advise against all travel to Central Sulawesi Province.
On 12 April 2006, the Indonesian Centre for Vulcanology raised the alert status for the Mt. Merapi Volcano in Central Java, warning that volcanic activity has increased and that an eruption might be imminent. Indonesian authorities are preparing to evacuate the area surrounding the volcano. You should monitor all available information on the situation, and follow local advice. For further information, you should visit the
Indonesian Centre for Vulcanology's website.
There remains a high threat from terrorism in Indonesia. We continue to receive reports that terrorists in Indonesia are planning further attacks on Westerners and Western interests. Foreigners and locations and buildings frequented by foreigners are particularly attractive potential targets to terrorists. If you are visiting, or are resident in Indonesia you should exercise caution at all times. We strongly advise you to ensure that you are comfortable with, and regularly review your own and your family’s security arrangements.
Messages encouraging attacks against western targets in Indonesia, including but not limited to foreign Embassies in Jakarta have appeared on extremist websites.
Terrorists have shown in previous attacks, like the attacks in Bali in October 2005 and October 2002, and those in Jakarta on the Australian Embassy in September 2004 and the Marriott Hotel in August 2003, that they have the means and the motivation to carry out successful attacks.
Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Indonesia have resulted in a number of human fatalities. As a precaution, you should avoid live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked. For further information see Health section below and also read the FCO’s
Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.
Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe and can include the death penalty.
The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Indonesia are: theft/ loss of passport and belongings; overstaying visas; drug possession; and deaths, mostly from natural causes, watersports and road accidents. The majority of consular cases occur in Jakarta and Bali.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see:
Travel Insurance.

Egypt however isn't for some reason flagged. We are warned against visiting Central Sulawesi where a domestic power struggle is violent but not aimed at foreigners which is no different, for us, to the recent disturbances in Egypt between the Copts and Muslims. But what does our government warn us about?

There is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt. Attacks can be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
On 26 April 2006, a suicide bomber attacked the Multinational Force and Observers base in north Sinai. We are not aware of any casualties. We are also aware of reports of a second suicide attack in north Sinai.
On 24 April 2006, there were three explosions at three separate locations in the resort town of Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula, resulting in a number of deaths and injuries. At least two British nationals were injured in these attacks.
On 23 July 2005, three bombs exploded in Sharm al-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula. According to the Egyptian authorities 63 people were killed and 124 injured. 11 British nationals were amongst the fatalities.
Developments in the region may trigger public unrest. You should take care to avoid demonstrations, which can turn hostile, and be particularly vigilant in public places.
Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (bird Flu) in Egypt have resulted in four human fatalities. As a precaution, you should avoid live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked. For further information see Avian Influenza section below and also read the FCO’s
Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.
Approximately 838,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2005, mainly as tourists. Most visits are trouble-free. Crime rate is low but you should safeguard valuables including passports and money.
Egyptian society is conservative and women should dress modestly.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see
Travel Insurance.

Why the discrepancy I wonder? Is it just carelessness or is it politics? Egypt after all with it's inbred pseudo dictatorship is a key ally in the war against terror while Indonesia is a fledging democracy which is also a key ally...or is it? Makes you wonder.

Or perhaps I have too much time on my hands and there's no flags on the Egypt page because it would spoil the holidays of nearly 1 million Brits...and Indonesia is just too far to pop over for a short break.


That George Graham Touch

I'm going to allow myself the smallest of gloats here.

In the 6 knock out games of the Champions League we have scored 4 goals and conceded zilch! The one thing missing from Wenger's glory teams has been the rock solid defence that so defined the GG years but our patched up defence has really grown over the last few months. And that we could change half of that defence and still get a result against the Spanish Olympic Diving Team bodes well for the future.

We're going to Paris in May but, the caution of the terrace veteran creeps in here, we have twice played Spanish teams in European Finals and we have twice lost. Once cruelly on penalties, once cruelly in the last minute to a lucky halfway line lob...

Combining the best of Graham and Wenger should give us a chance though...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


The Jakarta Derby

Jakarta v Jakarta North 1-1

Another hugely frustrating afternoon for Jakarta and their fanatical followers, the Jakmania, as they failed to turn possession into goals. It's been a familiar story this season as jakarta have failed to hit the back of the net with any consistency.

Hopes were high after a convincing 3-0 victory over Tangerang at the weekend but against supposedly weaker opposition Jakarta spurned chance after chance to make up ground on Medan and Semarang. They took a first half lead but were pegged back before half time and that was it.

A second half onslaught saw chance after chance safely gathered by the Jakarta North keeper and as the half wore on you couldn't escape the feeling this was same old same old.

A risable one minute was added, the visitors rolled over at the slightest knock, the stretcher bearers saw more action than the Norths forwards, and right at the death Jakarta nearly blew it. A one on one break saw the last defender, Bosco, pull the forward back. It should have been a red but the ref was lenient, the free kick was crap and the spoils were shared.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Memories of Tottenham

After bemoaning derbies last week I've been meaning to knock something up about the only derby that counts for me. Arsenal against Tottenham. Had we lost yesterday, believe me this would have been shelved for a more fortuitous time! The first derby I went to was 30 years ago at White Hart Lane. Malcolm MacDonald scored twice for us, Willie Young got sent off for them and it was kicking off all over the ground. We were in the Paxton that day and everywhere I looked there was surges and rows and severley badly dressed lads being chucked out. This was in the days of flared trousers, wing collared shirst and silk scarves ties round wrists! The only other thing I remember was during the warm up Peter Taylor, now Hull manager I think, had a shot and he missed the goal and the ball hit some kid near me full in the face! They were relegated that season which was a shame because it meant the next year they won something, promotion.

Our next visit was a 5-0 white wash with a glorious goal from Liam Brady. A couple of seasons later and I went to my first home game. It was at the start of the season and I was running late. The game had just kicked off and I was heading for the North Bank turnstiles. Touts were desperately trying to get rid of stand tickets saying it had kicked off in the North bank with Tottenham fans having a pop at the Arsenal end as was the thing in those days. It had quietened down when i got in though still the odd row kicked off. We won 2-0 quite comfortably I think. The following season, 81/82, we were having a crap season and we played them twice in a fortnight. We drew 2-2 at theirs but at Highbury they tonked us 3-1. Again they got in the North Bank, this time chanting Argentina for this was at the time of the Falklands War. John Hawley scored for us which kinda sums it up.

A year later and we comfortably beat them 2-0 at Highbury with goals from Sunderland and Woodcock. That day I went with a Spurs mate in his Robin Reliant which seems strange looking back. Later in the away game I won't go into that! The next season saw Charlie Nicholas arrive at Highbury and launch a thousand bubble perms on the terraces as the casual scene hit its peak. In the League Cup we beat them 2-1 at theirs, I game I went to with a couple of Spurs mates and got stuck in the Shelf. Nicholas scored. At Boxing Day we done them 4-2 at theirs and Nicholas scored twice! At Highbury he danced through their porous defence and milked the applause in front of the adoring North Bank as we beat them 3-2. Good season that was!

1985 sees us playing them at Highbury on New Years Day and Roberts, their silver haired nutter, puts Nicholas into the Lower East as they kick us off the park 2-1. We won at theirs though 2-0, of course Charlie scored, but we never got out of the pub that time. The following season was crap with 0-0 at ours and a loss at theirs. But 1987...In the league we drew 0-0 at Highbury but wone 2-1 there in the 100th derby in this George Graham's first season. We got drawn against them in the League Cup Semi Final. First leg at Highbury we lose 1-0. Second leg we win 2-1, we need a replay which is scheduled for White Hart Lane. We go a goal down. At half time the club d.j is playing Chas n Dave, Spurs are on their way to Wembley, the PA is announcing ticket sales for the Final. The story goes GG opened the dressing room door at half time and just said 'listen to that lads.' Two goals in the last 8 minutes from Allinson and Rocastle (RIP) and we're through! Ask any Arsenal who were there about that night. It was special, very special. We'd done nothing for so long, this was our first step back on the ladder to success and what a place to do it. An in our own uniquely Arsenal way, leaving it to the very end!

And then I left the country. Subsequent games are marked by where I was and who I was with. The 91 FA Cup Semi I was in Sydney on the piss in the Rocks with 3 Totts mates. We got home and belled their mate back in London. Two up after 10 minutes they went ballistic. Two years later and another Semi. This time we win 1-0 and Adams scores. I'm in Germany, spent the weekend with my Claudia Schiffer look alike girlfriend in Munich. I phone my Tottenham supporting mate from the main railway station and he ain't a happy bunny. I meet him in the Rose and Crown and gloat all night which is fair because if the roles had been reversed...I'd have stayed home. 2001 sees another Semi, this time I'm in Bangladesh. Like the first two there's no TV coverage. I sit at home waiting for sports updates on Sky News while the internet had crashed. We won 2-1 and I raced down the Bagha, the only bar in town, looking to celebrate. It was empty, just a couple of miserable Geordies who'd just found their contract had been ended and were heading home the next day!

In the following season I'm in my local in Bangkok with the missus at the time. My mates ask who is playing then decide maybe it would be a good idea if they take her and wander round Nana Plaza instead of sitting with me! Smart move, it's in injury time, one of the barmaids asks me the score. I tell her 1-0 to the Arsenal. No problem she says. I'm not so sure. Seconds later and Poyet equalises. She smiles and says no problem!!! Then there is 2004. Mad Jens gives away a needless pen but we draw 2-2 and we're champions. Hmm, how many times have they been crowned champions at Highbury? We've won the League at White Hart Lane as often as they have! Later I move to Malaysia and watch the corresponding game in the following season down the Green Man. We win 5-4 and I'm so pissed I lost track of the goals going in! As I reread this I am struck by a couple of things. One is how often I seem to watch the games with Tottenham fans. And two? Two is how quickly the mind expunges the defeats as I get older...

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Eastern Division Update

Standings as at this morning:

Kediri 15 32
Minhasa 17 32
Persela 15 27
Makassar 15 23
Wamena 15 22
Persibom 17 22
Balikpapin 15 20
Ternate 15 18
Jayapura 15 18
Slemen 15 17
PKT 15 17
Malang 15 15
Gianyar 15 14
Sidoarjo Deltras 15 11

Top 4 play off with the top 4 in the Western Division.

Top Scorers

13 - Gonzales - Kediri
9 - Rivai - Ternate
8 - Cabanas - Balikpapin

Some other stuff

Top scorers - Kediri 30 goals
Lowest scorers - Gianyar 11 goals
Best defence - Persela 7 goals
Worst defence - Persibom 30 goals

More goals in the Eastern but we see less of it on TV. Indeed despite there being games scheduled today one of the channels is showing Bandung losing against Deli Serdang again! Kediri have been dropping points recently from drawing and Persela who come from I know not where are level on points but the purple wonders have a couple of games in hand.


The Pub

It’s difficult to explain to your typical Asian the role the pub plays in the life of certain species of expat. Your Asian colleague after all finishes work and goes home to his or her family, to be surrounded by the dith and din of domestic bliss or hell depending on your viewpoint. Not so the single expat. After working long hours they have the option of returning to their wonderful, but empty, housing where they can watch dross American sitcoms, or they can nip down the pub.

The pub becomes the surrogate family for so many young expats. In a strange new country full of people speaking funny languages, new work habits, they crave familiarity. Living abroad is a lot more bearable when you can get down the Royal Arms and enjoy a pint and Shepherd’s Pie regularly. The bar staff and punters become kith and kin. The manager becomes the father figure, the person you turn to when you need money, or more specifically, a tab!

The waitresses become your sisters, nieces, cousins. You enjoy the banter with them, you flirt with them but it’s all a laugh, you don’t want to take it further, it would be like dipping your pen in the company’s ink well. You look on with amusement when newcomers or tourists come in and try it on with the girls while you grin smugly in the background; both you and her have seen it all before. Mind you there is a slight twang of jealousy if someone gets a tad too close.

Then there are your mates. The lads you play pool with, go on the hash, go on the beer with. You’re thicker than blood you guys, you share everything together. You share the tab, the taxi. If you hit the Blok or the ‘Pong you may well share other things. You’re halfway round the world living in an exciting, vibrant city yet the need is there for family, for closeness. It ain’t a bad life, especially when you consider the alternatives. Weekend trips to Kemchix and dinner parties at the wedding cake houses in Pondok Indah…

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Update time

Western Division
Semarang 15 28
Arema Malang 15 27
Medan 15 25
Pasuaran Town 15 23
Jakarta 15 23
Yogyakarta 17 22
Padang 15 21
Sriwijaya 15 20
Jepara 15 20
Tangerang City 15 19
Bandung 17 17
Tangerang 15 16
Deli Serdang 15 13
Jakarta North 15 12

The top 4 go into the Big 8 knock out with the top 4 from Eastern Division

Some other stuff:
Top scorers - Semarang and Medan have both scored 22 goals
Lowest scorers - Jakarta with 11
Best defence - Arema Malang have conceded 8 goals so far
Worst defence - Deli Serdang with 23 goals against

Top scorer:

de Porras (Semarang) 6
Santiago (Padang) 6
Adolfo (Yogya) 6 (for more about this joker click here)

Today's fixtures see Jakarta play host to local rivals Tangerang. Serious crowd earlier in the season at Stadion Benteng delayed the second half by 20 minutes so expect fun and games in South Jakarta today. I won't be there, got stuff to do for the wedding! The only other game this weekend sees Tangerang City entertain Jakarta North at Stadion Benteng. Tomorrow Sriwijaya play Padang in the South Sumatra derby.

Tomorrow I'll update the Eastern Division which has seen Kediri slip up in recent weeks...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Semarang New` Signing

From David

PSIS just signed a new player from Paraguay, a first timer in Indonesia. His name is Miguel Angel Dominiquez from cerro porteno FC in Paraguay, last year Paraguay league champion, signed on free transfer, arrived a week ago, passed the medical test Not to tall, but quick, fast and have very good accuracy in long pass. Something like Michael essien. This young men, will be a blow to any club in indonesia. Usually, when PSIS signed a new player, all the clubs in Indonesia will try to get the player out from PSIS...because they all really good.. Btw, this miguel was not only the candidate, there are other fours, vicente from boca juniors, mamani (iran national player) and oscar glaydor liberia u-23 player, but all of them sucks.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Local Derbies

I must admit most local derbies leave me cold. I have no interest in the Merseyside derby, likewise the Manchester one usually has been tied up elsewhere. Obviously the North London Derby is the one that counts for me but I do have a soft spot for the Second City Derby.

Birmingham against Aston Villa has all the ingredients for a quality derby match and while the neutral, whoever or whatever they might be might poo poo it as a local derby in a city famous once for Britain's car industry, ask your dads kids, I love it. I don't care who wins it, I just love the passion, the intensity, the rivalry, the things that us older bods associate with a derby match.

Maybe it's the crowds there. People go because they genuinely support their team and genuinely hate the other buggers! Old Trafford, Highbury and Anfield have become too sterile , too sanitised for this passion and vitriol and anyway the Japanese tourists who can always get tickets don't understand it. Good. The Brum derby attracts the same fans its always attracted, people with funny accents who don't have long drives home, who shop and drink with the 'other lot' on a regular basis to whom this game means something.

Another factor could be exposure. Liverpool and Everton has been on TV more often than Larry King and every game gets the same old boring cliches dragged out. Villa or Birmingham are only ever shown when they play one of the big three clubs, which of course doesn't include Chelsea. In fact you may notice Chelsea are missing from the list of English derbies. Well playing Fulham or QPR doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Chelsea are so manufactured, like a boy band, they need to invent their rivalries as they go, lacking any real tradition you see. For certain fans the big one was West Ham...

Probably the only other derbies that would hold my interest today would be the Sheffield one between United and Wednesday and the Bristol one between City and Rovers and the reasons would be the same as the Brum derby. Pride, passion, tension, hatred...

A few months back Jakarta visited Tangerang and were given a right spanking off the pitch. On it the game was as feeble as any others in this league! This coming weekend sees the return fixture at Lebuk Bulus. It's not an inter city derby as the above, that would be Jakarta against Jakarta North (who play bloody miles away and are the Orient of Indonesian football, no one can hate them) but they are close neighbours but whether the feeling is shared by the players is something I doubt

Thursday, April 13, 2006



Picture the scene if you will. A family is deciding on a tropical holiday the sun kissed beaches, the exotic cocktails, swinging lazily in hammocks suspended from palm trees aged and bent into the wind. They also desire some culture, an insight into another world far from the western standards and mores they are used to. They have narrowed the choices down to a couple. Penang and the Island of the Gods, Bali.

Of course Bali has had a couple of high profile bomb blasts but that was spread over a near 4 year period and more chance of being run over by a bus and all that. Penang is peaceful, maybe not the best beaches in the world but enough to see and do to keep themselves busy, as indeed does Bali. Both grant a visa on arrival, Malaysia affords visitors 90 days free while Indonesia makes you queue at the airport for a visa and you pay $25 each for 30 days but it’s only for a couple of weeks and the nearest Indonesian Embassy is an eight hour drive away.

But at the moment the family is leaning towards Bali and why not? It is without doubt one of the most photogenic islands on the planet with it’s lush paddy fields, volcanoes looming through the early morn mist, mystical Hindu temples nestled on lakes and of course an international airport that means just a change in the superbly efficient Singapore is all that separates you from paradise.

A random flick on the remote brings the family to CNN and lo and behold there is a story about Indonesia. Angry white robbed young men are seen attacking a building in Jakarta belonging to a company that produces Playboy Magazine. But these are no football thugs, these wild eyed youths are yelling ‘Allah Akhbar’ as they throw bricks and rocks at the building. But you relax again when the reporter says this is a story from Jakarta, hundreds of miles from Bali.

The next story attracts your attention though. The camera pans to bathing suit clad tourists enjoying the very beaches you have been fantasizing about with your family, the sands you hope to savour in a few short weeks. You forget about the zealots so far away and enjoy the view until the reporter interrupts your dreams. These could soon be memories, she intones, as an Anti Pornography Bill currently being drawn up seeks to ban bikinis, kissing, immodest dress. A journalist says that there are already enough laws on the statutes to take action against Pornographic images, he worries about who will enforce these new laws, vigilantes? Your mind switches back to those earlier images of young men attacking the Playboy building. Do you really want these morons attacking you on the beach because they take offence at your wife on the beach in a new swimsuit she spent hours deciding upon?

Food for thought. The commercial break sees the Prime Minister of Malaysia explaining the meaning of their handshake when they greet people and how the hand goes to the heart of the greeter symbolizing how the visitor is welcome to both his home and heart. Within seconds the holiday in Bali has been ditched for a smiling Prime Minister who wants to welcome visitors personally to his country.

Of course the Indonesians will, quite rightly, protest that the law is still being discussed but that won’t stop bookings go elsewhere. TV images are powerful and the perceptions they create shouldn’t be underestimated, the damage is done in minutes. Two countries with more in common than they like to admit to seem to be operating in parallel universes and while the one continues to plan for the future the other continues to take one step forward, two back.

There is of course another side to the equation, one that unfortunately won’t be considered by the holiday planner. Malaysia has been a peaceful, tolerant society for the best part of 35 years while Indonesia is still coming to terms with the impact of 35 years of cronyism and nepotism when the state assets were little more than the property of one man, Suharto, and his hangers on. Indonesia has ditched dictatorship, embraced democracy and while it is battling to create new standards on civil institutions it is being buffeted by other less welcome interferences like the rising influence of Islamic parties on daily life and separatist movements in Papua and Aceh. The latter is calmer today as both Jakarta and the separatists took the opportunity post tsunami to talk through their differences. Progress is slow, it can’t be anything but in a country of 17,000 islands and 220 million people but the fact that debate is now open on a variety of topics from Papua to corruption to morals means that somewhere down the line Indonesia may well emerge stronger and, for our armchair holiday planner, a more peaceful option.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


He earns how much???

I'm watching Semarang play Yogyakarta, I missed the first half but 2 things possibly related, have struck. One is how the Blues from Semarang seem to play as a team and are leading 2-0. The other thing is how bad Yogyakarta's centre forward is. He is bloody shite!

His shirt is dirty but then that doesn't mean he is working for his team. Adolofo has a dirty shirt because everytime he is touched he falls acrobabtically and rolls round in the mud for good measure. He then shakes his head a few times and gets up again seemingly none the worse for wear but you know what? He's fallen god knows how many times yet he never once spilled his chewing gum!

I've never rated Drogba, Crouch or Heskey but seriously this guy is a joke. He's just been substituted and hobbled off slowly shaking his head as if at the injustice of it all but if anyone should be shaking their heads it should be the guy who agreed to bringing him to Indonesian football.

In the rare Yogyakarta forays into the Semarang half said Adolfo would be screamong for the ball but not actively looking for space so he could run on to the ball. Considering he was being man marked you don't need an FA coaching badge to appreciate that perhaps this may not be the best tactic.

Perhaps I got him on a bad day. Perhaps he is a quality player, full international and was top of his class at school diving competitions. But today he added nothing to his struggling side, indeed in the moments after he was taken off Yogyakarta showed more attacking threat than they had when he was planning his next fall. I bet the lady who does the laundry hates him!

Monday, April 10, 2006


Jakarta and Crash

How would you describe Jakarta to a visiting alien or indeed Joe Sixpack in Shitsville, Montana? How would you describe a mega city of 12 million people give or take a few million, a city where unemployed youths busk on the dirty overcrowded buses while the wealthy, or those with pretensions thereof, preen themselves in air-conditioned shopping malls that could have been lifted from Amsterdam or Zurich.

Take Sunday. 4 pm saw us heading to Jakarta’s zoo at Ragunan. Even at this late time there were crowds enjoying the amenities if not the animals. Families were sprawled out on the grass, sheltering under the large trees that liberally dot the gardens. For Jakarta’s masses this maybe as close as they can get to nature in this sweaty city, the animals, well the ones visible, were just a backdrop to chit chat and noodles while young children enjoyed scampering around the large open spaces denied to them in their kampungs.

Make no mistake, this was the masses day out. Motorbikes and buses were the transport of necessity here, the private cars nothing but a dream for many. To be honest I don’t remember the last time I saw so many dark skinned people in the same place while I was the only bule and indeed the lightest skin colour between here and Cilandak Town Square Mall. In a way it reminded me of that park in Hong Kong, the place where every Sunday the maids and the drivers, the domestics imported to do the menial yet necessary tasks, come to play. You couldn’t legislate a more effective apartheid.

Spurning the # 77 mini bus we took a taxi to Plaza Senayen and another island of exclusivity. Here a 100 dollar Burberry shirt is probably double the salary of many of those frolicking at the zoo, a McDonalds meal 5 times to cost of bakso. Here the dark skins call for taxis or clean the tables while the white set flit like social butterflies from boutique to boutique, smsing friends on expensive hand phones, happy to fork out millions on handbags or ties in an effort to look the part of homo metropolis. A fantasy world built on credit cards and marketing peoples ideas of what is and isn’t cool. I clock a t shirt in Next for 600,000! We’re talking Next here, hardly a major player in the brand stakes but tell that to them in the queue ready and willing to hand over their cash. The burgundy shirt in Burberry I like can wait till I get back to KL!

We go and see Crash and I salivate at the irony of that movie set in LA about racist attitudes but so applicable to Jakarta. It should be staple viewing in schools across the country to counter the racist or non inclusive teachings that now prevail but then that would be me imposing my values on others and puts me on a level with the zealots who would talibanize the nation.

Big game tonight is Manchester United hosting Arsenal so we head to Blok M and another side of Jakarta. Here pot bellied bule, which I guess includes me, come to enjoy cold beer and a good crack in a soft underbelly many of those we met earlier in Ragunan and Senayan maybe blissfully unaware. There’s sleaze but it’s in the air not in your face and if you don’t want it then you can avoid it. Here the bule come to unwind, play pool, watch sports and, yes, pick up a partner. We come to watch the football and drink the cold beer before returning to our suburban paradise leaving the Blok to its secrets and scandals. Perhaps the Blok is the most egalitarian of the 3 playgrounds we visited today. Or maybe the people at the zoo and the mall already have their own family, their own small community to which the belong while the expat, ever the outsider in a city of 12 million outsiders seeks his family in the bars, beers and birds of the Blok.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Playboy and Beer

The mid season break which I haven't mentioned comes to and end today with a few fixtures. As I write Bandung are surprisingly beating Semarang 1-0.

Wednesday saw the All Star game between the West and East Divisions and as with all games of this ilk I didn't bother with it. Anyway there was the small matter of Juve agains the Arse

The West Division is taking a bit of shape now and it'll be interesting to see if the title ends up anywhere outside of Medan, Semarang or Arema Malang. I'll do the latest standings next post which should be on the morrow.

For the armchair fan there is a full schedule on TV with the Semarang game followed by some pissy team from North London whoses name escapes me but they have a chicken on their left tit, followed by yet another EPL game plus a full whack of Spanish and Italian stuff. No wonder Pizza Hut are expanding though I wish Izzi Pizza would open a branch near me.

Apa Lagi? Oh yeah Indonesian Playboy is now on sale and according to the mullahs we're all going to hell. I've already been there lads, this morning was a battle to keep my copious bellies cushioned as last nights ale swilled around along the Jalan Tol. Satu Lagi looks better each visit and as for Mad Dogs, they should get rid of that bloody pool table! Don't buy it if you're expecting pages of tender young flesh, you got more chance of seeing tits protesting by Hotel indonesia.

That's it for now. I just found some Branston pickle so it's cheese and ham sarnies..tomorrow it's the Arse against Man U and I'm sure there's some local stuff...

Sunday, April 02, 2006



So I spent ages researching the journey from Malang to Wamena because the crappy Malang team, not Arema Malang, were playing there midweek but oh no! Wamena were visiting Malang! Can't be arsed to change it now.

The American and 'Stralian Embassies are warning of terroist attacks today and warn of identifiable Americans at risk. Go to any hi end shopping mall like Plaza Senayen or Plaza Indonesia and you will see all the Indonesian kids effecting American mannerisms and poses, check out the schools where they are playing basket ball which is pretty American I guess. I appreciate the embassies are in a lose lose situation, say nothing and a bomb goes off and watch the slingshots of public opinion attck them but when they say something and nothing happens then we are reminded by conscientious commentators about Peter who cried wolf once too often.

I need some beer!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Wamena v Malang

As a young Arsenal fan I always enjoyed away games more than home games. In those days there were terraces and you could always pay on the day, both missing today. Unfortunately I left before we entered the Champions League, in fact when I left British teams were still banned from European competition!

Much like this years Asian Champions' League which sees Indonesia's two representatives, Arema Malang and Jayapura, banned for being late in complying with AFC regulations. But watching the Wamena v Malang game the other day got me thinking about away days in my day and how would I have coped with this trip. Wamena is in the heart of Papua, miles from anywhere while Malang lies south of Surabaya so how would the hardy Malang fans, if they have any, get there for this daunting fixture?

The problem was finding out about flights from Jayapura, the Papuan provincial capital to Wamena because Merpati, the airline that flies this route, had no schedules on their web site! But forget taking the bus, there's no roads, flying is the only option.

Anyway we got off to another bad start. I couldn't find the times of trains from Malang to Surabaya on the Indonesian Railways website and my own old timetable had gone missing. There is though another option, a mini bus which takes you straight to the airport. With a flight leaving Juanda airport at 10.40 AM you'd need to leave Malang by one of the early buses, say 6 AM which should get you to the airport maybe 2 and a half hours later.

Flying Garuda you'd check in for the short hop to Denpaser on Bali. Once there you get a 4 hour transit before connecting to a flight to Makasser arriving in this Sulawesi city at 5.30 PM. Now it's time to find a hotel because you're stuck here for the night! Make it near the airport though because your flight to Jayapura leaves at 6.50 the following morning getting you into Jayapura at 12.20! Again, get a hotel...With the game kicking off at 3.30 pm you're still a long way from the ground so use your time in Jayapura to search for the holy grail, flight times to Wamena!

If you're lucky you could leave Monday morning, get to Wamena in time for the game but I haven't got a clue how or when you'd get back! Mind you, I can't even be arsed to go up the road to Tangerang City or to Jakarta, what chance have I of getting to the middle of deepest Papua for a game???

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