Jakarta Pics updated

Some pics from my stay in Jakarta so far have been updated. They are mostly people as my sight-seeing has been confined to trips to and from various government buildings, and to be honest most of my time here has been spent on the computer or phone so far!

Jakarta: Mulsim yet sinful and decadent yet poor yet friendly

This place is in-sane. The people are mostly Muslim, but you can hardly tell. There is a Mosque about every 250m but I barely hear the call to prayer and certainly the locals only pay it a little more attention than the Bule (white foreigners). To be honest, I have been struggling with a few inner battles the last few days. The turmoil of being surrounded by prostitutes, pimps, poor people, paedophiles (In my book any 50+ old man that is paying for sex with a 20 YO is just as morally reprehensible as a paedophile, so may well be called one, although technically doesn’t fit the description. If he gets it for free with no impost on the free will of the girl/boy that is a different story) and drug dealers. I strictly do not participate in any of these activities. I’ve never done recreational drugs other than alochol, I don’t intend to ever do drugs and I intend never to pay for sex. Thats my position and it is strictly personal and pretty inflexible and its grounded into my identity and my ego identity – what I want to be. I refrain from applying it to any others although I have been known from time to time to question friends on their motive and thought process.
Biggest Mosque in South East Asia – Jakarta.
 Picture courtesty of: www.residentialimage.blogspot.com
The problem here in Indonesia is that there is a lot more grey area. In Australia, if you want a prostitute you would go to a brothel (I’m assuming your not stupid enough to use a street prostitute since its illegal and health risks would be appalling). Point is, your prepared for it. Your first impression of the persion is as a prostitute and chances are your in-bred bias and the fact you know they are doing what they are doing for money, not because they like you is going to mean your probably not going to develop that much of an attachment to them. Here, your tour guide, or your favourite bar tender or a girl you meet in a bar may provide ‘special’ services.
For example, I made friends with 2 locals, Kris and Julia after they were introduced to me by a Kiwi – Daren. He had nothing but praise for them and he came across as being pretty consistent with me in character and in what he was looking for from a holiday. Both Kris and Julia have been a bunch of fun to hang around with and have been very helpful, even though I explained that I was here really for work rather than sight-seeing. We will often play pool together for hours or sit and drink. Kris is always up and down talking to people trying to find clients and I provide him a legitimate reason to be in the pub and also a reference I guess. First greay area – is Kris a friend or a tout? My response now, both.
At first I thought Julia and Kris were together, they work together, rent a room in the same hostel as me together (this is common though to save on accommodation costs, especially since most of the locals only sleep about 3 or 4 hrs at a time max). When I questioned them on this they had a good laugh and said they were just friends. We have had a couple of late nights all together now and while I tend to pay for more than my fare share both Kris and Julia are always offer and never take advantage, whilst on occasion a few others have tagged along and to put it politely, they only joined us once. To put it in perspective, to shout Julia and Kris dinner and a beer each costs me about $5 AUD, in return I get help with catching buses, taxis, navigation, where to eat, where not to eat, who to talk to and who not to talk to and someone to eat dinner with!
Golden Crown Discotheque (and ‘massage parlour’)
Picture courtesy of http://www.jakarta100bars.com/

Kris recently headed off on a tour job for a few days and I noticed that Julia started hanging out with a few of the more obvious unsavoury types and her behaviour changed subtly to match. Although no open proposition was ever made, it did get me thinking that it was on the table if I asked, whether paid or unpaid I don’t know but it was enough to alter my perception of the existing relationship for the worse unfortunately, to the extent now that we hardly hang out. I find that sad and wish I was capable of dealing with this in a way that enabled me not to bias my thinking based on the environment and the surroundings, a way to prevent that thought of “I wonder if this person is genuine” popping into my head.

Carl G Jung and the unconcious in Jakarta.

Found a book on Carl G Jung today – “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”. It is a combination biography / autobiography. Decided that reading it would be a good way to bring my entertainment budget back under control! Plus, had a quick flick through and noticed a few sections on the unconscious and the ego, a few pet topics of mine.

Reading through some of it has made me realise that these guys were really going out on a limb with some of this stuff. They were pioneers in an academic (and also practical) sense sometimes. I haven’t come across any reference to crazy wacky experiments in this book so far, but from what I know of elctro-shock therapy the basis for that treatment (which I heard is being revived in a modified and more humane sense in teating depression) was some pretty far-out experiments.

From what I’ve read so far, some of Jung;’s early work on the unconscious was based on his own dreams. The thing that got me most was that these guys were developing real theories that are still in play today, and they were doing it from scratch, not off the back of a ‘How to’ book but a synthesis of a massive amount of wide and diverse information.

In the current age we are so gifted with easily accessible information and yet it seems we do not use it often enough. How many of us have considered the works of Jung, Freud or Neitzche and wondered what lessons lie in modern psychology that might help us with our day to day problems, or more importantly – in making our lives better and happier? Not many, because instead we go to a self help book on positive psychology. How much of the original work has been lost in translation? I don’t know, but I’ve read a few positive psychology books and nothing as poignant as the following statement of Jungs has jumped out at me before:

“ I realised that the Unconscious is a process, and the psyche is transformed or developed by the relationship of the ego to the contents of the unconscious” Carl Jung.

This understanding apparently helped Jung arrive at the central concept of his psychology: the ‘process of individuation’. More on that later – once I’ve read about it! What it helped me understand was that these days when we talk about disaffected and disadvantaged youths we often refer to the ‘environment’ that they are raised in and we accord it a portion of blame for the way a person acts. We often refer to characteristics of this ‘environment’ such as the socio-economic back ground or living standard of a persons child-hood, or the education level they receive or the social intelligence of our parents. Whereas now it seems to me that it is those experiences derived from the environmental characteristics which are captured in the process of the unconscious and how the ego influences those experiences that really determines how we think and ultimately how we act.
Environmental characteristics are obviously very front of mind over here in Jakarta. The poverty and class divide is pretty obvious, not to mention the much more frequent interaction here with ‘underworld’ figures such as touts, drug dealers and prostitutes that rarely happens (to me anyway) in Australia. The relationship with these underworld figures here is also much trickier – because pretty much everyone here is an entreprenuer of some sense, a drug dealer will be just as happy to sell you a tour (or pick up a commission selling you a tour) as they will be fixing you up with a ‘nice girl’ or selling you drugs. Being as objective as I can, it seems to me that these underworld figures are much more acceptable to me here in Jakarta then they would be at home. This may be because they also seem much more humane and more like ‘real people’ rather than ‘underworld’ figures in a sense. I put that down to the way the environmental characteristics have impacted them as they grew up and how it is affecting my unconcious now that I’m here in the middle of it.
So, must admit I’m having trouble keeping the emotions in check some-times, but hey, thats what feeling alive is all about, right? I Hope I’m not scaring anyone off from visiting Jakarta, one thing I haven’t felt at any stage is physical threat. I’m pretty sure even if you got mugged here they would do it with a smile, a “Mr” and probably even offer you a ride home in their Rojak.

Adventures in Singapore

Long weekend here in Singapore, so not much happening with the bike at the moment. I’ve been really enjoying singapore, and seek to denounce the myth that it is a boring place! Although, the locals are tough nuts to crack.

Highlights so far:

  • A couple of argentinians and I talked our way into one of the luxury residences at Marina Bay on a very hot Saturday. We thought we were heading to a garden but should have realised it was a roof top pool and spa complete with underwater exercise equipment, water massage beds blah blah. Not sure the almost totaly expat community appreciated the ‘swimming costumes’ we revealed but we sure enjoyed the swim! The over-weight, hairy, but very hospitable indian hedge fund manager in the spa was more than happy to accomodate the Argentinians. Putty in their hands.

  • Star Inn, Little india. Afternoon naan bread, curry and big bottle of Tiger. Snooze, cricket or a bollywood movie. All for $8.
  • Chinatown night markets – randomly spotted Claire MClintock as she walked by. Unbelievably. Not naming names, but someone should have bought that fossil…
  • A couple of frenchies singing Edith Pilaf songs at 3am in the morning after playing drinking games. Entertaining.
  • Beers with Jonathan from Niger talking about Africa and Australia and everything in between.

What I don’t get about Singapore:

  • Clarke Quay. On first impression, its amazing. Then, after a while, it was just wierd. A complete rift existed between the different cultures that were there. I couldn’t really work out what was going on, but suffice to say it was an experience.
  • The economy – how the hell does it work. Obviously the construction industry and the millions of Indians, Malays and bangladeshies and others that work in it are integral but Government stimulus on its own can’t run an economy. The number of shopping centres and junk and consumerism is staggering and ridiculous. A local was telling me that the effective income tax rate is only about 8%, but rent is essentially a tax as all housing and land is owned by the government. Rent is supposed to be expensive but is actually comparable to Sydney. And we haven’t even started on the giovernments foreign asset ownership.

     The imposing Marina Bay Sands from teh rooftop of the Esplanade
    In the shadow of Marina Bay Sands
  • The class structure. The divide between rich and poor is not obvious, I’m assuming the slums are hidden out the back somewhere. But the government at least appears to be concerned about the ppl working here – with lots of information available for workers regarding their work rights. But nevertheless, teh fact is some ppl are working long hours, for little money doing menial jobs whilst others are working in the professional services sector and earning big bucks. Somehow, the place works. I just don’t know how.
Raffles Hotel

Policing Policy:

Thanks to Susy for uncovering this article which is very interesting in light of recent events. I like the approach of this detective and I think any claims that he is a racist would be a case of the pot calling the kettly black. I have infamously claimed that everybody is a racist TO A DEGREE, and I stick by that, b I certainly think this chap has some good points.

Read the article here.

The Agora

I came across this Blog a while back and a very interesting comment by a very interesting Dr Leong, maybe Nick or some of his friends can tell us if they have heard about The Agoroa because it is apparently Singapore based… This is my reply to teh Comment by Dr Leong, which youc an read here

I’m very impressed by Dr Leong’s very excelent argument for the existence of God, but as in my philosophical readings, I find the same problem with his argument as I find with many others, God appears to be a leap of faith.

Whilst I find the philosophical cosmological argument most convincing, there is certainly nothing in any of the arguments (Paley, Anselm, Acquinas, Descarte, Pascal etc) or the good Doctors own discussion above give any credence to a Christian God or any particular type of God for that matter.

Sorry to make this a matter for the existence of God, I was actually more interested in the use of post-modernity and modernity in your religous discussions and wondered if the Dr Leong has considered Nietzsche’s Genealogy of morals in its full extent? I’m sure you probably have, but at no stage do discuss the ramifications of arguably the father of post-modernism’s clear disgust with the christian morality and its hypocrisy.

I guess the reasons for this are similar to Hume’s disregard for the fact that he considers that we essentialy do not exist! As the Doctor said: “postmodernism is practically unlivable”… why not bring God into the argument – because all God represents then is an excuse, God becomes by definition really ‘that which we cannot explain.’

This to me is an equally unlivable and untenable philospohy to live life by, so please excuse me while I go join Hume and play cards and enjoy my life in what you may label a very unchristian, unreligous, and selfish ‘post-modern’ way.

Whislt you suggest that I cannot live life how I wish and may discuss Foucault and consider whether the way i wish to live is really the way I wish to live or if it is just societies way of wanting me to live, the argument applies equally well to religion; are you living your life how your religion wishes you to live it, or jsut how society wishes you to think your religion wants you to live… Confusing hey. Foucault has to be at least slightly mad, but he has a point, and he would defintely argue that mad is not necessarily a bad or unintelligible thing.

Thanks for reading! No offense intended.

Military Justice System Update

Despite the “Scathing” findings of the inquiry into the Australian Military Justice System, not much has been done, or even promised to be done about it.

The problem, as I see it, is that because the Military Justice System is not independent of the military, they cover up things which have become entrenched in the military way of life – essentially they do not have the same sense of ‘justice’ as a civil court.

Why has all this come about? Because of the entrenched bullying in the defence forces, a number of suicides occur every year in our defence forces. The families of these soldiers have been key to pressuring the government into forcing an inquiry, and now that that inquiry has reported what we all feared, the government is backing down and going all weak-kneed and not doing enough about it.

Most people are more sympathetic to a cause if they know somebody affected with that illness or someone who has experienced the drama and trauma associated with that cause. I’m telling you all this because a friend of mine from highschool committed suicide for what we can only assume was bullying in the army. This is why we need to form opinions of things and why we need to support those courageous people who form an opinion and act on that opinion.

For more information and some comments from Dave’s father, please follow these links. These reports will only be available for a limited time until they are archived by the ABC.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200510/s1475598.htm (comments by Daves dad)

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200510/s1475636.htm (more general info)

Families of Suicide Soldiers Seek Compo

A lot of you may already have known of Dave Hayward, a friend of mine from highschool. He is at the front of the picture above, pulling faces and making everybody laugh, as he used to do at home. Dave apparently committed suicide in Perth at the beginning of last year, about a week after his Birthday. He had been AWOL from the army, a job he told everyone he loved, for nearly 2 months. His parents had not been informed of his absence. Dave had won an award for his dedication to his training. So many things will remain unexplained in this world, in my mind.

Please take a moment to read this article: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=3882

Please take a moment to question the world we live in every day, do not believe every word you hear or read, vote, be critical of beauracracy and your beliefs, breathe fresh air, live and learn. Thankyou.