Here Thar Be Monsters!

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15.1.11

Malam Minggu

Just flew in from Singapore, and boy are my arms tired!

It's Malam Minggu (Saturday night) in the Big Durien (hey, if New York can be the Big Apple, then Jakarta is the Big Durien) and I spent the whole day in S'pore meeting with some associates. I like to think of S'pore as the model Benign Fascist State. If you stay within the boundaries, life is pretty smooth and efficient, but if you step even one centemeter over The Line, watch out!

One advantage of going out is that I can hit the Duty Free, even though Indonesia's limits are a bit draconian. I can only bring in one liter of alcohol (liquor or wine, beer doesn't count) and 200 grams of tobacco, which means one carton of smokes, 50 cigars or 200 grams of cut leaf. Of course, I couldn't buy cigs any cheaper than Indonesia, even in North Carolina, so forget that. But I did manage a few Cubanos (eat your heart out Americans) and a liter of fine Scotch Whiskey. Altogether, my imports can't exceed US$250.

Now I haven't had a good bottle of Scotch Whiskey since I got here three years ago. When I got home, the wife couldn't sleep, even though she had a rough day at the rat races. So, I fixed her a traditional Irish lullabye: a good dram of whiskey, some sugar, some milk, and a couple of rocks. She's out like a light now. Indonesians are cheap dates. Takes about one shot of high octane to knock 'em out.

I'm going straight with two diamonds. It's good sippin' stuff, so I'm nursing it along with my cigar on the front porch.

The plane was about half full, which is unusual, but it's post-New Year and not yet Imlec (Chinese New Year), so things are quiet.

The Indonesian government recently released its people. For the longest time, there was a $100 tax by sea and a $250 tax if by air for a citizen to leave the country, if they didn't have an NPWP, which is the Indo version of the Social Security number. As of January 1st, the tax was repealed. Combined with a metric ton of cheap air fares, there's about to be a bunch of Indos flooding the global tourism offices.

The wife went down to renew her passport the other day and the mob was, well, a mob. This has basically taken the reigns off the Indo middle class. After all, the tax raised the price of a trip to S'pore 200% for the average Indo, who didn't have an NPWP.

Now, you might ask why good little citizens don't have tax numbers. Well, most Indo don't have a Social Security number. Most don't earn enough to pay tax, anyway. The few who do, earn enough to pay for all the rest. Such is an oligarchy.

The tax was designed to rip off foreigners who were exporting Indo maids, which is a global pasttime, even if you don't know about it. US tax laws prevent Americans from enjoying the luxuries that most of the rest of the world takes for granted. Kasihan deh loe.

The tax was penalizing the middle class, though, who don't have NPWP either. Recent developments, over the past ten years, have created a very properous middle class here in Indonesia, and they want to go out and see so world, too.

Anyway, the wife and I are taking advantage of the cheap airfares and her new-found freedom, to plan a trip to Hong Kong in April. We want to visit Kowloon Island and Macau Island. The package deal, with hotel, is $200/person, airfare and 4/3 in a four-star hotel. Could be worse.

I can get more of less the same deal to Phuket, Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Min, Kuala Lumpur, and Taipei. For Bali, it's even cheaper, as in rediculous.

For you folks playing at home, you may want to check out AirAsiago.com, and see if you can't combine a package to get a cheap Asian vacation to exotic locations.

Damn! Just dipped my cigar in whiskey and a cool breeze kicked up. The neighborhood kids are in the park with their guitars wooing their pacar.

The house cat, Jeruk/Orange, slung a litter of milk-suckers Monday night. Give of them to be exact. Three greys, named Kerakatau, Merapi and Bromo (local volcanoes), a calico names Campur (mix), and another orange that I call JJ (Jeruk Juga, or orange also).

God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world.

Or is it?

Just to the south of me, in Queensland, they are having the test by fire, only with water. Brazil is under water. A good part of the States stand to me inundated when the thaw comes. Europe too. The economy is tanking. The world is flying apart at the seams. For some of us, it's the calm before the storm. For others, the storm hath arrived. For yet even others, the storm hath passed. What remains is the question of the hour.

My colleague Clif High, at HalfPastHuman.com has posted a recent article that we Asian dwellers would do well to read.

The cigar and whiskey are working their magic. The mind is open and the tongue is loose.

And so, the words and whiskey begin to flow. Who knows what will pop out next. A word of shameless promotion: if you need a writer with award-winning skills in multiple formats, drop a line to luap.jkt@gmail.com. Whether it's articles, scripts, copy, tech manuals, or really anything written, I promise to spell check before sending along. Word-smithing ain't just a job, it's a living!

And so, with that, I bid adieu. I'm going to finish my straight-two-diamonds and a fine cigar. And I'll leave you with this thought:

Cowboys are FROM Texas, but they ain't necessarily IN Texas.

Teaser: coming soon-review of "The Cosmic War," by Joseph P. Farrell, and an interview with webbot cowboys. Jack in, tune out and let the bits byte.

And while you're planning your home garden, don't forget the medicinal herbs.

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