Not Pretty Woman

From Flores I went to Makassar (Sulawesi) by pelni, yeah finally my first one. It was a huge ship, overcrowded and overloaded. I’d say there were 3 times the people that looks sensible. Thanks to a local I managed to get a spot to lie down on the floor for the 20 hours the trip takes. There were plenty of cockroaches to pet around. Getting in and out was a big struggle and an interesting experience.

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Spotless pelni toilet
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Getting on board

I got my visa extension at the immigration office, where for a $5 bribe the officers are happy to let you use your own sponsor, not bad, better than Lombok at least. “The worst thing about corruption as a system of governance is that it works so well.”Quote from Shantaram. I don’t agree.

Makassar is a large city with the contrast of posh western and poor areas so common in Asia. Food is great there, lots of delicious grilled fish. When walking in the street an old lady wearing a hijab looked at me ant with a big smile said “Gun’s and Roses” while making the hand horns sing, priceless.

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hijab fassion

The city has a huge port. Dozens of karaokes line up in the streets next to it, one after another. Impressive how many they are, probably more than in Bangkok or Amsterdam well-known districts. But here the oldest business is conducted in a very different way. Forget about sparkling lights, ping pong shows, striptease, shop-windows or any glamorous stuff. From the outside nothing can be seen. The places are not aimed to the tourists but to the drunken sailors and others of the same kind looking for quick cheap love. It’s a rough dark affair. Inside groups of men sit around tables where lots of warm beer and glasses are brought. A waitress  will sit on the table to make sure anytime someone takes a sip the glass is refilled to the top. Meanwhile unsurprisingly a karaoke is happening, sometimes men will sing, or the waitresses or even the bule if the public demands it… The music and videos are extremely cheesy, even for Asian standards, woman with cosmetic covered faces and men with mustaches and big bellies  are usually on screen. The ladies are not pretty at all and don’t display much flesh. The atmosphere is quite sad but the grotesque of the situation and the booze will make you laugh. I didn’t want to go there but a local I stayed with forced me inside.

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karaoke

By the way, there is tuak in town.

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