Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hanging out with a famous rock star

My arrival in Malang was not pretty. This was my first crowded bus and I wanted to get out. But the bus driver won't just stop along the road to let you off so I have to wait till we reach some preappointed spot before I can alight. Next I must jump on a microlet to make the journey back down the same road I have just travelled. Perhaps I have not had enough sugar today because I am fuming!! We sit in the microlet whilst the driver packs it to the rafters, plus a couple more, before we head off. I am travelling blind with little idea where we are going and at some point decide it's time for some fresh air and escape!

Now I am beside the road in a busy city, no idea exactly where I am as my map is woefully small, and I have no idea where the accommodation is. I am not ready to engage the services of a becak as I don't even know where I am going. I cross the road and head up a side street, get to a T-junction and am stumped, do I go left or right? I pull out my map again and contemplate which of those less than desirable characters sitting over there shall I ask? Then along comes my knight in shining armour. I look up to find a friendly man on a motorbike asking me if I am OK as I am looking very confused. I explain my dilemma - I ask him where I am and even he can't find it on the map - and he offers to take me to a hotel. I pluck a name out of the guidebook, Hotel Helios, and we go there, only to find it is full. I also discover that they only take foreign guests, so I am glad I'm not staying there anyway. We go to another homestay, which is also full, and at last find a third hotel which has rooms. The staff rarely, if ever, have foreign guests so I am a bit of a celebrity.

Nonot turns out to be a local celebrity himself. He plays in a popular heavy metal band (four albums out), has a music studio nearby, lectures in music at the local university, is a published songwriter and is the leader of the Malang Indie Community, a collection of a few hundred independent bands and musicians in Malang. Everywhere we go there are smiles and waves from the adoring populace....

Later I visit the studio, and then we head off to the government radio station where Nonot is helping a young band who are performing live on radio. I then become a minor celebrity myself as the sight of a lone foreigner in the studio audience means the girls announcing notice me and ask me my name and where I am from. Apparently it makes Facebook later that evening!!

The next day Nonot takes me out to see some nearby temples - I have to admit to beginning to get temple fatigue - and on the way home we have Durian. At last I am enjoying this great fruit again, I even take a quick sniff to try and work out why people don't like it. I still don't get it, smells like Durian to me! The following morning I negotiate the bizarrely lettered microlets into the centre of town to watch the locals feeding the pidgeons and old men playing badminton in the alun-alun, before wandering through to the bird market, not quite as colourful as Jogja's, and flower market. Then I find a small market to take more photos in before jumping on the wrong microlet back to my hotel. Luckily I now know where I am so I simply walk the rest of the way. A quick shower then it's time to make my way to Bromo via the back door.

Here's all the photos of Malang (forgot to take a piccie of my rock star friend but!).

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