Taking the Pisang: Outside Jakarta, Helmut and I discover some uncomfortable truths about animal and human behaviour..
Dear readers, just a few days after Helmut and I arrive in Jakarta, we waste no time in hiring a local driver, and set off to explore the Javanese countryside. Our destination? A Wild-Life Safari Park, 80 kilometers outside the city, where we are allowed to mingle with all types of hungry and ferocious creatures, from the comfort and safety of our vehicle. So far, Helmut and I have managed to keep our wildlife contact to a culinary minimum, and ONLY after making sure that the animal or insect in question is dead. Therefore, it is with a little trepidation and a very large hip flask that we sally forth on this new safari adventure…
In the meantime, some Indonesian Wildlife Facts:
Indonesia is one of the biggest exporters of frogs’ legs in the world and conversely, France is one the biggest importers of frogs’ legs in the world, receiving around 3,000 tons of legs annually. Could that be 1,500 tons of right legs and 1,500 tons of left legs? In the past, the frogs could be obtained from the wild, especially during the rainy seasons, but lately, more and more farms make a good living raising frogs, until their Schwarzenegger-like muscle-bound legs are finally cut off, for the French to consume! Hmm, délicieux!
Uniquely native to the Komodo group of islands, this wild animal known locally as buaja durat or land crocodile, is the world’s largest and heaviest lizard, reaching lengths of over three meters and weighing in at around 166 kilos. But can you eat it, I hear you ask? I’m sure it would be palatable – with the right amount of chili sauce (sambal oelek). On the other hand, this winsome reptile would ADORE eating humans without any condiments..
Known as the ‘Man of the Forest’ in the Malay language, this primate is the world’s largest living arboreal or tree dwelling animal. The only great ape of Asia, the orangutan is found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra and, along with bonobos, chimpanzees, and gorillas, is remarkably similar to humans in terms of anatomy, physiology, and behavior. Hmm, but would they enjoy frogs’ legs, washed down with a Bombay Sapphire..?
Safari Park Assailants
Along the road leading to the Safari Park, animal-fast-food snack dealers line up in droves, touting bunches of carrots (wortel-wortel) and bananas (pisang-pisang), despite numerous signs saying: Do Not Feed The Animals. Below, an emboldened pisang-pusher overtly breaks the rules
Dear readers, since our hip flasks are drained to the last drop, how do Helmut and I cope with the mammalian mafiosas? Things get even uglier when we spot a sign from the Camel Gang spelling out Hati-Hati (literally heart-heart or hearts) meaning: BE CAREFUL! This horrifying and graphic image below, warns us visitors what will happen if we don’t hand over the goodies…
On The Way Home
On the drive back to Jakarta, heavy traffic brings us to a stand-still for HOURS and it is during this time period I believe, that Budi, our married (and may I say pious?) chauffeur, develops a deep attraction for Helmut. From the back seat, I see it all unfolding, but because Helmut is such a friendly chap, it is quite understandable why patting Budi playfully and frequently on the shoulders, could so easily be misconstrued. Oh dear! Will Helmut be held responsible for yet another man’s broken hati? Only time will tell….
The next evening, we revisit Kota and mingle with the crowds in the main square. Later, by chance, we come across a deranged youth with extreme black horns sticking out of his back. Is this art? Or is he desperate for a job at the Safari Park? Helmut and I will never know, because annoyingly, he and his friends don’t speak English!
On the subject of languages, perhaps you’ve noticed, dear readers, that the plural in Bahasa Indonesian, can be formed by saying the noun twice (as in pisang-pisang meaning bananas)? With that in mind, Helmut and I head for the BARS and funnily enough, we know JUST the place for our first drink-drink…