66: Fable? Unbelievable.

Jakarta Bound is a travelogue about life in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in South East Asia.

Fable Interior-Outdoor

Not too far away from Equinox on the other side of Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, the big road that runs through the Sudirman district, is Fable nightclub. You can walk there from Senayan Plaza, but rather than suffer Jakarta’s treacherous paving we took a short ride in a cab.

Fable is located in Fairgrounds in SCBD (Sudirman Central Business District), the same building as the popular rooftop bar Lucy in the Sky and Jakarta’s lavish Potato Head venue. However, despite the high-end Mercedes’, BMWs and Lambourghinis parked out front, Fable isn’t quite as upmarket as the setting would imply. Nevertheless, it is actually a beautiful looking venue.

Entering at ground level you go up a sweeping staircase that takes you to the front desk at the entrance of the club. There was no entrance fee that Friday night, so we walked through the futuristic passageway into the main club and into an audio barrage of Jakarta techno. This vicious, horrible sound betrayed the undeniably stylish design of the venue.

fable_background2

A room with a view. Fable set up for dinner and cocktails in the evenings.

As you enter Fable, there’s a beautiful bar, the surface of which is made of a softly lit translucent, marbled amber resin material. There are no beer taps to spoil the finish, just two sections filled with bottled spirits and mixers – Johnny Walker whisky was on offer that night.

Across the narrow wooden, panelled floor space, a barrier topped with a narrow shelf for drinks separates the bar from the small dancefloor. A dancefloor that was heaving with drunken, young Jakarta locals doing some kind of uncoordinated, techno moshing to some seriously hardcore Jak-tech beats the DJ was quite literally slamming down. The DJ booth itself was lit from behind with a video screen and there was an MC, hip-hopped out to the max with baseball cap, fat trainers and baggy clothes, whipping up the already frenzied crowd with his mic magic as the DJ played the music – if you can really call it music.

fable behind the decks

As we waited to order drinks, I tried to take in the impressive venue, but it was difficult to concentrate with all the people and the racket coming out of the soundsystem. What I could see was that the whole place had a glass ceiling framed by girders that looked up and out into the SCBD skyline and its impressive display of modern skyscrapers. To the right of the dancefloor, there were sofas and low tables, and the back wall was a continuation of the glass ceiling, sloping down to the floor. This angular, slanted glass wall was also framed by iron girders and through the steamy windows I could see that there was also a terrace outside.

When our drinks came, Simon, Kas and I must have all been thinking the same thing because as I leant over to suggest we go out onto the terrace, they both nodded as if to say ‘That’s exactly what I was thinking’.

fable-outdoor-area

Out on the terrace, away from the sonic maelstrom inside, my concentration returned. There are a row of wooden benches leading down to the end of the large outdoor deck where there is an open space with more tables and a fountain in its centre. The whole space is secured by a row of high bushes and . trees, so there’s no chance of anyone falling over the edge, which is just as well because I could now see just how young the crowd in there were. Simon and Kas were canoodling in a corner and, feeling a little bit of a gooseberry, I looked around at the people sat on the benches outside and on the sofas through the windows and they were really young. I mean barely sixteen and seventeen. And a lot of them were really drunk. And I mean really drunk, which was hardly surprising as downing massive gulps of Johnny Walker whisky straight from the bottle seemed to be the thing to do, and it must have been a pretty expensive thing to do too, because a bottle cost around 2,000,000 IDR! These had to be the rich kids.

As classy looking as the venue was, the music in Fable was too noisy and the crowd was just way too young for me to feel comfortable. The drinks weren’t cheap and I wasn’t really enjoying being the spare part in Simon’s love tryst, so after I had finished my beer I told the pair of them that I was going to head home. Luckily they were thinking the same thing and we all decided to leave together.

On the way out of the club, right by the beautiful bar where we walked in, there was a young Indonesian boy lay flat on his back in drunken unconsciousness. His friends didn’t seem too concerned as they feebly tried to get him up. I told Simon to wait for me outside before stepping over the body to head toward the toilets. When I returned, the kid was still there, flat on his back, absolutely gone. His friends were nowhere to be seen and he looked for all the world like an abandoned corpse. But, I couldn’t help but laugh. Especially when I took one last look at the dancefloor before leaving and saw a crowd of pissed up young revellers in a circle with their arms around each other, drunk and disorderly jumping up and down to the insane acoustic violence pounding out of the speakers. One of them was clutching a bottle of whiskey whilst another was pouring the contents of another bottle down his throat. ‘This place is bonkers’, I thought, as I stepped over the body again and walked down the entranceway to leave. But the best was yet to come.

As I got to the top of the steps to walk down to the front of the building to meet Simon outside, there was time for one last Jackass-type laugh before bedtime. There were three youngsters coming out of the club, one being flanked by the other two who were holding him up. As they got to the top of the stairs, they let him go so that he could walk down by himself – big mistake. The poor drunken fool went cascading down to the bottom like a sack of potatoes. He hit the marble floor hard when he got to the end, but I couldn’t help laughing – I’m laughing now just thinking about it. But the funniest part was, despite the heaviness of his fall, he simply popped back up like a zombie that someone failed to shoot in the head. His friends rushed down the stairs to help him, but he waved them away and staggered out the door as if nothing had happened. He will have felt it the next day, that’s for sure. Never mind fable, that fall was epic.

65: Can I Interest You In A Shirt Sir?

Jakarta Bound is a travelogue about life in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in South East Asia.

jakarta equinox

I hadn’t really seen much of Simon during that first week in the flat. Then, when the weekend came, instead of the two of us hitting the Jakarta bar scene as had been the expectation, he had already made plans to go out with this new woman he had met. However, he was keen for me to meet her so he asked me to come along and join them for a drink in Kemang. I suspected that he partly wanted me to help him carry him through the night with this voluble new woman and her opinions. I think he might have been a bit nervous, like a teenager going on a first date. It’s easy when you’ve had a few drinks and you’re going with the flow on the night of meeting, but that first follow up date can be a bit of a nervy one. I think it reduces most grown men and women to being teenagers again. But I like that feeling. There’s a meme that says: ‘Don’t grow up – it’s a trap!’ It’s true. There are a lot of advantages to being a grown up, but you’ve already lost many of the joys of discovery by the time you’re thirty, so going on a date and feeling like your sixteen again is very nervy yes, but a lot of fun too.

I arrived at Murphy’s at about ten o’clock and found Simon and his date sat at a table in the quiet side of the bar away from the noisy cover band. Simon greeted me in his usual cordial manner and introduced me to his date, Kas.

“Hi, nice to meet you”, she said as she stood up to shake my hand. Very professional.

She was a diminutive little thing, although ‘little’ is probably not the right adjective. Simon had described her as being curvy, but, for want of a better word, she was more dumpy than voluptuous. Short and fully padded out but well-proportioned let’s say; not that she was unattractive, certainly not. She was probably in her late twenties but looked younger. She had a very typical Indonesian look: moon-shaped face, big almond-shaped eyes, full red lips, pure black hair with a natural lustre and a little bit of a wavy kink; she was a good-looking woman. And she spoke very good English – albeit American English – and she spoke it with confidence. As Simon had said, she wasn’t the typical type of woman I would have imagined him with. She was very easy to get along with though, and Simon seemed very relaxed in her company – he was even wearing jeans!

Soon after I had arrived at Murphy’s Kas suggested that we move on to a place called Equinox, which is one of Jakarta’s main nightclubs. She had a job at a commercial estate agent and was obviously part of the upper class, hip Jakarta crowd, which is what Equinox caters for, as well as the well-paid expats of course. Let’s face it, in developing countries like Indonesia, only the better off can afford to go to places like Equinox. The average lower wage scale in Jakarta is about 3,000,000 IDR per month, which is about £200 (those who don’t have a proper salary can be on as little as a dollar a day). My wage was only around the average of 15,000,000 a month, so with a beer costing about £4 or £5, night clubbing isn’t a luxury the lower classes can afford.

Equinox is located in the plush upmarket Senayan Plaza with the entrance via a lift located at the car park entrance. Guests are greeted by valet parking and the usual “exclusive” nightclub pantomime of suited doormen and host – or door picker as they’re sometimes called – carrying a clipboard with the guest list attached. Fortunately, Jakarta isn’t like the UK where they take this pantomime all too seriously. Like many things in this city, it is just for show. However, they did have a dress code of sorts, and that dress code meant that all male patrons entering the club had to wear a shirt.

I wasn’t wearing a shirt. But I could hire one for the night. No, really, there was a man at the door who was renting shirts for 150,000 IDR – about seven or eight quid.

Fuck that.

Was it Groucho Marx who said that he wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have him as a member? Well, call me a pretentious twat, but I don’t want to go into any club that rents shirts to punters at the door so that they are in line with its spurious dress code. Watching some middle-aged fat guy with big hair, a tango tan, a bright pink polo shirt and fluorescent orange trainers walk into the lift to go up to the place didn’t really sell it to me either. So I declined the gentleman’s kind offer of temporary apparel rental and suggested we find somewhere else to go that wasn’t so fucking ludicrous.

64: The Sheepish Wolf

Jakarta Bound is a travelogue about life in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in South East Asia.

*****

Simon moved into the apartment on Wednesday night after he had attended a networking event at the Marriott hotel. The event, which was hosted every week by an Austrian businessman, was open to expats and local professionals. The host provided a free buffet (including pork sausages) and special drink offers for those who attended and it was quite popular.

The Marriot Hotel is in the same upmarket Oakwood development and just a short walk from Loewy’s where Wednesday night was Ladies Night. So typically, when the Marriot finished up at around ten/eleven, many of the attendees would walk over to Loewy’s and enjoy a few more drinks in there. It made for a good bit of mid-week social entertainment and had become a regular part of Simon’s professional/social calendar. Unfortunately for me, it was on during the evening when I was working so I couldn’t go.

It was around midnight when Simon walked into the apartment with a rosy glow in his cheeks and brighter than usual smile on his face. I assumed it was just down to his night of drinking, but he apparently also he had some “interesting” news for me.

“I met a girl tonight” he said in his quintessentially British accent, “but not the typical type of woman I usually go for” he continued. “I think you’ll be quite surprised.” Was that rosy glow in his cheeks that of a drunken man or the rosy glow of attraction? I felt like a father whose son had just told him he’s got engaged; I was quite intrigued.

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“Well, she’s certainly not the most… demure of females. She’s actually quite… quite feisty. And she has quite a bit of extra weight shall we say. Definitely not the usual type of woman I go for.”

“What? She’s fat?”

“No! Not fat exactly, but she’s much more… more curvier than what I typically like. She has a fair bit of ‘junk in the trunk’, so to speak.” He was emphasising his adjectivals even more than usual and he did seem genuinely quite giddy and excited.

“Simon! What’s come over you mate? A feisty woman with “junk in her trunk”! Have you finally decided to try and have a proper relationship with a proper woman?”, I joked.

“Well it has been quite a while since I’ve had what you could call a proper relationship. But yes, she’s… she’s interesting. She’s quite opinionated” he said, before repeating – “She’s certainly not like the typical Asian girl I would normally go for”, this fact seemed to have to be bewildering to himself mainly. I was actually quite surprised too.

Although I hadn’t known Simon long, in the short time I had known him, we had spoken quite a lot about women, our respective likes and dislikes and our relationships – typical man-chat. Simon had been very clear about his preferences; he liked petit, slim, submissive Asian women, so listening to him sound all excited about some opinionated, feisty, plump professional Indonesian woman went against the grain of understanding I had about him. It was also a bit of a disappointment, from a purely selfish point of view at least. I mean, we had barely been flatmates for a couple of days – we hadn’t even shared the flat yet, let alone got started as a couple of swinging young bachelors hitting up Jakarta and its promising nightlife, and he had landed himself what seemed to be a proper girlfriend. And of course, that meant that they were going to be inseparable’ for the first month at least, which in turn meant that I was back to being Billy No Mates. I swear the God’s of Indonesia really didn’t fucking like me.

Of course I was happy that Simon had found himself a woman who he didn’t have to pay for, but I was also pissed off that I was back to being… well, on my own. A solo singleton.

I say singleton because, despite the commitment I had made to my so-called Latin lover, the combination of loneliness and the revelation of just how beautiful Indonesian women are was making me lose that loving feeling. The fact that she had not made much effort to contact me since we had agreed to try and extend our brief fling and pursue something more wasn’t really helping to keep that feeling going.

She had by this time left the UK and gone back to Venezuela to holiday with her family for a month. I had tried to Skype a couple of times and I had sent a few messages, but I hadn’t had much of a response. Actually, she had more or less told me that she wouldn’t be able to speak to me much because she would be focussing most of her time on her family whilst she was in Venezuela. However, she was going to make more time to contact me when she was back in Madrid. Essentially, this translated as: ‘I’m busy enjoying myself with my family right now. However, when I’m back in Madrid where it will be cold and wet because it is winter, and I will be back at the job that I hate, I will need someone to talk to then so I’ll be in touch’. Is that a cynical interpretation? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Either way, it is what it is, which is pretty much a polite “fuck off”. So, after a little over a month since committing to this woman and then dealing with the extreme culture shock of life in Jakarta – alone – I was having second thoughts about whether I really wanted to hold out for her.