Published in Now! Jakarta, October 2009

Anonymous bather in Bandung version of Burkini at the Hyatt Pool.

Bandung is so full of surprises.
During my last trip I discovered a petrol station run by cuties and a badminton hall full of confirmed bachelors squealing and prancing like seasoned pros!!
It takes the edge off dealing with the pressures of modern Indonesian city life I find: all the hotties and hopefuls batting eyelids and tooty-booty. Even the dagang jamu look like Miss Universe contestants in Bandung, and the he-men squeal and squirt when squeezed. It’s a healthy town.

A Bandung Bowser-jockey in action.

A jamu seller at a Bandung petrol station (she asked if she could come to Australia with me, I told her that the plane was full).

In Bali the populace is up in arms about Malaysia stealing the pendet dance―which is, lets face it, descended, like everything, from the SERAMPANG 69 of Melayu-land in Sumatra—but in Bandung people just eat, and drink and make whoopee.
But not in the fasting month of course.
And lots of Bandung’s legendary hotties have recently embraced the fashionable new Syariah-sensitive full body-sock swimsuit (see photo).

It’s an odd mix—Syariah and Saucy Sunda—but the local girls seem hell-bent on covering up their sharp and furry bits.
And why not? For years, the male population has had to endure the torment of the form-fitting sarong-kebaya: now one can go shopping or swimming without having one’s eyeballs sexually harassed. Now, only women in sleeping bags are walking around, as in Malaysia.

•     •     •

Security detail at entrance to world Badminton Championship Hyderabad

Last month I also returned to Hyderabad and was invited to the quarter final matches of the World Badminton Championships being held under the tightest security imaginable—sandbags, Bren-guns and bayonets—at the fabulous Badminton Centre built by Mr. Gopichand, Indian’s former All England Singles Champion.
For some reason Indonesia’s acumen in this most demanding of racquet sports has declined over the past decade since the demise of President Soeharto, who somehow supported a band of muscular Christian Central Javanese Chinese who ruled the Badminton world in 1980s

11st August 2009: the World Badminton Championship in  Hyderabad
I am invited to the quarter finals by Hyderabad’s golden couple Pinky and Sanjay Reddy, who are friends of Hyderabad golden boy Pullela Gopichand.
Tonight’s quarter-final features Sony Dwi Kuncoro, the Indonesian hopeful, and No. 6 seed, against the No. 1  seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.
Everyone is rooting for Kuncoro because his legs are better and smoother and he exudes a sort of Javanese ‘insouciance’ between points that Hyderabadis find irresistible.
Kuncoro scores a major upset by beating the world No. 1 in three close sets and I teach my host to scream “Ganyang Malaysia” and “Down with the pendet thieves”, between points.

Sanjay Reddy,Pullela Gopi Chand and Pinky Reddy

Malaysian Lee Chong Wei plays Indonesia’s Sony Kuncoro

•     •     •

In the VIP lounge after the match Russian girls serve Egg Rolls.
“You know in Bandung you’d be arrested showing that much bare midrift” I tell one.
 “Ya think we care?” came the sultry reply as she squeezed tomato sauce, Indian’s national condiment, onto my paper plate.
I tried to explain to the gathered badminton VIPs—no doubt heads of national delegations, all munching on Tang and digestive biscuits—how the Javanese use voodoo on the playing field and how the only way to win is to distract them with a cock-collector (ball-girl) in a tank-top.
The next day Kuncoro loses and somehow I feel responsible.

Anyway, full marks to Gopichand, the Indian Badminton Association, Yonex and the III rd Infantry Division for putting on a fabulous week of shuttling.

•     •     •

Fashion-concious mallster at GVK 1-Mall, Hyderabad.

A two metre tall Balinese Oleg dancer greets arrives at the Domestic airport in Hyderabad’s (Don’t tell the Balinese: they might get ‘up in arms’ about it!!).

After the match I visit Fabindia to buy some oleh-oleh in the Reddy’s new mall, called GVK1 and designed by Singapore’s DP architects, and find a world of ‘mallsters’ in outfits teamed to match the interiors!
During the time of the Nizams, Andra Pradesh men were the most stylish male peacocks of India—a country not unknown for male sartorial excess. In the Ramayana, Andra women have “lips to sink ships” we are told. These traditions have continued in mall, bazaar and mosque fashion it seems.
All in all they are a good-looking, gentle and sports-loving people.

8th August 2009: To the Pertamina Sports complex in Bandung for Gay Night
On of my Banding buddies won the gold medal in Badminton at the 2008 Gay Olympics in Denmark. It is in fact Indonesia’s only ever gay Olympic gold.

Combatants on the bench at Bandung Bachelors’ Badminton Club.

Mas Guntur, lead tenor in Bandung Bachelors’ Badminton Club.

Mas Iwan, the largest of the Siliwangi Sillies.

As a result Dunkin Donuts and Lip Curl have recently started an intensive booty camp for aspiring Olympians, deep in the macho heart of Bandung.
My late mother once famously remarked that “all gays have small feet” which is why I suppose ‘they’, Gays, are good at sports that require quick changes of direction and leaping about.
Tonight, at Aula Binan, I see the future of gay badminton in all its spandex glory and feel that I’ve now seen everything.  

19th August 2009: To Pura Batur in Bali
The mountain areas of Bali are still free of Pendet campaigns;  I spend a few hours in the villages of Kerta and Banua south of Kintamani looking at old Bali architecture and New Bali villa sites (amazingly the Bali-besotted don’t mind being 90 mins from the coast  discover!). The highlight of my tour is the long pavilion in the venerable Pura Luhur, Batur (see photo below) which still has the stylized Hindu decorative elements typical of the mountain ‘Bali Aga’ villages.

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