It took us six hours to get to Surabaya, driving past two massive volcanoes on our left that said, ‘this is Java, and you’ll never forget it.’ They were imposing, if that’s what they were trying to say.
‘I want to show you the choo choo train.’
I wasn’t sure who was the biggest kid.
‘This way we can get the lay of the land,’ said Bernhard as we got out of the car and walked around the block to the defunct Gang Dolly.
‘What do you mean defunct,’ said Bernhard, ‘bet I can still find whores.’ He read from his guidebook that said Gang Dolly ‘use to be the only legal red-light district in Indonesia.’
‘Your guide doesn’t say anything about the many illegal brothels in the Republic?’ I asked.
‘I’ expected a higher brow question from you, dickwad.’ I never told him that his expectations were far too high.
The electric train with a Mickey Mouse face on the front of it was still doing the rounds, taking families on tours around the Gang Dolly area while the Disney theme song, ‘It’s a Small Small World (After All),’ crackled out of very tired speakers.
We jumped on. It had four sections. It wasn’t really made for overweight westerners but we paid the ticket and took the ride. I had been on this same train four years ago when Gang Dolly was a swinging whoring district, where everyone smiled and no one left disappointed.
‘I bet you shagged yourself stupid,’ said Bernie, as the train made its gentle run around the three-kilometer loop of Gang Dolly.
Life doesn’t get any better than this, I said, as I took pictures of the karaoke bars that weren’t open yet and the many closed up massage parlors which I’m sure were open for business. Though it wasn’t so open like in the good old swinging days where punters came here to get laid, get pissed and leave with a big fucking smile on their faces.
‘Reminiscing won’t get you anywhere sunshine,’ said Bernie, who told the train driver to stop as we entered the Chinese Cemetery. ‘But have no fear, it’s time to revisit a few of your old haunts.’
So you did read Garuda’s Travels after all.
‘Sections,’ said Bernie, who beelined to a warung just off the road inside the cemetery, the same one I spent many nights with Sana, the Mad Hindu. You couldn’t see it from the road. It was where the whores bought bottles of water and refreshments, in between servicing customers on the gravestones.
‘It’s also headquarters for that religious extremist group against foreigners fucking their woman folk,’ said Bernie, who ordered us a round of coffee. The hypocrites, I thought. And keeping their womenfolk to themselves, doubly hypocritical.
Our bench was next to the grave, which we used to rest our feet.
The owner of the warung recognized me.
‘You still watching porn Mr. Australi?’ he asked.
‘He knows you well,’ says Bernie, who asks if there are any new whores floating around.
‘Banyak,’ said Mustafa, who over the years only has a few grey hairs in his mustache do discuss the passing of time. ‘But you are now a fat fuck, aren’t you Vanya.’
Not enough shagging, I said. What do you mean many whores?
‘Since the president shut down Gang Golly, many of the girls moved to the cemetery.’ He pointed at all the warung lights that were twinkling among the tombstones. It was nearing dusk and the demand for warungs in the cemetery seemed to have grown into a night bizarre proportion.
‘Wait till they put on the techno music,’ said Mustafa. ‘Gang Dolly has gone underground, down and dirty, but not necrophilia, we draw the line there.’
Wow, what had we stumbled upon? I just couldn’t believe how Indonesians adapt to authority by screwing them over.
Bernie winked, ‘You should know me, I know what’s going on.”
‘No cops allowed,’ said Mustafa, ‘no military allowed, but everyone allowed if they take off their uniforms. That was our response to the former furniture salesman who is now our dopey president.’
Surabaya always marches to its own tunes and doesn’t mind giving Jakarta the middle finger.
‘And yes, at the witching hour, the sexy dancers do dance on the graveyard.’
Mustafa, you are my man.
‘So you won’t need to watch porn,’ he said, as he sat down next us and joined in the chain-smoking. ‘They’ll never take away our livelihood. They’ll try, but they’ll never win.’
Are you paying attention, Mr. President?
Last time I was here, the locals raced me out of the cemetery.
‘Not anymore,’ said the owner of the warung, ‘they have been raced out of town and I’m in charge of the Ministry of Fun around here now.’
That was a sigh of relief.
‘Just don’t write about it and piss off your friend here,’ said Bernie.
‘He can write as much as he likes, but no one will believe him.’
Mustafa was a man of meager needs but he said since the close down of Gang Dolly, he had been expanding.
Nearby, was a catacomb.
‘It’s my new underground bar,’ he said. ‘I’ll show you later, meanwhile, relax, enjoy, treat this place like your home.’
I could just imagine what it looked like.
‘That and so much more,’ said Mustafa.
I could only imagine.
‘You said that already,’ said Bernie who slapped me on the head for being so fucking stupid.
‘Basically, it’s an aircon crypt, or crib, depending on what floats your boats,’ said Mustafa, ‘where top government officials can unwind without being pestered by the Puritans.’
Aren’t you glad I took you here, asked Bernie. It was like a homecoming, I said.
‘Here, drink this,’ said Mustafa who handed over two glasses of clear liquid, ‘this should lube you up and get the night going.’
The place lit up like Disney, tiny warungs dotted over hectares of death.
The sound systems blasted techno washing out any stray dogs baying at the moon.
Even the Mickey Mouse train was doing the rounds late into the evening.
This was Bacchanalia, Indonesia style and I had to stop myself singing the Walt Disney tune.
‘One thing we don’t let the government do,’ says Mustafa, who gets down to the brass tacks, ‘ ‘is to let them take away our livelihood.’
He really doesn’t like the President.
Customers come and go, and then come back again.
Party time in the graveyard. Drum roll, please.
‘Some never leave,’ said Bernie.
‘Stop it,’ I said, ‘before I die of laughter.’
‘We don’t offer shacks for shagging,’ continued Mustafa after kindly letting us finish our giggle,’ saying that ‘they prefer shagging on tomb stones.’
Nice flat surfaces, made from the best marble, and the stars above and hell below, I could follow his logic.
‘Stop playing the prude,’ said Bernhard, ‘now are we going for a walk or are we going to sit at this warung all night?’
Mustafa suggested we pay a visit to the crypt.
We followed Mustafa through the doorway of a sarcophagus, webbed up around the hinges, I noticed. The full moon was casting light on the cemetery, giving it an alabaster sheen.
‘Save the descriptions for later,’ said Bernie, who dragged me downstairs, where techno music was playing. The place was articly chilled and tastefully lighted with soft blue fluorescent . ‘We like the punters to be able to see the whores,’ said Mustafa, who pulled out a bottle of chilled Vodka from a well stocked bar.
This place could have competed with any trendy hotel bar in Asia, I said as looked around, taking in the scenes of the white washed expansive room with benches and and seats made from frozen ice.
‘It’s the Iceberg Bar,’ said Mustafa, ‘the coolest bar in Asia.’ He let out a little whistle then a lady dressed up in her Helloween best appeared.
‘Hello Mister, ‘ she said.
Hello I replied, and let out a little whistle myself. Something was going down, and I wanted her to go down on me.
She was a hellraiser, with a big set of boobs and an hourglass figure and a tight ass that you could crack an egg on. Did I forget to say she was only wearing a g-string?
‘Only 100 thousand Rupiah,’ said Mustafa, ‘ now don’t be shy and enjoy yourself.’
Another sexy ghoul wearing false fangs and a set of block buster boobs followed her friend. We were going to fuck on a grave?
I woke up the next day. Was I dreaming?
Only if you wanted to, said Bernie, who had the biggest shit eating smile on his face.
‘Boy they do things differently in Surabaya,’ he said, as we jumped in the car and headed back for Bunyuwangi.
Just what happened last night, I eventually asked as we headed into the city limits of Java’s most easterly port town.
‘You laughed all night?
‘We both laughed. Mustafa gave us laughing gas. And you were cruising tomb stones playing peeping Tom.’
So I didn’t get laid?
We got sidetracked. Mustafa wanted you to really see.
I pulled out my camera. The proof would be there.
‘That’s you defecating on a grave.’
Well I did need a shit, that nasi goreng was going right through me. So I didn’t fuck that vampire?
‘Keep on scrolling.’
Man, can’t those Kiwis dish up a good laugh, I said, as I found a picture of him grunting for gold on a grave. The ghoul seemed to be getting into it. ‘Wait, looks like a chick with a dick,’ I teased.
‘Your department,’ he said, always quick with a come back.
It must be their isolation, the lack of pollution, or the fact that they are Kiwis, that contributes to the ‘good times never end.’
‘And don’t forget it bitch.’