Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Friendliest People In Asia

Indonesians. I love them. After 48 hours in Jakarta I was convinced these people are the warmest in this corner of the world. The Vietnamese are rude money-grabbers; the Laos are friendly but fairly nonplussed by us; the Thais are used to our money and act accordingly, though some of them shine; the Filipinos are friendly in the main, but crazy and some are downright dangerous; none of them match the Indos.

It started with Rizal at the airport. The next evening I was sat at a street Nasi (rice) stall with two locals who were pleased to be able to talk English football. The conversation lasted 5 minutes, and they insisted on paying for my dinner as they left. On the way back to Jalan Jaksa, a couple of guys stopped me and we got talking about music. One suggested we go clubbing at the weekend with his other Western friends; I asked for his number and explained I didn't have a local SIM, so couldn't give him a number. He wanted to lend me his spare phone until I got one. I passed, but thaked him for his kindness. I met a woman named Dewi on a train to Bandung a few days later who rescued me from an oddball who'd cornered me to practice English on. She wanted me to meet her single daughters. They're just happy to talk to us, it's so nice.

I had one guy walking with me up the main street in Jogjakarta later still, asking me all sorts of questions. He accompanied me for five minutes, and I was cynically waiting for the usual sales pitch to appear. I was resignedly giving him fairly short answers to his probing. After he asked where I stayed, I impatiently asked why he needed to know. He simply smiled and said "Sorry sir, I just like to practice my English. Thank you." I felt so guilty as I watched him walk away through the crowd. I still wish I'd called him back and offered him a drink somewhere.

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