Friday July 17
Hari Raya morning and we’re getting woken up at 4.50am, breakfast is ready and we’ve got about half an hour to be out the door and off to the airport. Mum has cooked nasi lemak, rendang, omelette, cocnut, rice, the lot. Anna got to eat a classic Malay breakfast with mum, dad and myself and then we’re bundling into her car and on our way to the international airport. We only came back through T2 at midnight the night before after a 12 hour visit to Sydney for the Wynne Prize artists lunch, 5 hours later and here we are again. We said our goodbyes and I wrapped her up for the last time, it’ll be a month before we fly into Adelaide from different directions for my birthday. The flight to Denpasar was pretty uneventful, only 3.5 hours. I watched a dance movie while nodding off intermittently, dad was reading his old journals and falling asleep. Denpasar airport was pretty quiet, especially considering the chaos of the last week when a bit of volcanic activity in Java shut the place down for almost a week, trapping a few thousand moaning Australian tourists there. It was nice to step away from the bogan herd and head off to the domestic terminal, we could feel like people again away from the thongs and boardies. We had 5 hours to kill in the airport, I ate ayam goreng, ayam sate and had a couple of coffees and the tarik. We both bought a copy of Alfred Russell Wallace’s ‘The Malay Archipelago’, classic reading with a good does of Victorian racism thrown in, a real product of his day. The domestic terminal was mostly locals, there was very little evidence of Eid in Bali and we weren’t quite sure if we’d got the day right. A half hour delay and we were on the plane again around 6pm for the short 70 minute flight to Makassar. Landing at Makassar airport felt like Indonesia again, Denpasar domestic was brand new, all shiny marble and newly minted air con. Makassar was pretty fancy but out the front the usual squash of people, taxis, grumpy kids and sweat told me how close the equator was. The taxi was a nightmare, he swarmed past scooters and trucks with kids and mums hanging on, overtaking on the shoulder and leaning on the horn at 140kmh. We definitely didn’t go the long way, he really, really wanted to be elsewhere. No seatbelt, on the phone, we passed the Aston shuttle bus and I felt a little stupid that we weren’t on it. We arrived at the hotel and the first person I greeted was Indra Basok, a guy I’d been in touch with briefly about visiting Makassar. He was there with his wife, mum and dad and ready to take us out to dinner. I was taken completely by surprise, I didn’t realise that he was going to be waiting for me on Hari Raya with some proper Bugis hospitality. Everything was shut for the holidays and we drove around a but before stopping at a little restaurant. Dad was a saviour, he was chatting away in Indonesian breaking the ice and making dad jokes. It turns out that Indra is a lecturer in photomedia and his dad Abdul-Aziz is an art lecturer at Makassar State University. Indras wife and mum were great, they didn’t speak English but his mum was right in there, chatting away to dad and giving me shit about my non existent language skills. We ate a bunch of different fish and chicken dishes and I got nailed by chilli again. It was about 1030pm by then, people keep some late hours here and we were ready to head back to the hotel, get showered, put some stuff away and plug everything in to be recharged. It was a surprising but perfect introduction to Makassar, Indra is going to send one of his students to take us to a gallery tomorrow, he seems to know every artist in Makassar and has already proved to be a great contact. Eating and sweating are nothing new to me, I really need subtitles but I think that this place is going to be very interesting. This little diary is going to be all over the place but it will be nice to have some real time cues to fall back on once I’m back in the studio.