Starbucks, Terrorism, and Samurai

Have you seen that flick? I saw it last night – sorry, but everything takes a bit longer to reach Indonesia.

What an awesome movie! I was surprised to see Tom Cruise take up this role, but in the end I think he did a much better job than I would have predicted. Maybe I’m a sucker for these “male pride/honor comes first/wish I was there” type movies (Gladiator, Braveheart), but it really was well done. The main opposing character, Ken Watanabe, was fantastic I thought, and the fight scenes choreographed well without being overly lengthy. It’s a nice break from the techno crazed Matrix themes that seem to run through every action movie lately.

I’ve realized that I absolutely suck at linking to other sites, and I especially suck at not linking back to all the people that have been kind enough to put this site as a link on their own websites. I will make note of this when I finish my new website. I’m trying to decide if I should simply forward this blog to the new site, or create a whole new weblog. Any opinions are welcome.

The rainy season is in full force now here on Java . . . good thing I drive an SUV. In the States I would never have bought a car like this – I’m actually addicted to sports cars (and no it’s not in compensation for other things – heheh). I love driving fast, hitting an apex on a tight corner, or just taking the top off and cruising through backroads.

In Indonesia, there are NO convertibles, no sports cars, and nothing exciting to me. I have a background in automotive design, so yeah, I’m a bit picky I suppose. Actually, I take that back – there are some sports cars, but they’re only at the dealer showrooms. No one is actually insane enough to drive their Ferrari on these streets. As for a lack of convertibles, I can understand why people wouldn’t find them practical in this city of choking pollution, but once you’re an hour outside of Jakarta, the sun breaks though and the scenes of rice fields are breathtaking. It would be much more immersive if I had a Harley or a convertible, but then again, I’d be a perfect target for the supposed “Al Qaeda cells in training” here in Indonesia. (check it out here)

On the terrorism front, I still have tons of people asking me if I’m afraid of living here, if I fear for my safety, or if I avoid the “westernized” locations. Hell no! I’m pretty much the polar opposite of that. I chill in Starbucks, grab burgers from Wendy’s, wear blatant American clothing, put the window down and give people the finger when they cut me off while I’m driving, and venture down to Planet Hollywood or HardRock Café (how many people have you seen wearing “HardRock Jakarta” t-shirts? Not quite like Chicago or London).

I’m sure that one of these days some local anti-American group is going to take offense, but in the meantime, I can’t quit living. If I live here in fear, then why live here at all?

U.S. Embassy
Jakarta, Indonesia
Warden Message
December 5, 2003

The Embassy reminds all Americans in Indonesia of the increased volatility of the security environment during the holiday season. On Christmas Eve 2000 there were a series of bombings and attempted bombings at churches throughout Indonesia. The potential for additional bombings of places where Americans and Westerners are known to live, congregate, shop, or visit, especially hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events is particularly high during the weeks around Christmas through the New Year.

. . .

Cheers to you American Ambassador.