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In Jarkata and still cannot escape the questions

Jamie Burrow - former US Postal rider - is now on board with us, out in Jakarta, sourcing our new Pro Race Clothing line...
"Whilst most of the cycling world are glued to the news and setting there video recorders for Oprah, I've spent most of my week sat in taxi cabs. (who by the way never seem to have change, so they always manage to blag a good tip). Driving around Indonesia's highly populated and grid locked capital city of Jakarta. No, I'm not on holiday, or on a warm weather training camp. I'm here, touring Indonesia's finest apparel manufactures, in search of innovative new fabrics , techniques and suppliers for our forthcoming range of technical and casual garments.


Despite traveling half way around the world, i haven't completely escaped the clutches of the Worlds press. All curious for any new or unheard news, stories or gossip related to my old "BOSS", in one of sports biggest, darkest moments.  Well!! time has moved on since those days, and so have I.  My cycling career has taken me all over and has seen many highs and low's. Now I'm very happy mixing my years of on the road experience, with a life long passion in fashion and design, to "hopefully" produce some quality items for Planet x, and especially you guys, the end consumer.


I won't give out any "inside information" just yet, as to what i have found, who i have met, or what might be coming. But i have certainly seen some interesting and very high quality product and manufactures. And a very long list of the Worlds biggest and most popular fashion labels, sourcing from the same factories. 


Because of the immense traffic problem here in Jakarta, all days are exceptionally long, so no real time for chilling, and checking out the local sites. However there is always time (and need) to eat. Having dined in the hotel on the first couple of nights, we decided it was time to check out the recommended, traditional, local cuisine.

We pulled up to the indonesian version of "jack rabbit slim's", but there was no Durwood  Kirby burger and five-dollar shake in this joint.. No not here, after the neon,1950's diner entrance, we walked into what appeared  to be a giant aquarium.  We were promptly allocated our own fisherman who proceeded in hooking out our catch, and asking if we preferred grilled or fried?!  5 minutes later and we were served possibly the worlds freshest fish. (I think they must still have been alive when tossed into the oil).


This morning we were up at the crack of dawn, as our factory visit for the day was scheduled as a 4 hour drive away. Unfortunately, when it rains in Jakarta. IT RAINS!!! From the time we woke up and had breakfast, the water level had raised to knee height. Our driver recommended waiting a while, for the rain to ease and the water level to drop. Not happening!! I have never seen roads flood so quickly and heavily as this. Within an hour, there wasn't a car on the road, as water went above tyre level. 


Now I'm sitting here in the hotel writing this, with one eye on the weather situation. Doesn't seem to be changing for the better. I just see the occasional small child float past in the river, that a few hours ago was a main road."



20,000 people have lost their homes over night. Most can't get to work or school, and i was among a hotel full of International business men and women, who couldn't reach their clients, or make it to the airport for their return flights. But some were still smiling! when a city this busy with traffic is suddenly grounded for transport, the local kids have all the money making ideas.


I walked out of the hotel early this morning to check out the severity of the situation. We were stranded! we couldn't get to our planned meetings, that was for sure. The next big worry was getting to the airport, with not a single road open. I'm not flying until tomorrow, but the situation is getting worse by the hour. 

"Mr, Mr, you want ride?" 4 small boys, rocked up to the hotel foyer, lined with business men with suits, briefcases and worried frowns. These "wonder kids" were gonna turn this into "pay day". They had tied 4 oil barrels together with some rope, to make a floating device. Then hooked up an upside down table, on top of the barrels. "hey-presto" you have a makeshift, floating taxi!!

"Great idea buddy, but i need to get to the airport. Thats an hour by taxi on a good day". They couldn't help me and Muz (my guide, and wingman here in Indonesia), but I'm sure they are still out there collecting fares.


Luckily for us, late last night we overheard the hotel manager speaking with some VIP clients, of a plan he had, if things worsened. He was going to call up a friend to come and rescue these important clients, with a big, bad cement truck! Yes, i said cement truck. Real VIP treatment. Muz speaks good Indonesian, and his eaves dropping, could get us to safety.

So it turns out that said cement truck would try to reach the hotel in the morning, and take the gold ticket winners to the airport. A secret list of names was being prepared by the the hotel, for those in the know. We managed to get our names on the list, and at least if the truck made it to the hotel,  we had a chance.


During breakfast we heard extreme commotion coming from the reception area. The cement truck had arrived, word had got round, and the riots commenced. The hundreds of other desperate guests that had no idea about the truck ride, suddenly wanted in. The cash started flying everywhere, offers kept increasing with value to try and get a ride to the airport. It seemed like the life boat scene from Titanic. But ill admit, there wasn't going to be any women and children first. This was a "free for all".


We climbed up onto the damp, dirty truck using our suitcases as seats. It was going to be a very long and uncomfortable ride, but who cares.. We were out of there!

17 January 2013

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