Courier Price Craziness

I’m comming back to Spain. Yes, finally we are moving back to good old Zaragoza after a long stay in Surabaya, Indonesia. If we can afford it, if you know what I mean.

This morning we (my wife, me and 130kg of goods) knocked at the door of DHL in Surabaya. A very helpful guy, weighted our parcels and informed me of the price… well… it was USD8500!! How in the name of the Lord cand they expect me to pay that huge ammount of money?!

You may say “you know, you are sending 130kg, and that’s a big deal.” Well, first of all let me tell you that it’s not that a big deal. I mean, this is mostly clothes and some souvenirs. Yes, a lot of clothes maybe, but I’ve been here for a long time. Anyway, you can imagine that 8500 bucks is biiiig money for me, a European guy, what they call a “bule”. But… can you imagine how big an ammount is that for a local Indonesian?!

Anyway, the rate for 5kg is… 450 american dollars!! Oh, Geez! Even that is too much!

This is simply ridiculous.

Bule Gila

Tales of a Dutch Barman in Jakarta
By Bartele Santema

bule gila (BU-leh GEE-lah) n Indonesian for “crazy foreigner”

In a secluded corner of a shopping and entertainment complex in Jakarta lies a bar called BuGils. BuGils, a contraction of bule and gila (in addition to being the Indonesian word for ‘naked’), has had the honor of hosting the most colorful collection of locals and foreigners Jakarta has ever seen. The manager of BuGils, Bartele Santema, has spent five years amongst these creatures and with a keen eye and sharp wit observed and documented their curious behavior.

The Colonel who upsets everyone. The Brit who buys used socks. The second-hand newspaper seller who is smelled before he is seen. The cook who moonlights as a mystic. The Dutchman who gets new teeth. All of these – and more – make up this collection of riotously funny stories of life in Jakarta as seen through the eyes of a foreigner.

Bartele Santema, originally from Friesland, has been in Indonesia since 1990 and is currently manager of BuGils, an Amsterdam-style bar he started in 2000. Bart is also the publisher of the popular Expat Newsletter, a bi-weekly email that combines Indonesia-related news and his own skewed opinions on current events. To subscribe, visit or send an email to

You can get your copy from

Ada apa?

Languages always interested me for they reflect the culture from where they sprang out. I’ve been now more than one year living in Indonesia because of my work, and I actually got a grasp on the language.

Anyway, it never ceases to amaze me the whole simplicity of it. Judge by yourselves:

– Ada apa?
– Tidak ada apa apa.
– Tidak apa apa.

That comes to mean:

– What’s wrong?
– Nothing.
– Ok.

You can see that they can make a full conversation out of “ada”, “apa” and “tidak”.

Another example will be “Tuku buku teko toko buku,” that means nothing else that “I buy a book from the bookstore.”

And, of course, Javanese people are just like their language: simple, beautiful and interesting. Don’t you love it?

Fool’s World Map

World is gone crazy… You can check it in this map, created by a Japanese national and inspired by this real history, extracted from his website at

One day, a Texan asked me a question when I lived in U.S.. The question was “How many hours does it take to go to Japan by car?”. (true story) He didn’t know where Japan is, and even bofore that, he didn’t know that Japan is an island. And then, I thought. “What kind of world map is pictured in his mind?” This was a beginning to think that it might be fun to gather those mixed up recognitions of countries and visualize it as a world map imagined by the fools in the world.