Sunday 20 May 2012: green nettle weevil - Phyllobius pomaceus
Not much to say about this critter except it was all I was going to get on this foul day and I am grateful too. It's a weevil and lives on a leaf.
Today's Indonesia difference discussion is taxis. Yes, I have mentioned taxis in the past, but if you are thinking of visiting Indonesia or any other far eastern country then this information is very important.
The English taxi system I find a major inconvenience, not being able to flag down a passing taxi, except for black cabs. On the plus side, the price IS the price and there is no negotiation, expensive, but this is England. Also, the taxis are in the main reliable, when you phone up, the taxi will come.
In Indonesia, it is not like New York were 50% of the cars on the road are yellow cabs, but around the city there are plenty of cabs to wave down. Some cabs use the meter but most break the law and will not use the meter and will quote you a price for your destination.
If you jump in and ride to your destination without discussing the price, then you are at the mercy of the cab driver and you will be fiscally screwed, especially being a foreigner. First job, before entering the cab is to point to the meter and say 'meter'. If he switches the meter on then you are lucky. If he says no, then you must haggle the price. The first price he gives will be ridiculously high. You can stay and argue or walk away and let him come after you with a lower price until he refuses to drop any further.
In order to find the right price, you may have to give up a few cabs and stop another. It is obviously best if you know what the price should be but this is not always possible. Personally, if he quotes a reasonable price, I will negotiate the price down to its correct value. If the cabby quotes a ridiculous price, I will refuse to negotiate and demonstrate my disapproval by shaking my head, maybe calling him a bandit. Cab negotiations are a pain and can be ruthless, but very necessary if you don't want to get ripped off.
If your destination is too close, too far or simply too difficult due to congestion, some cabs will refuse the fare. You can either try to negotiate a price that works for you both or just find another cab, someone will take the fare.
Look around when you arrive and make a mental note of the major cab companies driving around and NEVER get into a cab if it is not one of the major companies or if you do not recognise the company, especially late at night, I'm sure I don't need to explain why!
If you do a regular taxi journey, say from the bar to hotel or home to work, it is a good idea to find a good cab and then exchange phone numbers. Taxi drivers are grateful for regular customers and generally show their appreciation by giving you preferential service, even sending you another cab if they cannot make the pickup themselves.
My regular driver in Malaysia, Bob, used to pay all my utilities, electric, phone, internet and any other chores that I needed, services paid for of course. When family came to visit, I handed them over to Bob, to ferry them around and show the local sites, so that I could go to work and not stress. Taxi Bob was invited to all the BBQ's and parties and all his customers clubbed together and sent him to three football world cups, such was this drivers services appreciated.
Bob is a lifelong friend, not just to me, but all the other people that I worked with that used his services. In times of crisis he has housed me and even lent me money to get me out of my predicament, fully repaid of course. Once I am working again and fiscally secure, a more than generous bonus will be finding its way to Bob's bank account.
There are good cabbies out there, you just have to find them and hold on to them.