My Blog__ HANG IN JAKARTA
Christi Hang makes friends/gets searched for drugs in Jakarta.
We met sipping on white wine with ice cubes in Cantina, Cambodia's unofficial foreign correspondents' club. It was a whirlwind of off-colour jokes, fashion critiques and more off-colour jokes. I moved back to Toronto and she moved to Jakarta. Under the premise of an interview, I made Christi Hang Skype with me because I just missed her, ok? She also shed some light on her love for Jakarta, a city that I've literally heard nothing good about until now. She told me about Indonesian designers, cleaning ladies and vagina steaming.
Before the good stuff (vagina steaming!) here are some quick facts about Christi:
After graduating from the University of North Texas, this Vietnamese-American firecracker was a reporter at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner aka "The voice of Interior Alaska since 1903." Then she moved to Cambodia (because it's where all the coolest people go) and worked as an associate editor for the Cambodia Daily. Now she pulls triple duty at the Jakarta Globe as the deputy features editor, deputy editor for the Sunday Globe and co-editor for Kemang Buzz, a monthly lifestyle magazine.
Christi Hang: I love Jakarta. I'm done. I want to live in Jakarta forever. After Phnom Penh it was like, "Whoa! 3D movies! Is that Starbucks?" You're spoiled. It's a holiday. It's the perfect mix of lifestyles for me. When I came home from the Morrissey concert, all my laundry was folded and my sheets on the bed. Could not be happier. Best of both worlds.
Jess Bloom: Was it a really big adjustment moving from Phnom Penh to Jakarta?
CH: I had to throw away all my Cambodia clothes. It's like, "This thing with a sequined teddy bear on it is not a clothing item in the real world."
On 3rd World Weight Gain:
CH: Did you find, when you left Cambodia, that you lost a lot of weight just by not living in Cambodia?
JB: Yes! So much white rice, alcohol and never walking anywhere.
CH: I arrived in Jakarta on the second day of Ramadan so I dried out real fast.
JB: The gym I went to served margaritas and burgers.
CH: It's easier to be healthy here. Everyone's in shape. They have style. It's weird because in Asia you only have two seasons: wet and dry. In Jakarta, they still dress for seasons because there's a Zara on every street corner. In the "winter months" everyone's wearing jeans and boots even though the weather hasn't really changed but that's what's in style now. It's ridiculous. People are going to get heatstroke.
On Indonesian Fashion:
CH: There's a vintage market, Pasar Senen, and every time I go, I find something. I even got into vintage bathing suits. Is that gross? I almost exclusively wear vintage dresses now. Eighties dresses from stylish Japanese women. The market has 20 vendors and I haven't paid more than $5 for dress.
JB: Is it difficult to dress for the heat?
CH: I wear leggings but I used to wear leggings in Phnom Penh, so I think I'm used to it. All my leggings are ripped up. One night I went out and got a huge hole in the knee and runs all over. I wear them anyway. I'm trying to make it happen. I'm the edgy punk rock lifestyles editor! ...But no one's really having it to be honest. It's not flying too good. Everyone's like, "Christi, you have a tear in your stocking." And I'm like, "I know." They treat me like I was raised by wolves and I don't know what to do.
JB: What do the Indonesians do well, style-wise?
CH: I blow my paycheque almost every month on young Indonesian designers. Everybody is making super awesome, wearable clothes and I use the excuse that I'm supporting the local economy. There's a t-shirt company called Toscavica. They make really soft shirts and I just begged the owner to make girl shirts. I also really like Major Minor who do a lot of classic pieces.
On Indonesian Beauty:
CH: I'm going to wait until I sign my contract, so that they can't fire me, but somebody told me there's a place that does legit cornrows. I want to look like a Harajuku girl, like I'm following Gwen Stefani around in 2008. I also found a place that does Minx nails for $6 so I'm probably going to do that forever. Between cornrows and Minx nails, the only thing I'm not into is impressing boys or dating. I'll have to take some "me time."
JB: A style-imposed celibacy.
CH: I have better eyeliner, though. That's been a fortunate part about Jakarta--there's MAC stores everywhere so I keep buying expensive makeup to impress nobody. In Cambodia, I had raccoon eyes. No one told me for three years that I was walking around like Alice Cooper...because nobody cared.
On American Responsibilities:
CH: I'm kind of stressing out because I have to do my own laundry this week and I haven't done my own laundry for years. I've always had an old Asian lady to do it for me. Or my mom. Who is an old Asian lady. I lost my license the night I mugged myself in Phnom Penh, and it was an Alaska license, so if I ever drove in the States, I'd have to take the test again. I can't parallel park so I'll just have to stay in Asia forever. We take taxis. I'm also really into cream baths. You pay a woman (do you see a theme here?) and all she does for an hour is wash your hair and massage in conditioner. I feel like my hair's actually thicker from the head massages.
On Vagina Steaming:
CH: I can't believe this isn't the first thing I told you. There's a spa...and they do vagina steaming. Apparently it's something Balinese princesses used to do all the time. You steam your vagina and it's supposed to make it better somehow. You sit over a bucket of hot water and herbs and let your vagina breathe it in. You sit on a special stool with a hole in it.
JB: Like tea? How much is this?
CH: My friend did it and said it was expensive. Maybe $40 to get your vagina steamed for an hour.
JB: I'm going to move to Jakarta and open up a $20 steam.
CH: At the end, they want to put the herbs into your vagina. It's suppose to make it...Ok, there's this rumour, it's a rumour, I don't know, but apparently Indonesian guys like super dry vaginas. Women use blowdryers to dry themselves up before getting down.
JB: Would it be really uncomfortable to ask?
CH: Yeah, it's pretty conservative that way.
Be a part of the journey @ChristiHang