I’ve always been amused by the contention that brain work is harder than manual labor. I’ve never known a man to leave a desk for a muck-stick if he could avoid it.”
— John Steinbeck, America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction

I didn’t know it at the time but Teddy (the guy with the WLA) was about to be one the closest friends I was to make in Indonesia. We ate at his house and enjoyed home made ice-cream. He worked as an architect but you would never be able to tell that from the amount he smiled (sorry architects but you do tend to be a surly bunch). His home also doubled as sort of orphanage. A place where children could stay, get fed and be taken to school. He and his friends pooled their money to make this happen and at the time of writing he had about 30  little ones running around the place slightly high from the sugar in the ice-cream. 

Teddy and his family. Please note the little one did not like me messing up his hair. 

Teddy and his family. Please note the little one did not like me messing up his hair. 

Despite being in Indonesia for a month I am still blown away by the incredible hospitality. After a tour of Solo taking in the palace and checking out the musesen he told me that he would ride with me to Jogja and introduce me to a friend of his called “Mr Bangbang”. Mr Bangbang lived on the outskirts of town at his successful metal manufacturing factory. Hand made woks were his bread and butter but he also had a number of CNC machines and other tools in his 100 staff factory. 

Teddy and 2 days worth of supplies tied to his WLA

Teddy and 2 days worth of supplies tied to his WLA

He was also, unsurprisingly a huge motorcycle fanatic, with a collection of WLAs and BSAs. 

"Don't crash the antique motorcycle" 

"Don't crash the antique motorcycle" 

He lived in a 3 level building that would be best described as a “treehouse”.  It was produced and by designed by Teddy and this was a high and airy home with the top levels looking out over Jogja and the surrounding trees. 

Despite Mr Bangbang's limited English (which was still leaps and bounds better than my Bahassa) he welcomed me into his home and allowed me to park my bike next to his collection. 

I needed to spend a week waiting for an extension to my visa (had it already been 30 days?) and he told me to stay here. 

Teddy rode out and said he would be back soon.  He motored off close to midnight for the hour ride to Solo.

I  tried to use the time as best as I could. Updating the blog, working on the bike and  doing some b-roll and interview footage for the next stories of bike episode. I was still feeling slightly down from the cough that slowed me in East Java so it was a good time to rest and take it all in. 

During the day I would spend a rather large amount of time watching the workers as they hand made these woks. There was a guy who would make the molds from clay. There was a team that would melt down the ingots, the guys who would pour molten fluid into the molds and finally the two man teams that would pull the still soft woks from the molds and stack them. 

The factory

The factory

The speed at which the workers was able to produce the woks was amazing. Full auto pilot while they talked, joked and stood around 1370 degrees liquid. 

Carving the clay molds that would be used to make the woks.

Carving the clay molds that would be used to make the woks.

Through his son I started talking to Mr Bangbang about this process and how it was amazing that this work was all done by hand. He talked about how that a long time ago, it became more effective for him to use machines to make the woks. That would of course mean that 100 plus employees would be dramatically downsized. He didn’t like the idea of this and instead made the choice to use the new machines to move into different markets such as the CNC machining and (he giggled when he said this) parts for old motorcycles as he required. 

My Bangbang outside his factory/home.

My Bangbang outside his factory/home.

Mr Bangbang was content with his business, home and family and felt no need to pull the jobs of his employees who he had known for years -  just for profit. It was impressive - I am not sure if I would make the same choice. To get to a point after starting a business from sratch and go  “Now is when I need to give back’. It is not a choice I have ever had to make and will cross that bridge when I run a hugely successful wok and machining factory. 

He found me some fried cow-lungs which would help my health. It tasted like the balance between jerky and fancy packet chips. I got better rather quickly after that. It may have been the lungs. Or just the rest I was getting. 

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