My time in the goth scene imbued me with an appreciation for clove cigarettes. i began to develop my own favorite flavors: I liked Black because it came in a stylish box, though Sampoerna were my first love. I also really liked Bali Hai because they were so flavorful, but the bright blue box with a stylized surfer on it looked kinda goofy to pull out (when you're trying very hard to look cool). And once, I blew my shot at dating a very attractive woman because she insisted on pronouncing the "D" in Djarum. No matter how many examples of the silent D I provided—djinn, djellaba—she persisted in disingenuously asking me if I actually meant "Duh-jarum" cigarettes. I could have shut up and had access to her amazing body, but I probably wouldn't have lasted long with someone who posed a burr beneath my intellectual saddle.
One of the last things I managed to do before leaving Indonesia, to be sure, was to visit the Sampoerna factory in Surabaya, Java. We were on the 2nd floor, overlooking the hundred women hand-rolling a certain style of clove cigarette, and I wish I'd gotten a quick picture of the process. I pulled out my camera and let it focus and adjust too slowly (it's getting old and the processing speed isn't what it used to be) and the guide had plenty of time to tell me that photos were not permitted from the 2nd floor. Nuts.
But like I said, we left Indonesia and one of the things I've noticed about Thailand—both in Bangkok and Chiang Mai—is that not a lot of people smoke. In some areas, and especially during celebrations or holidays, there are signs posted prohibiting both smoking (outdoors!) and drinking. (The Australians don't think much of the latter and wandered throughout the New Year's celebrations at Tha Phae with large bottles in hand.) So I've got two packs of this delicious and unique clove cigarette and few places I can actually have a smoke. I tried having one on the sidewalk one afternoon, carefully checking for any no-smoking signs, and a small woman in a cloth facemask made a point of following me or leapfrogging ahead, coughing and hacking, glaring at me accusingly.
Oh well. They make my backpack smell nice, just sitting around, and without question it's better for my health not to light them up. But still, but still...