(I wrote this last night but have only now had reliable enough internet to post)
If there’s ever a time to live by the mantra the way is the destination, it’s on a trans-pacific flight. I tried to enjoy the time (just about 24 hours in the air, not that anyone’s counting) as it was, and didn’t indulge in counting down until the last hours of the Taipei-Denpasar flight, as lush green islands and volcanoes began to emerge through the cloud cover. I left North Carolina Friday night, flying with Kelsey to Los Angeles. In LAX we met up with Jen, Susan, and Bridget. After the 13-hour flight to Taiwan (on which we discovered that Chinese plane food is just about as unappealing as the Western variety), we met up
with Aisha in the Taipei airport. I’ll take a moment here to introduce the cast of characters:
- Kelsey (BMC ’12) will be working with me (HC ’13) at the 1965 Park Community in Denpasar, Bali
- Jen (HC ’12) will partner with Yayasan Kerti Praja, also in Denpasar
- Susan (BMC ’13) will be doing research with PUSDEP, the Center for History and Political Ethics, in Jogjakarta, Java
- Bridget’s (BMC ’12) research will relate to her Cities major and will be in Jogjakarta
- Aisha (HC ’14) will partner with Subur Gemini Nastiti, 3 hours outside of Jogjakarta
We finally arrived in Denpasar Sunday afternoon (local time). Termana (the in-country coordinator) and Ika met us at the airport and we all took taxis to a lovely little hotel in Sanur. We got a taste of downtown Denpasar, including (I’m big into lists):
- Countless woodworking shops and studios, many displaying gargantuan
- and intricately cared statues
- Open-air stores displaying dozens of varieties of sodas and chipsWomen wearing headscarves; women wearing short sundresses
A man transporting several water jugs on a motorbike
- A motorbike passenger carrying a bicycle above his head
- A family of five on a motorbike
We settled into our hotel rooms and then took a quick swim in the ocean. The beaches were packed with people because it was a
Sunday and a holiday (Ika described the holiday as “Hindu Christmas”), but we found a relatively quiet stretch of sandbar. We also found and befriended an adorable orange fish that looked exactly like a leaf. Later we walked down a stone walkway parallel to the beach. The walkway was crowded with people, with bikes trilling as they weaved in and out. It was lined with brightly colored stalls hawking everything from fried food to patchwork purses to tacky souvenirs. On the way back to the hotel we chose an outdoor restaurant and sat down for our first Indonesian meal. I ordered sate ayam, which came on a trough of live embers. Everything was delicious, there was a cool salty breeze coming in from the ocean, and we even managed to keep up a conversation despite our jetlag. We talked about American politics (Termana had heard of Congressmen Weiner and the Tea Party and wanted to know if we though Obama would win the election), English figures of speeche (“twist my arm”), and cultural differences. It was a lovely evening, but we were ready for bed by 9.
We got up at 4am today to fly to Jogjakarta. We checked into our guesthouses at the Universitas Sanata Dharma, took a quick nap, and then went to the campus for orientation and lunch with the PUSDEP staff. Aisha, Jen, Kelsey and I went grocery shopping (so many strange and colorful jellies and snacks!) then went to an internet café (where we struggled to communicate with a clerk who knew only a little more English than we Indonesian). Dinner tonight was at a delicious vegetarian place a few blocks away. We each got a scoop of rice with several side dishes. Jen and I both loved the sweet-and-spicy peanut-brittle-like tofu-based side and the mushroom kebabs.
It’s getting late (not that my body really knows) and we start classes tomorrow, so I’ll leave you with a list of juices I’ve had so far:
- Papaya milk juice, at a restaurant in the Taipei airport: strange, frothy and delicious
- Lychee juice, recommended by my dear friend and IRP alum Jacki
- Melon milkshake, from the vegetarian restaurant: thin and light, but creamy and refreshing
Sorry for the bad picture quality. I’m going to start using a nicer camera soon and I’ll hopefully have better internet access in the future.