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After my bout with the stomach bugs, you’d think I’d be a little more careful with what I eat. But, NO, as soon as I had a normal b.m., I decided to try some more local food. These places that Don takes me are really no more than glorified street vendors with a real dining room. It’s scary to see them washing dishes from a bucket of water on the sidewalk.

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A few nights ago, we had Padang cuisine at what looked to be a fairly clean restaurant. As soon as you’re seated, they bring out lots and lots of small dishes each with a portion of some exotic food. That night I tried all sorts of things. Remember those eels that live in the rice fields? Well, I ate some of those. They fry them up whole, bones and all, in spicy oil and serve them in a tied bundle. Untie the bundle and pull one out and start crunching away. They’re actually quite tasty. I also tried another specialty called rendang beef. Cooked with spices until they permeate it. The roasting seems to also dry the beef making it tough to separate. It also was very good. Some other things I tried were fish head in yellow curry, cassava tree leaf with green chili sauce, beef tongue satay, beef rinds (like pork rinds), curried chicken and boiled chicken with red chili sauce. Some things I decided to pass on were the beef lung, beef tripe, beef liver, beef brain, etc. They eat just about any part of the cow, but I have to draw the line somewhere. So what happens to those dishes you don’t eat? It goes back to the kitchen and served to the next customers. Sounds far from sanitary, but they’ve been doing it this way for years. Read More »

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Well, the wild living has finally caught up with me. Sunday morning I woke up feeling a little sick to my stomach. Started having a little diarrhea later that afternoon and by that evening I was running a slight fever and getting chills. I slept most of Sunday and Monday. I had the most vivid lucid dreams. It was so strange to drift in and out of a dream where people who were standing around my bed, disappeared when I opened my eyes and then reappeared in my dream when I closed my eyes again. Kept trying to eat a little congee (rice porridge) but it just made me feel uncomfortably full. Read More »

20040842Today, Don took me south, about 100 km away from the city, to Punchak to visit his mom’s rice plantation. It’s here that one of their servants, Katiman, lives with his wife and child and takes care of the main house and plantation. The village they live in seems typical of a rural community here in Indonesia with dirt roads and oxen and cattle roaming freely. Houses are really nothing more than shacks built of bricks and cinder blocks with thatch roofs, dirt floors and no properly wired electricity, at least not by our standards. Katiman’s house was much nicer than most of the small houses in the area and was built more in the modern style with plumbing and electricity. Of course, the main house was enormous and thoroughly modern. Much of the fields look like they’re underwater since they are growing rice. The women tend the fields doing so much of the backbreaking labor of planting the rice, while the men do the occasional big jobs such as dealing with irrigation or plowing with the oxen. However, it often looks like they just sit around a lot while the women work. Read More »

Well I’m in Jakarta now visiting with my friend, Don, whom I met in my climbing class. Don is a great guy to know in a country like Indonesia where probably 80% of its residents are below the poverty level and unemployment is high. Don’s mom has a very nice place just south of town and it’s like staying at some five-star resort with big rooms, A/C, swimming pool, and a beautiful garden. She’s got a lot of people working in her employ taking care of the house, cooking, cleaning, etc. This is one of the few down days that I have and I’m truly enjoying being spoiled in this manner. The only drawback is that every morning at 5 a.m. there is a mosque just behind their house that starts calling people to prayer over a loudspeaker. Since Don and his family are Catholic in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, they tend to ignore it. It’s hard for me to ignore since my window faces the loudspeaker.Indonesia_sm99
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indo20Gotta keep this one short cause it’s costing me for this one.

First night in Bangkok was kinda a blur; too many beers; too many taxis and too much luggage. Everywhere there are women trying to offer themselves to me and having to fight them off, Hah! Went dancing till 4 a.m. and now I’m paying the price.

Met a guy in the Narita Airport, Gary, and since we both have a couple of days layover in Bangkok, we decided to share a room in a cheap motel for a couple of nights before I head off to Jakarta. He’s also leaving on Friday to go trekking in Nepal. I met a couple of other nice people on the flight from Tokyo to Bangkok. Got their names and hopefully we can stay in touch.

Well, gotta go and find the next place to eat. I’ll write again when I can.

Well, that day has finally arrived and I’ll be heading off to the Far East tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. PST. I’m both excited and a little apprehensive about my journey. All the reading I’ve done and conversations I’ve had, worries me just a little. If I think too much about the tropical diseases (and me the mosquito magnet), political unrest in Indonesia, terrorist attacks along the Nepali border, and whether I’m bringing too much stuff, I get a little nervous about leaving the comforts of home. But these risks are just part of the adventure, and part of the journey. Read More »

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