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Well, since my last update I decided to take the plunge and get really daring. I rented a car. Now that may not sound like that big of a deal but if you’ve never driven on the opposite side of the road before in a right-hand drive car, it is truly a risky thing. More on that later…just how did I decide to do this?

I took a business class flight from Yogyakarta to Bali. It was only $10 more than economy and it meant I got to be pampered a little. Big leather seats, friendlier service and better food. Short flight so it didn’t last long. Anyway, while in the executive lounge waiting to leave Yogya, I met an Australian, Michael, who is in the import/export business and was flying to Bali to buy some handicrafts. Interestingly, he also wrote many of the arts and crafts sections in many travel guides. He wrote that section in the Lonely Planet guide to Bali.

Michael and I talked about politics, the Middle East and other controversial subjects. As we were landing, he said he had a friend picking him up at the airport and offered me a lift into town. His friend, Made, owns a ceramic and furniture export business in Legian–a very friendly Indonesian man with a great sense of humor. Anyway Michael said I should rent a car. At first I disagreed and thought I would just rent a motorbike, but as it started raining more and more, I decided it would be easier and more comfortable in a car. Michael didn’t feel it would be a problem, but then again they drive on the left side in Australia also. Read More »

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I left last night from Don’s house on a mini-van to Yogyakarta. This is a small Mitsubishi van converted to seat 8 passengers with reclining seats and heavy-duty AC—a little more comfortable than an airplane but not by much. I actually slept through the dead of the night and got probably 3 hours of real sleep. It’s kind of hard to get a good night sleep when the driver is going down narrow two-lane roads at 110km/hr weaving in and out of mopeds, cars and huge tour buses and missing oncoming traffic by mere centimeters. This is not luck but skill to accomplish this without any mishaps. Along the way I actually saw two accidents. Both involving vans, one similar to the one I was riding in. Apparently, they ran off the road during one of the downpours in the middle of the night. No serious injuries. Arrived in Yogya about 12 hours later, a little haggard, a lot tired.

This is where the real adventures begin. Just like in Bangkok, I don’t know the language and although the Indonesian language is easy to learn, it is difficult to pick it up overnight. I now must get around on my own without the aid of Don as my interpreter and guide. I was a little apprehensive at first but it doesn’t really appear to be a big problem. More people in Yogya speak English since it seems to be more of a tourist destination. Still, it hasn’t been much of a problem. I just smile a lot, bow my head and say, terimah kasih (thank you) a lot. Seems to have worked so far. Read More »

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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