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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 »

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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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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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