Friday, September 25, 2009

The last couple weeks and vacation

with each new day i just get lazier and lazier when it comes to blogging. i'm sure i've mentioned it before, but for the holiday after ramadan my host family had plans to go to central java, and have some fun in the cities around there, including yogyakarta (pronounced jogjakarta, its old spelling). so, i think i'll start there.
on monday, we got up really early and i threw the last of my stuff together and we had breakfast, which today was bread. it was weird not to have rice for breakfast though, i've gotten more used to it than i thought. then we went to dennie's parent's house and chatted with people there for a little while. his mom gave me this weird cooked banana which didn't taste as sweet as i thought it was going to but it was really good. she also gave me this stuff, i wish i knew the name, that was like kind of firm ovals of green jelly in a kind of green sugar water soup. when she was getting it she put some brown stuff from a little bottle that made me think of vanilla extract which she said was for flavor. flavor indeed. it was good, but it kind of tasted like chemicals..then we left. we were on the road by 7. it was one of the most amazing drives of my life! i was totally entertained the whole time, just looking out the window. it was amazing. indonesia is so beautiful!! the world outside jakarta is majorly different. there were rice paddies and corn fields everywhere. after maybe 4 hours we stopped at a big rest stop to eat. it was a cool place, really open, just a huge room with a bunch of tables and waitresses running back and forth, trying to keep everyone happy. the only problem with it being open was that there were a bunch of flies everywhere..we sat down and started looking over the menu. as it happened, there was nothing on the menu that was vegetarian, but luckily dewi had packed some stuff from home. i ate rendang potatoes, which are so amazing. they are little potato balls with this delicious..sauce? its coconutty and a little bit spicy and so good. i also ate rice and mie goreng (fried noodles) it was one of the best eating experiences of my life because i finally tried eating with my hands! i love it. it really makes the meal more..personal somehow. its the coolest thing. after we ate we continued onward, stopping after a while to eat again. we stopped because everyone wanted to eat crab, so i had some really good traditional javanese tea while they ate. everything is so cool here, even the tea was cool! there was a little ceramic teapot and in my cup there were giant sugar crystals, which made the tea so sweet and delicious. just as i was about to pour some tea i noticed a couple ants crawling around in my cup...but there was nothing i could think of to do to get rid of them so i just poured the tea in and was very careful not to sip up a shriveled ant body. i also had some cucumber chips that were dipped in really spicy sambal, which was amazing. before the food came all the kids went to one end of the table and we played uno, which was a lot of fun. i'm so in love with indonesia right now. i know i've been saying stuff like that a lot lately but i'm so happy to be here. just sitting in the car and looking out my window at the 'real' indonesia was so incredible. i can't believe i'm in such a beautiful, magical land. what better way is there to spend a year of your life? in the car after that i slept on and off and watched zoolander on my ipod. i felt like i had to watch zoolander because my friend tyler, who's on YES in malaysia, had something on his facebook status a couple days ago that said something about how zoolander was the only permanently banned movie in malaysia. i can't believe how hilarious that is. so in honor of that, i watched it until we got to our hotel, hotel nirwana. we schlepped all our crap into our rooms and then me, dennie, and dieva went swimming. the water was perfect. so warm and amazing! it felt really good to exercise too, after a day of sitting in the car. after i showered in our room, me and diandra watched mr. bean and ordered room service because she told me we were going somewhere tonight where everyone was going to be eating black escargots..she got some spaghetti type pasta and i got nasi goreng. it was really good but there were some eggs with it that were rather rubbery and odd..when i was heading to the car i saw something flapping around by a lamp and at first i thought it was a bird but after staring at it a bit longer i realized it was a bat. it was so cool, i've never seen a wild bat before and i swear i could hear its sound, its sonar, ever so faintly. we drove to where the party was, at an outdoor place that to me looked kind of like a gas station, where there were a couple food tables and a ton of chairs set up all over. i ate some tempeh goreng and then had a seat with diandra and a bunch of the cousins. a couple people got up and made speeches, during which i just let my mind wander, and then we left. pretty much i passed out as soon as we got to our room.
tuesday: all the food was full of meat at breakfast so i had a blueberry muffin we got at bread talk a couple days before we left and 2 pieces of toast with pineapple jam that was a radioactive yellow. we packed everything up and drove off to a relative's house. by the time we got there it was lunchtime, so we ate. everyone else ate crab again, but i ate rice and this weird vegetable soup and sambal and krupuk and tempeh goreng. it was kind of horrible though, i was sitting on the floor with all the little cousins who couldn't figure out how to open up their crabs and one of the uncles came and just snapped them open. it made me feel sick, to watch everyone breaking and pulling the little animals apart. i know i shouldn't be so sensitive, but it was really kind of shocking. then we set out to drive to semarang. the drive was incredible, as it had been the whole time. semarang is such an amazing city, its so beautiful! i'm really jealous of all the AFS kids who get to live in this area. we drove around for a little bit and then parked our car and walked around, looking for a vendor who would sell us vegetarian lumpia, or spring rolls. finally we found someone. it was really fun to watch him cook them. i think that's one of the best things about getting street food, watching it be made right before your eyes. there were people selling stuff all around us. two old ladies were selling baskets of flowers. an old man was selling slide whistles that sound like birds and tops with a slit that make them sound like a train. and all around there were food vendors, selling everything imaginable. the lumpia were delicious. when you eat them, they give you some green onions and you hold one against the lumpia and take a bite. its amazing. hmm i wonder how many times i've said that in this post..anyways, after we ate we kept on driving. in the area we drove through there was constantly a ditch on one side of the road or the other that had a small incline and was full of water. i saw women doing laundry, goats and sheep drinking, and little kids swimming. what an amazing life that would be. i mean think about it, you always have just your little place where you grew up swimming with your friends and pets (assuming that the goats and sheep are pets). i would love to have grown up like that. alas, i did not. ok, so i was really fascinated by that and i continued my endless staring out the windows until we got to the hotel. as soon as our stuff was in our rooms me and dieva went swimming. the pool was really cool, there was a kind of roof cover thing over the center and along one end there were statues on big cement blocks that had a fountain of water shooting out of them. we met up with a couple cousins and all practiced doing handstands and front flips and back flips. it was a lot of fun but the pool was super crowded, surprisingly since it was like 5:30. i was swimming some laps and trying to go all the way across the pool in one breath and i smashed into an old man. immediately i said sorry, and then remembered that i'm in indonesia. he asked me where i was from and it was painfully embarrassing. i saw some more bats flying around and heard some little kids yell bule at me when we got out. i watched fashion tv in our room while diandra did twitter. i got room service again, because diandra told me we were going somewhere where there probably would only be meat food. this time i got mie goreng. being very adventurous food wise, i know. she got off the computer to take a shower so i got on and checked my facebook. as it turned out, they were going to their grandma's tonight to eat but my food just came when they were about to leave so i stayed behind, watching runway shows on fashion tv and chatting with sage and coco. i had a fun night. when diandra got back it was pretty late so we watched tv and went to sleep.
wednesday: we had to get up at 7:30 to eat, it was rough. i had rice and vegetables and this little thing that i thought was tofu but it was actually chicken. i also had porridge! i've been dying to try porridge for weeks, so i was really excited. basically its like plain oatmeal, but with rice instead of oats. it isn't sweet. i put some small peanuts and kecap, sweet, thick soy sauce on it, and i ate it with krupuk. oh my goodness. it was amazing. really so delicious, i love it. we had to dress nice today, and i had brought a dress with me but diandra said i should have long pants on, so skinny jeans it was. we drove to this place which i was later informed was a kindergarten that someone in the family started. an uncle got up and talked for a while, followed by dennie's dad. as soon as we were in our seats a lady came around and gave us little boxes of treats. they all had meat except for klepok, which are these little balls of i think rice flour that have brown sugar in the middle and coconut shavings all around them. those were all i could eat, which was fine with me because i love them. a bunch of little girls got up and started singing karaoke, and it was the cutest thing i've ever seen. a couple were dancing to the music, and all of them were amazing singers. everyone here is. i haven't met one person who doesn't love to sing and is amazing at it. makes me feel bad that i'm not much of a singer myself..after they were done it was lunch time. almost everyone stormed the little house next door where the food was, but me, diandra, dewi, and a couple others hung back until the crowd cleared. one of the uncles told me that he was an AFS student to germany a long time ago and that there were about 3 other AFS alumni there. small world. finally we went to get food. there were tables set up all around that had already prepared plates of food on them. i got pecal, which is similar to gado-gado. for those of you who don't know either, basically its a bunch of different vegetables over rice and covered with peanut sauce. sometimes there's tofu with it too, like there was today. it was so spicy! but really delicious. dennie let me use his iphone and i got on facebook again for a little bit. then all the adults lined the place and we went around clasping or kissing hands to show forgiveness/apology. then some aunts and uncles started singing karaoke and one aunt kept trying to get me to go but i had to explain to her that i don't sing. maybe someday i will, but for now i choose to spare their ears from that. after that we left. we went to this place by the ocean which was lined with shops selling everything imaginable. food, clothes, shoes, toys, sunglasses, everything. it was crazy! we got on one of the little bus things that were going all over it and rode around for a while. we got off by some food stands and bought 3 coconuts, which a little lady then hacked the tops off of and they put some sweet syrup in two of them and gave us a straw and a spoon and we ate them. it was so fun. i've never eaten a coconut like that, let alone a fresh coconut, so that was fun. it was so sweet and delicious, i love it! i was holding maybe a 6 pound coconut in my hand, so by the time i was done my wrist and arm were pretty sore. on our way out, i saw a stand swarming with people that was selling rabbits and hampsters. they were so cute, and i really wanted to stop and look at them but we didn't have time to. me and dieva went swimming again. she was playing with some cousins so i swam some laps. i love all this exercise! it feels incredible. after i got cleaned up we hung out in the room for a bit and then went out for dinner. the restaurant we went to, papa ron's pizza, was inside a huge department store that reminded me of a was really good food though, the pizza i got was super garlicky. that was the first time i tried pizza with sambal, which i was kind of questioning at first but it was really good. then we went to this little factory outlet/pool/restaurant and looked around there for a bit and then went into the courtyard and got dessert. i got avocado juice and chocolate pancakes. the pancakes were tiny and perfectly round, served like a sandwich with the chocolate between the two of them. they were really good. the avocado juice was too, surprisingly. i actually really like it. some of the cousins came and we hung out for a bit and then left for the hotel. and that was the end of that.
thursday: we got up at 6:30 to eat breakfast. they had porridge again! we packed all of our stuff and then watched a lot of fashion tv until it was time to go. our first stop was museum kereta api, or the train museum. its a really cool old place from the colonial times. we took a lot of pictures on and in the trains and of some old phones and stuff they used to use here. it was really fun. then we left. i had a little nap and then looked out the windows. we stopped to eat at this restaurant that had ig spaces where windows should be but there was no glass so we just had an amazing view. i ate rice, spinach, sambal, and bean sprouts. it was really good. after that we left. it took a really, really, really long time but finally we got to yogyakarta!! dennie didn't know how to get to borobudur (a huge and totally amazing ancient buddhist temple) so he asked a guy on the street, who hopped on his motorcycle and took us there. we bought our tickets and then walked through the park until we got to the temple. me and dewi were standing around waiting for the rest of the group to catch up and these people asked me if they could take a picture with me. i don't know why but i thought it was hilarious. i'm not used to being a novelty, much less to strangers wanting to take pictures with me. everyone came and we started the climb up the big stairs to the top of the temple. it was so beautiful i couldn't believe it. there was a little girl, maybe 10 years old, walking behind me and she bumped into me, then touched my arm and started giggling wildly. i guess it was a dream come true to touch a bule. the view from the top was so amazing, words cannot describe how beautiful and magical the whole thing was. all the cousins climbed around one of the smaller towers and we took a bunch of group pictures, and then i took more with strangers. after a while the aunts and uncles started yelling out "sepuluh ribu!" and "lima ribu!" it actually would be a really great way to make money though, just get dropped of at borobudur everyday and sit at the top and take pictures, charging as much as i want per photo, and then leaving when the park closes. i'd be richer than kings. hmm...haha. a lot of the time people would ask to take a picture, but it happened a lot that i'd just see a phone or camera coming out of nowhere or suddenly someone would stand right up close to me and i'd have a second to locate the camera and smile before the picture was taken. once, a small group gathered, and the last person was a homeless-looking fellow with long and dirty dreads who was standing REALLY close to me. i took a bunch with really ugly guys, really hot guys, and a middle aged man with a beer belly whose shirt was only buttoned half way. we were trying to leave and 2 boys stopped us and told us "just one more, she has time for one more" so i took one more. just before we left i saw a huge group of bule so i snuck one last picture. it was so much fun! i really want to come back here sometime, get more (hopefully better quality) pictures and just see the beautiful temple again. we drove to a relative's house for dinner, which took a while. we all joked about people taking pictures with the bule and ate good food. i had rice, really good tofu, green beans, some strange soupy stuff with leaves in it, and gudeg, traditional yogya food made of jackfruit that is cooked with mahogany tree leaves i think so its brown and really sweet. we left after a while and got to our new hotel which was so cool! all the rooms were decorated either to be traditional javanese or chinese. the room me and diandra shared was chinese, and it was so cool we both went around and took pictures of everything in it.
friday: we got ready for the day and set off. our first stop, after about a 3 hour drive, was jejamuran. jamur in bahasa means mushroom, and jejamuran is a restaurant where everything they serve is mushrooms that i think they grow themselves. oh man. it was so heavenly! we had mushroom sate, spicy mushrooms, and these incredible deep fried mushrooms with a sweet sauce on them and pineapples and they tasted so good together! we walked around and looked at where they sell some of the mushrooms, and they were so cool. there were these big ones that were almost purple, it was amazing. i was so full after that, it was great. i was really happy. our next stop was at a place that made me feel like i was on top of the world. we were on a hill, surrounded by mountains, some of which i later found out were volcanoes. in the valley all around us there were rice paddies as far as the eye could see. we were at the ketep volcano center, where there were such beautiful views i was speechless. we were taking group photos and guess what happened? someone asked to take a picture with me :) dennie's mom gave me some corn on the cob, which was so sweet and delicious. we went into a small, dark theater to watch a movie about merapi volcano. it was really cool. it made me want to watch a volcano erupt, even though i know that's super dangerous, and i also want to climb a volcano. i'm going to someday. it was so nice in this place. the air was so clean and cool and it seems like it would be such an amazing place to live, despite the fact that it was all at the foot of an active volcano. after that we drove to borobudur again, and i thought we were going to go in the park again but we just went to all the touristy, cheap shops around it. it was really fun. they were selling the coolest stuff! dewi let me get some bracelets that i think i'm going to use as presents in america and also i got a really cool bag made of a patchwork quilt of different batik fabrics, it reminds me of the one my cousin sarah gave my mom. i also got a rice paddy worker hat!! that's what i call it. its one of those hats that is round with a point in the center and its made of straw..its so cool, i adore it. after we were done we drove to a restaurant to have dinner. we ate indonesian style, with a big pot of rice and a bunch of sides. i had mie goreng jawa, spinach, fried tofu, kecap and sambal with my rice. back at the hotel diandra watched tv and i tried to make my train tops make noise, but i couldn't. i think i just fail, which is sad, because they're just tops..oh well. after a while dieva came and got us and we set out to the ramayana ballet, a traditional javanese dance performance. we were sitting in an outside stage, it was so cool. there was a really cool view of an old hindu temple, and the dancers were incredible. i can't wait till i can move like that. i know its going to be different because i'm learning balinese dance and this was javanese, but its still kind of similar. at one point all the power shut off, so you could faintly see the dancers moving and you could hear them too, which by its self was so awesome. i watched some bats fly around in the sky for a little bit and then the lights came back. in the last act before the break, a bunch of dancers came out with torches and lit these stacks of wood on fire and also lit these thatch things, i thought they were houses but i guess not, and it was SO COOL. we left at the intermission and dennie took some pictures of me sitting by some musicians. we went to a house where dennie's parents were staying and i watched a really weird anime with some of the little cousins and ate a strawberry, and then we left for the hotel.
saturday: after breakfast i checked my email. i don't know what happened by for some reason facebook has stopped sending me emails so for maybe the first time since i got to indonesia i only had 1 email, from my mom. i wrote her back and then she called me. it was fun to talk to her! i miss home, but thank goodness i'm not homesick anymore, and i haven't been for a few weeks. you just miss the familiarity of everything, you know? you miss understanding what people are saying all the time and you miss your comfortable life. life here is good though, i'm enjoying it. that day the first place we went was the sultan's palace. let me just say, the fact that i live in a country where there are sultans makes me so happy i could die. the palace was amazing. we got a tour of the grounds and i took a lot of pictures. it was weird though, there were some big cages that i would have thought would hold large, exotic birds but there was a large chicken or rooster in each one. actually on of them had a turkey in it, not a chicken. we saw all this stuff that belonged to the sultans and the tour guide told us about them and it was really interesting. i love learning about the history of indonesia, it fascinates me. we were taking a little break in the shade drinking water and one of the aunts and her kids came up to us. i got confused about my hands and ended up emptying about half my water on the ground by diandra's foot. oops. after we were done we took bacak, which is this public transportation where there's a kind of cart thing with a little bench with a bike behind it, which the person rides, so we had an amazing view again of the city. we went to a little shop with touristy souvenir type stuff at the front and batik in the back. i got some more little things to use as presents and then we got back in the becak and went to a kind of cracker shop. there was no door we went through, we just walked in. the walls were lined with all kinds of crackers and treats, it was so cool. then we were in the becak again and went to lunch. the restaurant we went to was really neat, there were a bunch of low tables and we sat on the floor on straw mats. i got gudeg and rice with tofu, peanut sauce, and an egg. it was really good. after we were done eating we went to prambanan, which is the hindu temple i saw the other night. there was a big earthquake a couple years ago and most of the towers stayed up but there were some that got knocked down, and the pieces were spread out all over the grass, one gigantic jigsaw puzzle, waiting to be put back together again. you couldn't pay me enough to do that job. one of the temples had red scaffolding all over it, and it was kind of an interesting sight, the modern scaffolding over the ancient temple. we went into the shiva temple and took pictures by the cow inside that represents shiva, and then we walked around and talked. the temples were so gorgeous, i can't believe i am surrounded by such amazing things. we walked under some mahogany trees and they smelled really good. there was another market here, just like the one at borobudur, which we walked around in for a while. there was a place where you could get a temporary tattoo and the sign by it said that they lasted 1 week to 1 month. it all depends on how much you shower haha. for dinner we went to this really cool restaurant called gadjah wong, named after a river that its right by. there were elephant statues everywhere in it, they were amazing. we sat on a patio next to an open room where a jazzy band was playing music. the night was perfect, cool and beautiful. i saw stars for the first time. the food was amazing too. i was in the mood for something familiar so i got pasta with a cheesy mushroom sauce, it was delicious. i saw a lot of bule in the restaurant, and it was funny to listen in on their conversations. after we ate we went to a kind of pavillion, still in the restaurant, and said hi to some people i think they're related to somehow. i shook and kissed the hands of everyone there, and they all laughed when i did. it was a big family, all there with their grandma, who was a living example of the women you only hear stories about who smoke so much they sound like a man. it was both terrifying and hilarious at the same time. she was wearing a ton of makeup and tacky jewelry, which only added to the effect. then we left. at the hotel me and diandra watched the miss usa pageant, which was completely ridiculous, and then we switched to mtv china. we went to bed around 12, which was probably a bad idea because we had to get up at 4:30 the next morning..
sunday: it was definitely a bad idea. waking up has never been harder. i stood under the shower simply to get my hair wet and then we packed up and left. the guy who worked at the hotel and brought our bags out to the car gave us each a box with some breakfast in it. i watched the sun rise for a while and then passed out. i woke up and opened my mystery breakfast box to see what was inside. there were 3 pieces of bread, one of them toasted, and some butter, jam, and a piece of white cheese. my butter was so melted it was all liquid, but i spread a little of it on the toast and then used all the jam over it. it was so good. then i made a little sandwich with the cheese, which made me think of a kraft american single except that it wasn't american cheese, it was the same white stuff i see everywhere here. i wanted to look out the windows but my head felt like a rock, so pretty much my whole day was spent sleeping and waking up every hour or two to see where we were. we stopped in cirebon to eat a late lunch. the place we went to served padang style food. they had all the food made, and they brought it on carts over to us and we told them what we wanted and didn't want. i had vegetable curry and rice and boiled cassava leaves and deep fried mashed potatoes. i ate with my hands again! i got some es teh manis, and it was so sweet i could not taste the tea at all, it felt like i was drinking straight liquid sugar. it was good though, in a weird way. then we drove just a tiny bit further till we got to our hotel. the hotel had free wireless wifi, so i finally got to use my itouch! me, diandra, and dieva all sat in our room, them on laptops and me on my touch, for a few hours. after dieva was done on diandra's laptop i got on and started writing this post and uploading my 200+ pictures. it took a while. after a few more hours me and dieva and dennie went swimming. they left before i was ready to, so i stayed back and swam some laps in the empty pool. i love swimming. it feels so so good to exercise after a day of sitting in the car for 8 hours, i must say. when we were leaving to dinner, my friend florence, who is an afs student from belgium, texted me and asked if i could hang out at plaza senayan (big mall) tomorrow. i asked diandra who asked dewi who said i could! i was so excited. we went to pizza hut, which was the weirdest thing ever. i never eat at pizza hut in america, so i don't know if its like this or not, but here its super fancy. you sit at tables and waitresses bring you stuff and i don't know, its different from how i'd imagine a pizza hut to be. then again kfc is fancy here too, so maybe i shouldn't be so surprised. we all shared some salad and i had some vegetarian pizza, which was really good. back in the hotel i got back into my routine of blogging and uploading. i got a ton done, which made me happy. i also got to chat with sage on facebook for a little while, which was good. and then i went to have a real, good night's rest.
monday: we got up at 5:30, but then slept again until 7 or 7:30 i think. we both showered and then went down to breakfast. continuing on with my all-american eating, i got some pineapple (which is so much better here, way sweeter and not acidic at all), watermelon, and papaya and a little croissant and this pastry that looked interesting but really just tasted like a croissant with sugar on top. i was done eating but then i saw that they had porridge, which i love so much, so i had to get some. we packed everything up, for the last time, and left. in the car i slept a little bit and listened to my ipod. we made a couple short bathroom stops, but that was all, and we were in jakarta by 12:30. i knew we were getting there when i saw bajaj again, which only exist in jakarta. its weird to see (and hear!) them again, after a week i've gotten so used to only seeing becak and ojek. we went to senayan city, the mall i went to with them on my second day here, and got lunch. dieva wanted burger king so while she was getting that me and diandra went to a bookstore for a little bit, then up to the food court to meet everyone else. i had nasi goreng, which was so good. after we were done eating they dropped me off at plaza senayan to meet up with jillian, omar, and florence. we were going to see a movie and they were already there so i had to find the theater all by myself, which made me a little nervous at first because i had no clue where to go. i found it though, without getting lost. in the lobby i called jillian and omar came out to get me. we went back into the room where jillian and florence were, looking at a menu. in plaza senayan, if you pay for the right ticket, you can sit in the premiere theater, which is like first class on an airplane. the seats are huge and comfortable and they lean back so far its like you're laying down. there are blankets too, so if your movie's boring you can lay back and have a nice nap. i guess they also bring you food, if you order it. i ordered a banana split, and after everyone finished ordering they led us to our seats. we saw g-force, which i'd already seen before but it was fun to see again. there were only like 3 other people in there besides us, it was so fun. jillian and omar sang and chair danced to the songs they knew, and it was hilarious. the food was so good. i want to live in this theater! after the movie we all took pictures of each other while the staff waited and watched and i'm sure though we were totally stupid. we walked around in the mall for a bit, and sat down in the food court to talk. omar looked around to see if there were any no smoking signs. there were, we were surrounded by them, but he lit a cigarette anyway and said he'd finish it by the time anyone noticed. he was right. by the time the mall cop came and told him he wasn't allowed to smoke, he was just about to put it out anyway. we walked around in the mall for a while and then sat outside on the stairs and talked and watched the sun sink. jillian had to go so after she met up with her host sister me, omar and florence got in a taxi and went to omar's. his host sister jade was watching december boys, so we watched with her for a while and then omar and florence and dinner but i was too full to eat so i just chatted with them. at 7, florence's "niece", who she's here in jakarta with, texted her and asked if we all wanted to go do shisha. i said i couldn't, plus my host family was coming to get me at 8. she told her niece to come at 8, but she came at 7:30 so for an hour we watched the brave one. then diandra and dewi came and got me. florence has an uncle who lives in south sumatra and on wednesday she is going to go to his house till sunday, and i was invited to go. i asked dewi and diandra, and they said i should ask dennie at home. i did. we argued about it for a little while, and i was really stressed out and he said i couldn't go. i don't want to put the details on here, i don't know who reads this blog, but i think we both said a lot of the stuff that was on our minds, and i don't really know if that made things better or worse. frankly right now it feels like worse because i'm really stressed out and its even more awkward than normal around here right now, but we'll see what happens. today i didn't do much. just finish blogging (finally!) and wrote some emails. florence called me today, just a couple hours ago actually, and said that the trip was cancelled because there was too much traffic. i kind of wish we could have found that out last night, but oh well. she said they are going to go again sometime, and between now and then we want to try and get our families to meet because that was the biggest issue yesterday, the fact that they didn't know the family. so hopefully i'll get a chance to see how life in sumatra is different than life in jakarta. i can already tell that the difference is going to be drastic, but i don't know how exactly. i have balinese dance tonight, i'm excited. its been...2 weeks?..since my last lesson, and i really like the lessons a lot, so that will be fun. i'll try to do another post sometime next weekend. until then. cheers

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Its been a while..

sorry everyone. there's been some issues with the internet so we haven't been able to use it much this week. i guess actually its only been about a week but it feels like a lot longer for some reason...anyways, a lot has been going on. every night when i write in my journal i'm so surprised at how much i write here as opposed to america. there's just so much more that happens every day, and i really try to remember every detail. i don't want to forget any of this. so lets see, this week...

i was waiting all week for the weekend. finally saturday came! we hung around at the house for a few hours after school. diandra left for a class she takes, so it was just me and dieva at home. then wendy came over though and we broke the fast together. we only ate a little tiny bit though because we were going to go get diandra at a mall and eat pancakes and pasta there. the first thing i saw in the mall was a louis vuitton store. its still so weird for me to see designer stores in an everyday place. so we went to the pancake restaurant, which was like the best place ever. they had like 30 different styles of pancakes and waffles you could order, from bailey's chocolate with ice cream to every fruit imaginable. i got one pancake and one waffle with blueberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. oh my goodness, i was in heaven. everything was so perfect. i gobbled down my food, then had a happy little food baby. we walked around the mall for a few more hours. by the hard rock cafe, there was a live band playing and it smelled like burgers and ketchup and a bakery. i was peace. it just felt so comfortable, and familiar because of the burgers and ketchup, it was really nice. while we were walking around i saw a lady dressed all in black with only a little slit where you could see her eyes. it really shocked me at first, i mean i know this is a muslim country but it was just something i never imagined seeing for some reason..but it was cool. every day i think of all the little things i see and do here that i wouldn't have a shot at ever doing or seeing in utah, and its so cool how much more indonesia has to offer. sorry guys, you just can't cut it. haha ;)

sunday was also amazingly fun. i was having a pretty hard morning but then my friend inez, who is a YES returnee from salt lake last year, and her siblings and host sister rahel, who was my roommate at the LOC, came and rescued me. we drove to the center of jakarta, which i think is one of my favorite parts, its so beautiful. i just feel happy looking at it. we went to this huge mall, the biggest by far that i've ever been to, called grand indonesia. we were going to go see a movie but then didn't because there wasn't time for us to since we were going to break the fast at a restaurant, so we just hung out in the mall all day. it was so fun! it was really great to see inez again, i've missed her a lot. we were walking along in the mall and i was chatting with rahel and then inez called my name. i turned to look at her and saw a small train heading right for me, ready to run me down. no one was harmed, luckily. actually probably all it would have done is knocked me down, it wasn't going fast at all. we went into this really cool store that was choc full of all kinds of traditional indonesian stuff and i wanted to buy the place. i really want to buy one of the traditional puppets, gamelan, because they're so beautiful. anyway, there was a case of way expensive jewelry and me and inez were talking about using our fork bracelets to pry the lid off and swipe them all. pretty much everything we talked about that day ended with me in indonesian jail or on the news the next morning, either as a desperate foreign exchange student living as a hobo in the streets of jakarta or because i broke the law. of course inez, my partner in crime here, would never get caught. isn't weird how my life always seems to point in the direction of me ending up homeless? i wonder if its a we got a little lost in the mall, which at the time we were saying was going to become my new home. i probably could live there though, no joke. i had my camera and my wallet, and in my wallet is my debit card and all the other important cards i need to have. i could buy clothes and food, and sleep in so many places, the mall is so big i'm sure i could find at least 50 really good hiding spots. in the mall there are little sections that are set up like a certain country. when we got the the japan section, there was a small amusement park that of course we had to go to! we went on a couple rides, which was so great, and then set off to leave to eat dinner. it took us a while though, like i said we got lost a little bit and its such a big mall..we got out though, and drove to an amazing thai restaurant. there was one page of vegetarian stuff, which was cool. i ordered vegetarian pad thai. when the food started to come, i saw that the way everyone else had ordered was what i think of as more traditional indonesian style, where there's a big bowl of rice and several little sides to put over the rice. but i just had a big plate of noodles, all to me. i eat so much here, its gross. i can't help it though, all the food here is so good! there's only been a few things that i've tried so far that i didn't like. it was such a great day, we laughed and talked a lot. i was really sad for it to end. all day there was that sick feeling of knowing that the next day i had to go to school..

so this week..hmm well nothing special really has happened. EXCEPT THAT ON MONDAY I RODE IN A BAJAJ!!!!! my dream come true! bajaj's are these amazing little public transportation vehicles that are a small car with a motor bike engine. they sputter along, easily the loudest thing on the street. i love them. and i got to ride in one! my cousin wendy was with dewi when she picked me up from school, and we were driving along when she pulled over and me and wendy got out and went to a bajaj driver and hopped it. it was so great. bumpy and loud. the inside of a bajaj sounds like an old motorcycle plus an old lawnmower. i got to smell jakarta, which sounds so weird but it was great. the smell of people, fried food, sweet food, fruit, cars, motorcycle exhaust, and the overall smell of the air here was incredible. i love it. on tuesday i had my first balinese dance lesson. the teacher came to my house and helped me put a big piece of batik fabric on like a sarong and then tied a long orange sash around my waist to hold the sarong there and act as a corset. it was the hardest thing i've ever done in my life. the teacher only speaks a tiny bit of english, so the lesson was all bahasa. mostly i watched her like a hawk, trying to exactly imitate the way she held her hands and bent her knees and moved her head and hips. it was exhausting. so different from any way of moving i've ever done before. my neck and legs were so sore the next day. but i couldn't be happier with it. i can't believe that i get to learn such a cool part of the beautiful culture that is indonesia. i'm going to work like i've never worked before to make sure i always do my best in that class. everything is so precise, from the movement of your hands, making sure they are flexed up and your fingers are curved, to moving your head side to side and keeping your eyes open wide and bending your knees so low and walking with your toes flexed up and your hips moving side to side with your butt sticking out. its really hard. but i'm going to learn it if it kills me. after dance i took a shower and we went out to dinner to celebrate diandra's birthday. we went to a really good japanese restaurant, where i ate nasi goreng and a tempura leaf (?). it was a lot of fun. basically i just had school everyday, then came home to rest and watch tv until maghrib, the call to prayer that tells you when to break the fast. on thursday i got a 6 out of 10 on my assignment in english. maybe its just that i know american english and they teach australian/british english in school here, or maybe its that my teacher is just bad at english. i think its a combination of both, because the stuff she marked me down for was not wrong at all. we were writing direct and indirect sentences, for crying out loud. how hard can it be? so i was pretty mad at my teacher for that, but its no big deal. and....that's really it.

i love it here, so very very much. i'm happy for the most part, though there are times when i'm so homesick i could die. but i'm content most of the time. no, more than content, i'm....amazed. i never knew it was possible to feel this way about a place i've only lived in for a month. i'm so happy, but i can't find the words to do it justice.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

This week and bogor

last sunday my cousin wendy and some of the volunteers here, stoky and nino, came to my house and we all set off to bogor!! the drive was long. longer than i thought it was going to be acutally, but i liked getting to see all the scenery. even though it was mostly trees and green as far as the eye can see, it was beautiful. and there was the occasional mosque, too, or random buildings. when we got to bogor we drove around in this one neighborhood for a long time, trying to find stefan's (a german student here doing community service) house. neighborhoods are so confusing! well really everything is confusing to me because i don't know how anything is laid out..but this was something else) we asked some ladies sitting by the side of the road which way to go, and they all pointed in different directions, then one of them switched to point the same way as the others. finally we found it, and got stefan and headed to botani square, which is a huge mall. we met up with josh, his host brother dimas, meidy, tami, jascha, his host sister, and vivian. vivian's family wanted her to buy some bread, so before we left she went and got it. it looked so good. i really REALLY wanted to buy some bread and tear into it with my hands, but i resisted. from botani square we went to kebun raya bogor, which is this huge and beautiful botanical garden that bogor is famous for. we saw some really ancient trees and there was one tree with a sign by it that said its bark smelled like didn't. it just smelled like bark. there were some totally amazing plants there though! it was all so green and alive, i love it. we walked through the garden, talking and taking pictures, and then stopped at this restaurant for the people who weren't fasting to get lunch. at the restaurant, i think they were some of the waiters who got together and started playing guitars and singing to us. then they told us they wanted us to sing 'heal the world' while they played the music. it was kin of sad because no one knew the verses so they were really quiet and then when the chorus came everyone would sing really loud. and we got behind the music a couple was really fun though. then we walked back the way we came and sat around outside the entrance talking some more. then we all piled into our cars and drove off to find a restaurant to break the fast at. the car i was in was already holding 6 people, with stoky in the back since we had vivian, and we got lost so meidy, josh, and tami squeezed into our car to help us out. vivian was sitting by the window and she rolled it down to get some fresh air, but then rolled it up when we passed some of the peddlers. we were fearing a snatch and grab!! haha. we got to the restaurant, and still had half an hour. the longest half hour of my life. we all ordered our food and were just hungrily waiting, counting down the minutes and talking with each other. i really like seeing the other exchange students and getting to talk with them about whats going on and get some perspective for my own situation. its nice to hear about what other people are facing and give and get advice. it seems like right now a lot of us are on the same page, so its really helpful to be able to talk with each other to help each other through it. they brought us our drinks when we still had about 10 minutes to wait. they looked so cool and was like they wanted us to be in pain. finally, at the stroke of 6, we all attacked our drinks. mine hadn't come yet so someone gave me iced tea, and it was the best thing i've ever tasted. the food came shortly after. i got roti cane coklat keju susu, or this kind of indian bread with chocolate and cheese on it. it was so good. i also had strawberry juice, but it tasted more like a smoothie than juice. before i'd left the house that morning dennie gave me two water bottles and some minute maid orange juice. after i was done eating me and vivian chugged the juice, which was way sweeter and more pulpy than the american minute maid. i feel cheated. mmmmm. after we finished eating josh, vivian, meidy, and tami left. the rest of us hung around a bit more, having a good time. me and stoky were planning on camping out in kebun raya, either in a tree with the hammocks we had, or in a tent. and we were going to catch bats and roast them for dinner. we left after that to take stefan home. it was easier to find his house this time, i think we got there in half the time it took us earlier. at his house, stoky and wendy prayed and we all watched tv with his host mom. she was really nice. she told me that when she was younger she went to a boarding school in england, so she knew what it was like to feel far away from your family and homesick. and then we left, after a short visit. we stopped at a restaurant on the way home, looking for durian ice cream, which they didn't have but we got this apple pie that was so good! it looked kind of like a calzone, which was strange, but it had amazing buttery crust and really delicious filling. in the car, we also ate some really greasy and delicious pizza. we made one more stop at anggie's house to say goodbye to her. she and her husband are moving to england for a couple years because she's going to college. while we were there, a girl came up to me and introduced herself. i met tanti, who i've been friends on facebook with for a long time but never actually met. she was bria and elle's host sister last year. bria and elle are both going on the YES program this year, bria to egypt and elle to thailand. i talked with her for a little bit and then we left, for real this time. i was so tired in the car i kept dozing off. when we got to my house, basically i stumbled all the way to my room and passed out. it was a great day :)
so about this week...
this week marks my first whole week of school since i got to indonesia. the past weeks don't count, because there were days when it was cancelled or i didn't go for some reason or another. its so weird. i really like school here, its loads better than east, but i'm still having a pretty rough time adjusting. i sit quietly most of the time, and my friends always ask me why i'm so quiet and tell me not to stare. i can't figure out how to explain to them that i'm not staring, i'm just thinking, and in doing so letting my eyes lose focus. they're really patient with me though, as are my teachers, so that's good. this week i had art class, which i think is my new favorite. i was a little sad because we didn't get to just free draw, we all had to draw a rooster, but it was fun. the teacher came and sat by me and showed me how its done, and i copied. he had his rooster divided so that specific sections (neck, body, wing, tail) all had a really specific way they needed to be texturized and shaded. i used his techniques, but added my own too. quietly defiant, just like always >:) its looking pretty good so far, i mean it still definitely needs work but for a work in progress, i like it. man oh man i had no idea how hard mandarin and japanese were going to be! at first japanese didn't seem so bad, but its total overload trying to learn a language in a language you don't understand. everyone in my class already has some foundation in katakana and hiragana, and i can barely draw the characters. most of the time i just stare at my book, trying to make sense of the mess of characters i see there. still nothing happening, but i think that when i understand bahasa things will get easier. actually that's a dumb thing to say. i KNOW that when i can understand and speak bahasa my whole life will pick up and get way easier. i just need to learn it. but i'm getting really excited because lately more words are starting to stick out to me! today in indonesian, the teacher had a powerpoint up and i was looking at it and recognized the word abu-abu, which means gray. i looked at the whole article and was delighted to find that i knew what it was talking about! for the most part, i could only understand less than half, but i knew that it was talking about the school uniforms for a school in jakarta. i can't believe how happy this made me! earlier this week i was having a really rough time and i felt really homesick but now things are getting way better. and i think talking to my family on the phone and my new-found understanding of more words has everything to do with it.
after school yesterday dewi picked me up and we drove to the hindu temple where i'm going to take balinese dance lessons. she told me that they're trying to find a private tutor for me so that it will be more intensive. i don't care how i learn it, just as long as i learn it i'll be happy. but the idea of taking balinese dance in a hindu temple is just so magical to me.. we walked in on a class of about 7 little boys practicing their dance. it was so incredible. there were a couple who had no idea what was going on (probably a glimpse into my near future...) but there was this one boy who was so amazing! he looked like a pro. he really knew the dance and he was so into it. it was really cool to watch. there was a teeny little girl in the classroom who was playing with another little boy. the little boy was wearing a cap, which the girl yanked off to reveal probably the worst hat hair i've ever seen. where the hat was, his hair was all smooth. but then where it ended, like on the back of his head, his hair was standing up in every direction. he grabbed the hat from her and shoved it back onto his little head. the girl was so funny. she reminded me of a female mowgli, she was just really skinny and mowgli-like. a couple of times she'd stop running around and dance with the boys. she knew the dance better than they did. she was probably like 5 years old and already a better dancer than i ever have a prayer of becoming. she was so cute. so really not a whole lot has been happening lately. i'm ever so slowly beginning to adjust to life here, and while its still incredibly hard at times, i can tell its getting better. i heard from amber for the first time since she got to turkey yesterday! it was so great to hear from her. i feel so bad for her because she's stuck at the beginning of the stage i feel like i'm near the middle of. homesickness and hostility. the whole 'stages of culture shock' thing was such crap. i don't know one person who started out in the 'honeymoon' stage. i think everyone went straight to hostility and homesickness, the stage they said wouldn't come until a couple months in. yeah right guys. i bet they just tell people all that to get them excited, so they don't freak out before they leave and call it quits. oh well. we all know that after things are this bad they can only get better, so i guess thats some comfort..
ramadan is going really well. its much easier than i expected, since i've gotten used to it i mean, and i really like it. its such a cool holiday. i'm really excited to see what other traditions and holidays we're going to experience this year, both living in indonesia and with muslim families. my mosquito bites are almost all gone. i don't think i got malaria.