Monday, July 12, 2010


in the first week of june we had another afs trip, this time to banjarmasin on the island of kalimantan (borneo to you english speakers) i know this was a bit ago but i'm way behind on posting so here you go

we all met at the airport again. this time omar was running really late and traffic was the same as ever so by the time he got there they had already done the final call to board our plane so we ran through the airport, just like in movies.  banjarmasin was the way i always imagined indonesia to be. it is a city but its small and so jungly and green. the atmosphere is more slow paced and relaxed and everything's a lot smaller, its nothing like jakarta. the other afs kids were at the airport waiting for us and we got into cars to start the adventure when someone noticed we left bjorn and sielke behind because they'd gone off to get their baggage. we drove to martapure, called the diamond city because they mine tons of diamonds there and we did some oleh-oleh (souvenir) shopping. one of the afs leaders bough this fruit called sawo and it was weird but tasty. then we went to the banjarmasin post newspaper because they wanted to get pictures of us and talk to some people about afs and studying in indonesia. we got to wander around and look at the big press where they make the newspapers while people took paparazzi pictures of us. they told us that starting the next day there was gonna be a film crew following us around and documenting our activities for tv! me and jillian and katrin were staying with a guy who was one of the first afs kids from indonesia to go to america. he lives in this beautiful white house that's at the head of this complex of beautiful colorful houses, like a king watching over the village. nele's host dad is the vice governor and that night we were all invited to dinner at his house for a welcome party.  their house was giant. it was insane. aside from that, just being excited about such a fancy house, the party wasn't too eventful, we just ate dinner and then the kids all sat on the floor and watched tv and played with the cats. before we left me and shion had to do formal thank you's to the governor which was embarrassing. after that we all went to a club, again the afs people were so chill and took us there and partied with us. the place we were in was kind of dead but upstairs there was a disco where the only light source was the lazers and it was jammed full of people who were smoking and dancing like zombies to insanely loud house music. it was a pretty wild night.

the next day we all met up and spent most of the day driving in this sweaty van that definitely wasn't meant to carry as many people as we had in there. at some point we stopped at a police station. we got to get out and play around with their big bulletproof shields and then got in the car with open sides that they said they use to transport criminals. we went out driving and so many people stared and laughed at all the bules in the police car. it was a lot of fun. then we drove to seriously the middle of nowhere, out in the jungle, hoping to see some of the dayak people. the dayak people are a tribe in kalimantan, formerly notorious headhunters. it got dark too fast though so we had to turn around and go find our hotel, which is also in the middle of the jungle. it was pretty good though. there was a hot spring pool and a regular cold pool so we all swam for hours, switching back and forth between the pools and shoving each other into the black water of the cold pool and doing chicken fights. back in our room we cleaned off and suddenly jillian started screaming because she heard someone say hello and looked around to see that a part of the white paint on the window had been scraped off and she saw someone's eye watching her. it was so unsettling to think that someone took the time to go all the way to the back of our house and watched her shower.

no one slept very well that night. also by morning everyone knew about the peeping tom so i think it was mutually decided not to shower. to wake everyone up one of the afs leaders opened all the doors in his car and blasted club music. it sounded like there was a live band outside it was so loud. our adventure that day started out driving to a village to climb a mountain to play in a waterfall. the hiking was fun and so beautiful but it was disgustingly hot. and so far to go. i made the brilliant decision to wear new converse without socks so less than halfway through i had blisters all over my feet and went barefoot for a while. it was fun to feel the earth underneath my feet but there were a ton of rocky parts which were difficult. when it started getting really uphill and rocky cippy gave me her flip flops and i gave her my shoes. it was a pretty brutal trek. we stopped at the top to put swim clothes on and had to peel the sweaty clothes off. the waterfall was breathtaking. we swam around in the icy pool a bit and climbed around on the rocks and logs that were slick with moss. it was so fun. it started sprinkling rain when we gout out and kept raining the whole time we walked a shorter way back to ride ojek back to the bus. me, jillian, omar, shion, and a couple afs people, including the man in the yellow shirt, who we decided was the peeping tom, get there last and the sprinkling rain turned into a torrent. i think that was one of the coolest things i've ever done, speeding through the jungle in a rainstorm on a motorcycle. i felt so alive. it was raining so hard a few times my eyes got rained shut. all the bang ojek in the village laughed at how wet we got. we went to a cafe to drink warm tea and then went bamboo rafting. the sun came back out so it was perfect. there was a small bench kind of thing in the middle of the raft but we ended up just sitting on the floor because we wanted to dip our hands and feet in the water. on both sides of us was jungle, spilling out into the water. it looked untouched. its amazing to me that no one i know has ever seen such a thing. i was so happy, peacefully floating along the river, with intense green jungle on both sides of me and a perfect blue sky above me. at one point a ton of the guys who were rowing the rafts took their bamboo sticks and used them to pole vault into the water and then we all jumped in and swam. it was almost impossible to go anywhere because of the currant though. we got back on our rafts after a while and kept going. some kids from houses on the riverbank swam out to us and climbed aboard for a while. what a life that would be. for dinner that night we stopped at an open air restaurant in a park and watched south africa vs mexico on a projector. it was intense. we drove back to banjarmasin that night. it was a magical day.

we woke up at 4:45 in the morning to the scariest and most disorienting azan ever. we met up with everyone at a harbor and rode a little boat along the river for the longest time. we got to watch the sun rise and it was so beautiful. katrin, me, jillian, omar, bjorn, and lea laid on the floor inside the boat and slept for a while like hobos. we were trying to go to the floating market but even though we got up so early we were still too late so the only people we saw there were selling some fruits and vegetables. we got a ton of oranges and soto banjar from a passing boat. after boating around for a few hours we went to a little monkey place, full of trees that grew right out of the water. sometimes the monkeys would jump out of the trees into the water and swim. it was so scary. after walking through the park we boated back to the harbor and went to a school to talk to the principal because there's going to be an exchange student going to school there next year.  this was our last night in banjarmasin so we were going to have a farewell party at the white house where me jillian and katrin were staying. a ton of people came. when the ones we didn't really know left we went to the same club we went to on the first night and watched the england vs america soccer game. we were the only ones there rooting for america haha. we got kicked out around 3 because the club was closing. it was kind of a sad night, for some of us it was the last time we'd see each other, because everyone had to go to the airport at different times the next day.

katrin and a few others left really early in the morning so me and jillian spent the day together watching soap operas. at 5 omar came over to go to the airport. we found rahel there and ate dunkin donuts while we waited. on the plane we were supposed to be row 33 or something but we got mixed up and ended up in row 34. before takeoff, a flight attendant came and told us we needed to move and to follow here. don't know if it was because we were in the wrong seats or because we're bules or what but there were empty places in first class so that's where they put us. it made the flight so much more fun. me and jillian got a ride into the city with omar so we wouldn't have to go through the troubles of finding a taxi like we did last time. that next week was full of preparations for the afs farewell party/talent show. i went to my last day of school and cried. i didn't think i was going to but i guess i didn't really realize how much i liked my classmates and teachers. almost every day after that we met up at omar's house or the afs office to practice. the final show went well. it was us performing alongside the yes students from jakarta who are going to america in a few months. we did a traditional dance called saman, sang an indonesian song, did crazy lip syncs, and then sang the national anthem, indonesia raya. it was a sad night again though.  the last time we'd see many of the afs friends who helped make this year everything it was. i miss them all so much.


Anonymous said...

you are my hero.

also: my favorite part was your description of floating down the river on a bamboo raft in the middle of the jungle. not very many people can say that they did that! sounds amazing.

scariest/freakiest part: peeping tom. i think i would have had a heart attack! poor jillian!

Diah, said...

Well, you're lucky to have a chance to Kalimantan (Borneo). I'm Indonesian living in Washington State, my husband and I and our little daughter will definitely go there someday. It's great story of you, Have a nice stay in Indonesia.