Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Adventures in Indonesia (1988)

Okay, it's now 2009 and I'm finally writing this down for all the world to see. Indonesia in 1988 was quite different as it was in 1955. But it is still the wondrous tropical motherland from where we originate.

A window of opportunity came and I snatched it up. With some careful planning, I began with teaching English in Tokyo for just under a year, went to Hong Kong and on to Jakarta and the adventure began. This was before computers and travel blogs and WiFi cafes. So the only information we had were our little guidebooks with some phrases and whatever information other travelers shared with us. One of my best friends (a seasoned traveler) met me in Jakarta and we proceeded onward. In a way it's kind of nice not to know a lot. That way it justifies our outrageous Western behavior to the natives. Like climbing over a chain link fence to catch our train at 4:30 in the morning. Not only that, but my friend was wearing a dress and the hem got caught on the top of the fence but the rest of her body was already on the ground so all the world got to see what was underneath the dress. We were laughing so hard of course. I'm sure the locals thought we were off our rocker (they get up early). Oh well.

Most people write about the temples, rice paddies, flora and fauna, etc. So I'll just zip ahead and write about our perspective as two single women traveling amongst a traditional society such as Indonesia. I'm pretty sure I confused everyone. If not that, then it was curiosity. I don't exactly look American but I wore American clothes and walked and talked the jive. On the other hand, I don't look completely Indonesian but clearly there's a hint of it particularly as my skin got darker and darker by the day. In the process of haggling or negotiating a price I definitely noticed I kind of had an "edge". Thanks to my genes. Okay, enough of that.

On to "Johnny"... This young Javanese guy became our shadow initially showing us the local sites and then continued following us even by train as we headed to Bandung. He showed up a couple days later and popped up out of nowhere. We learned quickly if you showed any hint of interest, they're on you like flies. On to Bali, Lovina Beach... what a riot ! The guidebooks never warned us that there would be Balinese gigolos pumping iron on the beach scoping out the western chicks. We were whisked away to a makeshift "nightclub" which had a rotating disco mirror light ball and blasting music. We danced all night stumbling back to our little losmen and plopped down in our beds as the sound of ocean waves lulled us to sleep.

What I loved about traveling this way is the unpredictability of everything. I ended up traveling up to Sumatra with my new "friend-Francois-from-France". He was great, more like a brother than anything. It was completely different traveling with a male. I did not feel as much on edge and there was an instant sense of order and protection. He became like a brother to me and we had a great time exploring Lake Toba territory, home of the Batak people. He accused me of brushing my teeth too much. It was time to part.

This was all back when I had good feet, a backpack and little sense. It was a turning point and my orientation started to point more towards my heritage and where it all began - this wondrous rich island nation.

1 comment:

Julianna said...

Love hearing about your adventurous trip :)Very interesting!