A Travellerspoint blog

January 2012

How to pack when heading to Jakarta...

Step 1: Bring heels!

storm 27 °C

When packing for South-East Asia, heels didn’t come to mind as a ‘must pack’. In fact, they didn’t even make the ‘maybe’ pile, as lets be fair, they’re not really my thing. I mean the last pair I bought for the races I took home and showed Mum, who replied “Really? You’re going to actually wear those?!”

So yes, they’re not my thing.

Jakarta though, apparently loves them. And also apparently, you are not ‘cool’ or can’t go anywhere ‘cool’ without them. So after being rejected because of my inappropriate footwear both last Saturday and this Friday night just gone, I finally caved and bought the cheapest, shortest pair of heels I could find. Sucked in Jakarta, two can play this game!

And yes, I got in. Although we did go to watch the Liverpool versus Man U match at a beer garden before we went to le club so I did feel rather ridiculous, but oh well. Probably about as ridiculous as Talia felt when we went shopping with me to get them and all the one’s she suggested I turned my nose up at…”they’re too high…they stand out too much…” Etc. Etc.

So yes, in a nutshell, I spent the weekend going out, getting turned away, buying shoes, and going out again…ahhh the luxury of staying in one place for a long period of time so you don’t have to be jumping out of bed early everyday to go and see the Monas or something. Truly, it’s not really worth it anyway.

Although, those of us who were still alive on Sunday did settle back for a relaxing six-hour tennis watching session…totally worth it! And thank god we decided to do that for the men’s final and not the women’s, otherwise by the time we got there, with the Jakarta ‘macets’ (traffic jams), it would have been all over. It was quite an odd experience though, with at the end of the fourth set it being so tense – would Rafa make it to five sets? – whilst there was Rasta music playing in the background…just wasn’t the same atmosphere really….

Also how could we forget Australia Day last week!? Another year and I’ve celebrated it in another country…although in quite an unusual style, sitting at work and streaming Triple J’s Hottest 100, whilst everyone else from ACICIS is also doing the same thing and commenting on in on Facebook! Then that night we went out to a pub which wasn’t remotely Australian, but apparently it was owned by an Australian…surprisingly there aren’t a huge number of Australia Day parties in Jakarta…I wonder why???? But it was great in that Thurdays is free martini night for ladies! Sucked a bit for the boys, but it was the cheapest night out ever!

Then on the Friday night the Australian Embassy had another drinks on for Australia Day, so we all dressed up in our finest and hit the town for a night at the embassy! I must admit, it was a rather odd feeling having your passport and camera checked in and going through about a thousand security checks before you get to the bar. Fair enough though…we were all in a bit of a sitting duck situation really. But it was good though, even just to be able to drink wine instead of beer…I’m so sick of beer! And there was karaoke – how many people can say they have sun Spice Girls at the Australian Embassy?!

Anyway, once again I am distracted from the real reason I’m here…hmmm work…last week, what did I do? Well on Tuesday was that Women in Sport seminar I think I mentioned last time. It was long seeing it was five hours all in Bahasa, but I sat with Greg Wilson, the guy I interviewed from the week before, and his wife, who luckily is Indonesian so she gave me the rundown of what was going on. I also got to interview the some athletes and coaches, and the President of the Indonesian Olympic Committee. Plus the Minister for Sport was there, and everyone seemed very excited that he actually turned up, as apparently his brother is involved in some corruption scandal at the moment. (But then again, so is every second person in Indonesia right?! ) So the Minister gave a speech at the seminar, and then was answering questions outside for reporters in Bahasa. I went up at the end as asked him if I could ask him a couple of questions in English and he loved it! He pretty much relayed his whole speech in English to me, whilst all these people stood around and took photos of him talking to a token white girl…hilarious.

Then on Wednesday I went to a press conference held by Barca FC, as they are opening up a ‘football’ (I really should try and use the correct term I guess) academy in Indonesia, which seems to be a pretty big deal seeing Indonesian’s love the sport so much, but their national team is shot due to all the internal politics. So hopefully this will work out for them…Barca seem to think they’re the bees knees so it better! When I got to this press conference I thought “yes, white people” thinking they would speak in English for a change…but no, they spoke in Spanish and it was translated to Bahasa! It is almost a little bit of a perk being white and English-speaking at press conferences over here as people seem to want to go out of their way to talk to you.

Speaking of press conferences, they are somewhat of a shenanigan here! Jakarta is a very inefficient city in terms of the fact that people seem to work a lot longer hours and get a lot less done than they do in Australia, and when you go to the press conferences you can see why! They’re all in these grand hotels or function rooms that would cost and arm and a leg to hire, and there’s an hour-and-a-half allocated at the start of each one for eating all the free food they give you and mingling with people, then the actual conference itself actually goes for two hours, and at the end there’s question time, where you could literally ask questions until the cows come home, and everyone would still be there. Most sleeping or on their phones, but they would still be there. Jenee, the other NZ girl who is also working at the Post, went to a press conference last week that was a preview for a concert. Only half the band was there, and so someone actually asked, “is there going to be another press conference?” How much can one write about an event that hasn’t even happened yet?! Plus they love taking photos of press conferences and they actually end up in the paper…what boring viewing, when you could have a photo of the band performing or whatever. Anyway, this is just one of many incredulous differences between Indonesia and Australia…

Ironically, that’s what I have pretty much spent my time at work from then until now doing – writing a feature on the differences between the Indonesian and Australian sporting industries. It’s been so interesting, but I have discovered that I don’t think I am a very good feature writer – luckily my editor is lovely and very patient with me, so he helps me out with my structure and the technique and what not, so hopefully that will get in the paper in the next couple of days. But I think I’m better at hard news, as apart from that, it’s just been writing short stories from press releases to fill up the pages – with the Australian Open on that has dominated the whole two pages devoted to sport since I got here (although to be fair, the entire paper is only 28 pages long), and all those stories come from wires.

Anyway, that’s about all my news for now. It’s actually amazing how much work (at least I think) I’ve managed to get done, when work is so relaxed! We can pretty much go in and leave whenever we want, plus I’ve never spent so much time sitting on Facebook or literally watching the live cricket and tennis scores scroll up the page! And look at me right now writing my blog…I guess I better get back to it. Although no tennis or cricket on now – what am I going to do?!

Posted by ljmac2 01:33 Archived in Indonesia Tagged people parties night football jakarta indonesia australia siem_reap australian_open language jakarta_post sports_industry barca_fc Comments (0)

A guide to making the most of prayer time...

...it's pretty indie...

semi-overcast 27 °C

So have totally worked out how to combat 4.30am prayer time – don’t come home until after they start…then you’re already awake! Ok so I feel the stage that I reached in Siem Reap when I can start using names in my blog… Talia, one of the NZ girls on this trip (apparently New Zealanders flock to me over here!) who stays at my kos and also works at the Post, is a very light sleeper and constantly woken up by the prayers at 4.30 every morning. No joke, she can tell whether it’s Jim or Bob rostered on for the 4.30 shift each day by the tone of their warbling. Sometimes they even work in a bit of a harmony/competition with their neighbouring mosque to see who can be the loudest. Anyway, we got home at around said prayer time Saturday morning and were banging on the gate of our kos saying “malam, malam!” (“good evening” – It sounds weird in English, but that is the appropriate evening greeting), before we realized that possibly we world get a better response if we said “pagi, pagi!” (good morning), and then the prayers started up and Talia yells “haha I beat you, I’m already awake!” Hilarious.

As a side note, we read an article when we first here about an American man here in Ramadan last year, when the prayers are super loud, who unplugged one of the mosques loud speakers and got jailed for five months. Talia was very glad she read that early on…

Anyway, this weekend is a long weekend in Jakarta because of Chinese New Year, which I find very interesting that it’s a public holiday here and not at home, when we are supposed to be more accepting of other cultures and religions and what not. However similar to at home, being a long weekend it is quite expensive to go away, and also being a ‘journalist’, you do not have regular working hours, so a bunch of us spent the weekend hanging in Jaks.

On Saturday I went to the Monas, which is the national monument and also Jakarta’s main (and pretty much only) tourist attraction. However, unfortunately for Jakarta, it is nicknamed by the locals “Suharto’s last erection”. Awesome. Pretty much it’s just a big statue/tower thing in the middle of this park which is quite nice (the park I mean). You can go up the tower and view the metropolis that is Jakarta, but somehow I think that Jakarta is not really worth the three-hour wait in the queue. However, I think the Monas might be known as a ‘tourist attraction’ as locals just go there to hang out and get photos taken with us whiteys. No joke, we have so many photos taken of us…what do they do with them, put them on Facebook? Even just wandering down the street our kos is on, all the locals say “hello” as they are following us with their camera phones. I mean seriously? We’ve been here for three weeks now, surely they’re over it! Anyway, at the Monas people just yell out at you “Mister, Mister” (everyone is ‘Mister’ here apparently) and ask to take your photos. Ella who I was with (she’s from Tassie, but it’s ok, she’s still pretty cool…) would say to them “No…Mrs…”, and they would look back at her oddly and say “No…Mister…photo?” Haha.

So Saturday night we went to I guess what you would call a club, Red Square, and it was first time we’d actually been clubbing in Jakarta. By Jakartan standards I’d say it was quite small and relatively tame, but it was the closest I’ve seen anywhere I’ve been so far to Pub Street…there was like this runway thing to dance on, and they played the classics such as “We No Speak Americano” and like all of Rihanna’s back catalogue. Although no buckets…poor form.

One minor glitch from Saturday night was that my camera got stolen. No biggie really though, as it turns out getting a police report in Jakarta is even easier than in Siem Reap! Not that it was hard in Siem Reap, but it shocked me at how easy it was here! Maybe just because I could only speak “sedikit sedikit” Bahasa Indonesia (very little!) so they couldn’t be bothered to question me about it. Although apparently my religion is vital fact required when filing a police report. I said Christian. Apparently ‘Atheist’ (or ever ‘Jew’) doesn’t go down that well here…not that I really look like a Jew…just thought that was an interesting fact.

It was nice not having to rush around and sightsee on the weekend as it meant we could have a lazy Sunday. No Gossip Girl, but we did manage to find real Western brunch. Unbelievable. It turns out that Jakarta is just a city of malls. Like at first you may think most of them are trashy ones with a few high-end one’s in between, but no, there are as many posh ones as there are un-posh. And obviously I belong in (and can afford – not) the posh ones! But the one we went to yesterday, Pacific Place, had a massive dragon for Chinese New Year that stretched from the top to the bottom floor (maybe 6 or 7 floors?), and then the level we were on had a lake with boats on it and a lighthouse…crazy! The place we had dinner was so cute too – like kitsch, Asian cute – but amazing! It was called ‘Nanny’s’ and made into what I assume was meant to be your Grandma’s home. So we ate in a shower, but there were sinks and what not scattered all around…very bizarre.

Last night we went to a gig at the Jaya Pub, which according to someone on Google is the “worst place in Jakarta” but actually it was so cool. Plus, calling it the worst place in Jakarta made me want to go there more! All these Indonesian bands played, but each one of them was a different genre…you know the usual…Indonesian Irish folk rock, Indonesian power ballads…and a band that were basically like the Indonesian version of The Presets, except cooler if that’s even possible (The Presets are pretty cool…) as they wore sunnies that lit up and made noise. No expenses spared.

So yes, that’s been the weekend…but I guess I should actually mention something as to the real reason why I’m here. I’m struggling a bit to remember I’m here for work experience and learning – so much fun to be had! But actually I am really lucky with my placement. I’m loving it at the sports desk and despite the fact that the team there is so small – two reporters and one editor – they look after me really well and give me cool stuff to work on.

On Tuesday, my first real day of work, I went to a amateur golf tournament which is run by six-time major winner Nick Faldo’s charity. It’s a tournament series run all throughout Asia and Europe with the aim of making it easier for up-and-coming golfers to make it onto the tour. So I got to interview of the CEO of Nick Faldo’s organization, and the head of the committee for the Indonesian event, who is this guy called Rudy Hartono, and apparently is an Indonesian sporting legend! He used to play badminton and won the All-England Championships (equivalent to World Championships back then apparently) and won it seven times, six consecutively. My editor who went with me that day didn’t know he was going to be there so he was so stoked! We had photos taken with him and everything.

Then on Wednesday I went to a press conference with another one of the other reporters, Niken, which was about the National Games, pretty much the Indonesian version of the Olympics. It’s held every four years and like Aussie kids grow up dreaming of winning the Olympics, Indonesian kids grow up dreaming of winning PON (the National Games). However, as with everything in Indonesia, it was running super late, so we all just sat in the foyer outside the lift. People were very amused that I was there, and were taking photos of me and interviewing me…I think I was also on Indonesian TV that night saying that I though Barca was going to beat Real Madrid 1-0 – they care a lot about the Spanish soccer here since they won the world cup apparently. That particular press conference was all in Bahasa so I only picked up a few words such as ‘teman’ (friend) and ‘teman-teman’ (friends)…but it was an interesting experience.

Oh and there was a letter from FIFA being passed around that day, to the Indonesian Football Association, as they are in all sorts of strife. Everyone was taking photos of it so they could take it home and make it into a story, which was pretty cool.

On Thursday night I went to a press conference about this Indonesian group that are climbing the Seven Summits, which I found fascinating seeing really, you don’t associate the words ‘Indonesian’ and ‘mountaineering’. But they were a full on professional outfit, with only one peak remaining – Everest. The press conference was all in Bahasa again, but I got to interview the chief climber afterwards, who spoke very good broken English. I got a good feature out of it though – it even made the caption for the sport section under the title on Saturday’s paper.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/01/21/mountain-climbing-next-stop-everest.html

Then on Friday I had the true journalistic experience of working from home – lucky I have a Mac now so I can compete the SATC cliché right?! I wrote up my mountaineering article in the morning, went for an interview with a guy at lunchtime, and then went back home to write up the article. The guy I spoke to was really cool. Greg Wilson was an elite Australian weightlifter, won bronze and silver medals at Worlds’ back in the 80s, then became a sporting academic, and now in between coaching Indonesian athletes in strength and conditioning, works with the Indonesian Olympic Committee. So we were talking all about the differences between sport in developing versus developed countries, using Indonesia and Australia as the case studies, and about why Indonesian athletes have little to no motivation to compete well on an international scale. Basically they get paid millions of rupiah when they win at a national or regional level, and at the Olympics they are not going to win anything, hence get no money, so why would they try harder? I know – unbelievable. Also, apparently they are incredibly good at blue ribbon events such as dragon-boat racing and wall running – both which are unfortunately yet to fit into the Olympic schedule.

So this Greg Wilson guy that I interviewed invited me to another press conference tomorrow about women in sport and so hopefully I will get an opportunity to get some more sources for my big feature that will compare sport in developing versus developed countries. Anyway, I better go – I’ve got an hour and ten minutes of interview material to transcribe, which I swear takes about three times the length of the actual interview. And also I am lagging a bit after the long weekend…it’s been a good month since my Siem Reap days now, I’m out of practice ☺

Posted by ljmac2 06:58 Archived in Indonesia Tagged people parties night jakarta indonesia siem_reap sport english bars islam pub_street jakarta_post nick_faldo rudy_hartono seven_summits Comments (0)

Week 1 at the Jakarta Post

I could get used to this...

sunny 33 °C

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/01/17/putting-it-briefly-ceylon-cements-its-place-atop-jca-league.html

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/01/18/bobby-adhitomo-takes-fifth-faldo-series.html

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/01/19/pagunsan-spearhead-asian-tour-opener.html

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/01/19/warriors-hit-ground-running.html

Posted by ljmac2 21:40 Archived in Indonesia Tagged jakarta jakarta_post Comments (0)

Saya fluent di Bahasa Indonesia

...I also play tennis...

sunny 27 °C

Day 1 at the Jakarta Post down. Although to be fair, I don’t think it was an accurate representation of your average day of work there. We started at 3 (yes, that’s 3pm!) and sat in on an editorial meeting, which I guess we normally wouldn’t, although it was quite amusing (and interesting) to hear them discuss the issue for the next day…I think there is going to be a big picture of George Clooney on the front tomorrow, as one of the female senior editors was very keen on that idea! After that we met with our editors (I’m on sport – yes!) but I didn’t really have to do much work today, just edit some article written about the local cricket league in Jakarta. It was written by some guy who just plays cricket, he’s not a journalist or anything, but the actual sport’s reporters at the Post can’t write it a they don’t understand the game, hence it is rarely in the paper here. For instance, today they asked me “what does ‘tea’ mean?” and “how do you know when the game is over?” Hilarious.

To be fair, I think it’s quite hard to be the sports editor at an English-language newspaper in Indonesia. The big Bahasa Indonesia papers cover all the local sports, so the English papers are left to the international sports that will supposedly interest expats. However with only two full-time reporters on the desk, plus one editor, they don’t have time to go out to do research for lots of stories to fill the sports section of the paper everyday, so a lot of the international stories come from the news wires. Tomorrow however I’m going with the sports editor to a press conference for an upcoming golf tournament, so I might get a local sports story out of that…

It all seems a bit surreal that the placement part of this trip started today. I just got back into the swing of study and now I have to be a ‘professional’ for really what is the first time in my life. Don’t really know how I feel about it…just putting on supposedly professional clothes was weird…that’s the best think about coaching – trackies!

Anyway, last week was just language class every morning, followed by an array of field trips and lectures in the afternoon. On Wednesday our ‘trip’ (which was actually a free lunch) got cancelled (or rescheduled to tomorrow, but I can’t go because of this press conference), but that was actually rather convenient seeing a bunch of us had tickets to the Foster the People gig that night! (Because of the traffic here, a field trip may be meant to be during the afternoon, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get home three hours later!) The gig was awesome though. It was held at an indoor tennis centre, I guess similar in a way to how it would be at home, except for the fact that they don’t sell anything inside the gates…no drinks, nothing! It was the most well-behaved gig I’ve ever attended. And actually, I was surprised at how many of the Indonesians knew all the words, especially seeing they’ve only got one album. They were all full-on into it…but when we tried to get on each other’s shoulders and stuff they got a bit angry…

Thursday’s trip for the journo’s was to a school at a tip. Apparently it’s quite famous and well-known in Jakarta because it is funded by several big NGOs but run according to the Indonesian state school system, and it is for the kids of scavengers and tip workers. Similar to ABCs and Rice in Siem Reap it is there so the kids’ don’t have to work at the tip all the time and can get a formal (and free) education, but unlike ABCs, this school has some serious money behind it. Not that ABCs isn’t amazing, as it is (and obviously I’m rather biased on this matter), but the school we saw on Thursday was a proper structure with windows and doors and electricity and a paved play area. There is no doubt that these kids live in poverty, as literally the school is perched like a castle on the top of the tip and the houses are all shacks presumably made from things found at the tip, but the road leaving up there is paved and lined with power lines and street lights…it was all just a very bizarre experience.

Also, I struggled a bit with the fact that we just did a ‘drop in’ on the school for less than an hour (especially when it took an hour to get there and three hours to get back). Again I guess I’m getting up on my high horse a bit, but I hated it when people did that in Siem Reap and would just come to school for a short period of time like it was a tourist attraction. And it wasn’t just like there were a couple of us going to this tip school, there was a whole group. Sure the kids all got an exercise book and a pencil from us, and the school library got some books too, but really it wasn’t like they gained anything from it, it was all meant to be for our own personal gain, disguised as a philanthropic exercise. I mean, I felt bad enough leaving ABCs after 2 months – what really what good is it to get to know a whole lot of kids and then just abandon them? Anyway, I guess that’s just my little soapbox moment. At the tip school we just all sang ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’, the ‘Hokey Pokey’ and ‘Five Little Ducks’ and I just wished I was back in Siem Reap ☹

Anyway, no need to stress…except for the fact that Friday was the day of our Bahasa Indonesia test! But really it was fine. I actually really enjoyed learning a language again. Even though the classes were four hours a day, they weren’t that bad, the only annoying part was having to do homework. But our teacher was really cool as well. Like during the test me and the guy next to each other were discussing the answers, and the teacher was just standing outside the class pointing at us and laughing – seriously, if she was standing outside the class what did she expect?! (Actually we were trying to remember the words for our hobbies – in the end I just played the safe card and said “saya bermain tenis”. I play tennis…duh).

Also one of the girls had an unfortunate incident in class where instead of saying “saya suka laki-laki ganteng” (“I like handsome boys”) she said “saya suka adik laki-laki ganteng” (“I like handsome little boys”). The teacher thought it was hilarious, so from then on whenever some exercise came up in class with “adik laki-laki” in it, the teacher would say “Gayertree, would you like to read number 14?!” LOL.

That afternoon we went to CIFOR (the Centre For International Forestry Research) which is in Bogor, technically an hour as the crow flies from Jakarta, but really, that means nothing. Anyway, it was actually really cool out there, and beautiful, except for the fact that it was raining so we we’re allowed to walk in the forest, so instead we had to walk around the outskirts of the forest and look at the fence and other people’s umbrellas. We were given speeches and presentations and the usual, but they were actually really engaging. A couple of the development studies people were staying out there to do their placement, which would be pretty cool.

That day was also one of the guy’s birthdays so a lot of people stayed in Bogor to celebrate it there rather than sit on a bus again for three hours. Bogor isn’t famed for having a whole lot to do (and it pretty much rains 24/7 as well, which led to some very nasty war wounds from falling over all the time…well at least on my part!) but it was heaps of fun. Then the next day some of us stayed on and went to the Bogor Botanic Gardens, which were beautiful – literally a breath of fresh air out of Jakarta. It was also where Suharto had one of his many lairs, so it seemed to be a pretty popular spot for school excursions – and boy had they hit the jackpot when not only were they on an excursion, but there was a bunch of white people wandering around! One of the guys, Jimmy, is tall and has dreads and stands out from the crowd a bit I guess you could say (Kevin Rudd definitely felt the need to comment on him!) and so all the kids were yelling at him “don’t touch my body, don’t touch my hand!” What well trained Muslim children! However probably the highlight of my day there was the cutest kitten ever that climbed up another guy’s leg and just stayed there as he walked around, and had a great time ☺

P1040483.JPG

We got the train back to Jakarta on Saturday night, as it was someone else’s birthday so we were all going out for dinner and then hitting the town. It turned out to be quite expensive really (well by Jakarta standards at least!) but I at least managed to have a grand time! It’s just rather difficult going out in a group of 20 people in Jakarta…you tend to stand out a bit from the crowd…

So yes. That is my life in Jakarta up until now. It’s going to be weird not seeing everyone everyday at uni now, although there’s always events here and there, so I guess if we finish work early enough will still be able to catch up during the week…sometimes I’m finding it a little hard to remember I’m here for work; so much fun to be had ☺

Posted by ljmac2 08:20 Archived in Indonesia Tagged people parties jakarta indonesia bus siem_reap raining sport work language english tip volunteers abcs_and_rice bogor botanic_gardens cifor jakarta_post Comments (1)

Jakarta and about 1000 islands in between...

...or 130 to be more specific

rain 27 °C

So just putting it out there – totally met K.Rudd today. We got told we were going to leave Bahasa class early because of something to do with Kevin Rudd and sandwiches. We were initially just excited by the fact that we got a free lunch AND it was sandwiches. Perhaps they were Kevin Rudd’s sandwiches? But no, he was actually there, and came to the university to see us and give a bit of a speech. He’s a smart cookie – gave a very good and relevant speech that it seemed like he had just prepared off the top of his head. And he made a point of going around and introducing himself to everyone in the room. We were told not to ask him any questions about ‘prickly domestic issues’, so I asked him how he thought the Lions were going to do this year – he said he wasn’t sure…

Anyway, that was some unscheduled excitement for the day. I have just got home from playing futsal with everyone after school – it’s a pity I didn’t really play team sports growing up and it’s heaps of fun besides the fact that I suck and everyone else is professh, even the girls! But oh well at least it’s some exercise…I haven’t really done some since dancing on the tables at Ankgor What?! And of course Friday dance parties at school…

So I am well and truly settling into life in Jakarta…well at least life as it is for the next two weeks whilst we have class – just as we get fully into the routine, it’s all going to change when we start work next week! But the day starts at 8.30 every morning with Bahasa Indonesia class for four hours – luckily we get ‘istirihat’ in this time (break time – my favourite word!) and they weren’t just priming us with coffee and food on our first day – it’s the same every day! But Indonesian is pretty funny…people have come out of their shells a bit and everyone has a good laugh. For example, did you know that the Indonesian word for vomit is ‘muntu-muntu’? Classic!

Then in the afternoon we have had lectures on Indonesia, stuff like economics, politics, religion, and so on… Except last week one morning we were thrown out of whack when we had an ‘opening ceremony’ for the program and then a trip to the Australian Embassy. I guess I didn’t realize how much of a big deal this program seems to be for our host university, Atma Jaya. They full on gave all these speeches about how important it is for Australia and Indonesia to be friends (and they’re right) and how good it is that we came on the program seeing that over 16,000 Indonesian students go to study in Australia every year, but we make up a quarter of the Australian students who come to study in Indonesia. Plus they had a gong…you know something’s a big deal when there’s a gong…

The trip to the Embassy was cool, namely because that was by far the best catered food we’ve been given so far…and that was only for morning tea! But the actual building that the Australian Embassy was in was amazing. Of course it is well famed for being bombed back in 2004 I think it was, so it is a labyrinth of security checks to get in (although they didn’t take my Swiss army knife USB off me I might add…tut tut) but the grounds were all beautifully landscaped and the building was modern…there was even someone doing bombs (or in cannonballs the more PC term?) into a pool! It’s claim to fame is that it’s the biggest Australian Embassy in the world, but really, it could be just a super nice kos… Anyway, they just gave us speeches and stuff…starting off with the security talk to scare the life out of us, but then finishing off with stuff like AusAID, so we left feeling warm and fuzzy and not so concerned about living in Jakarta! (Seriously Mum, don’t stress, it’s fine!)

It was rather unfortunate that the day before we were due to go to the Embassy, my one pair of ‘nice’ shoes broke, so all I had to wear was runners or thongs…I felt that they would just think I was being patriotic and be more likely to let me in in thongs (which by the way aren’t classified as shoes here, so were not meant to wear them to class, let alone the Embassy!) Anyway, no one important really said anything, but the next day we went across the road for lunch, and then there was this massive downpour right as we needed to get back to class, and the LOs were like “don’t go out in this storm” (which we didn’t initially, so we were late and we still got in trouble despite adhering to the safety and security lecture!) but then in the end we did and one of my thongs got swept away down the drain. So we turned up to class drenched, late, and I was carrying one thong – apparently that was at the height of disrespect…they’re not even proper shoes and I only had one of them!

So this weekend just gone was the first of the weekend trips, which was the topic of much discussion, such as who’s going to go where and with who…so high school, yet so hilarious. Anyway, we started our night with karaoke on the Friday (I have never been to so much karaoke in my life until this trip!) and then on Saturday morning headed out to one of the falsely names 1000 Islands (there are actually only 130 or something…) That boat ride was officially the worst travel experience of my life! And for two of the people who were on our trip it was their first time on a boat…talk about baptism by fire! (They are both 19 – we referred to them as ‘the kids’ the entire weekend.) It was two-and-a-half hours of practically hitting your head on the roof of the boat as it crashed so hard over the waves it sounded like the hull was breaking, getting drenched through the leaking roof, and listening to babies crying and people throwing up all around you – luckily most of us took travel pills so only one of us was sick. The trip was only meant to be an hour and a half, but the swell was so bad that it took longer…the boat driver just kept on powering through! Amy, if you’re reading this I would have taken those trips between the Thai islands 10 times before doing this trip once! Although luckily we were on the ‘expensive’ boat – another girl’s boat who was going out to a different island got turned around, and another boat with a whole group of ACICIS people on it was a fishing boat, where they all had to sit on the floor, 80% of the people on the boat were sick, and there was a wailing family mourning a death on board, complete with the body!

Luckily, the island was worth the trip! Beautiful clear, turquoise water, non-Jakarta fresh air…it’s wasn’t exactly beachy weather (it is the wet season here after all…) but just as well, as some people still managed to get sunburnt! (Not me with my ‘tan’ South-East Asian skin!) The island we went to was called Pulau Putri, and there were eight of us who went, so we aptly named ourselves the PPP – or the Pulau Putri Posse. We spent our time snorkeling (well not me, but I did swim in the sea so be proud!), ‘tanning’, at the tunnel aquarium, in the pool, and just generally chilling with a casual beverage or two…oh and planning our debut album (see Facebook for the photos, then you’ll understand… ) It was very relaxing, besides the thought of the dreaded boat ride back! But luckily the trip back was positively smooth in comparison, with no ‘muntu-muntu’ from any of us!

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Anyway, that’s about all my news thus far. Got to go and get my study on…but as promised I have learnt how to say bye in Bahasa Indonesia – da-dah! I knew they said it was an easy language to learn for a reason…

Posted by ljmac2 05:16 Archived in Indonesia Tagged boats beach jakarta indonesia kos classes ankgor_what?! atma_jaya lectures pulau_putri 1000_islands kevin_rudd Comments (0)

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