A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about bus

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)

Singapore

one more stop closer to home...

overcast 26 °C

So back in Singapore…weird after being here less than six months ago. It’s also a very weird place to stay at a backpackers I’ve decided. Because Singapore is so ‘nice’ compared to the rest of South-East Asia, I feel that people mainly come here on the way home from their trip so they choose to stay somewhere ‘nice’ to make the most of the end of their trip. Don’t get me wrong, this Five Stones Hostel in Clarke Quay where I’m staying is very nice as far as backpackers go (and expensive too) but the vibe here is so weird. It seems that most people who stay here are here for a purpose, rather than just travelling through. For instance, I’ve never been to a backpackers where people go to bed at 3am and not because they’ve been out – because they’ve been on the computer!

However, it has been nice to have a couple of days layover in comparable luxury before I get stuck into having to actually use my brain in Jakarta! Originally I came here so I could get the visa I need for Indonesia, but seeing I got that all sorted in Ho Chi Minh, I literally just have a couple of days to do as I please.

So the night I first got here, I decided to do as many people do in Singapore, and splurge. I went to this bar called the New Asia Bar on the 71st floor of the Swisshotel, which has views all over Singapore, very similar to those available on the Singapore Flyer, except for the fact that it is higher than the Singapore Flyer! Being a sucker for a good high view, as well as bars, it was an excellent idea, except for the fact that I wanted to go up there for sunset, and being in a different time zone to previously, I misjudged how late sunset was actually going to be! Needless to say, it turned out to be a rather expensive affair, and once it was well and truly dark I found myself incredibly eager for the comparatively cheap McDonald’s dinner available downstairs under the hotel!

Yesterday I decided to be a true tourist and go to the zoo! (Similar to a good high view, I also love a good zoo!) Getting there turned out to be quite an adventure in itself however. I wanted to try and find this bus that went express to the zoo and only went from certain bus stops. I thought I’d found the stop but I had quite a wait so I sat down to read my book. Then this old Singaporean man came up to me and asked me if I had $2, and I don’t usually do that kind of thing, but I was going to be sitting there for a while so I thought I better be nice so I gave him $1, the only coin I had. It turned out to be $1 well spent. He ended up reading my palm and telling me how to get rid of my wrinkles and my tuck-shop lady arms…lol! Then this other old man came up to the bus stop and was making all this signs behinds the first old man’s back, saying he was crazy and don’t talk to him, etcetera etcetera, but he was ok. Then once the first old man left the second one decide he wanted to talk to me and that was enough entertaining the locals for one day for me – I decided to catch a train and then a taxi to the zoo instead! Luckily I have been here before so I vaguely understand how the MTR works.

Anyway, I did eventually get to the zoo, and it was great. Luckily for me it was ‘raining’ earlier in the day (and by that I mean spitting) so that kept the crowds at bay. The Singapore Zoo is well famed for being an open landscaped zoo, meaning that rather being kept in cages, the animals are kept in ‘habitats’. So obviously they can’t come up to you and attack you – they are separated from you by a strategically placed ditch or pond or log…depending on the type of animal, the bigger that ditch may be. But it was really well done. They are very proud of the fact that Steve Irwin apparently considered Singapore Zoo Australia Zoo’s sister, and a lot of the animals in the zoo, especially the crocs, came from Australia Zoo. Also there’s this whole Australian Outback section in the zoo that apparently Steve Irwin designed and opened and what not, so as I said, they are very proud…

Given the ordeal that it took me to get out there (even though it’s really not that far – in how many places can you take the metropolitan train system to the other side of the country?!) I decided to stay and zoo myself out at the Night Safari, next door. It’s a similar concept to the Singapore Zoo with it’s open planned-ness and what not, except a) it’s only open at night (duh) and b) it’s kind of bigger, in a Werribee Open Plains Zoo sense. There are different ‘habitats’, such as the Himalayas, African savannah and South-East Asian rainforest, with the corresponding animals set out throughout the park, and you get this tram, which drives through it all in about 40 minutes. It is really good, except for the crowds – no bad weather seems to want to keep them away. Luckily however, you can walk most of the park, which surprising very few people choose to do. I must admit, it is quite daunting, especially since I did it on my own and it’s a) night, b) barely lit, seeing you’re meant to be looking at the nocturnal animals, c) there are things flying everywhere (you can go into caves and see them up close if you want – no thank you), and d) it’s an open plan zoo! Those tigers in particular are especially stealth! But it’s ok as at the Night Safari, the bigger, more dangerous animals, like the lions and tigers and hyenas are a bit more securely enclosed.

Anyway, despite the crowds, I did end up doing the tram as well, as they make it so that there’s a part of the park that you can’t see by foot. It’s well worth doing though, although given that predominantly the tourists here are Asian (and we know how snap-happy they are!) I think they get a bit disgruntled that you can’t take photos with a flash due to the fact that the animals are nocturnal and it’s night time, which means that basically, you can’t take photos at all! With both zoo’s they are definitely major tourist attractions, but they definitely hound you with the message of conservation, which is good, and I guess is especially important in Asia where they may not receive as much education on this.

So it was a big day at the zoos yesterday – I didn’t get home until 12! Tonight I fly to Jakarta, so I’m not going to do anything too strenuous today. Although I did by chance discover that the shoes I bought to wear in Jakarta (you have to wear a certain type of shoes – it will be the first time I haven’t worn thongs in about 2 and a half months!) have mysteriously gone missing, despite the fact that I haven’t even worn them yet! Luckily, I actually bought them when I was here in July on Bugis Street, so it looks like I’ll be heading back there this afternoon!

I probably won’t get a chance to blog now until 2012 (next year!) so I hope you all have a fabulous weekend seeing the New Year in, and that it is a great one for you ☺ xoxo

Posted by ljmac2 17:40 Archived in Singapore Tagged jakarta singapore bus shopping zoo raining weather tourists backpackers bus_stop australia_zoo conservation singapore_zoo night_safari steve_irwin singapore_flyer bugis_street swisshotel new_asia_bar five_stones_hostel Comments (0)

Catch Cambodia...

...until next time "you say goodbye, and I say hello"

semi-overcast 26 °C

First of all, apologies on my slackness on writing my blog the past week. I have had a few queries about when my next blog entry is going to be, but with last week being my last week at school, in Siem Reap and even in Cambodia, it was very busy with ‘lasts’. Literally we had a schedule for where we were going to eat every night so we had time to say goodbye to everyone…or more to the point say ‘catch’ until next year - hopefully ☺

Secondly, it is with extremely mixed feelings that I tell you I am writing the first blog entry of this trip not from Cambodia. Currently I am in my comparatively luxurious and cleanly hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, formally known as Saigon. It’s funny because when I left home I was so excited about this part of my trip having never been to Vietnam before, but now having to leave school and all the amazing friends I have made, not to mention just the awesome lifestyle that there is in Siem Reap, it’s devastating. I feel bad for Mum (she is here now as well in case you missed that memo) – I think she feels a bit like bad cop, as if she’s coming and dragging me away from it all. But I guess the best thing about feeling like this about leaving everything behind is that I have had more fun over the past two months than I ever thought was possible, particularly with where I was at when I left home, so that’s pretty awesome ☺ And besides, it’s just catch until next time right?!

Anyway, let me think, what has been happening since last time I wrote my blog…there’s been so much I don’t even know where to start or where to end so things are going to be a bit all over the place…

Well last weekend Courtnay and I went to Battambang for the weekend as there was a music festival called the Friendship Festival on there, which is half Khmer acts and half Western DJs, one of whom was a guy we know from when we went to Sihanoukville. It was a pretty interesting weekend to say the least! It started off with Courtnay walking into our room at home from being out, just as the 6am alarm was going off to remind us that for some reason we booked the 7am bus! That turned out to be a joyous ride filled with ice-cold air conditioning and blaring Khmer karaoke music that I could still hear when I had my iPod up full blast. Seriously, the Khmer people were not singing along and I definitely didn’t know the words – was it completely necessary?!

So I went to Battambang the last time I was here and did the whole boat trip and everything so I knew what to expect, but Battambang is definitely no Siem Reap. We literally could not find a bucket in sight all weekend, not even at the festival! It’s definitely not your party town kind of place, it’s like walking in a ghost town at night, there isn’t even that many restaurants to choose from and they all close at 10 or 11! However, the ‘sightseeing’ as you would call it around Battambang is really cool. There’s the Bamboo Train, which I’m still not entirely sure if it is called that because it is made from bamboo or because they used to use it to transport bamboo, but anyway it’s on this single railway line that you ride along through the rice fields, and then when you meet a train coming in the opposite direction, one of the trains gets dismantled so the other can continue on it’s way. Anyway, they take you up to the first ‘stop’, which is where there’s an old lady selling drinks and a bunch of kids very eager to show you around the brick making factory, for want of a better word, which was actually really cool.

After the Bamboo Train we went to a Cambodian winery, which compared to what we know as a winery, was hilarious, seeing there are four rows of grapes in someone’s backyard. There was actually only one kind of wine to taste though, but there was a horrifically strong brandy. Neither of us could drink ours so we gave it to the tuk tuk driver and even he struggled! He did finish it though – not one to turn down a free drink I suspect! Luckily for him we had to cut through this back road to get to our next destination, which was actually one of the coolest parts of the day. In Battambang especially, they are not shy on commenting on how much they love your white skin, and along this road I don’t think they’ve seen some barangs for a while, as the kids were running out of their houses and people were taking a break from their work at the rice fields just to get a look of us!

Our next destination was the Killing Cave, which as it’s name suggests, was used by the Khmer Rouge for many of the atrocities that occurred during that time. Similar to the Khmer Rouge stuff you see in Phnom Penh, there are monuments filled with the victims’ skulls and bones and whatever else they have found at the sight. Again, unfortunately I am not sure whether this came about before or after the war, but it is also a holy site up there so there is lots of blessings and Buddahs going on up there as well.

Anyway as for the festival, the main reason why we went to Battambang, it was pretty funny. The Khmer part in particular was packed. There was this guy there who must have been Cambodia’s answer to Michael Buble, as whenever his name was mentioned the crowd just went nuts. It was a pity they didn’t speak a bit more English though, as the MCs kept pointing to the moon and stuff all night and we were just like “why are they so obsessed with this moon?” But it turns out it was because there was a lunar eclipse that night we found out the next day – a tad awkward that we didn’t spot that one…

So once we got back to Siem Reap we were thrilled to hear that on the Saturday night we were away, pretty much none of our friends were out – that’s right, we are the high season! However, it did leave some pretty big expectations for our last week, which means that between the emotions of leaving school and everyone in Siem Reap, and going out, and packing and doing whatever jobs you have to do when you’re leaving somewhere after being there for two months, right now my eyes are practically hanging out of my head I am so tired! Totally worth it though, every single minute of it ☺

So my last week at school was thrown out of whack a little bit, as a group of ten new volunteers rocked up on Tuesday morning. They are on a 10-day tour kind of thing of Siem Reap, which includes going to school at ABCs and Rice because Jenny and Gary who organized the trip, have volunteered at ABCs before. Because it went from there being one volunteer at school (me!) to 10, we had a different schedule all week where each of the new volunteers ran different activities. It culminated on Friday, which was kind of cool seeing it was my last day, when they brought all this fruit to school as well as bottled water and even fairy bread (the kids had never had fairy bread before, it was so funny to watch them eat it and not be able to deal with the sprinkles!). Courtnay came into school as well on Friday to surprise her kids, which was so cool, and also good for me because I had someone to help me initiate our regular Friday dance party!

It was a fantastic, yet very hard day. I got bombarded with the usual mass of cards that all the classes make for volunteers when they leave, and some of the kids even bought me presents, which I feel so bad about, but it’s also so special. One of the teachers had asked me the day before what my favourite number was, and I said seven, so she gave me a jar of these tiny little stars they fold out of paper here and call ‘lucky stars’, and she said she made 70 for me because I said seven was my lucky number – so cute! At the end of the day for each class they all lined up and we sang ‘Hello, Goodbye’ by the Beatles, basically ABCs theme song, and they were also incredibly keen to sing three little monkeys, which I taught my class in music about two weeks ago and they just can’t get enough of it! Literally we sing it about 15 times a day – very fitting though seeing I was in the monkey class!

Luckily having the youngest class, only a couple of the kids understood what was going on and cried, which made it easier for me – at least I could hold on until they left! One of my kids kept saying “goodbye Teacher, see you on Monday!” (the really cool one I think I mentioned once before, who likes to play Uno and was hit on her foot by her mum) so I hope she doesn’t get too much of a shock next week. Also there’s a kid we’ve had to take to the doctor everyday, as she had to have an operation last week but she still needed to get her wound cleaned everyday, and when we went on Friday they said she didn’t have to go back anymore, that it could be cleaned at school as it was much better, which made me feel very happy that I know she will be looked after ok ☺ Everyday when we ride home from school we go the same was as a few of the older kids and they like to ride with us, but on Friday we had an entourage, as half the kids wanted to ride up to the main road to us. One of the girls kept saying “ride slow Teacher, you leave at the end of the road and I am sad.”

Anyway, I have so many more stories about school and Pub Street and just life and how great it has been that I want to write about, but one blog can only be so long before losing one’s interest. Besides, I need to save up some cool stories for when I come home, otherwise I’ll just be boring! But from the bottom of my heart I just want to thank everyone I met during my time in Cambodia for making it pretty much the best two months of my life. Whether you were mentioned in the blog or not, you know who you are, and my time there wouldn’t have been the same without you. I know I’ll be back, as I can’t possibly say goodbye to ABCs and the kids and the town forever, so I hope that we will all meet again one day and continue the party, whether at home, back in the Reap, or somewhere else out there in the world. And to everyone who’s reading this and doesn’t understand what I’m talking about, sorry for the after school special, but I hope that I at least had a story or two to entertain you…if not look me up when I get home, there are plenty more where that came from ;)

Posted by ljmac2 06:52 Archived in Cambodia Tagged children parties bus cambodia phnom_penh siem_reap teacher bars winery sihanoukville volunteers pub_street battambang khmer_rouge bamboo_train killing_cave Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]