A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about islam

JOG-JA

Indonesia with a side of culture

sunny 27 °C

Well I have just got back from a cracking weekend in Jogja (more formally known as Yogyakarta but preferably pronounced in a very bogan accent as “jooogggjjjja”). Actually, I lied. I have not just got back. On account of getting up at 3.30am, 7am and 5.30am three mornings in a row, I was rather tired last night so did not have the energy to write this. But it was totally worth every ounce of lost sleep. As a wise person once said; “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.

So after trying to do an all-nighter on Friday night (and failing – I caved in for two hours sleep), we arrived in Jogja bright and early at 7am on Saturday morning. And once again, it was literally a breath of fresh air. It felt like we had flown to another country for the weekend – we actually saw sun and blue sky and the grass was so green! – but it fairness, I think Jogja might give a truer representation of what Indonesia is really like, it’s just that living in Jakarta, we are led to believe that that is it. But if Jogja is a representation of the real Indonesia, then it truly is a beautiful country. And for all the ignorant bogans who don’t know anything about Indonesia, Jogja is closer to Bali!

We hit the ground running when we got to Jogja. Water Castle, tick, Sultan’s Palace, tick, silver markets, tick, ride in a becak (three-wheeled bicycle tuk-tuk type thing), tick. We saw batik and puppet making. Totally touristy I know, but it was nice to actually experience some culture that had at least attempted to be preserved. Although I didn’t think the Sultan’s Palace was particularly impressive – he should have just stuck with the Water Castle…

That first day we also made a vain attempt to see one of the renowned temples of the area at sunset, but as luck would have it, we got there before the sunset, but it was already closed. Never mind, we made up for it by unnecessarily blowing some money at the markets that they make you walk through as you exit the temple to try and trap you…well there was no need to trap us!

It turned out for the better though, as Sunday was just such a perfect day. Although the whole thing your meant to do with Borobodur is see it at sunrise (Borobodur by the way is a 9th century Buddhist temple, so it’s a pretty big deal now that Java is predominantly Islam) we decided that there were only so many pre-sunrise get ups one could handle in a weekend, so we slept in until 7am! (And for me personally I’ve seen a few temple sunrises in my time so all was good.) Anyway, it was amazing! Packed with tourists and all that jazz that you’d expect with the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia, but it was so well maintained, and the beautiful sunny weather just topped things off – we were all excited to actually get sunburnt, being away from the protective UV layer of smog that descends on Jakarta. I must say though, the people coming up and asking for photos and interviews of you was getting a little tiresome, so much so where we had to start saying no just so we could get to see the thing! School kids would come up wanting to interview you about what you thought of Borobodur, and all I could reply was “I don’t know, I haven’t got a chance to see it yet!”

Next stop was Genung Merapi, one of the many volcanoes that looms over the Indonesian landscape. It’s not the kind of one that you can walk up to the crater on a day trip – it’s more like a three hour trek that usually starts at 1am because of the heat – but you can drive up through all the villages on the mountain side, and then walk a bit further to take in the amazing view. It’s last big eruption was in 2010 and it killed something like 153 people, so it was a pretty significant one. It was interesting to see the remains of houses and graveyards and what not that had been left behind, and what people had already rebuilt. For instance, a stall that shows phone credit. Because God knows, you wouldn’t want to run out on your hike to the crater!

Our last stop was Prambanan, where we had met closed gates the day before. It’s a Hindu temple, which is once again significant being on the island of Java, which is dominated by Islam. It’s meant to be ‘the’ spot to go at sunset, which I wasn’t really too fussed about having seen a fair few sunsets in my time as well, but we were lucky that we weren’t let in the day before because the sunset was stunning! (And I’ve got about 300 photos just of that to prove it…)

Prambanan

Prambanan

So yes, that was Jogja. Then the next morning it was up at 5.30am and straight back to reality. But I even got an article written – as Nick Faldo emailed me back! – so at least it was productive.

Hmmm, what else did last week contain… Well obviously I wrote a few stories here and there. One was about the fact that Liverpool have also opened up a football academy here, so I interviewed one of their coaches who also used to be a player for the Liverpool reserves, and I went out to see one of their trainings.

Another story was about a sports marketing seminar, which was run by Inter Milan as they are also thinking of opening up a football academy here. That was interesting enough seeing I love sports marketing, but then at the end I got to interview the CEO and CCO of Inter – crazy! It seemed so normal at the time, but when I got home and thought about it, it was so surreal. That actually is one of the good things about being a Caucasian journalist here – you may have to sit through a five-hour seminar in Bahasa (although luckily this Italian mob decided to speak in English!), but then at the end everyone is keen to talk to you, whether they’re a foreigner or whether they’re a local. Personally I just think they want to ask what the hell you’re doing in Jakarta, seeing there are virtually no bules (white people) here!

On Friday morning I did decide to treat myself and make the most of having mornings off, by going on a shopping expedition to Grand Indonesia. It might sound like a rather uncultured experience but honestly, Jakarta is practically a city of malls, so instead I will say I ‘saw the sights’. Yes I did buy a few things – not too much thankfully – but I figure I can chalk it down to some ‘cultural immersion’. Plus I only went to what I would consider as the ‘big 3’ – Forever 21, Topshop and Zara. Yes I know we have Topshop and Zara at home now, but everyone says they’re no good, so I’m just going to take their word for it!

Anyway, only three more days of the program left now, and because we have formal ceremony stuff and a shindig at the Ambassador’s house on Friday, that means only two days of work left. But they say time flies when you’re having fun…

Posted by ljmac2 07:42 Archived in Indonesia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises football jakarta indonesia yogyakarta market shopping sport islam prambanan borobodur jogja merapi nick_faldo sports_industry 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)

Jakarta

and now comes the serious stuff...

semi-overcast 26 °C

So here I am sitting in my kos (better known as boarding house) room, surrounded in air-conditioned comfort with hot water, HBO (among other cable TV channels), and Internet at my bedside – that’s what $500 can buy you for six weeks in Jakarta. Oh, and did I mention that they do your laundry and clean your room as well?! Anyway I guess I better tear myself away from all these activities for a bit to tell you what I’ve been doing since I got to Jakarta…

Well first of all, with everything we’ve been doing, it’s worlds away from the summer holiday mode and post-New Years’ hangover that I can imagine people are struggling through in the heat at home. The morning after I got here the program started with orientation, which we all thought would be those lame ice-breaker games you play all during week one of semester (even in Masters!) but in fact it was a lecture that convinced us that we are pretty much all going to get dengue fever and see some sort of terrorist activity while we’re here (don’t worry Mum, I’m totally kidding!) But I guess they did have to go through all that safety stuff, and with the dengue, it is apparently really common here – even the First Lady has it at the moment! Obviously it’s not ideal to have it, but they said diseases like dengue and typhoid are really common here, almost like a flu, and they know how to treat them properly here, unlike at home where people panic just at the mention of the word (after all, apparently the rich here make Australia’s rich look like beggars, and money talks!) So pretty much the deal is here if you get sick, go to the hospital – it’s cheap (well you can get it back on travel insurance), clean, air-conditioned…pretty much like a kos, except they feed you too!

After a morning of inspiring lectures, we had to go find a kos, which we thought we’d have done in an hour so we could spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool. The university hosting us, Atma Jaya, had some students, known as LOs (liaison officers), volunteering to help us around uni and with finding a kos. They are so cute! It’s seems like it’s a massive honour for them to help us, and they were so patient as we traipsed around for hours, as it turns out that we were quite picky! Apparently Jakartans don’t really do walking – well the footpaths or lack thereof demonstrate that – so they must have been buggered as we were all stuffed! (Also the paper where I’m doing my internship, the Jakarta Post, ran an article today entitled “Walking should be made something we don’t just do on a Sunday”…haha) We were lucky to have them though, as they all speak close to impeccable English, where as the guy who owns/runs our kos mainly speaks English via hand gestures. He has a daughter though who goes to Monash at Clayton, so it’s lucky that she’s on holidays at the moment and in Jakarta. It seems as far as English speaking goes here, people either learnt it all the way through school and uni, and so are fluent and don’t need to study it any more, or they speak little to none. Unfortunately for us, the latter are people like taxi drivers and waiters, so I had a very unfortunate nasi goreng incident the other night, where I asked for fried rice with no meat, and it came out and all that was on it was meat! Even fish!

So being persistent on the first day of kos-hunting paid off, as it meant that we had all of New Years’ Eve off. After a rather leisurely start, we went to the old Dutch part of town, called Kota, which is a big square surrounded by old colonial style buildings, that let’s face it have seen better days, and in the middle there are people selling all kinds of things on picnic rugs or off the back of their bikes (even ribbons like rhythmic ribbons!) Jakarta isn’t really a tourist town, so we were practically the only white people there, and the number of teenagers that came up to us to take photos with us on their mobile phones or interview us for their English assignments was crazy! It was a really cool vibe there though, especially with the building atmosphere for New Year’s Eve.

Our last night of 2011 kicked off would you believe it, at the 7/11 next door to our hotel. That may make us sound like dropkicks, but believe it or not it’s the place to be seen – when we got there, there wasn’t a spare table…perhaps we should have called ahead to reserve one? Anyway, 7/11 here pretty much doubles as a family restaurant and a bar. It’s like how you can buy beers and Smirnoffs at convenience stores in Thailand, except here it’s ‘cool’ to drink them at their point of purchase. And it’s cheap. And they don’t ID you.

Like at many hotels, the tariff is way more expensive on New Years’ Eve, but to make it worthwhile they put on some kind of dinner for you. We stuck pretty local, because obviously on New Years’ Eve it’s hard to get a taxi anywhere in the world, let alone in Jakarta! Actually it’s probably not really that hard to find a taxi, but to get one that will be able to move somewhere is a different battle altogether. So we went to a little bar near the hotel, then when it got close to midnight, we went out on the street as we were staying near the Monas, the main monument in Jakarta, where all of the fireworks were meant to be. However, with a million people meant to be going there, we didn’t get very close. We just walked as close as we could and stood in the middle of the street amongst all of the motos carrying families of four, who had stopped in a gridlock to do exactly the same thing that we were. It was an awesome atmosphere, seeing all of these people (and a lot of them in headscarves) sitting on their motos taking photos of the fireworks on their phones, or in some cases letting the fireworks off themselves. When it was all over, we stood back to see just how they were all going to get out of there…and really props to them, they had it figured! Fifteen minutes after the fireworks had finished the traffic was moving relatively well and people had even gone back to work on some construction sites – talk about making the most of night shift pay on a public holiday!

The night continued on in a similar fashion as to how it was before the fireworks, and before we knew it, it was 2012. However, New Years’ Day meant moving day, not sitting around at home doing nothing, unless perhaps it’s lifting the paper to see if Ponting’s going to be played in the New Years’ Test. Needless to say, pretty buggered again! Although New Years’ Day was one of the girl’s birthdays, so we went out for dinner (where the abovementioned nasi goreng incident took place…)

Today was down to business. Day one of four-hour Indonesian language classes, which are set to continue daily for the next two weeks. Luckily for me the Indonesian’s choose not to include things like past tense and irregular verbs in their language, which makes life a bit easier. Also lucky for me, I am in the beginners’ class! However, if there was a pre-beginners’ class I feel like I would be more suited to that, seeing at the end of class today one guy came up to me and said “Gee, I’m so glad your in my class”, as in “because you don’t make me look so bad.” And I thought I was doing well! But really it’s not that bad. The teachers are lovely – very fast paced, but lovely – and they do a good job at giving us breaks with free food and coffee. I wonder if that will continue, or if that was just a first day sweetener… Then this afternoon’s lecture was on Indonesian politics (we have a different topic about Indonesia every afternoon apparently), which was given by an Indonesian political guru and was very interesting, although rather complex, especially for the second day of the year.

So yes. That is life here so far. But actually I must say, it’s amazing how safe you feel on the streets and stuff here. I know the idea of Indonesia spooks a lot of people out, especially with the whole Islamic side of things, but really everyone on the street just wants to say hello to you and that’s it. Wandering the streets on New Years’ Eve I’ve never felt safer really, as no one drinks and it really is just a big family celebration. So no stress.

Anyway, I must hit the hay seeing as prayers start at 5am! We looked to see if there was a mosque near this kos actually and couldn’t see one, so they just must be hidden everywhere. Or maybe that’s just why they pray so loudly, so they don’t have to go to the mosque but people can still hear that they’re praying…who knows…maybe I’ll find out in the religion lecture later this week. But with that backed up with another four hours of Indonesian, it’s definitely time for bed…I would try and be smart and try to say goodnight in Indonesian, but I’ve only had four hours so far…give me another week!

Posted by ljmac2 07:48 Archived in Indonesia Tagged jakarta indonesia mosques teacher language english kos islam classes 2011 2012 atma_jaya lectures new_years'_day new_years'_evetourists Comments (0)

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