Here it is, the big update. Enjoy. Let me know what you think.
I spent two weeks in Indonesia. Here is my journal along with selected photos.
I am happy to get these up here, but frustrated doing it from a cyber cafe. Hopefully I will have the internet by the end of the week, fingers crossed.
I shouldn’t be here, in Indonesia. It wasn’t a “smart thing” to do, especially since I have no source of income. But hey, when invited to Indonesia to trek an active volcano, who can say no?
It took me a month to find and settle into my apartment in Mumbai. Looking back I do not know why it took so long, but now its done, the living room painted and the apartment mostly furnished to my liking (I only need to get a desk for my office and shelves for the kitchen). Just when its time to buckle down and start looking for work, I leave for a two week holiday in Indonesia. Ah well, it’s good to get away and refocus.
I wait for my Egypt Air flight with only four other passengers. When they call for boarding we look around thinking, this can’t be right? But once we get on board we see faces in most of the seats looking back at us.
Five hours I spend trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in, interrupted only by bad American movies and a terrible in-flight meal. The Kuala Lumpur airport’s architecture amazes me. It is spectacular, though strangely enough I had a hard time figuring out how toe capture it. I experience the same feeling I get when coming into any airport I am not familiar with: it just takes a bit to get your bearings. On the plane the crew had handed me a health information card, which I filled out, but as I wait in line at immigration it becomes apparent they did not give me an immigration card. I have to get out of line and fill out a card at a table
behind the lines. Two middle eastern guys intently watch me as I do this, and when I finish I ask if they need my pen. No, they need me to fill out their forms; they cannot read or speak English. They are from Iraq and are staying for one month, but do not have the address of where they are staying. Communication is difficult but I enjoy this sort of challenge. I fill out their forms and an elderly Indian man and his wife ask me to help them on their forms. I am able to use some of the Hindi I am learning to speak.
I ask a security guard once I pass through security if there is somewhere I can wait for my flight that leaves in 12 hours. He points and says, “Fifth Floor.” I find a bench facing a large window with padded seats that makes a surprisingly comfortable bed for the night. It is better than paying $50 for a room near the airport.
I wake up to find the window overlooking a lush garden between two sections of the beautiful building. I search out a restroom and freshen up for the day before looking for a place to take pictures of the architecture. Around 8am I start looking for the Air Asia ticket counter. There are Air Asia posters everywhere but no counter. I finally ask. “They are not at this airport. You have to go the OTHER airport.” Awesome, glad I checked early.
I find the bus counter and they tell me to pay on the bus. “But do they accept credit cards on the bus?” No. I have to have cash. Great. I need thirty cents in the local currency, Ringitts. I walk back through the terminal to find an ATM, but they won’t let me take small amounts. I go to a money changer and exchange 100 rupees ($2) and get 8 ringitts. The bus is 1.5.
The airport is clearly the older airport. No frivolous architecture and design here. I get my ticket and try to find some breakfast before my flight. I wait in line at “Mary Brown” fast food till the man at the counter informs me they don’t take credit cards. Fine. I’ll go to McDonalds. Surprise! They do not accept credit cards either. Seriously? At an international airport that an international airline uses as a hub you don’t take credit cards? You expect everyone to have local currency in tiny amounts? Genius. Luckily the woman I let cut in front of me in line over hears my complaining and offers to buy me breakfast.
On the three-hour flight from K.L. to Denspensar, Bali, Indonesia, I, being of medium height and width, am squished. My knees touch the seat back of the “Leather Seats” proudly proclaimed by the posters of Air Asia. Who cares for leather seats if an averaged sized man cannot fit in them?
Air Asia pays for its cheap airfare by selling EVERYTHING. I cannot even get a sip of water. And of course they only take certain currencies and NOT CREDIT CARDS!?
I take an airport taxi to an area called Kuta – I had read in the Lonely Planet Travel Guide at the K.L. airport bookstore – that supposedly has cheap hostels and hotels. I drive past shopping malls, dance clubs, and shaggy haired “bulai,” white folk, carrying surf boards sporting large muscles and beach tans. Not quite what I imagined of Indonesia.
I walk from guesthouse to guesthouse; everyone is full or wanting over $30. Finally, I team up with a couple from Ireland, we decide on a place that is $23 without breakfast. The atmosphere is lovely, with individual cottages lining a beautiful garden and relaxing pool. It is still more than I wanted to pay. I am glad I chose not to pay for breakfast. I did not wake up the next day till 12:46pm.
I get ready to go check out the beach but the Irish guy says they would be ready in a bit and would come get me. I lie in bed and turn on the TV, watching Ninja Challenge, feeling like a loser for watching TV instead of exploring Bali. After impatiently waiting for over and hour and half I go knock on their door – they are nowhere to be found. Thanks for that.
I make the trek to the beach to find beautiful white sands covered by people from every nationality involved in a variety of activities ranging from sun bathing and swimming, usual, to receiving massages and playing football on the edge of the waves. I sit for a bit, observing those around me and telling insistent vendors I do not want bracelets and massages, and watching surfers struggle to stand on their boards in the pounding surf.
Back at the guesthouse I start talking to a varied group from Britain who invite me to go with them to a small club with live music. I meet up with later and we end up dancing the night away till 4am. This is why I do not wake up till 12:46 pm.
I wake up in a panic. I need to be at the airport in 10 minutes! I hurredly get ready and check out. They call a taxi for me but end up waiting for over 10 minutes, so I decide to start walking and find my own cab. A car pulls up behind me in the alley and honks – my cab caught up with me, thankfully.
What do you mean my reservation is canceled? Why was it canceled? You can’t get me on this flight? But the next one? Oh, awesome, it’s $10 less than I was scheduled to pay before. I am fine with that. And its get me to a Lombok closer to when Kara arrives at 5pm.
Thankfully they sit me in an exit row; if I had had a regular seat my knees would have been so far into the back of the person in front of me. Merpatti airline impressively gave us box before we got on board containing water, a delicious soft roll, and a slice of cake. We are in flight for maybe fifteen minutes. I am a fan of this service. Now on most five hour flights across the US you barely get a drink and
pretzels. As I am getting comfortable with my extended legroom, I see a face I recognize coming down the isle: Kim Dyke, fellow friend from Uganda who is joining Kara and myself on the trek up Mt. Rinjani. We are both surprised to see each other on the same flight but neither of us make much effort to greet the other more than an expressive “Hi!”
In flight I see Kim struggling to get comfortable with her knees in the seat back in front of her, so I motion for her to join me in the exit row. Before we know are landing. No announcement. No one checking seat belts.
We meet up with Kara then take a taxi to our hotel in Sengiggi. It is a lovely place, spanning both sides of the road. The courtyards have green gardens, fountains, and a seaside pool complete with statues that somehow look like their peeing. The charcoal colored beach meets the sea so abruptly surprising even the waves, and they act like they do not remember how to interact with land, simply exploding into a mass of white frenzy with no majestic crest or curl. Our room is a cozy cottage with mostly bamboo elements and a large bed with tall bedposts, but I get a mattress squeezed between the bed and the wall; Kim and Kara share the grand bed.
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