Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Indonesia (all four days)

Hello Everyone,

If you are reading this right now I want to thank you for keeping up with my travels this summer. I know I have not posted in a few days because while I was in Bali, Indonesia I tried to stay off the grid (off the constant “communication” with the rest of the world, more on this later) so I could have the full experience culturally and spiritually. I have decided for everyone’s best interest to not make the entirety of Bali into one post. Interestingly I have more pictures then words (I took between 30-50 or more pictures a day while here). So, what I will do is give a semi brief day by day in Bali account in this post and then post all the pictures from Bali with day number and location as a caption as a second post so you can match my stories to my pictures.

Dearest Friends,
If your dad is your travel agent please check when you are leaving and arriving before he buys.
Cheers, Arya

This may sound really obvious but I did not check with my dad about this part of the trip. I will tell you two itinerates and you can imagine which one is mine. Pulling up a map is a must but because who knows if you will I will provide you one below. One individual flew from Shanghai to Manila (3 hrs.) and after a 1 hr. layover flew to Bali (3 hrs.). He left Shanghai around 9 am and got to the hotel around 5 pm. Individual two flew from Manila to Jakarta (3 hrs.) and after a 4 hr. layover (2 of which he spent in a bus going to a hotel that didn’t exist, the other 2 sleeping on an airport bench) flew to Bali (3 hrs.). He left Manila at 9pm and got to Bali around 8 am.

Day 1:
After getting to the home-stay I had pancakes (they were green because made from a mint leaf) and a plate of local fruit. I met Ari (no joke) the son of Mama and Papa who had built the whole place and given his Uncle (who owned the property) any gains on half the rooms even though Ari worked the whole estate (more on this later). After breakfast I reconnected with Professor Aguas (he had left me in the Philippines to go to China remember). We walked into town where out of every 10 stores we passed they had the following distribution: 5 local painters, 1 tourist activities sales, 1 restaurant, 1 spa, 1 other type of store. As the distribution indicates painting and art is big in this culture. Professor Aguas explained that your status is based on your skill and abilities in the arts. After making a few purchases, (some flip-flops, a beef and vegetable stuffed curry pastry) taking a lot of pictures and buying tickets for a Traditional Indonesian show we returned to the hotel where I took a much needed nap. During my nap my phone reset and everything was lost (if you have texted me on Whatsapp I did not get it and will not get it till I reinstall the app so Facebook me). I found Ari who told me Francis had left so I showered and ran (asking a lot of people on the way on how to get there) to the show. I found the guy who sold us tickets informing me that this show as canceled but there was another we could go to but I had no sign of Francis. When he informed me I had about an hour (Ubud is like 20 minutes from end to end and we are in the middle) I went back to the hotel to find Francis and Ari said he had just taken him on the motorcycle. Ari drove me back (to save time and energy) but I could not find Francis. I went to the show by myself. I will give my notes on each part of the dance and provide pictures in the next post (with pictures of the program descriptions).
I will briefly give my notes on the performance but in the next post with pictures post the actual meanings. Before the performance a lady came out and used water to cleanse the musicians who would be playing on different instruments (from xylophone looking things, to big gong drums to smaller hand drums). The performances showed the world which has balance and imbalance, the movements which generally matched the music showed connection between the world and the people who live in it. There were elements that showed the balance between good and bad as well as right and wrong in the world. There was a dance called Bapang. I saw that nervous energy brings us down and controls and impacts us. And our nervous energy can spread to others if we do not control it. There was a dance called Telek. In this dance the movement was eerie and heavy compared to the rest. I saw this and the faceless uniformity of the dancers as we know our biggest fears but do not know how to address them. The next part of the show was a play named Barong dance. The basic plot line was that a local widow in the community was upset that nobody wanted to marry her daughter. In anger she went to the gods and told them to cause pain and kill the men for shaming her and her daughter. The men realizing what they had done were wrong asked the gods for forgiveness and admitted their fault that one should have tried to set up their son with said girl. This appeased the women and gods who saved the men. The message out of this which I touched on is the sense of community in this culture. That we are only as strong as each individual and must look out for each other, doing what is best for one another.  
After the show I got lost. Luckily, I found an Aussie (Australian) street racer who gave me a ride home on his motorcycle.

Day 2:

Today I first revived my mental health. After sleeping for 11 hours (and waking up a little after 9) I met up with Francis to get some spa treatment. For just under 12 US dollars I got a manicure, pedicure and 1 hr. full body massage. Professor Aguas talked with the girl who was giving me my manicure and found out the three of them (2 girls, 1 boy) were orphan siblings who had opened their own salon and worked together. The boy who was 16 had also recently won a country boxing competition. After this Francis and I had a local lunch, I ate Bakso which is basically chicken noodle soup with spinach. We then went to have a drink and talk about community values. Two of these that really stood out to me are: 1. everyone in the community wants to talk to you, to be friend you. This originated in the old days (a maritime society) so they would always know where each other were but stays today for a similar reason (the reason you always smile, nod my head no and say Macasi (thank you) even if you do not want a taxi or something a street vendor is trying to sell you is so that: a. They will help when you need it because they have no reason to dislike you. If I was to get lost for example Professor Aguas could walk down the street asking who saw me and they will remember me for my politeness and hopefully be able to know my rough whereabouts. They also have a sense community balance and knowledge where everything one does (even an outsider) impacts the community so it is best to know the backgrounds and daily actions of each individual within the community. As we drank and ate a delicious carrot/mango dessert we met a Swedish couple (the girl was African American from Ohio and the boy was Swedish). We chatted with them for just under two hours about our lives and travels and made plans to have dinner together that night. We had a nice dinner where we learned more about each other and I had another local dish called Satae. This was chicken kebab in a peanut sauce with fried egg. Professor Aguas order Nasu Champur which means a combination of everything (tuna, chicken and veggies) with rice.  At dinner the power went out at the restaurant. Quick on our feet Nico, the Swedish guy and I made lamps with our cups and flashlight apps. The speculation on said blackout is political based. A local politician (who has been known for some corrupt things) recently lost, so he demanded a recount and some see this as him trying to scare people. After dinner we had Ice Cream and then parted ways for the night.

Day 3:

Today was a great day. I should honestly just post the pictures and let them do the talking. In Ubud there is a place called Monkey Forest Road. On this road and continued into a forest are over 9000 monkeys. Francesca (a recent graduate from University of Southern California) and I went together. I have pictures to show all types of monkey business: from family interactions, monkeys and I becoming best friends, monkeys acting like humans, monkeys just acting like monkeys). I won’t write more just look at the pictures on the other post. After this I had the same soup as the day before for lunch and came back to the home-stay where I ran into all my new friends in the lobby. Israel (not Jewish) from Florida but moved out here and then decided to stay because of a teacher training program in a form of Yoga, the two French families (one half African, other pure French), my three friends from Australia (who told me if I buy a ticket (5 hrs. from Singapore) they will take me to see all the animals in Darwin and we will sleep in tents in the wild (seriously considering this). The reason I mention Israel is that we discussed (and he agreed to be a co-author) in my research paper where we changed the topic from what makes Singapore so successful to Education outside the classroom (in the communities I have lived in) and how this makes education inside the classroom more successful and how we can connect the two while building a better society. More details will come because do not want our idea stolen. After talking with him Francis, Francesca and I went to an organic dinner. I had a detox delight (all veggies, no sugar or ice) and organic chicken and vegetables with fresh coconut rice. The name of my dish was Nasi Champur Beras merah. Hands, down one of the best meals this trip I have had. After dinner we met Reza (her friend from Malaysia) and all shared a chocolate zucchini cake for dessert. It sounds ridiculous I know but it was excellent and remember I am no chocolate fan. After talking for a good hour or two we parted ways. Francis and Francesca are in bed (8 am cooking class, I am waiting up to watch Argentina Germany. VAMOS ARGENTINA.

Day 4:

Today I stayed up till after 6 am to watch the game. Around 6 am papa came into the kitchen for a snack and was startled to see me awake but smiled and said good morning. I smiled back and told him no it was night time, and I was finally going to bed. I woke up again around 10 and went to a temple. My phone battery was dead so I have no pictures but tomorrow morning on way to the airport I will try and get some. Furthermore, I will get pictures of the rice fields during sunrise. I was told by Nico that the rice fields and the people working them are incredibly friendly to talk to and take pictures with. I want to try and get some for you all. After the temple I biked back to monkey forest where I bought 32 pieces of Jewelry (not all Monkey teeth necklaces) for friends and family. I negotiated and ended up paying around 60 US dollars for the lot. After this I came back to the hotel but stopped to have lunch at the noodle place again. This time I had () a dish that included chicken, meatballs, and egg with a little bit of noodles. As I was walking back to the homestay Nico passed by on his motorcycle so I joined him and Claire for a second lunch. They bought me barbecue chicken and rice and a cup of hot tea that cost just over 2 US dollars. Finally I went back to the room and relaxed for a bit before having one last dinner with Professor Aguas and Francesca. We ate at Casa Luna (owned by an Australian lady who married an Indonesian). Thus, the menu has a bit of both cultures plus others on it. For 43 US dollars we ate like royalty. We had Turkish bread with hummus and cucumber yogurt, 2 sides of fresh grilled potato wedges, a margarita pizza, two different types of pasta and a veggie burger with fresh tomatoes and avocados. After dinner we came back so I could pack because I have to head out around 5am. Goodnight y’all!

Day 5:

It was hard to say goodbye to Ubud, Bali this morning. In three/four days I had found a different side of me. As I was driven to the airport, I thought about all the friends both local and international I had made. I thought about my non-human friends (the animals, the trees). I really found myself in Bali, I highly recommend that if you want to leave the “complex” world of constant internet connecting and typical tourists who are clearly not interested in anybody but themselves you should look up Sandat Bali Homestay in Ubud and go to Indonesia for your next vacation. I now am better able to feel the interconnectedness of a community from its people to its environment. Singapore has parts like this I have been told but it is not as a whole. Anyways, today after getting back I met with Ann who is going to be my “babysitter” at SMU. She is my new roommate and is responsible for making sure I meet people at SMU and work on my project (not that she needs to do either, I am very social and driven ATM). After having lunch with her, meeting some great people at SMU (I met a guy from California named John who works in the special projects office of the president and we are going to have lunch and discuss education policy around the world (his favorite topic too) among other things, buying some groceries and situating myself into my new apartment (shower, laundry, nap) I came to get dinner at an international based family owned restaurant (hence how I got Wi-Fi to post all this). As I walked looking for dinner I was not sure if I would fine Wi-Fi so I had to call my dad and grandma from a pay phone on the streets.

You are caught up with me now, pictures will be posted tomorrow.

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