Monday, February 28, 2011

KALAWEIT, Indonesia - 24 Dec 2009 - PM

The tour was a minibus with four other people, 2 Iranian couples, the tour guide, a Jakarta local, who later proved he spoke some Japanese too and the driver.

We drove for about an hour on the 'Golden Jakarta' tour. The Tamin centre is a huge area of treats for the tourist. It shows examples of each type of house from the main provinces in Indonesia. Some of the houses were very simple indeed, like the Timor huts. I the Timor section, there was a Dayak member. For 5000 Rupiah, I got my photo with him. I guess he needs his money too!

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It was great moment because, at that time, a huge group of school kids had filled the courtyard. They were staring at me with a pleasant curiosity during my photo shoot and after, we all took a photo together. They were cute - 'hello, my name is..' and 'My name is... . Nice to meet you.' Cute.
Next up, the gondola! Actually, I had no idea that this was included and I really should have checked but, before I knew it, I was in and on my way! The Fear sunk in very quickly, but thankfully, very briefly and soon enough i could enjoy the views of all the houses from up above and even some sort of Disneyland imitation palace, nice.

An added bonus to the day was the Komodo dragon 'museum' / enclosure. We got the chance to sit next to this seemingly docile creature. As much as I love most reptiles, I still got a bit freaked out by this monster. In all fairness, I had just seen a snake not long before that, bbbrrrrrrrrr. Shivers down the spine. I prodded him, just to be able to say that I touched him, but I couldn't bring myself to pick him up like some of the others did. Maybe 20 years ago...!

On the same note, it doesn't help to hear that there has been a python attack at camp in Borneo.

The dragon was awesome - so big, with a long, thin, silvery tongue, that darted in and out super quick as he was pushed by his keeper to get into a more 'photogenic' pose.

Then there were the Iguanas, amazing iguanas, sleeping away...and turtles, being all cute and turtle-like, and then...three crocodiles. They are are crazy creatures, so seemingly tame and docile, yet the ones I have been reading about in Borneo are not so - no dipping in the river for me!

A few things to note here in Jakarta, are the roads, the traffic and the people. I do not think I have ever seen so many mopeds / motorbikes and I haven't ever seen so many people on them either! So far, 2 adults and 2 kids was the worst, but that will change, no doubt. when they line up at the lights, you can easily count 20 or 30, or probably even more!

And the street sellers. One guy was selling newspapers, this seemed reasonable, it was around 5pm, made sense. Another guy was selling inflatable penguins (!), another was desperately trying to flog an atlas to one of my travelling companions!! My giggles were soon interrupted when I saw a one-armed, half-blind man, at the window, completely freaking me out. Then I saw a young girl begging for change from the car next door. Too sad.

All in all, it was an amazing day in Jakarta. Once the fear had subsided, there was plenty of fun to be had. I am so please to be doing this now and am rolling with it! Bring it on, I say!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

KALAWEIT, Indonesia - 24 Dec 2009 - AM

Five hours of sleep it seems will suffice for now.

Breakfast was good - some fresh fruits, great coffee and toast. And then, some rice, pak choi and chicken! Why not?! It was rather yum, but I didn't overindulge as the table next t
o me were looking at me. I realised that, although I have leggings on with my just-longer-than-knee-length skirt, I was wearing a short sleeve shirt, thus showing my arm. Perhaps this wasn't the best idea, so, donning a hoodie (remember the heat - day temps around 30!) and shades, I ventured out.

What an experience it all was. When I went out, I felt pretty awkward and very vulnerable. There were so many men just hanging out by the food stalls, of which there were also so many. And they were all staring, staring at me. I was 'trying to hide' under a hat and shades, but clearly clothes were not going to conceal the fact that I was not a local.

I got quite freaked out and contemplated hiding in my hotel room all day! That would have been a complete waste, so I persevered.

Fortunately, I stumbled across a hotel Ibis and I decided to ask in there about the internet cafe I thought I would never find. It turned out to be quite the refuge, catching up on mails and finding a little tour/travel office. I was able to book a little half day tour for the afternoon - things were looking up. They gave me info. and directions too for my subsequent shopping mission - I was, and still am, on the hunt for disposable cameras!!

Walking to the department store meant enduring a whole heap more stares. It's different from Japan, more intense stares, especially as I am a single white female wandering down the street. The stares felt intense but surprisingly not threatening I had read (and learnt along the way) just to ignore them and that is all you had to do.

I almost walked past the department store. It looked kind of shabby and derelict. It was off the road, with a 'Dunkin' Donuts' sign peeping out the corner. I took this as my cue and went in, the entrance honking of piss - nice.

Inside, it was all rather 'proper' like a regular department store, meaning that yes, I was expecting some run down one-storey sham...But it looked great with some nice fashion
s too. Of course, everyone was staring at me, customers and sales assistants alike, but I carried on.

The third had lots of kids stuff and there were also scarves and general attire for the Muslim girl. This is something I cannot comprehend, the girls I have seen thus far, (albeit on TV mostly) were quite dressed up, revealing their shape with tight leggings and tops. And then, there was me, melting in the heat and still getting stared at!

Anyway, I carried on up the escalators to the top floor, which was all batik stuff - awesome! Shame I couldn't buy more, but I had already had a mare fitting things in before I left Japan!
So, with a few souvenirs in tow as well as more anti mosquito sprays and creams (Indonesian stuff is the best! Japanese drug store supplies don't even compare!)

I got a lovely call from Jarrod back in Oz, which made me realise how far away we were and also made me think to get off the phone - the whole idea of being 'white & wealthy' (not that I am, you must understand, but it's all about impressions..)

Walking back to the hotel was better; I felt a bit stronger and more self assured. I dumped the shopping and headed back to the Hotel Ibis for my tour. With time to spare, I was able to m
ake a stop off en route for a lush lunch.I pigged out on pak choi and satay / sate and felt very glad indeed. Nom Nom. Do you see that bowl of peanut sauce?>!>!>!>!>!>? Mmmm...Did not last long on the plate, I tell ya!

Location:Jakarta, Indonesia.

KALAWEIT, Indonesia - 23 Dec 2009 (at the hotel)


If I were to be honest, I had TheFear and I could not visualise this happening! But, thankfully, my overactive imagination failed me. Jakarta airport was busier than I had imagined. There were trolley attendants everywhere 'willing to help'. I just knew to focus and not trust anyone. The guy next to me had started up a conversation as we got off the plane. When I tried to check about the taxi situation, him telling me he always had a driver wasn't totally reassuring. But the taxi counters were there and I ordered my bluebird taxi, thankfully avoiding any imposters.

The journey went smoothly. Thankfully, I was entertained with emails from England, but I realised too how alone I was and, in a country like Indonesia, it made me feel quite vulnerable and I shall be glad to get to Borneo to meet the others.

We drove through the brightly lit city centre and then through a quasi-shanty town.. Food stalls covered the curbs of the streets. many people, predominantly men, were hanging outside, chatting and smoking. One open shop front had a television set that a few guys were watching with their chairs on the pavement. It was good to see, somehow heartwarming, yet, I was glad to be inside, even if the temperature was Baltic inside (outside was 27 degrees)

Yeah, it feels strange to be in a city like this, alone.

I feel safe now in the hotel and I am looking forward to daylight tomorrow so I can explore somewhat.

Location:Jakarta, Indonesia.

KALAWEIT, Indonesia,- 23 Dec 2009 (on the plane)

The gibbon adventure begins.....(on the plane)

Last Monday, I was told that Borneo was flooded. It sent shivers down my spine, made me scared, but only because I thought the news was hinting at me cancelling the trip. Proof enough that this trip means so much to me.

For years, I have dreamt of heading to the Borneo jungle to experience a life like no other. I wanted to study the orangutans and come face to face with these 'people of the forest'.

Finally, at least 7 or 8 years, (or even more) since my first revelation, I found a volunteer project that wasn't huge, nor commercial, like so many others and didn't want to rob me blind. But, this charity wasn't for orangutans. It was for another ape, the lesser ape, the GIBBON!

I have to admit that I hardly knew what a gibbon was at first and I was interested in getting to Borneo. But now, months on from finding KALAWEIT,the gibbons rescue programme, I am all about these little round-faced creatures.

So, today, I am on board a plane to Singapore, then another to Jakarta, then, on Christmas day, one more plane (hopefully not propeller!) to my final destination --BORNEO!!

Since the news of the floods, I have, with the help of friends, been doing more research into my destination. Borneo should be fine, save the weather, but I must first spend two nights in Jakarta, a politically unsafe city, where general travel advice is against going it alone (for girls), not trusting most taxi drivers (check the metre really is working etc) and even fake immigration officers (!)

To say that I wasn't shitting it over the past few days would be lying. I knew that I must be very careful and cautious. My hotel is booked, I know what taxi to take and I know not to leave mt hotel to wander around at night.

So, filled with excitement, a few nerves and general loved-up giddiness, I embark upon this amazing, magical, dream-come-true adventure!

Salamat Jalan!