Friday, November 27, 2009

Kok! Ada Pohon di Jalan!

A few days ago I was going to Lisa's kos to watch movies. She lives near me, but down this awful road with about 100 speed bumps in between her kos and Jakal. I was really dreading riding down this road and she sensed it so she took me down an alternative route. This road still left something to be desired, but at least there were less speed bumps. It was already dark so we were going slower than normal which was a good thing because at one corner there was a giant hole in the middle of the road! There were two guys there working on the road, barefoot and with picks, but that was it. No "hati-hati ada galian" or anything! We maneuvered our way around it and made it back to her kos to enjoy a relaxing night of movie watching.

Lisa took that route home again about 2 days ago and someone had planted a tree where the hole had been. Now there is a tree in the middle of the road! It was more or less a sign to keep cars from coming through. Crazy Indonesia, I love you!


Lisa, Chris, Mira, Simon, Paul and I stayed up a little late last night at Djendelo (and some other place which I forgot the name of) playing cards, smoking peach (mix) Sheesha and drinking hot lime juice. We were supposed to be working on the semesterbook, but we ended up spending most of the time creating a new card game.

The name of the game is Montor (the Javanese word for motor bike).

These are the rules:

• All players get 7 cards.
• One card is turned over from the Ijo (deck). Players play a card of the same number or the same suit (a la uno).
• Boncenging applies. There are two piles and players can play their card onto either pile.
• Crash: If a player is forced to play onto another card of the same number, a crash occurs. If the card is a 1-5 the player must draw 2 cards, for a 6-10 they must draw 3 cards and for face cards they must draw 4 cards. Queen crashes are impossible.
• Fatal accident: If a player is forced to play an ace on another ace a final accident has occurred. The player must pick up the entire pile.
• Pile up: if four of a kind are played in succession onto the same pile, a pile up has occurred. The first player to have played one of the kind is killed and must pick up the whole pile. The last person to play must draw 4.
• Hujan: If a player is forced to play a 10, that player is kehujanan and must skip a turn to put on their poncho.
• Lampu merah: If a queen is played, the lamp turns red and the following player is ‘skipped’.
• Galian: If a 7 is played, play is reversed as a result of roadworks.
• STNK check: If a black Jack is played, the following player must have their STNK checked. If the player has a 2 they may play it to avoid a penalty. Players without a 2 at the STNK check mustdraw 2.

Thanks Paul for the original concept. Good team work guys coming up with the logistics! :-)
Everyone play and enjoy!

Cycling to Plaosan

Today is the day after Thanksgiving and Idul Ahad. It is a public holiday in Indonesia and most things are closed. So, we decided it would be a great day to cycle along the selokan to some of the temples near Prambanan.

Being that we stayed up late creating Montor the night before we got a later start than planned. Lisa and I packed supplies for a picnic and met Tom on the selokan just on the other side of Gejayan. Just as we set off an enormous rainstorm moved in. However, we were not going to let a little rain stop us, so we pulled on the ponchos and pressed onward. Although this turned out to be more than a little rain, and I'm sure we looked like crazy bule, the ride was great and the rain only made it more interesting.

When we reached Jalan Solo and were nearing Prambanan there was an older Javanese man sitting on a bench on the side of the road and when he saw us he started peddling with his arms and singing "I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride it where I like..." It was one of the strangest and funniest things I've ever heard!

After getting turned around a few times we found the Plaosan restaurant and asked them for directions to Candi Plaosan. The 1km ride was a leisurely ride through a small village with padis, corn fields, and vegetable gardens. Just when we thought we had been mislead again, I spotted the top of one of the temples in the distance.

As today is a holiday and because this temple is lesser known than Prambanan we were three of the only 5 people there. It was fantastic! We went into the first large temple which had three chambers, sat in the main one and enjoyed our picnic. We feasted on sandwiches made from the best whole-grain bread in Indonesia, alpukat, tomatoes, cucumber, cheese, lettuce, and Miracle Whip! We also big juicy grapes and mangostines. The temple was cool and there was a nice breeze. It was the coolest place I've had a picnic in to date.

Once we were cukup kenyang we walked around and through the other temples. The best part was getting to climb all over them. When we were leaving I needed to use the bathroom so I asked one of the security guards if there was a W/C near by, he pointed to a bathroom in the back of the temple complex that I had peeked into earlier. However, since the mandi water was full of mold and the smell was less than pleasant I decided to wait. The guard was very insistent that I could use that bathroom, no problem. I tried to explain to him that I would just go later on the way home, but I said "nanti di jalan" which literally means "later, on the road." He kind of smirked and started laughing and once Lisa and I realized what I had said we started laughing too. I had just said I would use the bathroom later on the road!

On the ride back I was practicing riding with no hands. We were once more along the selokan when we passed an old Javanese man sitting on his porch near the road. I was riding along in the front, with no hands, and when we rounded the corner he was very impressed and said, "kok! Pintar!" and some other utterances which basically meant he thought I was a very skillful cyclist. :-D

One last thing to note, other than the fact that we saw about 500 goats being slaughtered, or their insides being cleaned in the rivers, was that we experienced a roadside pengenalan. We were riding on the lower part of a road and there was a couple riding on a motor bike on road that was on a hill above us. The said hello, asked us how we were and asked our names and gave us theirs. A bit later the roads merged and they asked where we were from. We told them and they said they were from Timor Leste, smiled, then road off into the distance. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it was one of the things that only happens in Indonesia, and it was very funny and memorable.

This was definitely one of the most perfect days I've had in Indonesia.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Random Events with James

James' parents, Mick and Sue, are beginning there Indonesian adventure in Yogya since that is where James is settled. Thursday they head off to Flores, Lombok and Komodo. Oh how I wish I were joining!

Yesterday Mick and Sue spent the day in Kaliurang, the mountain village about 45 min to the north of Yogya. James and I had class in the morning, but after Javanese he invited me up to Kaliurang with them. We left somewhere around 3 in the afternoon and drove our motor bikes up. The ride was fantastic and it was made even better by the beautiful weather. It had been raining, practically non-stop, for about a week, but yesterday felt like the best days in spring back home.

Being that Kaliurang is only 45 minutes away, I assumed we would just be making a day trip. However, since I was with James I should have known better ;-) We reached the top and found his parents, who had taken a taxi there earlier in the day. That was when we began searching for a place to sleep for the night. Again I assumed it was just for James' parents, but then Sue began talking as if I were staying and we were all going on an early morning hike to see Mt. Merapi. That is when James mentioned we probably would be spending the night. I was more than happy to stay as it is a refreshing change of pace, and of air quality, from Yogya, but I had not brought a change clothes or even a tooth brush! However, I was not overly concerned with this as James was in the same boat as me and his parents also had no change of clothes, since they were at the laundry.

We looked at two places to stay for the night. Both were very nice. The first was very clean, but it was lacking something. The second place we stopped at was the winner. It was clean, but not sterile. It had a great sort of character with doors and windows painted all colors of the spectrum, and it was a mere 300,000 IRD a night! We took our meager belongings to the room, settled in and went down stairs for a cool drink and a chat.

By this time it was about 6:30 or so and our stomachs were beginning to rumble. Having seen a signs on the way up, we were all intrigued to try sate kelinci. The four of us hopped on the motor bikes and went forth in search of the perfect rabbit sate. We drove around for a bit before realizing that it was the middle of the week and most of the eateries would be closed due to the slow number of visitors, so we turned back and ended up at a warung very near our room.

We walked into the small hut of a restaurant and were greeted by an tired, but pleasant looking Ibu. We ordered two portions of the sate and four teh panas. We waited for ages while the Pak sliced the meat from a pre-skinned rabbit that was hanging in the back, cut it into small chunks, skewered it, fanned it over the hot coals, and then topped it with a peanut sauce. However, the conversation was not lacking and when the food did arrive it proved to be worth the wait. We headed back to the room full and happy.

Once back at Vogels we enjoyed a fruit salad of mangoes, pineapple, papaya, and banana before James' parents headed up for bed. During that time we worked out that we would all go on the early morning trek from the hotel to a point about 1300 meters up where we would be able to enjoy a clear view of Mt. Merapi. Although the trek left at 4 in the morning, James had comparative linguistics homework to do so we stayed up until about midnight deciding how similar a Papuan language was to Indonesian, very fascinating.

The sleep would have been very refreshing had it been longer, but it was pleasant nonetheless. We set out on the trek with a Dutch and a English couple. It was dark and the air was crisp. We walked for about an hour an a half up the trail to the first clearing from which Merapi could be seen. By this time the sun was beginning to rise. It was beautiful and puffs of smoke could be seen escaping from within the volcano.

We made it to the top, sleep deprived and hungry, but the view was spectacular. We listened to a few stories and colorful histories of the mountain before making our way back down. We were making excellent time and made it back to the hotel around 7:30 am, just enough time for James and I to eat breakfast before rushing back to Yogya for uni.

The jaunt was spontaneous and very rewarding, as spontaneity usually is. I plan to go back up this weekend to get some writing done. I definitely recommend the visit if you come to Yogya.

Low Tires...

Indonesian people are pretty chill, but they really lose there shit over somethings. For instance a group of four 8 year old boys can ride past on a motor bike with no helmets, but if your push bike has low tires every nanek in the city will flag you down to tell you and they will insist you air them immediately!

Another instance is asking for directions. Indonesians have a strange concept of distance, so when asking for directions if the place you are going is more than 100 meters away it is JAUH! They go crazy telling you how far away it is and that you just need to keep heading straight then turn left, and the directions are usually always preceded with a "Kalau ingat salah..." which is good because more often than not directions are wrong. If they say it twice, you know they have no clue where you need to go. But, the upside to this is that you can ask absolutely everyone for directions and on about the 3rd time they will be right, which means you never have to worry about getting lost.