Someone riding a horsey on Seminyak Beach in Bali
I’ve been here in Indonesia for a year!!! (well… from tomorrow I’ve been here a year, but lets just say I’m a bit over maths revision so am writing this now…)
The beauty of having a blog is that you don’t forget stuff (unless you forget to post, but I can’t remember anything I forgot to post about… Catch 22). So going back to the archives to September 2008 is a great reminder of how I arrived here knowing nothing, wandering around the city wide eyed, spending the first few months spewing lots and not understanding anything… but being especially enamored with the craziness of Grand Indonesia.
A year later, I still laugh at that crazy dancing fountain, but am a little less enthused by the whole mall-going experience. I wouldn’t say I’m completely jaded with the city, and certainly not with Indonesia as a whole, yet though. Still loving it, even though it usually offers up at least one gem of frustration each day. Usually during one of my daily elevator journeys. Seriously people, wait until I get out of the lift before your family of 20 charges in, ok? Oh, and don’t have your family conference at the bottom of the escalator. People need to get off that thing, it doesn’t stop for you.
What a year though!
I’ve been to Singapore four times, Bali three times, Yogyakarta, West Sumatra, Komodo National Park, Flores, Sumbawa, Pelabuhan Ratu times two, Bandung (oh god, the traffic!), Bogor/Puncak and Malaysia. And home once too. I think that’s it?
I’ve eaten in more fancy hotels and restaurants than I probably have in the last ten years and have come to accept fake marble as being the only suitable construction material for shopping complexes. I also believe taxis are a good value form of everyday transport and that sitting on the back of some random dude’s motorcycle choking on pollution is a wise idea if the traffic is especially crazy.
And I haven’t done my own laundry in a year, or cleaned anything in the last six months. :p
I have learned a lot though, about all sorts of things. My knowledge of Indonesia was pretty shameful when I arrived, considering its so close to Australia. I also have learned a lot about Islam, but still have lots more to learn. Also, working and living in a developing country, a relatively new democracy, has made me think a lot more about the issues faced in different parts of the world. For example, corruption was somewhat of an intangible concept for me when I arrived, but now I see how and why it happens. Also, the issue of voter education and the administration of elections in a sprawling developing country was something that I had never really meditated on until watching the legislative and presidential elections unfold here this year. And poverty. I’ve seen it many times before, but it’s always a wake up call.
Oh ya, dan aku tahu seberapa bahasa Indonesia. Masih perlu lebih latihan! Aku malas!
And there’s been firsts. First ever earthquake. First ever time living in a city where there has been a terrorism attack. First ever time falling down a sewer. First ever time doing karaoke while sober. First ever marriage proposal from random dude on street. First ever marriage proposal from a taxi driver. First ever arranged marriage proposal from taxi driver for his son.
Oh, and lots of phone stalkers. And lots of nasi Padang, oh yeah! Rendang and gulai nangka for life!
GRATEFUL MODE ON! (I love that expression haha)
So I owe big, big, big thanks to all the cool people who I currently or have worked with and socialized with here, all the people who have been gracious hosts and so friendly wherever I have travelled in the country and all those people at home who didn’t freak out when I showed up one day squealing “I’m moving to Indonesia in four weeks to work on a newspaper that doesn’t actually exist!” and were at least mildly encouraging!
I could gush on way more, but ugh. I’ll save it for whenever I leave, this is getting all “Eat, Pray, Love” on your arses. Let’s just say thanks for a year I won’t ever forget. Except maybe the bits I forgot to blog…
Ubud Market, Bali