Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day 5: A Cat on Every Corner

I tried to capture better pictures of the 5-6 cats we saw on our walk home last night, but this is the only photo that turned out to be any good. I walked passed this cat nap and couldn't help but take a picture. There are cats everywhere here, and they almost speak English in their Indonesian-language cry, "meong, meong, meong!" Cats in the garage, lurking around restaurants, on the streets, everywhere. Indonesians seem to like cats (especially as opposed to dogs, which are not commonly seen and are almost never pets as it is culturally/religiously not acceptable). These cats make themselves at home almost anywhere and are fun to watch and encounter. Even more fun, the word for cat is cute in Indonesian - "kucing."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 4: Wheels

As I shuttled back and forth to work today, I attempted to snap a picture or quick video of the two-wheeled traffic swarming our van... in vain! It is difficult to find the right perspective to capture everything that is happening. I couldn't get the right angles (but I'll keep trying).  Traffic in Jakarta is epic, and everyone knows it can easily take hours to cover a short distance if there is a jam or flooding. My two mile commute has taken a range of 15-50 minutes so far, a remarkably short amount of time by local standards.

Photo from a Washington Post article about traffic in developing countries
I am sure that I will feel differently after I have spent more time stuck in traffic jams, but today I thought the movement on the road was kind of beautiful. Drivers are not particularly aggressive, and it feels as though there is a kind of symbiotic relationship between cars, motorcycles, mopeds, and other forms of transit. Mopeds are everywhere and it feels as though they are swarming the car from all sides, what could be a frightening prospect for a driver used to the straightforward rules of the road in the U.S. or Europe. However, the traffic here is not fast moving, does not involve much horn honking or road rage. Where one vehicle leaves a space, 20-30 motorcycles fill in and around. It is quite something to watch and makes the commute more entertaining and bearable.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 3: Kota Tua

Yesterday, we played tourist here in Jakarta in the historic Dutch quarter in the northern part of the city. We managed to order tickets in Indonesian and boarded the train; escaping the car traffic, we had a good vantage point to watch the scenery and arrived after only about 15 minutes of transit time. As we acclimate to life in Jakarta, we are beginning to appreciate that everything in life is directly related to the amount of time it takes to get through the clogged streets and traffic jams.

We landed in the old Dutch quarter of the Old City--Kota Tua--and headed for the lovely historic Cafe Batavia. The best part was watching the busy square below us where colorful bicycles and matching helmets were being rented. Indonesians (and a handful of foreign tourists) were busy cycling the square, often 2-3 persons on a bicycle. Even better, many seemed to own a "selfie stick" with which to capture themselves in action with their smart phones. The selfie stick is simply a long rod onto which you can put your phone; it acts as a long arm so you can get good photos of you and your friends in action. Quite practical. The scene was colorful and plenty entertaining to watch. I am planning my return and outfit so I can borrow a matching bicycle to explore the square.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 2: Waking up to the Megapolis

Here's our morning view - quite a sight over a cup of morning joe!
Jakarta is a big city. In fact, it is a kind of mega, mega city with over 28 million people crammed into the metro area. My native Wyoming self is admittedly a bit shell-shocked at the population density and the sheer magnitude of a city that is reportedly in the top 5 megalopolises in the world (Tokyo and some Chinese cities are also in the running). From our Central Jakarta vantage point, the city never stops, keeping abuzz with traffic and alight with glittering buildings all night long.  Even today on what is known as car-free Sunday when two of the city's main arteries are closed to traffic, I can still hear the constant din of mopeds and activity on the streets below my dining room window!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 1: Dragon Fruit

Today, we ventured to the supermarket, only to be overwhelmed by the selection of fruits and vegetables - many of which we do not have vocabulary for, even in our native languages. Delicious manggas, passion fruit, snake fruit, durian, rambutan, lychee and other delicacies. We picked up some dragon fruit and dug right in - YUM!

A beautiful magenta color and tasting kind of like a mild kiwi, the dragon fruit was a perfect afternoon snack. We are now going to continue working through the fruit in our fridge and explore Indonesian tropical fruits. Our Indonesian classes were a good preview. When we started the fruits and vegetables section, not only the words but also the concepts were new. I guess we'll start adding new frames of references one piece of fruit at a time!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Indonesia: The First Hundred Days

It's official. The next adventure has begun. After a grueling number of transit hours and lugging our heavy suitcases halfway around the world, we are here and ready for whatever the exotic islands of Indonesia may have to offer us.

In the tradition of capturing those first, fresh moments of arrival, I plan to blog my first hundred days in Indonesia. I hope to notice, capture, and share the journey with friends and family so that you can also enjoy the newness of place and position. Enjoy the journey!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Day Job

Wonder what I do as I wander?

Mindful Teachers just posted an interview that may make you wonder or want to wander.

Enjoy the read!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Warriors of the Steppe

Recently, we enjoyed a four-day weekend and decided to get out of town while the getting was still good. It turned out to be a windy, but beautiful fall day and we traveled about 2 1/2 hours from Astana to Lake Borovoe. Watching the Steppe slowly change into hills and rocky outcroppings surrounded by water and trees was magnificent. Highlights included meeting up with friends from Astana almost everywhere we stopped (hey, there isn't a lot of nature accessible from the capital city), buying delicious honey on the roadside, paying for a "special" zoo tour on its day off, roaming around the lake path and meeting a group of young men from Aktau who were excited to meet foreigners, and just chilling out away from home.

Here's my favorite picture from our visit - three of us nomadic types getting ready to fight the onset of winter (or those rival tribes?).

More pictures, for your viewing pleasure:

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Life around 3030 or Zozo

Despite the drama and U.S. government shutdown that happened midtrip in Kyrgyzstan, I enjoyed a journey through the country. Up over the mountains, the highest roadside peak is called "Zozo" because the sign sharing its elevation of 3030 looks like the Cyrillic "Z". Real life is always outside of the capitals and cities (I've always thought this about the U.S. as well), and I had a great time bouncing over the roads of Kochkor, Naryn, and Issyk Kul. Delights were found around every corner. Take a look!

The town of Kochkor

These weavings are traditionally used to decorate the inside of yurts

Tour of the Naryn city museum with students

An evening out for shashlik

Zozo (3030)

What is that over yonder?


Kyrgyz cowboy and his herd

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Catching Up: From Central Asia to Uludag

Lucky woman was I to travel to Turkey on the coattails of students and teachers from Central Asia to attend the first few days of an international youth summer camp in Uludag. Normally a mountain ski resort, the hotels and town are converted into a summer camp paradise called Camp Future Stars. The few days I spent in Turkey this August were memorable for the great cross-cultural experiences of the campers as well as the pretty environment in Uludag and nearby Bursa. Taken out of their home environments, these kids and their chaperones took part in two weeks of solidarity-building, leadership training, sports, nature activities, and English learning. I have few doubts that given 15-20 years, these amazing young people will be the ones leading all of us forward.

I remember as a kid that when I would return from Girl Scout camp or band camp or school programs like Girls State, I would feel a kind of empty homesickness-like aching for those new friends and times we spent together. My departure from this camp has left me with similar feelings of nostalgia for our time together, knowing that an assembly of the same persons in the same place at the same time is nearly impossible.


Baseball in Uludag

Bursa city trip

Scrumptious Bursa peaches are famous and were in season

Iskander kabob