Saturday, February 06, 2010

up to speed

Good day everyone! How's life on your side of the globe? All continues to be excellent here. I woke up to the sound of rain this morning and felt like it was a perfect opportunity for ketchup part you go!

First things first. Here is a little visual of where my journey through Indonesia has taken me thus far...all the way from Jakarta to Bali, that's 1195 km or 795 miles covered by train, bus, boat, motorcycle, car and on foot!

After leaving the mountainous areas in Java, I boarded the ferry and crossed over to Bali. My first stop was Medewi, the nearest possible place I could surf! I wasn't planning on going here originally, but I met an Australian girl who was traveling alone and decided to hang out for a few days. (side note: traveling alone does not equal traveling by oneself. More times than not on this trip, I realize that I have been surrounded by people constantly and need to get away for some time by myself. It's easy to make friends while traveling.) After being in Indonesia for 1 month with no ocean time, it was so good to get in the water! Medewi consists of a single road a couple hundred feet long, going from the main highway to the beach. It's a left point break with rocky bottom. The first time I went out, the local guys saw I was having a hard time getting into the waves, so they just waited behind me and pushed me into the good ones. Ha! This happens all the time here! I have had my best days surfing EVER in Medewi!

A surf competition happening one weekend I was there.

Medewi sunset...dang son!

After chillin' in Medewi, I headed for Kuta for NYE and my birthday (shut up, I'm only 2 months behind!) Kuta is an insanely touristy and dirty, but it was sweet to celebrate the New Year being surrounded new friends and throbs of people. It was like Times Square, Indonesia style.

The highlight of my birthday dinner was being sung to in 5 languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Finnish and English. And my homemade spinach pesto pasta, of course!

I also got to go on a diving adventure, thanks to my new friend Gideon, Hanna's cousin whom I met at her wedding. We had our own dive master and got to explore the USS liberty, which was sunk by a Japanese torpedo during WW2.

On drive to the dive spot...lots of rice!

After couple of days in Kuta, I was ready for some peace, quiet and good waves! I decided to head to a teensy island which lies an hour to the east of Bali, Lembongan Island. It's a beautiful place with pristine beaches, heavenly snorkeling and 3 famous surf breaks (Shipwrecks, Lacerations and Playground). I found a sweet little bungalow to stay in for $8 a night which was steps away from this:

I have a dream of living in a tree-house at some point in my life; this was the closest I've ever come. There were a few nights of VERY heavy rain during my stay. I woke up more than once to water leaking through the thatched roof and dripping onto my forehead. Solution: put my head at the foot of the bed. :)

I rented a motorbike one day to drive around the island. I met this cute little high school kid at a secret surf spot. He offered to take me around to some view points in the area. We had a great time taking jumpy pictures and making fun of my his English and my Indonesian skills.

After 5 lovely days in Lembongan, I made my way back to Bali eventually up north to begin volunteering. Since January 11th, I have been working in an orphanage called My Father's Home, located in a teeny village called Tukad Mungga. It's a pretty cool story how this opportunity came into being, a story I will save for another time. What I will say right now, however, is that I feel like I could spend the next 10 years here perfectly content. It's only been a month, but the kids with their sweaty little hands and faces have found the path straight to the core of my heart. Precious little ones.

Today's headlines at the end of the post: Bali, get ready! Mom, Bethany, Brittany, Mrs. Rovi and Donna are coming to see me next week!!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ketchup, part 1

I used to always start my blog entries the same way. Something to the tune of "I'm sorry it's been so long. Internet access has been patchy, too much homework to do, my life is boring. etc. etc." But recently it dawned on me that introducing my posts with an apology is at best boring and at worst funereal. The only thing I'm sorry about is that you've missed out on all the epic adventures which have taken place over my past month (and to my family and friends for the 10 days of incessant worrying).

So, since you've been gone...

I traveled from Jakarta to Bali by train, bus, car and motorbike. We got in a small fender bender which turned our supposed to be 10 hour journey into 14 V E R Y long hours. They took us to the police station which was more or less an automobile graveyard. Scary!

I explored Yokjakarta, one of Indonesia's most historic cities, where I saw the world's largest Buddhist temple, Borodudur. Built around 800AD with almost 3000 hand carved panels which tell Buddha's life story in chronological order, it was worth the 4 hour wait in the police parking lot.

Since I hadn't really stopped sweating since I came to Indonesia, and it was to be my first Christmas completely on my own, I decided to head to the mountains, where I at least had a chance of being in weather similar to the homeland Oregon. I found coldness!

I arrived on Christmas Eve to a magical village where the smell of sweet, bell shaped flowers filled the cool mountain air. And on Christmas day, I climbed the volcano (Mt. Bromo) and ate the best fried rice ever at the top. All in all, not a bad Christmas, although I would have given anything to play the Franger family pickle game or eat some of Grandma's cioppino soup.

On my trip to Bromo, I met some great people from Malaysia, who invited to to accompany them to another volcano called Ijen. Money was the only thing stopping me, so when they said I could crash on the floor of their hotel room, I was in. They were wonderful people and invited me to spend the Chinese New Year with them in tempting!

One of the primary occupations for men living in this area is sulphur mining. It was hard enough for us to complete the 5 mile hike. I didn't even go to the bottom of the crater (although many tourists do) because the suphur was so penetrating to the eyes and lungs. These hardcore guys make this trip carrying 198 pounds out of the crater and down the mountain, 2-3 times per day, some with no shirt or shoes for around 10 bucks a day. It was painful to witness and made me a little more thankful for my nearly minimum wage subbing jobs.

Gotta wake up at 5:30 tomorrow to be with the orphanage kids, so that's all for tonight. The rest will be saved for ketchup, part 2. Thanks for reading...much love!