Terima kasih!


Someone pointed out to me recently that, based on my blog posts, it seems I have an altogether negative view of the things I’ve experienced while in Indonesia. It is true that I have focused mainly on the travesties of public transport, corruption, and environmental destruction in my blogs. I blame this on my Seinfeld sense of humor, in which one uses comedy as a way of understanding the parts of life equivalent to bags of dog shit left in your bicycle basket. (This is not a canonized metaphor or anything, just an experience I can relate to.) And unfortunately, I sometimes find it hard to talk about the wonderful things I’ve seen without sounding cliché. Often I couldn’t even find the words to describe the feeling of delirious, stupid-grin joy that came along with them. So as I sit here thousands of miles from Java, doing Western things like exposing my knees and flushing toilet paper, I will try to create a list of the best things I can recall from my two months in Indonesia:

  • Sitting cross-legged on front porches drinking local, shade-grown coffee as the firework crow of a Javan hawk-eagle splinters the air
  • Whipping around mountain roads on the back of an ojek, with a view of terraced rice paddies, organized like a batik pattern, and tail-flicking water buffalo
  • A man that created a Personal Hotspot for me when I needed Wi-fi, and then introduced me to his daughters over a slice of cheesy-bite pizza
  • The Chinese store owner from San Francisco that empathized with our stomach problems while we frantically picked out batik fabric
  • A baby gibbon with a rounded belly and the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on an animal
  • A certain woven hammock at a rescue center that was perfectly distanced from the mosque, making the Call to Prayer float over the valleys like a hollow wind
  • Yogyakarta and pesto spaghetti and goat cheese crepes and red wine and ice cream espresso and vegan burritos
  • Two Indonesian sisters that finally understood our aversion to photographs with strangers, and helped us shout Tidak photo! as we wound our way, hands clasped, through a market
  • My disbelief at my first sighting of a slow loris, whose eyes I was convinced were kids with two burning flashlights up a tree
  • Long nights of Kabu and charades accompanied by a stream of French rap played over YouTube
  • Chopping buckets of fruits and vegetables for rescue animals while a Dutch psychotherapist and volunteer gently explained away all of life’s problems
  • The tree-sheltered streets of Bandung, decorated with colorful charms and windchimes
  • Chanting Just say yes! as a man who called himself Superman led us, sweaty and losing hope, to an unknown destination (which turned out to be a batik art studio where I spent a disastrous amount of money)
  • Laughing through the delirium that comes along with lack of sleep and having nothing sane left to talk about
  • The blissful calm that is an Indonesian man with a cigarette, casually and cross-legged observing his world
  • The satisfaction of hearing a langur alarm call, which means that you may only get a glimpse of their shaggy black tail but that they are still wholly wild

And finally:

  • Sadhbh Wouldyougoonouttaherewiththat! Quinn: for her fierce love of Irish culture and warrior princess headbands
  • Nam’s Naan Money: for her cooking abilities and affinity for some hostel in the woods in Georgia
  • Ibu Lina Fransson: for her much-needed hugs, encouragement in song form, and eloquent morning conversations
  • Mumu “Smart Cookie” Vergniol: for her heroic rescue of Aubergine the moth and the four months it took to choose a movie for Mopie Night
  • Joshua Steven Theopillus: for being my travel buddy and cat whisperer and because he likes using his full name
  • Sharon All I Do Is Win McCabe: for sticking with me through the “Americans write the number 6 differently” fiasco
  • Alex Shitty cat! Duverneuil: for teaching us French swear words and almost breaking the coffee table with his card-tapping abilities
  • Abdullah Langgeng, aka Oneng’s adopted father: for climbing 400 steps with me and driving through Garut in the pouring rain
  • Sarah, Josh, and Francesca: for almost choking to death on volcanic sulfur dioxide for my research and bringing Britain back into my life a few weeks early
  • Professor Tom Lloyd: for our academic conversations and his love of creative writing
  • Aconk Hey motherfucker Ahmad: for his candid photography sessions from across the street, his dog Nipples, and, of course, his hair
  • Pak Dendi Rustandi: for laughing at me as I slid down the muddy mountain on my butt for my first and only night observation
  • Yiyi, Rahmat, and Adin: for kicking all of our asses at Kabu and making sure our house continues to function
  • Wita Women strong! Astika: for long life talks on the motorbike and her ability to immediately make friends with strangers
  • Eka I touch dog for first time! Kartini: for talking me through my first night in Indonesia and generally doing things her own way

You guys rock.

Kelsey, Volunteer