Well, hello again. So I am officially horrible at blogging and checking Facebook. I could make some fancy excuses, but the truth is I am lazy. I like to watch T.V. or a movie while typing and there is no T.V. in my room and it was always too much trouble to just type. Well, I currently have the Words screen minimized and the movie “Australia” playing on the other half of my screen. It is working tolerably, but unfortunately the sound for movies in my regular computer mode is scratchy for unknown, very annoying reasons. But I am making due as I was beginning to feel guilty over not writing a blog.
This blog will just be written as a series of “Firsts.” And a way we go…
1) First time to celebrate New Year’s before everyone in the States. I spend the holiday with my Indonesian host family. They barbequed and it was a nice way to spend the holiday. I also had a bottle of sparkling apple cider that I enjoyed.
2) First time to eat shrimp. It was at the New Year’s Eve dinner. There were tasty kebabs with large shrimp. It was okay, but I didn’t really like it either.
3) Bugs are becoming a regular, if regrettable, part of life. First time (and second time as it happened twice) to find ants crawling in the peanut butter. In the States, I likely would have tossed the jar, but here I simply scooped out the ants and proceeded to have bread with peanut butter for breakfast.
4) First time to visit Makassar, the capital city of the island of Sulawesi. It was for the mid-year conference for my program AMINEF. It was just for a weekend, but it was interesting. I visited Fort Rotterdam which was built by the Dutch to protect the straits. Its layout is in the shape of a turtle.
5) First time to visit Balikpapan, Kalimantan. During my school’s week semester break, I went to visit my friend who teaches there. Balikpapan is gas and mining town. There are many expats there working in those fields, so foreigners are not quite the attraction as in other places in Indonesia. While I was there, my friend’s headmaster took us to visit the BOS Foundation (Borneo Orangutan Survival). It was very neat. It is located in a place destroyed by illegal logging. The Foundation replanted and has facilities to care for orangutans and sun bears (an endangered Asian bear). When the animals are able, they are released back into the wild. After visiting the BOS Foundation, we went to visit a crocodile farm. It was a funny place, just lots of caged areas fill of crocodiles that will eventually become purses and wallets. You could buy whole chickens to throw to some of the monster crocodiles—interesting. I liked Balikpapan, but the humidity is awful. Two minutes out the door and you are covered in sweat. It normally takes at least ten minutes in Surabaya. J
6) Although I have been sick more than I wish in Indonesia, nothing has been seriously worrisome, until the week I came back from Balikpapan. I started to feel ill Sunday tonight and didn’t sleep well. I decided to stay home Monday, hoping a day’s rest would be all I needed. However, by Monday afternoon I was worst and had a fever. I don’t normally run a fever, even when I am fairly ill. Well, I was a little worried as who knows what I am have picked up in Balikpapan? Kalimantan is slightly more dangerous for contracting diseases and I could have been bitten by a mosquito carrying something. When I had a 102 fever on Tuesday morning, I decided a doctor’s visit would be a good choice. What an experience. I was taken in a becak (a bicycle taxi) to the nearest hospital, which is also the nicest in Surabaya, so I have little to complain about in the way of the facilities. The only helper who can speak English accompanied me, but his speaking skills are somewhat lacking and I was not very reassured to be going with him (as my Bahasa Indonesian skills are very lacking I wasn’t sure if communication would be possible). Anyway, I got checked in and then waited 3 ½ miserable hours to see a doctor. There were two interns with the doctor and one of them spoke English and wrote down my symptoms. No one took my temperature or blood pressure, but they did listen to my heart. After that, the doctor prescribed an Advil-type medicine and an antibiotic that I already had for stomach issues—basically it was a complete waste of time. It all cost 6000 Rp. which is approximately $0.60 for economy service. Afterwards I learned that the helper was given the option for executive service which likely would have cost between $10 - $20 and would have meant no waiting and maybe a doctor who spoke English. However, the helper failed to inform me of this option. It was a miserable and unpleasant day, but I am none the worst for wear.
7) First time to attend a Chinese New Year’s party with a dragon dance. It was hosted by an organization in which the grandma in my host family is a member. It was really awesome to watch all the aerobatics of the dragon dancers.
8) First time to first the House of Sampoerna museum. It is one of the few tourist things to do in Surabaya. It is a museum of one of the major cigarette producers in Indonesia. It is very interesting and free. If you come early enough (which we didn’t) you can watch women hand-rolling cigarettes—hopefully I make it back to catch that.
9) First time to ride a motorbike in the rain. I was lucky to make it so long without this experience because my school schedule normally misses the rainfall. Fortunately, it was only a steady rain and not pouring (and it is a rather short ride home from school).
10) First time to visit Lombok during a long weekend. Lombok is an island near Bali that is similar but least developed. I went with friends and one day we took a boat to a neighboring island called Gili T. where there is no motorized vehicles and a very island time atmosphere.
11) First time snorkeling in the ocean. In Gili, we took a snorkeling boat ride. It was really neat, but you had to jump off the side of the boat and climbing back into the boat on the short ladder was not very easy. Jumping into the water proved to be a problem. I have funny ears and I cannot submerge my head underwater. Well, a few hours after returning from the boat ride, my left ear started to feel funny. Of course, I had gotten water in my ear and within a few days, I developed an ear infection. I was able to get the appropriate medicine, but it was an uncomfortable few days and I couldn’t hear properly for over a week.
12) First time to hold an English competition; my program hosts a competition. Each school with an American has a school competition with the winner going to Jakarta to compete against all the schools. Well, my competition went surprising well, but getting there was a little touchy. The theme used figurative language. It is unbelievably difficult to help non-native speakers understand figurative language. But alls well that ends well.
Well, that is all for now. Next week is National Exams in Indonesia, a very stressful test that 12th graders have to take. The other grades in senior high schools, 10th and 11th, have the week off and so do I. I will be traveling to Bali and Flores to visit Komodo National Park. So, hopefully I will have another blog entry soon with more interesting adventures. Selmat malam!