Sunday, August 29, 2010

I've Finally Returned!

I've finally returned to Hawaii after spending a little over two months in Indonesia.  It's been a couple of weeks since I've been back.  The weather here in Hawaii truly is perfect.  I now appreciate the weather more than I have before and steady, warm showers.  I'm also excited to begin my new life as a student.  I moved on from my job to follow my dreams.  Now, i'm more than ready to begin working towards my goals. I can't wait for my new life to begin. 

Last week, I attended my first week of school and I absolutely love it!  I have a strong feeling that I'll make great friends that i'll keep for a lifetime at school.  Afterall, we are forced to hang out.  But I think of it as a positive thing.  I'll also get into a ton of shape this year, so I can't wait.  I honestly haven't exercised in the last 3 months since it's not common in Indonesia, but I'll try my best to keep up. 

Although I've returned, I still have a ton of writing material from Indonesia!  Until then, I hope you enjoy my Indonesian posts.  Soon, I'll continue writing on Hawaii again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ramayana Ballet - Yogyakarta, Indonesia

After visiting Borobodur and Prambanan in the morning, a couple friends and I watched the Ramayana Ballet at Purawisata in Yogyakarta.  We were told that the show at Purawisata was much better than anywhere else.  It was the perfect night to watch the show too.  The Ramayana Ballet is only shown during a full moon.  We happened to choose the right night to visit Yogyakarta!

We didn't want to eat dinner at Purawisata to save money, so instead we only watched the show which cost approximmately $14.00 ...  Then, we sat on stone benches and watched a mesmerizing performance.

While we were watching the show, I thought it was incredible, although I wish I had read a little more about the storyline.  Now, I know a little more, but for me to explain it would be a bad idea, so here's the tale for yourself: 

Ramayana Ballet

They say that the Ramayana Ballet is Asia's version of Romeo Juliet.  It is a story from India's ancient Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana.

In the begining, a man came out to bless the area before ballet began.  I would soon find out why. 

As we were watching the show, there was a scene with little kids in it.  One of them kept on messing up, which was too funny.  But afterward, one of the kids dressed as a monkey jumped onto a wall and climbed the roof, running.  He almost fell off the roof and a tourist tried running towards him, opening his arms to catch him.  An older child immediately followed to grab the little kid.  My friend sitting next to me seemed completely freaked out.  I assumed it was a part of the show that the child run onto the roof, so I was amazed by the performance.  However, i'm not so sure anymore.

We were all completely confused about the scene and later decided that maybe it was a mistake?  You tell me.  I'm still confused because some of our other friends who've watched the show said that it's a part of the scene, but others who watched it a couple weeks after us said they don't remember watching a kid run onto a roof and almost fall.  The next time I watch the show, i'll know for sure I guess! 

There was also a dramatic fire scene.  I'm glad nothing too crazy happened then.

The way everyone in the Ramayana Ballet performed was astonishing.  I can only imagine the number of years it must take to become a performer.  While the performance is happening, Gamelan music is being played in the background, adding to the performance in the most hypnotic way.

Although the performance was rather long, I felt that I was only sitting there momentarily.  I was completely immersed into the show that by the time it was over, I couldn't believe it.  It went too fast, but I was able to walk away from the Ramayana Ballet completely satisfied.

I fulfilled another 101 in 1001 goals by watching the ballet too.  I've seen the nut cracker before, but now I've seen the Ramayana Ballet.  One day, i'll return to watch another performance, but for now i'll enjoy the memories I  have of the incredible time spent amongst friends in the beautiful city of Yogyakarta.

After the performance, you can take pictures with the characters.  It's a lot of fun!  I thought the people infront of us were too funny when they took their picture. 

Prambanan Temple - Yogyakarta, Indonesia

While in Yogyakarta, I visited Prambanan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest Hindu temples in South East Asia.  Located in central Java in the city of Yogyakarta (my favorite city), Prambanan is a complex of temples that will take your breath away.

Personally, Prambanan is one of my favorite temples.  I never saw anything more beautiful!  It's hard to believe the temple was constructed by humans.

Several years ago, due to a massive earthquake in Yogyakarta, several areas of the temple have been closed off for restoration.  However, tourists can walk through the complex, entering some of the temple areas.   I was shocked to learn that the massive earthquake in Yogyakarta was the same one that generated the powerful tsunamis throughout South East Asia in 2006.  It's effects were devastating to the region.

For the areas of the temple than you can enter, be careful climbing the stairs!  They are steep and it's dark inside the temple too.  I wore a skirt and it wasn't easy climbing the stairs, while holding onto my skirt & camera.  But it was completely worth it to enter the temple.  I took a photo with a statue inside.  I couldn't believe I was inside a temple constructed centuries ago.  It was an amazing feeling.

While tourists can enter some of the temples, unfortunately the Shiva temple was closed off.  Many want to enter the Shiva temple because there's a statue inside that you can touch for good luck!  Regardless, however, the entire complex is amazing and worth the visit. 


While at Prambanan, take your time to enjoy the moment.  There's a lot to see and to take photos of while at the temple. 

For those of you interested in more information, here's some background information on the temple from Wikipedia:

Prambanan Temple

If you get a chance to visit Yogyakarta, I would recommend visiting Prambanan.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Few Fond Memories of Indonesia

While in Indonesia, I had a chance to see many interesting things.  I was able to capture some of these memories on my camera.

In Indonesia, motorcycles are everywhere.  The first time I landed in Indonesia, I took a taxi to my hotel.  On my way to the hotel, I was shocked at what I saw outside as we drove by.  My mouth dropped as I saw families including babies on motorcycles! I also saw a father riding his motorcycle with his daughter on his shoulders.  I'll never forget it. 

There are motorcycle taxis in Indonesia too.  While I never thought I'd get on the back of a motorcycle overseas, I have to admit that I did several times and I had a blast.  For sure, I'll have to ride again!

At times, you may even see people on motorcycles carrying either the most unusual items (i.e. a chicken) or an enormous load of stuff on the back of their bikes such as baskets or hay.  I found this to be interesting, while walking through the market ...

For sure, you'll see someone transporting enormous amounts of stuff from place to place ...

Another thing I love about Indonesia is that food is available everywhere you turn and it's sold in the most interesting way ... There are many of these push carts on the side of the street and sometimes, they are mobile and move from place to place.  After living in Indonesia, you'll be able to quickly identify when bread, meat balls, and corn are being sold outside of your house because there's a sound for each.

After being in Indonesia, I learned that people sure do love photos! While walking with my camera in Indonesia, I would sometimes encounter people who waved or gestured, "take my picture."  I would snap a photo and sometimes they would pose for the camera with a big smile like the young man below.  Many people were happy to be in my photos and on occassion would ask me to be in their photos too.

I hope you enjoy these photos ...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Riding a Becak - Yogyakarta, Indonesia

I finally rode a becak!  It was a goal of mine ever since I saw photos of it in my Indonesian language text books while studying bahasa Indonesia as an undergraduate at UH Manoa. 

While in Yogyakarta, I knew I had to ride a becak or else I would regret it.  I wasn't sure when I would return to Indonesia again, so I knew I had to at least ride a becak once before leaving the country.  I finally got my chance a couple of weeks ago and I'm so glad I did it!

Vis and I were shopping like maniacs while our friends were already sitting in the car waiting for our return, so we decided to take the becak to get to the car quickly. With shopping bags, coffee, and donuts in hand, we sat together in the becak screaming and laughing hysterically as the becak driver weaved in and out of traffic.  It was too much fun.

It was insane how the becak driver calmy weaved in and out of traffic amongst all of the cars, trucks, and horse carriages on the road.  I'm amazed at how much energy they have to exert on a daily basis in order to work as a becak driver, but they must be in incredible shape for it too. 

Wish I had a photo on a becak with my friend ... I guess there's always next time.

There are a lot of things I've experienced in Indonesia, a country with some of the most unique forms of transportation.  I also rode a horse carriage and hopped onto the back of several motorcyles too, which was a first for me.  I can't wait to ride another becak again!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Indulging in Ronde - Indonesia

One of most memorable foods I've had in Indonesia is Ronde, a favorite dessert sold on the streets of Indonesia.

There's no other way for me to describe ronde, except as a hot, sweet ginger soup.  It's a delicious Indonesian dessert that I only wish I had the recipe for ...  Inside, there are two or three gooey balls of dough with filling in it and tiny pieces of jelly in the soup too.  The best part is the gooey balls of dough, which I always save for last.  I wish I had words to describe ronde, but that's the best I can do.

Since ronde is oftentimes sold on the streets at night, I enjoyed eating it right after dinner, before heading home with my two younger "sisters."  It was my goal to try all flavors before returning home, but a week ago I discovered that there are more flavors than I had thought! While there are the typical flavors of orange, milk, chocolate milk, and chocolate to name a few, there are many more flavors yet to be discovered.

The first time I ate ronde, I thought it was such an awesome experience to be sitting at a table, on a sidewalk outside, eating dessert.  I'll never forget it. 

There's appetizers on the table to choose from, if you wish, but you have to pay for the items you eat.  I wondered, "How will the the vendor know if someone ate something from the table?" but I quickly learned that the honor system is still used in Indonesia.

While you are eating, there are entertainers (pengamen) that like to come by and sing  You can wave them away or give them some money, but be prepared. You'll see more than one at your table and they don't always leave right away, so carry some change on you.  I thought it was pretty funny and it truly is something to see.  I have never seen a female pengamen yet, but so far all are young men. 
While I enjoy eating ronde, it' an experience in itself.  I can't wait to eat it again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Second Homestay - Ubud, Bali

While in Bali, my friend and I had to switch homestays.  She constantly kept on getting insect bites and we weren't sure if it was bed bugs, mosquitoes, or some other unknown creature.  The next homestay was owned by a Balinese family who made their home into a business.  I felt as if I was sleeping in a temple.  It was beautiful!

I wish I could find my photos of the hotel's exterior, but I'm still searching.  Until then, here are some photos of the inside.

On the inside, our room was simple, but nice.

Next door, our neighbors were from France and Belgium, which I found very interesting.  The French man next door was very lively and talkative.  He was fascinated by the fact that I was from Hawaii because he had just purchased batik with a hula girl on it. The Belgium neighbors next door were also fun to chat with.  They thought it was funny that I found Belgium to be so interesting, but I'm not kidding when I say I want to visit.

The young man who also worked at the hotel lived in the countryside, but moved to Ubud to work.  He was one of the friendliest people I've ever met.  I tried to help him with his English for a night.  He hasn't been exposed to much of the world and has never heard of Hawaii before, but by working in Ubud, he's been learning a lot about other people and nations.

While I enjoyed my stay at the hotel, my friend and I became extremely ill from food poisoning.  It was our last day in Bali and all we could do is rest in our room, puking repeatedly for an entire day.  It was horrible, but we also began to laugh about the situation.  It was actually pretty funny.  My friend was burping up a storm.  We both had plastic bags next to our beds and we had to take turns running to the bathroom.  It was pretty gross, but we couldn't stop laughing hysterically after thinking about the people outside who could hear us.  We wondered what they must have been thinking.

I did enjoy staying at the hotel.  It looks beautiful on the outside.  Inside, the rooms are simple, but comfortable.  There's also free breakfast in the morning served with hot tea.  The bathroom was pretty nice too.  It only costs about $15.00 for a night, which I think is extremely reasonable.  The room was also clean and the staff friendly.  However, it can get a bit muggy inside and there may not be hot water at times.  But other than that, it's a great place to stay.

I would highly recommend a homestay in Bali.  For sure, I'll stay at one of these accommodations again.  Where else can you find a room that is as cheap and nice for less than $20.00?  It comes with everything you need.  Why pay more for a hotel?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Traditional Market in Ubud

Throughout Indonesia, there are traditional markets, where a variety of goods are sold by countless vendors who try to attract the attention of those willing to buy.  And of course, people go to the pasar to fine some of the finest ingredients for cooking traditional Balinese food. In Ubud, the traditional market  or pasar, is one of the highlights of the area.  Nevertheless, be warned that you will have to bargain or at least should bargain for your goods to get the best price available.  If not, you may regret paying too much for a souvenir or even a piece of fruit that costs half the price or even less!

I like to stay away from the traditional markets only because trying to bargain with the sellers can be one of the most uncomfortable aspects of entering the market, if you are unfamiliar with bargaining techniques.  I am one of those people who feels completely uncomfortable bargaining, but I attempted for the first time to barter while in Bali.

I am sure I got duped more than once, but I tried. I at least tried!  It was uncomfortable.  I bargained with an older woman for a shirt among many other sellers.  She wanted RP 150.000 for the blouse, but I bargained for less, but not for too less.  I should have went lower because I had stopped at RP 100.000, although I know I could have gotten it for less.  I felt weird about the situation, so I accepted.  The next day, she saw me wearing the blouse and said it looked nice on me, which put a smile to my face.   I'll always remember it as the first item I've ever had to bargain for...

I also had a lady grab my arm while I was trying to exit the pasar.  It was uncomfortable because she desperately wanted me to buy something from her and her grip was extremely tight!  I hadn't planned on buying any more sarongs, but I bargained with her and got an excellent deal that she wasn't too happy about it.  I felt terrible.  I always feel terrible while bargaining.  I never know how low to go or how much to settle for!  Most of the time, I get duped though, so I didn't feel too bad!

While the traditional market has a number of souvenirs, there are also fruits, vegetables, spices, and other goods that available at the pasar.  Here are some photos from the traditional market.

If you plan on visiting a traditional market, remember it's okay to bargain!  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Laundry in Bali

It could just be me, but I have an obsession with clean clothes.  In Bali, this couldn't be more true.  It's hot and humid.  There's no way you could wear the same pair of sweaty clothes twice. I had my clothes washed three to four times a week at Dede's Laundry Service.  But I had fresh, clean clothes to wear, which made it worth every rupiah spent.

Although many countries have coin laundry machines, in Bali things are quite different.  I couldn't find a single coin laundry machine and why would I want to find one anyway?  There are various laundry services available, where you can get your clothes cleaned for a reasonable price.  For several pairs of clothes, it cost approximately $2.00 USD and I didn't have to do a thing, except drop off and pick up my clothes!

For those of you who feel completely clueless about the process of dropping your clothes off at some random laundry service near your hotel, here's what to expect ...

Drop your clothes off.  Then, wait for it to be sorted into different piles (i.e. shirts, shorts, skirts, etc).  Afterward, the clerk will count how many items of clothing you dropped off and will charge you based on the type and amount.

The clerk will let you know when to return to pick up your clothes.  Always carry your receipt with you.  Then, pay after picking up your items.  You may notice pieces of colorful yarn sewn on each item of clothing, but don't worry. It can easily be removed and it's only used as a marker, so that your clothes will not get mixed up (I believe).   Your clothing will also be bundled in plastic, which makes it easy to carry.  Just remember to make sure you've received all of your clothing back!

While I haven't experienced missing clothing, my friend ended up with a stranger's underwear.  It happens.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Black Rice Pudding

A famous Balinese dessert, Bubur Injin or Black Rice Pudding is an amazing treat to satisfy your cravings for something sweet, yet unique. 

Since it takes several hours to prepare, oftentimes it's much easier to enjoy at a restaurant or to purchase at a warung.  The first time I had Black Rice Pudding, I thought it was an unusual dessert, but I liked it.  It was different and had a subtle sweet taste that I enjoyed.  Oftentimes, I have cravings for super sweet foods here, but it's almost impossible to find very sweet desserts.  Instead, Bubur Injin helped satisfy some of my cravings.

Bubur Injin is made with boiled black and white rice.  It's topped with sweet coconut milk, while it sometimes also includes banana. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Borobudur Temple - Indonesia

Borobudur Temple located in Magelang, Indonesia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Indonesia's most visited tourist locations.  Borobudur Temple, built in the 9th century, remains an important temple for many Buddhists from around the world, especially during Vesak, a national holiday celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha.

As one of Indonesia's most popular tourist spots, Borobudur continues to struggle with tourists who want to scale its walls and/or steal "souvenirs" from the temple.  If you notice missing Buddha heads, many were stolen for Western Museums or even for personal possession from what I've been told.  I have no idea how anyone could steal a Buddha head and escape!

Also, if you climb the walls, expect to be reminded on a loud speaker phone by an official at the temple that such climbing is forbidden. I actually heard the reminder while visiting ... People will do all sorts of things for a great photo. 


For those of you planning to visit, there are two rates to enter the temple.  If you are Indonesian, you only pay around RP 20,000 which is approximately $2.00 USD.  If you are a foreigner, however, expect to pay RP 150,000 which is around $15.00 USD.

My Indonesian friend purchased our tickets, but I was stopped at security.  "Dari mana?" the official asked.  I spoke softly, so he couldn't hear my accent and said "Salatiga." Luckily, I could receive the Indonesian rate with proof of my library card though.   It helped me get through!

While walking towards the temple, I was amazed by its beauty.  It's not common to see temples such as Borobudur in the West.  It's hard to believe it was built by humankind.  There's a sense of mystery behind Borobudur too.

While at Borobudur, I wanted to laugh after watching a group of school girls snap photos of these two young foreigners.  The poor boys looked uncomfortable, as the girls giggled and started taking their photo.  It was really funny! 

If you are a foreigner, expect someone to ask you for your photo.  It's very common to be asked for a photo, especially if you have blonde hair and blue eyes.

I am oftentimes mistaken for being Indonesian, but I was surprised to have someone ask for my photo. While I was walking, this young girl tapped my shoulder and held her cell phone up, so that she could take a picture with me.  Indonesian people seem to really love photos!

The temple has interesting stairs too.  You definitely have to take a large steps to climb the stairs though.  It's also extremely busy at Borobudur, but if you are lucky, there won't be too many people!  It can get extremely hot during the day.  In fact, smothering hot.  I would suggest you go to Borobudur in the early morning if possible!

If you have a chance to go to Borobudur, take a lot of photos.  Just don't climb the walls!


Related Posts with Thumbnails