Saturday, March 07, 2015
Journey to East Java
Hello guys, so I am back here in Singapore after 2 weeks at home. It wasn't all good time at home, in fact some parts of it were just plain lousy and the negativity still lingers up until now. I also got sick back home and came back here not fully healthy. Right now I am plagued with a cough which is pretty annoying. This week has been going very slowly for me :( I guess suffice to say I didn't get back here with a renewed spirit.
Anyways, story worth telling from my trip home was the trip to East Java the weekend after Chinese New Year. It was me, mom, and my aunt who went to Toraja with us. This aunt is an Indonesian Chinese from Java, so perhaps she's like Chinese Javanese? There's so many different Indonesian Chinese in Indonesia, depending on where we grow up and live and we can be so different from each other, so diverse, just like Indonesia is. Our trip was to be joined by my aunt's older brother and his wife. When I heard them talking in Javanese, which I don't understand, it just hit me how different we are. Also make me think how weird it was for my aunt the early period when she's joining my family where the family is Indonesian Chinese from Bangka, that being said I feel more like a Jakartan than a Bangkanese because this is where I was born and grow up. I could understand the Bangka language a bit, not enough to reply in it.
My mom and aunt being the fans of the early flight decided on the early flight to Surabaya. It's Garuda again, but they only gave us bread. The plane was flying pretty low that at some point we saw a beautiful range of mountains and it's awesome to see the mountain tops. Stupid me said maybe it's Bromo. It's not. My geography sucks. I'm not sure what mountains they are. I didn't get the window seat so I didn't manage to take any picture. Arriving at Surabaya's Juanda Airport, I thought it was pretty nice. I forget which terminal it was. The terminal we used later on to depart wasn't that good. My aunt's family was already waiting and with the rental car, we went straight to Batu. I've been told that the air is cooler. That was false. It's like everywhere else in Indonesia which used to have cooler weather I guess, they're not that cold anymore. Global warming is real!
First meal was soto madura with some beef parts that I didn't understand so I didn't eat those and my aunt happily ate them. It wasn't all bad but I thought it lacked acidity a bit. Onward we went and the first place we ended up in was Jawa Timur Park 2, Jatim Park 2 for short. This is the newer one. Jatim Park 1, it seems is more like an amusement park and perhaps water park and the driver said this new one was nicer. Turned out, there's an animal museum and zoo. We ended up choosing the first package to visit those 2 places. Adding a bit more will also gain us admission to the bird park or the body museum. I was just not interested in all those. I live in Singapore which has what some say the best zoo in the world which I have visited many times and I've also been to the bird park in Singapore a few times, so I'm just not that interested to visit zoo anymore, not just in Indonesia but the world in general. However since everyone agreed we should visit these places, I just went along. It turned to be a surprisingly nice experience.
I decided we should go to the animal museum (Museum Satwa) first. Entering its spacious front area with nothing much, I was thinking this would just be so small and not interesting at all. I was wrong. There were dinosaurs skeletons in the next hall and when we turned to the insect gallery and realized we got out not the same way we entered, we began to feel that this place just grew and grew.
It turned out to be really big. In addition to the dinosaurs, whale skeletons, and interesting collection of insects, there were many dioramas of animals. Now, I'm not sure if these were real animals (taxidermied animals) or someone just made this very realistic stuff animals. Either way it's very very impressive because they looked real. They also sometime have interesting poses like this one below, notice the rabbit on the right.
Another interesting one was there's this lion capturing a zebra and biting its neck. There were also polar bears which made me realized that the poster I saw earlier which I dismissed as can't be true (I mean like do you seriously want to tell me that I can see a polar bear) to be true. There were so many different animals in different regions. Some of them looked so big that I wonder if they're that big in real life. Overall it was a nice surprise that it's so big and there are many things to see. My one complain is perhaps that the air-con can be cooler.
Next stop was the zoo. My aunt's brother tore off the paper bracelet we had to wear not realizing that we got admission to 2 places and the bracelet is needed to enter both. So that meant we shouldn't take too long a time exploring the zoo because he had to wait outside. First things we saw were different kind of monkeys, one of them was chewing on plastic and that annoyed me greatly :( As with the museum, we thought there weren't many things in this zoo. As we walked, I thought we have seen pretty much all of it and I even made a remark too bad they didn't have lion and stuff. Mom was like let's find the exit. Then as we walked and walked towards the exit sign we saw more things and the exit which we thought was just around the corner wasn't really just around the corner. We saw more animals and more interesting things like this clowns fountain which leads to an adequate water park for the kids to play happily.
I began to notice many different famous characters which I'm not sure the park has license to use, like the Madagascar cast (but painted in different colours), the characters from Toy Story, and even Masha and the bear! Anyway, so we walked and walked and there are tigers, many different ones! This a glass walkway on top of the tiger enclosure. There are many things like these for high places which may make people nervous, which I don't get nervous about, but I gotta tell you standing on a glass on top of some tigers do make you think a bit. I guess many people were nervous that not many used this glass walkway.
After more walking and being offered free sample of jamu (Indonesian herbal drink) which I took the bright yellow one and I had to throw away after one sip because it tasted horrible, I think it's kencur
, we finally found the exit. All and all, we spent some hours in this park. I'm not sure how anyone has the time and energy to add visiting the bird park too. Maybe they should do it like Singapore Zoo, being able to use the package ticket to visit the different places on a different day. So anyway after that, we decided to end the day. Off we went to Tretes, like 1.5 hours away, where my aunt's family has clusters of villas which they rent out and which we can use for free. The villa we used was really big, too big for our small group. You can see mountain nearby and a nearby village or city in a distance who lighted up beautifully at night.
The plan for the next day is to do agrowisata (agricultural tourism) and visit Museum Angkut. I was most interested about going to do agrowisata because we will be visiting orchards and picking up fruits and I was like thinking it's nature, trees, fun! Not so much. For one because it's hot and two because there weren't many fruits which look appetizing. Paying the admission ticket, we get to pick 2 guavas, 2 oranges, and 2 apples. We also got some snack, a yoghurt drink which I didn't like and some toast and juice which were just okay. First stop was to the guava orchard. They all looked very green and small and not ripe. We just tried to pick the lightest green we can find. We actually picked more than we should, but no one was watching and mom ate maybe 1 of 2 of them in the process. The guavas were green but the inside were really pink and it's edible. The orchard was quite big, but I didn't explore every single corner of it because it's kinda hard walking on uneven land and one time there was a big bug flying near me.
Then to the orange orchard. Here we had a guide who's a young girl and we got to ride on their small cart, so that's nice. Again the oranges were green, but we were assured that they were edible and ripe. We didn't try any of the oranges and I am still very curious how they taste. Then it was to the apple trees. Along the way we also saw they they cultivate dragon fruit here. Interesting thing, I wonder if you can find any white dragon fruit in Indonesia. The girl confirmed that the dragon fruit they have is the red one because it's sweeter and Indonesians like that. Every time mom buys dragon fruit at home, it's always the red one and it is very sweet and also without the worms! Thank God, I still shudder when I think about that. Anyway in the apple orchard, the area where we were allowed to pick the fruits were cordoned off and it's not a very big areas. The apples looked weird. They were green, but again we're told they're edible, we also didn't try it so I am very curious and they also had very weird shapes. There were small ones, the size of a plum. Seriously I wonder how they taste :(
After that's done and we have eaten our snack, off we went to Museum Angkut which was nearby. Museum Angkut is basically a transportation museum which has so much to offer which we didn't realize at first. There's a bit of a queue going in. They check bags. I think if you have DSLR camera, you have to pay more for the camera. I only brought my ixus on this trip because I was just feeling lazy and wondered what I could do with my ixus. Upon entering the museum and seeing the many different cars, we thought this was just it. How wrong we were. Just like in Jatim Park 2, this place is huge! I think if you're a car buff, you'll get interested about this place or perhaps get annoyed if things are not displayed correctly. I'm not a car buff, so I don't get much excited. What I get excited about are the different themes and the things that they have on display. It's not just the modes of transportation, the old cars, the old bicycles, the different kind of becak in Indonesia, it's also some vintage stuff. Finding a collection of old cigarettes being sold during Colonial time in Indonesia was interesting. Looking at the different movie posters decorating the Broadway section of the museum was also interesting. Overall I think I get amused seeing what the next area is going to bring.
It's very impressive. Just like in Jatim Park 2, I'm not sure if the things in Museum Angkut are real or are reproduction. If they're reproduction pieces, they're all so cool and I wonder if it's done in Indonesia or overseas. Either way, real or not, they must have cost a lot of money and it's indeed very impressive. Impressive too knowing that places like this and Jatim Park exist in a place which is not in Jakarta. Many Indonesians perhaps think that Jakarta has everything. Well Jakarta doesn't have nice things like these. It's encouraging that these places can flourish outside Jakarta and obviously this means good thing for the economy of the people there, that they no longer have to move to the big cities for work. Having explored such large places that took some hours to complete also made me think how lucky Indonesia is that space is not a problem. Things in Singapore are small because it's a small country, but in Indonesia, you can just go crazy and build as big and as large as you like, the land is there. There's so much potential in Indonesia and it's a wonderful thing that places like these are living up to that potential. Ticket prices are not exactly cheap for Indonesian standard, but aside for the less than 10 foreigners I saw, all were Indonesians. We're doing good for our own economy :) It's not cheap but I think it's totally worth it.
After that we're all tired, somehow though it's decided we're going to go Coban Rondo waterfall. I'm quite excited about this because I actually have read about this. Reaching the places, we had to pass a small forested areas with tall trees where the air was actually cool. It's not a very long drive. It's also not a long walk from where the car park is to the waterfall, unlike the walk to the waterfall in Puncak some years back. It was an awesome waterfall. The thing about Indonesian waterfall which I have visited 3 so far is that you can go as near as you want to. You can stand under it if you like and dare. However it's quite cold that day that no one was in the waterfall pool. There's a story about the waterfall, a tragic love story which I am sure is the story in many waterfalls everywhere. Somehow after reading the story, I felt that the waterfall has this very beautiful sound about it. I like it a lot and it was just awesome to be standing there, although I was feeling cold.
On the way back from the waterfall, we noticed that there were monkeys by the path. They're quite well behaved, not aggressive like the monkeys in Bali. It was really strange that none of us noticed them on our way to the waterfall. Really weird. For pictures from the trip, you can go here
The next day, it was off to go back to Surabaya as we're leaving for Jakarta in the evening. First stop in Surabaya was to pick up my aunt's grandnephew from playgroup. Since grandma and grandpa were free that day and my aunt was around, it's decided that this grandnephew was going to spend the day with us instead of going to daycare. When I first met him, he was shy and I thought he was a girl. When I was told his name, I heard it as Clé (french word for key which would make an interesting and rather meaningful name) and I thought it's short for Chlea. I was on the fence somewhat if he's a boy or a girl even after he pointed out he was wearing a t-shirt with robot in it. After some time I was leaning to he was a boy when he was excited about the Transformers coloring book that my aunt brought for him. It was finally confirmed that he's a boy when he became more chatty and told me his name was Clayton. By this time he wasn't shy anymore and we're all friends and I could confess that initially I thought he's a girl. I actually heard his name wrongly, it turned out his name is Clay Ethan, found this out after I saw the name in his playgroup's report book. I got to thinking that Clay itself is a very meaningful name. He comes from a strong Christian family and I think his name can be seen as hope that he could be moulded into a vessel for God's blessing.
We spent the morning visiting my aunt's relatives and the boy took an interest at me, which I thought to be rather strange because I didn't do anything special, but somehow he wanted to hang out with me. He's a very bright bright boy. I'm not sure what kind of things a 3-year old could do, but he's very bright. He could remember where his dad hid keys (3 different places), he could wear his own clothes including socks! He's witty, eats well, could just be creative and imaginative and plays with clothes pegs, speaks clearly, and basically just be very articulate in conveying his thoughts and his observations. He attempted to write his own name, an attempt which my mother tried to stop in fear his head was gonna explode, but he did it correctly except for adding an extra y at the end. I think it's because his first y wasn't looking so great. Anyways, the second place we visited was this train station which I couldn't remember the name and it was quite old. We didn't know it's a train station until we came out a door and saw there's a train, that made me and Clay to be quite amused, but he thought the noise was too loud. Why were we here? Because my aunt's other older brother works for the train station so we visited him at work. Here Clay asked me for the first time which church I went to. Without thinking, I honestly answered I didn't go to church. That got him pretty stunned and speechless, at which I could only laugh. My aunt told him to ask me to go to church. I thought of my answer and when this story was told to my dad, he said just say you go to the Cathedral. Lying would make it easy, but I feel I should tell the truth because if it's my kid, I would want him to be told the truth. Of course this may lead to some complication if he decides to ask his parents about this. I wonder if they're gonna say I'm going to hell. I don't think it will lead to him bailing from going to church though because he's such an obedient boy too. He asked me again about this when we're at his grandparent's house and I said I don't go to church, I sembahyang
, an Indonesian word to pray. Well there are 2 Indonesian word to say to pray: berdoa and sembahyang. The root of the word sembahyang is sembah
which simplistically can be translated to worship. This word is used to indicate the praying activity of religions other than Christianity and Catholic in Indonesia because I guess there's a physical or a ritual thing we do when we pray for example in the chinese tradition. Anyway, I then wondered if he thought I'm a muslim because I used the word "sembahyang" so I said like the Chinese do and asked him if he had ever seen the Chinese prayer. He said no. Well as I said, he comes from a strong Christian family.
Before we went to his grandparent's house, we went to Taman Bungkul because for some reason my mom really wanted to see it. It's this public park in Surabaya. It's not very big, but Surabaya is just awesome for having this and also for having a lot of trees and a clean river compared to Jakarta. Jakarta is so far behind. There are some playing area for the kids and Clay wanted to play on them but when his grandma said no, he listened. There's also this small fountain which I thought was ordinary but Clay thought it's cool, because it shoots water up and the water goes down and it'll shoot up again. Here he started to want to hold my hand. Something which strangely made me feel rather weirded out. I know I want to have kids (though I gotta admit the whole pregnancy and giving birth thing freaks me out) and when Clay wanted to be near me, it's a good nice feeling, but somehow I feel like I would be tied to this kid and be responsible for him, and I don't know if I want all that. It's still very sweet though that he wanted to hold my hand and be near me. Then he also wanted to sit at the back with me in the car which had space for me only since we had a lot of bags at the back. At one point, he had to sit in my lap to be more comfortable. That wasn't the most comfortable thing I've ever done and that made me think of all the parents who have had to have their kids sitting on their laps. It made me think of all the responsibility of being a parent and as much as I want kids, I begin to think there are so many things that I am not prepared about. Really the whole having a human being tied to you, you have to care for, you just can't be individualistic anymore. They'll say you'll just know what to do when the kids actually come, but perhaps God is really right seeing how mentally I am just a soloist right now. Anyways, for that day, it's just so great to have someone to just like me and want to be near me, basically I felt loved as silly as that sounds. Seriously people who get me and like me are either really old people or young kids. I don't fare well in my own age group :(
Okay that's the story from the trip, now on some thoughts I have being in Indonesia.
- It's interesting hearing my aunt speaking Javanese and hearing Javanese a lot all over. One morning, one of the grounds keeper of the villa, an old man was speaking to me in Javanese about direction. I didn't understand anything at all and just said okay and followed him :P The strange me somehow feel that the word "sampeyan" which means you and "ngawur" which means wrong to be quite rude to use. It's not at all actually. When I think about it, I think it's because in Indonesian in a formal setting or to show respect you wouldn't use the word "you" to address someone you're talking to. You'll address the person with the equivalent of Mr, Ms, or Ma'am in Indonesian. For example, I never use the Indonesian word for you to address my mom and dad. In Javanese it seems to be alright to use the word "sampeyan". A quick google just now told me that the word "sampeyan" is just the universal word to replace all the Mr, Ms, and Ma'am. What's also kinda funny was realizing that Clay has a slight Javanese accent in the way he speaks. Really, where you grow will influence you a lot.
- The execution of members of the Bali 9. Well this just gets out of hand. I'm not all for capital punishment, because to make a decision on someone's life is a very big cross to bear. However if that's the way the law is, people should just shut up and respect it. I think the Australian is making too much noise about this and I am annoyed. If their ground for protest is humanity, why weren't they loud when the Bali terrorists were sentenced to death. I'm not defending terrorism, but seriously all these people and organizations protesting the death penalty, what say you when the Bali terrorists were executed? Following what our president said, these drug criminals cause a lot of victims, in the millions, which is definitely more than what the terrorists did. Also if this had been America doing this, would the Australian have been as vocal? One of the Indonesian TV station pointed out that Singapore had also executed an Australian before and there was no boycott Singapore at that time, unlike #boycottBali which they've been doing this month. Seriously the more the Australians say silly things, the more annoyed we get. This week they took offence with the photo of the police chief smiling as the convicts were being transported. Seriously, I don't think he's happy at their plight, I think it's more like he's saying his good bye, smiling and wishing them well. Indonesians have this tendency to want to leave things on a good terms. Also when you're about to die, would you rather be in a stressful situation or be in a situation where people around you smile to make you feel better and feel like everything is going to be alright? Knowing Indonesians, I'm sure people around them will be trying to comfort them and be all smiles trying to lessen the stressful situation. Indonesian news also reported that as they were transported, they were calm and nicely said good bye and than you to fellow inmates. Much has been said about they being reformed and finding God. I'd like to think that in this situation they would have accepted their faith and believe that God will be with them and everything will be alright. When this topic came up when my uncle came to the house, he had a more practical solution. Australia should just offer money to get his people back and we could get rid off these people and get money to do good things, like we can have more rehabilitation centres and such.
- The big news in Jakarta these days is the fight between our Chinese governor and the house of representative. To which I can only sigh. My mom asked what happened. Well it's like this. The governor has the right to make the budget for the city. The house of representative can give input and monitor this budget. Then this budget should be submitted to the ministry. The fight happens because the budget submitted by the governor is different from the budget that the house of representative has. The fact that the house of representative has their own version of the budget is already wrong and then their budget asks for much much more money with questionable items in it. Our governor is crying foul and saying this is their corruption methods. Seriously some of the things mentioned in the house of representative budget, I feel like throwing stuff, for example billions of rupiah for questionable electricity equipment for a school. Hello, with that billions of rupiah, they can build a whole new building and you're only giving them an equipment which many have said is of no use or incompatible to be used for the school?!?! There are really many bad people in Indonesian government, it's so so disheartening. Are there really not enough good people in this country? Can politic really corrupt the morality of these people? What's more tragic is that because of this budget drama, many Jakartans civil servants haven't gotten paid. In America this would mean government shut down, but in Jakarta there's no such thing. So I really salute all these people who still work and they don't even demonstrate in protests. One time the tv was showing this poor lady who's making very little money as a road sweeper and she hasn't been paid for 2 months and yet she's still working. All those people in the house of representative who are screaming saying the governor has no etiquette, trying to save their asses and get the money they think they're entitled with, are so heartless. They should be representing these poor people and make their lives better and yet they only care about winning in politic. One of these people being interviewed in tv said that if in the end they could get rid off the governor, then it will be a bonus. It's very obvious in they way he spoke, he doesn't care about the truth, the right thing. For them it's all a game in which they fight hard to be the winner. They are really demoralizing me, crushing hope that our country can be better :(
- On a lighter note. I slept more back at home. I really love my bed. I usually went to bed by 9 something and I think I got like more than 9 hours of sleep except for nights when I couldn't sleep like during the trip. Yes, this sleeping issue still haunted me even back at home. However when I did get that really long sleep, I felt really good. It's like paying back for the lack of sleep here. Too bad being back here, I'm back to not being able to sleep well.
Okay that's about it peeps. This has been a really long post, even so there are so many things that I think I miss out. Next week I'm gonna turn 33, love the number but dreading dreading dreading as usual.
:) eKa @ 4:19:00 PM •