Off to the big J

So, I’m just wrapping up language training now and will be heading off to Jakarta on Saturday, starting work on Monday. All pretty exciting and somewhat frightening. Would be better if I wasn’t still struggling with ailments. I’ve been getting pretty relaxed and comfortable here in Jogja, so it’ll be a big change of pace hitting the big smoke and starting work. I did have some grand plans for my last week, but afternoon classes and a throbbing ear don’t make adventures easy.

Geckos are cool. I spent a while at dinner tonight watching one creep out from under the TV, then he’d eat a few ants and scamper back. Usually they’re on walls and ceilings, but this one was getting a fine feed on the ground. There are some really tiny cute ones around too. Oh, and the bats. They are amazing. A few times, some of us have been sitting at the table upstairs, which is probably not best described as an upstairs patio, but I can’t think of anything better. Anyway, the bats fly through it; essentially flying into a room, around it, then straight out again. Show me a bird that can do that quickly and without flying into anything, getting stuck, scared and or crapping everywhere. I like birds, but you have to admire the navigational skills and agility of bats.

Yesterday, after a couple of days of build-up, we had a huge dumping of rain. It has been raining at least a little most nights, but after a couple of days without significant rain, it bucketed down in pissloads for hours. I waded to class through it, wearing my bag on my front under my jacket, giving me the healthy bulge of a pregnant woman. Before that however, I tried to take some photos of the rain, for those in less soggy climes.

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As I type this, the TV in the cafe is on Star Sports, which is showing an x-box soccer match. Guys playing video games is being televised as a sport, with serious commentary, production values; the whole deal. Something is seriously wrong…

Here is me looking vaguely concerned.

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Hello.

Long week

This week’s been a rocky one and a good reminder of why the tropics aren’t always as idyllic as they sometimes seem. The heat and humidity mean that everything grows at an alarming rate, including infections.
On Monday or Tuesday night, I was feeling a slight tickle in the back of my throat, like that of an impending cold and while I tried to take it easy, I ended up having a pretty bad sleep for no apparent reason and woke up, not only with the cold, but an outer ear infection. I went to bed without even feeling it, then halfway through the night I could no longer sleep on that side because it hurt and was uncomfortable.
As the routine here is breakfast at 7 every day, if you want to sleep in, you get up, have breakfast, then head back to bed and try to snooze for another hour or 2. So, that accomplished and still feeling like death (who’d been punched in the ear), I headed to class then decided I was too ill. After some handy advice from John and Yvette, 2 nurses/trainers/educators going to work in a hospital in Bali, I shot down to the Apotek (chemist) for some remarkably affordable antibiotics. When you’re paying less than a dollar for a full course of antibiotics, you start to realise how extortionary prices can be elsewhere.
A couple of days feeling like zombie who’s been attacked with clubs and I was much better. Pretty much back to normal now.
So, that pretty much took the excitement out of the week, or was the excitement for the week, depending on your perspective.
There were further developments in the paypal debacle, which I won’t bore you with; suffice it to say that I have all my money back now.
This morning, Yvette and I headed out to see the Borobudur Temple, a couple of hours out of Jogja. A very impressive site in a beautiful location, if a little overrun with tourists and people tenaciously trying to hock trinkets to you. We were rather proud that we did it on our own on local buses, not through a tour. All the credit must go to Yvette however, because she did all the research and knew what we were doing.

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I also have an interesting possibility in the pipeline, which I’ll elaborate on later, when I know more about it.
So, after this week I’ll be heading to Jakarta and starting work. I’d say you won’t be hearing from me so much because I’ll be too busy, but it’s sometimes good to unload here and I’m more likely to write things if my life is eventful.
I hope to scan, or at least photograph some more sketches soon. It’ll be great when I get my own place and can spread out get my art stuff set up.

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Looks like WordPress is playing up on me for the while, so just head over to my flickr to see some recent photos. Will post them once I fix whatever’s wrong. (*Ed. Fixed itself. Sweet.)

Stallone and Pele Vs the Nazis, a volcano, murals and too much coffee.

So, as I write this, I just walked into the cafe and there’s a movie playing on the tv featuring Stallone, Pele and Michael Caine playing football against the nazis. I’m sure if I’d know of this movie’s existence before, I would’ve sought it out and watched it. Upon googling “stallone pele football nazis”, I discovered the movie is called Victory, made in 1981. Who would’ve thought such a movie existed?

Ok, time to backtrack a bit. On Saturday night, rather than the usual fare, myself and the other AVIs decided to climb a volcano. The tours leave at night and you climb through til sunrise, because at any other time of day, it clouds over and you can’t see anything. Unfortunately, when we climbed, there hadn’t been the usual afternoon downpour earlier that day, so it was clouded over for us anyway. I must admit, we didn’t make it all the way to the top, because once we reached the plateau, about an hour from the summit, we were exhausted, it was freezing cold, blowing a gale and so cloudy we’d have no view anyway. We decided to get away from the plateau, where the cold wind was strongest, and hunker down in a cave to watch the sunrise before heading back.

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Despite the difficulties, it was worth it, as you can see from the pictures I took on the way down. Surprisingly, I wasn’t as sore as I was fearing the day or two afterwards.

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On the way back from the mountain, at about 8am, after not having slept, I was taking photos from the van. At some point, I passed out, camera still in hand. When I woke with a start, almost home, the camera wasn’t in my hand, so I figured I had put it back in my bag and thought nothing of it. About an hour later, I get a call from the tour company saying they have my camera and I need to come in and pick it up.

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The next day, I head in there, get the camera and walk the long way home from the center of town. Near the main street, a bridge crosses the river and on the steep banks, there are some great, colourfully painted little houses, which I’d been meaning to photograph and did. Taking one of the longer, alternative routes home, there’s a long wall enclosing some kind of compound, which is covered in interesting murals I’d also been meaning to capture. It turns out, they all carry some kind of environmental, social or health and welfare message, so must have been commissioned by the city.

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More commentary on all the pictures in this post if you click on them and see them in my flickr. Za.

I think all the coffee I drank today is slowly working it’s way out of my system. I had one or two before class to wake me up, one between classes to keep me awake, then accidentally got locked out of my homestay, so I wandered around for a while, drew stuff, then got another, unexpectedly strong coffee. When I got here I was buzzing so much it made typing hard… I came here to get some work done, but there are guys near me playing Guns ‘n Roses, which is making it hard to concentrate… OK, they’re gone now. To work it is!

Jogja update

Well, I’ve just done my first week of language training and it’s been a good week. Think I’m adjusting to the tropical climes finally, which is nice. Been getting out and doing a few things, the next of which will be climbing Mount Merapi, a volcano, tonight/tomorrow. Should be good fun. We get picked up at 10pm, start hiking around midnight and should be at the summit for sunrise, around 4am. I love ridiculous adventures.

Earlier in the week, we headed into the bird market, near the center of town. It was interesting, but a little disturbing. It wasn’t just birds, but all kinds of animals in small cages, probably not being fed or hydrated enough. Off the top of my head, there were mongeese, turtles, bats, monkeys a woodpecker and many more.

Another day, I went for a rather expensive swim at a fancy hotel, which was very much worth it, especially considering the real, hot shower and the free juice from the bar included in the price.

What else? We checked out the Kraton, the sultan’s palace, which was pretty interesting. We then went to a batik material making co-op and shop, where we got to see them making batik. A long and complicated process, which makes you appreciate the effort that goes into good batik.

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Last night, we headed into town to get a feed, then watched a shadow puppet/gamelan performance. While eating dinner at a street restaurant, we were serenaded by a 5-piece band (including banjo). By serenaded, I mean, they played us a couple of popular songs. Funny stuff though and they weren’t bad. The performance was pretty interesting too, but we came in late and couldn’t follow the plot.

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Also, for some reason, I keep seeing the same crazy transvestite around town. It’s weird.

By “we”, I mean myself, Nina, Ollie and Yvette, my fellow AVIs here doing language training.

I also got out and took some photos of the murals around the place, which I’ll post more of later. I’ve had time for sketching too, but no scanner.

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OK, I’m racing the battery here and have been the internet way too long today (dealing with fraudulent purchases on my paypal, which seem to be all sorted now). More soon, hopefully with pictures from the volcano!

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Also, go and read The Gloom, over at The Chemistry Set if you’re into hilarious comics. Enjoy!