- (9) Azerbaijan
- (7) Bangladesh
- (13) Czech Republic / (11) Denmark / (12) Germany
- (10) Georgia/Abkhazia
- (1) Indonesia
- (3) Malaysia / (2) Singapore
- (17) Mali
- (16) Mauritania
- (15) Morocco/Western Sahara
- (6) Nepal
- (18) South Africa / (19) Namibia / (20) Botswana / (21) Zambia
- (4) Sri Lanka
- (14) Tunisia
- (22) Turkey
- (8) United Arab Emirates
- (5) Vietnam
844 days, 20,256 hours, 1,215,360 minutes, or 72,921,600 seconds. That is the approximate duration of my world tour. I never wanted it to end and now, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it never has to. If you wish to go by country do so by clicking on one above. They are numbered in the order I visited them, more or less. If you enjoy reading about it even a tenth as much as I enjoyed living it then you will not have wasted your time. Grab a refreshing beverage, settle in a comfortable chair, and make a journey across the world, experiencing it as I did. Then get off your ass and check it out for yourself. You're not getting any younger.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Area: 2 million sq. km. (736,000 sq. mi.), about three times the size of Texas; maritime area: 7,900,000 sq. km.
Cities: Capital--Jakarta (est. 9.7 million). Other cities--Surabaya 2.8 million, Medan 2.1 million, Bandung 2.4 million.
Terrain: More than 17,500 islands; 6,000 are inhabited; 1,000 of which are permanently settled. Large islands consist of coastal plains with mountainous interiors.
Climate: Equatorial but cooler in the highlands.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Indonesian(s).
Population (2010 est.): 237,6 million.
Annual population growth rate (2010 est.): 2.7%.
Ethnic groups (2000 census): Javanese 40.6%, Sundanese 15%, Madurese 3.3%, Minangkabau 2.7%, others 38.4%.
Religions (2000 census): Muslim 86.1%, Protestant 5.7%, Catholic 3%, Hindu 1.8%, others 3.4%.
Languages: Indonesian (official), local languages, the most prevalent of which is Javanese.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Enrollment--94.7% of eligible primary school-age children. Literacy--98.3% (2010).
Health: Infant mortality rate (2007)--34/1,000. Life expectancy at birth (2009 est.)--70.76 years.
Work force: 117.4 million (2011). Agriculture—39.3%, industry—20.9%, services—47.8%.
No judgment as to character, only presentation. There was the woman in front of me with the tight-ass jean shorts (complete with little hunks of ass protruding from within) and a tank top. I had all I could do to contain my inner sexual beast. There were numerous males at varying stages of mullethood and females with hair that I’m fairly certain was never ever in style. Gold chains, wily chest hair, and manboobs all made an appearance. It’s like the whole trailer park won an all-inclusive vacation to Bali.
So there I am lying on a table practically naked (except for some rather flattering paper tissue bikini underwear) getting oiled up by Indonesian male massage guy (I did not catch his name). Talk about relaxing. All I could think was, This needs to end NOW!! But it kept going, mostly because I rarely have the courage to hit the eject button in situations where misunderstandings might lead to hurt feelings. Basically, I did not want to insult the guy and felt the language barrier would prevent me from explaining myself effectively. I would be lying if I said he did not come dangerously close to the kids and I have to believe that the occasional brush of his elbow against my konker was completely inadvertent. Please let that be true. Please.
As I mentioned before adherence to traffic laws is not a Balinese pastime and it’s nothing for fellow motorbike enthusiasts to be driving down the wrong way of a one way street. (Author’s Note: It turns out that the ‘One Way’ designation only applies to larger vehicles, not motorbikes. Why would it?). It seems ludicrous until you start doing it yourself. Yesterday, I was getting passed by nine year old girls. Today, I was pushing Mach 1 (40 mph).
I refrained from feeding the monkeys as it is clear doing so turns them into raging assholes. However, if I was going to feed the little heathens I would sure as hell buy only the ‘official’ Monkey Forest bananas. Frankly, they are the only bananas I trust and, more importantly, the only ones the monkeys trust. Do yourself a favor. Do the monkeys a favor. Buy the official fucking bananas.
I was eating breakfast on the veranda outside my room (at Alam Indah, my third hotel) the other morning when an audacious, if not insolent, macaque monkey emerged ninja-like out of nowhere, nonchalantly strolled up to my table, and removed a piece of fruit from the bowl sitting there. My screams of,”Heeey!! Get outta here!!” followed by a slew of threatening gestures did absolutely nothing to deter my little friend. It only served to make him fumble with the fruit a second longer than necessary and grimace with annoyance. He then went on his merry way as if he and I had established this routine long ago. Maybe if I had it to do over again I would tackle the fruit pilfering miscreant just to get his attention, although I probably would have found myself on the losing end of that wrestling bout.
I could bore you with inane details but let’s just say these sights are fairly ancient and that no one is quite sure what the hell they really are. At Yeh Pulu I had an old woman smile at me, compliment my sarong (I did look rather fetching), bless me with holy water, ask me for a donation, and then dismiss me as if there was nowhere else for our relationship to go. I felt used and dirty.
A word about fees. At these sites they pretty much charge you for everything. I paid to park, paid an entrance fee, and paid to piss. One guy was charging people to fondle his python (reptile that is). I declined. Now all of these fees combined were less than a dollar but it really turns into a minor hassle as small denominations are sometimes hard to come by. Life’s a bitch.
It is the wet season which means of course that the tip of the volcano is frequently obscured. I did get a picture but it is not so crisp. You will also see the one of me on my hog. Born to ride. Born to raise hell (hence the necessity for the deluxe blessing).
And you know you are good when you can negotiate traffic at 40mph while chatting on the cell phone or with four mattresses somehow rolled and strapped to the back. Or how about chickens, a food stand, or ten to twelve crates? Ain’t no thang.
My deviations usually occur right after thinking, ‘Hmmmmmm….I wonder where that goes?’ It is mucho divertido but I normally end up riding down some small village road rarely seen by tourists (at least that’s how it feels).
Curious glances from the locals abound. I suppose I might react the same way if a stranger made their way down my little back road in Upstate NY doing three miles an hour on a moped and gazing around like a toddler in a fun house. Being a mega-mutant (by their standards anyway) probably does not help.
In fact, I was told that there was an important ceremony today at that very temple. It is constantly jamming and, if you can believe Wikipedia (I do implicitly making me an unapologetic wikiot), holds at least seventy festivals per year (a year being 210 days on the Balinese calendar). Mt. Agung is believed to be a replica of Mt. Meru, the central axis of the universe. In other words, Don’t F**K with Agung!
A government organization controls all guided trekking on the mountain. If you hire a guide he/she must be a member of this organization. From what I have read some of its members can become a little ‘old school Sicilian’ with those wishing to make the hike sans guide. Apparently, they can show up at your hotel, wait by the trail to see if you are guideless, or even threaten people who refuse to hire a guide. I am not sure what they threaten you with as causing bodily injury would ensure no need for their services.
Nyoman suggested a place away from the guide office to start the trek and that I should tell any discontents that I had already paid for a volcano tour the previous morning. Luckily, I had no problem. This was a great decision on my part and one of the best mornings I’ve had in a long time. As it turned out I had the volcano to myself. There was a woman near the top selling drinks and small snacks but besides her it was just I (unless you count the local monkey troop and the adorable doggy). And the views were excellent as the pictures will attest. I did have a minor standoff with Curious George and his crew but after a few threatening waves of a stick and some harsh language the tension dissipated.
On the previous afternoon Nymoan spoke to me about the people across the lake (insert eerie music here) who reside in the village of Trunyan.
The residents are reputed to be descendants of the Bali Aga, the original inhabitants of the island that predate the arrival of Hinduism. They are well-known for, among other things, their unique ‘burial’ methods, which is to say no methods at all. Bodies of the recently deceased are merely placed on the ground in the ‘cemetery’ to decompose naturally. The dearly departed are first laid within a bamboo enclosure and allowed to decay slowly.
When the process reaches a certain stage or if more space is required (I was told there is room for eleven bodies at a time in separate bamboo pens) the bones are placed in a pile adjacent to the enclosures until most of the flesh has rotted away and the bones are relatively dry. When all the flesh has dissolved they stack the bones in the designated area, lining up the skulls in a nice neat row.