Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Indonesia, day 1: Arrival

My local vegan friend in Indonesia was about to leave the country, so it was deemed the right time to go see the living conditions of the students there to see if this was a place to build an eco-community as I had been thinking. And since I've been thinking of moving to Singapore next, that should be visited on the way back. I took Singapore Airlines to Jakarta as their online booking thing was broken in that I couldn't get the flight I wanted to Solo City. They had such a fun interactive language learning thing that I almost forgave them for not finding me vegan margarine, especially since they made the funny move of drawing to my patriotism instead by offering me Finnish butter! Anyhow, you get to select a language you speak and something you want to learn, so given the circumstances I wanted to brush up my Indonesian and decided to use German as the one I speak to get it off its rusty stage. It had a dozen other languages too, I could've spent a long time with that thing!

You can't book Indonesian flights from abroad, so the way onwards from Jakarta was uncertain until the very last minute. Eventually a friend of the friend got me a ticket, and she also gave me a very short tour of the city and took me to taste gado-gado. It's a traditional Indonesian dish, basically a salad with peanut sauce (a tad spicy). Do ask for it without egg (tanpa telur) and it should be vegan, although I hear some put fish sauce in it so make sure you don't run into that.

Over in Solo City I got a tropical welcome with a lei (flower necklace, that's the term for the Hawaiian one, not sure if the Indonesian one has a different term) placed around my neck. It was possibly the prettiest airport I've seen anyway, which comes as a benefit of it being tiny. See the picture on the left. Yes, that's the airport. My friend came to meet me up then with a bunch of students who started immediately testing the limits of my Indonesian while pushing their English on the limit also. However, we arrived nicely into the village where I was to stay around a Buddhist temple.

The living conditions left much to be desired, the main thing I desired to be added would've been a shower, as the place to wash was just a tap from which there would come cold and not so clean water, most of the time. Sometimes there was no water. There were no beds either, but a mattress on the floor is good enough for me, at least on the nights that I hadn't just faced a huge cockroach (8 times the size of those in Beijing!) or the rats. The people were fun, however. I got an immediate task of teaching tango to some that very night. I can't sleep on planes so I made it an early night after hanging out with the kids for a while.


Riesa said...

Is there anything delicious and not spicy?

Travegan said...

Well, you can have the tempeh or tofu without the chili they tend to give you... Generally it seems Indonesian food is relatively spicy. There are lots of yummy tropical fruits, you'd enjoy those!

riesa said...

Hmm, tofu doesn't sound exciting to me, but what's tempeh?

Tropical fruits... Did you make JAIR there?

Travegan said...

Tempeh is an Indonesian thing... It's made of soya beans, but fermented into a cake form. The texture is quite different from tofu. In Helsinki you can find some expensive but good tempeh from Ruohonjuuri which is close to Lasipalatsi... lemme find the address... Salomonkatu 5. There's cheaper tempeh to be found in Vii Voan which is close to Hakaniementori, but it's not as tasty.

I didn't make JAIR in Indonesia since I didn't have a blender or access to a freezer, unfortunately... I'll make some tonight now that you reminded me. :-)