The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Indonesia: Jakarta and Bali

In the last couple months, I have written about a few mini vacations I have Hukuntsi, Kang, etc.  In the beginning of August I went to Indonesia, but this was not a mini vacation.  I went there for about 2 and a half weeks.  The impetus to go was to visit a friend of mine from high school, Rachel.  Rachel has been living in Indonesia for about a year.  We haven't seen each other since the summer we graduated from college so a visit was long overdue.

Needless to say, I had an amazing time.  I spent time in Java and Bali.  On Java, I visited Jakarta (the capital) and Jogjakarta.  In both places, I stayed in hostels.  The majority of the trip was spent on Bali.  Rachel, her dad, her cousin and some Indonesian friends of theirs live in a beautiful house/condo on the southern part of the island of Bali.  Rachel is working at the Four Seasons hotel and her dad is running the International Christian Community (ICC) organization there.  Their house almost feels like unofficial ICC headquarters.  It was great meeting all of Rachel's new friends.  They are beautiful human beings.  When Rachel was at work, I even went out and had meals with them!  I got two massages, went snorkeling, swimming, shopping...ate great food.  I saw the sultan's palace in Jogjakarta, and volcanos and rice fields in Bali.  It was the perfect combination of R&R and sightseeing.  I returned to Shoshong refreshed and rejuvenated.

Around Jakarta - notice all of the motorcycles and mopeds.  They are EVERYWHERE.  Even babies and young kids ride on them behind parents.  There are a lot of accidents in Indonesia because of the way people drive these.  But they are also really efficient and easy to get around with.

I stayed at a hostel in Jakarta.  I ended up traveling around Jakarta with this guy named John who was staying in the same hostel.  It was nice to have a travel buddy.  This is one of our stops...the largest mosque in Jakarta.  Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country.  We were there during the holy month of Ramadhan in which Muslims cannot eat or drink anything from sun up to sun down.  Not surprisingly, many came to the mosque to pray and sleep to get through the day.  Women and men are separated--women sitting on the far side, men on the near side in the photo.

I love seeing houses of worship, especially churches.  I find them really beautiful.  And I LOVE gift shops.  I go in them whenever I can.  This photo was taken at a church gift shop in Jakarta.  I found a book called "Princess Amelia."  Can you believe it?!  Best day ever!  Clearly I had to purchase it, especially since it cost me a whopping $1.

This is at a night market in Jakarta.  Somehow they were tattooing in the middle of a public square.  I am guessing they were using a generator but I found it really crazy haha.

This is my first photo of Bali.  My friend Rachel is on the left and Emma, one of Rachel's friends from Indonesia, is on the right.  We were going to this place called Krishna.  Krishna is one of the most important gods in Hinduism.  There are statues of her everywhere.  In this context, Krishna is the best souvenir shop in Bali.  In Indonesia, you have to bargain to buy almost anything.  It can be difficult to navigate for foreigners because we don't know the prices.  So it is really easy to rip us off.  Krishna has fixed prices so you can be sure you know what you are getting.  For some reason, they want to count the number of patrons they have.  So, without warning, a young woman comes up and puts a sticker on you.  Clearly a moment to remember.

This is Sisi (left) and Jen (right).  They both live with Rachel and her dad in Bali.  Sisi is Indonesian and works for ICC.  Jen is Rachel's cousin.  She moved to Indonesia about a month ago to teach.  They live in a really modern condo.

Me at the beach in Bali!

On the way to the beach, there are many souvenir shops.  Most of them sold penis-shaped bottle openers of varying colors and sizes.  So bizarre.  I really wonder who buys them...

After the beach one day, I was wandering around and came upon this Balinese ceremony.  Each island in Indonesia has its own, unique culture that is different from Islam or Hinduism.  This is a Balinese ceremony.  They play beautiful music, pray, give offerings to the gods, have water and rice sprayed on them (for lack of a better term).  It was really interesting just coming upon this scene.  And there were so many of them.  I think I saw ceremonies forming almost everyday in different parts of the island.  It is an important part of culture there.

This is another photo from the ceremony.  These are young women dressed in traditional dance outfits.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to see the dancing, but I have heard that it is amazing.

I will put up more photos of Bali in the next post!

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