Thursday, September 18, 2008

Indonesia Trip

Heading to Indonesia in 5 days. Starting in NY. It will take 4 planes and 28 hours to get there. I don't know if this kind of trip will be possible in the near future.

I am not excited as usual about the prospect of this trip. I am anxious. My tooth, damaged many years ago in a freak double front flip gymnastics accident, has started to bother me. My knees ache like normal for this year. I will not be able to walk far

Pictures shot using a Nikon D200 with a Sigma 28-105mm lense. Just got it used, using money from a bus company check worth the amount of my last camera Nikon d40 which was stolen by an evil bus driver in Manhattan

"Indonesia" Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia. It is above Australia. Comprising 17,508 islands, it is the world's largest archipelagic state. With a population of 222 million people in 2006, it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation, although officially it is not an Islamic state. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected parliament and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. almost 86.1% of Indonesians declared Muslim according to the 2000 census.
there are around 300 distinct native ethnicities in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects. The largest is the Javanese, who comprise 42% of the population, and are politically and culturally dominant. The Sundanese, ethnic Malays, and Madurese are the largest non-Javanese group.
Chinese Indonesians are an influential ethnic minority comprising less than 5% of the population. Much of the country's privately-owned commerce and wealth is Chinese-controlled, which has contributed to considerable resentment, and even anti-Chinese violence.
"No thats not the Bulge effect on Photobooth, thats just my face." Me at the beginning of the Journey to the Archipelagos. I was worried about the difficulty of finding the right island for good emergency dental care. So rather than face the uncertain prospect of a swiftly deteriorating dental situation. I preemptively struck at the root of the problem with a local dentist. This is three days post-op. Day and a half to go before we leave. I hope that the stiched come out fine and that it does not get infected while on a remote island
"Fishermen's morning commute" Dawn in Bali on the south side of the island maybe an hour southwest of the main city of Den Pasar. We had arrived at the main airport of island late the previous evening. The smell of incense and clove cigarettes hung heavy around the airport like the dugs of an old dairy cow. This smell pervaded many scenes during our trip.
There was a fishing launch on the beach right in front of the hotel where we were staying. The beach was strewn with trash as is common throughout Bali. Native people there seem to have no regard for the accumulation of rubbish. We once went to a marriage ceremony inside a family compound. This is a walled enclosure with a series of buildings in which several members of an immediate family live.
The guests were hundred or so guests were given plastic bags filled with water to drink with and once finished most guests dropped the bags wherever they were. The pieces of garbage were discarded all over the yard inside the families compound. Nobody thought twice about creating a garbage pail, or leaving the pick up job for the host family.
"We're going on a fish hunt... Can't go under it. Can't go around it. Have to go over it."
Balinese naming rituals. Got this off the internet it is long and very detailed. I might skip it. In Balinese culture if you are the first born ( male or female ) you will be called either Putu, Wayan or Nengah. Second born will be called Made or Kadek, third born Nyoman, Ika or Kamang, fourth born Ketut. If you are #5 you go back to 1.
Then finally there is a given name, which might be something like Yuliasih for a girl and Jembrana for a guy. These names often have a spiritual meaning and it is not surprising to find that many of the names translate into something very interesting eg Anugerahi= gift of the gods and I have seen Christians (yes, they still use their Balinese names) with names like Kristiawati and Paskawi.
The Wesia or artisan caste (curiously many of the royal families fall into this caste- there is a good historical reason for this!) follows a similar pattern to the Sudras except that their caste titles are I Gusti and Ni Gusti.
the Brahmanas at the top have the titles Ida Bagus (’he who is handsome’) for guys and Ida Ayu (’she who is beautiful’) for girls. The Satrias or warriors (including some of the royal families) have the title Anak Agung (’lofty person’) and only if you are familiar with Balinese names can you differentiate the males from the females on paper.
You might see Ni Luh as a prefix for women sometimes. This used to be the title for royal concubines.
Now that you have this straight, you might like to know that every Balinese also has a secret name, not told to anyone so as to fool the spirits. And, just to make it interesting, it was common in the past for people to lose their names altogether upon becoming parents, assuming the title of Pan “father of” and Mem “mother of”. Grandparents assumed “grandfather of’ and’grandmother of’. Great for establishing clan relationships in a society without family surnames, but a horror for outsiders.
And, let’s not forget the assuming of new names if something momentuous happens in one’s life eg inheritance, obtaining a wealthy wife/husband. Not so common nowadays, but still heard of!
"Timing is everything Odysseus, and don't be so prideful."
On Bali 90% of the people are Hindu/Animist

The Balinese caste system is a system of social organization similar to the Indian caste system. However, India's caste system is far more complicated than Bali's, and there are only four Balinese castes.

The four castes of Bali are:

* Sudras - peasants making up more than 90% of Bali's population
* Wesias - the caste of merchants
* Satrias - the warrior caste, it also included some nobility and kings
* Brahmans - holy men and priests.
We had a driver once who said one of the first questions he asks someone if he can't tell what caste they are from their name is "where do you sit." I assume this is a polite way of asking which caste are you in. Also i asked a waitress once what caste she was in and she said she was Wesias but that she would be cremated with the Sudras because her husband was Sudra.

The members of the four castes use different dialects of the Balinese language to address members of a different caste. Middle Balinese is generally used to speak to people whose caste is unknown in an encounter. Once the caste status of the participants are established, the proper language is used to address each other.
"Poseidon is the father of the Cyclops and look at what he can do."
Wall of Poseidon that the fishermen face each morning. I wonder how this ranks on their scale. Is this normal or heavy traffic? Couldn't possibly be light.
Bali is a famed tourist destination. Primarily due to the culture of its people. They are an island of Hinduism in a sea of Islam which sooths the jangled western nerves. Their beautiful and regular ceremonies provide many opportunities for culture vultures. And also they are famed throughout the world for being in general incredibly nice people. I would argue in a Jared Diamondesque slant, that it was the environment of the island that at first cultivated the common spirit of cooperation.
It all goes back to food and water. The society of Balinese was for thousands of years based on rice production. Rice production requires lots of water at regular intervals. This lead to an elaborate system of irrigation and terracing. he Balinese do not use storage devices in their irrigation systems. Therefore the succes of irrigation depends heavily on an accurate judgement of the seasonal flow of rivers and springs.

Small differences in water depth or changes in timing the alternation of wet and dry cycles can have a major effect on the terrace ecosystem, directly affecting the crop yields. he irrigation community and its sub-communities is marked by temples. Taken from the top and downwards, the primary water temple in Bali is Pura Ulun Batur, located along the rim of the crater of Lake Batur. The Temple keeps a list of 204 "subaks", sub-communities, which constitute the primary congregation of the temple.
The subaks are all located within the boundaries of four rivers, and they all belive that the godess of Lake Batur is responsible for the gift of water they receive in their fields. Pura Ulun Batur marks the watersource of the entire irrigation system.
So as you can see. There has been this incredible pressure towards cooperation has been at the very stomach of Balinese civilization for thousands of years. So thats why they are so nice today. But also because now their economy is primarily based off of tourism so the niceness will continue although maybe less genuinely
"Battleship Pinklactica makes it"
after waiting 5 minutes or so the fisherman in the yellow shirt sees an opening and guns the small engine. I don't if he is looking back at me or if he is just turning his head to avoid getting spray in his eyes.
The town where this fisherman launch was is called Yeh Gannga. Which is pronounced Yay Ganja. No joke. Also the hotel were we stayed at had the best coffee we tried on the island and also the best mie goreng which is an indonesian breakfast of friend noodles and vegetables. The more common breakfast is nasi goreng which is fried rice and vegetables.
On normal days the Balinese don't usually eat together. The mother or grandmother of the family compound will make a big bowl of rice and a big bowl of vegetables and people will come and eat it when they get hungry throughout the day. I like the time efficiency of this system
"Family temple blessing ceremony, Heat of Day at Fisherman's launch"
This is a family temple blessing ceremony. It is taking place on the same beach where the fishing boats launched from. I think they pray and also bring back some water from the ocean to purify there family temple in their village.
3% of Indonesians are Hindu. Most Indonesian Hindus are Balinese. though now minority religions, Hinduism and Buddhism remain defining influences in Indonesian culture.
Islam was first adopted by Indonesians in northern Sumatra in the 13th century, through the influence of traders, and became the country's dominant religion by the 16th century. Roman Catholicism was brought to Indonesia by early Portuguese colonialists and missionaries, and the Protestant denominations are largely a result of Dutch Calvinist and Lutheran missionary efforts during the country's colonial period.
A large proportion of Indonesians—such as the Javanese abangan, Balinese Hindus, and Dayak Christians—practice a less orthodox, syncretic form of their religion, which draws on local customs and beliefs

Balinese are constantly making offerings like these. Nearly every day. And then they are left out to rot like trash.Most people in Bali drive around on Moped like Motorscooters. I don't know what they are officially called. But it is not uncommon to see a mother or father driving the scooter with a child of four on their lap hanging onto the handlebars and a seven year old behind the parent with their hands wrapped around the waist. None of them wearing helmets. All Balinese have a very acute sense of distance while driving. They can really judge how close they are to oncoming traffic with millimeter precision.
I thought that my training as a NYC bike messenger would give me an advantage here but i would be no more than average in Bali
You know i am right cause i am gesturing with this corn for emphasis"

this was under the shaded structure behind the ceremony. Alot of the kids were hanging out under here rather than in the hot sun. Many of the older women and men as well.
this kid was trying to talk to me in Balinese Indonesian. Like all languages Indonesian displays dialect variation. Among the easily identifiable smaller dialects are those of the Batak people of north Sumatra, the Minangkabau people of west Sumatra, the people of Jakarta, the Javanese, theBalinese and many more.

many Indonesian words repeated themselves. I think it is a pluralizer. Here is a list of my favorite.

Jalan-Jalan = jalan is to walk and jalan-jalan is a journey
Hati-Hati = caution, this was a frequent road sign
Senang-Senang = everybody is happy, like a party
Alang-Alang = elephant grass
Dada = goodbye in Sassak(Lombok) Indonesian
Gado-Gado= vegetables in peanut sauce

also bagoose is happy and one woman said she was super bloody bagoose. The get a lot of Australian visitors
"The ceremony in full when looked at from behind in the shade shelter slash convience store restaurant"
I have heard the argument that the supposed utopian ideal of Bali is nothing more than a sham. Rather it is a rigidly enforced patriarchy masquerading as quirky, communalistic, cooperative. We were told that women were only given the right to divorce in the mid 1990's.
"Underappreciated, laboriously created, hand carved wood door."
What the traditional wood carving looks like. This doorway piece was the biggest example i saw. It must have taken so long to hand carve it. Like a few people working for a year. It was in a place where not many people would see it. The entrance to a walled off private villa in fancy hotel. No one was there so I went in. It kind of bothered me too think about the amount of effort that some artists put into this versus how many people would see and appreciate it.
Today we are on Lombok. An island to the east of Bali. You can get there by boat or plane. We opted for a plane. You can only purchase the $30 tickets at a kiosk at the Den Pasar airport. When we went they lady said they were all booked. Then as we were leaving in disgust, a well dressed, snake oiled scalper approached us and said he could get us four tickets. For $60 each. After some negotiation it was settled. He went to the lady and came back with 4 tickets.

Lombok we were told has the traditional indonesian demographic

"Oceans apart"
It is frequent for native Balinese to hate on Javanese, who come to do menial labor on Bali, and people from Lombok who they think are not as nice as them. I did not find this so. I thought the people on Lombok were also very nice. Also Lombok was much cleaner in general. They didn't have quite the same disregard for rubbish
I am constantly surprised at how little space a written thought takes up on a computer compared to the amount of thought and effort that went into it. All this writing probably is 80kb. Guitar videos 120mb, images shot in Raw format 18mb, easy to do but comparably huge. I feel like writing should take up the space that it deserves. Each really good idea should be a gigabyte.
"hope on the horizon"
"Obliviously drinking orange juice while the liquid Sword of Damocles hangs over his head"

He has no idea of the impending aquatic doom. Obliviously enjoying a nice morning orange juice he quizzically looks at me taking a picture of him unaware of the Liquid Sword of Damocles that hangs over his head.

I woke up early and saw that freak waves would sometimes splash over the ocean wall so i moved our table a little closer so he would be in the splash zone. Unfortunately it is dawn and i needed a fast shutter speed for the water so i couldnt get quite enough light on his face
Malcolm X speech Another good speech on civil rights, I Have a Dream, Martin Luther King jr.
"Doom befalls him. Hahahahaha"
I think this clip is really funny, Crazy Asian parents by Erik Liang
"Peanuts grow in the ground like potatoes." They are good raw too
The government of Lombok does not pay for schools. If you have a kid in school then you must pay a monthly fee.

my favorite speech on civil rights, right
"Its pandemonium on the streets of Lombok. The renowned Schoolwide Walkoff Championship is underway"
Today we were lucky to encounter an island wide school holiday in which a walking competition was taking place. Each grade from each of the neighboing schools would dress up in some formal wear and walk a few miles in synchronized formation.
"Imitation is universally funny." He is imitating me taking his picture.
the best basketball player interview Iverson Practice

"Can any other sporting event in the world match this enthusiasm? Perhaps only the Scripts National Spelling Bee"
These guys were lined up on the road waiting for the competition. I think it was very exciting for them to get their pictures taken. I have never seen this kind of widespread excitement
I once saw this clip of a young boy of at the Scripts National Spelling Bee get the word alapakoid or something like that and faint onstage and then get up and spell it like the greatest sports champion the world has ever seen.
Here is the link

Also funny is this

"Poor kid on the far right. One truly takes one's life into their hands just being a witness to this grueling event. "
What is going on with the kid on the far right?

Awesome cover of Little Wing by Monty Montgomery

on ukelele. While my guitar gently weeps, Jake Shimabakuro
"And they're off"
Awesome cover of Hey Ya by Matt Weddle

I covered the cover here
"Cool Muslim Girls"
I like this picture because it shows you three of the countless cool Muslims that are out there. Rather than the very few, very uncool people who believe in one branch of Islam, who dominate the coverage in most media

Our driver was a young Muslim man named Trishna. He was 32 years old and married and had one wife and one daughter. You are allowed to have more than one wife in Indonesia. The way they pick the child's name is that they write down five names they like on pieces of paper and then present them to the newborn after a couple of days. They present their favorites first and if the child doesnt grasp it and hold it close then they move on.
The slip of paper that the child grasps and holds close is chosen as the name. His daughter chose Ladys. I wish i could remember the other options
"Good showing from the Narmada Huskers under the strong leadership of their center and captain, Mataram." That fellow looks to have a future in politics as well as walking edit Delete caption
this is one of my favorite. The kid in front is definitely going to be the village chief someday if not the president.
““The Jenti Jumping Fish” aka The Bad News Bears of the great Schoolwide Lombok Walkoff Championship. The Jenti Jumping Fish failed once again this year to shake their enduring reputation of mischivosity”

Very good symmetry from the Praja Warriors team. I would have liked to see a little more spirit in the presentation

"Marine Hermit Abode" Not sure what this ocean platform was for. There were some pearl operations nearby so maybe it had to do with that. Or maybe is is a fishing platform. I would love to camp there for a day and catch fish and eat them cerviche style in lime juice to ward off scurvy

Emma brought sweets and this kid is trying the old i didn't get one with hand behind the back trick. Emma has seen that one before
"Cocoon Baby"

there were little baby hammocks underneath the relaxing palapas in the village center. This guy blissfully sleeps next to the big sandals that he will one day fill
"Behold, the Fountain of Youth" waterfall on Lombok Indonesia
Waters of life?
"Yes, Life Everlasting" or just cold water
"Now what do we do?" Funny rendition of the apocalypse
"Border between Light and Dark"
"Rainshower over vegetable valley" I am a huge fan of dunks. I scour the internet for the best dunk videos. Here is my favorite dunker. His name is Kadour ziani and he is from France?.
Early stages of a marriage ceremony at a Muslim weaver village."
Procession at one of the first marriage ceremonies in the Islamic part of Lombok. The bride is ready to be kidnapped. That is the english word they used to translate but it clearly doesnt capture what is actually going on. The boy and girl announce their intentions by the girl sneaking off to sleep at the boys house one night. The next day the boy goes to the girl's family and ask for permission and to negotiate a payment to the girls family. The bride is the girl with the red and yellow cloth over her shoulder. Our driver had to pay $2000 to the family of his wife
"Beauty and the Betel"
We met this woman in a weaving village on Lombok. She was very beautiful but our Western eyes will be drawn right away to the teeth and all the negative socio-economic connotations that are associated with bad teeth. Often the villains in Hollywood movies have bad teeth.
Her teeth are stained from eating the nut of the Areca palm. Areca nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant, causing a hot sensation in the body, heightened alertness and sweating, although the effects vary from person to person. The areca nut contains tannin, gallic acid, a fixed oil gum, a little terpineol, lignin, various saline substances and three main alkaloids: Arecoline, Arecain and Guracine which have vasocontricting properties.
The betel leaf has eugenol, also a vasoconsricter (the tubes get smaller so blood moves quicker?). Many chewers also add small pieces of tobacco leaf (a recent addition) to the mixture, thereby adding the effect of the nicotine, which causes greater addiction that the drugs contained in the nut and the betel. At any rate, the effect of chewing betel and nut is relatively mild and it could be compared to drinking a strong cup of coffee.
This is the previous woman's granddaughter. Amazing to see the cycle of human life at the two bookends
"The world revolves around her"
"Imagine if men carried babies in their bellies."
Formidable climb
"Mouth has healed"
This is me on Gili Trawangan a little more than a week into the trip. My mouth has healed up well and did not get infected.
Gili Trawangan was the next island we went to. It is off the coast of Lombok and is much smaller. It is 3km long and 2km wide with a population of about 700. The pub Tîr na Nôg claims that Trawangan is the smallest island in the world with an Irish pub. The most crowded part of Trawangan lies on the eastern side.
"This just in. Nely's laundry service has just won the "Laudry Galactette Times Award" which is given out annually by LGT, the leading laundry gazette in the Galaxy, to the best laundry service. It was the "medicine with etc" that put them over the top. Especially with pearls"
"Chess in the main square" Not at all surprising for a 3 square kilometer island society economically based on beach and diving tourists, Chess was an important game. Gili Trawangan's dock, the main center of activity, daily featured many highly attended and competitive chess matches
"Tourist Team Green and Straw"
"Wayan, king of this hill, and lord of a domain the range of how far he could accurately throw something"
"Fishmonger makin deals"
"Sack race"
"Sack race loser" doesn't seem to bother him much
"Pony cab ride costs $3. $6 around the whole island."
There were no cars on Gili Trawangan so everything that needed moving was hauled in carts by really small horses (Ponies?). This is an example of a typical horse cart taxi.
"Spider-man, the great american cultural ambassador. and a karate kick."
Some kids hanging out in the shade of a tree during midday in Gili Trawangan. As you can see Spider-man is quite a cultural ambassador. Also i love the kid on the left giving me a karate kick.
One of my friends made a good point about reducing his internet footprint. And i agreed with most of his points. Its kind of like putting your tattoo on the internet. It that might be difficult to take back.

But i also feel like it might be a futuristic space pod that you can launch into the future.
"Mushroom Shake Delivery" Although drugs are very illegal in Indonesia the island of Gili Trawangan has tons of ads for mushroom shakes. I talked to someone who tried one and he said they definitely worked and were mushrooms. Also i think i am going to make an album just about the signs of Gili Trawangan , there were a bunch of awesome ones. The best sign album i have seen on Facebook is Robert Cezar Matei's album "the signs of America" check it out. It is awesome
"Portaits" this palapa we ate lunch under had good lighting for portrait shots
"Emma Rose"
"Kite Fisher" Gili Trawangan fisherman. To fish, he throws his bait out into the ocean, then lets up a kite and one handedly controls the kite to make the bait swim where he wants it to go. Interesting tactic and one i have never seen before. My favorite human fishing tactic is to the chinese who have pet cormorants (birds that can dive underwater)
"Tide pool reflection"
"Grasping at the Tree of Knowledge." Its roots have drank entire oceans. Each twisted and knarled branch is an eon. took me a while to figure out how to spell silhouette. I went through some permutations like: silawette, silhouete, and some others i dont want to name. How did the french sneak their way into this word
"Family Bonding Experience is Nixed"
"Man in touch with his feminine side"
"Pig guts" To be used to make sausage. The dish soap in the right corner will clean them. Pigs eat everything so their guts need a good cleaning.On the dock after the fast ferry back to Bali. This guy was cleaning pig entrails to use for sausage. He is using a knife and dish washing soap which you can see in the lower right corner
"Butchery of an enemy on a public dock." The Sopranos would never make it in Bali. Joking, its more pig.
These guys are butchering a pig on the docks to get ready for a big Balinese Hindu festival called Galungan. Galungan takes place about every three months and was described as similar to our Christmas
"A Hindu god on a cow skull. Contradiction? No. just a water buffalo" I thought this was so interesting. An image of the Hindu god Ganesh carved onto a sacred cows skull. But now think that it is not a cow's skull but a water buffalo and i don't know how Balinese Hinduism treats those
"Long tailed Macaque" What could possibly be the evolutionary advantage of a whitened handlebar moustache and tufted eyebrows. One of the monkeys of Monkey forest Ubud. I got a bunch of them and am making a slideshow adventure comic out of them called the Legend of Monkey Forest. I will post it when i am finished.
"Ent Stairs" Bali is covered with rice fields. Even though they have so many rice fields they are still a net importer of rice. Also there is no brown rice, only white rice.
"Where's Jane at? (says Tarzan)"
Vines hanging off a huge banyan tree
"Not till pigs fly." Pig ear\wing in early stages of development"

The ear of a roast suckling pig. I have always wanted to throw a roast pig festival. This pig was at a restaurant in Ubud that specialized in roast pig lunches. I went on two different days and it was packed both times. there werent any options on what to get. You just got the roast pig with rice and a vegetable same as everybody else. It was delicious . Especially the crackling
"Last sunrise in Indonesia for me"
"Jerome" Saw jerome very briefly at the airport in Hawaii when i was supposed to have a two hour layover. And that is the end of the trip. Flew back to NY after about two and a half weeks in Indonesia. Good trip.