I really do feel like we've been thrown into a whole new world. Just when I thought I had this traveling thing down, the very essence of traveling came knocking on my door and laughed in my face. In Indonesia, the money is different, they drive on the opposite side of the road/car (this mind-fucks you the first time you see it), there are people wearing sacred cloths on their head (which I don't fully understand yet-but excited to learn), and they barely speak any English-creating a true language barrier that I have never experienced-and I am the minority.
"There was just a topless woman!" Matt exclaims as I try to look up as often as I can from this writing. The setting is quite similar to that of the Philippines, there are sari-saris (little shop) on every corner, people gazing out their windows at the action, traffic up the wazoo, & palm trees that create the whole backdrop effect. But something definitely feels different here. I have a feeling this "new chapter" is not going to be the island oasis splurge we were just on, this one will be a bit more intense. Don't get me wrong, I am glad I started out in the Philippines because two months ago, I was not ready for this. But now I am. My heart, soul, mind, body & stomach are all ready for this new voyage. America is riding on my sleeve, telling me "No. No. No. These ways are not right!" but deep in my gut I am in love with these difference and I am really looking forward to this cultural exchange.
Jakarta. Another big city which we tried to escape ASAP, but this time we got a bit stuck (for a lack of better words). This time we got "stuck" not because of choice, we got stuck because we entered a new world totally unprepared. We arrived in Indonesia with a vague outline of what we wanted to do, no plans, no written down advice of where to stay or go, no travel book, just a map. Through this, we truly ingested why people call the Lonely Planet, the "Travelers Bible." We felt literally lost in a place where no one speaks our language & all the street signs are in Indonesian (Bahasa); & worst of all, when we did find a book store our much needed travel-guide was "sold out." On our last leg we finally found it in some random hidden book store tucked in the shadows (totally overpriced, but we didn't care). I knew "the bible" would be hiding in some odd whole in the wall. Ironically, when we opened the book it introduced itself by saying "If you think travels rugged now, delve into Helen & Frank Schrider's Drums of Tonkin which documents their 1963 journey from Sumatra to Timor in an amphibious jeep; landslides, gun-toting soldiers, & sea voyages galore." They definitely figured it out on their own 50 yrs ago without any silly travel-guide. I was humbled by this.
We have thrown ourselves into a Muslim world, is what we've done. I mean I've seen Muslims before (& had Muslim friends)in America, but that's when I was looking at them like they were the odd ball out, now their starring at me & asking themselves "what the...hell is she thinking." Maybe. I'm not for sure; their looks are mysterious, I can't tell if their intrigued or totally turned off. I say this because they are very conscientious about image & I can almost read their mind as they look at me thinking "Oh my God (or, Oh my Muhammad!)look at all that skin she is showing." But I specifically wore my longer shorts (to my knees) & a top that was midriff conscious with intentions to appease their religion. Still I think it might be too much... I haven't cared about my image so much since I was in the States. I think if I brought too much of my spunky American style to this place, they might gasp at me in horror.
On a lighter note, the Muslim prayer callings (songs of meditation) are much more inviting. On every Mosque there are loud speakers that sing to the whole town several times in the day (even at 4am). These callings are dedicated to the people to notify them it is time from prayer.. Its actually quite beautiful, and perfectly soothing.
So now, everywhere smells like cloves, we are surrounded by temples and the kindest people I have met so far, and the culture is as rich as a slice of chocolate cake that sinful written all over it! I can't explain the happiness and gratitude I am carrying with me in my soul. This experience is unreal, and the greatest gift I have ever given myself. Currently, we are headed east towards Bali, but not until we stop & see Borobudur (the largest Buddhist temple in the world). I LOVE Indo!