Monday, June 20, 2011

Adventures in Padang

My first few weeks in Padang have been a whirlwind of getting settled in, starting to try to understand Padang's earthquake risk and development and a lot of fun adventures. I'm adding a few cool photos of things I've done.

The professor at Bung Hatta, Hendri, took me to Payakumbu where he teaches a weekend course. I observed a little bit, but then went wandering around. This area is famous for being beautiful and green. You know me, I can't help but try things when I see them. Thrashing rice is actually not as hard as I had expected and it is done communally by the women so everyone was having fun. The farmers were thrilled that I could speak a little Indonesian and were excited to show me how to do it.

Another interesting thing I've tried is cutting up logs with a machete. This is not a normal log, but a type of log called sagu that is used for food for humans in Papua and cows in Sumatera. It is spongy and doesn't taste very good. But it was a fun experience to make food from logs. ;)

So far I have done a list of crazy interesting things with Nanda, Hendri and some new friends I have made. I fed fish at a fish farm, learned to tell men to leave me alone in Indonesian, went to a traditional wedding party, got peed on by a bunny, got a lesson in Palestinian history, learned to play a traditional game, bribed some police officers, learned to drive a scooter in Indonesian traffic and so so much more.

This weekend one of the nicest things I did was meet a really cool couchsurfer and her friend who showed me a beautiful waterfall. We spent the morning swimming and playing in the water. Nanda was a little less afraid than I was of diving into the shallow water (thats him jumping from the rocks)!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First days in Padang

I've been in Padang for about a week now. It has been quite an adventure settling in, finishing the visa process and getting back into research mode. I have done a little exploring, although there is still so much to see.

One of the most interesting things I have done so far is to climb to the top of Gunung Padang (Padang Mountain -although it is really just a small hill). This is a wonderful little island, right off the beach, perfectly positioned to let you get great views of the city. So Rinanda (a student who has been helping me to settle into the city) took me to the top and we spent some time comparing a map to the view. It was a great way to get a better idea of the layout of the city!
In addition to a great view of the city, the mountain also has monkeys on the top! Indonesian monkeys are a lot more polite than Indian monkeys. Here they sit there and cry until you go buy them peanuts. Then you feed them and they start crying for more. It was quite difficult to stop feeding them since they have learned to make the saddest faces!

One of the best things I have done is sample the food. Padang is famous all over Indonesia for its spicy food. So Rinanda has taken me to try all the best stuff. I am sad to report that I agree with the tourists on Durian (that stuff really smells bad!), but I won't be too embarrassed about being an ordinary tourist since I have fallen in love with some other crazy food. Soto Padang is a soup that has a lot of ingredients. The only one that has been explained is some part of a cow, cooked in some sort of way that made me think it was bone the first time I tried it. I had to be convinced to stop taking it out of the soup! And one of my favorite drinks resembles sewer water -complete with worms! :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Last weekend in Yogyakarta

My last weekend in Yogya, I wanted to relax, get rid of some of the language school stress and do some exploring.

I ended up spending a lot of the time with a woman I met at the language school. It was fun to go out and do some girly things. On Thurday night we went to the Ramayana Ballet at the Prambanan temple. It was a beautiful performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it (even if I don't really like endings where girls commit suicide to get the guy back).

Then on Saturday we went to the beach. We went looking for caves, but ended up seeing just one little cave and spending most of the day sitting at a beautiful restaurant with a pool overlooking the beach. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to relax.

On Sunday, my last day in Yogya, I spent the day at Prambanan temple. It is a beautiful Hindu temple that is fascinatingly different from Hindu temples in India. I thoroughly enjoyed my day and was even more excited when I discovered the slightly smaller temple next to it that wasn't on the tourist circuit. So I got to spend the heat of the day with a beautiful temple all to myself.

On Monday I flew to Padang and have spent the last few days settling in and getting adjusted. So far, I have discovered that this is a beautiful city. I am surrounded on three sides by hills and the 4th side by the ocean. So I am feeling quite at home considering I grew up on the ocean and learned to love my hills in Tosamaganga.