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The Paroissien Diaries

Does it count if the birds are dead? Indonesia wins again!

INDONESIA | Wednesday, 7 March 2012 | Views [832]

Indonesia Wins again. 

There are a few things that happen to you when you're in your twenties that signal that you are clearly growing up. recently three big events have happened which have highlighted this coming of age:

1) I got married, this is an obvious one that does not need an explanation.

2) I began to like fruit cake! Fruit Cake! I never ever thought i'd like what was commonly known as old peoples cake. Much to the delight of my WIFE I have been eating it heaps; and not just at Christmas with brandy butter either, but just your regular coffee and cake moments with mr fruity. Aghh the delights of growing up eh?

3) The last one, which is directly attributed to this trip, is the biggest. an amazing turn in identity. Beth and I have become full blown BIRD WATCHERS! What the frick!!!!!! Bird watching?!?!?! Since sitting with the family after a delightful bike ride in Bali and noticing a bright blue King Fisher with a red beak we have been  ' Twtiching" our way around Indonesia. It has gone from a 'what bird's that?' moment to identifying sighting places on a map, having two bird books (one is not enough) and a pair of fancy binoculars. So there it is the final nail in the coffin of growing up. once you like bird watching there is no turning back.
Without too much exageration our conversations are peppered with things like "black beak, yellow legs, stalky looking, quick quick look, it's bloody getting away ohh noooooooooo- get out the book and see if we can tick it off." For those inexpereicned bird watchers out there it's almost comparable to the game your primary school teachers use to give you on the way to camp or long excursions- spot the red fire truck, the coke sign and 5 blue cars and tick it off your camp booklet. Surpisingly it's easier to spot ten red fire trucks in Chapel street than it is to spot a bird in Indo. This is largely thanks to all the poaching that goes on around Java and sumatra and Bali and the loss of habitat. All the same though we have managed to tick off some 30 birds and loving it. If I had my way we would tick off the ones we see in bird cages, but Beth is having none of that. I won't, however, even debate about dead birds; if I see a dead bird that isn't in a cage we are ticking it off- final!
Arriving in Bali and driving through Kuta was something similar to watching an old favourite kids movie that you used to love but that has now changed. Don't watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Save that one in your memory people. It's been 12 years since I have been to Bali and so a shed load has changed- the fricken kuta end of Jl Legian is like a lovely paved road that you would see in Singapore- where have all the pot holes gone? They've relocated down the Legian end...
Thinking back though, Bali was never going to compete with my more youthful days anyway. How can you compete with being 16 years old and rocking around shanty style clubs experimenting with ciggerettes, a fish bowl or Arak in one hand and a sand bucket of tequilla and orange stuff, dancing as the Venga bus was coming and everyone was jumping?!? No it's incomparable, and alas those days of Bali are over.

This, however, didn't distract from the amazing times we had with the Paroissien Family. We all met at this plush villa in Seminyak to celebrate Dad's 60th Birthday- like everynight we celebrated- awesome.
Highlights include:

-Awesome Villa- "do we have this place to ourselves?" 
- Eating and drinking for approx 6 hours a day- incredible food that had nothing to do with Bali/ Indonesia/ Asia- oh wait there was a soto ayam there somewhere.
- David and I reverting back to our younger years and having epic underwatcer contests in the pool. Good times.
- Family cribbage tournaments where mum won twice! Unheard of considering that she usually forgets how to score- great work Bu! 
- Going to Potato head and watching people act super fricken cool with their hot bodies and big sun glasses and seeing this Japanese dude swimming around the pool in t-shirt and shorts with a multi coloured mask and snorkel on- hilarious! 

- Buying Dad a Bintang singlet for his 60th and then forcing him to wear it while we all laughed. Good Sport Dad. 
- Coming up with a mega family quiz for Dad's 60th including a recap of what happened in 1952. 'Hey mum, did you know that David Hasselhoff was born in 1952 as well?" Who- David Hasselhoff- oh yes, that's the famous piano player." Brilliant. 

- Bike rides and bird watching in Ubud. 
- Seeing the Bali memorial. RIP Jamie Wellington. 
And so with the luxury of Bali over we headed to Java. 

Boom Crash
Splat- back to reality. We made it on the ferry across to Java late on the saturday night and found a room for 4 bucks- i thought better of it and upgraded to 6 bucks with a broken Air conditioner, a stinky bsthroom, filthy floors and walls, Mozzies everywhere and humididty hitting 200%. That's right, 200%.  Oh to be back in the Villa again. Either way I was pleased cause it was so cheap and even better was the MSG I mean Nasi G we had for dinner that night for like $1.50. Get in.
So onwards and upwards on the train and a million buses to Mt Bromo, a brilliant Volcano crater near the city of Suryabaya.

Highlights include: 
- Nasi Campur- an indo meal that comes with both rice and noodles- rice and noodles on one plate- what more could you want? hmm maybe some spaghetti hehe
- Brilliant walks in the fog to volcano peak; MORDOR! 
- A 3am walk to another peak to see the sun rise over Mt Bromo and the valley- Spec Tacular. Even better was at the top you could buy fired bananas and coffe for a dollar, so awesome. 
- Being cold again
 Reasons you know you are in Indonesia. (this is not a criticism just an observation, like saying 'you know you are in Melbourne when you hear people ask where their coffee beans come from before ordering their latte'.)

- Kids, adults alike are very welcoming. Helllloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo MEeeeeeeeeeeeessterrrrrrrrr. How are youuuuuuu. My Name isHow are youuuuuuu.
- People just give you stuff like a paper clip on the train and bus and then give a sales pitch that would rival a multimillion dollar make or break deal. If only I could understand what they are saying!
- There are sheer cliff drops everywhere at major tourist destinations- the 'National Trust' would not be happy.
- There are 50 sugars in your coffee- hmmmmmm hyper.
- Randoms ask to take your photo with 50 of their friends.
- You bargain to use the public loo. you never win.
- Cats tails are as common as dogs collars- where have all the tails gone?
- You smoke at least 10 second hand ciggerettes a day
- Advertising takes up an entire wall of someone's house
- The subliminal message does not, repeat does not, exist. EAT THIS! IT TASTES SOO GOOD! EAT IT NOW. BOOM!
And so after Mt. Bromo we slowly started making our way to the Big Durian (Jakarta). I must emphasise slowly because it took us a seriously long time to get not very far. This didn't worry us too much as the views from both bus and train have been amazing. We have taken a million photos of both volcanoes and rice paddies; so many rice paddy photos that Beth and I have started a website named 'ratemyricepaddy.com' where backpackers throughout south east asia can compete on a global scale to see who in fact has the best rice paddy photo hahaha.
A train to Bogor- a spotted eagle, another mie goreng, and a reminder of that familiar traveling feeling. I'd forgotten those familiar traveler thoughts and conversations, here's a reminder.
- Are they being nice or are they trying to sell me something?
- Stop looking at me! So what- I have pink socks on and black bordies aghhh the stare!
- How much did you pay for this?
- Should we get the tour? It would be so much easier. Hmmmmm no.
- You are always dirty and sweaty. Always.
- There is nothing more amusing than seeing a backpacker rage after a fresh rip off moment- aghh the hilarity.
- Where are we? And what are we actually doing here?
Another 24 hours on buses and bikes and trains and welcome Jakarta. After living there for 3 months early last year this was a welcome break from the road. It is a fact that all expats in Jakarta know how to pour a good gin! Webers, Headifins, Douglases all guilty of off the wall G and Ts. Jakarta is Jakarta really- smoggy, hot, busy, loud, dirty, super malls, a growing gap between middle class and poverty, bikes and more bikes and a wonderful fraternity of friends- especially at JIS- shout out! Thanks a\for all the RSS feeds team K module.  To the afore mentioned- thanks for feeding us and making us feel clean again. Terima Kasih.

And so began what turned out to be the 48 hour journey- 48 fricken hours in a taxi, on 3 buses and a boat- from Jakarta to Padang in West Sumatra. Here are some thoughts from along the way.

Hr 1- Great start, taxi is speeding along the highway, we'll be there in no time.
Hr 2- Taxi is lost and can't find the staion. Shitttttttt. Where the frick are we. Bad start.
Hr 3- Direct expensive bus or cheap group of buses? Cheap group.

Hr.7- Aghh the Ferry- how lovely to walk around.
Hr 13. Arrive at bus station across the sea and book the Bus to Padang that leaves in three hours. Suck it up and buy the executive bus with AC and a toilet- we're getting soft, although it is a 22 hr journey.

Hr.20- Bus is late, so tired that I sleep in station.
Hr 21- Start of the 22 hr bus ride, nowhere to put bags, we walk on and find only two seats remaining at the back and a nauseating smell of stale urine hits us like a wall. I nearly spew. Get the bloody tamazapan out!
Hr 21. One of the seats is broken and wont go back. another great start. So bad it was kinda funny. Kinda.
Hr 28. Wake up to fresh smell of piss- wrap hoodie around head and breathe shallowly- Beth sleeps like a baby- little bugger.
Hr 29.  pod time- aghhhh music and games- bless.
Hr 30. Sun rises over Paddy fields- awesome!
Hr 31. I can't believe that Seal and Hiedi Klum broke up
Hr.32. Men's tennis is so strong at the moment.
Hr.33- Ahhh not long to go now, maybe an hour or so. Excuse me mate- how long to go before we get to Padang? 'Hmmm maybe 8 hours." Aghh do you mean 8 oclock? 'No, 8 hours till we go past Padang." Shit, shit shit.
Hr.33- Ah excuse me, im sorry but this bus doesn't go through Padang- it goes to Bukitttingi. Hahahahaha looks like we're going to Bukkittingi.
Hr.34- Another night on the bus- I hope I dont need to go number 2.
Hr 35- Beth sleeps again. Again.
Hr 36- Bus goes through a serious of pot holes as Beth bangs her head (mouth open) continuously on the window- very amusing. She remains asleep.
Hr 37- Come up with hilarious wedding speech number 2
Hr 38- reconsider how funny the speech actually is
Hr 39- I pod well and truly out of battery and Joni Mitchell invading my personal head space.
Hr 40- See a chicken eating out of pop mie noodle cup, flavour? chicken. hehehe mad chicken disease???
Hr 41- temperature drops as AC kicks in- luckily I have urine and smoke to keep me warm and alert.
Hr 48- Arrive at 7 am in Bukittingi- refreshed and ready to go.

Bukkittingi- West Sumatra.
The best thing about the bus ride was that we broke all sorts of records for not spending money in a day. We didn't really eat and so our spendings for the day totalled 3.50! hahaha beauty! So we found a sweet room for 20 bucks a night and after my shower I spent an hour lying on the bed and rubbing my bare feet on the clean sheets and going 'oh yere..ohhhhh it's just so nice to be horizontal.
Bukit is wicked- a really well organised town with lots to do and see. A series of Japanese tunnels that were built secretly in the the 2nd world war held our attention for a while, as did an amazing valley walk. west Sumatra is the home of the masakan Padang, a type of Indo cuisine where all the plates of food are in the window and ready to eat. The food is super tasty especially the beef rendang- which tasted, by the way, nothing like the rendang i made at home this year, I clearly have some work to do, I might start by using beef instead of mushrooms (sorry darling)-  although you can't help but be a bit worried about going against all rules and eating food that has been in the window all day and is home to a few flies. om the positive side, we didn't get sick, but on the negative side it does leave much for a dining experience- you sit, you eat a minute later and you're done in 12 mins or so. thus we ended on more than one occasion hitting the sack at about 7.30 hehehe reading time.
Lake Meninjau
- A volcanic crater lake about an hour from Bukit. Simply amazing. No one there with post card views, a secluded beach, birds galore to tick off and gawk at and a heap of Bintangs, bananagrams, cards and tasty veggie curries. 
- We hired a motor bike in the quietest place in South east Asia to have a bit of a practice hahaha. although fun, probably wont happen again: aghhhhhhh watch out truck on wrong side aghhh bikes and cats aghhhhhh. Stopping and filling up with petrol from a absolute vodka bottle

- An incredible hike through jungle- beautiful flowers, orange monkeys, huge spiders, clean damp air. 
- A long walk to the view point (then being too tight to pay the fee to see the view... it's the principal... I think)  
- early Bintangs and a game of BackGammon where we made up the rules hahaha Beth won.
- A game of Fris Box- two boxes, one frisbee- done. Beth wins. I get cross. you can only imagine.
Lake Meninjau to Harau Valley
In true indo style it took us 5 buses and a motor bike to get 55 km down the road but it was worth the journey. The Harau Valley is simply off the hook. Huge orange sand stone cliff walls meets green jungle on top and rice paddies at bottom. in the middle a small clean cute farming village. Homestay Ikbal runs a tight little place and for 7 bucks a night we were literally sleeping in a paddy field, eating nasi goreng, watching birds wade, waterfalls behind us... the best moment so far. Without trying too sound to annoying- this place was a little off the track and was a rare beauty.
Ricky the guide took us walking all the way up valley walls in the jungle treck of the trip thus far, stopping for fresh fruit picked off trees and lessons on natural flowers and theraputic herbs.
Also in HV, the game of 'mystery biscuit' is started; go to a toKo and pick a random looking biscuit for dessert, you win some and you defo lose some hehehe.

And that's about it folks- From Harou to Dumai and now in Malaka, Malaysia.
love love

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