Monday, September 14, 2009

Bandung- Part Satu

As I type this, my laundry is soaking in the bathtub. If that doesn’t sound like something noteworthy, then you give me way too much credit. I have never washed my clothes in anything but a laundry machine. So here—with no laundromat nearby and a hotel that charges about $4.50 to wash a skirt—I’m trapped between my distaste of physical labor and my preference for wearing clean underwear. The latter won. The hotel is nice enough to wash two items each day for free; I’m using that service for things like jeans and nice shirts. But I’m tackling my underwear and undershirts myself. William J. Fulbright would be proud.

I’ve been in Bandung for a little over a week now. Climate-wise, it’s much more comfortable than Jakarta, since it’s up in the mountains and thus cooler. The traffic is better here, too. (And so far, no earthquakes.)

There are bugs everywhere. I put on bug spray everytime I go out, but I always miss places. Right now they’re feasting on my ankles. Mosquitos, too, are everywhere. And the thing I’ve discovered about killing bugs by smacking in between your hands is that if you succeed, there are dead bug parts all over your hands.

We’re in orientation classes for about seven hours each day, starting at 8am. We take Bahasa Indonesia for about three hours, and we have around four hours of teaching classes, too.

Do you want to know the four coolest things about the Indonesian language?
No plurals
No genders
No tenses
No articles
No kidding!

You’d think all I have to do is learn a few vocab words and I’d be writing bestselling Indonesian novels, right? It’s a little tougher than that but, thankfully, reellattiivveellyy easy to learn.

I wasn’t really planning on taking many classes now that I graduated, so it really wears me out to turn on that part of my brain again. We haven’t been exploring as much of this city as we did Jakarta, but we’re also here for two more weeks. Here are some things I HAVE done:

Tried stinky, stinky durian:

It wasn’t as horribly disgusting as I was expecting, but I don’t think I’ll be enjoying more anytime soon. Sort of tastes like a garlic-y soft banana, but it smells like rotting produce.

Tried yummy, yummy mangosteen:

Yum! I liked this one a lot. This is the fruit all of a lot of those crazy “superfruit” drinks like XanGo.

Missed home:
Some days are tougher than others.
It’s just so intimidating to think of being in this country for the next eight and a half months. At least I might be able to go home at Christmas for two weeks. Some days, I don’t feel good. And when I feel sick, I want to be able to talk to my family and friends and eat food that just tastes good. Both of those things are hard for me to do here.

Celebrated the end of the fasting day during Ramadhan:
Many of our teachers and the people we meet here are fasting from sunrise to sunset each day this month for Ramadhan.
One day, we got to end the fast with them and listen to a lecture on the significance of the holiday. Fasting seems to be less a way to show devotion to God, and more a way of understanding the plight of the poor who cannot afford to eat. And fasting during Ramadhan doesn’t just mean no food: it also means no drinking (even water), no smoking, no sex, and no medicine (unless it’s absolutely necessary).

Gone to a Saung Angklung performance:
This was one of the best things I’ve done since being in Indonesia.
The anglkung is a bamboo instrument native to the country. We got to watch the professionals perform, and then we tried a few songs as an audience. I’ll attach some pictures.

Been disappointed by passionfruit, and then discovered dragon fruit:
Nerd alert. So Anne of Green Gables was always my favorite book. And Anne can’t wait to see a diamond for the first time. But when she finally does, it’s nothing like she expected. She’s disappointed. But then she sees an amythst, and it’s everything she thought a diamond would be and more. That pretty much describes my new relationship with dragon fruit. Trying a fresh passionfruit has been on my life’s to do list forever. Well, now I can cross it off and go do more exciting things… like eat dragon fruit.

Shopped a lot:

Bandung is the fashion capital of Java. (I kinda just gave it that title, but I’m nearly sure it’s true.) There are clothing outlets EVERYWHERE. The clothes aren’t quite as dirt-cheap as I’d been hoping, but I’d say a brand name shirt is around $9. You just have to be willing to search through a lot of junk and be followed around by clerks. Note: I am willing to do both of those things. A lot.

I will write more soon, but I’m afraid my clothes are going to dissolve in the bathtub. Stay tuned!


  1. They ate durian on chef vs. city this week!

  2. And now we have a new Bacardi in the states - Dragonberry, a blend of strawberryband dragon feuit - it's yummy.

  3. Who is that beautiful girl that appears in all of your pictures? : )