Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

Just because I live overseas doesn’t mean the world is at my fingertips.  While you’re sitting in your office living vicariously through my adventures, fantasizing about that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris, to Istanbul, to Kenya or to Sydney, I too have my own list of “if only I had the money” destinations.  For me, most of these lie on/in the Pacific — and near the top is Indonesia.

Fourth-largest country in the world, largest Muslim country in the world, childhood home to one Barack Obama — nevertheless a place most of us know so little about that we would have difficulty placing it on the map.

I don’t claim to be a whole lot more knowledgable about the country than that, as my experience has come secondhand, through the rhythms of Java and, more recently, Bali.


One of the benefits of a liberal arts education is the opportunity to try on a number of hats and see if they fit — to dabble in painting, in religious studies, in economics or biology — before deciding on any particular fashion statement for life.  And though you may leave this or that behind (and you will most likely drop the hat you selected at some point), you wear that which you’ve chosen better for modeling all the others.

bonang kenong saronIt may be surprising that I picked up Javanese music (Gamelan) while studying in the middle of Iowa.  To me, it’s more surprising that I am still playing in a Gamelan, now in Berlin, Germany.  Music transcends.  Even specialized knowledge is sometimes rewarded.

Here I have the opportunity to play with both foreigners and natives and to play both Balinese and Javanese instruments (and lovely sets they are too!).  The Embassy offers free Bahasa Indonesia courses.  Every time we practice, someone makes a delicious native dish.  Over time, I learn more about the people and the culture of a country I can only imagine in the vaguest of terms.  If their scholarship program were more generous (I know 1,000,000 rupiah sounds like a lot, but it is the equivalent of $90), I would gladly take Indonesia up on the offer . . .  In the meanwhile, I will continue fantasizing about my future Gamelan set — you know, the one I’m having made when I actually make it to Java someday (I know a couple readers/former ensemble members hear me on this)!

If there is a lesson to be taken from this, it is that an Embassy can be a wealth of resources and opportunities to learn about people and places you’re interested in, giving you numerous opportunities to develop a deeper relationship with a country before or after your visit.  If you live in a world city which is home to a variety of Embassies, it pays to get on their mailing lists to find out what is being offered.  Many of these opportunities will be colorful, family-oriented and free.

For those of you who have no idea what a Gamelan even sounds like, I am so happy to have found two clips of performances I was in online, for your listening pleasure — I’m sure if you listen closely you can pick me out. 🙂

Follow others on the Photo Friday trail, starting here.

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Welcome to the sixth Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Asia, Oz. Here you’ll find Asian, Australian, New Zealand and Oceania travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

Photographic inspiration this week from Nancie McKinnon, another fabulous image courtesy of Intelligent Travel’s Global Eye. You can read more about Nancie’s stay in a South Korean Buddhist temple here.

Intelligent Travel‘s got quite a few recent posts worth a gander:

If you are heading to the Olympics (or just flying into Beijing anytime soon), David Feng of CNReviews has written a great post to familiarize you with your transportation options called Beijing Capital International Airport Express(way) Guide (PEK). His extensive guide to getting around the city by underground avec color map can be found at Beijing Subway Guide: Map, Stations and Colors.

Beijing is the latest city to join the bicycle-rental trend — if you’re not afraid of traffic and thousands of other bicyclists, try Donald Morrison‘s Beijing on Two Wheels, posted at IHT Globespotters Blog.

Also at IHT, Joyce Hor-Chung Lau has just the thing for a sunny Hong Kong day in her post It’s Hong Kong beach season!

If it’s rather Australia you’re headed for, Vera Lang advises saving money and enjoying nature in her post Bushwalking in South Australia posted at Travel Trip Vacation. “South Australia offers amazing diversity and breathtaking beauty in every direction … and it does not come cheaper than walking.”

Onward to India, Anand Giridharadas of the IHT Globespotters Blog presents his advice on How to Behave Like a Local in Mumbai. My favorite tip, especially for business travelers, is his #9:

To save time and whiz through a meeting, specify in advance that coffee-tea service not be done. To extend the meeting for hours, on the other hand, keep asking for tea and coffee at regular intervals. If you really want to create an awkward situation, wait until everyone is about to leave the meeting and then call for tea and coffee and some “snacks,” which usually will mean something fried and time-consuming.

Maneesh at AdmirableIndia.com presents Bangalore to Mysore on Bike: Day 1: Part 2: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Brindavan gardens and Krishnarajasagara or KRS dam.

You’ll find other advice on traveling in Karnataka in J‘s posts on Chikmagalur, Srirangapatna and his Trip to Dharmasthala, Kukke Subrahmanya and Mangalore.

Wrapping up this week, nomad4ever Chris drags his broken motorscooter across an “unspoiled” Indonesian island near Bali in Around Lombok in 4 days – if you are insane enough.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Submit your blog article (or encourage your favorite travel bloggers to submit) to the next edition of Travel on a Shoestring: Asia, Oz using the carnival submission form. Next week this time we travel to South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Antartica. You can still submit your posts to that carnival till Wednesday.

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