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    Indonesian Travel Journal: Saying Good-Bye in a Hurry

    Ten days ago, I said good-bye to Indonesia. My last few months there were a bit of a whirlwind, especially my last four weeks. I barely had time to say good-bye and that makes me very sad. My year in Indonesia was one of the best of my life. It sounds ridiculously cheesy to say I found myself again, but it's true. After my mom's long illness and years in the wilderness, I rediscovered my love of adventure, of new experiences, and mostly of not being stuck in a rut. I also discovered a true love of my own language and a love of helping others learn it.

    I wasn't ready to say good-bye to Jakarta. It's a crazy, frustrating, magical, contradictory place. It's in my blood and I'm certain I'll be back to visit often. I wouldn't have left but for an excellent opportunity elsewhere. So, I'm back on the northern side of the equator, but just barely. I'll be spending the foreseeable future in peninsular Malaysia, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

    My new town is smaller than the town I grew up in, and that's saying something! I also happen to be the only foreigner in town, so I'm trying to get my head around the idea that everyone will know my every move. On the flip side, the beach is an hour away, the jungle is an hour away (the jungle that you can trek through--the other jungle is all over the place), Kuala Lumpur is two hours away, and I'll have the opportunity to take a trip out of town pretty much every weekend. Which is good because even if they sold beer in my new town, which I'm pretty sure they don't, I wouldn't be able to drink it without causing somewhat of a scandal. 

    I grew up in farm country, so small town culture is not unfamiliar. I'm even used to seeing lots and lots of road kill. In Indiana, that ususally meant a squirrel or a raccoon or a skunk or the occasional deer. Here, I've seen a couple monkeys and a big boa constrictor. That might take some getting used to. 

    I'll keep writing travel journals as I explore my new surroundings. But politics is starting to interest me again. I might have to get my dictionary of idioms out and refresh my memory on the definition of petard! 


    **The photo above was taken in September 2010, at Pulau Pankor, an island off the coast of western Malaysia, during a weekend visit. 



    Orlando, how exciting. First of all, that picture is beautiful. Asia is quite wonderful in it's own way. I cannot wait read about more of your adventures. Be sure to eat the Suha, OMG I love it when I go home. In Malaysia it might still be called pumpulmas, it originates there, and it is sweet and glorious and fantastic. I cannot get enough of it, I am craving it right now.

    Why don't you just drown your sorrows in a cup of java, mate!...it's not like the stuff grown there is at the bottom of the list. It's the little things that adds the flavor to one's life. For me, I can't seem to get past the of cold war DMZ in Europe, but the flavor of the region I'm in...sitting pretty in Germany but only a few miles from Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands and France...gives me the opportunity to do and see things I've only read in books all my life. And it's experiencing the written word that's more powerful than any library in the world including the one Alexander built in Egypt. The world is here for us to appreciate and make better in what ever way we are capable of doing. I'm not sure why you're there, but I have no doubt you're inspiring someone to look over the horizon and think beyond the place they call home. Enjoy it while it lasts because it will never happen again. Time is of the moment and once gone it will never be seen again except in memory.

    Orlando, congrats on the new job and good luck in Malaysia!

    PS I'm still waiting for the exciting conclusing to the Blowing Smoke book club, not to mention the middle part.

    Spent 4 months in rural Malaysia in 1980, as paired up youth, living in local villages, working in coffee, rice, batik projects, etc. Still have a bit of Bahasa. The islands and the highlands were great. KL more meh. Malacca cool. Loved the food, once I got used to hot hot hot. Bad bad run-ins with local Mullah dude. For DANCING. Standing up, no touching, but didn't matter. Events in the outside world often drive local responses to whites, so make friends, be conservative. But you know this already. Malaysia not as "authentic" in some weird sense, compared to Indonesia. The Chinese and Indian influence seems to have modernized the Malay element mores than in rural Indonesia. Anyway. Blah blah blah... Glad you're enjoying it, and gonna get more time. Expect to see you at the next sepak takroh game. ;-). Q Oh yeah. You East or West coast? I was mostly in Kedah and Malacca. East coast a lot more conservative.....?

    I'm kind of in the middle, but closer to the east coast. But it's the northeast coast that uber-conservative, and I dodged that bullet. I still won't be able to have non-family member men to my apartment, although I can be seen unchaperoned in public with men who are foreigners because the rules for us expasts are a little more lax--they make some allowances for our heathen ways. 

    Congratulations, O.  That is one gorgeous picture.  As sorry as I am to hear you're no longer in Indonesia, I'm looking forward to your missives from Malaysia.  What a dandy life you're leading!   Give it all you've got; take away all you can.

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