Let’s Pack!

Saturday night, some of my closest friends and I gathered for a very decdent barbeque for my farewell. Let’s talk about bittersweet. We had a great party, I just wish that we would have been celebrating something besides me leaving. There has been a lot about living in Bandar Lampung that I have really hated, but a lot that I have loved too. I have been crying a lot lately.

But I am leaving on Friday, so pack I must.

Anyone who has spent any time with me days before a big trip knows that I really hate packing. That is why before I go anywhere, someone has to sit on my bed and keep an eye on me. They don’t have to help me pack, in fact, I would prefer it if they didn’t, I just ask that they make sure I actually pack instead of mess around on Facebook or watch an episode — ok, an entire season — of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Today is only Monday, but in the spirit of planning ahead, and so that instead of packing on Thursday, I can go to the beach, I woke up early and got almost all my packing done.

I feel crazy accomplished and am treating myself to an hour and a half foot massage while I am writing this post.

Packing after being here for a year was pretty challenging. I shed a lot of stuff, mainly clothes and toiletries, and have replaced them with treasures, such as batik, jewelry, tapestries, and Kamoro wood carvings that did not fit in my bag as easily as I thought they would. I did it though. Unfortunately, this giant clam shell that I love didn’t make the cut.

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Pretty sad to be leaving it behind, but you have no idea how heavy it is.

Everything worth carting accross the world is in a backpack and a suitcase. As for my carry-on, I’m gunna go with a very small backpack, and then for the last leg of the trip, I will have Monty flying in-cabin with me, which I’m sure will be fun for no one. American Airlines passengers flying from Chicago to Detroit on Saturday, my apologies.

Monty’s Expatriation, Ep. 5

MONTY GOT HIS EXPORT PERMIT!!!!

We are so happy to announce that Monty has been approved to leave Indonesia. His export permit will definitely be framed, alongside my (clean) Criminal History Report from Bandar Lampung, because those are easily the two most ridiculous documents that I have ever had to obtain. At least on Monty’s form, important things, such as his name, are spelt correctly. I Ccannot say the same about my criminal history report.

Anyway, Monty is one step closer to becoming an American cat. Now, I am working reserving him a place on my flights. I am on the right track now, but the whole process started much like getting the export permit did. “Call this person.” “Now call this person” “email this person.” “Just pay.”

See you in two weeks, USA!

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Monty’s Expatriation, Ep. 4: Too good to be true?

I, and everyone I know, expected Monty’s expatriation to a colossal headache. So far though, things couldn’t be going better!

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I’ve decided to just pay a guy to go to Jakarta and deal with everything so that I don’t have to. I got the money together, but then he wouldn’t accept it. He said that I should keep the money until everything is processed and Monty is approved to go.

Today, we called Qatar air to see how much additional we would have to pay for him and were told that so long as traveling with Monty doesn’t push me over the weight limit, there will be no additional charge!

I’m getting increasingly more optimistic that Monty will soon be living the American dream!

Too good to be true? Stay tuned.

Doing the Laundry – I can’t wait!

I got my return ticket all finalized today, which means that July 20, 2013, I will be landing in Detroit almost the exact same time that my family will be flying in from our annual vacation to Myrtle Beach. So bummed to be missing out on that one.

Anyways, that means that I have just over one month left in Indonesia. I have already cried a couple of times, for as frustrated as I get a lot of the time here, I do love it. Fighting back tears now.

That being said, I am out of my mind excited to get back to the USA! Yes, I look forward to seeing my family and my friends and being able to eat gravy with every meal if I want, but I bet you have no idea how excited I am to do laundry when I return.

I could probably sell my laundry machine here in an antique store. It’s old.

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When I wash my clothes, I fill up buckets of water to dump in the basin, set it to wash, and wait. When the timer goes off, I pull out this:

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After untangling the mess, I hand rinse everything, and dry it partially in the spinner, which doesn’t always work. The spinner is where doing laundry is really a pain. Sometimes it will spin with a full load, sometimes with only one T-shirt, and sometimes, not at all. Also, when it’s turned on, it sounds like there is a person trapped inside trying to escape. This whole process takes about 2 hours of agony and I hate it. HATE IT.

Mom, I know you love doing my laundry when I’m home for a visit, but please let me savor every load. Or we can do it together. Just please let me experience modern washing machines again, and warm, nice smelling clothes.

Komodo National Park

Six months ago, Amy and I reserved two spots on a liveaboard diving boat with Wicked Diving in Komodo National Park. I’m struggling to come up with an adjective adequate enough to describe the trip.

This is the Jaya. She was purpose-built 12 years ago for diving and has been to a couple different spots in Southeast Asia. 14 divers, 4 guides, and 7 crew members comfortably cruised around Komodo on this ship.

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As far as diving goes, the spots we visited were a kaleidoscope of color and life. It was like soaring through all the photos and TV programs that drive people to get into diving. Here are some of the memorable critters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t photograph all of them.

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Having never seen manta rays before, I was totally struck by their grace. We went to a spot nick named Manta Point, parked ourselves on the bottom, and the mantas swam all around us. Fun fact: the markings on a manta’s belly are all unique and are used to identify them, similar to our finger prints.

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Is there any creature in the ocean more lovable than a sea turtle? We saw a ton of turtles chowing down on reef treats and playing in the currents.

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This little guy is a mantis shrimp, and believe it or not, is one of the most dangerous animals in the ocean. Their arms shoot out as fast as bullets and can break all kinds of things, like crab shells. And scuba masks, fingers, and aquarium glass. Check out this on The Oatmeal and get ready to fall in love them. Why the mantis shrimp is my new favorite animal.

 

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On a night dive, this squid charged at my buddy and I. It terrified me, but Kara kept snapping photos and then when we got to the surface, asked me why I was screaming underwater over such a small squid.

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We all love Nemo.

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And here’s just a pretty picture of coral.

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We also stopped on Rinca Island to check out the infamous Komodo Dragons. Unfortunately, they weren’t very active, and we didn’t see many, but they were magnificent animals that I, personally, would not want to quarrel with.

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All in all, the trip was a ten. There was a great vibe on the boat, we ate well, dove often. Who could ask for anything more?

 

Monty’s Expatriation, Ep. 3: Hand over money and take a deep breath

As a bule (foreigner) the only thing that I can be absolutely sure of is that I’m not getting all the information that I need. And so here we are with Monty’s expatriation.

I have been sent here and there and been told this and that, and we’re at the point where I hand over some money, take a deep breath, and hope for the best.

The guy dealing with all this nonsense claims that he has to go to Jakarta in order to process the final paper work. Some say that this isn’t true, but I’m not in a position to argue, and no one is really, because this is Indonesia. In Indonesia, whether a trip to Jakarta is part of the protocol or not, if the guy you need on your side wants to go to Jakarta for whatever reason, you send him, or else you will see the roadblocks arise, because HE (personally) is the one who is really deciding what has to happen, and he’s making these decisions on the spot.

If all goes well, then, in the next week or so, Monty will be approved to exit Indonesia. That being said, no matter what papers are signed and how many rupiah have been passed around, it’s not over until we get on the plane.

As if knowing that he's the world's luckiest former street cat, he's cranked up the cuteness level

As if knowing that he’s the world’s luckiest former street cat, he’s cranked up the cuteness level

How to Relax in Bandar Lampung in Five Simple Steps

As work, traffic, power outages, and the umpteen steps and forms required to do anything in Indonesia continue to inconvenience me, I have a top-notch escape. I’m not going to give up the name of my go-to hide away, and in all honesty, I surprise myself every time I am able to find it again. There are many naysayers who like to say that the beaches in Bandar Lampung are dirty and crowded, but I am here to tell you that that paradise isn’t as far away from the traffic in Tanjung Karang as you think it is. I keep going back here because I know it’s a sure thing, but I’m sure that in doing some exploring, there are places just as good.

So here is how to truly relax in Bandar Lampung in five simple steps:

1. Fill a cooler with beer, water, and sandwiches. The Indomarets in town are more likely to have cold beer than the ones just outside of town, so keep that in mind.

2. Hire a boat

3. Go some where that looks like this

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4. Snorkel, sun bathe, and swim (in any order)

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5. Repeat as necessary