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.

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?

 

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

Monty’s Expatriation, Ep1: “You need to call …”

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Welcome to the first of entry of my latest series, Monty’s Expatriation! Monty has been there for me through thick and thin during this weird year in Indonesia, so naturally, I am going to try my best to get the Indonesian government on our side and bring him home with me. This is undoubtedly going to be a very Indonesian experience, or in other words, way more complicated than need be.

Monday, I took him to the vet to get the ball rolling. I met a politician at the Sheraton who told me to call him from the vet’s office and that he would be helpful. He really wasn’t. I was told to call the quarantine vet that works down at the port. Then someone else gave me a different contact, who might have a little more pull. I passed all the phone numbers and Monty’s medical records over to my boss and asked for her help. She called the higher up contact, but she was in a meeting, and then didn’t answer when she called again. Then she said that the vet who my vet told me to call was “very friendly and seemed like he wanted to help us, but we needed paper work from the person who handles exporting pets”. We’re supposed to call back today to get the number for whoever that is.

Simply getting a hold of the person who has the answers is ¾ of the battle when trying to accomplish anything in Indonesia. I am, in all seriousness, expecting this mystery person who has the power to grant Monty an export permit to tell me that in order for the forms to valid, I must fill them out while standing on my head in the middle of the road. We’ll see..

Monkey See Monkey DON’T

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I’ve hinted at the fact that monkeys excel at the art of mischief, and I’m amazed that I haven’t a had negative experience with one for over a month now. Considering that I see monkeys nearly every day, this is really amazing, and if you’ve ever lived somewhere with monkeys, you know exactly what I mean.

The thing about monkeys that is so conflicting is that they have got to be one of the, if not THE, most fascinating animals to observe. Their social groups, behaviors, and acrobatics are incredible and they’re easy to want to love because they look like little tailed humans, especially their hands.

such tender love

such tender love

I too like back rubs. We have so much in common.

I too like back rubs. We have so much in common.

Then they pull these kinds of shenanigans and it makes you hate them.

That cheeky guy in the background started rummaging through my purse right after this picture was taken.

That cheeky guy in the background started rummaging through my purse right after this picture was taken.

I bought this banana bunch to feed the monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubub, Bali. FIVE METERS into the park, this guy climbed up my body and ripped the bananas out of my hands.

I bought this banana bunch to feed the monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali. FIVE METERS into the park, this guy climbed up my body and ripped the bananas out of my hands.

This guy jumped onto Amy's head and bit her until she gave him her sunglasses in the Sacred Monkey Forest of Bali.

This jerk jumped onto Amy’s head and bit her until she gave him her sunglasses in the Sacred Monkey Forest of Bali.

This fearless guy at Mount Popa in Myanmar ripped that corn literally right out of my mouth.

This world champion a** hole at Mount Popa in Myanmar ripped that corn literally right out of my mouth.

This was Susan's first meeting with a monkey.

This was Susan’s first meeting with a monkey.

oh no you don't.

oh no you don’t.

My friends are crazy about keeping the doors shut and their security guards have pellet guns, not to keep burglars out of the house, but monkeys. More than once, I’ve woken up and found monkeys with their faces pressed against the window and banging on the glass. Do not let them our furry cousins in. Just don’t.