More Life in Indonesia

More Life in Indonesia

We have now been in Indonesia for nearly two months. We have seen wonders I would not expect and had a thoroughly great time. The parts of Indonesia we have traveled are sparsely populated with primitive villages and a few small towns. The people have been amazingly friendly and happy and the scenery both above and below the water breathtaking. It is hard to imagine that we will soon see the vast majority of the 200 million inhabitants in the small area we have left to travel.

This is my first experience in a Muslim country and it is different than I would have imagined. The people are shy about their religion and keep it to themselves; with no animosity to those are “nonbelievers”. We arrived at the start and experienced Ramadan, a month long celebration which includes fasting during daylight hours. This takes dedication rarely seen in the western world. They also practice a deep seeking of peace and absence of conflict. I discovered this when we had a dispute on quoted fuel prices.

From village to village we met bright smiling, inquisitive and very polite children. Only once did we see actual begging. Although they are dirt poor they live in a blissful world. We must appear like we just landed from Mars to them and they are always curious. At every stop we met people eager to help us along the way. Even the government officials who are really scamming for the “port fees” do it with a whimsical spirit. There is something ironically honest about a dishonest port captain when everyone knows he is putting the fee in his pocket—at least here the government smiles when it is ripping you off, hahaha.

The simplest things take on new dimensions here. Going to the market can include a ride in a horse drawn wagon. Getting fuel is always a challenge. Here it is delivered in a dugout canoe in barrels and pumped into Furthur with a rustic gasoline pump—I had to provide the gasoline. As with everything here it involves many people and many layers of negotiation. The good news is that it is good clean fuel and about one third the cost of Australian fuel, go figure.

Music continues to be the common language. I have learned to play an Indonesian string instrument, do not even know what it is called. As we near the Hindu influence of Bali the music takes on an Indian tone that I really like. The string thing is combined up by a Ravi Shankar style drum for a great sound. The local group takes their traditional music seriously and glows as they sing their songs. They also jumped right in for some folkrock when we broke out our instruments and sang for the group. Three cords work world wide and everyone knows “Twist and Shout”.

This may be the end of the Indonesia I have grown to love as we enter the more populated area but I have been happily surprised before.