Saturday, January 2, 2010

Observations from Planet Indo

The title of this blog is in homage to the book I read on the flight between Barjamasin and Manado, Lost on Planet China, a funny account of one man's trip through China. So here are some of my observations of Indonesia:

Fire Ants
Now I know if you have been following me on facebook you are probably tired of me ranting on about the fire ants but I must rant a little more so you can get the full view. To recap; While in the orangutan tour I stumbled into the middle of a huge gathering of army of fire ants. Naturally I was most concerned with leaping gazelle like (ok drunk giraffe like) out of their way to avoid harming any of them, and taking a sandal full if them along for the ride. I shook them all loose but one of them was victorious in leaving me a swollen burning big toe.

I looked into these little creatures and apparently they diabolically bite in a circular fashion in order to remove the maximum amount of skin, spray the area with an acidic substance that burns and also calls over all their buddies to join in the attack. Now that's just mean. To see this in action click on "Fire Ant Bite" to get a glorious photo of their handy work.

Paradox of Security
When entering into malls and hotels there are metal detectors, security guards and people checking under cars with mirrors. The domestic flights at the airports are interesting. First off I have yet to be asked for my passport. Secondly there are signs pointing out the limits on liquids and the need for them to be in a plastic bag. I was worried about my 15ml of eye drops but then I saw people going through with thermoses, 2 litre bottles of water, 500 ml pop bottles and so on. By the way, opening a pop bottle on the plane after a change in air pressure means it will explode all over. Trust me, I saw it happen. Then on one flight, despite the clear no smoking signs, I could definitely smell cigarettes from the general vicinity of the cock pit, that and the door between the pilots and the passengers failed to remain closed. As interesting as it is, the flights and travel have all been good and safe :)

I am a Walking Freak Show
Again I know I mentioned before on facebook that people stare, point and laugh at me. However it continues to the point that today children followed me around the grocery store pointing wildly and laughing hysterically. One of the children followed me out into the street, staring like a deer in the headlights. I am not sure if his expression was awe, shock, fear or some combination. I think I would attract less attention dressed as a Sasquatch, then again with my stature and frizzy hair perhaps I do resemble one.

While we were careening down the winding road to our first hotel in Manado we came around the bend to find a dog in the middle of the road taking a crap. Like right in the middle of the road, and the speeding taxi was not about to stop him. I would think it would scare it out a little faster, but no, the taxi swerved around him and we continued on. There are dogs all over Manado & according the the guide book some people do eat dog on this island. Jason has taken to calling the dogs NumNums, which is an attempt to make it less disturbing. That being said, it is no different than the momma boar and her boarlets (Bacon and her Bacon Bits) discussed in the previous post.

Smell Adventure
I consider myself a fairly seasoned traveller and I have some across my fair share of smells around the world. However I have topped my previously "worst smell ever" (experienced in Thailand) with a smell on the street yesterday that can only be described as fermenting feces and fish heads. Sadly many areas lack proper sanitation and water systems. Access to clean potable water is a big issue now and I think it will become even more so in our changing climate.

Tomorrow we plan on snorkeling Bunaken Park and then the next day we fly to Bali. I am hoping Bali will offer a bit more to do, better accommodations and better food than we are currently finding. Today we switched from our hotel that was outside of Manado to one that is right downtown. The previous hotel was far out, higher priced and had worse food selection.

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