JAVA, Indonesia -- Java is the most populous island in Indonesia, which itself is one of the most populous nations in the world. Java is the political, cultural and business center of Indonesia. Jakarta, the capital, is for many of us -- even those ultimately bound for spiritual, surfing or shopping journeys in Bali -- where we first encounter the conglomerate that makes up Indonesia. The blend is far from smooth, assaulting the senses. Culture shock hits like a tsunami, and left me grasping for an anchor to keep me from getting swept away in the turbulence.
Java is lined with volcanoes along its spine. Krakatau, arguably the world's most famous volcano, lay off the west coast of Java before it exploded in 1883. A tall cone looms over Jakarta from the east of the sprawling city.
In Jakarta, I was to meet Paul Krusic and his wife, Rachel. The three of us were to travel the country collecting tree-ring samples from which to reconstruct past variations in the Asian monsoons. We needed to pick up permits, learn more about what we might find, and make final arrangements with local helpers for our expedition.
Tuesday, March 12, 1996: Arrived in Jakarta about 1030 hrs.
The airport is a trip, at least it was. On the plane, I filled out a customs declaration and a embarkation/disembarkation card. I was worried aobut making a mistake, and had to leave my address in Indonesia blank, so I expected trouble. That wasn't a problem. But my visa wasn't numbered. The immigration officer laughed, so I laughed and acted like I had no idea of what was going on (an easy act). I was told to follow a police officer into an adjoining room. I tried to remember to smile. Apparently that was the proper behavior at the time. I was led to some beaurocrat behind a desk. He acted hurried and inconvenienced, I acted amused and dumb (another east act), and after another question about my place of residence he stamped my passport and allowed me to live [sic].
Then, in baggage claim, I began to run the gauntlet of janitors, porters, and taksi (taxi) drivers, all of whom were concerned about my long trip and who where eager to help me find the best accomodations possible. Nevertheless, I managed to avoid being shanghaid [sic], and found Paul Krusic's wife, Rachel, waiting for me. We are all now staying rooms [sic] in the Hotel Margot (fairly inexpensive), where I am now dozing uncontrollably. Good night.
|Merdeka Square||Traffic||Fountain||Rush hour|
|Flying Foxes||Botanical Garden||Botanical Garden||Monitor Lizard|
|Monitor Lizard||Botanical Garden||Botanical Garden||Baby Bat|
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