Saturday, March 17, 2018

Half way there...I'll make it I swear!

Hello friends! I am just over the halfway mark of this trip to Indonesia.

Two Thursdays ago, the rain stopped long enough for me to walk down to the Kotagede 'Aisyiyah Musholla in the early afternoon. There is a pre-school next to it and as the children were leaving I spoke with some of the teachers who work for 'Aisyiyah also. I was invited to observe the afternoon prayer and as I settled in, to my surprise, men walked in! Typically in articles this musholla described as being "khusus wanita" or a special women's musholla. Five men, however, were certainly praying in the front of the musholla as a few ladies prayed behind them. After prayer, I was invited to eat lunch with the teachers- rice, fried fish and vegetables- and I told them a little bit about my work. I made plans to return the next day with my translator, Linda, to do a proper interview and figure more about when this musholla
stopped being just for women. On my walk home I stopped into a small boutique and bought a long, flowy jean skirt (sometimes the clothes I wear here, with my pale skin and often braided hair makes me look like I'm auditioning to marry into the Duggar family) and a new headscarf (which would probably disqualify me from being in the Duggar family after all)- altogether for about $4.

On Friday I was up bright and early and went to one of the community leader's houses to get their signature on my domicile letter needed by immigration. I got their stamp easily enough but still had to go to one more location, the kelurahan or official office of the kampung. Unfortunately they weren't open when I arrived at 7:30 and since I had to be somewhere by 8:30 I couldn't stay. So I hopped on a Gojek and  I started a little weekend of sight-seeing! Although I have seen a lot of the tourist spots in Yogyakarta and the surrounding areas, I was kind of sad that I probably wouldn't have the chance to see some of the places again during this trip. Serendipitously, a friend of mine who had done the summer program I did a couple years after me had a sister who was going to be in town for the weekend and asked me to get in touch with her. Here's the funny thing- as I made plans over Facebook to meet Kayla at the Kraton and sight see a little, it didn't even dawn on me that sometimes people meet up and don't get along at all and DON'T want to hang out. I was right to not worry because we had a ton to talk about and a lot of fun! I am so glad she stopped by Yogyakarta on her way home from a year in South Korea! We met at the Kraton, the palace of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, and walked around the grounds. We spoke to some of the employees there and listened to some men sing but unfortunately since it was Friday (Jummah) there would be no gamelan performance. Because it is the off season, there were very few people there which allowed us to take our time and really check everything out. Of course, when we first arrived I had a couple people try to talk me into going in through a "side entrance" and to take a "special batik workshop" but I knew that was a little scam to spend my money and NOT get to see the Kraton so I declinded politely in Indonesian. Here are a few pictures from the Kraton:

After we left the Kraton we stopped at a little restaurant and then I had to Go-Jek over to the Kotagede Mushollah 'Aisyiyah to meet Linda and interview a couple of the ladies. I recorded a kind of group interview- not my favorite way to do it- on the steps of the mushollah with four women answering my questions. My translator and I had discussed a little bit about how we would proceed and it was a little rough for a first try- I felt like I was talking to my translator, she was talking to the interviewees and the interviewees were talking to the translator. Later on I got some good tips from my husband who has worked with translators before and I've definitely learned how to maintain more of a connection with my interviewees. The women, however, were not around whenever the mushollah started allowing men, so I asked them some questions about Kotagede and their involvement with 'Aisyiyah then wrapped up the interview. This basically ended my use of the Kotagede Mushollah as a research site and I have since moved on to two other locations.
Me in a hijab. The ladies told me I looked Pakistani. The ladies at the other musholla said I looked Arab- well in fact, I am! 

For the rest of Friday and most of Saturday I battled getting sick. Several people in my home here have had a cough/flu and although I had been washing my hands diligently and taking probiotics and vitamins I had a sore throat and an awful headache. Kayla and I had plans to go to Malioboro street- the big shopping street in Yogyakarta- and then the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan Saturday night. I rested a lot of Saturday and took meds and then felt great by the early evening. Malobioro is a busy street with tons of stores and vendors selling souvenirs. We walked all along one side and she finished getting some gifts for her family. There were such cute things but I resisted buying anything since there would be plenty of time to do that toward the end of my trip. I did see some items for sale that definitely stood at as NOT Indonesian:

I hope no foreigner buys these and rushes to their home country, showing these off as authentic Indonesian cultural items!

We were trying to figure out what to eat for dinner before we went to Prambanan and actually thought it'd be fun to try- of all things- McDonalds! She hadn't eaten McDonalds in over a year and since I don't normally eat that at home it had been ages for me, to. It was super busy in there and the menu definitely had some different items- spicy chicken, samball dispensers instead of ketchup- but it wasn't bad considering.

Then we took a Go-Car all the way to Prambanan, a 9th century Hindu temple, to watch the Ramayana Ballet. Back in 2013 I attended this also, but since it was not the rainy season then the stage was outside with Prambanan as the backdrop and at one point the dancers began setting the stage on fire! This time, we were inside in a very nice theater with a roof but only one wall in front of Prambanan with comfortable seats. Our tickets sat us right in the center front so we had a fabulous view of the traditional performance (not ballet as you would imagine it but beautiful dancing). The performance had beautiful costumes, hilarious parts, great acting, live gamelan music (which I could appreciate even more now that I had taken those gamelan classes back in Wisconsin) and I am so glad I was able to go. During intermission the views of Prambanan were gorgeous.

I got home quite late on Saturday night so on Sunday I laid low and did some reading and research. I figured out there is a little open air restaurant/coffee shop less than a quarter mile from my house and I went there to read and have a strawberry squash. Unfortunately the open-air setting also attracts lots of smokers so once a pair of smokers sat next to me I lasted only a little bit longer before I went back home.

On Monday I went to UGM and met with an ASU professor who also teaches at CRCS (Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies) and whose books on Java played have played an important role in my studies. He gave me plenty of advice for my fieldwork and writing and it was very helpful meeting. I also successfully visited the IT department and got my computer and phone set up for the UGM internet. After this I attempted to deliver one of my SPP letters (from Kementarian Dalam Negeri) to the governor's office. I arrived there by Gojek and the police guards showed me where to go but ultimately I found out I was in the wrong place entirely. I returned to the police guards and asked for directions for the right office, Kesbangpol, and the police officers felt so bad for me that one of them gave me a ride on a motorcycle to the office- after I took a group picture with the guards! I arrived at the Kesbangpol office and was shown to the right area where I was told that before I could give them the letter I actually needed to deliver the other letter to the police headquarters, get a permit from them, and then come back to Kesbangpol with other documents like my research permit from RISTEK, my proposal, etc. Before I left the employees asked me to take a picture with them!

From here I rushed over to my new research site, another Musholla 'Aisyiyah, and met my translator there. This was our first time attending and the gate around it was locked. We talked someone who was sweeping and she not only let us in but called one of the leaders who walked over from her house! This Musholla was exactly what I was looking for...but I won't go too much into detail- you can read my dissertation for that. We recorded a brief interview with her about the building and she told us that today was a great day to visit because on the 12th of every month the elderly women of the community gather to receive donations from the organization. Sure enough women began arriving on bicyles, motorbikes and on foot and we all sat on carpets on the musholla veranda. Everyone was very friendly to each other and to us and the female imam gave a brief sermon. After her sermon she asked us to summarize some of the points she made- her sermon discussed five ways to stay happy- and she asked me to answer one! I reiterated her advice to not let anxiety overcome you (something back in the US I battle every day) and I won a prize- an 'Aisyiyah calendar! After the short sermon, two kilos of beras (uncooked rice) and money were passed out to each elderly women. My translator and I made plans to return on Thursday for the Magrib prayer and to join the women as they broke their Thursday fast together.

On Tuesday I went back to the Kelurahan and waited only a little bit before I was helped. My letter was stamped and signed and I had to run down the street to get a copy made and bring back the copy. While I got the one copy I also made copies of my passport, proposal, and research permit in case future offices required them. Then I went to my favorite hang out, the immigration office (attempt number 3) and presented them with my folder including the signed domicile letter (the reason I was sent away last time) only to be told that I needed to include the second page of my TELEKS document and not just the first. I guess the second page is sitting in the UGM printer because I didn't realize I didn't have it! So, I had to give up for the day and go home and print the right paper.

 Later that day I was randomly checking my bank account when I saw that $250 was charged to my debit card on a website that sells discount gift cards. Zack and I had no idea who charged it he called our bank and of course someone was fraudlently using my debit card number. They had charged the intial $250 and were already trying to charge another $250 in gift cards. The bank reversed those charges and deactivated my card completely. This put me in quite a bind considering I'm in a foreign country for another month and need my debit card for ATM withdrawals. The bank was worried they wouldn't be able to get me a replacement card in time in Indonesia and we figured out that we could do cash withdrawals from our debit card without incurring a fee if we just replenished the money within 24 hours. It seemed like the crisis was averted for the time being.

Wednesday morning I left the house bright and early and went straight to the immigration office (#5 visit) and presented my blue folder. I had everything! But, I was told, I needed to now long onto the immigration website, give my TELEKS and passport number, log on, receive a confirmation email that I had logged on, print out the confirmation email and give it to the immigration office. I do not know why this is such a mysterious process or why the immigration office felt l could only handle one task at a time and would only tell me in steps what I needed to bring them over the period of two weeks!

Luckily one of the ICRS employees who has been very helpful to me was there and he said I should be able to print the confirmation email out at a photocopy shop nearby. I called a GoJek and for the first time had a total GoJek fail. I didn't go to the shop I had requested because he kept missing the turn (even with Google maps in front of him) so first he took me to a shop that was closed, then he took me to a shop that couldn't print from email, and just as I was about to lose it he took me to a big shop where I could get computer access. At this point, with all this running around, however, it was 9:40am and the immigration office wouldn't could only help me from 8am-10am.

I couldn't do anything more at immigration so I went on to the police headquarters which is close to UGM. They were very friendly and efficient. They took my SPP letter and required a few other papers that I had already made copies of and told me to return in 7 business days to get their permit. I had some time before I had to be at UGM so I walked across the street to a mall and went to Starbucks. I ordered my favorite drink- an iced chai latte with one pump mocha- only to realize when I picked it up that there is no chai latte in Indonesia, only chai tea bags with milk, water and a pump of mocha. Feeling that injustice was ruling the day, I drank as much as I could and went on to walk around the six floor mall. I had just enough time to pop into a little nail salon and get a mini-pedicure, seeing as most of the time here I am in places that require bare feet.

From here I went back to UGM for the Wednesday forum and listened to a really interesting presentation about an organization that sends young people to live in Jakarta for three weeks with families of different religions to foster tolerance. After, I went home and walked to the nearest ATM to draw out cash for the week using my credit card now that my debit card is no good. I tried a few times but kept getting an error...of course it was the middle of the night in the US so there was nothing I could to besides admit to the third mini-catastrophe of the day.

That afternoon, however, I had the chance to do something kind of different. The kampung that I live in has monthly meetings for the women in the community and my host here invited me to attend. There was a lot of delicious food and tea, I introduced my self, and there were prize drawings and mini-presentations. New residents were welcomed with a gift and plans were made for the next meeting. It was fun seeing all of the women in the co mmunity gathered, some with small children, about 80% Muslim and 20% Christian or other, all participating in the community. My neighborhood back in Arizona is new and we barely talk to each other much less hang out!

On Thursday I left the house at 8am, determined to draw out the money for my payment to immigration (because on top of everything- paying for the visa, paying RISTEK, I also have to pay immigration). Zack had talked to the bank overnight and they assured him that the ATM should work for me. They were...WRONG! It didn't work. I tried a couple times and then my mobile hotspot via my Indonesian phone stopped working so I had no choice but to walk back home. Zack got back on the phone with the bank and they suggsted I find a way to be on the phone with him while he's on the phone with them while I go to the ATM and walk them through what happened. This was impossible- I couldn't walk the half mile to the ATM just to lost internet and not be able to talk to anyone. Besides, the ATM I am using is not THEIR ATM, it is an Indonesian bank that uses Visa (most do not) and it's not like banks work where every time someone tries to draw money out there's someone in real time approving each request. I was getting SO FRUSTRATED. I even walked to another ATM to make sure I wasn't getting a technical error from the ATM itself and still had no luck. Then I had to walk back home. At one point I just had to tell Zack that he needed to emphasize that his wife was in a FOREIGN COUNTRY with NO MONEY and that they needed to figure it out! All of these ATM attempts later (I'm lucky the ATM didn't eat my card) and it was already too late for me to even go to immigration so my entire morning was wasted. And I still had no money except a little bit go get me places by Go-Jek.

The day DID get better, however. I went to my research site and talked to some of the women for a while before my translator arrived. Then we were all served a plate of food (the women fast on Mondays and Thursdays and meet to break their fast at sundown). Then the women prayed in the musholla while I observed. I got some GREAT pictures that I would love to share but I am saving them for the appendices of my dissertation. Everyone then ate more food- since I hadn't been fasting I a was already so full- and we talked to the women about my project and the possibility of interviewing some of them. One of the women wanted to be interviewed right then! We recorded the interview but from now on we are going to do one-on-one interviews because translating and recording can get difficult when others join in with the answers. Being there that evening, however, was like finally experiencing exactly what I had come all the way to Indonesia for and it was extremely motivating. I immediately went home, upoaded and saved pictures and recordings, and wrote everything I could in my research notes for later coding.

On Friday I tried the ATM again and finally it worked! I went from there to immigration (trip #6) and wonder of all wonders, my blue folder and passport were accepted! I have to pay the fee and return next week to take a photo and scan my fingerprints. Then a few days after that I will get my passport back with my KITAS and MERP (limited stay permit and multiple exit re entry permit). Finally, success! From there I went to the musholla where we were told an imam would be giving a sermon that morning. I was surprised to see a male imam who gave a sermon about preparing for Ramadan (sixty-some days away) and the proper movements for prayer. The sermon gave me a lot to think about in terms of blessings/rewards in Islam and there may be a paper to be written in the future about it...

ICRS/CRCS building
After the sermon concluded and most of the women departed, we were introduced to this lovely lady who was eighty years old and had been attending the women's musholla for most of her life. She was so kind and wonderful to talk to and she told us quite a bit about how the musholla and the community were in the 1950s to now. It was a great interview! After, I attempted to take my translator to my favorite Indian food restaurant near the ICRS guesthouse (a restaurant we all went to often when we stayed there in 2013), only to find that it was permanently closed. Instead we opted to split a pizza at the nearby Pizza Hut and discuss the next week of interviews. From here I went to UGM and was relieved to finally have access to the little CRCS library. I had to lock up my bag in a locker and then I found the book that had been recommended to me. When I went to check it out the librarian asked me to bring it back to her in one piece, as if I was going to stare here down as I ripped out the pages one by one and shoved them into my mouth. I responded with an enthusiastic ABSOLUTELY! and was on my way.

This brings me to today, Saturday, which was lovely. I took a nap, I went to the coffee shop and had an iced mocha, I started my book, I waited for the rain (which started about two hours ago and has not let up).

 I've hit the halfway mark! It's bittersweet because although I miss my family, I have so much to do here in such a short time that the countdown is as stressful as it is exciting.

Other random photos from this week:

Cigarette ad- NEVER QUIT, but also, you may die. 

People are willing to transport anything on motorbikes.

A very large, very green grasshopper.

Fruit stand!

Chicken hearts. I had one.
Fried grasshoppers. I abstained.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Go-Jeks, ujian (rain) and endless bureacracy

AndroMax! It's weird texting with this keypad like I had in high school.
My outing on Monday was to the closest mall. I needed a cell phone with an Indonesian number so people could call or text me. I still have my iPhone, on airplane mode that I connect to WiFi wherever possible. For about $20 bucks I bought a cell phone with a month of free data and I put about $1 of "pulsa" or phone/text minutes on it. The mall was nice and several stories. I didn't really shop too much because it is so early in my trip but there were familiar stores like Nike and also stores I had never heard of. Just as I was about to leave it started to rain so I went into the Pizza Hut and had a personal pepperoni pizza- I'm not ashamed to admit it was absolutely amazing (other menu options included tuna pizza and pizza with little hot dogs). When I got back I went through the area on foot some more, becoming more familiar with my temporary home.

So the first Tuesday in Yogyakarta I started the morning off with a call to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to see if my SPP was ready yet (remember I have to go back to Jakarta to get it). Someone answers and I explain (in Indonesian) why I was calling and he asks me to call back in 5 minutes. I wait 5 minutes and call back. For the rest of the day no one answered the two numbers I was given to call.

Moving on with my list, I took a Go-Jek to the immigration office, which is by the airport. A Go-Jek is a company that is like Uber but for ojeks. Ojeks are motorbike taxis- basically they carry an extra helmet, you hop on their bike and go to your desination and pay them when you get there. With Go-Jek you don't have to try to hail a driver or guesstimate the cost. Instead I have an app on my phone where I put in my destination and pick up spot, I get a price and am matched with a driver nearby. If the driver can't find me we can call or text each other and I rate the driver like you do on Uber. For most of the places I go in Yogyakarta the cost is about 16000IDR or $1.17. What's funny is I am totally against motorcycles in the US and I would never, ever, support Zack having one (he went through a phase where he wanted one but several people we know have had awful accidents so he doesn't discuss it much anymore). Here, however, it really is the quickest form of transportation (taxis are more expensive and so big that they get stuck in traffic). I throw on the helmet, get on the motorcycle, balance with my hands on my knees and track where I'm going on my phone. Sometimes my driver is chatty and wants to know what I'm doing in Indonesia. Sometimes the traffic or rain is so loud and my driver talks to me but between the noise and the helmets I can't hear a thing. And sometimes it's just a quiet ride. Once I had a driver who got lost and had to ask for directions (even though the map was on his phone. I've had all male drivers except for one so far. If you don't have WiFi and see a GoJek driver available one of two things will happen: either they will give you a ride and charge you a tiny bit more since it is off the books (we are talking like 5000IDR more) or they will let you connect to their internet and call a GoJek through the app. I did this once surrounded by GoJek drivers and instead was assigned a driver from five minutes away!

Always wear a helmet. Wonder how many people a day wear this helmet. Hope those people have good hygiene.

So, I get to the immigration office thinking I am going to turn in my letter from Ristek and the other requirements I was told I needed from the Ristek office. Instead I am given a sheet of paper with a bunch of additional requirements-

1. Surat Permohonan Itas Baru dari Penjamin (New application letter from guarantor- in my case, UGM and specifically a professor from the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies)

2. Surat Jaminan Bermaterai dari Penjamin (Stamped assurance letter from my guarantor)

3. Fotokopi KTP Penjamin (Photocopy of my gaurantor's Indonesian identity card)

4. Teleks Visa- That Teleks form I was originally emailed many months ago from RISTEK

5. Fotokopi Permohonan dari izin Penelitian dari Instansi terkait (Kementerian Riset Teknologi dan DIKTI)- Basically the packet of info RISTEK gave me addressed to the immigration office.

6. Fotokopi Paspor + Visa- Already in the above packet, RISTEK is very organized!

7. Suat Keterangan Domisili Orang Asing dark Kelurahan dan Kecamatan- A letter from the head of the community I live in here.

8. Mengisi Formulir Perdim 24, 25, 26, 27- Four pages of forms from the immigration office

9. Pasfoto Ukuran 3x4cm sebanyak 2 leibar (latarbelakang merah)- 2 passport photos 3x4 cm with red background (Note: the Ristek pamphlet says that immigraiton wants 2x3 cm photos. I came here with several 4x6 cm photos and 2x3. I refused to find a place to print photos in this size so instead I used the 2x3cm photos as a guide and cut down two 4x6cm photos to 3x4cm).

10. Fotokopi kartu Peneliti- Photocopy of my research card that Ristek gave me

11. Fotokopi Proposal Penelitian- Photocopy of my research proposal

I immediately set out to gather these items. I took a Go-Jek to the UGM campus to find the Office of International Affairs. Once I found it I wasn't able to do more than breath in one gasp of air conditioning before I was told that there are actially TWO offces, that the one I was at wasn't the right one, and even if I go to the right one it would be closed for lunch until 1pm. Luckily the right office was a short walk away and I did enjoy seeing the UGM campus. It's funny how many university campuses have the same vibe. I love campuses- which is good since I'd really like to work forever at one- and UGM does not disappoint. I found the right office which was by the UGM Museum and was a small building surounded by a porch with a little water feature that had koi and turtles. I waited under the patio until it the office opened up again and had a chat with an Australian student studying history for the semester. The people at the OIA were very nice and efficient and told me that they would supply me the first three letters on that list from the immigration office and I just needed to return on Thursday for pick up.
Friends at the Office of International Affairs

I called another Go-Jek and decided to go to the Pimpinan Pusat 'Aisyiyah, or the Yogyakarta headquarters for 'Aisyiyah to introduce myself and let them know my research plans. The headquarters is by the Sultan's palace (the Kraton) and once I found the right place I showed someone my research card and waited for someone to speak with me. In a conference room I had a conversation with a representative of 'Aisyiyah and I explained what I was doing in Yogyakarta and my goals. She was very nice, helpful and suggested I just go to the mushollas directly to get further permission for observation and interviews. We exchanged contact information and I was on my way.

I took my last Go-Jek of the day and stopped at the AlfaMart to get some comfort food- Mizone drink (like a gatorade but tastes better) and Cheetos! Then I came home and called the ministry in Jakarta one last time and was so excited when someone answered. However, they only answered to tell me that they, at 3 o'clock, had closed for the day. It was 3:05.

Wednesday morning I woke up with my first mosquito bite- after two weeks of being in Indonesia! The mosquito told all of its friends though and now I have to douse myself every night in bug spray so I am not covered in giant red splotches. I took a Go-Jek to the ICRS building at UGM and I was so happy to see a familiar place. When I was here in 2013 we took classes with the ICRS/CRCS students and it was great to see the offices and many familiar faces. Back then we lived close to the university so we walked every morning to classes. I spoke to my advisor here and caught him up on my plans (we of course have been emailing for several months as I applied for my visa and made travel plans). Then I went to a meeting of the ICRS students and introduced myself and a little bit about my project. After that I stayed for the Wednesday forum and saw a great presentation about filming testimonies from people affected by climate change in developing countries. Another great thing was that I met with the head of the program- the person who actually first took me to the 'Aisyiyah meeting and Kauman Musholla back in 2013! If you want to know more about that experience- that eventually changed my dissertation topic and the trajectory of my studies entirely- look HERE. After spending a good portion of the day at UGM I went back to my house, read some articles and sent a bunch of emails.

Gedung Pasca Sarjana, where the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies at UGM is located.

Thursday I went to the Islamic Univeristy, UIN, and listened to my advisor present in Indonesian about religion, power, and social transformation. I spoke to a few UIN graduate students also about their projects.  I then went to a restaurant and met Mas Faishol, who was in charge of all of us Luce Summer Program students back in 2013. He now works for AIFIS, the American Institute for Indonesian Studies, and it was great to catch up with him over some great mie goreng! Side note: I saw a grasshopper bigger than my fist at the (outdoor) restaurant. It was bright green and way prettier and less revolting than grasshoppers in Arizona. I went back to the Office of International Affairs at UGM and their paperwork was all ready for me! On my way home on the Go-Jek there was a downpour. I didn't have a poncho, a rain coat, nothing except a helmet on so I came home soaked. I stayed in the rest of the day and kept researching.

Friday I woke up to great news- I am receiving a small grant from ASU for my Los Angeles research! Money in the humanities can be hard to come by but I have been very lucky to have been able to do all of my research thus far with grants. Also- I finally got through to the Ministry! Unfortunately, I may be decent at speaking some languages but put soneone on the phone with me and I am awful. Luckily I was able to call someone from ICRS and he confirmed for me what I thought the ministry was saying- that my SPP was ready to be picked up! I immediately booked my flight to Jakarta for Monday morning (take off 7:30am) and returning in the early evening (take off 6:30pm). My plan was to go straight to the ministry and do whatever it took to walk away with that SPP and get back to Yogyakarta that night. With Garuda Indonesia (the domestic airline that I like) the price came to about $160 which isn't bad for a last minute round trip booking.

Once that was planned I took a short Go-Jek ride to the musholla and hung around there for a bit. I got there between prayer times but was able to talk to a lot of the groundskeepers and a young mom who was watching her kids play. The musholla also has a pre-school (TK here) with a colorful, cheerful playground and little classrooms. I took a lot of pictures that will be great for my dissertation and also presentations. One of the people there gave me a delicious drink- that I am pretty sure is called Bendrek- composed of coconut sugar, ginger, bits of young coconut and bread.

I basically eat and drink whatever is given to me here.

Saturday and Sunday I mostly walked around and read. I came here with a few books to read for research and also have found a ton of articles on different topics I am interested in looking into more while I am here so there is always plenty to do. I found a coffee shop that makes an excellent cappuccino- even though by the time I walk there in the humidity I am so sweaty and feel gross that ordering a hot drink is the last thing I should probably do!
I went to bed super early on Sundays so I could wake up at 4:30am on Monday morning for my Jakarta trip. I packed the bare minimum- my backpack with all my necessary documents, and another shirt, change of underwear, pajamas, my contact case and toothbrush in case something went awry and I had to stay the night. Flying with so little is so nice!

Dunkin Donuts: Good around the world. Dunkin
Donuts Coffee: Not so much.

On Monday I woke up after sleeping terribly and called a Go-Car (same company as Go-Jek but more like Uber in the sense that it's a car, of course) to take me to the airport. I got to the airport at about 5:30am and since I had some time I went to Dunkin' Donuts in the airport and had a coffee and glazed donut. The Yogya airport is interesting because it's basically a large area with chairs and on one wall there's a series of glass doors (gates) and on two walls there's stores (book store, Circle K, souvenirs, random Polo Ralph Lauren, etc.). You don't know what doorway to go through for your flight until it is about to board. While I was waiting a family asked to take a picture with me and I was glad to oblige. When my flight was called I joined the mob heading to the announced door and walked through it to the stairs of the plane. The nice thing about Garuda Indonesia flights is that even though it was only 50 minutes each seat still has its own entertainment screen. I was able to watch more than half of the movie Gifted with Chris Evans. We were given a snack box of a sweet roll and a bag of Asian nut mix. The flight was over before I knew it and then I was back in Jakarta.

In Jakarta I grabbed a BlueBird taxi and started the long, traffic filled journey to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Kementarian Dalam Negeri). It was so hard to stay awake on that ride. My cab driver could not figure out how to get me right to the building even with my directions so I just had her drop me off and I walked the short rest of the way. I ended up passing the Monumen Nasional where there was a mob of students and next thing I knew I was taking selfies with about four groups of teens. I made it to the ministry and received my letters in about 15 minutes! One letter for me, one addressed to the governor's office in Yogyakarta, and one for the Yogyakarta police headquarters. When I left the ministry it was only 10:30am and my flight didn't leave until 6:30pm. Since it was Monday going to museums was out of the question because everything in Jakarta is basically closed. I thought about going to a mall near the airport but I was still so tired. Instead I was able to hail a cab quickly and just went back to the airport.

I went to the ticket counter and asked if my flight could be changed and it took about 2 minutes to change it to a flight leaving at 1:05pm! Something about me: many people who know me would find me changing my flight surprising- there have been times in my life where I have come across kind of timid and not very assertive but when you are traveling alone you really have no choice and being confident usually works in my favor. Now I just had an hour wait for my flight so I grabbed a water and some crackers and waited. On the flight back to Yogyakarta I finished the Gifted movie (I liked it), dozed a little and ate the snack (another sweet roll with some sort of cheese in it plus the three mini cookies again). When we started our descent we had to back off because it was raining so hard in Yogya that the runway was closed. We circled around for 25 minutes until we could land. The pilot warned us that the landing would be rough because they would need to use more force than usual to make sure we didn't slide but the landing wasn't that difficult actually. As we disembarked the plane onto the tarmac there were people waiting to give each of us an umbrella! When we reached the airport building someone was waiting to collect our umbrellas too. I took a cab back to my house and by the time I was back in my room it was 3:30pm- what a whirlwind of a trip! I immediately napped which was much needed after an exhausting day (not to mention a day filled with carbs).

During all this time I was coming to a realization that it would be best to have an interpreter with me when I do my interviews. Although I have had some great conversations in Indonesian I know that people are speaking more slowly to me than they would otherwise and I want them to be able to feel more natural. I also didn't want to risk missing ANYTHING someone said during interviews. I contacted a professor at CRCS who actually graduated from ASU with the same advisor as me and he thought of someone immediately. I was nervous to meet her for several reasons. First I did some research on the effects of interpreters on qualitatve research and read tips on having interpreters that were really helpful. Secondly, I was unsure if we would "click" or get along and if she would be interested in my topic. Lastly, having an interpreter does take a way a little bit of my flexibility time-wise since I will have to have more of a set schedule. Luckily I met her and immediately made a friend! I am excited to work with her and it is always great to discuss my field of study with someone else who is also passionate about it! We went over a lot in our first meeting and hopefully soon she will be accompanying me on interviews.

After meeting her I finally went down to IT and got my computer set up for the UGM internet system which was made much more complicated because I have a Mac. That evening I went with my host here to the head of the community's home to get the letter of domicile for the immigration office.

This morning, Wednesday, I had such BIG PLANS. I was going to do so much! So much would get done! The day would be mine! I was wrong. I went to the immigration office where they had me fill out four very long forms that mostly asked the same thing (but sometimes in a different order so pay attention!) in Indonesian. I filled them out. Turns out I filled one out TOO much so I had to get a new one and re-do it. I turned in the papers along with all of the other items on that big list up above. Then I come to find that the person who I received a letter of domicile from was not high up enough for the immigration office. So I now have to go to someone else to get a letter from them and then go back to the immigration office. As I stepped outside I realized it was raining- but hey, I had brought my poncho! Tip: Don't open a poncho and figure out to wear it for the first time when it is windy and raining on you. A woman also leaving the office felt bad for me and had to help me! I probably looked pathetic.

Then I called a Go-Jek which in retrospect was a mistake- it was raining so hard I now wonder what his visibility was like because mine was awful! He took a very long, winding way home (it doesn't affect the price) and the poncho did protect my backpack and the helmet protected my hair but my shoes filled with water and now and then a cold stream of rain would run under all of my layers. Ugh.
My original plan was to go to the musholla, hang around during prayers and stay on for the meeting that was supposed to take place there. By the time I was dropped off at the musholla it was raining so hard that it seemed like everything in Kotagede was closing down. No one was at the musholla and everything was dark. Vendors were packing up their foodcarts, stores were closing down, people were taking refuge in the warungs and looking way more dry than me in my big blue poncho. Since I use my iPhone app to summon Go-Jek it requires Wi-Fi which I did not have so I basically had no way to be transported the mile back to my house. It became clear to me that not only was no one going to come pray in these conditions (in this weather people will end up praying at home) and that likely any meeting would be cancelled. I embarked then on a one mile trip on foot (not an issue for me on any other, dry day) but today was the day the streets began to flood. There was wind, lightning, thunder, overflowing gutters, FROGS, splashing cars and motorbikes, potholes and trenches to fall in, and just about everything you could think of. I pondered if it was an apocalyptic event as I stood under the awning of a closed carwash. I thought I'd wait for the rain to let up a little bit halfway through my walk. I waited for about 30 minutes and the rain didn't lessen at all. I continued my walk. By the time I got to my house I had walked through knee high water and I could barely stand the thought of the unseen debris/trash that had touched me as I slogged through. I immediately took a scalding hot shower with lots of soap and felt like a human again only after a cup of tea.
Not sure how much good this poncho did.
Today didn't go as planned but here I am, still planning a full day for tomorrow. I'm feeling impatient, a little frustrated, the always present imposter-syndrome is following me around, some days I find I speak Bahasa so easily and other days I feel like I can barely string together a sentence.

My host just knocked on my door with a slice of cake. That helped.

Bonus picture, as seen in Yogyakarta:

A family of three, all with helmets. The kid is standing!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Leaving the Big Durian

I've officially been in Indonesia for sixteen days and in Yogyakarta for seven!

Last I posted, I was in Jakarta and preparing to go to Mabes Polri, the police headquarters, for a traveling permit. I took a taxi to south Jakarta and was directed by the guards in front of one of the police headquarter buildings to another set across the street. Fortunately, a lot of the busy roads I encountered in Jakarta had pedestrian bridges connecting each side. After asking a few people where I was supposed to go I was led past a masjid and through a sea of parked motorcycles into a small waiting room with one open service window, or loket. There was a digital check in and I waited for my number to show up on the overhead screen for about forty-five minutes. When I was called up all I had to do was hand over the packet of papers that RISTEK had organized for me the day before and I was told to return at 10AM the next day. As I waited to hail a taxi back to my hotel I was suddenly hit with an absolute downpour. Finally a BlueBird taxi stopped before I was completely drenched and I was on my way.

I returned the next day to Mabes Polri and picked up my travelling permit with no trouble. I took a taxi straight to the Ministry of Home Affairs and anticipated an easy time there- well it was not meant to be. When I handed them the packet addressed to them from RISTEK and my newly issued travelling permit from Mabes Polri. I was then handed a yellow receipt and told to come back in seven businessd days to pick up the letter I needed from them (SPP). Of course by this time it was Wednesday and I was leaving for Yogyakarta on Friday! The person working with me helpfully noted I could call the number at the top of my paper and check if it was ready early but that yes, I would need to fly back to Jakarta to get this piece of paper. Feeling frustrated, I realized there was nothing I could do about it at the moment and decided to sight see a little bit instead.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is located next to the Monumen Nasional and the National Museum. The Monumen Nasional (MONAS) is a tower over 400 feet tall in Merdeka (Freedom) Square surrounded by a lovely park. It opened in the 70s and is mean to commemorate Indonesia's long struggle for independence. There was some sort of police or military event happening in the park and it was clealry their lunch time but I was able to get a couple good pictures of the impressive monument. Next I wandered around until I found the National Museum and paid the 10,000RP (less than $1) fee to enter. Like many museums there were several school groups touring and unfortunately half of the museum was under renovations. I had a great time with what was open, particularly the geological and anthropological origins of the islands and its people, the architecture section, and writing section. I was also approached by two young ladies on a field trip and obliged when they asked to take a selfie with me.

Skull of Flores Man, a dwarf skull found to be
of an exctinct species 50,000 to 100,000 years old
Jakarta's juxtapositions- from the longest 6 mile taxi drive.
Thursday night I took an hour long taxi ride to travel about 6 miles to the Plaza Senayan, a mall. I met Bu Amelia and her husband again for dinner at a trendy restaurant called Union. Later that night, I started to not feel well but after going to sleep early I woke up at 2AM feeling great and wide-awake. I ended up finishing my packing and just biding my time until my afternoon flight to Yogyakarta. Not wanting to show up to Yogya with no clean clothes, I had the hotel do some of my laundry which was very expensive since they charged per type of item, but ultimately worth it to have clean clothes. At around 11 in the morning I took a taxi to the airport and entered the domestic terminal.

Let me tell you- the last time I was in this terminal it was a bit of a nightmare. It was 2013, I had just said goodbye to my friend Megan who had been my travel buddy for the prior 48 hours of travel, I was exhausted, I didn't know one word of Indonesian and I just wanted to turn around and go home. When I arrived in Jakarta and went to the domestic side to take my short evening flight to Yogyakarta I was mortified at the busy, loud airport that looked completely different than any other airport I had encountered (especially since the last airport I had been in was Hong Kong!). I remember stumbling to some chairs and spoke a little bit with some soccer players who immediately exclaimed "Obama!" when they learned I was American (no one is shouting the current president's name with glee here now, trust me). Then an Australian man saw me checking the time on my watch and gave me my first excellent tip about Indonesia- don't expect the flight to be on time. In fact, don't expect anyone or anything to be on time.
The new Terminal 3

In flight snacks, courtesy of Garuda Indonesia
Back to this year, however, I had a completely different experience. The terminal had been completely rebuilt since my last visit and it is a sight to behold. While it lacks the Javenese architectural style of the previous terminal, the new terminal is sleek, open, clean, and bright. I was actually really happy I had arrived early! I spied a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and had a fruity tea and a little pizza. Then I settled in to do some reading while I waited. And waited. And waited. At some point the time for my flight to leave came and went but I had expected this. Eventually the flight boarded and the hour and twenty minute flight commenced. Right away we were given snack boxes- far superior to a baggie of peanuts or pretzels from Southwest- that contained a sweet roll with a bit of chocolate sauce inside and three tiny cookies. In 2013, both flying into and leaving Yogyakarta occurred at night so I had a real treat this flight of seeing the Javanese landscape and coast. It was such a relief to see us descend into all of the greenery after being in busy, traffic-choked Jakarta. 

It was lightly raining as we disembarked and walked across the tarmac to the busy airport. My AirBnB host had sent me incredibly detailed directions to her home- even information on where to find a taxi and the cost! I got into a taxi quickly and the ride cost less than $6. With my (Indonesian) directions my driver turned opposite of the way I had indicated and kind of ended up stuck down a narrow street- one that my Kia Soul would have been able to zip out of with a 3-point turn, I thought longingly- but eventually he was able to reverse down the street and find the right house, a beautiful green home that was to be partly mine for the next seven weeks.

My hosts welcomed me wonderfully and showed me around my rooms. Their housekeepers gave me hot sweet tea and pisang goreng (delicious fried bananas) and I ate a delicious dinner of fried fish (ikan goreng) with the couple hosting me. After that I got right to work unpacking and organizing my belongings. I slept so well that night and woke up and had nasi goreng (fried rice, Indonesian style- and way better than any other fried rice) for breakfast. My host, Bu Nin, who had kindly been so helpful and accommodating of my changing travel plans over the past few months, walked around the neighborhood with me and showed me some of the area. This house is close to a busy road (busy in the Yogya sense, not the Jakarta sense) and I have a lovely big room with a large bed, a smaller room with a desk and another bed (where my packing cubes live) and a bathroom with an American toilet, sink and shower head. I also have a water dispenser that can dispense boiling water if I choose and a selection of tea and coffee right outside my room! Heaven! Last but not least there's a private entrance to my area of the house with a terrace full of orchids and roses.

Hopefully I am luckier than Napolean in my ventures.
My home for the last bit of my 30th year!
 I went out and explored on my own right away and walked the mile from the house to my first research site. Prior to this I hadn't spent any time in Kotagede, an area known for its impressive silversmiths, so it was great to smile and say hello to people, making note of the nearest Mie Goreng warung, Alfamart, ATM, etc. In the US, as friendly as I try to be, you can't imagine how many times I pass people and smile and am either given a look of puzzlement or ignored. Of course here I stick out like a pale, chubby, sore thumb with green eyes but it is so nice to have smiles returned and people asking how you are. Saturday and Sunday I sent a flurry of emails to the powers that be, planned out all of the tasks I had ahead of me before research commenced, and went this way and that on the streets by my house, getting my bearings.
Drinking tea on the terrace, reading Fatima Mernissi, listening to the call to prayer.

Before I knew it Monday had arrived and I had to start whittling away on my to do list, had the first of many Go-Jek rides and became very busy! More on that soon- I'm aware how long this post is so I will write more later.

The main street closest to my house. And a volcano. (Mount Merapi)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hello, Jakarta!

Well, she's traveling again.

Almost five years ago I embarked on a trip to Indonesia that would change the trajectory of my life. I traveled over two days with my good friend Megan as she went to visit her mom and I went to start a summer fellowship. Our itinerary was grueling- 15 hour flight to Hong Kong, sleeping on chairs in the Hong Kong airport, showering and eating breakfast at a spa there, then on to Jakarta where we parted ways. I immediately went to Yogyakarta and arrived late at night. When my friend Ainoen, who I hadn't yet met, greeted me at the airport with a sign with my name on it I think I actually gasped in relief. As we rode a taxi to my guesthouse, my home for the next two months, I thought- What was I thinking? I tend to always feel that way the first 24-48 hours of any solo travel. I quickly got over it and spent several weeks having an amazing experience. I met some wonderful people, both Indonesians and Americans, and I am lucky to still call them my friends today. I went to as many tourist spots as possible, ate basically any food offered to me, and had so much fun. I also, if you can remember far back in my blog where I discussed this, found myself one evening at a women's masjid in Kotagede. 

Me in 2013, Java Indonesia

Five years later, many things have changed, but I always knew I would be back in Indonesia. In the past five years, I have moved with my husband to California (for four years) - and now have been moved back to Arizona for almost a year. We added a second dog to our family, Risa. Zack's and my siblings have given us many more nieces and nephews. I taught for both my university and a junior college in California. I studied Indonesian for a summer in Wisconsin, passed my gruelling comprehensive exams, and defended my dissertation prospectus to gain candidacy. 

Everything I have done thus far for my doctorate has been in hopes of returning to Indonesia again to do my doctoral research. As soon as my dissertation prospectus passed, I started the research visa process with the Indonesian government. Last time when I was in Indonesia, I traveled on a social/cultural visa which meant I was prohibited from doing any research- at the time of course I didn't know I was ever going to do research in Indonesia! I started the visa procurement process with many people in my ear telling me how difficult it would be, how much bureaucracy I would have to deal with, and quite a bit of discouragement from some. Per usual I went for it anyway. 

The process of getting a research visa is not simple. The reason for this, however, is completely understandable. Governments need to make sure that the foreign researchers they are allowing into their country are not going in to exploit the people, environment, etc. Prior to a few years ago, all application materials had to be mailed across the world and it could take up to 6 months for them to be processed. Now, however, almost the entire process was online and I found the people at the Ministry of Research in Jakarta to be extremely helpful via email with any questions I had. 

The following items had to be uploaded to the RISTEK website: 

  1. A formal letter requesting to do research in Indonesia. 
  2. Research proposal (in my case my dissertation prospectus). 
  3. Project abstract.
  4. Scanned passport.
  5. My curriculum vitae.
  6. My local counterpart's curriculum vitae. For my counterpart and I luckily was able to ask the professor who advised me at UGM and he agreed. Additionally, the people at ICRS (the International Consortium for Religious Studies) were incredibly helpful. 
  7. A 4x6 cm photo of my face with a red background. I also had to bring several copies of this plus more shrunk down to 2x3cm for my time in Jakarta and Yogyakarta. I bought a red posterboard and taped it to my parents' kitchen wall and my sister Danielle snapped a few pictures. At first I ordered copies from a website that did custom sizing but before I left I wised up and just bought some photo paper and printed them myself. 
  8. A letter from my counterpart, UGM, to the Ministry of Research agreeing to be my sponser. 
  9. Two letters of recommendation, one from my committee chair and the other from my institution (my graduate coordinator in this case). 
  10. Something showing how much money I had in the bank. This is presumably to show I can pay for the trip and I won't try to get a job while in Indonesia. 
  11. Health certificate from my doctor- every time I ask a doctor for this they are puzzled, but she gave me a letter stating I was healthy for travel and research on her office letterhead. 
  12. A list of research equipment that would be brought- since I do ethnography that basically meant my computer, USB, camera, audio recorder, and some notebooks.
There was also a part where I would provide information about my spouse or children if they were accompanying me. It pains me to say that Zack was unable to come to any part of this trip- both due to his work schedule and travel restrictions for his job. 

It took several weeks to get all of these letters and papers together, but I finally uploaded them in October, shortly after I passed my prospectus defense. To my great suprise and joy, I was approved by November! At this point the holidays were coming up and the best prices for flights weren't until January. I planned my trip for January 20 through March 20. When RISTEK approved me, I was emailed a letter to take to the Indonesian Consulate nearest to me to pick up my visa. A visa, if you don't know, is basically a printed sticker put on a page of your passport with all of your trip information. 

Zack and I scoped out the days the consulate would be open, since it was that tricky time of Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years, and I emailed and called the consulate in Los Angeles to let them know I was coming. Unfortunately I had a great deal of difficulty reaching them and after sending several emails and voicemails I narrowed down the window I could go. You have two months from the date that RISTEK issued you your approval to pick up the visa but once you picked up the visa you only had 30 days to depart for your destination. This meant that I basically the last two weeks in December to pick up the visa, which of course meant I would be dealing with limited open hours at the consulate. Zack and I planned a roadtrip to Los Angeles just after Christmas and we were able to crash at a friend's place even though she was out of town for the holidays. 

I arrived at the consulate and waited about an hour and a half before the area I needed opened up, later than usual. Then, I was told that the person who would process my visa was out of town- for almost two weeks! The employees who were there had me fill out some redundant information as if I was applying anew for the visa and I had to make copies of all of my application documents. This was frustrating because, per the consulate's advice via email I had emailed them my application materials in one big PDF weeks before. Zack and I, unwilling to lose our parking space, walked around Koreatown in Los Angeles until we found a Staples and I could make all of my copies. Then we wandered into different gas stations asking if we could do a money order until we finally found one. The consulate told me to create a money order for $50 for the consulate to process my visa. Lastly, I had to purchase a pre-paid, self addressed envelope so my passport could be shipped to me since I was not local to the consulate. We left Los Angeles feeling very frustrated because we had been totally unprepared- after all, everything I had read used the phrase "go to the consulate to pick up the passport" which suggests some amount of simplicity. We turned lemons into lemonade though and drove down to Camp Pendleton where we met with some dear friends and reminisced about how much we loved living there before driving back the next day. We actually returned home with less than we left with- besides the cost of a kind of pointless trip, the consulate had taken my passport and said they would send it to me in my prepaid envelope. Being someone who loves to travel, I cannot tell you how strange it felt to be without a passport. I don't often entertain thoughts of fleeing the country but just knowing that I couldn't for those few weeks made me nervous!

Then the waiting began. I was told to call back on January 5 to see if my visa had been processed, so I put the entire thing out of my mind to enjoy the new year. Come the fifth, I called. I left a voicemail. I called later, and left a voicemail. I repeated this two voicemail a day process for about 5 days until I realized that it was going to be impossible for me to leave on the 20th as planned (and paid for). At this point I didn't have a visa and my passport was, in my over-anxious mind, probably on someone's desk being used as a coaster. The window for me to even receive my visa expired (two months from the date it was approved, remember?). I got into contact with RISTEK again and they were extremely accomodating and issued me another approval. Then I continued my incessant phone calls to the consulate and I didn't let my phone out of my sight in hopes of seeing an LA area code calling me. Finally- FINALLY- I got the call that my visa was being processed. I had to pay a hefty price to re-book my flights for almost a month later (CheapO Air was very helpful with this). Then I got another call from the consulate that the cost for visa processing was actually $5 more than what I had been told so I had to go to a bank and transfer $5 to their account. I spent an anxious few days checking the mail until one glorious day there was an envelope at my door with my passport and newly issued visa. 

In retrospect, I am glad I got to spend almost another month with my family. On the other hand, if you saw or spoke to me during January you would know it was one of the most stressful times of my life. 

Now that I was cleared to travel, I began to prepare in earnest. It's funny, when my husband leaves for training (anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks) or deployments (6-8 months) we always focus so much on making him prepared for his trip. In my case, being the Type A personality, I not only was preparing for my trip but preparing my home to be "ran" by Zack. This is a guy to works 14-16 hour days and most weekends. During this particular season of our life I tend to try to take care of most of the household stuff as well as the dogs so that we can maximize our quality time. Now I was giving Zack a crash course in our household bills, dog care, and even stuff like where things are kept in the kitchen because he is literally away from home so much he doesn't know where anything goes. I organized each room, drawer and cabinet in the house. I synced our Google Calendar so he would know every bill due date, recycle and garbage day, dog heartworm medicine day, salt pellet replacement day, etc. He probably wakes up to at least three notifications a day on his phone from that calendar! Since he works so long we also had to figure out what to do with the dogs during the long days and amazingly my mother volunteered to spend several hours each weekday in the middle of the day to make sure they can go potty, spend time outside and interact with a human. 

There was also a lot I needed to buy to prepare for this trip. Luckily I had been to Indonesia before so I had a good idea of what to pack. Last time I went I brought two suitcases and that was a terrible mistake. This time I vowed to pack under 50lbs in one medium suitcase- and I did it! I knew I needed to prepare to dress modestly given I was planning to spend quite a bit of time in mosques, so I looked for loose linen pants, long sleeved, breathable shirts and maxi skirts. I also wanted some very comfortable sandals and lucked out with a couple pairs of Tevas on sale for the holidays. No point in worrying about make up since the humidity just makes it disappear so I just stick with some waterproof mascara and BB cream. My hair is not tame in humidity so instead of attempting to straighten my hair I found some great products to embrace my natural waves. Since it is rainy here in Indonesia I made sure my backpack was waterproof, brought a poncho, and even bought a waterproof phone bag in case I am caught in a downpour. Now that I am here, of course, I realize I forgot an umbrella! Packing cubes were a lifesaver- thanks Preeth- and have helped me be very organized. 

During the week leading up to my departure so many people asked me "Aren't you so excited?" And I would truthfully answer NO! To be honest, I am NEVER excited leading up to solo travel. I go from dread and anxiety during predeparture and departure to hopelessness at first arrival and then once I settle in I am happy as can be. This has actually been the norm for me since my first time traveling alone to England when I was 20! 

Leaving Zack at the security check the morning I left was so hard. We get very little time together as it is and it is so hard for us when one of us leaves. I had a short flight to Los Angeles and then two hours waiting in American Airlines' chaotic international terminal. Next up was my 10 hour flight to Tokyo. I had a window seat which is good for room but bad if you have to use the bathroom or need to stretch. The food was actually nice and I was able to watch a lot of movies I had missed in theaters. I didn't sleep much since I was trying to adjust to Indonesia time already. The Turtl travel pillow was amazing and kept me from having a stiff neck I also brought along my compression socks I used to wear for running  and they made me feel so much better. Usually my legs hurt on long flights because my legs are so short my feet don't touch the ground. This means that my legs end up having a ton of pressure on them as I sit but compression socks fixed the issue! I flew economy and couldn't help the pang of absolute envy I felt when passing by the luxurious business class- someday!!!

When I arrived in Tokyo I had only 2 hours layover so I didn't even get to look around the airport. When I got to my new gate I think I was so tired that I started to feel very emotional. I did not want to be the lady crying at the airport gate! I made small talk with the person waiting next to me and tried to just suck it up. This plane was actually not full and I found myself in an emergency row with no seats in front of me and no passenger beside me. At first I thought this meant I wouldn't be able to watch anything but down by my feet I was able to pull up a screen to me. There was a little family next to me with a sweet little baby who was amazing during the whole flight. I tried to watch something but ended up feeling so antsy and tired I just tried to sleep. The food was definitely not my taste but American Airlines had fed us two meals and a sandwich-snack so I wasn't hungry anyway. One thing I kind of enjoyed was being so close to the galley that I got to see a lot of what the flight attendants do during a flight. They were busy almost the entire 9 hours and they worked together seamlessly so it was kind of cool to watch. 

When I arrived in Jakarta it was barely midnight on the 16th, Friday. It was still Thursday evening in the states but I was wide awake. The immigration line went pretty fast and I had a good time people watching, imagining what everyone was doing here. I barely walked up to the baggage carousel and saw my lime green suitcase right away. Originally my plan was to make it through the airport and then go to the connected airport hotel to get a few hours of sleep until my actual hotel's check in time. However, I had some difficulty finding the entrance to the airport hotel and by the time I found it I realized I would be checking in to take a just a few hours' nap and I wasn't even tired yet. Instead I bought a mocha and sat in a chair, connected to wifi and alternated between chatting with my family and reading my Margaret Atwood book. By the time it hit 7 o'clock I was in that deliriously tired space. I grabbed a cab and made it through to Jakarta with suprisingly little traffic. 

Upon arriving at my hotel I was charged extra for checking in early (I couldn't have cared less I was so tired!) and finally got to my room. This was to be my home away from home for the next week until I was able to leave for Yogyakarta. This is a new hotel and the rooms are clean, modern and have personality. When I got in though, I was so exhausted I was getting quite emotional again! I called Zack and moped to him that I wished he was with me. I called my sister who was with my dogs and got teary eyed seeing them. Even though Zack was assuring me that I was feeling this way because I was so tired I didn't buy it at the time. Honestly I am glad I travel so far away because if the option were available to turn around and go home easily to Zack I probably would! But after 20 hours of flying the the thought of even looking at an airplane made me cringe. Finally I crashed for six hours. That night I was so pleased to be able to meet up with my Indonesian teacher from my time in Wisconsin and her husband and had a lovely dinner out. It was so good after days of traveling alone to see a friendly face and have good conversation! Food, sleep, and friends made me feel infinitely better! 

Hanging out on the terrace of my hotel.

Typical breakfast from my hotel- mie goreng, fruit, cereal, toast and tea. I also order  telur orak-arik (scrambled eggs). 

Now I am on day four of being in Indonesia. I'm almost completely adjusted to the time and experienced very few jet lag symptoms. Breakfast at the hotel is included and I have definitely taken advantage of that. I have ventured out past my hotel and to a couple warungs, convenience stores, and some over-priced restaurants catering to bule (foreigners like me!). Jakarta is very different from Yogya. Of course it is a world capital and it is known for its horrible traffic. My hotel is near some smaller roads and in order to cross you just take a deep breath and go for it. In theory the motorbikes and cars are supposed to swerve around you and I have been lucky so far. For the major roads, like when I went to RISTEK this morning, there are lights and it is generally a good idea to cross when you see other people crossing. Things are slightly more expensive here than Yogya but still cheap compared to the US. I ate soto mie (noodle soup) at a warung on Saturday for 18000 rupiah ($1.33) and then ate some curry, rice and strawberry juice at a restaurant for 200000 rupiah (way over priced but still under $15). Tonight it was starting to rain so I ran to the closest restaurant and ate pasta (of all things) for about $10. People are still nice and eager to say hello and are patient with my limited Indonesian. There's a lot I have forgotten from not hearing Indonesian in so long and I even accidentally started to speak Spanish to a hotel employee yesterday, much to my extreme embarrassment. 

I couldn't do any work during the weekend but today bright and early I walked over to the Ministry of Research building and checked in. The office employees were very nice and helpful. They took my passport and made copies and used one of my many red background photos to make my ID. I had to go across the street to the bank to transfer money to pay for the permit (1.4 million or about $134 dollars). Then I brought the receipt back and the letters of approval were all organized for me according to where I needed to go next. There were many researchers in there either doing work alone or part of a research group and I chatted with some American ornithologists while I waited. I think working for RISTEK would be so interesting since you get to learn about all these different projects people want to do in your country. 

The walk to the ministry. Not shown: the rat the size of a cat I saw running down the street!

Tomorrow I take a taxi to south Jakarta to the police headquarters and then a couple more locations before I can catch my flight to Yogya on Friday afternoon. I hope I have time to go to the national monument and the museum of history before I depart. I am eager to get to the cozier feel of Yogyakarta where I will be staying in an Airbnb and meeting up with friends from my time there in 2013. I definitely miss my family, especially Zack, my nephews and my puppies, but I have plenty of time to video chat with everyone. 

More adventure awaits. 

I'm pretty pleased with myself.