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April 2nd 2015
Published: April 2nd 2015
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After a successful Friday filled with stressful Project Proposal Presentations and cheerful drinks with friends, I am packed and ready (and a little bit hung-over) to catch my flight to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport. Being so busy preparing my research and running after my visa, I haven’t had the time to realize it was all happening so fast. I feel like I’m just running to yet another appointment… Luckily, I have 12 hours to prepare myself mentally to the complete culture switch I’m going to have. Well… I still have to finish my Research Proposal which we have the hand in on Sunday, but that’s a whole different story I’ll come back to later in this blog…

I arrive at the airport on Sunday 29 March at 1pm GMT+7. I easily find my driver who will take me to my final destination: the CIFOR lodge in Bogor. The professor I’m travelling with immediately teaches me one of the most important concepts in Indonesia: “Mecak”, i.e. traffic jam. We were lucky that day and only got stuck for 1 hour…

Bogor is huge and driving through the city, I realize my accommodation is situated quite remotely in a suburb. After being welcomed by two lovely ladies, whom had forgotten I was supposed to come today, and given the keys to my apartment, I am on my own. I am completely disoriented, if you told me I was somewhere in Timbuktu I would’ve believed you. So, let’s taste some culture! I run out to go for a walk and get a nice sateh kambing (roasted goat’s meat) at one of the many little eating-houses. Those things are everywhere! The locals seem surprised to see me wondering around, alone with my camera. They all want me to take pictures: “Miss! Miss! Poto! Poto!” The houses lie criss-crossed on top of each other and are very colourful, just like there inhabitants. The area is green and I am surrounded by sounds coming out of the tropical forest. That is, if they don’t get drowned by the exotic traffic noises…

I have no idea where I am and neither does Google Maps for that matter: unidentified zone. I’ll try to find my way tomorrow, for now I have more important things on my mind: 12 hours left to the Dutch deadline. I manage to finish everything in time, but I have one minor problem. It is now 12am GMT+7 and I have to figure out how to send my proposal as I don’t have internet at home. I decide to take the bold step of searching for the gaming café I saw during my walk earlier that day. The road is pitch-black and even the traffic seems to have calmed down. Thank God, the café is still open. The age of the people hanging there has gone up a little since this afternoon, but the activity is still the same: smoking krètèk (cigarettes with cloves) and playing online games. I go in and for a moment all the guys stop playing their games to stare at me. They are probably thinking: “what on earth is that Belanda doing here at this time of the night?!” I manage to make them understand I need internet. They don’t hide their curiosity and all try to look at my screen. I am lucky, internet is slow but working. I upload my proposal and send it to my supervisor, just in time!

1 am. Exhausted, a ‘bit jetlagged and above all hungry (you guys know my appetite by now) I head back home. Luckily for me, Asians like to snack all night long and on my way I take away some nasi goreng. Just what I needed. At home I devour the delicious dish. With a more than satisfied stomach and a head full of new impressions, I finally go to sleep. I will always remember this day, it was, like we youngsters like to say, mental!

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