Here is a quick trailer documenting my travels to Indonesia.
Finishing up my time in Indonesia, I've continued to ponder my essential question I had before traveling; "What are the top 3 things you think about when visiting Indonesia?" There's a wide variety of experiences and ideas to pull from, but I've narrowed it down to three.
Developing: As I've been fortunate to travel internationally and see essentially both sides of the spectrum as it relates to educational systems, comparing Indonesia with Germany and America, I've witnessed the wide ranging disparities between the three cultures as well as the many similarities. Throughout the country, we saw wide ranging disparities between the wealthy and the poor. The towering skyscrapers of Jakarta loomed over the city, but at their feet were many weathered and weary huts. Taking for granted the infrastructure that we have in America, I much more appreciate our traffic, the structure of the school system, disposal of human trash, the traffic, and the treatment of the water. Immediately upon entering Jakarta, we were told to take great care when deciding what to consume, as regulations were not enforced or implemented. The traffic is perhaps the most jarring as traversing down any road, it was immediately noticeable how different driving was compared to the United States. It appeared as if there were no official rules and restrictions as it relates to the road. Somehow the chaos on the road simply worked. Through strong leadership Indonesia will have to address these issues in the future as it continues to grow. As a nation that is rapidly developing, it is clear that these government and infrastructure situations will be a major undertaking for Indonesia.
Beautiful: Being able to experience Indonesia firsthand, I had no idea what I was in store for. Seeing the island of Java up close, I witnessed a variety of natural landscapes that Indonesia has to offer. From the water rice paddies, the mountains towering over the countryside, the Cipendok waterfall, natural springs at Baturadden, the serenity of the Indian Ocean, and many more landforms, I was in awe at the beauty of Indonesia. Not only were there many natural landforms to behold, but the people have left their mark on the countryside as well. They have created awe-inspiring monuments like the National Monument in Jakarta, the unique skyscrapers dotting the landscape of Jakarta, the towering Hindu and Buddhist temples of Prambanan and Borobudur, and unique mix of natural and man-made landforms of Baturadden. I highly recommend anyone to visit the beauty of Indonesia.
National Pride: As a rather new country, they are prideful and cognizant of the purpose of setting a national identity. From the flag ceremony that lasts one hour at the start of each week to the many flags that adorn the the highways, Indonesia does not take this identity for granted. Also wearing Batik was a sign of pride for many people. At least one day a week, students were required to wear Batik, which looks similar to a Hawaiian shirt. This cloth has many different variances, as each island and major city has its own unique take on the process. When I purchased and wore my own Batik shirt, there was a smile seemingly on everyone's face as a Westerner had decided to wear their own traditional clothing. The single most profound experience that helped me to realize how prideful the people of Indonesia were was when I was tasked with giving a speech in front of the entire school of 800 students. Quickly I won over the crowd when I began simply by stating the word, "Indonesia...". An eruption of applause overcame the entire audience. I couldn't believe how easy it was to win over the crowd. Trying to restart the sentence I was going to say, as soon as I uttered, "Indonesia..." massive cheers came over the crowd again. Any mention of how beautiful and amazing the country is, was treated with appreciation and pride.
Make no bones about it, I’m so grateful and thankful for my extraordinarily amazing, memorable experiences in Indonesia, but...... I’m ready to see my baby and wife soon. The anticipation was palpable. I was mere hours from being home, yet I still had some great new experiences to be had in Jakarta before I left. Today’s meeting with the group was to sum up the time spent in Indonesia. First going through how to write a blog (hopefully I paid attention and this blog is done correctly!), we spent time on how to report back on our experiences in a positive and effective manner. While this seemingly is a simple task, it was a great activity as it forced us to think of a positive narrative for the experience for three different groups of people who will want to know about your trip. The first was for the average person who comes up to you and wants a quick two sentence summary. My summary is, “I’ve never taken so many selfies in my life! Indonesia provided a lot of amazing memories, be it the temples, the people, or the food”. The next person was the co-worker who would want a more in depth, 30 minute overview of the experience. Finally, we prepped for the loved one who would listen (or endure?) every minute detail of my trip (thanks Kelly, loving wife!). Perhaps the best part of the last session as a whole group was to get in a big circle and say something positive about someone else in the group. Sarah stressed that it didn’t have to be our travel partner. I’m all about passing on the positivity, and I could see no better way to do so. To my surprise, I was brought up as one of the first by Jennifer for being willing to help out with technology. Later I was again mentioned for helping with technology by Anu. As most people went around and shared thankfulness for their travel partner, I had three people that I wanted to thank. There’s no exaggeration being said when I say that Niki, Christy, and Kate were instrumental with helping keep positive throughout this trip. Their positive attitudes were so amazing to have throughout the trip. Everyone likes a good compliment and this session ending our main coursework on a high note. Leaving for a couple of hours to kick back before the much anticipated final dinner, I caught up on my pictures and got one last swim in. Heading out to a place that Michael and Ursula had previously dined at, the spoke highly on the location. We all dressed in our Batik, which was a sight to behold. The women looked exceptional in their colorful dresses as it spoke of the festive spirit of Indonesia. The men wore collared shirts with a wide variety of Batik print. Taking our seemingly last group picture, we boarded the bus and road to the restaurant located in Jakarta. Heading to the western side of Jakarta for the first time put in perspective how truly massive the city was. Having to get from one place to another takes a serious amount of time as the expansive boundary line for the city seems to never end. Arriving at Talaga Sampireun restaurant, I could immediately tell that this was going to be a unique venue to dine at. The restaurant wasn’t a typical restaurant, as we walked through a botanical garden of tropical trees. Throughout the tropical canopy were several quaint glass huts with a straw roof, where a large group would dine. The unique presentation immediately brought a smile to my face and delayed my urgency to get home. Inside the glass hut was a low dining table surrounded by pillows. Shoes were required to be removed upon entering. The glass hut was located on a koi fish pond, which looked more akin to what I would imagine a Japanese setting would look like. The hut had two door walls that led out to a narrow dock where we could take in the serene, relaxing view. They even included fish food for the plentiful koi fish in the pond. Taking several pictures in our Indonesian best garb, we ordered out drinks and food. I ordered a watermelon drink, which tasted exactly what you’d imagine a drink consisting of watermelon would be. Sitting by my favorite Indonesian lady, Dewi, we engaged in great conversation with Christy and Craig. The battery on my camera died, but this was almost a blessing because I was truly untethered and able to fully enjoy the moment. While surrounded by several fellows, I slipped out to a side of the dock where no one else was sitting. Finding comfort in my own thoughts, I looked over the edge into the water with the koi fish swimming by, reflecting on the journey that I had been on. It was one of the most calming moments for me throughout the entire trip. I was able to put aside all responsibility and simply enjoy the moment, staring into the sun. Joining the group as dinner arrived, Dewi had ordered for the group. Unfortunately everything was mainly seafood, which I knew wouldn’t fill me up. Seeing that I wasn’t alone on not dining solely on a giant fish head, more chicken was ordered. Sharing family style, we also had a breaded banana with shredded sweet cheese that was delightful. Wrapping up the dinner, we waited for our bus in the restaurant outdoor lobby where lizards scurried about. Seeing Mike continue to make Instagram Boomerangs entertained us as always. The night at Talaga Sampireun was a wonderful way to end our time as a large group. Several members were given final goodbyes as they were off to their own extended destinations in Indonesia, primarily at Bali.
About Matthew Cottone
Experience the World! This is my creed I bring to my classroom and my life. I'm a World Studies teacher at Van Hoosen Middle School and I have a passion for learning and experiencing the world.