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Return Flight Part 1: Monday, August 7, 2017

Giant goddess

On our way from Ubud to Denpasar, we passed this gigantic statue in a round about. I don’t know what it is supposed to be about.

After my visit to the Prapen silver factory, my host drove me out of Ubud and south to the airport at Denpasar. I paid him for the ride (400,000 rupiah) and the two days’ room (800,000 rupiah) I was down to about 175,000 rupiah. I had no trouble going through the first security checkpoint, then checked in at the Garuda desk. I had to pay 270,000 rupiah by credit card (about $20) for my 10 kg extra weight (I had redistributed some things to try to carry on as much weight as possible – hard on my shoulders, easier on my pocketbook). After checking my bags, paying the extra, and getting my boarding passes I went through internal security and walked to Gate 2.

Bali coastline from air

The coastline of Bali near Denpasar. I never did get to the beach, but that wasn’t why I came. The large mountain looming in the distance is either Gunung Agung in eastern Bali or Gunung Rinjani on nearby Lombok. It’s hard to tell with the cloud deck.

I had plenty of time – I could have seen or done one other thing before coming to the airport, but I am tired and ready to go home and I was ready to head to the airport. I’ve seen and done many things in the last 3 ½ weeks, as much as I can possibly expect from myself. I knew that I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do in Bali with only two days; the traffic, winding roads, and my own age prevented me from seeing everything on my bucket list. I am satisfied that I did as much as I could do and saw the very best things. I can’t ask for more.

Bali coastline with boat

The reefs and beaches of Bali below.

I was getting hungry again. My appetite has been iffy these four weeks, mostly because I have been backed up. Of all the medicines I brought, I didn’t think constipation would be my biggest problem. So I knew if I was hungry, I should eat. I found a place called Beard Papas that served one thing only: cream puffs. That sounded good, and I had enough money left. I got one and a Pulpy Orange drink, and it was really good – the best cream puff I’ve ever had. So I stood in line again and had another. But that still wasn’t enough, so I had fish and chips at a place near Gate 2. The fries were good, the fish a bit different.

Towns and rice from air

Rice fields and towns from the air (approaching Jakarta). Some areas are clear (brownish) because they are between crops for a few weeks. Indonesian farmers can harvest two crops per year.

Note: Two weeks after returning home, someone tried to use my credit card information to get cash advances in Denpasar. The company flagged the purchases as suspicious and we cancelled the card. The only legitimate charge I have on the card in Denpasar is the restaurant I ate the fish and chips at (Hari’s) in the airport. I still have the card; it wasn’t stolen, so the card’s information must have been copied. The techniques for doing this have become quite sophisticated. But just in case, be careful dining here or anywhere you use a credit card. Pay cash if you can. Use a mylar reflective shield in your wallet with your credit card on the inside so that people can’t scan your card as you walk by.

Rice fields approaching Jakarta

Rice fields and villages approaching the airport at Jakarta on my last day in (or over) Indonesia.

I waited at the gate and worked on cleaning up photos from Friday’s excursions. I was able to e-mail Becca and tell her I was at the airport and ask her to look into the Booking.com problem. Then I thought I heard them call to board the plane, even though we were a good 30 minutes before the specified boarding time. The lady at the gate confirmed it was time, so I walked down the jetway and boarded the plane. I was in row 31, which is an emergency exit row, which I had entirely to myself. It was great.

Astronaut hydrant painting

Red fire hydrants are mounted at intervals along the white walls of the Jakarta airport concourse. Someone has painted whimsical murals that incorporate the hydrants, such as this Apollo astronaut on the Moon.

The flight itself was peaceful. I’m getting used to flying Garuda Indonesia. They may be a bit more expensive than some, but still cheap at about $100 for each of these intra-Indonesian flights. I saw Mt. Bromo again, then we turned more north and away from the volcanoes, out over the ocean, and back toward Jakarta. I listened to the Best of Bad Company. Somehow it seemed appropriate while flying.

Monster hydrant

A luggage monster eating a fire hydrant.

I got some nice views of rice fields in the late afternoon as we turned into Jakarta and landed. It was a bit of a hike from our entry gate to the baggage claim area, and I noticed some fun murals painted around each of the fire extinguishers, incorporating them into the design, such as using it as the tip of a lipstick or a scuba tank or the backpack of an astronaut or the body of a spaceship. I took photos, of course.

Spaceship hydrant

A fire hydrant turned into a space ship. This is my favorite of the murals in the Jakarta airport.

Lipstick hydrant

A fire hydrant turned into red lipstick for Marilyn Monroe’s lips (I know because of the mole . . . )

I walked out of the departure area, then took an elevator upstairs to the drop off zone and went through security again. I am on a Delta flight through Korean Air Lines to Seoul, a seven-hour flight that won’t take off until 10:05 pm. The KAL check-in desk wasn’t even open yet, so I sat in an area near the international check-in and plugged in my computer while working on the photos from Friday. I can’t get onto the Internet, so Becca will have to wait to hear from me until Korea. When the desk opened at 7:00, I checked in – my flights were listed. Yay! After the United fiasco, I was worried. I was happy to drop off my two bags – I even added some extra weight to them – and I’ll see them again in Salt Lake in two days. I have 21 hours of flying altogether and another 17 hours of layover time. It will be a long two days.

Balloons hydrant

A fire hydrant as helium tank for filling balloons. These murals were made in the Jakarta airport in order to dress up the mundane fire hydrants placed along the concourse of Terminal 3.

I don’t know if I will ever return to Indonesia. It will be dark when I take off tonight, so I won’t see anything. Those rice fields were my last view. I will miss this place, but it is definitely time to go home. Over the next few posts, I’ll try to summarize and synthesize what I’ve learned from this experience. I hope I have the chance to come back here, and bring my wife and children with me. But coming here at all was the slimmest of crazy chances, and there are other places I’ve never been that I want to see first. I think of what was new and exciting when I landed four weeks ago, and how I’ve grown accustomed to many things. I hardly notice mosques or hijabs any more, until I didn’t see them in Bali. I’m very glad I had the chance to extend and see more of Indonesian culture, because what I’ve seen and done in Jogja and Bali will enrich my life and my teaching forever. There is still much to learn here, and much to experience.

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Borneo Day 1: Friday, July 21, 2017

Jakarta airport terminal 3

Terminal 3 at the Soeharto Hatta International Airport, waiting for our flight to Banjarmasin.

Our flight to Borneo was about 9:20, so we had time to eat breakfast at the hotel and meet our taxi to the airport. Other teams had already left. Most were flying, one team was driving for eight hours, and one team was staying here in Jakarta but moving to a hotel closer to their school (MAN 4 Jakarta that we had visited on Tuesday).

Waiting in Jakarta airport

Craig Hendrick waiting in the Soeharto Hatta airport.

The taxi delivered Craig and I to the Soeharta Hatta airport at the upper deck of Terminal 3 and we unloaded the trunk. I found a baggage cart and we rolled up to the front door to go through the first security check. Once inside, we walked to the Garuda Indonesia counter and waited in line. Once my two bags were weighed, I found that they were about ten kilograms over the allotted 20 kg total, so had to pay about $35 to check my second bag. They gave me a payment form to take to the service desk, then with the receipt I was able to get my boarding pass.

Garuda flight

Preparing to board our airplane to Banjarmasin.

We passed through the final security check. With my two bags checked I only had my carry-on computer bag and camera, but it was still a long walk to our gate. We had over an hour to wait for our flight, so Craig found a place to plug in his phone while I wrote up blog posts.

Jakarta Garuda plane

A Garuda Indonesia airplane at the Jakarta airport.

We boarded the airport sat on row 21 on the right side behind the first bulkhead. We had to wait a few minutes, then taxied out to the runway and took off. We flew out of Jakarta over the ocean and headed northeast toward Borneo. I listened to the best of Bread on the music channels and dozed a bit.

Thousand Rivers

View of Kalimantan from the air. You can see why this is called the land of a thousand rivers, all of which is the estuary of the Barito River, the largest river in Kalimantan.

As we descended toward the Banjarmasin airport, we crossed over the coast of Borneo. We could see yellow and green rice paddies below with frequent rivers winding and joining into larger rivers, lined with green trees. There were a few roads, lined with buildings, stretching through the countryside. I took some photos as we dropped toward the airport.

Borneo rice fields

Rice fields as we approach Banjarmasin from the air. Notice how houses and businesses cluster around the roads, with the fields beyond.

We landed and deplaned, walking off a mobile stairway the way we used to before jetways and boarded a bus to the terminal. We walked into the terminal, grabbed a baggage cart, and waited for the bags to arrive from the airplane. A music group collected their instruments, and our bags came through.

About to land

Approaching the Banjarmasin airport.

As we walked out of the terminal, we were met by our host teacher, Muhammad Nazaruddin and his wife. I had seen his photograph from the e-mails he had sent, and of course, we were fairly obvious. He likes to be called Nazar, and was an ILEP alumnus at Kent State in 2010. He teaches English at SMAN 1 Mandastana, our host school, which is about ten miles north of Banjarmasin in a country area with rice fields.

We loaded our bags into the trunk of his car and drove out of the small parking lot onto a the road leading to the airport. After a short distance we turned around a traffic circle with an airplane on a stick and headed onto the main road to Banjarmasin.

Landing approach

Final approach to the airport near Banjarbaru.

The airport is located about 26 km from the city, nearer to Martapura and Banjarbaru, and the main road is called Jalan Ahmad Yani or the Trans Kalimantan Highway. As we drove toward the city, I looked at the businesses, houses, and mosques that lined the road. There was only one fairly tall building, the Aston Hotel, which at ten stories is the tallest in southern Kalimantan. That is because the ground here is swampy and won’t support tall buildings without extensive piles being driven into the ground. The Aston is on one of the more solid areas. I took some photos of the many Wong Solo places along the way, including a Wong Solo delivery truck, so that I could put them in the shared group folder because of the running joke we had the other day.

Welcome to Banjarmasin

Welcome to Banjarmasin (selemat datang di Banjarmasin). Craig Hendrick about to enter the Banjarmasin airport terminal building.

Nazar wondered why I was taking these photos. His English is excellent, as he had gotten his masters degree in Australia and spent six months in the U.S. with ILEP at Kent State. His wife (he said her name but I didn’t quite catch it) is also a teacher at the same school, and they are both from families with parents who are teachers or college professors, so a well-educated family.

Wong Solo delivers

Wong Solo delivers. And he is guaranteed to be discrete, or at least halal.

Along the road I could see that houses and buildings have a different style of architecture than Java. Roofs are steep in the center with a high ridgeline, but then change slope and become more shallow at the bottom. The closest equivalent in America is the style of roofs for Pizza Hut restaurants. In fact, the Pizza Hut logo looks a lot like a Barjarese house. The corners of the roofs are adorned with symbolic wings that stretch up further.

Provincial school

A provincial school built in a traditional Banjarese style. The corners of the steep part of the roof often have crossing timbers decorated as wings.

Our first choices of hotels had been the Hotel Mercure Banjarmasin or the Golden Tulip Galaxy near the Duta Mall, but Mercure requires walking through the mall itself to get to the entrance, and the Golden Tulip didn’t have rooms for the nine days that we will be here, so we booked rooms at the Swiss Belhotel Banjarmasin instead. This wound up being an excellent choice, as it is located in a good position next to a bridge along the Martapura River in the heart of the city. It even has a dock onto the river and free trips to the Lok Baintan floating market.

Green-yellow mosque

Large yellow and green mosque on the road to Banjarmasin.

Nazar dropped us off at the hotel and we checked in at the main desk. They have us in adjoining rooms in the newer section of the hotel, where the air conditioning is better. The concierge put our bags on a standard hotel luggage cart and walked with us to our rooms, which are through a long hallway in the older section, around a corner and up a small ramp. I am in Room 243.

The room is set up so that one must insert the room key into an electronic receptacle in order to turn on the lights or air conditioning in the room. It will be tricky not to walk out without the key card. The room was muggy, so I cranked up the AC and turned down the thermostat as I laid out my bags. My room has a nice view down to the pool, but the drapes are a bit hard to open. Overall it is pretty nice, and one of the better hotels in the city. This will be my home for the next nine days.

I took off my shoes, socks, and the concealed leg holder for my passport and credit cards that my sister had loaned me. I laid down on the bed for awhile to rest.

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