Terima Kasih (thank you) Indonesia Part 1

In 1998, I went to Indonesia on a whim after I sold my van that got me from Sydney, Australia to Darwin, Australia.  I flew out of Darwin in September 1998 and spent six weeks travelling from East Timor to Bali. This is but one part of my travelogue.  

Dili, East Timor, Indonesia

After many nights of sleeping in $2 per night (12,000 Rupiah) hostels with shared bathrooms, I needed a bathtub…a real honest to goodness bathtub so I could soak. So, I booked myself into a hotel.  The hotel was costly at $100 Canadian per night ($600,000 Rupiah), but I needed it.  I was ready to splurge for one night to have the comforts of home, somewhat.  You have to understand that I have been travelling and country hopping for 6 months and $100 Canadian goes very far and to spend all that on one hotel for one night was very reckless. But, I needed this.

Upon entering the hotel, I can already tell by the vast open lobby and seating area that was in white tile that I was somewhere opulent. All the hostels I stayed at, although not dirty, were not as bright as this hotel. The daylight streams in through large open windows casting shadows on walls, as the breeze comes in from the sea. The smell of salt air pervasive and intrusive, but I love it.

Bring it on, I thought, bring it on.

Once checked into my room, I lie out on the crisp white sheets and close my eyes. Only the buzz of the air conditioner is heard. Ahh, air conditioning in 40 degree weather, I have literally won the lottery.  I pull myself off the bed and run a bath. I soak until my fingers and toes are wrinkly, I am in heaven. Once out, I am thinking ahead to my next bath and how glorious it will be.  I have not had a bath for 6 months. Nowhere I have stayed, thus far, has had a bathtub.

I go out for dinner and have a modest chicken and rice meal, but the chicken is so anemic and not very filling. Something compels me to walk along the beach and as I look out to the sea, there are people everywhere in the water.  In my broken, Bahasa Indonesia, I ask a local what they are doing and he tells me “mandi” which means basically to bathe. See everyone needs to soak sometimes. 

As I walk along the beach, there are hordes of broken pottery with Dutch patterns on them. Could these pieces be from as far back as the 17th century? I was mesmerized, really blown away by seeing the pottery. Apparently, they wash up from the bottom of the ocean floor from shipwrecks long since discovered, but not really cared about. This is Indonesia after all and East Timor’s civil unrest is coming to a close. Although it is still active in some parts, I am lucky enough to not encounter it.

I retreat back to my glorious hotel for the night.  I hunker down in my room and turn on the tv. What a neat thing to see. I watch the news that I haven’t seen in months. It looks like an apparition really…the humming and the glowing. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and the infamous dress are all over the news, even in Indonesia. Soon, I fall asleep in a long lazy sleep. Because of the birds and the early morning commotion on the street that I am accustomed to, I anticipate waking up around 6 am, but I don't.

It's 8 am and in my head, I feel like someone or something is staring at me and I wake up in a fright. I am facing the doorway to my room, but I am a little afraid to open my eyes.  I had such a peaceful sleep and I don’t remember hearing my door open and I clearly locked the door before I went to bed.

My stark realization is that I am in Indonesia and anything can happen.

I open one eye to see a huge snout, so I open my other eye and yep it’s still a snout. I scream as I see this deer, a full-blown deer in my room staring at me. “Holy…” is the inner dialogue I have going on.

"Go away" I shout and surprisingly it does.

Am I in the twilight zone? I make my way to the dining area next to the pool for breakfast. Truly this is picturesque. The sun is shining and it's humid at 40 degrees. My hair decides that it's curly and no one, not even me, can convince it to be otherwise. I ask the waiter about the deer and he informs that yes they have a pet deer and that she loves strawberry jam. So the deer and I munch on our toast because now she’s my best friend. She eats the crust as long as there’s jam on it and since I don’t prefer the crust, she's welcome to it  This deer is crazy and really leaves a lasting impression on me.

After breakfast, as I’m swimming in the hotel pool there’s a splash at the other end. I don’t think anything of it until I surface…it’s the deer.  She swims with me and stays beside me the whole time. She is really a sweet, sweet deer. I’ve never met a deer before, but I’d like to believe they are all like this.

So I guess at some point, even deer, like to hop into the mandi for a soak.

~Jennifer Ward

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