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EINDHOVEN - Recently been in Bali, and with my head still full of things I always wanted to tell you, I'm now finally writing them down. Currently I have a longer holiday because I have finished my school, and after that I will have a job, a real job. A job for grown-ups and no more working at the supermarket, though I liked it. It's about time to look back over four years of Indonesia-travel, starting with the latest experience, staying in a hotel for over two weeks.

Late June, my girlfriend and I went to Bali. This should be her first time to Indonesia. I wanted her to come with me. Showing her what I like about the vast country. The people, the islands, the environment, the sun, beach, rivers, mountains, vulcanoes, lakes, seas, whatever. There is so much I would to go Indonesia for. But now it was her turn to have her first time. At the end she only 'disliked' the flying. Dislike is a soft word. You imagine being in a plane for 12 hours, then you get kicked out in another airport in Hong Kong. After 2 hours, you need to board again ( you do this voluntary ) for another 4,5 hour sit put in your economy-class chair which leaves too little space for having lunch.
I can imagine that very well, I have flown before, and I can tell that the first leg, especially the touchdown in Hong Kong was pretty strange. It's the 'bad-feeling-in-your-stomach' touchdown, which does you feel like puking for hours at an end. After that it was a lot less violent and at the arrival on Bandar Udara Ngurai Rai ( International Airport Ngurah Rai ), we were both cooled down and ready to get on the bus with other people from the same country on the other side of the world, Holland.
The first complaints were there. It was so hot, the AC wasn't working enough and the scooters and small motorcycles were everywhere. Ooh man, don't start complaining about that, because it will eventually kill you for sure. This is all you see in Indonesia. Probably they haven't been here before. Lucky me that I know how Indonesia looks like, at least a little. Claudie ( my girlfriend ) was instantly surprised by the vast amount of small vehicles blocking the road in front of the bus. A red traffic light made the situation only worse. Lucky for us, the only complaints we would hear in the next two weeks ( a little more ) were those from ourselves.

Why did the hotel give us the most difficult room number available in the entire hotel? We stayed at the Pelangi Bali Hotel in Seminyak, an almost brand-new hotel built right on the beach. People were very friendly and everything looked good at first sight. Room number 232 was not hard to remember, they even printed it on the key-chain. But what happened when you needed the key when you returned from a day out in Kuta? Misunderstanding. Not all people speak English very well, and I can live with that. So it happened that we had the most funny misunderstandings about what room we had from the first day we got there.

Sometimes they didn't understand which room number we got. It was two-three-two.. Too much difficulty for some. I could probably avoid this by telling them in Indonesian. Why not? I can speak a little Indonesian, and I learned most of that while I was in Indonesia, because then, you learn a lot faster than when you are reading websites ( trying to ) or by learning from a book. But that didn't matter then. I always had the fear that they wouldn't understand me when I spoke Indonesian. This caused laughter about me, and that doesn't feel good. But on the other hand, while learning you make mistakes. It's the best way to learn.
What I remarked is that most people speak English to you. Much Australians, some Germans, Dutch and a lot of other countries which even less represented. English was the main language, and Indonesian is only spoken among orang asli ( damn I hate 'locals' ), and not between orang asli and orang asing ( us, that is ). Kind of a pitty for me, since I guess it was not my last holiday to Indonesia, I would really love to learn Indonesian. At home I don't have the time.
Finally I had the guts to tell them it was room number dua tiga dua. At first they got it, but soon after laughter broke out. The same moment I knew I didn't do anything wrong, because the girl grabbed the right key. Others laughed too, and told me they were quite surprised that someone tried it in Indonesian. In fact, I saw it as common, but it wasn't. I could imagine that there is less Indonesian spoken on Bali then somewhere else in Indonesia, even in Jakarta you will just find a handfull of English speaking people.
They left me quite stunned with the fact that they appreciated my few words Indonesian that well. In fact, I started using them all the time, when picking up the keys, when ordering a drink, lunch or dinner at the hotel. Every time I told them I had room number dua tiga dua, they smiled. For me a sign that they had understood it, and they appreciated it as well. Sometimes they told me that they were surprised.. Over and over again it would happen during this holiday. Someone even greeted me in Indonesian the last few mornings. Apa kabar may be one of the easiest ways to ask how you are doing, but it makes me happy when I can say baik, maybe even baik baik, very good. Maybe this is also a sign for me that i actually should use Indonesian when I can. Moments in which I can use Indonesian are rare, very rare. I haven't had such a moment in Holland, only once, a couple was speaking Indonesian. Didn't understand it, but people also don't expect it, and the element of surprise is the best there is.

Posted in Travel @ 18 July 2002 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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