17 January 2014 10:00AMOff to a nice lazy start this morning. I've been severely lacking on sleep over the last 6 months, so one of my goals on this vacation is to actually be rested when we get back home. We've been in bed by 9:00 both nights so far, which has been great. I love waking up naturally at 5 or 6 and being wide awake when the sun comes up.
I got up a bit early today to make use of the slightly faster internet before everyone wakes up and starts using it. Naomi doesn't typically use Photoshop on the laptop we brought, so we'd let the subscription lapse and forgot that we'd need it on this trip. So I needed to jump through some hoops to resubscribe for the two weeks we're here. With "normal" internet, it would've taken about 5 minutes. I spent well over an hour here trying to get it all sorted out, and eventually had to resort to asking my brother in the U.S. to help out. Naomi and I have talked about the possibility of moving to Indonesia after I get out of the navy, but it would have to be an area that had better internet than here. In another two years, though, perhaps the infrastructure will have improved enough to make it usable. There's just too much that we both depend on the internet for, both for our work lives and personal lives, to have it only marginally available.
17 January 2014 8:15PM Well, the power's out now, and we're sitting at the kitchen table at the guesthouse we're staying at, trying to be productive without electricity. Luckily, most of our devices were fully charged, so Naomi's busy editing photos on the laptop, and I'm typing away on my tablet and bluetooth keyboard. The phone (our only internet connection until the power comes back on) was almost dead after a day's use, but we have a spare battery charger for it with plenty of new batteries. I love technology! Especially when it makes third-world "problems" easier to deal with. :)
Today was another amazing day. I'm absolutely loving it in this country; I don't want to leave and go back to Japan. I think I could live here permanently, even with the power going out at odd times during the night for no apparent reason. I have more to say about that, but this is a travel blog, so that topic might have to wait for another time on my other blog. Back to the travel summary!
After completing yesterday's post and getting it published, we headed out for another sight-seeing day. First stop was, again, an ATM. There's a limit of 2.5 million rupiah per transaction, so it's taken a couple of times to get out what we'll need for the whole trip, including our lodgings here in Sentani. I think after today we should be set, though. Still getting used to the huge figures on the bills for such a small amount of actual money. The bills go all the way down to 1000 rp., which is about ten cents. Feels weird to have bills that small. The coins go down to 100 rp, which is about a cent. Naomi says they used to go down to 10 rp. when she was here last, and that people sometimes used them as decorative insets in concrete since they were worth so little.
Our next stop was to find a quart of oil for the vehicle we've been renting. The dipstick came up dry when I checked it right before we headed out, so we hoped a quart or two would set it straight. We got a bit sidetracked finding lunch on the way to the gas station (you try to get everything done on the side of the street you're on before having to turn around, since u-turns are something of a headache here with the crazy traffic. Naomi found a restaurant that served soto ayam, a dish she remembers from her time living in Ambon. It's something of a local specialty there, and not often served in this area of Indonesia. I had nasi goreng sosis (fried rice with sausage) and krupuk. Krupuk is... well, I'm not exactly sure. Something that starts out from the package as a little wafer, but when you drop it in hot oil it puffs up like a fluffy potato chip. Hard to describe, but delicious. We've made them at home a few times in the last several years, but these were so much better!
We made it to the gas station for oil, finally, and ran into some new problems. While Naomi was getting the gas tank filled, I went inside looking for a quart of oil. After scanning the labels for either English or a picture that would indicate I had oil and not transmission or brake fluid, I gave up and had to pantomime what I was looking for and hope that "oil" translated reasonably well into Indonesian. The lady at the counter was nice, and found me what I was looking for. After paying, I went out and realized I had another problem. I mistakenly assumed that all plastic quart bottles of oil had screw-top lids. Not so. After several fruitless attempts, and some gestured questions to the gas station attendant, we came to the conclusion that it did not, in fact, screw off. Almost giving up, I suddenly had the bright idea to try sticking the car key in the top... Surprisingly enough, that worked like it was designed that way, and the inner part of the top peeled away. I felt a little dumb, but happy that I'd mastered another of life's little mysteries here in Indonesia.
Jayapura is about 90 minutes away by car. We took it nice and slow, sharing the road with about a gazillion and a half other vehicles. I still can't get over the complete lack of road rules. It's not at all uncommon for a single lane to contain us, in a small-ish SUV, a motorbike on either side, and a third one passing somewhere in between. It gets even crazier after dark, when you can usually find one usable headlight between the whole group of 3 vehicles. For whatever reason, I seem to have no problems driving in it, though. I attribute it to a combination of learning to drive in PNG coupled with my experiences on the road in Japan. Kind of a crazy mix between those two.
Jayapura is past Abepura, which we had visited the evening before, so the first part of the road was familiar. Heading up through the mountains and down into Jayapura was really cool. I love it out here, if I hadn't mentioned that already, and I kept seeing places to pull off and take pictures and take in the sights. So many friendly people everywhere we stopped. All of them seem to want to say hi to Naomi, and they're delighted when they realize she speaks their language. Then they look at me like I should be able to speak as well, but I just smile and shrug and look a bit helplessly at Naomi. She takes care of me, though, and I'm starting to pick up quite a bit of it. Either way, hand gestures and some English gets you a long way here.
In Jayapura, we drove around for a bit, stopped for photos in a few neat places, and then found the new mall we'd heard had been built since Naomi was here last. We stopped for coffee and donuts first, and then did a bit of shopping for things we hadn't been able to find in Sentani. Naomi was quite a hit with the store owners, particularly those of the young adult male variety. At the last store we visited, it was my turn for some attention, though. While she was in the dressing room trying on a shirt, a guy from the next shop over asked if he could take a picture with me. I agreed, and he asked a girl from the shop we were in to snap a shot with his phone. Apparently it was a big hit, 'cause next thing I know, all the shop girls from our store were crowded around me and the poor guy was taking pictures of us on three or four of their phones. I probably looked a bit sheepish when Naomi stepped out of the dressing room and saw us. Everyone laughed, and Naomi got in on some of the pictures as well. When we went to check out, we got a big discount on our purchases "for photos" they told us. If I'd known that I'd be taking pictures at every store we went into with the employees.
Shopping done, we meandered around town for another couple of hours, leisurely stopping for pictures and to chat with kids and adults alike. Everyone here is so friendly, particularly compared to where we've been living for the last while. A very nice change of pace. Heading back out of town, we made one last stop in Jayapura at an arcade/amusement park that Naomi remembered from her childhood. It turned out that the arcade, TimeZone, had been closed, and the amusement park was still there, but in a pretty sad state. We walked around, but didn't stay long.
Heading back towards Sentani, we stopped in Abe for dinner at Pizza Hut. It was delicious, although not like any Pizza Hut I've been at before. After we finished eating, we ran into an old friend of Naomi's who just happened to be there as well.
Driving back was all after dark, and a bit hairy, but we made it in once piece. Shortly after getting back to the guesthouse, the power went out. Apparently it's not that uncommon of an occurrence here, and nobody was particularly surprised. As I've been writing, the power has come back on, and subsequently went out again. I think it may be out for a while now, so we'll blow out these candles and call it a night.