Ms Chocaholic with lots of opinions and an attitude

Sunday, October 24, 2010

being a tourist in Indonesia

after the hectic days of working on the Freedom Festival Indonesia, I decided I have earned a break. So I took off and went on a bit of a (tiny) tour of Indonesia.

Starting in the Batik town of Pekalongan, where Mom was able to buy a fair bit of batik in just a couple of days. We even managed to have a nice seafood lunch by the beach :)
(ohhh we took the train to get from Jakarta to Pekalongan. I think my expectations of Indonesian train might have been somewhat high.....but I kept hearing of how 'good' it is!)

From Pekalongan, we travelled by road to Borobudur. We stayed at the famous Manohara Hotel, on the grounds of the temple. Full compliments to the hotel for their very high level service. I was recommended the hotel by Rainer. Read quite a few not so positive reviews on the internet. Glad I decided to ignore those reviews and took Rainer's advice. the place is a true delight.
Borobudur itself was nice enough. I wasnt 'wowed' by it though. The view from the top of the temple was great of course.

From Borobudur, we hired a taxi to Yogyakarta. It is much bigger than I anticipated, with lots and lots of tourists. Marlioboro street reminded me of Khao Sarn Road. Just a longer strip. We did check out a lot of the batik shops - from the bigger ones to the smaller cheap style places. There was so many different styles, designs and a vast variety of colours. I resisted and didnt buy too much, except for some small pieces. Mom bought a bit more for samples. We also took the commuter train to Solo. Another batik-capital of Indonesia. didnt quite manage to go out to the smaller villages that make the batik. Running out of time. We decided to spend our last evening in Yogya at the Hindu temple, Prambanan. We were lucky enough to catch the outdoor Ramayana, classical ballet performance. Great performance, set against the background of the beautiful temple on the other side of the river bank. It helped that we know the story of Ramayana, and hence could follow the story of the performance.
[as an aside - many places I went to, they offered to give me student discounts for entry into sites. too bad I dont have a student card :) ]

A short but sweet trip ended far too quickly. However, what followed was not as sweet. A couple days after we flew back to Jakarta, Mount Merapi, not far from Yogya, erupted. We infact considered going there one evening to observe the active volcano. Little did we imagine that only a couple of days later, it would have turned into a disaster zone, causing much destruction.

PS. Speaking of disaster - there seems to be plenty these days. I started this post more than a week ago. Since then, I have left Indonesia, spent a day in Penang, catching up with my friend Nee, then made my way home to south Thailand. Only a couple of days later most of south Thailand, including my hometown, was hit with flash floods, causing lots of damage. I report about this in a separate post.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I have the Prime Minister's autograph

alright, not exactly. She was still Education Minister at the time, but between the time I received it and the time I post this blog, Julia Gillard has since become Prime Minister of Australia. Sometime in May 2010, I was advised that my proposal for the Australian Government's Endeavour Executive Award had been successful. This notification was accompanied with a letter from the Education Minister, Ms. Gillard. About a month later, she became Australia's first female Prime Minister. (see my post on the elections below)

So, yes, since August of this year, I have been on the Executive Endeavour Award, working to prepare for the conference 'Migration and the Wealth of Nations'. It has been a hectic 2 months. In fact hectic is almost an understatement, given that the conference evolved from a 2 and half day event into a series of training workshops, networking events, public policy discussions and book launches. I wrote a quick summary of the 'Freedom Festival Indonesia 2010' for the Friedrich Naumann website here.

The conference was the highlight of the 9-day long events. For the first time in EFN Asia history, we also attempted to produce a conference resolution that will be distributed and used in various channels in days and months to come. In addition to managing the conference, I was also part of the team that drafted the first version of the resolution - later discussed and modified by all delegates, and then accepted and passed by all. The drafting process was indeed challenging, but I had an amazing group of people that worked with me on it. Sebastian Braun, David Hennebeger, Barun Mitra, Aan and Nirwan. [Towards the end I think I became a bit of a time-police - so in addition to working so hard, they also had to put up with my frantic way in the last 15 minutes or so :) ] You can find the final version of the resolution on the EFN Asia website.

Lots of reports still to be written, but I thought I should make some attempt to update this blog. It has been neglected for quite sometime. I wanted to show off about my receiving the Australian government award, but by the time I manage to write about it, it is already almost over :)