One of those (long) days…

Breathe. Don’t get worked up cause that’s not going to help the situation. Just take a deep breath, let things be, and move on.

I’ve had to remind myself of this a few times in the past couple of days. The journey from Siem Reap to Yogyakarta has had a few hiccups.

It all started with a friendly tuk tuk driver. The night before leaving Siem Reap I was walking back to my guesthouse after returning my bicycle, getting the constant “Tuk tuk?” holler any foreign pedestrian can’t avoid here. This fellow was sitting on our quiet side street. We’d had a few conversations over the week I was there so I thought I’d say goodbye. One friendly conversation later I moved to leave and noticed the tuk tuk beside him. I asked of he was a driver (somehow it had never come up) and he said yes. He offered to give me a ride to the airport the next morning at a really good price. I said ok but insisted on paying more, I’m happy to pay a fair price to a friend who appreciates it! …I’m such a Canadian.

Well this ride got me to the airport where a plane got me quickly to the Kuala Lumpur airport which, contrary to what led me to believe, is a dive of an airport. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet kids.  I’m not going to give the play-by-play of the 21 hours I spent here, but let me paint a picture for you:
Me sleeping in the corner of the international departures area on the hard tiled floor (no carpet in this place, they even are thoughtful enough to put dividers on the plastic chairs to prevent you from getting comfortable). I, at least, have a couple Cambodian blankets to protect myself from the frigid air conditioning. I eventually doze off and wake up to well over a hundred Malaysian schoolgirls loitering around me in their uniforms. I was so confused. I guess they thought the foreigner sleeping in the corner would be a good meeting point. I wasn’t going anywhere, I’m territorial about where I sleep. I just pulled out a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and made a sandwich.

I eventually got on the plane to my final destination. I just wanted to sleep but the Indonesian lady next to me was keen on my taking an interest in her daughter. I don’t know mist of what she said but she tried the ol’ I’m-just-going-to-get-up-and-stretch-oh-why-don’t-you-scooch-over-and-I’ll-sit-by-the-aisle to get her next to me. Then she offered to buy me lunch, buy me a drink, even inviting me for dinner and to stay at their house. In retrospect that last part would have been neat but in my sleep deprived state I politely declined. The poor daughter though – she was blushing so hard and kept telling her mom to shutup towards the end. I wish I could understand the banter between them, I bet I would’ve found that interesting.

Of course when I landed there was a big white X on my backpack. I had to unpack the whole thing for security on a table much too small for the task. First time that’s happened. I then went straight to the immigration office to fill out paperwork and apply for a visa extension. It’s going to take a week and might not even go through. I hope it goes through.

I had been in touch about staying in a room above an art house in the city. My cab driver only generally knew where it was so he was asking locals on the side of the street as we drove by. We finally found a fellow who new it, saying it was right here actually. I DO believe he knew exactly where it was, but he sure didn’t take me there. He brought me to a little losmen instead. So tired at this point I took a quick look around and dubbed it suitable, for one night at least.

After a nap I took a little look around and am pretty happy with the place. I’ve got one of the two roomswith a balcony so my hammock’s already set up out there. It’s on the top floor with a view. It’s a fair price and a couple dollars cheaper than where I was going to stay (I feel bad for telling the art house to expect me. I think I’ll swing by and let then know at least.). Oh, and the free breakfast and tea are tasty too!

The people here are so friendly and, with the exception of the batik scammer I spotted a mile away yesterday, they’ve all been great. I had dinner with an Indonesian man who, like all good Indonesian men, smoked like a chimney. We had some traditional street food – it was delicious.  Our conversation started with where I was from and what there was to do in Indonesia. He must have noticed the blessing strings around my right wrist because he asked “Are you Buddhist?” I answered yes for the first time ever (it is becoming a philosophy I follow). The man nodded and we went on to talk about some old traditions still followed at the Sultan’s Palace here (such as drinking ash water will give you a Buddha belly when you are enlightened). “Are you Buddhist?” I eventually ask, hesitant because it’s such a dominantly Muslim country. “Yes,” he answers. “But not on my papers.” He is like me and believes Buddhism is a philosophy and not a religeon (some other parts of Asia intertwine old religeons with it). He believes in God because he does not know the reason for a chili pepper’s color (there was a bowl of peppers on the table in front of us, so he used that as his example). He is of the mind that different religeons are different paths to the same God. Interestingly he identifies as Muslim on his papers because religeon is like wearing clothes. If people don’t like the clothes you wear they aren’t going to talk to you. He is also adament that he is a traditional Muslim and not a fanatical one. He lamented about the radical ones actually. They apparently roll up their pants differently to identify one another (kind of like gang symbols back home).

Another wise character that I’ve met on the road…you’d be amazed how many there are.

Time to hit the beach with some Malaysian friends I met over breakfast. Take care all.

Peace and love.