Journal 25 Day 4: Malaysia to Singapore:
I think that I have decided to spend the bulk of my time in Indonesia. I have a bit of reluctance on this issue because the last time I was in a country rife with stories of violence was in 2007 when Evo Morales was the president of Bolivia and there were scores of people running around La Paz wild-eyed and blood thirsty over G. W. Bush’s new decision to put stiff, new tariffs on all imports from Venezuela. Presumably this also effected Bolivia as there was looting and fighting in the streets borne of panic of possible collapse in the economy of the country’s capital city. I clung closely to anyone walking near me jabbering on in Spanish anything that would entertain the unsuspecting street-goers long enough to make it look like I was just some gringo with immediate ties to some local family.
Indonesia is different. Last year’s bombings in Bali about this time killed more than 200 people – most of them Australians – in a westernized dance club, sit heavy on my mind as I plan to go to a place I know little about. And as someone who stands out even in white crowds, I can’t help but think that I could easily be seen as the newest addition to an incoming wave of western influence that needs to be quashed with a quickness.
But even then, the risks still mount. Indonesia is a country with a geographic stability rating somewhere in the negative figures. From tsunamis to mudslides to earthquakes to currently active volcanoes in hundreds of places throughout the more than 17,000 islands that make up this mostly Muslim country of about 230 million people, “treacherous” would be a good word to start with.
Nevertheless, I am on my way. And though this idea came to me suddenly, many other things also came to me suddenly. The recognition that I have been reading a book that looks into the places I am seeing; the fact that I had a very opportune break from work with just enough time to make a small junket to the outlying areas; the addition of a small bonus from my company just large enough to take a cheap trip, but not so large that it would overshadow the savings that I will be able to make in the coming months with my new job; and the fact that I am now staring at the 2010 edition of Lonely Planet’s Indonesia guidebook which happened to have been left in my hotel room (which has a lovely view overlooking the action that has finally piqued my attention – perhaps in recognition of the swell of sounds and crowds in which I will soon be swimming).