Archive for April, 2009

Driving trains in Indonesia

Unfortunately I couldn't really capture how packed the train was

Unfortunately I couldn't really capture how packed the train was

Well, I didn’t get to drive the train, but it was as close as I was ever going to get to driving a train. Coming back to Medan after a four day holiday in Indonesia, the buses and trains were packed. Now I have been to Japan and China so I thought that I would be fine traveling on a packed train, but Indonesians take it to a new level.

When the train pulled into the station, people ran to the doors that were already full. The people already on the train weren’t going to let anyone else on. We decided to wait for the next train in two hours time. A few minutes later after asking about the next train, a train driver who was driving just the engine back to Medan, asked if we wanted to ride with him, as long as we bought him and his staff some cigarettes.

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It was better than waiting around for another two hours for a train that was more than likely going to be full too. I love trains, so it was a lot of fun riding with the driver and a couple of other passengers. Unfortunately there was only other seat, so we either had to stand for the three hour trip or sit on bits of cardboard.

The views of the countryside were much better than what you see when you go by bus. Some kids played “chicken” with the train jumping off the tracks at the last minute. My heart raced everytime as they only had to trip and it would be “bye-bye” as there is no way that locomotive would have been able to stop in time. There are also so many little crossings along the way that don’t have gates. The driver had his hand on the whistle most of the way. Fortunately, we didn’t hit anyone, but it was amazing to see how many people would try and beat the train rather than wait for a minute for the train to pass.

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Eating bat

You never know what you are going to come across walking around Indonesia. Today it was some bats being sold by the road side. My first thought was maybe for a pet, but then I remembered bat being something of a delicacy in Indonesia.

I was kind of curious as to how you cook bats, so thanks to Google, I found this recipe:

FRUIT BAT SOUP
Serves 4

• 3 fruit bats, well washed but neither skinned nor eviscerated
• Water
• 1 Tb finely sliced fresh ginger
• 1 large onion, quartered
• Sea salt to taste
• Chopped scallions
• Soy sauce and/or coconut cream

1. Place bats in a large kettle and add water to cover. Add ginger, onion, and salt. Bring to boil and simmer 45 minutes. Strain broth into second kettle.

2. Take bats, skin them, discard skin. Remove meat from bones. Return meat and any viscera fancied to the broth. Heat.

3. Serve, liberally sprinkled with scallions and seasoned with soy sauce and/or coconut cream.

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Military plane crash kills 24

Yet another aviation disaster in Indonesia as a military plane crashed into a hangar at an air base in West Java.

“All the bodies found on the crashed plane have been brought here, there are 24,” said Drajat, a doctor at Salamun hospital in West Java.

“Some 18 bodies have been identified but others are cut into pieces, so it’s difficult to recognise them. A police forensic team is trying to identify them.”

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Anti-Megawati campaign on Facebook

megawati-facebookThe legislative election is just a few days away now. Aside from all of the campaign posters around town, I haven’t noticed any significant changes here. My local mall is opening two hours later on the day of the election this Thursday.

The presidential election will be held on the 8th of July. An anti-Megawati campaign on Facebook has been launched and the made the front page of some newspapers here. The Say “NO!!!” to Megawati currently has over 78,000 supporters.

The full list of Presidential candidates includes:

- Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
- Indonesian Vice president Jusuf Kalla
- Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid
- Former Indonesian president Megawati Soekarnoputri
- Former speaker of People’s Representative Council Akbar Tandjung
- Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono
- Former Jakarta governor Sutiyoso.
- Former Military of Indonesia commander Wiranto.
- Former Armed Force Strategic and Reserve Commander(Kostrad) and founder of the Gerindra Party Prabowo Subianto
- Chairwoman of Indonesian Justice and Unity Party Meutia Hatta Swasono
- Former Indonesian State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra
- Former Finance Minister Rizal Ramli
- Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Democracy and National Prosperity (Pedoman) Indonesia Fadjroel Rachman
- Chairwomen of Akar Indonesia Ratna Sarumpaet
- Former Navy Commander Admiral Slamet Soebijanto
- Dita Indah Sari Leader of the People’s Democratic Party
- Freedom Institute Executive Director Rizal Mallarangeng (withdrawn)
- People’s Consultative Assembly Chairman Hidayat Nur Wahid

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2 Canadians arrested for smoking marijuana

Two Canadian kindergarten teachers have been arrested for smoking marijuana while holidaying on the island of Lombok and are facing four years jail.

Marijuana is classed as a dangerous drug in Indonesia, on the same level as heroin.

The AP article says police followed the women for “several days” before making the arrest. What amazing police work!

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