Monday, April 21, 2014

Living in the slums of Jakarta Indonesia for a week

I flew in to Jakarta out of Bangkok at midnight; earlier in the dayI did not know where I was going to stay in Jakarta. I put out a message on that I was looking for a host, and surprisingly within a few hours, I got a whole bunch of offers to be hosted by people in Jakarta. I ended up taking an offer from a guy named Miko who lived in the slums with his cousin. I thought it would be a great chance to try living in a poor area, and see what life is like in one of the biggest slums in the world.
Many people in the waiting room at the airport in Bangkok came to take pictures with me and were interested as to why I was going to Jakarta

I arrived at the airport at about 3am. Miko told me to take a taxi for about $8 to his place. No taxi driver would take me for less then $20 being the only foreigner around, and at 3am in a foreign country with a lot of poverty around, I wasn't going to spend a lot of time haggling, I just wanted to get to my host and sleep! It was pouring out, and the cab took about an hour, and the taxi driver didn't speak English so I stared out the window in silence, watching the roads flooded from the rain. The taxi driver had to stop and ask a few people where the address was. Eventually the car just stopped and he signaled me to get out. I was left alone in the pouring rain in what was the outskirts of a slum. Luckily a man came walking towards me about 2 minutes later with an umbrella, the guy was my host Miko!!! So I would not end up lost, alone and cold in the slums! Miko walked me down an alley, and into what was his house. His cousin was sleeping on the floor in the living room, and they gave me his room, and had food waiting for me. I was exhausted and soon fell asleep. I woke up in the morning, Miko and his cousin had to go to work, so I was left alone in this house (more like a housing complex, connected to many many others in rows of houses). Other couch surfers had invited me to join them, and they would show me around in Jakarta while Miko worked.

People come into restaurants and start playing music, asking for money after there done there song

I had many educational and memorable experiences in Jakarta, it was a very interesting experience. It taught me to be patient, that humans the world over make the best out of the situation they are placed in and enjoy life for whatever it may bring. Take a look at the pictures below as well as the captions to get a bit of an idea of what life in Jakarta is like:
I felt like a rockstar walking around, many people stopped me to take pictures with me, due to a lack of tourists

Due to a lack of nature, Jakarta gets a ton of floods because there is not much vegetation to suck up the water, or a proper drainage system

Traffic jams suck here. It can make a 30 minute drive into a two our drive on a daily basis

Amazing, made on the spot cakes, had many while I was there, with real melted cheese in the middle

I took a picture of people taking pictures of me at a museum, I guess I am getting old...

Highrises crowding out some slums

Chicken feet for lunch

People live in the grave yard, and even have live stock as you can see this goat, as the graveyard is a place with open space

Me and my host Miko eating dinner at a popular local restaurant

Karaoke is huge in Indonesia, and a lot of fun!

This is a slum area, people wash there dishes in this river

and go swimming

I thought it was really cool to see kids having so much fun, even though by western standards they live in poverty. They always have smiles on their faces, and enjoy life just like kids the world over. I feel a kid growing up in this environment has a distinct advantage as they learn to be creative as often times they don't have parents protecting them from falling off a swing set, instead there swimming down rivers full of garbage diving down into the current, making home made kites, and learning to become hustlers to survive. They also don't have as many electronics, which in my opinion are horrible for kids when used all the time as it takes away our imaginations, and are motivation to play outside!

The side walks were bad if at all existent

This looked like an old bus stop, these guys jam out here for local people passing buy, I sat down any played drums with them for 30 minutes

Jakarta was a great place where I learned and saw a lot. Go and see a place like this and go have a unique experience. I remember waking up to the sound of cat sized rats scurrying across the roof, and going to the washroom which had only a squat toilet and bucked of water. Often times when I would turn on a light I would  watch cockroaches scurry away. Jakarta will inspire you to be the best you can be and not take things for granted, and possibly open your eyes to the world!

Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world, and Jakarta has 10,000,000 alone, and the country is made up of hundreds of islands

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sleeping with tigers, and wrestling crocodiles in Chiang Mai

I did actually start to get bored of the ocean and beaches, not like I wouldn't live there, it's just after a month it started to get normal. I didn't feel like spending a few days traveling from the south of Thailand to the north so I decided to fly out of Phuket to Chiang Mai, in the North of Thailand. I spent the evening catching up with an old friend from Sweden, and checked out what was suprisingly cool night market in Phukhet (although the camping knife I bought there broke when I tried using it). It is quite cheap relatively speaking to fly around Thailand, the plane ticket only cost me about $50.

Martina eating her first Scorpion

The best part about this outdoor show was that the spot light kept moving everywhere and it was awesome

The largest MMA/ Muai Thai training area in the world, a street in Phuket, due to the large amount of Muai Thai trainers in the area, and the fact that it is so cheap brings thousands of fighters here a year

Flying into Chiang Mai was a cool experience, flying over mountainous jungle. Arriving in the airport I got a really good vibe right away, with really friendly staff, and the locals seemed quite relaxed. I decided to walk out of the airport and not pay for a taxi. within about 5 minutes of leaving the terminal a tuk tuk came by and asked me where I was going, I said the city center, and they were going there for a price of about 70 cents. In the tuk tuk were four British girls about my age who had been volunteering in Chiang Mai for the past few weeks. They said they were bored, because they were volunteering as English teachers at a local school, but they only taught for about 30 minutes a day, and the rest of the time they ended up just sitting around. I said sounds like a regular public teaching job :p With volunteer opportunities abroad, it is important to do your research and find a organization for a fair price, where you will be doing meaningful work and learning things so you have a great experience, otherwise you might be joining these British girls on the tuk tuk.
Tuk tuk

50cent ice cream, I was smiling to!

I got off the tuk tuk in the historical part of Chiang Mai, where the majority of the backpackers stay, and there were a surprisingly large amount of backpackers around. Right away I noticed Chiang Mai was a lot cheaper then Southern Thailand (examples: I got a clean private room in a hostel for $6 with wifi and a twin bed. It included a washroom, a rooftop patio to chill and meet others, and a great staff that really helped plan out what I was going to get up to.
All you can eat Korean hot pot about $4

I was the only white person in the 100 person restaurant, even with thousands of tourists in the area, it is crazy how some places have so many foreigners, but some establishments have none, while others have many

Fresh bugs for sale, bugs for sale, 10 cents a pale!
It took a bit to find a hostel with room, but I found one. A bunch of people were sitting at a table under a tree having drinks and talking, so I joined them. There was this British guy there, who was jacked. He said he is a life coach for people in London England, helping people get off of drugs and drinking (he told me this as he went through a couple of ice cold beers), getting them into shape, and helping them with personal issues. He was a cool guy, and had a way of talking with people that made you smile and laugh. Another guy was from Isreal, and was traveling around Asia, he hooked me up with a scooter rental for $3 a day and took me on an evening cruise on are bikes around the city.

The city is really nice, with a lot of canals, jungle and hills all around. There were a lot of people living there who came every year and stayed for the winter of forever, as well as a lot of backpackers. The next day I wanted to go to Tiger Kingdom (it's a place where you can go play with Tigers). No one else wanted to come from the hostel due to cost and they for some reason thought it was not a good idea to play with tigers, my guess is Obama care doesn't cover tiger attacks.

I decided to scooter out to the zoo. Unknown to me it took me about an hour on a scooter down the highway to get to the place (it was a cool ride, just a little sketchy going 50km plus beside a bunch of trucks). When I actually got to the tigers (there were over 50 in the kingdom) I did get nervous. Just imagine walking into a cage with a bunch of Tigers. Outside of the cage I happened to run into a guy from Poland who I had met in Southern Thailand, and he was also on his own! So we teamed up on the Tigers. He had signed up to hangout with the smallest tigers and I had signed up for the biggest ones, so we comprised on the medium sized tigers. The guide just walked us into the pen casually, although I was definitely nervous, even if they are tamed. The tiger walked right up to the guide, and the guide shooed it away with a piece of bamboo!!!! Anyways I took some pictures:

It was hot out, so went for a custom Thai afternoon nap

My friend (who's name I cannot remember as it was different) had a whole day tour planned with a driver, so I decided to join. Next stop was the snake farm:

King Cobras

This guy was awesome, he through a rope at me while he had a King cobra, funny guy

Then the Alligator farm:

These are real crocodiles

Yes it was terrifying, I did not stay there long, and it was even worst because the guy couldn't figure out how to take a picture!

This guy takes away all my fame, and puts it to the next level, but this is crazy and he deserves credit, he is a semi professional I guess

I was wanting to go to wash and feed the elephants but we were running out of daylight. Also in the area there was bunggy jumping, quadding, a gun range, and much more.
I know what your thinking, and no she is not a hooker! But it was an awesome Quad ride through the jungle, using the the quad skills I learned up in the Canadian Arctic

Went on a 40 minute elephant ride, and yes it was awesome!

That night I ended up switching hostels, where I met and hung out with my new roommates for a few days while exploring Chiang Mai. The coolest thing I did while in Chiang Mai (besides the animals petting zoo) was the art exhibit at Chiang Mai University. They had an opening of the new exhibition and there was free food and drinks, and a whole lot of amazing pictures that make you think. I spent about three hours looking at everything before it shut down, and then we went over to a Jazz Co-op, and then ending the night eating Thai soup at a night market for a $1 on the street (this was one of the best meals I have ever had, I am not just saying that). Everyday I spent in Chiang Mai was great, with adventures, cool people, and a lot of culture. It is one of the best cities I have ever been to. If you are thinking of teaching English in Thailand, I would suggest considering here. From here I went on a hitch hiking adventure into rural Thailand which will be in my next post....