Saturday, January 1, 2011

The tahun baru

New Year's 2011 in Jogjakarta with a good group of Fulbrighters. Back to Magelang tomorrow and to teaching the day after. It's been a while. Since being evacuated in early November, my carbon footprint has mushroomed. Sure, flying half-way across the world to come here in August was bad. And the return trip will be just as awful. But I toted up my recent in- and out-of-country air travel and realized that while working as a volunteer English teacher in the pretty well developed Emerging World, I'm on a jet-setting jag unlike any I've ever enjoyed. Not during my mostly desk-bound time with the Trib, not as a big-case, keep-the-meter-running snoop at Kroll. Thirteen flights in about six weeks. Closing in on the Clooney character from Up in the Air. To wit:

1. Semarang to Jakarta.
2. Jakarta to Surabaya.
3. Surabaya to Jogjakarta.
4. Jogjakarta to Jakarta.
5. Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur.
6. Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City.
7. HCMC to Danang.
8. Danang to Hanoi.
9. Hanoi to Luang Prbang, Laos.
10. Luang Prabang to Hanoi.
11. Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur.
12. KL to Jakarta.
13. Jakarta to Jogjakarta.

Of course, most that that travel has been on my dime and I'll be paying it off until I leave here in five months. Still, a good run. The only real moment of turbulent fear came on the final flight, the one into Jogja from Jakarta. we flew through heavy rain and a very tall storm system. Dark clouds the entire way, and when we had to dip into them, just rough riding. A couple gasp-inducing dips and drops, one of which prompted a woman seated just up the aisle for me to grab the seatback in front of her and brace herself for serious plunge that never came. She eventually let go and fixed her headscarf, which had come undone a little as she grabbed for the chair.

One last look at Luang Prabang.

I've got a couple long-form pieces that I'll post soon as proof that I haven't been completely neglecting my writing, or my readers. One's sitting on the Beachwood Reporter freelance submission desk and I'll see what Steve says before throwing it up on the blog. The other's about my now-long-ago trip to see the bull races in Madura. With the new year, I hereby resolve to keep the blog as updated as possible for the rest of my time here, which frankly isn't that much. Looks like about 15 weeks of classroom instruction is all. A student teaching stint, basically.

One last picture of me with an elephant.

Sounds like mom and my aunt are heading here in late February and rumor has it my friend Lydia might make a Javan appearance. Thinking those visits will mean trips to Bali--still haven't been but I'll be in Lombok on Fulbright's dime in a couple weeks (more flying!)--and up to see those orangutans in Borneo. Many, many thanks to Jenn Mack for suggesting our Indochina adventure, making it happen, and then helping bail my ass out when the passport debacle took full flower.

Happy New Year to everyone reading. Thanks for your continued interest and I hope to see each and every one of you during the Summer Reunion Tour, which looks to start on Nelson Lake in Eagle River, Wis. round about July 4. Save me a seat in the sauna.

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