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Sawarna Beach

All of us as Swarna beach
All of us as Swarna beach

I can't move slowly in airports. Even if I have several hours before my next flight and no idea where I'm going, I must walk quickly. I think this is a function of traveling a lot as a kid and always seeming to be running late for flights. On all three of my layovers I had plenty of time and hit relatively few snags. The flight to Hong Kong was a long one, but no longer than I've taken before. The lack of english speaking seatmates and a broken entertainment system didn't help, but I had brought plenty to keep me busy, including a small trove of classic literature on my iPod that I probably should have read by this point in my life. I listened to Robinson Crusoe. I found it fitting that the only thing seemingly more lonely and tedious than Robinson's life on the island was me sitting alone listening to it. For those of you wondering, here are some of the other books I brought along: The Count of Monte Cristo, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, The Woman in White, The Brothers Karamazov, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Call of the Wild, Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ulysses, Slaughterhouse-five, Animal Farm, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Grapes of Wrath, Atlas Shrugged, Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, Fahrenheit 451, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, On the Road, collections by Edger Allen Poe and Shakespear. I got to watch the sun rise over Hong Kong which was spectacular. I made it to Jakarta with pretty much no trouble.

Vina, a woman I met on CouchSurfing.com who offered to let me stay with her in Bandung, picked me up at the airport. We had made plans online to go to a nearby beach for the weekend. After we drove to her house we left immediately for Sawarna beach with a group of other CouchSurfers. There were almost 30 of us in total—a Spaniard, Fin and lots of Indonesians. "I know you don't have an international drivers license, have only gotten a couple hours of sleep in the last 50hrs and are used to driving on the right side of the road, but would you mind driving from midnight and chasing the sunrise starting from a city with no assemblance of traffic laws or order to a mountain of hairpin switchbacks divided by stretches of unmarked road construction?" Sure, why the fuck not? What's the worst that could happen? Well, I'll tell you: absolutely nothing. It went off entirely without a hitch. I can't stress enough the madness of driving in an Indonesian city. Any crazy driving you've seen in the movies or experienced in real life was likely orderly compared to this—and I've been to Thailand and Peru. As Miguel, the Spaniard, pointed out, they don't paint lines on the road because no one would use them.

We stopped to watch the sun rise over the ocean and eat breakfast. We had hot rice porridge that cost 60 cents which apparently was triple the regular price because we were in a tourist area. It was the first of many many delicious things I've eaten since I've gotten here. After breakfast we finished the drive and hung on the beach then trekked to a nearby peninsula. After dinner we watched the sun set and built a fire on the beach. The sunset was underwhelming. I think it might have something to do with the thick layer of smog that encompasses Indonesia. The island is a lot more polluted than I was expecting.

I was well ready for bed at this point. Most people stayed in a guest house but me and some others just slept on the beach. The next morning we went exploring a nearby cave. It was cool but nothing out of the ordinary. It was much like a cave I explored in Laos except that it didn't cut up our feet and we had headlamps instead of candles...

You may not know this, but I'm kinda a big deal over here. Well, all white people are. It's a good tourist practice to ask people for permission before taking pictures of them—that isn't a problem here, people are chomping at the bit to get their picture taken with you! So much so that they would stop you to get a photo with you. I can't tell you how many pictures I posed for. I'm going to spend the next couple days exploring Bandung with my new friends then heading to other adventures. I'll do my best to not keep you all waiting so long for updates in the future.


September 17th, 2012 at 4:58 AM

Glad to hear you inherited my taxi-driving genes. As for being photographed as the token white guy, I think you should start charging the locals a nominal fee, like a 1/4-cent, to have your picture taken - turnabout being fair play, you know. Have fun, take lots of pix and keep us posted.

Uncle Matchew
September 17th, 2012 at 7:42 AM

Which foot controls the accelerator on those cars, same as here?

Actually the ask the subject if you can MAKE a picture of them (not Take a Picture) is very good protocol everywhere in the world where people are the subject of the pic.

Sounds like heaps of fun.....

David R.
September 17th, 2012 at 7:54 AM

The air outdoors - what's it like, the smell of it? I noticed "thick layer of smog" and "The island is a lot more polluted than I was expecting." Various U.S. cities had their own distinctive air, especially during inversions, before the Clean Air Act intervened somewhat.
Enjoying your technology blogs too.
Be careful out there.

Nate J
September 17th, 2012 at 9:24 AM

I hear driving in India is equally ...maddening? We had something of a chauffeur when we were there (because taxis and other rental services can be somewhat unscrupulous), and it was crazy just to be a passenger. And the pollution was somewhat disheartening -- not for the simple reason that it's pollution, but because there's a preconception that island nations are supposed to be clean and smell like a combination of salt water, sand, rainbows, and unicorns. Despite the pollution, it can still be a very picturesque, culture-rich nation. Great to hear your perspective!

gramma Pearl
September 17th, 2012 at 9:42 AM

So far so good. Glad uor having a good time. looking foward to further blogs. luv ya

Kyle W
September 17th, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Thats awesome you got to meet up with such a big group of couch surfers. Very cool way of meeting people and finding your way around.

September 17th, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Same foot controls the accelerator/brake. It smells, bad. Kinda like burning garbage. Probably on account of all the burning garbage.

September 17th, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Great post, B. I cracked up several times (especially at that last comment about the garbage). I also really appreciate the "Items in my pack" DB list. As a distance commuter I enjoyed your description of the auto travel. I just can't imagine driving in that all the time... That's why I left Chicago, LOL. Post when you can, but more importantly, be safe and have fun, which it seems you are.

September 20th, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Who's coming that way so we can send you a new pair of chacos? That's the only thing bad that has happened to you so far! Wonderful! You sound like you're having loads of fun, meeting great people and expanding your tastes and horizons! Your photos are beauties!
Keep up the exploring! With love, Betsy

January 27th, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Finally catching up on this blog. Hard to believe you would come back to Bandung so soon. Wish i had known, i would have met you there and bought you a drink...

If you're asking a question, it may be better to just email me at beau@dangertravels.com