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Three “field trips” and a new taste sensation

18 November 2011

(Note: Click any photo for more information and more photos.) I’ve been walking around the area where I now live — yes, I finally moved into my apartment on Monday, Nov. 7! These boys had just gotten out of school and were waiting of one of the minivans that people hop on and off as one of the main means of transportation in the city. I was across the street when they came trooping along and sat down. They are wearing identical school uniforms. The area where I live is called Dago (DAH-go), and there’s a lot going on here.

This fancy-looking sheep may be dead now, but for a good cause. I went walking around on the day before Eid al-Adha, the day of sacrifice for Muslims, because all over the city, sheep and goats and even some cows were for sale. On any little patch of dirt beside busy city streets, makeshift pens and stalls had been built for the livestock that was for sale. On the morning of the holiday, they were sacrificed (I did not go out to watch that); the meat is shared with the poor. It’s a holiday something like American Thanksgiving — a day to hang out with your extended family and eat lots of great food, especially meat. It’s also a day to ask for forgiveness from anyone you have wronged.

This yummy snack is called sekotang, and I was introduced to it by my colleagues when we accompanied about 70 second-year journalism students on a field trip to Jakarta to visit a TV station and watch their live news broadcast (see my Facebook album for those photos). The students were in two huge tour buses, and four of us faculty members were in my car, driving on the big, modern toll road. So we all stopped at a very fancy rest area (there was even a Starbucks there), and even though I had eaten breakfast not that long before, I was under severe peer pressure to eat again. I was very glad as soon as I tried this sekotang, a ginger-infused drink or clear soup full of nice crunchy things!

Above and below: Last Saturday, Jan (wife of fellow Fulbrighter Ronnie) and I took a photo field trip. We visited the large bird market here in Bandung and had a great time looking at all the exotic birds — and other animals too, such as the exotic Asian palm civet, a small mammal that helps produce the most expensive coffee in the world. (No, I have not tried it yet.) I didn’t like seeing some of the animals in cages, such as owls, hawks, and monkeys. Especially the monkeys. Their cages are too small, and they looked so sad! But the birds and the people who breed and train them were fascinating and fun to see.

The people are so proud of their birds, they love to show them off, and no one tried to push us into buying anything. One man did inform us that a songbird we were admiring had a price tag of more than $300. He was able to get it to sing on demand by calling to it. (I didn’t get a photo of that bird, because its cage was too high off the ground.)

Before going to the bird market, Jan and I visited a local coffee roaster, Aroma Coffee, also known as Koffie Fabriek Aroma (Aroma Coffee Factory), established here in Bandung in the 1930s. The owner took us behind the sales counter (where people were lined up to buy freshly ground coffee) and showed us his two big wood-fired roasters, as well as his storage room where the beans are aged for up to eight years. He gave us a wonderful private tour, answering all our questions in excellent English.

I’m already addicted to this delicious coffee. The flavor compares with no other pure coffee I have ever tasted. I now drink a cup every morning, made at home with my French press, and it’s really spoiling me. I’m still hooked on the latte at J.CO, an Indonesian coffee chain that also has great donuts, but I’m not as desperate to have a latte every other day now that I have my Mokka Arabika from Aroma.

I hope you enjoyed this little photo roundup of my recent activities. Since I just moved into my apartment 12 days ago, I was running around a lot to shopping malls to buy household items. I think I’ve got everything I need now. I have been teaching classes about three days a week — it varies from week to week and day to day.

For example, on Wednesday I taught from 9 a.m. until about 12:45 p.m. (no break) and then from 1 until 3:30, and afterward had a long drive with some awful traffic jams to meet people for dinner, and didn’t get home until about 8 p.m. I had left home at 7 that morning because class should have started at 8, but there was a delay because the computer lab was locked and the key could not be obtained. It takes about an hour to get from my apartment to the Communications Faculty buildings — the campus is way east and south of the center of Bandung. That’s why I have a car and a driver — and the traffic jams are just a part of life here.

On the other hand, today I did not go to campus at all, and so I had time to edit my photos and write a blog post! đŸ™‚

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