This morning I am sitting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia enjoying some roti canai for breakfast. Two nights ago I stood on a beach in Flores, Indonesia and watched an incredible sunset. That morning I had watched the sun rise on a boat on the way out to Komodo Island. As I stood alone on the beach watching the sun go down, the hotel nearby started playing some songs. Appropriately or coincidentally, they played “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros followed by “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I associate both of these songs with my original home, the United States.
Standing on the beach, I felt happy and sad at the same time. I have called Indonesia home for over a year now and everyday here has been an adventure. The past 14 months have been exhilarating, exciting, confusing, frustrating, hot (it’s the tropics), cold (so much A/C in the tropics), funny, sad, fascinating and fun. I’ve seen the most sunrises and sunsets in my life. I’ve eaten more rice than I thought was humanly possible (will need to cut back soon). And most importantly, I met amazing people from all around the world and all around Indonesia, from Iceland to Australia, from Sulawesi to Flores.
But before I could finally leave Indonesia, I had the most dramatic 48 hours I could imagine. Indonesian immigration is not winning any awards for service or transparency. My former employer sent an agent to immigration to go about canceling my work visa. To this day I don’t know what really happened. I was told a scanner wasn’t working and so my passport couldn’t be scanned and sent to airport immigration. I don’t know if a bigger bribe was needed or if something else went awry. Needless to say I missed a flight and was afraid I would miss my whole trip to Flores before finally leaving the country. But once one of my journalist colleagues heard about the situation, she decided to pull out her contact book. Within 30 minutes the national spokesman for immigration had made some calls on my behalf and everything had been sorted out. So yes, a national official had to get involved so I could leave the country. You really can’t make these things up.
Now the time has come for the next chapter. I’m heading home to California in mid-September (after some more travels) to study for the GREs and apply to graduate school and to be home for more than 2 weeks for the first time in five years. I’m so excited to spend time with my parents and catch up on a lot of blogging and writing. But enough of all these emotions. The best way to summarize anything after a year is with lists! So read on for my likes, dislikes and other opinions all neatly numbered.