Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Blog Design!

I'm less than a week away from heading into the jungle!  I haven't updated the blog recently, because I've been real busy traveling around Indonesia to get to where I am now, Ketapang (the town closest to Gunung Palung National Park, where I will be working).

I spent most of my day yesterday upgrading the site's layout. My internet there will be much more limited (as in, I'll just be able to access it from my iPhone using my indonesian cellphone network.). Now is the only time I'll be able to mess around with the site, so it better be good. I'm also working on integrating facebook and twitter to the updates. The goal is to get as many views, shares, and likes as possible, in order to promote the conservation project I'm working with, Gunung Palung Orangutan Project (donate! It's for a good cause).

Over the next few days, I'll be updating you on my last week-and-a-half. It's been a crazy but interesting journey making it here. I've been through a lot, including (but not limited to) planes, trains, buses, ojeks, eating lots of indonesian food (mmm, gado-gado), living with an Indonesian family outside of Jakarta, office-visits for permits (meh), fasting for Ramadan, riding motorcycles throughout the city, trading blackberries and bartering for cellphone parts, spontaneous movie dates in Jakarta, having really great conversations with other travelers, waking up in an australian's house on the other side of Jakarta, being broke ($1.30!), staying in nice hostels, staying in seedy hostels, avoiding stalkers, 6-hour boat rides, motorcycling, getting marriage proposals, etc.

Oh, Jakarta. There's a lot to talk about.

I'll leave you with this for now:

The skyline of a very interesting city.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ramadan mosque hopping in Istanbul

The first stop I made was at Yeni Cami, aka the New Mosque. After a bit of hanging around inside the outer walls of the temple, I went to the fountains in the plaza to wash my feet, arms, and face. You can't go inside without taking your shoes off, and there are guards at the entrance making sure the tourists follow the rules. Since it's very touristic, the inside is also divided into a tourist area and praying area for legit visitors. The architecture inside is beautiful.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Taksim square and Galata, Istanbul

So since I'm such a frugal person (some may say cheap asshole, but I prefer frugal), I stalked flight fare aggregator websites (like Kayak) day and night looking for the cheapest flight to Indonesia possible. I hit pay dirt when I found one for $940. The problem was that it was a VERY long itinerary...24 hours of flight time, and a total trip time of 50 hours. Basically, I would leave Boston friday afternoon, and arrive at Jakarta on sunday evening. But while most people would say hell no to that, I took it as a bonus. Why? Because my flight included a 13-hour layover in Istanbul...and I was definitely not planning to spend those 13 hours in the airport.

When I arrived in Istanbul, I left my big bag in storage, grabbed my daypack, my nalgene, and my camera, and walked out of the airport like a boss. After realizing that taking the metro into the city was cheaper than the shuttle (again...frugal), I just took a quick look at the subway map, hopped on the the first train, and hoped to wing it. I was heading to Taksim square, the center of the took me a while to get my bearings when I got off the metro, but a simple "Taksim square, nerede?" to a stranger (thanks, Ema), as well as a few hand motions, got me on the right track.

A banner hanging from a government building in Taksim square...a bit ominous if you ask me.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Goodbye Boston, Selamat siang Indonesia.

So after a long hiatus from my travels in Ecuador, where I failed to update my blog because I was too busy having wild and crazy adventures in the Galapagos and the Amazon, I'm going to give this another shot. Same idea, different place. I think I made the mistake of making my posts too long last time, so smaller posts, more frequently this time.

My plan for the next year is to live and work in Indonesia on the island of Borneo. I will be working at a research site in Gunung Palung National Park called Cabang Panti, where there is currently an Orangutan research project led by BU professor Cheryl Knott. I'll be doing such things as following orangutans, taking photographs, collecting their poop, and analyzing samples in the lab. I'll share more about this later, since I have yet to actually get there. But I'm really excited about it and can't wait.

Indonesia! (which, coincidentally, is at the equator as well)