Monday, April 25, 2011

Ending my adventures

I'm back in Europe and have ended my adventures in Asia for this time. These 4 months have been some of the best; I've had the time of my life! Starting in Malaysia with beach life and lectures was exciting. Going to Sri Lanka was a wet but very interesting experience before enjoying the beaches in Malaysia again. Then we went to Cambodia, the country with the gruesome history. My boyfriend visited and we had a blast. Thailand was next, where we got a closer look at Buddhism. Our studies came to an end with our exam in beautiful Indonesia. But I had still not had enough. So Stine, Margrethe and I went to The Philippines and the island Boracay, where the second nicest beach in the World awaited us.
The 4 km long White Beach.In the tricycle, a great way to get around in the Philippines. The beautiful sunset in Boracay, on White Beach

Of all 6 Asian countries I've been to, The Philippines is the country that gets my award for the nicest, most friendly and polite people. They end each sentence with “ma'am” or “sir”, and always offer a smile. It was nice being in a Christian country again; around 95 % of the population being Christian!

In The Philippines I also had my best diving experience so far; diving together with Stine, Margrethe and two other friends from our class (Maria and Margrethe V.)

This was a very colourful dive; perhaps the best we have had!
Trumpet fish!nice fishEveryone on the boat very happy with our last dive
One day we took a trip around the island, where we got to snorkel and swim in caves. This experience was so fantastic it nearly took my breath away (literally; when I got water in my snorkel).

We got to see all the beautiful beaches on Boracay

Seeing Margrethe V and Maria again was great, after a very tearful goodbye with the whole class on Gili.Our nice room in the hotel "Alice in Wonderland"
Action and relaxation in the sea.
Relaxing with a tropical fruit shake. Yummy!

Three men gathered around Margrethe to watch her build a sand castle.The evenings were spent out in a restaurant, a bar or on the beach. The street by the beach was so crowdy at night time that we often walked on the beach to get from A to B. I'll miss that!

Going out to dinner

Boracay was the perfect place to spend our last week in Asia. But if you ask me which of the 6 countries I enjoyed the most, I'll find it difficult to answer. I'll end my last post with some of the best things and things that are special (not necessarily good) about every country:

Malaysia: the nicest language (Malay) and the most interesting society which basically consists of Malays (only Muslims), Chinese and Tamils. Key words: Islam, Hinduism (with the festival Thaipusam), Chinese Buddhism, Beautiful beaches, wonderful weather, GREAT food!
Sri Lanka: the country with the nicest stupas, the largest sitting and standing Buddha in the world. A great country if you want to learn about Buddhism, and a country with a very unique and exciting history of kings and warriors. The country that introduced the world to the Protestant Buddhism. Key words: Duttu Gammunu, Olcott, Anagarika Dharmapala. Beautiful beaches, beautiful scenery, tea plantations, poverty.
Cambodia: The country with the nicest and biggest temples – Angkor Wat being the World's largest religious building. Key words: Beautiful people. Cheap merchandise (one dollar!), crazy traffic because of no traffic rules, The Khmer Rouge, temples, Buddhism. Ole Einar was there with me for over a week.
Thailand: A famous tourist country but yet a very interesting country to study Buddhism in. Key words: Good food, elephants, tigers, temples, nunneries and shopping.
Indonesia: lovely islands with fantastic beaches, good diving, interesting Hinduism, death penalty for drugs (also in Malaysia)
The Philippines: nicest people, nicest beach, beautiful sunsets, good friends. :)

After experiencing so much and making so many friends, how can I not feel satisfied and blessed!? :)

The End.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Exam Indonesian style

I wake up at 6 am and have an upset stomach. Can't figure out if it is the nerves or if it is last night's dinner that wants to come out. After an unsuccessful attempt to sleep for a bit more, I get up and go to eat breakfast. And this is when Indonesian culture shows its real self.

I thought I was early, but I still had to wait 45 minutes before my breakfast was ready. And as I ran towards the restaurant that was ours for the day, I met a friendly man who asked if I needed transport. He was ready with his horse and cart to take me wherever I wanted to go. (There are no cars on the island of Gili Trawangan.)(Kamilla with the typical Gili transport)I kindly said no and smiled to myself as I continued running to the restaurant. I passed several signs saying “Magic Mushroom”. No thanks, don't want to get high today either.

Our restaurant where my last exam this year is to be held has a roof and no walls. The tables are taken apart and placed in rows, just like it would be in a classroom. On my “desk” there are two things: paper and a small plastic plate. What on earth is this here for? Oh yeah – it's to avoid the wind from taking my papers, of course.

As our teacher hands out the exam I feel quite happy. The questions are satisfying to what I've prepared for and in five hours my summer holiday will begin! I write about Balinese Hinduism, the buddhist munk Bhikku Buddhadasa, inter-religious dialogue, guilt and shame. I squeeze out everything I've filled my brain with the last couple of days. A cat comes by my desk and wants attention, but I'm too busy squirting ink out of my pen.

After a while I have to put in earplugs because the party music from the beach and the calling for prayer from a Mosque gets too disturbing. Levi walks around in the restaurant handing out sandwiches for those who didn't get their breakfast in time. I say no thanks, looking forward to the take-away pancake I ordered for lunch. By the time I get to eat it, it's become all greasy and I feel the need to wash my hands before touching the exam papers. But unfortunately there is no sink in the restaurant, so I have to wipe my hands on my shorts, where I had wiped my sweat just a few minutes earlier.

Homo sapiens have a tendency to get quite thirsty in the heat and I am no exception. When I have drunk almost 1,5 litres of water, I feel the need to get rid of some of it. So I signal to the Indonesian guy who has volunteered to help out. He stands outside the toilet as I do what nature has called me to do. Like most toilets in Asia this one won't flush, but after nearly 4 months on this continent I know what to do. Next to the toilet there is a big barrel of water and inside it there is a small pink bucket. I take the pink bucket, fill it up with water and poor it into the toilet. We're talking about manual flushing here! As I mentioned there wasn't a sink, so antibacterial gel would have to do.

But enough with the toilet descriptions. As I go back to continue my exam, I hear tourists from the road talking about diving, snorkeling and beach life. People bargaining and people laughing. A horse running by with passengers in its cart. And all my head is full of is religion; theory and practice. And I realize that I'm grateful for getting the opportunity to learn something so important in such a great environment.

When I deliver 23 pages of my not so nice handwriting half an hour before deadline, I feel satisfied again. Only half an hour later I return to the exam place again, for the first time in history when I'm on holiday. This time to get free lunch paid by our University. So that must have been the smell that had filled my nostrils the last couple of hours.

Before our exam, studying in charming huts on the beach.This was our bathroom in Lombok. Walls, but no roof. And the shower came out of a big jar!
The view from the shower!
Our veranda with a comfortable hammock.
Crazy driving in Lombok, people driving in the middle of the road and overtaking in the most dangerous places!

Our last place in Indonesia has been the small island of Gili Trawangan. This is where we prepared for our exam before we took it.

This little fellow has been waiting for us on our veranda every morning in Gili. We've called him Bob Marley, because he looks so tired all the time.

To really feel finished with our exam, we had a party. This great live band played reggae music and we danced in the rain.

This will be my final post from my studies in Asia. But I still have a week of Easter holiday in the Philippines waiting for me, so I just might update again before placing my feet on Norwegian soil again the 23rd of April. Peace out.