Now I’m in Yogyakarta, a smaller city than Jakarta, for language school. Kate and Craig and I flew over (Air Asia, quick cheap flights, someone needs to bring this to the States) on Friday then woke up at 4:30 Saturday to go to the wonder-of-the-world Borobudur temple with Pak Ungall (our guide) and the Redmond’s two cool German friends. BuddhaThe combo of our running late-ness combined with imperfect weather led us to kinda miss the sunrise, but apparently that’s pretty common. Either way, it was very imoressive and beautiful, and it was really (REALLY) nice to be there before the tourists and heat descended. The swarms were starting to arrive as we left, and I was quite glad to be moving in the opposite direction! But the temple was truly amazing, and we had an excellent guide who explained a lot about the temple and Borobuduralso about Buddhism. He knew a lot of the stories, which are carved chronologically all the way up the temple. My favorite was this little fable something like this: Ducks and turtles, bff’s living in this lake together. Lake dries up. Birds scout out new home. Come back to get the turtles, and devise this little system: two birds hold to ends of a stick and Turtle McTurtley grabs on with his mouth. Bystanders admire this crafty system, and the bird squawks out thanks. The turtle wants to get in on the praise, so he opens his little yapper to say “Me too!” (even though the dumb turtle had nothing to do with it) and the little dude falls to his death. Sad for Mr. turtle and all, but pretty clever. Pak Ungall, our guide said it meant people who talk to much don’t end up winners, but I kind of think it’s more along the lines of take credit for something that you didn’t do…and you’ve got it coming buddy. CarvingsMost of the stories were actually about Buddha, and they were really interesting as well, but more complicated and my tired little tourist mind can’t remember them all. It is one tiring job being a foreigner! All the time you are most definitely the fool in the room. And here being a clear foreigner means you get unabashedly stared at and worked on particularly hard by the people selling trinkets and cigarettes and so on. But have no fear, this week at language school I will become a Bahasa Indonesia master and be able to shut down the sellers in one second with my stunning language skills!

Maliboro MallNow here comes the food portion. Malioboro is the main street here in Yogyakarta (also called Jogja and Yogya) and on that street is the cleverly named Malioboro Mall. Malls are all over the place here. But they are a world apart from American malls. In my mind, malls at home are big, open, pretty quiet, a place to get a Starbucks and walk around killing time. Here they are crowded and bustling and loud and just way crazier. And there seems to be an abundance of shoe stores. But that could be in my imagination. Anyway, the malls here can be pretty exciting, and Malioboro is no exception. So after getting some essentials (…Indonesian-English dictionary, towels, and some handmade-ish sandals for 4 dollars) I wandered, looking for food. Walking past the food court I realized that I needed a serious break from nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles), the Indonesian stand-bys. Don’t get me wrong, they’re tasty and all, but a kid can get tired of that business.

Then I saw it… McDonalds. I’ve always felt a little odd going into McD’s overseas, for two main reasons: 1. They are always a little off. McDonalds at home is always the same. No matter what. Arkansas or Maine, your McDs will be the same. Then it gets exported and goes a little weird in the process.2. I always feel like the locals are looking at me and muttering to each other, “Look, the American in McDonalds. TYPICAL.”

McDonalds!

But I got over my McD-abroad issues and went on in. And got: a hamburger (Me: “A hamburger.” Cashier: “Hamburajfhkjh?” Me: Smile, nod. Cashier: “Apa htryondaf?” Me: “What?” Now-annoyed cashier: “Beef Burger?” Me: “Oh! Beeeefburger. Yes.”), chicken nuggets, fries, and a Coke. (I’ve been totally digging on the Coca-Cola here. Kate says it has medicinal properties, and I am totally with her. Perks you right up when you’re beginning to crumble. …Uncle Ross, you’ve had it right all these years!) All this time ordering, I’m waiting for the weirdness to reveal itself, and quite quickly, it did. The woman at the next cashier ordered: four serving of fried chicken, rice, and scrambled eggs. What!? No! The rice was squished into a little half-sphere in wrapped the same way a hamburger would be. Kinda cute… but so wrong!! And fried chicken at McDs? No way! I mean, I am accepting of cultures and jazz. I don’t want to (and don’t think I am… I hope not!) be one of those buggy Americans who walk around projecting their American-osity and self-deemed big-shot-osity all over the place, but McDonalds is our thing! Don’t go changin’ it!

Chicken nugget with SambalBut here is the real kicker. No ketchup!! Only sauce sambal! Which is basically sweet-chili sauce and is pretty good, but fries and ketchup… c’mon now. But I battled through, and lived long enough to go wander a bit longer and wind up at J Co Donuts, this excellent donut chain. Kate told me about these delish donuts, but until I tried my first one I couldn’t even understand. We got some on our way out, at the Jakarta airport. They’ve got a bunch of crazy flavors, but my favorite was the one with just plain ol’ powdered sugar that they give you for free with your drinks. But I also had one with strawberry frosting and what they call chocolate caviar (little crispy chocolate orbs) and it was tasty tasty too. But today I opted for the fro yo (I get a totally inordinate amount of happiness out of calling frozen yogurt “fro yo”) with strawberry bits and that chocolate caviar again. JCo Fro YoSide note, fro yo is my total go to when I’m in airports. Wisest thing I ever came up with. Because: 1. It is always tasty. Always. Given, Pinkberry and the other famous ones are better than the little guy ones, but it’s pretty reliably good. 2. It never makes you feel weird later. Feeling weird on a plane = bad.  3. It gets rid of that weird airplane stuffiness you get. Maybe that’s just me, but I always feel all schlumpy and drab after flying. And fro you perks ya right up! And JCo fro yo was pretty good (Plus- it rhymes!). Naturally, not as spectacular as their donuts, but after a Coke and fro yo, I was back in action.

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