If I have some cash, the first thing comes to my mind is travelling and of course visa issues beyond the travelling 😀 Well, this year I had the same. I was thinking a lot how and where to spend productive summer. I have changed my mind maybe about 100 times. The last dilemma in my head was whether to go ‘Euro Trip’ or to have summer internship in Asia.
Let’s say I left my comfort zone by applying to Global Citizen Program both in Indonesia and Malaysia. Luckily I got interview suggestion from one of AIESEC Local Committee, “Universitas Indonesia – UI”. By passing this interview and accepting the project I made my decision. To tell the truth I didn’t care much what the project was about, because I was ready for any kind of volunteering job after working in AIESEC several years.
I must say Embassy of Indonesia in Baku is the friendliest one amongst the embassies that I visited so far. They knew AIESEC and they respected it enough. It took me 3 days to get cultural visa for 60 days stay in Indonesia, without collecting tons of documents.
As I was going to attend in AIESEC Conference in Tokyo after my internship so I booked a ticket: Baku -> Istanbul -> Jakarta -> Tokyo -> Istanbul -> Baku. I had my longest flight from Istanbul to Jakarta up to 12 hours in the air. I set in myself some thoughts that “Rufat, it’s going to be a tough, you’ll be exhausted & bored”. But actually it was more that okay, as I find local Indonesian English speakers whom I had a chat so several hours and learned a lot from them.
I was happy to meet my host – Reza at the airport and generally I was very glad with my host family. You know if you are planning to leave at someone’s house for 5 weeks believe me their personality matters a lot. Luckily I felt myself here very comfortable. I loved Indonesian type of house where I leaved and I loved my separate room.
The first night when I got home, was disaster. I think I felt that much homesick last time only when I was 18. I felt myself that far from the people whom I love, generally far from Baku that I thought I did a mistake by coming in here. But in the next day’s evening I had pretty nice experience by having guests at home for a fasting break as it was Ramadan. Even it was kind of Ramadan gathering, I felt like it’s my welcome party! There was a moment which I will remember as a part of culture shock, while the guests and my host family members started to pray all together, it was in a loud voice and felt like at mosque for a while. I was very happy that they never tried to start a conversation about Islam, knowing that I’m also Muslim.
It was about to become boring, we started to have Incoming Preparation Seminars at University of Indonesia by AIESEC. And there I met my first 2 friends, Shashank from India and Hana from Egypt who show me the Central Jakarta as a first time and of course I had a chance to spend a few hours of talking in English as much as I want J One of time nice experiences was also to be in Jakarta during Ramadan discounts almost at all the malls. I spent about 1 million 300 thousand Rupia which is equal to 100 USD 🙂
Yes, Monday sounds like starting. On Monday my project responsible from AIESEC took me to my working place. Project manager who is about 60 years old was so kind person that I couldn’t keep smiling while talking to him. By the way my project was about Environmental Engineering. There were 2 other internationals whom I was working together: Maria from Ukraine and Shariq from Pakistan. Spending few days with them, I felt myself lucky that I met them. Our project may seem hard but actually it was really fun as our Project Manager was creating some activities for us. I can proudly say that I did recycling! 😀 After few working days Ramadan holidays came. I also come from the country where the religion is Islam, but believe me Eid Mubarak is not that fun in my country. When I saw fireworks I was shocked. Yes, this people celebrate this holiday like Azerbaijan celebrates New Year.
One of the interesting stuff in the week 2 was a whatsapp message in Exchange Participants group: “Hey guys, I’m Dominik form Germany, I leave Jakarta very soon, so all of you are invited to my farewell party that will be held in ‘Margonda Residence’ near the pool”. Rufat Dashdamirov (me) had planned to go to some traditional places on that day, but not surprisingly he changes his mind and goes to Pool Party! To tell the truth first motivation was some fun in the pool, then it turned out into people near the pool. I met so many people that I didn’t talk that much in one day since I came to Jakarta.
What was the next?! Yep, trip to Pari Island, in Bahasa (Indonesian language) it calls Pulau Pari. I thought I won’t have much time for Bali, so let me see how Thousand Islands looks like. Believe me it’s like in Google search. When I searched ‘Thousand Islands Indonesia’ I promised myself that I will go there and we did. Pari Island was unbelievably natural, with it’s blue beach, trees, houses and street food around. Usually in Jakarta I disgust to try street food, but in here everything was looking lovely 😀 Our tour guide told that we will go to snorkeling at 1 pm. I could guess what snorkeling is as I heard million times on the boat to island but I could never imagines that I might like it. We went somewhere middle of the sea (They call it Java Sea, but for me it was simply Indian Ocean), put on all the needed equipment for the snorkeling and jumped into the water. Oh my God, I thought I’m in the cartoon Nemo, by seeing that beauty. Lots of fish with different colors. After this experience, I realized that I would like to do in again in somewhere else in the world.
Trip to this Island was 2 days and 1 night, and we paid 30 dollars to everything that was included to the package. It was not luxury trip of course but anyway for that amount of money in Baku, Azerbaijan, you can spend maximum one Thursday night (Not even Friday). We visited Bird Island – Pulau Burung during our trip also virgin beach where we had some barbecue. I was very tired as I couldn’t sleep in the night before, but having a tight sleep in this beautiful island in not comfortable ‘bed’, I felt very exciting and happy the upcoming morning. I jumped from my ‘bed’ as soon as I heard that it’s breakfast time at 7:30 am. Of course if you are in Asia, don’t be shocked by having rice and noodles for the breakfast. Luckily we had some slightly spicy eggs as well which made me very happy at that moment.
During this trip I spend quite few time on looking at my pictures. Believe me, I loved them that much, that I didn’t even want post them on Instagram. Well, during the travelling sometimes you are having some feelings that you want to freeze. Travelling makes me happy very often.
Jakarta is a megapolis. A lot smaller cities has been attached to the city so linked that you don’t even feel it’s another city. One of such cities is Bogor. My host aunt let’s say decided to take to their city with her family. Of course I have learned to say yes in Indonesia. I went to this city have visited famous Botanical Garden. On the way to that place, there were many people selling different stuff and it was pretty much crowd. I used to hear while people calling me “bule-bule!” or just “mister-mister”. But believe me it was damn funny when a middle age man called me “Hey Hey Mister Crazy!”. I stopped and laughed a lot. My host cousins felt really shy for him but I told them no no, don’t worry it helped me to get an idea how to name my blog 🙂
During my time in Jakarta I really missed the ‘Doner’ which I eat in Azerbaijan usually and I could never find something similar. But Lebanese Kebab was one was very famous in Bogor, and I didn’t regret that I have tasted it. At least something middle-eastern.
Coming back to Jakarta, I was still feeling the Ramadan atmosphere. Holiday has finished but non-working days were on. I was actually happy that I had also holiday for 10 days. During this holidays I have managed to see the night life of Jakarta. Luckily the EP from Ukraine, Maria was turning into 20 and she has invited us to her birthday. First we went to the open pub & bar or restaurant, I don’t know to call it, the name was: “Lucy in the sky”. Such a fancy name, I was pretty much happy going there. Place was good, expensive and crowded. I cannot really have fun, chat with my friends when a lot of people walking around you or literally waiting for you to stand up so they can sit down. Well, for an every culture shock I had one answer: This is Asia. And this kind of stuff actually made me to use the hashtag in my instagram account: #RufatTheAsiaTrouble. After some beer we decided to go to the club. Let me talk about what happens when you want to go to somewhere with local people. I mean in my case from pub to the club. Well you hardly go out of pub because you don’t know where few people left for, then you gather at downstairs. 20 minutes they will think of the club to go however it was decided beforehand. Then we decided to go the club which was decided first. Well, people discover that the entrance is paid. And 10 more minutes we start to talk whether to go in or not. And finally after 15 more minutes we get in car and drive to another club which is far. I was so exhausted of Indonesian decision making that I would be happy to go home already but I didn’t as it was part of planned birthday. The club was well-designed and had a proper look just the songs and atmosphere was not like in Europe. I didn’t felt comfortable but tried to stay there more than an hour. It was the part of discovering the Jakarta, Indonesia.
Also one day I got suggestion from my international friends to go to sky bar and restaurant to see the sunset. Well, I didn’t expect much. But when I got to 56th floor of the building in the city center and asked the waiter to show me the place where I can watch the sunset, I was shocked. Open restaurant, warm atmosphere, fancy and very well dressed people and magnificent, indescribably view. And that moment, I smiled and felt proud that I am having internship in the city. The first sight was that shocking that I couldn’t understand whether I’m in Manhattan or Jakarta. That moment is the middle of my stay in Jakarta and my love with this city.
I’ve been to paradise before I die.
As finally Ramadan holidays ended, I was back to my work as usual, but this time just Maria and me, because Shariq and Dominik left the country already.
During last weekend Maria motivated me to go to Bali, and of course I didn’t plan to go there cause I had better list of the places to visit. But somehow she got to motivate me. The second question. With whom I will fly to Bali? Not alone, right? Everyone else had some plans to go, and I didn’t forced anyone or tried to motivate. I just offered few people got interested and they were eager to change the timeline of my Bali trip which I didn’t want to change at all as I was working as I could not skip to many days. Challenge was accepted, got home, booked tickets and smiled. I smiled because one of my internship goals was to become independent. It was a huge step towards. 4 unforgettable days ahead!
On Thursday morning I flied to Bali. You don’t really feel Bali is part of Indonesia. Maybe physically they look like but totally different religion and language has been created unbelievable and different atmosphere in this island. I would say better. The funny fact is that in Azerbaijan people understand Bali, like a small island that literally you can walk everywhere. I could hardly explained to my family and friends that Bali is an island which consist of a lot of cities and you should actually ask people which city they have been to while travelling to Bali. It’s like travelling to Java and not asking whether you were in Jakarta or Surabaya for example.
I went to Kuta city in Bali, which is the most popular among the tourists especially the ones from Australia. This city feels like Australian. Generally Bali has more Australian people rather than Balinese I guess. Even in restaurant you could see Australian flag. Actually from marketing point of view, this is very good. They know their customers and they try to make them feel like at home and feel comfortable to chop their money. I tried several city, food, beach, surfing, motorcycle and then decided to go the city which has become my lovely. Ubud. Ubud is the city where the “Eat, Pray, Love” movie was filmed. Of course when you first arrive you don’t really understand that you are in the middle of miracle. Luckily I met a guy from England, name was Adam. He was also a lonely traveler so we decided to split the costs between so we can travel more along the famous places. I don’t know actually how to explain. Our trip started in very nice taxi with awesome taxi driver Nguruh and he drove us for the rest 2 days.
First place was Ubud Rice Fields. Gosh, you have to see it. The exact rice fields which I was dreaming since maybe my 15 years old or something. Green. Ladders. Palm trees. Nature is all around. I never have been face to face with such beautiful nature. And by the way the selfies that I took in this rice fields made lots people jealous of me. Who cares 😀
We moved along, and reached to temples. Temples were my main motivation towards coming to Bali. I wanted to have this totally different religious atmosphere and pray together with locals. I did it. I was praying and actually was really thankful to my God that gave me this chance, financial sustainability, health and courage so I am here. I loved this place. What is next?
Coffee Plantation. People told me that Bali has the most expensive coffee in the world. Luwak Coffee. I am not fond of coffee so I didn’t like this coffee even if the preparation procedure of this coffee is very long and hard. This coffee cherries were eaten and defecated by the animal called Toddy cat. It was an interesting fact to know but my lovely part was trying 7 types of coffee and 4 types of tea for free. This is very nice of them, they offer you a free coffee and give lots of information about each types. Most likely it was my first time that I have tried these types: Balinese, coconut, vanilla, ginseng, ginger coffee and etc.
Well, Bali is full of temples. Even if you go to the shop on the way you will see lots of temples. That’s why I don’t want to bother you with temples, let’s switch directly to the volcano which I climbed to the top. They call it Mount Batur. Batur is an active volcano about 1800 meters. My friend advised me to go to this tour if I visit Ubud, Bali. Huh, I did.
2 am in the night a car came and took us to the place which is closest to volcano. Of course it was very dark so we had lanterns and some warm closes on. So we stared to our arduous journey through forest. When we reached to the bottom of volcano I saw a line of shining lanterns of volcano. There were already some people who were on the volcano even closer to the top. It was looking so difficult I would be happy to give up in any time. But no way back, only way is up. We started trekking with several breaks, still I was very wet, warm and cold in the same time. From bottom to top it took about 2 hours. Our team guide told us that we have really good speed so we were earlier than counted time. By the way, we had no time for longer breaks, because our aim was to see the sunrise at 6:45.
We were on top at 6:15 am. As we were really high the view made me scream. It was unbelievable. It was marvelous. I couldn’t believe that I did it, because I am the person who always avoids from extreme. Well, which means that I’m more interesting person, when I’m on my own. I couldn’t keep smiling because I did something great. Maybe for some people it’s nothing, for me it was everything. This trip was part of better Rufat. I took lots of pictures, and my new friend Adam was great in taking photos.
After a really tiring trip I went back to hostel, packed and left Ubud for Uluwatu and Kuta where I had flight back to Jakarta. Last day in Bali I was for my own. I love shopping, especially buying some gifts for my dearest people in Baku. But let me inform you that in Bali shopping is so tiring. You have to bargain in price as much as possible. If you are shy to do that than I’m sorry but you are either rich or stupid. In this way I spent my last day in this Bali and in the early morning flew back to Jakarta which was already like home.
Bali was better.
I started with these sentences: “Fuck Jakarta. Bali was better.” And attitude came up from religious matters. In Bali people were so cheerful so open-minded that I felt like in paradise. But this small culture shock didn’t last long because the girl who has been to internship this summer, Dwina, came back to Jakarta already and she knew me online through my friends in Baku. She organized very nice trip around Jakarta. We went to Safari, where animals were walking free and you feed them through the car window. But when we reached to Baby Zoo we get out of car and I hand chance to take photo with elephant, baby tiger and etc.
After Safari we stopped at tea plantation which was all green. Basically you cannot stop taking pictures. I walked along tea bushes, smelled and had a very nice selfie J. The trip ended up with night market, unbelievable corn snack and fried banana. Everything for me was as a first time. I am very grateful to Dwina and her family for their hospitability. The day was full of discovery.
And of course it was my last week of work as well. I was going to my work place alone as Maria also left Jakarta for Kiev. It was quite quiet. I had time to learn hour to create an art, handicrafts from plastics. They say I did a really good job for the first time. On Friday I was awarded with certificate of appreciation by my work place and AIESEC University of Indonesia. To tell the truth I reminded them not to forget to provide me with certificate 😀 It was my first internship certificates which I liked very much.
I don’t want to go far. Because I knew that I will miss my host family. You know how does it feel like? Imagine that you are at home, in your real home. And you know that in 3 days you will leave your family for ever! You will never ever come back to your home and see your family members. How would you feel like?
Exactly, like sh*t. So I wanted to spend more time at home or just to do my Indonesian hobbies. Which included to go to closest mall, to drink bubble tea, to go to University of Indonesia campus, to sit near lake and to read something or just simply writing a blog about my time in indONEsia, like I’m doing now.
Now I can talk in present form:
Now I am at my 6th week of my cultural internship. Sitting in yard of my host house and typing in my old notebook. My host mom, whom I’m calling just ‘mammy’ is cooking me fried beef with coconut for lunch because she knows that I love fried meat with coconut. It’s impossible to describe how it is tasty because coconut with meet sounds disgusting but in real, it’s a brilliant mixture.
After I finish my blog about Indonesia I will order a Go-Jek which is a motorcycle like a taxi and they have promotion now, when you order it by app you get everywhere just for 0.80 dollars. I will go to UI – Universitas Indonesia campus to see my lovely quiet place and enjoy it as a last time.
Tomorrow I have flight. I fly to Kuala Lumpur as a transit city, maybe I will go out of airport for few hours then I’ll fly to Tokyo for an AIESEC conference. It might sound cool but for me it doesn’t really matter much. I care about the time that I will spend and the people that I will meet.
And last words:
Indonesia made me to look into myself, made me truly discover who I am. Maybe not 100 percent but at least as much as I wanted from this internship. I feel like a better and more mature. It was my first internship that I had host family. It was for my scary to imagine how it’s going to be. It was the best. I was grateful to my God that I had such host family. Truly I felt like at home especially after 2nd week. I loved how my mom was caring about me, cooking me something special always, I loved my dad how was eager to buy me new fruit, snacks almost every day and handling me national dress ‘sarung’. Simply buying a bread just for me was a nicest thing for feeling special and naughty. I loved to talk about business and marketing with my host, I loved to hang out and watch movies with my host brother every time when I wished. I loved to have warm conversation with my host sister and getting new information about Indonesia or Indonesian cuisine each time. Thank you for everything!
AIESEC didn’t let me to go far from himself. AIESEC is like my invisible mentor. Of course you can have such DIVERSE experience only though AIESEC. Thanks for this different page of life.
I swear I lived.