Java, May/June 2014
For me it is difficult sometimes to establish new friendships. Too short are the encounters with people. Often only a few minutes or hours, at best an entire evening or a day or two. As a traveler you are more open to people and things, and conversations can get on a personal level easily. You talk openly about everything, everyone knows that the time together is limited. But even though I’ve learned to get very close with someone in a short time – can real friendship develop in such a short time?
With many people I’ve met I´m still in contact and I would describe these people as friends, but for a real, a deeper friendship, often only a cornerstone was laid. Because being close friends includes to spend time together, to share experiences, to talk face to face. Just a few sentences, typed on a keyboard and send around the world through fiber optic cables, can never replace a real human conversation.
I haven´t heard for ages from many old friends in Germany but I can´t blame them. Everyone lives his own life and it is difficult to stay in touch all the time. I would call many of my friendships as in “stand-by” mode: Occasionally I get news from them, but I know, one day I will meet these persons again and the friendship will be back in active mode.
IIn Asia, people are very sociable and socially. One of the first questions is often: “Are you alone?”, followed by “Don´t you have any friends?”. For many it is incomprehensible to do something alone, especially things like a long journey. Often I get uncomprehending or pitiful looks when I explain that I’m traveling alone. It is my choice and I am really good with it. Although it means to say “goodbye” to people again and again, even to people I really like and with whom I want to spend more time.
In Java I find such people.
In the city of Malang I stay with local cyclists. They are not that sort of cyclists who own an expensive new mountain bike but cycle only once at the weekend a few kilometers.
No, these people are real touring cyclists. All their bikes have front and rear luggage carrier, they tour not only in Indonesia, other countries are on their list, too. And they use their bikes also in daily life, to commute to work or to get around the city. I haven´t met such people for a long time, and especially not so many at once.
They have a community place with a small bike shop and a cozy place to relax. From the beginning I feel connected by heart with these people and it shows me yet again that it doesn´t always need many words to communicate. Other levels of communication can work very well. We share experiences, talk about our bikes and discuss cycling in Indonesia and other topics.
After a few days I have to move on, it is one of those farewells that isn´t so easy for me. At that time I don´t know that I will see all these people again, and will cycle with them a few weeks later.
The Froghouse Family
In Yogyakarta I stay with a warmshowers host. Adrian is from Europe and studies for one year in Yogyakarta. He uses the Darmasiswa program of the Indonesian government, which awards scholarships to foreigners, to facilitate their stay in Indonesia.
Along with other foreign students, he lives in a house just outside the city and quickly I get to know his extraordinary qualities as a host. He tries hard to make my stay as pleasant as possible, cooks for me and shows me the sights of the city. He also tries to bring me to a different restaurant everytime we eat out, and he is able to do so even after a week.
My planned stay of three days has become a week. Adrian shares his room with me, so after ten days I move into the Froghouse. In that way we have both our privacy.
The Froghouse is sort of an artist community. Founded by a guy called Bagus (which means “great” in indonesian) it is at first a living space for creative people who can develop their art freely there.
All the buildings are made of natural materials, mainly bamboo, but also straw and clay are used. The traditional design is superior to the modern construction of stone and corrugated iron roof in many points.
It is cost-effective, environmentally friendly and, most of all, the indoor climate is more pleasant than in stone houses. The bamboo huts are better ventilated, there is no mold and it is not so hot. With this open design, however, it can´t be avoided to share your sleeping place with ants, mosquitoes and other insects.
There are many events in Froghouse, too. Concerts, movie nights, or workshops on various topics.
I feel very comfortable there. I like the simple life, there is always someone there to entertain me and I’m learning a lot about the life and mindset of the indonesian people The longer I stay, the better I get to know and appreciate my new friends, but I know, one day I have to say goodbye. I don´t think to much about the farewell, but just enjoy each day.