Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pictures and junk from Singapore

Before we came to Indonesia, we had to stop for a couple of days in Singapore to process our visas. Singapore is a weird place. Very weird. Nothing like Indonesia. It's clean. And if you make it not clean, you are breaking the law. Durians, by the way, are very bizarre fruits that apparently taste like soft garlic, and smell horribly. It is testament to their particular tendency to incite vomiting that they needed a whole extra regulation - the "No eating" rule wasn't enough.

The main thing we did in Singapore was handle our visas, which was a strange experience. We went to meet the school's agent at the McDonalds Friday morning. We were expecting some pleasantries, perhaps before getting down to business. Oh no. Not even a smile. He requested our passports immediately, followed by a wad of cash. It's slightly unsettling to meet a stranger at the McDonalds in a foreign country on hand over your passport and a wad of cash, on the promise that you will get the passport back later that day. Luckily, he kept his word and returned our passports with visas later that afternoon at the Mickey D's.

Our time in Singapore was quite limited, but we did get to visit Little India and the Botanic Gardens. It was also hard to completely enjoy everything due to the jet lag and intense heat. But here are some pictures!

I think maybe the line-marker person had a few too many Tigers the day he painted this street...
Here's us drinking some weird green drink with weird flavors ice cream in it. I think mine was milk flavored and Sarah's was bean.

We also visited the National Orchid Museum. And now, loads of pictures of orchids!

There are so many cool pictures to choose from, but those are some of the best.

Here's our strange breakfast the last morning.

One last picture...for the fam. Do you remember on our last night from Jeopardy they had the question about the largest ferris wheel in the world being in Singapore? Well, here it is.

Hopefully soon I will have some pictures from Surabaya. And maybe a thing or two to say, as well.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hello Surabaya

Selamat malam, everyone! We are here in Surabaya, and we've been here a little over a week now. Hell, we're practically locals by now.

We arrived Saturday the first, after a two day stop in Singapore. We were met at the airport (I'd always wanted to be one of the people who has somebody waiting at the airport with a sign with his name on it - how cool!) and taken to our new home, where we met our new roommate, Alexis. She's from Florida, so it's nice to be with another Southerner. She's great though. We get along great. And after meeting lots of the other teachers we could've been stuck with, we couldn't be happier. She took us along that evening to a party to welcome us and some other newcomers. It was really awesome and made us feel very welcome. However, I could barely keep my eyes open. My body was in complete shock that I was awake. Jet lag ain't no joke, friends.

On Monday we went into school and started our week of orientation. And here I must make and aside...It is so, so great to have a week of orientation. Know how much we got from our crappy school in Mexico? Zero. We were thrown in there the next morning with no clue what to do...OK, I'm back now. We spent the week going to some of the different schools, observing classes, sitting through training sessions, meeting and talking with other teachers, and finally teaching. It's really overwhelming how much EF is trying to help us adjust and make a smooth transition to our new life.

This week starts our first week of teaching. I've still got a super easy schedule this week, with only a couple classes, plus some tutoring sessions. Sarah, on the other hand, has it a little tougher. She's got two every day. But still that's light compared to what we'll both have next week. We're teaching primarily kids and teenagers, which is completely new to me. It's kind of terrifying to get up there in front of a bunch of kids when you don't really know what you're doing. But I'm getting the hang out of it. And, as long as they're not acting up too much, it's pretty fun. I can just have them draw something for twenty minutes while I just walk around and laugh at their drawings. And then...hangman for fifteen minutes! And maybe we'll end the class with charades.

As for Surabaya itself, there's really not much to report yet. We knew coming in that it would be a big, busy, unattractive city. And it pretty much lived up to that. It's a big sprawling city, with crazy traffic. And noone told me they drive on the wrong side of the road and the driver sits on the wrong side of the car! That is really weird. I'll be lucky if I don't get run over trying to cross the street in the first month. Oh, and lanes? They're merely a suggestion. Seriously, it's crazy here. Cars move side to side while motorbikes fly in between all the cars, everyone jockeying for position, and the result is some big, fluid mass that twists and flows like a river.

But it's our big sprawling city with infrastructure problems now. And we like it.

Soon, we'll start some of the real adventures. This weekend we may join Alexis and some others to head out to Yogyakarta. It's one the places we've been reading about for months, with anticipation. There's tons of music and arts there, which I have am excited about. I can't wait to see some gamelan music in person finally! We'll have plenty of pictures to post. I do also have some pictures from Singapore that I will try to post this week. None yet from Surabaya, but I was thinking maybe a pictorial tour of our new home perhaps. Stay tuned!