14th October 2013
10:25PM (Indonesian Time)
Sukasaba, Indonesia

Tonight is the night I start a travel journal. I’ve been contemplating about this for a while now especially since I’ve been in Indonesia for the last 2 weeks or so. I can’t point to a sole reason why I’m starting one. However, one of the reasons would be, to document my travel experiences. This basically means that I will only write when I’m abroad. I’ve traveled to a few Southeast Asian countries since the start of my twenties. And it has been quite an experience.

I travel with a reason: forums, conferences, to volunteer, lectures, project collaborations and to meet individuals who are making a difference. Personally, I don’t believe in vacations. My views, perspectives and my core standpoint of people, life, friends and family have been broadened to more than I have ever expected. A vacation can’t do that. I can honestly say that I’ve learned quite a lot and maybe even, dare I say changed. Anthony Bourdain said travel in your youths while Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said to seek knowledge from cradle to grave.

I’m opening my journal on the night before Hari Raya Eid Adha at one of the rural areas of Indonesia. The environment is more than lively. Actually, it’s quiet by the villagers’ standard. You can hear the Takbir and traditional drums playing and it’s almost 11PM. It’s supposedly normal; such a contrast to back at home.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been here 2 weeks or so already. The once privileged way of living becomes a distant memory. Our water source is from a well, we have a roof but no ceiling, there are no cars, no roads and life here is quiet (well apart from tonight). As a whole, I don’t know if I’m at a point where I’m still adapting. But I’m happy, happy that I’m learning through an extraordinary experience.

Andi (pseudo name), our local friend, house mate and now part of our new found family, said something profound. A couple of houses away from ours were a family that was once extremely poor. That family came from rags to riches. He now has a new house and a car. A change of fortune did not change the attitude of this strong knit community. They were family when they were poor and they are still family now that they are rich. Andi said that you don’t bring your fortunes to the grave. Everyone dies with nothing. This humble and honest village doesn’t look at someone else’s fortune. As long as you have your family, your faith and your rokok (cigarettes), life is good.

So, tomorrow starts an early and busy day of religious festivities. I look forward to it. Since I’ve taken up smoking again, life is essentially good.

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