Friday, January 11, 2013

Crispy cracker, snack capital of the world

Our holiday, this Christmas, caused me much consternation; probably not as much as it caused Husband, who had to book it, but still enough for me to make a total arse of myself.

Husband proposed a trip during New Year to see volcanoes in Indonesia. I agreed but told him he would have to organize it. Time passed; I made silly creatures, hats and costumes and wondered if anything would get booked. People kept asking what our plans were. Sometimes I’d be vague (I had a permanent, slightly vague sense whenever questioned about our holiday but I thought it was because I’d passed the responsibility to Husband) and other times I’d wave aside the nauseous doubt and I’d say that Husband was meant to be booking something; we’d laugh. Maybe, I’d say, we wouldn’t get anything at this late notice but we hoped to be going to the Philippines. Daughter couldn’t remember where we were going either (I wonder where she gets THAT from) “Where are we going for New Year?” She’d text. “The Philippines” I’d say, feeling geographically knowledgeable. Eventually, Husband started sending tentative itineraries to me. And it was during this time that I had a brainwave. Maybe I could use the trip to pick up some millinery materials. The Philippines are where they make sinamay, a material made from banana fibre used to make hats. I began googling sinamay manufacturers hoping that I could tie a side trip into some of the places I’d seen on the travel agents’ details. It was odd how when I found a place that made sinamay, I could never find any of the names nearby of the places on our itinerary….

Of course, this idea of mine wasn't ever going to come off, given that I was talking about the Philippines and Husband was talking about Indonesia. *Sigh* One of my best friends in the UK lived (before I knew her) in both the Philippines and Indonesia. I’ve known for a long time now that I get these two places mixed up and no amount of map checking cleared it up for me. Both locations have amalgamated in my head as foreign archipelagoes *waves hand vaguely over to the left* down there somewhere and I’m doubly embarrassed now that I live in SE Asia because I’ve waved many a friend off from Bangkok to Indonesia, or maybe it was the Philippines….

Anyway, there we were; it was all finally booked and we were off. Yes, definitely to Indonesia: six flights in six days and two dawn starts. Crumbs.

Anyway, Indonesia was most charming. I glimpsed a life lived under the threat of active volcanoes. I peered down inside a smoking crater. I saw my boys wearing sarongs (Don’t panic, David Beckham, you’re quite safe) and yes, I have photographic evidence. Though their coffee seemed to contain generous quantities of volcanic ash, those lovely Indonesians also drank tea, which pleased me enormously. The food was delicious (mie goreng – fried noodles – ooh yum – and a spectacular clear soup, served with crackery crisp things.) In fact, though often spotted in Bangkok, Indonesia struck me as the crispy cracker, snack capital of the world (a choice of four, yes FOUR, crispy crackery snacks with breakfast!) Mostly commonly spotted where the prawn cracker type things, but other crackers in spirals, squares, circles and hula hoop shapes, were all over the place, made variously from rice, potato, tapioca starches. Awesome. 

We had an incredible trip; seeing the dawn of 2013 overlooking the crater of Mount Bromo. We saw Borobudur, a ninth century Buddhist temple; Prambanan, a ninth century Hindu temple, both UNESCO world heritage sites.

And I, finally, worked out the difference between Indonesia and the Philippines. 

Waving my hand vaguely over to the left


Sue Guiney said...

Ha! I had no idea where either was, either. Which was a problem since this week I had to help teach a class on Indonesian cinema.... And look how close Jakarta is to Singapore. Who knew? Glad you had a good time!

Jenny Beattie said...

Thanks Sue. I'm glad I'm not entirely alone in my geographical ignorance!

AVY said...

I really need to travel more.

/ Avy

sheepish said...

My geography is pretty c--p too, I would have trouble locating either country! Map very useful but I will probably have forgotten their location in about an hour from now!! Never mind, glad you had a good time, despite the early starts.

Cheryl said...

I only know a bit about the Phillipines because my Dad worked in Manila for a while. Would love to travel to this part of the world. Your trip sounded amazing.