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J a v a J i v e :: Paradise is not all that it seems
a boy leaves everything he knows for the tropical island of java, Indonesia - soon to find that paradise is not all that it seems...

February 28, 2004  

. .
. . . w o r d p r e s s . . .

Ok, just ignore that last post - I was pretty pissed off.

Anyway, with some help, I now have WordPress installed on my new site. Hopefully I can tweak and modify this new blog to be just the way I envisioned javajive to be. It's a pain in the ass learning this but I had to get around to it sometime! For now I'll keep updating here...

posted by Brandon | 3:11 AM

February 27, 2004  

Shitty shit shit shit!

I'm so frustrated at my lack of webdesign skills. I just downloaded Movable Type - a program for publishing and weblogging. I was all excited to revamp this site - and to squeeze out some fresh design. The style I'm using right now just isn't me - it's just what I chose when I began.

Anyway - this is proving so tough to figure out right now - I have also been at work for 11 hours straight, so that could definitely be influencing me at this point. Anyone with any help or experience please offer me some assistance. Maybe I should just FTP this site from Blogger to my server.

I need to get my ass in gear and learn some of this stuff.

posted by Brandon | 2:49 AM

February 26, 2004  

I've also added a "chat" room feature - we'll see how it goes. I'm not sure how well it will work!

Find it here -


posted by Brandon | 11:41 PM

I've finally got my main website rolling along - although I have not uploaded much of it yet.

I'm slowly integrating my website with this blog and hope to complete it soon - I'd appreciate if you'd drop me a message to let me know that it's working!

Check out my forum and guestbook - both are new as of today!



posted by Brandon | 10:53 PM

. .
. . . t o o t h a c h e . . .

Check out this guy.

I took this in the Singapore Zoo - the shot isn't too clear cause it was taken through the glass tank. Can you say Novicane?

holy shit!

Captain Hook got his revenge!

posted by Brandon | 7:08 PM

February 24, 2004  

. .
. . . r a m b l i n g s . . .

I found a few very cool websites devoted to weblogs… one in particular that I thought was clear, concise, with refreshing content was photoblogs.com. It’s nice to stray from the traditional “text” weblog into some that offer more of a photographic intention. I admired the entire list from welldesignedweblogs.com – they provide inspiration for me to finish my own site – thejavajive.com – yet the list makes me realize how much I’d like to improve this blog.

I’ve been asked to show more photos of myself – how do I do that without making this seem cheesy? I’ll figure out something. It’s not that I don’t have photos of myself, but rather I’m confused on how to incorporate them within this site.

On another note – for the 20 months that I’ve lived in Indonesia, I’ve never been able to access the Internet from my home (only at work) – I have a satellite phone and a handphone – neither from which can I connect to the net. Finally I have the chance to use cable internet through the local Cablevision company. Here’s the catch – it’s only running at 64kb/sec. When I was in the States I had a 768 kb/sec DSL line for less than I’m paying here! Oh well, I’m still going to hook it up – hopefully enabling me to update java jive more often and stay “in touch” with the world a bit better.


Let’s take a look at the lastest "safety issues" in Indonesia.

* There’s been a breakout of Dengue Fever in Indonesia with close to 200 people having already succumbed to its grasp.

* Two earthquakes within a month have proven lethal - one near Bali, another on Sumatra.

* The Avian flu (bird flu) is still spreading throughout Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.

* There has been terrible flooding in Java and Jakarta recently from the drenching rainy season - fortunately my area is still relatively safe.

* Elections for a new Indonesian President occur in April - riots, demonstrations, and turmoil are likely.

Other than that - life is good.

Actually - even with all this crap I still would rather be here than in three feet of snow in Michigan! I thought by now I'd be tired of the tropical climate, but I'm quite accustomed to it now.

I finally got back into the gym after a month of not going - it feels so good to be sore again from lifting. I thought for sure my strength would be down, but actually things were fine. My fitness club is one of the amazing benefits of living here - and something that will be hard to leave once I move on. (for more on that, read "gym rats").

posted by Brandon | 5:32 PM

February 20, 2004  

. .
. . . r e s i l i e n c e . . .

This morning, I awoke feeling as though I haven't spent much time capturing images of my surroundings. If fact, I think I've "glorified" many of the scenes - putting the finest on display. I decided to make a new goal for myself - to attempt to reflect some images of true life on Java. With that decision came a new vigor, and why not start today? I threw on a shirt, grabbed my sandals and camera and jumped in my car.

Within a kilometer of my home there are such extremes that I can't even begin to represent them in a photo. There are multi-million dollar homes with full armies of servants, drivers buffing down Jaguars, BMWs, and Mercedes, and shiny new malls that rival American shopping.

nice shack huh?

Also within walking distance are fields of crops grown by people barely getting by. In fact, as I strolled by some of their makeshift homes I noticed a cardboard box from a "Sony 29 inch" TV. Funny that just a few days ago I threw out a box exactly like that - at least it's being put to use rather than thrown in a landfill or becoming part of the ever present smog.

Strolling down to one of the nearby rice fields, I carefully asked if I could begin taking photos. There's a fine line between feeling like shit while doing this and acknowledging that perhaps they feel less "invisible" if someone wishes to capture them in a photo. I try to buy something from them or offer them a cold drink in return for their time.

Two small children were playing near a shallow canal - as I approached them I noticed how dirty their clothes were and immediately I felt the scene tugging at my heart. They looked somber, quietly whispering to each other in what looked like a mixture of fear and curiosity at this big white guy walking towards them. I felt so bad knowing that they were out in this desperate field - playing in the shadows of the posh mansions nearby, and knowing they may never escape this scene. Just as my pity sunk in, the most amazing thing happened.

They broke into the most heartwarming smiles that I've seen in a long time, and instantly my impression of the children was changed. They were not hopeless, depressed, or miserable in their situation - they were making the best of it and enjoying what they had. Despite what we may term as "hardships" are simply their lives - for better or worse. They are making the best of what they have and march on one day at a time.

This seems to be a continuing thread throughout Indonesia - resiliency; the ability to cope and make the best of a situation. The Western world as a whole could learn some invaluable lessons from these people - they keep smiling no matter how hard their lives can be. At least for today I've let go of my selfish complaints, my self-centered worries and realized that hey, life is not so bad - just keep smiling and life will go on.

posted by Brandon | 10:04 PM

. .
. . . s o l i t u d e . . .

This was taken on a tiny island north of Java, in the "Thousand Islands" area. I was able to kayak around the entire island in less than an hour - no fresh water, only electricity through generators that were turned off after 9pm - and I loved every minute of it.


posted by Brandon | 1:10 AM

February 18, 2004  

. .
. . . c h a n g e s ? . . .

I'm thinking about changing the entire format of javajive. I would love some feedback - do you think I need a change? Do you feel that the site is fine the way it is? What would I benefit from adding or subtracting? Any additional features? More information / less? More personal stories or should I keep it more informative about Indonesia? Would you like to see less photos or more? Would more links to other sites and other blogs be a good idea or just make the site more distracting?

As I said before, I actually have my own domain name and my own webspace - so that's not the problem. By staying on blogspot I'm fairly limited - but if I move the site I'm concerned that readers will have difficulty finding the site. Any thoughts on the matter?

I hope to hear from some of you - especially some of my more "regular" visitors. Your opinions are valued.

Today is my turn to listen instead of running my mouth.

Terima Kasih . . . (thank you)

posted by Brandon | 1:49 AM

February 16, 2004  

. .
. . . p e r s p e c t i v e s . . .

I found an awesome website that features satellite photography from all across the world. Here is a shot of Jakarta in all it's glory. It's a shame that the water and air is so polluted - without modern society this island would be a tropical paradise rivaling any other.

This is the address... http://www.redtailcanyon.com

nice pollution

On another note, there was another earthquake here in this "ring of fire" that Indonesia is part of. This time in Sumatra - the next island to the west. This is the second one in a month - proving just how "alive" this region still is.

posted by Brandon | 7:46 PM

February 12, 2004  

. .
. . . p r e d a t o r s . . .

In my travels I've encountered many things that could prove deadly - and generally the most lethal predator of all tends to be my own stupidity.

I was in Bali last year, wading through the crystal clear water, and felt something slipping against my foot; I glanced down and saw a pure white and black striped water snake slithering near my ankles. I wasn't exactly comfortable with the idea, but it didn't freak me out too much. I didn’t move a bit, and it casually continued on its way. The next week, I was watching the Discovery Channel as they were displaying something like the world's deadliest snakes. Guess what? My little buddy was listed like number 4! They said if provoked, it could strike you dead within minutes – after suffering agonizing torture. Rather ironic considering I'm a snake in Chinese Astrology.

Another time, I was visiting the Taman Safari outside of Jakarta (same place as the photo below w/ the kids and carrots). It's basically a miniature African Safari that you drive through. Well, dumbass Brandon decided to take as many photos and video as the typical tourist – yet the tinted windows were proving a frustration for the perfectionist in me. So, ignoring the signs that say “Don’t put your window down” in Bahasa Indonesia, I captured some much more beautiful shots with the window down.

Towards the end of the tour, a pair of lazy brown bears were lumbering towards our car, obviously not in a threatening mood. I was getting some great close-ups, but the bears weren’t really doing anything exhilarating. The genius in me tried to taunt them into some action – and action is what I got! One of the bears quickly reared up, and unexpectedly the “little brown bear” became three times taller, easily overshadowing my SUV. Don’t forget, I still had my window down, yelling at the driver to “go, go!!”. The bear was sticking his head through part of the window and swiping his colossal claws down the car’s glass – I was convinced that the window would shatter any second! The driver, in his nervousness, stalled the vehicle, leaving me to fend off a creature that easily outweighed me three times over. The bear almost ate the video camera I was holding – along with my hand!

Finally the driver hit the gas and we escaped with only claw marks as a reminder – looking back, obviously the tourist behind was not dissuaded by our calamity because he immediately put his window down as well – proving once again that animals are often smarter than humans (or tourists at least).

cute little bear

holy shit!

posted by Brandon | 8:37 PM

February 09, 2004  

. .
. . . m o b i l k u . . .

Blazer – sounds cool doesn’t it? Sounds like a good name for a car – in fact it sounds like a powerful, well built, and quality vehicle.

Lemme tell ya. IT SUCKS. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for those of you from Indonesia, you already were smart enough not to buy one. The Opel Blazer that I own is a P.O.S. Despite all of my Indonesian friends warning me to buy only a Toyota Kijang or an Isuzu Panther, I figured I’d stick to something I was familiar with – the cousin to the Chevrolet Blazer. I’m actually not much of an SUV kinda guy – I have an obsession with sports cars – but that’s not really something I can satisfy in a country like Indonesia. With potholes, flooding, and some of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen (sorry guys but it’s true) – there was no chance in hell that I was going to buy anything resembling fun or youth.

There’s not even anything major wrong with my car – I’m an engineer, so I know a decent amount about repairing them. Little things, however, have proven near fatal. Take for instance that little tiny motor that turns the windshield wipers. You know, that one that we all take for granted? Well, that little guy decided to take a break while I was driving 110 km/hr in drenching rains. Yeah, I almost kissed the guardrail goodnight.

I have a driver take my car into the shop, give them some hard earned cash, and two hours later, my car is back in the driveway – with everything working (or so I believe). Within a week, anything that was “fixed” is once again leaking, squeaking, or just plain giving up. I have considered putting the car shop on my payroll cause they’ve become such regular employees for me.

Indonesians have very limited choices when shopping for a vehicle – and almost always they choose Kijangs (a midsize SUV – very basic, but dependable). I am now fed up and wish to trade my car in for something more “Indonesian”. I’ve narrowed it down to the following: Toyota Kijang, Isuzu Panther, or a Mitsubishi Kuda.

The dumbass in me is still thinking about a 3 series BMW, but I know that’s not a good idea. What I really wish I could have is a Hummer to just run over the bajaj, ojek, and taxis that constantly cut me off. I could Schwarzenegger my way around Jakarta and maintain a smile.

For those of you who know about these vehicles, I would love some recommendations or feedback! I’d hate to make the same mistake again.

Well, gotta go take my Blazer in, it’s payday for my car shop!

posted by Brandon | 11:50 PM

. .
. . . b a t a v i a . . .

Have you guys read the book, "Blue Latitudes" by Tony Horwitz?

It's absolutely fascinating – following in the footsteps of Captain James Cook as he explored the Pacific, 200 years ago. The author himself visits the many islands and reflects upon the differences, and the modern view of Cook. I suppose I can relate slightly – Cook left everything to travel the Pacific, and visited both Cape Town (where my mother lives), as well as Batavia (now Jakarta), as well as Krakatoa volcano that I climbed in September. Unfortunately, more of his men died from disease in Batavia than on the entire three year voyage… hmm.

Aside from that, it’s a great read for those of you who enjoy armchair travel.

Check out this kid - I took this near Taman Safari (for those of you from Indonesia).

posted by Brandon | 12:54 AM

February 03, 2004  

. .
. . . s l i p p i n g . . i n t o . . o b l i v i o n . . .

The sunlight fades into a memory of yet another evening. The heavy scents of the day marching to an end while the clang and clink of the street vendors offering sate rings in my ears. As they pedal by my nose grasps at the grilled chicken leaden with sweet peanut sauce. As I stroll on down the lane, I hear the comical murmur of my neighbor’s drivers sitting on the curb smoking clove cigarettes. They’re obviously tired by the day’s demands, but somehow they manage to smile and turn fatigue into warmth. A security guard meanders toward me and with a beaming grin belts out,”Malam mister!”. I simply nod acknowledgment as his bicycle cruises by with a whisper of rubber kissing the road good night. The sleeping giants that my neighbors call homes begin to light up like slivers of moonlight. Echoing through the streets is the call to prayer seeping into my ears – somehow comforting those who grow to know its familiar sound. Soon the calm is sliced by the interruption of a bajaj, dropping off a pair of maids who return with the next day’s nourishments. Once the quiet returns, the tranquil trickling of water passing through the street canals resumes. Despite the drowning of the sun, the air remains saturated with the heat finding its home in the sky only to return as dawn awakens.

Evening has arrived once again in Indonesia, and with it my memories of home.

posted by Brandon | 7:54 PM
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