Yogjakarta, first sighting of Merapi

The money from Singaporean friends was mostly spent as described earlier. The packages were sent for free from Jakarta to Yogyakarta thanks to the Indonesian government. I know people here have different opinions about the efforts, but in this case: Every rupiah that does not go to cover shipping costs, means more rupiah to actually buy goods for the refugees.

We were taking the 6 pm bus from Jakarta. The buss actually left Jakarta around 8pm and the drive ended up taking 14 hours. The traffic was not bad and our two stops were not too long. In other words, I mostly blame it on the distance and the somewhat challenging roads. Norwegians love to complain about Norwegian roads, but honestly... I was dreaming of Norwegian roads during the 13 minutes I actually managed to sleep. And no, they were not 13 consecutive minutes :D

The bus station in Jakarta was chaotic and one of the first times I have actually felt unsafe on my travels. If you are a tourist traveling without a local then taking a bus from the station might not be worth the money you save VS taking a train. If we hadn't had the though little monkey-cat-girl Naomy with us, me and Jan-Petter would probably have gotten robbed and sent off on a bus to the wrong city :D
Arriving in peaceful Solo in the morning was very refreshing and immediately we could feel the different atmosphere in central-Java. This would become more and more apparent as we explored Solo and the feeling is the same in Jogja too. People here are more calm, relaxed and more genuinely curious rather than asking questions only with the intention to sell something. While I definitely prefer the attitude of people here, I also understand that in Jakarta there are a lot more people and the need to fight for survival is real in a different way and at times, being an aggressive salesperson is a survival instinct rather than a cultural flaw?

Solo seemed like a sleepy small town and we spent one night there. We slept, but also enjoyed the company of our friends from Sahabat Anak. I especially enjoyed meeting our room-mate Erwin, the only rooster in the flock of hens :D
From Solo we got up at 5am the next day to head out. We left Solo at 8:30'ish. The Indonesian concept of time is becoming more familiar by now, but the adjustment from Norwegian time ( does not apply to my friend Fredda who would actually love Indonesian time ) is still ongoing...:D

On the road in to Yogyakarta, we could see the huge Mount Merapi. The smoke flowing from it and the gray mist covering the area around it was a sudden reminder that we were all a little "Gila" (crazy)for heading closer to the volcano and not further away from it. In Jogja we met with some people from the ACT who had our packages along with the Sahabat Anak packages. The girls and Erwin headed out to camps while me and Jan-Petter headed to town to look for accommodation. We found a lot of cheap hotels and while I look for more affordable and more permanent accommodation, we will keep looking for good deals.

I think that despite the threat, these people would rather keep living their lives than becoming refugees and leave their homes. One of the biggest fears here is looting. Poverty makes looting a more tempting offer than one might imagine. Jogja, the home of Batik as one of the signs say is a city dependant on tourism and right now there is close to none of that. I can definitely see why this city with the beautiful surroundings would be a goal of tourism. I hope it will recover and that tourists will not fear this city because of its neighbour.

I have started working with Jalin Merapi under the guidance and supervision of the very nice and welcoming Adriani Zulivan and I am truly amazed at how the young locals have been using Facebook, Twitter, Sms, Internet, Radios and Cellphones in a modern day effort to coordinate all activity. The equipment used is a lot more limited than a similar operation in Norway would have, but the young people here use the equipment to its fullest and innovation is the lifeblood of this effort. Anything from programming advanced online features to the simple act of cooking for volunteers is done with a smile here and there is a strong-willed spirit in the air that I feel blessed by and both me and Jan-Petter hope to contribute to.
I want to go into the field, but I think for people who don't know the area and the language it will be hard. We want to contribute, but we have to be careful so that our presence does not create more work than we are able to do. For us right now it seems like the best place to contribute is at the coordination office. I am still learning more about volcanoes, this volcano, the area and the situation out at the different camps. Getting out news in English is something I will start working on through Twitter, Facebook and any other channels. Jan-Petter is hoping to contribute using his programmming skills to further imporve the warning and news-exhange system already set up by the brilliant volunteers from Jalin Merapi. The field-work will come in time for the Norwegian visitors and when it does we will make sure we are ready for it...