Freedom...and blue chickens

Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Sumatra,
Saturday, January 21, 2012

So it's been a while, but hopefully most of you can forgive me since I flew to England to visit you instead of writing! After two weeks living the high life back home with hot showers, drinkable tap water and reliable electricity, adjusting back to the Medan lifestyle has been challenging, but I'm back in the swing of it again now and back to the blog.
Roger finally won the battle for a maid in the end, she started yesterday. I can't say I was too excited at the prospect of her arrival after hearing horror stories from almost every expat I've met here, but when Roger gets an idea in his head the battle is usually already lost, so this time for the sake of my sanity I conceded. She seems nice and it was certainly a novelty to come home from work to a clean house. Everything gets dirty here so quickly that keeping the house clean
really can be a full time job. It's a controversial topic in the house at the moment, so I'll bite my tongue and let you know how it all works out.
Our saving grace since getting back has been the scooter we bought off some friends here for about $250. It's old and it's ugly and it has trouble carrying two western bums over Indonesian bumps, but it's freedom. Today we set off to explore Medan properly without having to explain to anyone where we wanted to go, without waiting hours to be told there were no taxis and without haggling, just helmets on and hit the road, bliss!
Driving here, as I've mentioned before, is intense, an experience I couldn't do justice in words or pictures or even video, something you're just going to have to come here and try. I've taken to the method of closing my eyes when it gets really scary (don't worry I'm not the one driving) and praying for one more day on Earth!

The highlight of our travels today was the stop off we made at a little fried food stall on the side of the road. Everything here in Sumatra is fried, the rice, the noodles, the potatoes the bananas, you name it, they fry it. I'm attempting to break myself back in slowly to Indonesian street food. Today I ventured to sample a selection from the plastic bag full of assorted fried things Roger had just bought for about $1 and to sit back on the faded plastic chair take in my surroundings. It's really easy to find these places on the side of the roads here in Medan. Usually pretty grim looking with big glass boxes full of various traditional Indonesian foods, they are cheap and the food does usually taste really good, you just have to fight the flies for it. We'd chosen one with less flies than the others and about 4 or 5 smiley young kids playing nearby who loved having their photos taken and who made us feel welcome. This is the place we discovered the blue chick. Who knows why and how knows how, but right there on the ground in front of us sat a tiny baby chick, making chick noises and You'll have to see it to believe it, take a look at the photo. I thought Korea was strange for dying their dogs funny colours, but now I've seen it all. 

Whilst on the subject, people ask me a lot if I'm still rescuing dogs. I have to say that coming here to Medan, although hasn't made me love dogs an less, has opened my eyes up to a very different way of seeing things. There are dogs on the street here yes, perhaps more than in Korea and certainly more neglected and unhealthy, but there are also people here on the streets, there are children on the streets, there are children younger than 10 years old and with no shoes on the streets. Suddenly the dogs are no longer at the top of the list and I am amazed at just how quickly I have become desensitized to animals suffering here and to a certain extent even the people's suffering. It's scary really to think that the first week I was here the children on the side of the roads begging could bring me to tears and yet now, six weeks in it's a familiar sight. That's not to say I've given up on people or in the hope that I can make some difference here, even if it's just a small one, just that I've come to realise that here the bar is higher and the dogs are no longer priority. 

Well I promised you more photos than words in future and so I'm signing off now to leave you with the shots I took today. Enjoy!

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