June 28, 2015
Indonesia is 12 hours ahead of New York and 4 flights away, which means I will be in the air and living off airport lavatories for approximately 48 hours. But I have been trained! My mom has been working as a flight attendant for 42 years, flying long distances during the week, and returning weekends, bringing along exciting stories and the promise of adventure and discovery abroad. Any chance to explore a culturally diverse country in one of the largest biological hot spots on Earth was well worth the travel time. I went to Portland yesterday in preparation for my 9-hour flight to Narita International Airport in Tokyo, my first entry into Asia.
June 29th, 2015
At Tokyo, I had little time to explore the intricacies of the rich nation beyond Delta Terminal 4F. I immediately boarded onto Delta’s connecting flight to Singapore, which was another 6 hours away and one time zone behind Tokyo. At this point, my body had no sense of time or day. By flying so far West, I jumped a day forward. My mother has many friends who regularly fly the Japan-Singapore leg, and told me of a napping area just east of the terminal gate. Classier folk could enjoy the transit hotel in each of the 3 terminals before immigration. I ended up relaxing in the shower station and lazy-boy cinema corner- as simple as you can get in the Red Dot. At this point, I was half expecting an amusement park. Before immigration.
The airport is an example of how well organized the country is. This year it will celebrate its 50th year of independence. The small country made its wealth primarily by controlling the straight between Java and Malaysia.
With 8 hours of layover from 11:30 pm to 7 am, I still could not get some shut eye. My inner clock was broken. While I was waiting for my flight to Makassar, I met a cocao merchant. His weakened accent gave all the answers away. He was French! In French I asked him about his origins and his job (French folk are not embarassed to speak openly about their background, especially with another frenchman). He said that Indonesia is one of the largest expoerters of cocoa, alongside Malaysia and the Philllipines. But like those other countries, they do not know how to develop their resource, so they sell. My only knowledge of cocoa exports stems from Ghana, my mother’s birth country; however, Ghanians cultivate very well their cocao market. However, Ghana’s main income is cocoa, while Indonesia relies primarily on tourism, which diminishes the importance for attention to developing other agricultural goods like cassava, rice, coconut, and cocoa.