Whew. The Opera Indonesian University tour finished after five cities, ten universities, 2600 students, 49 kilos of nasi goreng and 770,000 spontaneous Asian Poses.
(Here are the presentations, demos and slides.) Serendipitously, we ended at Udayana University in Denpasar, Bali so I decided to get two day’s downtime in Bali before returning back to the UK.
I don’t know what I expected of Bali, but what I found was Benidorm for Australians. But (fortunately) I wasn’t there for the culture. I had a pleasant (if seen-better-days) room at the Three Bothers Bungalows (recommended by Joel Overton—thanks mate) set in a beautiful garden of Hindu statues, coconut and jackfruit trees).
I could swim in the pool, sip a beer on my terrace at sundown, listening first to the sound of the frogs, then the squirrel scampering up the tree to steal some jackfruit, then the bats coming to munch the mosquitos, then finally the crickets before heading off for a massage and seafood.
I’ve got a suitcase full of souvenirs, a peeling nose, great memories and loads of photos. Once again, thanks for a lovely time, Indonesia!
I awoke bright and early and raced to open my curtains to take in the sunrise—a broadening orange smear of sunshine diffusing through the smog behind silhouettes of gigantic skyscrapers, many under construction. Even through the sealed hotel windows, I can hear the honking of buses and taxis taking commuters to work at Unholy O’clock to beat the horrors of the main rush hour.
Apart from the preponderance of mosques over temples and more ladies in hijab (not universal; I reckon about 50%), I was once again by how much Jakarta reminds me of Bangkok (and I lived in a muslim area of Bangkok so the differences are even smaller).
Reading the newspaper over breakfast (papaya, miso soup, nasi goreng and omlette) reinforced the similarities. Just like in the Bangkok Post, the Jakarta Globe runs stories on alleged police inactivity, corrupt politicians, urban flooding, a pretty girl in a sex scandal and school bullying going tragically wrong.
There were a few peculiarly Indonesian stories: pilgrims to Mecca complaining over the government Hajj organisation’s lack of transparency, bad food and not issuing prayer books early enough.
There is a debate in the letters page about whether mosques should all re-broadcast a centrally-chosen muezzin’s call to prayer or whether each muezzin should continue to do his own call but do it without amplification. The point is that it can become pretty noisy when lots of mosques all do their own calls through loudspeakers.
I can speak only for myself, but one of the joys of my time living in Turkey was the cacophony of different men, all singing the same ancient words “Allah-u Akbar Ash-hadu allā ilāha illallāh” in their different voices simultaneously at prayer time.
Now to finish writing my presentation and to celebrate my birthday a day late by reading beside the pool until I feel energetic enough for a massage.
The miserable bloody English weather has conspired to give me two colds more or less back to back, so it was with only minimal trepidation that I spent 24 hours travelling by plane to Indonesia, to spend my second birthday on the trot jetlagged in Jakarta where I’m embarking on a frenzied schedule of university visits to persuade Indonesian students of the value of Web Standards.
The kindly Indonesians laid on a huge rain storm just as I landed (so the 30 celcius sun they’d been enjoying didn’t make me too culture-shocked). Cue flooding and gridlock. The 30 minute drive from the airport took two and half hours of buttock-clenching frustration—but at least it didn’t end up like that other Friday 13th.
After 8 days, 11 universities and 9 kilograms of Nasi Goreng per person, the first Opera university tour of Indonesia is finished.
Here are Bruce’s slides: Web Standards for the Future, (PDF 550K). Note that I was tweaking and changing the slides depending on the University’s focus, so here’s the “full” version that includes everything. No university got all of these. The format is accessible PDF to make it small, as I’ve experienced Indonesian bandwidth speeds..! If you need another format, drop me a line. You’re welcome to share these with your friends or classmates – I hope they make sense. If not…well, you’ll have to invite me back again!
Zibin’s slides: Web Browser Industry (PDF 1M). This presentation is about the mobile web industry -trends today and tomorrow. I’ve also presented Opera’s four main products. The slide about top ten sites transcoded by Opera Mini in Indonesia was the showstopper. Audience giggled upon finding out that friendster bandwidth was more than the 2nd to 10th spot combined.
To celebrate the success of the Indonesian tour, we’ve published a new State of the Mobile Web report focussing on South-East Asian mobile browsing. Bad news for any web site that doesn’t follow Web Standards, with data like this:
Indonesia and Malaysia lead the way for mobile Web adoption, followed by Thailand and Brunei.
Indonesia leads the top 9 countries in page views, with each user browsing 358 pages on average in October 2008, well above the global average.
Growth rates are soaring: Malaysia leads the top 9 with 462.6% growth in users this year, followed by the Philippines (396.4% growth) and Indonesia (329.5% growth).
Friendster is the premier social-networking site in the region, with hi5 coming in second.
Nokia is dominant in the region, with brands like Sony Ericsson and Huawei competing for a distant second place.
So our university tour of Indonesia finished in Jogjakarta, a city that I liked immediately. It helped that we had a great turn-out for our final lecture at Gajah Mada University and some really challenging questions. Then a group of students who organised the seminar (led a groovy punk-loving girl named Alfina) kindly took us for good food and a tour of the Kraton, where the Sultan of Jogja still lives, with the ceremonial army and a legion of staff.
A previous Sultan gave Sukharno and the Republican government asylum in the 40s, and established Gajah Mada University in the grounds of the Kratong, so Jogja has a special administrative status that continues to this day. Our guide, a Gamelan music teacher who’s toured the world, explained that now the Sultan works to promote peace and Javanese culture—the kratong now offers free courses in Gamelan, dancing and puppetry. To demonstrate, he pointed out the pillars of the coronation room which contain symbols of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism in syncretistic fusion, and explained that his family celebrate two major festivals, Eid and Christmas as he is a muslim and his wife is a christian. He went on to pronounce that all religions are as valid as each other and that it’s only the “stupid mafia politicians” who cause religious divisions. It’s rumoured that the current Sultan might run for the Indonesian presidency; if what I saw is indicative of his manifesto, all the best to him from me if he chooses to stand.
That theme of liberal egalitarianism continued the following day (a day off!) when we visited Borobudur, an eighth century temple that reminded me of, but pre-dates, Angkor Wat in Cambodia which I visited last year. Our guide was a lady in a hijab named Aysha, who obviously venerated the monument and didn’t hesitate to scold local youngsters who weren’t showing sufficient respect when climbing to the central stupa. There was also the surreal experience of finding all the local people’s cameras turning from the beautiful monument and onto me, while seemingly every schoolchild in the district quizzed me as to my opinion of Indonesian culture, food and Manchester United’s future prospects.
We also had a great meet-up with loads of local students, some of whom made me somewhat nervous when they examined this site’s CSS and quizzed me about my choice of image replacement methods. Jogja has a lively blogging community which just won an award of 10 million rupiah for their efforts and which meets face-to-face every Friday on Malioboro, the main drag to the Kraton. There was knowledge and appreciation of English designers, and excitement that Jon Hicks has joined Opera. I pointed them to some sites they hadn’t been to: 24 ways, A List Apart, CSS3.info and PPK.
So now I’m just about to go out with Zi Bin for food, and just possibly a couple of Bintangs for our final night in Indonesia. (Putri got sick and has returned home to her family for couple of days.) My suitcase is swelling with some framed carved stone copies of Borobudur temple reliefs and some CDs: Mulan Jameela‘s ballsy “Wonder Woman”, and some traditional Javanese music which I find relaxing to work to. Best of all is the cheesy earworm Indo-pop by “Bukan Permainan” by Gita Gutawa. I dare you to watch her live and not hum the damn chorus for a week.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Jogja is my favourite city in Indonesia, as that would do a disservice to the other universities that welcomed us so graciously, but I do feel a special affinity with the city, despite its earthquakes, recent tornado and the constantly smoking volcano that looms above it.
So, farewell Jogja and Indonesia: terima kasih (thank you very much).
So I’m at Gajah Mada University, Yogyakarta, for the final event in Opera’s Indonesian tour.
The national language of Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia (bahasa means “language” — in Thai the same word is “Pasa”). Zi Bin says it’s very similar to Bahasa Malaysian, so he’s been impressing the local ladies with his ability to woo quadralingually).
It reminds me very much of Turkish (my third language) because they’re both spelled phonetically, with the letter “c” pronounced as English “j”, and “ay” is pronounced “I/ eye”, but mostly because of the number of English words they borrowed: taksi, polisi, republik, informasi, politeknik, teknoloji, kharisma spring immediately to mind from Bahasa. (This borrowing isn’t all one sided; English borrowed “rambutan” and “Orang-Utan” from Bahasa Indonesia.)
Most Bahasa words remain mysterious yet mellifluous to me. My current favourite is the fun-to-say “dilarang” which rather prosaically means “forbidden”, such as “dilarang merokok” (no smoking) or “dilarang masuk” (no entry).
This homegrown word can be combined to pleasant effect with borrowed words. In a residential neighbourhood I saw the sigh “dilarang klakson” which means, of course, “Don’t sound your horn”- combining English/ Bahasa linguistic miscegenation with naïve optimism, given Indonesian drivers’ love affair with the “klakson”
Thanks to all who emailed; the Indonesian earthquake was on a different island, and we were unscathed. In fact, we didn’t know it had happened until we read the emails!
I rue my nervousness about the trip; Indonesians have been delightfully hospitable. I’m glad I had experience of living in Thailand before I embarked on this university tour. It prepared me for the delicate art of South-East Asian smalltalk, formal speeches of welcome, the formal presentation of souvenir gifts by a VIP, and meant that I packed proper shoes, trousers and shirts—which leave me a sweating mess after an hour, but I know that the effort is appreciated.
Meanwhile, I’m just about off to bed. After two different universities, a press interview and a two-hour commute through a storm in gridlocked Jakartan traffic (not to mention Zi Bin breaking the zip on his only pair of trousers and losing his Mac power cable—presumably unrelated misfortunes, but you never know with these Mac fanboys) this bottle of Bintang beer is one of the finest bottles of beer ever brewed by man.
Actually, that’s a lie. She’s staying at home, and I’m typing this as I look out of my 16th floor window at a panorama of the Jakarta skyline.
After being here a few hours (most of which I spent asleep after 15 hours in KLM cattle class, on which I can never doze), Jakarta seems much like Bangkok. The language on the billboards is different, and there are more ladies in hijab, but there is a similar skyline of high-rise hotels, overhead freeways and the air is filled with the roar of motorcycles and the impatient beeping of gridlocked cars. It’s 28 celcius, not too humid, and overcast as it’s the tail-end of rainy season. I already feel at home.
Breakfast was an eclectic mix of Japanese miso soup, fresh papaya, fresh guava juice, Korean kimchi with Indonesian noodles in chicken and coconut sauce.
As today is a de-jetlagging day, and my 42nd birthday, I’m going to have a long massage and a few hours in the pool. We move to another town near Jakarta late afternoon in time for an early start tomorrow when our hectic schedule for the Opera Indonesian university tour begins. I’m looking forward to hanging out with Zi Bin and Putri, Opera’s Indonesian marketing diva.
The Web is very slow here; gmail is practically unusable, and it’s taken me 45 minutes to download my (admittedly ludicrous number of) emails, so I’m adjusting my presentation to mention Opera’s low-bandwidth mode in the mail client and the ability to ignore specified threads.