Wednesday, September 12, 2007

in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king

it's beginning to happen: i'm recognising the con artists of the airport. i've been asked three times now for leftover change from a well-dressed man carrying a cane and wearing a derby hat. he's just "trying to take the train home. it's been a long day of traveling..." the first time, he got nearly two dollars worth of quarters. the second time, he got about fifty cents and just a few minutes ago he got this response from me, "you took it all yesterday. my change is gone." he responded, "so you hang out here too, hm?"

maybe i should rephrase my opening sentence.

it's beginning to happen: airport regulars recognise me and i recognise them.

now, on to INDONESIA, republic of islands and opportunity.

i knew indonesia was comprised of islands, but i had no idea that it contains over 17,000 of them if you spent a year on each one of them, it would take you over 46 years to have covered the whole country. honestly, though, only about 6,000 of them are inhabited so much of your time during those years would be spent in solitary confinement.

indonesia is this world's fourth most populous country, with over 234 million people scattered across it. that's more than the population of all other South East Asian countries combined!

since i'm a big fan of dissecting words, i want to inform you that the country was named from the Latin "indus" (India) and the Greek "nesos" (island).

alot of people tried to claim the country as their own! the most successful groups were the dutch and japanese but by 1949, indonesia had officially claimed its independence. as of 2006, there are over 300 distinct native ethnicities and 742 different languages that are spoken throughout the islands. javanese is the official language. here is the javanese alphabet:

with all of the islands, it's no surprise that it ranks #2 as the most biodiverse country on the planet (brazil, covered last week, is numero uno). here are some of the "things" it has that you don't see everyday:
-35 cm miniature deer

-fish that climb trees to catch insects
-spiders that catch and eat small birds in their enormous webs

it also has over 400 active volcanos, which is pretty frightening when you think about it. apparently, there are about 3 earthquakes per day! i tried to find out how many active volcanos are located upon inhabited islands but i couldn't locate that statistic so if you come across it, let me know.

the most catastrophic volcanic eruption in history occurred in indonesia when the Toba supervolcano erupted over 70,000 years ago.

it changed world history forever according to most scientists who believe it directly shaped the path of human evolution. so, like, if the toba volcano hadn't erupted all of those years ago, i wouldn't be sitting here right now typing this. and you probably wouldn't be reading this.

and that, my friends, would be a shame.

goodbye and good gravy,