Throwback Tuesday! Indonesia Stories Resurfaced.

Hello readers! Like most things not on your immediate to-do list, my blog posts have been continuously pushed back quite a bit. Embarrassingly nine months back and as per usual, I am writing late at night. Regardless, I am happy to share some of my unspoken memories for my future self and anyone who happens across this post. I hope you enjoy!

As per my last post’s promise, I will tell you the story of how I defiled a trash can as I am sure this topic has constantly plagued your thoughts (I’ll try not to be gross). Additionally, I will share the story of how I got my phablet.

On my first day I was betrayed by my phone. On the third, my stomach was all too happy to take its place. While I am still uncertain of the cause of the incident it was likely due to a mixture of stress, jet lag, sudden diet change, and washing and brushing my teeth with water from the sink (0/10 would recommend). The day started normally, I went down to breakfast, ate some food, went on my merry way to UI. However, once the first lecture began I knew my fate. But I was determined to suck it up and stick through the day. I managed to make it through the first couple hours of presentations, although 95% of my attention went to not decorating all of my new acquaintances with my breakfast. Once in the studio downstairs, I frequently visited the restroom. These trips of course were to no avail and mostly involved giving myself pep talks in the mirror. I’m sure my classmates thought I either had the world’s smallest bladder or the runs (I pray it was not the latter). On my fifth trip out of the room I knew.  As I rushed to the restroom I discovered to my luck there was presumable someone in the restroom since there was an additional girl waiting out front in the hall. This girl I also discovered did not speak english as I frantically tried to get out the words “someone in there?” I’m fairly certain I saw fear in her eyes as she took in the crazy hunched over, sweating, and panicked foreigner.

I frantically looked around for another door or restroom or something.  Immediately I threw myself at the nearest trashcan and proceeded to simultaneously bring shame to myself, my family, the trashcan’s family, America and traumatize the poor girl in the hall. I tried to at least give the girl an apologetic look but she was too busy acquainting herself with the pattern of the floor tiles. I then rinsed out my mouth with some water from a cooler (I learned my lesson) I returned to the classroom and awkwardly attempted to tell one of the faculty members that I just disrespected one of their trashcans. I felt particularly guilty since the trashcan was in a stack of other unlined, clean bins waiting to be stored elsewhere, meaning I had also probably offended the custodial staff. The rest of the work day thankfully went much smoother and I was ready to consume massive amounts of food once again by dinner time. Now on to my phone.

What is a phablet? Is it a device from the future?  Why is it so big? Where in the world did you get that? Or the classic, What is THAT? All of the above are questions that have started most of my new conversations the past several months (Hello is overrated anyway). If you were to meet me sans ever encountering my beautiful phablet, you may wonder why I am carrying around small blue tv screen that has a penchant for buzzing and showing the image of little corgi behinds. This small tv screen is actually my phone which I like to call my phablet, for phone-tablet. However, if you catch me in a foul mood I may call it ‘my big-ass obnoxious phone’, or if you dare to awaken me from slumber I may just introduce you to my phone by throwing it at you (a girl’s got to sleep). If you have not seen my phone you may think I am exaggerating its size, so I have attached an image below in comparison to my old iPhone 5s for your viewing pleasure.

The fancier mall across the street


I believe you can guess which is the phablet

If you have seen me in person since I have been home from Indonesia you have likely heard an abbreviated version of the story to follow. I will admit you may have heard a version where I put myself in a less embarrassing light. However, in my blog posts I aim to only tell the truth so that people may learn from my many mistakes. Additionally, if you’re feeling quite down about mistakes you’ve made, fear not I am here to ease your worries with my own failures.

The story of my phone actually spans over two days. On day two, Taufik had agreed to take me to the mall after studio to buy a new phone. This first trip was to the Margo Mall (the name escapes me at the moment, but I’m sure that is close). This mall is much closer to the malls you see in America, although perhaps on a grander level than the average small town mall.  Here, we traveled to the top floor and started walking around some of the phone stores. At first, I was hopeful (and apparently blocking out that I am a broke college student) and believed I might be able to purchase at least an iPhone 6s to replace my 7. But in Indonesia, the newest iphone available for purchase was the iPhone 6, so you can already imagine how happy the person lucky enough to hop in the cab after me was. Eventually, I told Taufik to just help me buy the cheapest cell phone the store we were walking in had to offer and he did all of the talking and negotiating for me (bless him). Fun fact, it is very common for all phones over there (and most parts of south and southeast Asia to my understanding) have dual sim cards. I’m assuming this is so that siblings and families can share ,and therefore afford, a decent smart phone. Of course my American mind, brainwashed by popular tv dramas, thought it was probably used for more nefarious purposes or at least for business. The picture quality wasn’t that great, but it came with a lot of memory and 16gb of free data which was a MAJOR bonus when in a foreign country where reliable wifi access was rare. This phone though is not  my phablet, and has become my music player.

So the next day, after defiling school property, disrespecting janitors and traumatizing locals, I was in the mood to look for a phone for my friend Aswan back home. He’d been interested in a phone called Xiomi Mi Mix at the time and thought it may be cheaper to purchase in Indonesia since the phone was from a Chinese manufacturer. This time, Indonesian students Nadia and Intan agreed to help me look for this other phone for Aswan. Apparently the Xiomi brand is relatively cheap and therefore shunned by the fancy cell phone stores at the Margo and sold across the street at the Depok mall form Day 1. We traveled up to the top floor where the phones were sold. Instead of actual established stores, the entire floor was covered with booths/stalls selling all sorts of phones and gadgets where you would bargain for prices. Seeing as how I already stuck out like a sore thumb without even having to open my mouth, the odds were not looking to be in my favor. Pretty much my odds were looking like Katniss in the second book when she had to enter the hunger games for a second time.

Eventually, we found a booth where I asked for the Xiaomi Mi Mix. After discussing with a few other stalls to see if they had the phone I was looking for. This point is where my sleep deprived, monolingual self makes some stupid mistakes. After some jabbering, I was handed a Xiaomi phone box that said Max on the front. I had the girls ask again if this was the phone name I had written down for the teller woman and she said yes. My dumb American self was like “oh maybe it is just a translation error.” The woman then asked if I would like to see the phone, and if so she would open the box and test out that the phone worked. Little did I know , or at least had not seemed to process, once she opens the box you have to purchase the phone. Still, this wouldn’t have been the worst case scenario, the specs and everything seemed pretty good and the camera was a great quality. But you know how when you open a phone, or tablet, or petty much any new fancy piece of tech, the device is set in some internal plastic mold and there is generally some space between the device and the outside of the box. To my surprise when this woman opened the box, the phone was THE SIZE OF THE BOX. At this point I wanted t throw myself off the fourth floor balcony ledge and or over the counter at the teller. Instead, I did my best to bargain for a decent price, lord knows if I got one, I was at the mercy of the girls who were kind enough to help my hot mess self.  I ended up having to go to a third booth just to run my international credit card. In the end the Mi Max became my primary phone and a great conversation piece.

Second test photo taken – Intan (left) and Nadia (right)

Time to go for now, but I will do my best to go less than 9 months until my next installment. Ciao!