"Teach for Indonesia" / "Bieber is Big in Borneo"

Trip Start Oct 20, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Kalimantan Tengah,
Saturday, August 14, 2010

Done with our jungle adventure, we found ourselves back at our hotel and hungry.

Lonely Planet suggested a place called "MM Hot Plate" that was allegedly only 700 meters away from where we were and offered western food (perfect for our starving vegetarian, Katie). So we set out on foot only to discover that 700 meters was more like 2 km.

We walked along the road primarily, since proper sidewalks were rare. We stopped a few times to ask directions, growing a bit nervous at how dark it was getting.

During our direction asking, we encountered some interesting characters.

The first of whom was a retired sailor who spoke English well and told us about his travels to Los Angeles, Karachi, the Panama Canal, Brazil, etc. Nice guy.

We stopped again to confirm the restaurant was close, and thought an English language school we spotted would be able to provide us with an answer in English. We met the school's proprietors -- Mr. Six and Mr. Dave (names from a bad spy movie) -- who told us where the restaurant was and invited us over afterwards so we could get a ride home.

After dinner (spaghetti was the only "western" food at MM -- under the heading "Chinesse food") we headed back to the school. Six and Dave were really excited to chat with us ("Dunston Checks In" -- a movie appropriately about an orangutan was playing in their lounge) and invited us to come "teach" at their school the next day. More importantly, they offered us a ride back to our hotel! It was fun since we each got to ride on the backs of their motorbikes as we sped through the dark.

The next day, Six and Dave picked us up at 3pm. For nearly 2 hours, we went to some classrooms and spoke to about 3 different classes each -- ranging from beginner kids to intermediate twenty-somethings. We talked to them about a range of subjects -- from what they did during Ramadan to their interest in the Twilight series and Justin Bieber (yes, Bieber is also big in Borneo).

By the end of our visit, kids were taking pictures with us, requesting Shaan's Blackberry pin and friending us on Facebook. One girl even Tweeted about us (mistakenly calling Katie "Candy"). Six and Dave also took our pictures to be hung up in the school lobby.
Afterwards, we were taken out to dinner at MM Hotplate (guess what Kate ate!) and then back to the hotel (via motorbike).

Though a sleepy town with little to do, we were happy that we had extra time in Pungkalan Bun for this fantastically unique experience. Next stop -- Bali! (via Surabaya ((via Banjarmasin)))

[For those tourists passing through Pungkalan Bun, we urge you to stop by the language school and volunteer some of your time! Contact info: Kantor BEC (Basic English Course), JL. P Diporonegoro No. 20, Tel: 0532 28638]

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