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The art of sitting around

sunny 30 °C

Ben arrived with his cakes again and we caught a train to Bogor which is about an hour's journey. It is a bit higher, cooler and less polluted than Jakarta and we visited the famous botanical gardens which are located beside the old colonial governor's residence which is now a presidential facility. They are extensive and were set up by Raffles and continued by the Dutch with plantings of fruits and all sorts of trees from all over the world. We went to a well located cafe in the park and had a relaxing lunch. Ben has adopted this Indonesian custom of sitting around chatting for an extended period after a meal. It particularly suits the heat of the early afternoon.

After this period of relaxation we went through the orchid collection and some other sections of the park before going to another cafe that Ben frequents. Here we met several of Ben's AMAN colleagues. Ben had forgotten but there was a climate change related film being launched and screened in the evening. It seemed to be an important occasion and it was fortuitous that we were all there at the right time.

There was quite a crowd of NGO people there and we met some wonderful people who are doing very worthwhile things. There was an elderly Australian man there called Don who was visiting his son Patrick who works in environmental issues in Jakarta. Patrick has lived here a long time and has an Indonesian wife and family of his own. Don was actually one of the founders of the volunteer program back in the late 50's. He was a very humble man but his son explained how he had been a public servant sent up to Indonesia in its formative years to find out what the new government needed. He knew an independent Australian volunteer up here and took a report back that he shared at a meeting with Bob Menzies that resulted in the formation of the program. It seems that he was very important man in the history of Australia-Indonesia relations. He was telling us how the first volunteers were given the flight up, the equivalent of Indonesian civil service wages and a bicycle.

The film was about the impact of carbon trading and climate change mitigation schemes on indigenous peoples. It was obviously in Indonesian so I just looked at the pictures, although Sonia had Ben whispering the translation in her ear as the movie played. The evening finished with a meal and we all took the train back to Jakarta. Ben's colleagues are a wonderful, bright group of young people who come from all over the archipelago. A woman we met who works for AMAN was telling us how she presents on these issues all over the world and whilst in Norway at some meeting, she had been outside her hotel when SBYs entourage was returning from jogging. She took the opportunity to introduce herself to the president and lay out some of the indigenous people's issues. Fairly amazing really.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 03:19 Archived in Indonesia

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by dhieaz

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