Awkward, unexpected, and extraordinary things happened during fieldwork. Blogger Nadya Karimasari shares a list of such events.
For approximately 10 days, my co-promotor Dr Stasja Koot visited me in Medan, together with my promotor Prof. Bram Buscher, who visited me for 5 days. Some funny and memorable things happened during my supervisory team’s visit that made us laugh; looking back:
- My promotor and co-promotor, both frequent world travellers, stayed at the transit airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for a while, not realizing that their connecting plane to Kualanamu airport, Medan, had just left.
- When they arrived, they wore the exact same white, light, v-collared T-shirt. I thought they were twins.
- On multiple occasions, my promotor and co-promotor ordered the same menu. They took turn each day on who was the copycat and who was the original.
- Bram accidentally bit off a whole chunk of super-hot small chilly. Fortunately, no tears were shed.
- ‘Black coffee, no milk, no sugar,’ was Stasja’s key sentence. People in Indonesia tend to put sugar or condensed milk in the coffee they served in such a way, that the coffee tastes exactly like liquid sugar.
- A giant frog in the cottage room in Bukit Lawang that suddenly just … vanished. ‘I’m sure it’s in your suitcase, Stasja,’ teased Bram.
- A waiter at the Bukit Lawang cottage speaks Dutch in a very old-fashioned way – because he learnt from his grandfather, he told us. He also sings hilarious, old-fashioned Dutch songs, this time bringing tears of laughter to Bram and Stasja’s eyes.
- Earthquakes in North Sumatra. Quite a lot of small earthquakes while we were there.
- Two sleepless nights for Bram, three for Stasja.
- Quite a lot of semi-wild orangutans during our short trek in Bukit Lawang.
- One flat tire on our way back from Tangkahan to Medan.
- How best to tip local people who helped us. Researchers need local people a lot and it is common to tip them, but tips are not exactly something that comes with an invoice.
- It took some time to adjust to the Indonesian currency; you can easily be a ‘millionaire’, but one million rupiah is actually very quickly.
All set, a couple of weeks to go and so many research ideas to bring back to Wageningen.