When in the field (2)

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. When they arrived, they wore the exact same white, light, v-collared T-shirt. I thought they were twins.
  3. 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.
  4. Bram accidentally bit off a whole chunk of super-hot small chilly. Fortunately, no tears were shed.
  5. ‘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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Earthquakes in North Sumatra. Quite a lot of small earthquakes while we were there.
  9. Two sleepless nights for Bram, three for Stasja.
  10. Quite a lot of semi-wild orangutans during our short trek in Bukit Lawang.
  11. One flat tire on our way back from Tangkahan to Medan.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

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