The Long Introductory Post Without Pictures

Yes, dear readers, as promised, I am back! Much like cold sores and shingles, Butterblogger has returned for one last expedition of 2014, and this one has the potential to be a train wreck, so you definitely won’t want to look away!

What destination could evoke such a possibility? Well, many come to mind, but in this case I am currently in the air en route to Indonesia by way of Denver and Tokyo. In Denver we will be joined by P, who is a new guest to the blog. P is the one who came up with the idea for this trip, so if something goes awry I intend to lay the blame entirely at his feet.

Many people have asked why we chose Indonesia. The answer is simple – it was a great airfare. Naturally, in the months since purchasing the tickets we have done our best to eliminate the airfare as a benefit, but still haven’t succeeded entirely.

Preparation for this trip included a visit to the travel clinic for some vaccines. While I had previously received most of the vaccinations recommended by the CDC, I needed a typhoid booster. As I read through the CDC website I was convinced that I also should be immunized against Japanese Encephalitis, but really wouldn’t be rural enough on this trip to need the rabies vaccine. Then I went to the travel clinic. The nurse there told me that, given the short duration of the trip, I didn’t really need either vaccine, and she did a great job convincing me of this. Putting the vaccines in the dustbin of inordinate ideas, we moved on to general travel precautions, among which she mentioned aggressive monkeys at the temples that can bite and be rabid, and if I got bit I would have to get to Singapore within 24 hours. In the end I got both vaccines.

I also have malaria prophylaxis and a suitcase full of insect repellent. There is no conceivable way I will ever use as much DEET as I have brought, and in the end I will be taking plenty home. The purchase of the DEET was a story in and of itself. We went to Cabela’s and the woman there told us it is toxic and we should just eat a lot of garlic and use something else (I looked this up on Pub Med, and found it not to be so effective). But she was half right – DEET is toxic, and I wouldn’t want to wear it every day (pure DEET can melt plastic). On the other hand, I don’t want Dengue fever or malaria (prophylaxis isn’t perfect). It’s a risk/benefit calculation and I’m comfortable with a short exposure. So I went to REI where the staff took a more conventional approach to mosquito repellents, recommending not to go higher than 30-40%. I remain amused at the irony in this experience, that the staff of REI in Ann Arbor had a more conventional approach to this issue than did the staff at Cabela’s.

My preparations for this trip also took me to the State Department website. The entry on Indonesia is terrifying. I perused the reports thinking, “why are we doing this?” Then I read the listing on Italy which isn’t quite as alarming but still has its moments. And I considered that, if the State Department turned the same unflinching eye toward the United States, our nation might look rather frightening as well.

With this perspective, and the advice of a local expert on Indonesia, I approach this trip with much less trepidation. Even the term “trepidation” is misplaced here. As we have made our plans and done our due diligence, I have grown ever more excited about seeing some of the sights, shopping the markets, partaking of the local cuisine, and perhaps even meeting some of the locals. 

And hopefully I won’t have to avail myself of my supply of antibiotics and baby wipes.

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