Sunday, November 17, 2013

So then I went to Malaysia

It has been a while, but I have some pretty cool pictures from my trip to Malaysia to get a new visa. Malaysia is a crazy mix of so many cultures that it is hard to categorize. Unlike the U.S. melting pot, these cultures stay distinct, and well-represented. This made for a refreshing, if confusing, little trip.

First a little geography.... Indonesia is made up of over 17,500 islands and I am on the biggest one. I am on the island of Borneo, which is the third largest island on the planet (after Greenland and New Guinea, which is also an island partly in Indonesia). Borneo is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia (the provinces of Sarawak and Saba) and the sultanate of Brunei. The Indonesian portion is referred to as Kalimantan and has 4 provinces (North, South, East and West Kalimantan).

Sarawak State House in Kuching
So, I went to the Borneo portion of Malaysia to a city called Kuching in the state of Sarawak. I had never heard of this place and was a little skeptical. The city's name means "Cat" in Indonesian and Malay... The imagination runs wild about the possibilities in a city named "Cat".

After our trip to Tajung Puting, I flew back toward Sukadana with my friends, and I stayed on the plane to go on to Pontianak, on the equator. There I caught a night bus to the Malaysian border. The bus was a large, long-distance bus with huge comfortable seats. I paid $29 for the 11 hour trip and there were 6 other people on the bus... apparently it is the super luxury version. No matter how nice the bus, it couldn't make a pleasant ride out of Indonesia's non-existent road system. As the bus swayed from side to side like a drunk with lead shoes, then dropped precipitously into the massive craters left in the decaying asphalt... well, let's be honest, the road was more dirt that asphalt, so maybe the bus was just climbing onto asphalt relevant buttes... I marveled at the driver's nonchalance.
Indonesia truck stop
I managed to sleep for several hours and was rousted to get off the bus and go through customs. After much confusion as well as much attention paid to the only white person at the border crossing, I was in Malaysia.

It was Tuesday morning, and my plan was to meet Erica from ASRI (also on a visa run) late Tuesday night. So, I got our room at the appointed guesthouse and got the remaining hours of sleep that I needed before venturing out to check out Kuching.

View from the riverfront walkway
I arrived on the Eid al Adhar holiday and thought that the uncrowded sidewalks and complete lack of motorbike traffic might be related to that. I later discovered that Kuching is just a chill place. I enjoyed the quiet streets and the clear evidence of Chinese, Malaysian and indigenous cultures. A beautiful walkway along the river offers beautiful views of modern architecture and old Chinese temples. There are the occasional vendors offering fruit or snacks as well as a more-or-less continuous line of busking musicians.

After a few hours of exploring, I landed at a Lebanese restaurant on the river walkway. I can't tell you the joy of having raw vegetables after months of cooked, fried and steamed one. The ice cold Tiger beer was also a treat.

Erica arrive that night and we awoke early in the morning to trek out to the very inconveniently located Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia. I had read online that Wednesday, the day after Eid al Adhar, was also a holiday in Malaysia, but both Erica and I had been assured repeatedly that this was not the case. So we arrived at the Consulate bright and early to discover that it was indeed a holiday, though perhaps only for Indonesians in Malaysia.... So the rest of the day was spent trying to run errands and indulge in things that were not available anywhere within driving distance of Sukadana.

Kaiten sushi... so yummy
Wine and Cheese
This included my first experience with sushi on a conveyor belt, a trip to the movies and some serious research and tactical planning for returning to Indonesia with groceries. We also splurged on a bottle of wine, dark chocolate and cheese that for a little in-room wine and cheese party later that night.

The next day was more successful in that the Consulate was open... oh boy was it open! We pushed our way through crowds and waited to leave our passports. After much confusion that included my number never being called, we were told to come back in 6 hours to pick up our visas. Erica, being brilliant and goal-oriented, had read online about a water park with an Olympic size lap pool within walking distance of the Consulate. After a brief stop at a food court to get lunch from astonished Malaysians, we found our own private pool. It was BEAUTIFUL. For about $2 each, we spent 5 hours lounging and swimming laps at a sparkling clean, yet nearly deserted pool. It is hard to put that kind of luxury into words.
Our oasis
We collected our visas and headed back to enjoy a little bit of nightlife... which, compared to Sukadana is anything after 7pm.

The last day in Malaysia, we headed out to Bako National Park. Malaysia national parks are lightyears ahead of their Indonesian counterparts in terms of infrastructure, services, safety and management. Bako is reached by taking a city bus to a boat launch and then chartering a boat out to the park entrance. The trails are clear and well-marked so we wandered  through rainforest, open grassland, and beach ecosystems for several hours... In Sukadana, we are not allowed on the trails of the national park without hiring a guide. The trails are confusing and there are no maps. It was so exciting to be on trails again!

One of the beautiful views in Bako
Our chosen route ended on a beach where we enjoyed swimming in the ocean until we had to head back to catch our return charter.

Not interesting trails

Interesting trails

Ghosty trees in Bako
The next day we had an early flight back to Pontianak and then my first trip on the Pontianak-Sukadana speedboat. The boat is a rather large speeboat with rows of tightly packed benches. Protection from the sun and rain is provided by a tarp... the tarp protects from sun and rain, and also does a great job of trapping the omnipresent cigarette smoke. Fortunately, they put foreigners in the second row so we had some fresh air except for when the driver was smoking. A short 5 hours later, a smiling Hotlin greeted us at the port in Sukadana and our vacation was over.

Sukadana from the ocean on the speedboat

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tajung Puting... the orangutan experience

Several weeks ago, I traveled with other ASRI volunteers and the founder of ASRI to Tajung Puting National Park to see orangutans.

Our little slice of the rainforest
Early on Saturday morning, we piled into cars and made the 2 hour drive to our nearest airport. We then took a 30 minute flight to Pangkalanbun in Central Kalimantan, where we were met by drivers and whisked away to our awaiting yacht... Well, not exactly... We were headed to a "klotok" or house boat. The houseboats here resemble houseboats in the U.S. about as much as the houses here resemble those in the U.S.

There are other cool things in the rainforest
including this pitcher plant
Still, it sounds pretty luxurious, huh? Our plan was to spend 3 days and 2 nights on the boat. Anyone who has spent any time in the rainforest will tell you that one of the best ways to get around in the rainforest is to stay out of it. Rainforests are incredibly biodiverse and amazing. Unfortunately, a lot of the biodiversity is trying to kill or injure you. There are sharp plants to rip at your skin, insects that not only annoy but carry disease, leaches who penetrate clothing with a nightmarish persistence. And then there is the heat and humidity which basically makes you start to rot... But it is really pretty and rainforests serve globally important ecological functions and are home to some really cool stuff (even the stuff that hurts you sometimes).

This is a huge, dominant male.

A non-dominant male kind bummed
that he doesn't have a lady, but didn't want
to tangle with that other guy.
At another site, this non-dominant male hung out until the
dominant guy wasn't looking and then swooped in for as many
sweet potatoes as he could carry.
The wise folks around Tajung Puting have realized that the best way to get pasty, overweight foreigners to cough up good money to protect one of the last bastions of orangutan habitat is to provide river transport. The boats vary in their facilities, but are generally 2 levels with a kitchen and crew quarters below and an open lounging and sleep area for the guests.
Mom and baby... I bet a lot of human moms wish that they
could use their feet as hands

A gibbon joined us at Camp Leakey. He was
my favorite.

Well, actually, this guy was my favorite. Look
at that belly!
Guests are virtually guaranteed that they will see orangutans on these trips. The park has become home to families of rehabilitated apes... no, this is not monkey AA, these guys are usually rescued from the exotic pet trade and need to have a place where they can get acclimated to being in the wild.

One of the sites that we visited is dubbed Camp Leakey and is named after Louis Leakey, the famed naturalist. Leakey's legacy has been carried forward by three female researchers known as Leakey's angels. Most Americans know about two of them, Jane Goodall and Diane Fosse, but the third, Birute Galdikas is not as well known. Camp Leakey in Tajung Puting is the research site established by Birute Galdikas, and it was exciting to experience proximity to such greatness.
So a gibbon and some orangutans walk into a bar.... or...
One of these things is not like the others. Occasionally, the big
male would bop the greedy gibbon on the head and the gibbon would
storm off to the end of the platform and sulk for a minute before returning.
This is the face of a sulking gibbon
Each day there are orangutan feedings at several places in the park. This is a tough issue... these animals are supposed to be wild, but they are habituated and food conditioned. They are not really wild, and this is sad. However, interpretive materials at Camp Leakey indicated that feedings continue because there is not enough habitat left to support a viable population of these endangered apes. Feeding is the least horrible option.
The Gang... George, Shannon, Jaelin, Hotlin, me, Sophie, Jesse, Karen
We arose early each morning and ate a hearty breakfast on the dock where our boat settled for the night. We would then be packed up and shuttled off to a site to take a walk on well-established trails to a feeding area. We went to three of these, and the animals at each place had their own cultures. I could have spend a month there watching interactions and observing the different personalities.

Tree full of proboscis monkeys... You watch us. We watch you.
After a morning trip, we were fed lunch on the boat on the way to the next site... more orangutans, some proboscis monkeys and/or macaques on the way and then back to the boat for dinner.

The klotok jam outside of Camp Leakey
Our crew put us to bed immediately after dinner. They set up a long line of sleeping pads on the covered part of the upper deck and hung mosquito nets. As the chatter of the monkeys in the trees all around us began to die down, the boat's gentle rocking lulled us to sleep.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Birthday Overseas

I turned 40 last weekend. I feel confident that the festivities around my birthday reflect the energy and excitement of the past decade and set an auspicious beginning to the next.  I still feel like there has been a math error somewhere along the way, but I am just going to roll with it and model the adage that you are only as old as you feel.

L-R Me, Elizabeth, Pari, Carin, Ash, Arjun
Stage 1 of my birthday project took place about 5 weeks ago. Shortly after arriving in Yogya, I learned that 2 other women in my house were also October babies... and we would all be entering a new decade, 20's, 30's and 40's. Unfortunately, our travel schedules had us in different places on any of the birthdays, so we started early. It was decided that a suitable celebration for three such worldly, wise and fascinating women would be a trip to a breakfast buffet to stuff ourselves silly. So, we gathered our best housemates, put on our finest elastic-waisted clothing and headed to the remarkable buffet at a fancy hotel.

We play in a band... a gamelan band
We enjoyed gorging on cheese and bread (not commonly found here) and thoroughly confusing the guy manning the juicer station with our odd juice requests (I tried to recreate apple, kale, ginger juice using Indonesian ingredients). It might have been our indulgence in too many lattes (also rarely found here), but we got a little adventurous and asked if Ash, one of the birthday girls and a student of gamelan, might sit in with the players. Unfortunately, they had retired for the day, so it was up to the rest of us to back her up (much to her mortification), but the staff seemed to enjoy the spectacle of foreigners ineptly jamming.

After lunch and jamming time, we wandered around the hotel garden, feeding the fish and waiting for our food stupor to subside. It was a lovely relaxing afternoon with wonderful friends... the kind of day I can't get enough of. It was topped off by a surprise cake from Elizabeth who had hidden it in the warung next door because the birthday ladies were always around and she couldn't get it past us.

Feeding the fish and letting them grab our fingers
Wait. What? Who is turning 40?
Stage 2 of the birthday celebration was not really a celebration, but a trip that I wanted to take. I had thought that it would be great to celebrate my birthday by taking a houseboat tour to see orangutans in Tajung Puting National Park. As it turned out, there was a long weekend earlier in October, so several people from ASRI decided to take the trip then. I invited myself along. Seven intrepid volunteers and one esteemed staff member made the journey to float through jungle rivers and take occasional walks to see orangutans. Look for a future post with more details... Although my fellow travelers did not consider this trip part of my birthday celebration, we began to discuss the final stage of the celebration and hatch plans for the actual birthday.
You know that this guy knows how to party

I'm on a boat.. with my friends. (Jesse, Hotlin, me, Shannon,
Sophie, Jaelin, George) Photo credit: Karen
Stage 3, my actual birthday was spent in Sukadana. I have met many people with my birthday or days adjacent, and here is no exception. October 25th is the birthday of Dr. Ronald and this offered me the opportunity to witness some Indonesian traditions. Indonesian tradition is the opposite of the American. If it is your birthday, you treat everyone... and in Indonesia, when you have a party, everyone is invited. This was a little intimidating for me since I haven't gotten a paycheck since August. The other tradition... much to the dismay of Ronald... is the throwing of flour and eggs.
Ronald embracing his flouring as Nur, Hotlin and Jesse gloat
and Etty hides... her birthday is coming up!
So, I had that to look forward to...

My actual birthday didn't start out so well. I was happy to get a phone call from my mom, who had figured out how to call me at the right time in Indonesia to be the first to say happy birthday, but I realized that I was not feeling great. Hotlin had planned a brunch, and I really didn't want to disappoint, or admit that I was sick on my birthday. Upon emerging from my room, howeve, I was greeted by a smiling Hotlin who had procured beautiful hibiscus flowers. My day began to brighten. I made a big mug of strong coffee and inquired about getting a massage. I was very pleased to hear that the "pijat" or local masseuse/healer/chiropractor would be coming to the house to treat one of the other brunch guests so it was likely that she could see me as well. And the day was a little brighter.
 As the coffee kicked in, our friends started to arrive. Mary and Anto showed up with stuff for chai and Jesse brought fruit. Hotlin provided her famous steamed coconut cakes made with all local ingredients (coconut, rice flour, palm sugar) as well as coconut pancakes that we ate with jam. The laughter of friends and the amazing food brought me to the brink of health.
Chilling with friends on my birthday made me happy l-r Jesse
(who is looking at lyrics, being rude), Hotlin, Anto, Mary
The massage carried me the rest of the way. As the pijat relentlessly kneaded my muscles and pulled on my limbs, my friends began to make music. I was carried away to a state of bliss. Yes, the way to enter your 40s. A little more bliss... when I asked the pijat how much she charged, she indicated that I could pay what I thought was right. Apparently, the going rate in the city is $5, but our here it is $3... yes, $3 for a one hour massage.

After a steamy morning, there was a nice rain that cooled us down enough for an impromptu session of yoga on the beach. Flowing through asanas in time with the ocean was transcendent despite some intense gawking at the white folks doing weird things on the beach and the noises of a normal Saturday afternoon.
Yoga on this beach... there are worse ways to spend your day
The final event of the day... yes, it is still my birthday... was a party on the amazing deck at the house shared by Shannon, George, and Jesse. To avoid the financial burden of me footing the bill for everyone, we decided to make it a potluck... the food was amazing.

Shannon and the martabak cake
By far the most amazing piece was a bit of Frankenstein baking pulled off by Shannon. She prides herself on her cooking creativity and the cake that she made for my birthday was an exemplar of this talent. She made the cakes of martabak, a thick Indonesian pancake much loved by all who travel here. The martabak can only be purchased in the evenings when the martabak carts come out... they will not share their recipes, so Shannon tasked George with the job of obtaining the foundation as she made a delicious fudge-like frosting to hold the whole thing together. She topped it off with decorations that she had made. Delicious doesn't even begin to describe it. Even our Indonesian friends who were dubious of this Indo-American creation came back for seconds.

We sat around in yet another food coma chatting and sipping on whisky (another rare treat) way past bedtime here in Sukadana (usually 9pm). Eventually, as is wont to happen here, the electricity cut out and we headed home.

Nur, Asnat and Nomi enjoying the martabak cake

George with and empty plate and Ronald with no flour

As I crawled into bed I had two thoughts. First, the only thing that could have made the birthday any better was the inclusion of my friends and family from home. Second... how did I get away without being covered in flour and egg?

I gave myself over to being 40 shortly after I turned 39. My 30s had some great events but, as is frequently the case with large emotional growth spurts, there was a lot of tough stuff too. All of this tough stuff leaves me entering my 40s with a better sense of who I am and how I want to travel through life than I have ever had... This is going to be fun! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A month in Sukadana

About a month ago, I moved from the city to the town of Sukadana in the province of West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. I am working as a volunteer with an organization named Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) that provides healthcare and other services in support of conservation in an around Gunung Palung National Park, home to approximately 10% of the remaining wild orangutans on the planet.

Sukadana is a large village tucked in between the ocean and the protected tropical rainforest of the park. It has two intersections and most of the roads are somewhat paved.

Village life presents a whole new side of Indonesia. For example, I have been wanting to post to this blog for a week, but when I have time, the power seems to go out... because it goes out every day for varying lengths of time. Village life requires a great deal of flexibility and creativity as residents take advantage when there is power, or water, or fruit... because you don't know when you will have it again.

Hiking through Gunung Palung National Park
The first weekend here, I joined several volunteers for a steamy hike into one of the camps in the national park that surrounds us. Unfortunately, our quest for glimpses of wild orangutans was unfruitful.

There was also a fire at the reforestation site that devastated 5 years of work. We rushed out to the site on a Sunday night to assist in the battle against the flames. We lost and the site was destroyed.
Crew fighting fire with small sprayer and sticks
Despite valiant efforts, the fire grew to this.
There have been happier outings with the staff. We all drove 2 hours to the largest town in the area to attend the wedding of one of the nurses from the clinic. Indonesian weddings are confusing but basically, the bride and groom and parents form a living tableau and sit there all day as friends come and go and eat food in front of them while staring at the tableau. The group of foreigners added an interesting twist to the event.

Members of the ASRI staff greeting the wedding party.

Kids at the wedding thought the white folks were pretty cool
But the real adventure has been more internal and hard to capture with exciting visuals.

Being a foreigner in a village is an entirely different experience than being a foreigner in a city. I am rather fortunate that the nature of the organization with which I am volunteering provides a small cohort of other Americans to share my cultural missteps and general cluelessness.

In the village, I am an oddity that is treated with an unearned amount of respect and fragility. On a recent trip to a field site, some unplanned events required that the conservation director (also and American and rather new to the organization) spend the night at the home of the site manager. Initially, he was very embarrassed to have us. His house is simple. The furnishing consist of a table and a tv. There are no chairs, no beds, no dressers. The bathroom is an uncovered wooden platform outside the back of the house with a tarp for some privacy. Our host did not want us to judge him by his living conditions. He didn't want us to see how little he had to offer because he didn't want to appear to be a small person.

His wife had to request food from neighbors to feed us. The village is remote and you have to plan the week's meals carefully. Several people gave the little that they could spare and we enjoyed a really nice meal.

This experience gave me even more respect for our hosts. They are able to live on so little yet work so hard. Our host has been working for ASRI for 5 years. He was once an illegal logger but became a conservationist in charge of a reforestation site. Now, this man is no saint and he should not be idealized. He is a normal human being who works hard and makes big mistakes. In some ways we are all so different, but in others we are the same.

Dragon fruit juice is favorite
Life in Sukadana has given me a lot of time for some deep reflection. There are very few after work activities. Basically you can choose to go to the beach and drink juice or go someplace else and drink juice. Occasionally, there is an outing for martabak, but that will be a post of its own. When the sun goes down at 5:30, it is really dark... no street lights, few lights in houses... and most folks start getting ready for bed. We are so close to the equator that the day length doesn't really change. The shortest day of the year (which is in June) is 11h 49m and 47s. The longest day (December) is 12h 25m 6s... A difference of about 25 minutes compared to the difference between longest and shortest days in Colorado is about 6 hours.

My daily schedule starts by 5 or 6 am when I get up and try to get some exercise before the oppressive heat swells. By 7am, it is time to start sweating, so I bath using a bucket and a large tub of water (called a mandi) and eat breakfast with my roommate Hotlin. We work from 8-4 and then try to find some evening activity... often trying to catch the sunset. Bedtime is 9pm.

Weekends are long. ASRI provides housing to volunteers and staff. Each house has a "pembantu" or helper who cleans, cooks and does laundry. While we are 'all capable of taking care of ourselves, it is expected that people with jobs employ other people in order to enhance the economic well-being of the community. With our basic maintenance chores attended to, we have a lot of leisure time. Entertainment is generally simple as there are no theaters, music venues or bars. Each weekend someone puts together a soccer (here it is called 'futsal') game and the rest of the time we enjoy simple things, like watching baby goats or hanging out in front of a fan. Occasionally, we risk severe jellyfish stings and take a swim in the less-than-crystal-clear ocean. Of course, I also have a lot of work to do too! Fortunately, part of my work is to build relationships and you can't do that while tethered to a computer!

These baby goats have been a source of amusement for hours on end.
A Sunday afternoon game of "futsal" on the beach with staff

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Quick update

Sunset beyond the temples at Prambanan
Modern sculpture near the Javanese Sultan's
Palace and the Dutch era Post Office Building.
World coexist.
Today I move from Yogyakarta (Java) to West Kalimantan. It requires taxi, bus, taxi, airplane, airplane and finally car. Knowing that calling life unpredictable in Indonesia is being overly generous, I took at 6 am bus, so that, about 4 hours later, I arrive 3 hours early for my flight. Fortunately, the airport lounges are lovely and I am making use of the time by updating about the first month in Indonesia.

The most important thing to note is that it feels like I have been here for 3 days. It has flown by. It has flown partially because I have been having a blast with some great people, and partly because each errand that I run takes days longer than expected.

Yogyakarta is a fascinating place. It is very international, but also very homey and friendly. While waiting for a computer at an internet cafe, a young Indonesian woman introduced herself. We had a nice chat about her

life (just graduated, looking for a job in computer programming, fluent in self-taught German and English and no interest in going to the States ever). While walking between two touristy areas of town, a man pulled us aside to warn us that we should not buy batik from the tourist vendors on Malioboro St. (a tourist mecca) because they are not real batiks. I am accustomed to a warning like this being closely followed by an offer to drive me to his "friend's" shop to check out "almost free" goods... but this was not a hawker, he was just a nice guy who was excited to meet 2 foreigners with somewhat passable bahasa Indonesia.

In the same area of town, on a Sunday afternoon we were surprise when a bunch of guys in military uniforms (see pic below) marched noisily down the street accompanied by a chorus of mopeds racing their engines in time with the marching. The stopped at an intersection... and... of course... broke out into a choreographed dance routine. Grown men. Uniforms. Dancing to... what was it? Robin Thicke? And they seemed pretty happy about it too.

Kids with chickens
When I was not studying, at the gym or in search of food, I spent a lot of time walking around the narrow "gangs" (alleys) and being surprised at most turns. One day I came upon a bunch of children playing with live chicks who were dyed vivid colors. I wanted to take a picture of the chickens (these would really brighten up the micro-farming trend in the U.S.), but the kids wanted me to take there picture too, so you get to see both.
Chickens, ready for Easter (in the world's most populous
 Muslim nation)
And then there were the outings with friends. In my first week, we discovered that 3 of us have October birthdays. We are each a decade apart. Carin will turn 20, Ash will be 30 and I will be 40. When there was general agreement that I do not look or act 40, I knew that these were friends for life and we began to plan a way to celebrate our birthdays before I left. 
Wuv... Is what keeps us together
when hitchhiking on an intercity bus.
I think we did it fairly well.... Part 1 of Operation Birthday celebration was attending the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan. The ballet is more of a traditional Indonesian dance performance that tells part of the Ramayana, the Hindu epic. It is performed at night with the Hindu temples of Prambanan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the background. Carin and I headed out early to see the temples before the performance. The entire experience was awe-inspiring. One of the highlights of the evening was being stranded about 30 minutes outside of town unable to get a cab to come pick us up. Eventually, we were able to hop a "direct" intercity bus that brought us close enough to home that the promise of a hefty tip secured a cab for the rest of the way. Terrifying, but fun when you have a group of friends including several who are fluent in Indonesian!

The ballet with the temples in the background
We decided to chow down at a fancy breakfast buffet at a nearby hotel. The highlights of the buffet were real lattes (not from a packet), real cheese (the cheese they sell here is designed to not melt in the tropical heat) and a juice bar that would make any kind of juice you wanted. After lunch, Ash led us in an impromptu jam session on the gamelan, which seemed to entertain the hotel staff immensely.
Jamming on the gamelan.
The final part of the celebration was brought to us by Elizabeth. She found a bakery, got us a cake, and, when she was unable to sneak the cake into the house past us, recruited the owner of the neighboring warung to hide the cake in her refrigerator.  Her valiant effort was a bit tweaked when the warung owner came over to ask us when we wanted to cake, but Carin and I remained clueless, so it was a lovely surprise. I don't have any pictures of the cake yet, but I will post a picture for Elizabeth...

Air Soda from Yogya in the Semarang airport lounge
So, off I go to the field portion of my trip. The next 2.5 months I will be in a rainy area of West Kalimantan volunteering with an organization that uses health services as an incentive for conservation. I don't really know what to expect, but if the last month has set any precedent. This is going to be AWESOME!