Sunday, February 22

Long-Term Tourist: An Interview with Jason Daniels


Part II: Jason Daniels is an American who visited Indonesia years back, and never left. During the day of Sacha Stevenson's meet and greet (which was last year), Jason was the MC and we got into a conversation with him, talking from Indonesian politics to Vegemite.

Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Jason Daniels,  I’m American. I’ve been in Asia almost half my life. I’m a TV presenter, actor, and educator.

Have you taught english before?
I taught english on TV, I did a program for the US embassy called Walk the Talk. That was two years ago on TV One and before that, on Trans 7. I was teaching english, but also acting... The first time I act was on Bule Gila. It was about ten years ago.

What’s your favourite place in Jakarta?
Kota tua! I love history, and actually this is how I got into entertainment first time. The first time I went to Kota Tua I was with my friend, Harry, and they needed a bunch of bules to be the evil Dutch in a play they were doing. So I got to play Jan Pieterszoon Coen. From that, I got invited to do castings for other programs.

Do you like Indonesia or America better?
I like things from both of them. It’s really hard to say which I love, but I live here so it is where I choose to live. I went to Bali last month, and...  I love Indonesia.

What are your thoughts on Bali?
There are so many tourists, but yeah tourists concentrate down Kuta. If you don’t want to meet too many OZs, don’t go to Kuta. I didn’t go to Kuta. I was in Sanur, Canggu… Bali is kind of like, it is what Indonesia could develop into… I mean, everybody speaks English, they have sidewalks… It’s more organised.

I saw your video with Sacha, about sidewalks
Oh that’s my thing. I love walking.

I told my dad, and he’s like… Yeah that’s how [most] Indonesians work. They make things, but they don’t maintain it… That’s like the number one problem. And I hope the new president can…
Ah yes! Salam tiga jari! If Indonesia can pull together, we can have a real revolusi mental. I went to Gelora Bung Karno on the last day of the campaign, and I was helping to clean up the trash… I think the spirit of revolusi mental is the spirit to change things, and to get involved in the political process. Because politicians are in their jobs, because of us. 

It’s actually good that our next president is young, at least for a president. That way, he is somehow connected to the youngsters. And right now, the youngsters are the one as the agent of change.
Yeah… Jokowi is brilliant. He inspires people. I hope everyone realise that we should built this country together.
[talks about the politics in Indonesia]
I should really be careful of what i’m saying. Cause i’m always attacked online.

People are calling me a CIA spy

They call me, oh nasty nasty horrible swear words because I was supporting Jokowi. I mean, if I’m a CIA spy, and right now I’m playing as a genie, on Indonesian TV... That’s my cover? Doing a program as a genie? Yeah that’s not a really good cover for a CIA agent I think.

Do you prefer Indonesian or American weather?
I always like summer, so this is like perpetual… so this is perfect. 

But it’s very unpredictable in here [Indonesia]...
It’s more unpredictable in America. I was in Cali, it was nice and warm. Then I went home to Pennsylvania, and snow immediately! Horrible! I was there shovelling the driveway cause we don’t have servants in America. You have to do stuff yourselves. 

I wish we had snow here. I’ve never experienced snow before
Yeah it sounds fun for a few hours, but then it’s like no… For a kid it might be fun, because when there’s a storm it’s no school. It’s like Jakarta on flood days

Floods are horrible though! They're not fun! There are people who swim in the flood! and all I think of is people’s urine...
Skin diseases, oh rats… Change the subject please…

Why did you come to Indonesia in the first place?
I was a tourist and I planned to go back, but I kind of got stuck… But it wasn’t in Indonesia, I was living in Taiwan before then. I would come here every holiday, because I didn’t really like Taiwan. It’s too serious… It’s not as friendly and crowded.. Jakarta in fact, is a lot nicer, greener… China and Taiwan are really industrial…

What place in Indonesia do you wish to visit most?
Raja Ampat! It’s so far away, and expensive… So only if the TV shows pay me to go there so I’ll go there…

What’s your favourite Indonesian food?
Gado gado. I’m vegetarian.

Have you tried ketoprak?
Of course! I’ve tried every vegetarian food in Indonesia… Like tempe, tahu sumedang…

Especially with cabe rawit
Yes especially with cabe.

Do you like spicy food?
I love spicy food. Every time I go back home to America, I had to put tabasco on everything. It was kind of like ‘Jason, are you sure you’ve put enough tabasco on that?’

You should bring saos sambal or sambal terasi to…
I don’t like sambal terasi…

Me too actually...
Bau… udang...

Do you like durian?
No…. Durian ice cream, though! Strangely enough, but I don’t like the fruit.

I don’t like it…
Well you either like it or you hate it.

Have you tried Vegemite?
I haven't but I don’t get it

Saras: I love it!
I tried Marmite, i think it’s similar to Vegemite… Well, one’s Kiwi, one’s OZ. 
This interview is conducted by both Saras and I, accompanied by Bisma on Sunday, August 31st 2014.