Another Month, Another Trip To Bali!

Hi everyone!

Wow, it’s already been a month! I guess that resolution of more regular blogging has gone down the pan a little, hey?! Time to get back to it. I’m going to leave the elephant in the room for today (the fact that I’m not back in the UK) and talk about a little holiday at the beginning of the month.

With my little brother now living in Australia, we arranged a little weekend getaway in Bali. Seriously, how cool is it that Bali is just a little holiday break?! Amazing!

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We met up in Ubud, Bali – I’d been there just a few weeks earlier at Christmas, it’s a good job I like it there! It was so lovely to get out of Jakarta – at this point I’d already been feeling under the weather for a few weeks and really needed a break (and by break I mean to see some green things, breathe some clean air and some family time!)

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We had 3 days together and spent our time wandering around the town, eating and drinking, and making monkey friends (more for Will then me, I was a little nervous after I was attacked by them last time!)

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We also spent a day exploring the island a little more thoroughly – Balinese dance, some rice paddies and temples, and visited Mount Batur.

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This is going to make me sound horribly uncultured (!!) but I find it very difficult to follow the stories behind the dance! It was fun though 🙂

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I’ve been to Bali a few times now, but this was my first time visiting Mount Batur, but it was totally worth the wait. The views were incredible – it started to rain and clouded over within a few hours so clearly Lady luck was on our side!

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It was the perfect weekend – just what I needed 🙂

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Life Lessons Learnt When Sick 12,000 Km Away From Home.

The reason I’ve been so quiet on the blog this week (already falling behind with my 3 post a week schedule – nightmare!) is because I’ve been glued to my sofa for the last 5 days suffering from typhus or typhoid (or possibly a combination of the 2 if that’s possible – not actually sure because of the language barrier but we’ll get to that later).

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I’d been feeling under the weather for about a week before I actually visited the doctor. The language barrier and a slight lack of trust in Asian medicine (too much emphasis on herbs!) make it something that I try to avoid, but needs must and all that!

This week has taught me a few things though…
Lesson #1) Always take a friend to the doctor/hospital/dentist! If they can speak the local language then that’s great, but even if they can’t the moral support is invaluable.
Lesson #2) Be imaginative with your language use. Eg, if you want to say ‘blood’ but don’t know the correct word, try ‘red’, or ‘tired tired tired tired tired’ is a good substitute for ‘exhausted’! Body language and gestures go a long way too!

Fast forward a few days, a crap ton (technical term) of medicine and a blood test in a little hut on the side of the road (it’s a good job I’m not OCD about health and hygiene!) and the diagnosis is in….typhoid. At least I thought that’s what I was told – I’ve since heard typhus.

Lesson #3) Apparently typhoid and typhus are not the same thing.
Lesson #4) Having a vaccination does not necessarily give you 100% protection from these things.

So I’ve spent 6 of the last 7 days glued to my sofa, chain watching American sitcoms and feeling truly sorry for myself. There were a few hours on Wednesday afternoon where if I was well enough to travel I would have 100% have been on a flight back to London.

Lesson #5) It’s important to remember that illness makes your mood plummet and declaring that you’re ‘the most miserable you’ve ever been in your life’ will not help! Must.remain.optimistic!

Having spent a week pumping myself full of antibiotics, herbal remedies, guava and cucumbers (good for typhus, apparently!) I’m finally starting to feel a bit better. It’ll still be another few days before I’m able to go back to work, but thankfully I seem to be on the mend 🙂

Lesson #6) My friends are actually guardian angels!
Lesson #7) Herbal medicine may be worth something after all!

Brain dump over. Here’s to a speedy recovery….

14 Thoughts That Run Through A Teacher’s Head When Marking Tests

I spent last night marking 3 sets of progress tests, and I’m pretty sure my trail of thoughts was identical each time.

1) Okay, I’m feeling optimistic! We did lots of revision, and they seemed to understand it during class, so the results should be fine.

2) Listening paper first. Hmm it seems when they said they didn’t want me to play the track again they were actually lying!

3) Maybe it was just her. Fingers crossed it was just her. Oh no, it wasn’t just her 😦

4) Maybe the reading paper was better…..

5) Ah this one is right! And the next, and the next! Woohoo, we’re on a roll here – maybe I’m not such a rubbish teacher after all!

6) I wonder what snack I should reward myself with when I finish this paper….

7) You really think that’s the answer?Why would you write that? Seriously?

8) At least the writing paper is about movies – every time I ask the students what they did at the weekend they say ‘played computer games and watched movies, miss’ so surely they can describe their favourite movie?

9) Who knew that there was a Justin Bieber movie?

10) Thank God for discretional marking. I’ll just help them out a little bit with these writing marks, I know what they actually meant to say.

11) No, that’s dishonest, I definitely shouldn’t do that.

12) I hope they’re not too upset when I tell them they have to do some of the paper again 😦

13) What do you mean I’ve only marked half of the papers so far? It feels like I’ve been here for hours!

14) I give up. I’ll do it tomorrow. Where’s the gin??!

Coffee Date.

So if we were sat in Starbucks today, what would I have to tell you?

I’d probably start with my weekend. It was a really good one this week. I normally dread my Saturday morning class (not ideal, I know!) but we just haven’t built a good relationship yet despite it being like 6 weeks already, but this lesson actually went really well – I surprised myself! 🙂 I had a pretty chilled afternoon but had a party to attend in the evening. I recently sought out a hockey team online and on Saturday night they invited me to a party to meet a few people. I took my housemate Emma along for moral support and had such a good time! Everyone made me feel really welcome and I’m excited to go and play at the weekend (now just to source a stick and some kit… Should be interesting considering everyone in this country wears size 6!)

I was nursing a slight hangover on Sunday, but went in to the city to make some batik! It was much more successful this time (read: less blotches where I dropped wax!) and really fun. The whole area is green and quiet (a rarity in Jakarta!) and so relaxing!

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I just finished reading a great book too – Longbourn, by Jo Baker. It’s a different take on Pride and Prejudice, from the servant’s viewpoint, but it’s so much more than fan fiction. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a new read 🙂

More Christmas 2014!

Where were we? Oh yes, I’d just arrived in Ubud. I immediately felt more at ease – not that I felt unsafe in Kuta, as such, but I no longer felt like I had to clutch by bag to my body and be 100% aware of what was going on around me all the time (I realise I may be portraying Kuta in a bad light here – it is a great party town, but that’s just not my sort of thing!). We had previously found a good deal online and booked ourselves in to a pretty fancy hotel (Pertiwi Resort, Monkey Forest Road) – I’m talking beautiful grounds, lots of green (a world away from Jakarta!), 2 amazing pools, right in the hustle and bustle of the town but still relatively quiet.

We had 4 days in Ubud. We spent the first relaxing and exploring the area a little – I had been before but it was Glory’s first time, so nice for her to get her bearings a little. The whole town is so pretty – lots of little boutique shops, cute cafes and market stalls – I could spend days just wandering around the streets.

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Our second night in Ubud was New Year’s Eve. Now I’m not really in to having a big night on 31st December – I think it is overrated and people put themselves under too much pressure to have a good time, and as my Mum always says, I would rather be awake and hangover free to enjoy January 1st! We couldn’t just stay in though so found a fun bar called Oops for dinner (oh hello pumpkin pizza!) and I ended up enjoying it much more than expected! They had fireworks at midnight and a great live band. The fireworks were the most precarious thing I have ever seen – little kids just holding the sticks out at arm’s length and setting them alight – the sparks were flying out all over the place, including towards the passing motorcyclists! Very suspect!

On New Year’s Day we were determined to get out and explore some of the rice paddies that Ubud is famous for. Despite having visited before, this was new for me too but I did a bit of googling and they were relatively easy to find (seriously, thank God for smart phones!), and an amazing way to start the year!

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We met a farmer called Pak Nyoman and stopped to have some coconut and a chat. He was so adorable, telling us all about his family and his life farming these rice fields. I love talking to people and getting an insight in to the local culture – it really is what makes an experience and I’ll remember him for a long time.

There was one last Ubud experience to fit in and that was the Sacred Monkey Forest. Again, I’d been before but Glory hadn’t and it is a fun day out. In case you couldn’t work out from the name, it’s a forest full on monkeys that you can explore (and make some new furry friends!)

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Glory made one special friend – the monkeys loved her!!

It was a great holiday – we had a slight disaster at the airport and nearly got stranded in Bali for another few days (there are worse places to be stuck!!) but got home safe and sound. Now I’m just scanning the calendar and working out when I can take another holiday…!!

Happy Friday everyone 🙂

Christmas 2014

If you’ve seen my Facebook or Instagram lately (unfortunately, I am a complete social media addict!) then you’ll know that I spent 10 days in Bali over christmas, but before that let’s back up and I’ll tell you all about christmas day itself. You can see the photos here, but on the 25th I went to a fancy hotel in the city for lunch with some friends – the spread of food was pretty impressive – it was nice to stock up on western comforts for once, and the wine. So. Much. Wine!

As always, the day passed much faster than we’d have liked, and I was home packing for my early flight the next day before I knew it.

We arrived in Bali early on Boxing Day morning and headed straight for our Kuta hotel. I actually wasn’t very keen on visiting Kuta – I’ve been before and wasn’t that taken with it (it’s the Bali equivalent of Ibiza or Magaluf…), but my friend Glory wanted to go. We stayed in a nicer than Kuta average hotel with a nice pool (LaWalon Hotel, Jl. Poppies 1) which somewhat softened the blow!

It was a quiet few days of relaxation – super comfy beds, lots of pool time and slowly working my way through a few good books! There were a sufficient amount of sunbathing opportunities, but it actually rained quite a lot, one day even resulting in a flood! It’s not supposed to flood on holiday!

Why is it that holiday time goes much much much faster than time at work? Before I knew it, our 4 days in this beach town were over and it was time to jump on the shuttle bus to Ubud – a ‘hippie’ town in central Bali – known for it’s laid back vibes, rice paddies, monkey forest and vegetarian/vegan/healthy food! Perfect!

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Check back on Friday to read all about my time in Ubud 🙂 Have a great day!

Project 365: December

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12. Batik workshop – 13. Friends – 14. Students – 15. Popping candy chocolate – 16. School staff photo – 17. Dinner at Carl’s Jr – 18. An evening in front of Modern Family – 19. Kidzania – 20. Poster fun! – 21. Backstreet graffiti – 22. Soto Kudus – 23. Housemates – 24. Rock night – 25. Bulgarian goodbyes – 26. Church at Christmas – 27. Double Padang – 28. School Christmas Party – 29. Anne Frank & peppermint tea – 30. Seafood – 31. Rainy season in Jakarta – 32. Mango G&T – 33. Chandler family reunited! – 34. Christmas themed fun with my conversation class 🙂 – 35. Eddy’s Birthday – 36. Christmas Eve – 37. Christmas Day – 38. Boxing Day – 39. Swimming in Bali – 40. Hard Rock Cafe – 41. Pool Day – 42. Dinner at Club Havana – 43. New Year’s Eve

Happy 2015!

I love that renewed sense of  that you get at the beginning of January, don’t you? I hope 2015 will be as amazing, if not more so than 2014. I’m pretty sure that in November I will be leaving Indonesia for good, but there is still so much to see and do here, I want to make the most of my time.

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So here are some New Years Resolutions:

Coke free January – I’m a little ashamed to admit that my obsession with the cold bubbly coca-cola goodness may have got a little out of hand recently, so I’m going to give it up for January. They say it takes 30 days to make a habit, so maybe I can take 30 days to break one?!

Less phone time – Another awful Indonesian habit. People in Asia are literally addicted to their phones – it seems they can’t go 30minutes without picking it up, and I’m worried I am becoming more like that! It’s a struggle because I use my phone for everything – blogging, emails, skype, whatsapp – all of these things are a big deal when you live so far away from home, but I need to be more mindful of how I am spending my phone time.

More photography – This one is simple. I have a great camera just sat in my cupboard most of the time, and I want to learn how to use it! I’ve been reading some tutorials online, and asking a few people, so I’m going to use some of my free time getting out and about recording some memories.

Read 25 books – Another simple one! I’d like to replace some of the time I spend faffing about on my phone reading books instead. I’m about to finish #19 in 2014, so I need to step up the speed a little! you can follow my progress on Goodreads!

Take my blog to the next level – I’m talking more regular posting, better photos, more publicity – everyone tells me they love it so I don’t know why I keep it such a secret! if there’s anything that you’d like to see (read!) more of then please let me know – I really do appreciate all the comments and positive feedback 🙂

What are your plans for 2015?

2014 In Review: The Best Of Sophie Speaking

Wowzers – can you believe that in just a few days it will be 2015? I remember celebrating New Year’s Eve when we were welcoming in the new millennium – it’s difficult to believe that it was over half my lifetime ago! This year has absolutely flown by, and it’s been a massive one for me, the most courageous so far perhaps.

I started 2014 in Bangkok, celebrating (in a very low key, bed by 1am, kinda way with my friend Beth). I took my first flight of the year back to Jakarta on January 1st and really felt like I was coming home. I was full of expectations of what the next few months had in store for me.

Highlights of 2014 include(but are of course not limited to!) the following:

* My Mum coming to visit,of course! 2 wonderful weeks of exploring, fancy hotels, beaches and the best part of all – Mummy cuddles! (You can read all about her trip here)

* Carrying on from that, being able to introduce my family to my students and sharing their excitement.

* My friend Erica visiting just a few short weeks after my Mum had left! I really am spoilt for having such amazing people in my life! (Jealousy inducing photos and stories from Erica’s visit can be found here)

* Celebrating my birthday with one of my favourite classes! They bought me a lovely cake, learned my favourite songs on the guitar and made me feel so special.

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* Finally getting some sort of grip on the Indonesian language (this is a work in progress, of course!)

* Getting to work with some AMAZING people.

* The sense of pride (read: the need to collapse!) I felt after hiking through the jungle!

* Celebrating having survived a year in this crazy country!

* Walking through the arrivals gate at London Heathrow back in October.

* Getting back to life in Jakarta, of course!

It’s been a big year, here’s hoping that 2015 will be just as awesome!

Coming To A Close.

Woohoo, only one work day left in 2015!

I’ve been embracing the Christmas spirit with my class tonight – telling them all about the traditions that we have at home, and sampling some candy canes!

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We watched Home Alone yesterday, and I’ve been blasting Christmas tunes out in the office today too – I am trying to get in to the festive spirit, but it’s difficult when it’s 30’c outside and I’m still working!

I am looking forward to having lunch with my Indonesian nearest and dearest on the 25th then getting to Bali on Friday. I feel a little guilty that everyone is complaining about not having had a holiday for such a long time – I’ve only been back at work for 4 weeks but am already longing for a rest! Get me to that beach!

This Week.

Well who’d have thought that the times leading up to the holidays could be so busy in a country that doesn’t even celebrate Christmas?!

I don’t remember things being as hectic last year, but I’m sure that that was probably due to me being new to the school and carrying a lot less responsibility!

On Tuesday we held a school Christmas party 🙂 I spent a long time organising (resolution for next year: stop offering to organise things!) and was really glad it all worked out. We had a ‘Teachers’ Award Ceremony’ (I won the ‘Filing Fanatic’ award for the most organised person in the school – voted for by my colleagues, I didn’t just decide myself!), Secret Santa, a lip syncing competition and lots of pizza!

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In between planning classes and attending meetings, I have been trying to organise my own Christmas holiday. I feel like the Mum of my group of friends – I have somehow ended up arranging lunch at a fancy hotel for us on Christmas Day because otherwise we would have ended up doing nothing! On Boxing Day I am leaving for 10 days in Bali – I know I have only been back at work for a month but I am desperate for a holiday already! Get me to that beach!

Tomorrow we have a big training session at school – there are lots of changes set to happen in the new year and I know there will be a lot of information to take in 😱 so I better be off to bed! 💤

Weekend Snapshots.

It’s been a super busy, but fun, weekend!

After class on Saturday I spent a few hours at school trying to get ahead of myself for the busy weeks before Christmas, before dinner in the evening. We went to a place called Marche to celebrate my friends’ birthdays.

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It was so lovely to have such a big group of friends together – there were a lot of people there that I hadn’t seen since I returned to Jakarta, so lots of opportunities to catch up 🙂

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IMG_5439.JPG Very sad to be saying goodbye to our newest Bulgarian friend too – safe flight George! 🙂

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We had a few drinks after dinner (hello mojito!) and I dragged myself away from the party before it got to the nightclub!

I was concerned about getting some sleep as I needed to be up early to go to church and support my friend Glory who was singing in their Christmas service choir.

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It’s an international church, and the service was like none I’ve ever experienced before! There were Christmas carols accompanied by electric guitars, and a metaphor about God’s light that involved us all shining lasers around the room!

Two fun facts about my morning: they had the best Christmas tree I’ve seen in Jakarta, and an African man asked me on a date to Burger King! Haha

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And just like that it’s Monday again! I’ve got some new classes starting this week, and I’m co-hosting our school’s Christmas party on Tuesday. Throw in some holiday planning and you’ve got yourself a busy few days!

Have a great week 🙂

A Day In The Life.

9.15 – alarm goes off! I’ve been awake for a while but last night was pretty late so I lounge about reading my book for a while.

10.00 – finally haul myself out of bed and go and buy some fruit.

10.08 – breakfast time! Strawberry&melon juice, with fresh mango today.

10.30 – Spring clean! We think there may be a rat living in the courtyard at the back of our house so trying to keep things extra clean 🙂

11.00 – Listen to ‘Serial’. If you’re not already listening to this podcast – download it now!

11.40 – time to get ready for school. It’s always so difficult to pick clothes on Wednesday because it’s batik day!

12.10 – showered, dressed and ready to rock.

12.23 – arrive at school. It’s super hot today – I’m so glad to be in the ac!

12.30 – chat to friends at school, check my schedule and get books ready for this afternoon.

12.45 – plan plan plan!

1.20 – time to take a break. Shop for Secret Santa present – success!

1.40 – lunch time! Soto kudus today (and most other days if we’re honest!) my favourite!

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2.00 – back to school – I waste a bit more time chatting to friends and doing some organisation for next week’s Christmas party.

2.20 – more planning – we’re making a recipe book in my class this afternoon so I need to get all artistic and make an example!

2.35 – time for a cup of tea.

2.45 – I’m distracted by looking at fun things to do in Bali! I really need to do some holiday planning!

3.05 – okay, time to get serious and finish preparing for today. I also have about a gazillion reports to write. Boohoo 😦

3.30 – finally ready – a whole hour before class starts! Time to relax and chat 🙂

4.05 – re-arrange my classroom. There’s one boy in my class who refuses to move and sit next to anyone, so before every lesson I have to move the chairs out of the room so he has to!

4.10 – reading some blogs 🙂

4.30 – teach teach teach!

6.00 – break time. My class made such a mess this afternoon that I have to spend a whole clearing up!

6.10 – chat with friends for a while. We’re enjoying some Mars bars I bought back from the UK last month.

6.30 – teach teach teach!

8.00 – class is going slowly….time to crack out a game!

8.30 – finally finished!

8.35 – little bit of admin, tidy my desk up and have the daily argument about what we’re going to eat for dinner.

8.45 – settled on seafood – delicious!

9.30 – time to go home. A bit awkward cos the dress I’m wearing today is a little shorter than cultural acceptable and I’m basically flashing at everyone when I have to sit on the low bus seats. Must remember leggings next time…!

9.50 – I’m exhausted – so glad to be home!

10.00 – Modern Family viewing time – I may or may not be a little addicted!

10.45 – pjs, teeth, time for bed with my book 🙂

11.25 – lights out – goodnight!