29.04.14

Sometimes I really miss home, then I remember that I wouldn’t be able to spend 2 hours eating breakfast on my sunny balcony everyday in the UK…

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Happy Tuesday everyone!

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Trivial Things I Miss From Home.

Following on from yesterday’s post, here’s some things I miss from home. It goes without saying that I miss my friends and family (and Maisie!) but there are some more trivial things…

1) BBC and iPlayer – it would be amazing to be able to switch the tv on and understand what I was hearing! Also, iPlayer, when are you going to get your act together as make yourself available outside the UK?!

2) Drinking water from the tap! I didn’t realise how much of a luxury this is, but what a nightmare it is having to constantly fill up bottles and putting them in the fridge to be able to drink cold water!

3) Being able to get anything worth having at Tesco. My love for supermarkets has gone rapidly downhill since I got here!

4) Not having to prepare words in advance to be able to complete the simplest of day-to-day tasks!

5) Easily being able to buy clothes that fit. I have never felt fatter than when I am trying to shop here!

6) Being able to plug things in without having to search the entire house for an available adapter.

7) Bacon. Enough said.

5 Things I Don’t Miss From Home.

1) This goes without saying – the weather. Specifically how it causes that moment when the toilet seat is so cold that it makes you want to die a little inside!

2) The search for a parking space in town. Blaaaaaahhh….

3) Mobile internet charges. I always thought I had a pretty good deal with Vodafone until I got here!

4) Occasionally feeling unsafe in the city at night. There are no ASBOs hanging around on the corner here!

5) Public transport costs, especially taxis. Who thought that you could spend 90minutes in a taxi for £7?! And don’t even get me started on the price of petrol!

Pulau Pari.

Just over 6 months ago, I flew in to Jakarta (and Asia) for the first time. I was a bag of nerves as I saw on the on-board televisions that we were flying over Indonesia – I eagerly watched out the window as it started to sink in that this place was going to be my home for the next year.

We flew over hundreds of little islands and I remember wondering if I would ever get the chance to visit these amazing places, and this weekend I finally did!

We had a 3 day weekend to celebrate Easter so decided to make the most of the free time by visiting Pulau Pari. Pari Island is one of the ‘Thousand Islands’ sitting in the sea just north of Jakarta. It takes about 2 hours to get there, by boat, but it couldn’t be more different to the busy, polluted city that I call home.

With 4 friends, I set off at 4am on Friday (so early I wanted to die a little bit inside!) to the harbour in the north of Jakarta – I’d been warned that it was a working fishing port, but that didn’t quite prepare me for the smell when we finally arrived! Nevertheless, we watched the sunrise and sang songs while we waited for the boat to set sail – it took a while because we were wedged in by A LOT of other boats trying to leave the city for the holiday weekend!

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We set up camp on the front of the boat – for those of you who have ever sailed with me before, I was very brave!! – and the time flew by. I didn’t know what to expect but we soon arrived at Pari as met our host for the weekend. There are no hostels or fancy resorts on the island, the only real accommodation option is a homestay – ie, renting rooms from the residents – the space was very basic but the beds were comfy and it did the job.

Also included in the package were bicycles for the weekend so we spent the first day exploring. One of the best things about the island was that there were no real roads, and therefore no cars!!

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It was a small island, only 2km long, but it was beautiful. Everything was so colourful and tradional, and the locals were extremely friendly. I spent an hour chatting to some of the local kids and they showed me around a bit (this all made me really wish I could speak more fluently, but more on that another time..)

Yesterday we snorkelled and somehow ended up on a private island for the afternoon! Our guide wanted to drop us off to snorkel/swim/ generally frolic in the sea for a few hours, but he just pointed at some rocks – I couldn’t completely understand what was happening, but I think he wanted to leave is there…. It was at the edge of a seemingly deserted island so we asked to be dropped off there. Turns our we actually hit the jackpot! There were a few people working on the island, which was in the process of being turned in to a fancy resort – we paid the equivalent of about 50p each to spend the afternoon there and test out the facilities (hammocks!)!

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We finally made it back to our own island in time to see the sunset, okay guitars and eat Ikan Bakar (bbq-ed fish) on the beach! 🙂

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All in all, it was the perfect weekend full of relaxation, sunbathing, friends, Indonesian tradition and yummy seafood! Pulau Pari – I hope to see you again very soon!

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Finally, a big Happy Easter from me and this funky heart shaped tree!

Random Ramblings.

I love eating breakfast on my balcony every morning – I honestly think that that alone should be enough to persuade anyone to come and spend some time here!

I am a busy bee at the moment, with 3 classes on some days 😦 I have a new class starting next week, teaching 5 year olds! Can you imagine?! No, me neither, although I did meet the class yesterday and one of them hugged me goodbye and said he was excited about my classes – super cute!

Tomorrow is the start of a long weekend so I am going to visit an island called Pulau Pari – goodbye city pollution, hello paradise (hopefully!)

This weekend will of course also mean the end of lent – hello beer!

In other excitement, only 5 weeks until Mother Hen comes to visit! Time to get trip planning…. 🙂

On Religion.

I should start this off by saying that I don’t know much at all about the religion on this country – an embarrassingly small amount, actually – and these are just some observations I’ve made over the past few weeks.

Walking to school on Fridays is one of my favourite times of the week – I normally head in to work a little later than usual and as a result catch everyone on the way to and from the midday prayer. Sometimes I forget just how far away from home I am, but seeing everyone wandering to the Mosque with their prayer mats is a real reminder of the cultural differences between Jakarta and Plymouth!

One of my favourite aspects of the praying culture, is seeing groups of teenagers hanging around with their mopeds outside the Mosque and going to pray together. It’s a sad fact thy if this were happening in the UK, the kids would probably be getting bullied.

On a similar note, 2 of my students were singing in class the other day and I didn’t recognise the song so I asked them what it was. Their reply ‘ah miss, it’s this really cool Christian Rock band!’.

I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a teenager say anything like that before.

Whether you are religious or not, and regardless of which God you believe in, there’s no disputing the impact that religion has in everyone’s life here, and that’s kinda refreshing to see.

Halfway House.

I can’t actually believe it but I have officially been living in Jakarta for 6months today!

It’s strange to think that as of tomorrow I will be closer to returning to the UK than to the start of this adventure – I remember when I arrived, being here for 6 months seemed like such a big deal!

I have many more thoughts on this subject to share at a later date, but for now, a selfie with my class to celebrate….

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Bridesmaid.

So as I mentioned last time, I had to rush back from Bandung to get to a friend’s wedding on Monday.

About 2 weeks ago a friend from school popped in to deliver her wedding invites (so last minute, so Indonesian!) and asked myself and a few of the other girls to be her bridesmaids (again, so so last minute!). I didn’t really want to cut my long weekend short, but this was going to be an interesting (probably once in a lifetime) experience so I of course agreed.

The wedding was extremely fancy – I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s seen as a status symbol here to have a big, elaborate ceremony, so there were literally hundreds of people there.

I was slightly nervous about what ‘being a bridesmaid’ would entail, but as it turned out all I did was wear a special outfit. I didn’t really understand but it looked like there were lots of different ‘sections’ of guests – lots of groups wearing different colours or matching outfits.

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Check out the Bride and Groom!

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All in all, a fun evening and a very interesting experience 🙂
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A Trip To Bandung.

This Monday was a national holiday providing us with the elusive long weekend, so along with a group of friends I decided to make the most of it and head to Bandung for a few nights.

Bandung is a city south-east of Jakarta, located in the mountains – so much green! It was cooler and the air was much cleaner which is always a massive bonus!

We left immediately after class on Saturday and jumped on the train, which was surprisingly easy to navigate and comfortable – I splashed out and went for executive class!

We arrived at about 7pm, checked in at the hostel and went for some dinner and a few drinks. Turns out that about a year ago a policeman was stabbed in a Bandung club, so as a result all the the bars close at midnight, but we had a friend in the know and found a private bar to wait in for our other friends to arrive on their delayed train from the capital.

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There was a lot of beer…..

After a few hours sleep we were up and about and decided to head to Maribaya waterfalls on Sunday. It was a little grey but we didn’t want to waste any time. There was one downfall but we found a roadside Warung in the mountains as stopped for some lunch.

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Pretty lunchtime view 🙂

After refuelling, it was onwards and upwards to find the beauty!

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We arrived at some sort of national park and hiked about 4km (at a very leisurely pace!) to find the waterfall.

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It was really pretty, and there was lots of time for chit chat and silly games. A perfect day 🙂

Before dark we decided to head back to the main city and hostel, where we met a student and his sister who took us out for a lovely dinner. We went to ‘Congo cafe’ – a place on the side of the hill with an incredible view out over the city.

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It was a lovely weekend and I ha a lot of fun. Unfortunately we had to be on an early train the next morning to get back to Jakarta for a wedding, but I shall save that story for next time…