Tag Archives: indonesia

Looking Forward to a Break

Quality time with friends. Delicious food, so much delicious food. Beach bum status. Familiarity mixed with newness. These are what I can expect to experience in just a couple of weeks.

After a long stretch without a holiday, a break is needed. Short-tempered, exhausted and run down, with less and less energy at the end of the day. Stretched thin, the cracks are beginning to show.

What once seemed impossibly far away is now within reach. Eleven more school days. Fifteen actual days. Spring Break is on the horizon. With a plan to spend time in some of my favorite places with some of my favorite people, I’m beyond excited.

I’ll be heading to Bangkok for the first part of the week, where I get to reunite with Callie, eat all the Penang curry, Kao Soi, and mango sticky rice I can, and visit my old students. Being surrounded by familiar people and foods is comforting, and Bangkok is a place that brings me joy.

After my short visit in Bangkok, I’ll be meeting up with Linner in Bali, one of those places you just can’t help but love. Linner and I always have lots of fun together, and I force her to take an insane amount of selfies. It’s a wonder she still loves me! While I’ve been to Bali several times, it won’t be the same since we’ve decided to try out a new city, where we can both experience new things.

In Sanur, we’ll be near the beach, where I’m sure we’ll spend loads of time. Balinese food is so fresh and delicious! I hope we are able to try out all of the restaurants I’ve found. What I’m most excited about is finding the perfect place to stay! We decided to splurge a bit on the hotel to treat ourselves, but since we’re splitting it, it’s worth it (even though we’re splurging, it’s only 130 USD total per night). Karmagali Boutique Suites is a five-star hotel and the #1 place to stay in Sanur according to Trip Advisor, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be spectacular!

Here are a few pictures of our hotel:

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Look at that pool! I’m confident this is going to be my new happy place. 🙂

 

I just realized…this is my 300th blog post! 😍

Restaurant Hopping

After our massage, we met up with Anna at the mall. Hunger pangs setting in, we strolled through the maze of food stalls set up this weekend. Weaving through tight spaces between the throngs of people, we saw that everything from dumplings to mie goreng to mac ‘n cheese grilled cheese to fish and chips to tacos to desserts was on offer.

Having seen what there was to buy (so we didn’t experience FOMO), we got to the end of the line and turned back. As Miriam and Anna headed to the Mexican food stall, I got in the  fish and chips line, but before it was my turn to order, I had second thoughts. Miriam had just ordered a taco when I got there, and noticing I didn’t have anything in my hand, she quickly cancelled her order, opting to find a sit down restaurant for us to eat in peace and quiet.

The three of us discussed where to go. Deciding we wanted something Asian, we headed over to Sushi Tei, where there was a wait to get in. We out our name down and were told it would be about 20 minutes. Wandering around a bit more, Miriam suggested that we just eat at Classified, since she was really hungry. Despite it being a Western restaurant, we all agreed. We were seated at the table, menus in hand, when Miriam announced that she didn’t see anything she wanted. After asking us if it was okay if we left, we slinked out of the restaurant, leaving the menus on the table. The old me would have never done that, for fear of embarrassment, but after living in Asia, it hardly phases me now.

Stopping by Sushi Tei again, we see that we are still way down on the list. Scratch that. Still jonesing for Asian, we grab a table at White Elephant, a tasty Thai restaurant. Seemingly happy, we place our order for 4 dishes to share. A few minutes later, the waitress comes back over to tell us that a few of our dishes are out of stock. OMG…this is one of my biggest pet peeves in Asia! Rather than noting it on the menu or informing you upon arrival, they let you get your hopes up, just to shoot them down later.

Deciding that we might move yet again, Anna runs over to Sushi Tei to see where we are on the list. Defeated, she comes back with a sad face to inform us that they’ve given our table away. So we decide to stay put, but at the end of the meal, I did give the manager some advice about ordering proper quantities of food and beverages, letting him know this is the way to lose customers. He smiled (a lot) and apologized. I’m pretty sure it went in one ear and out the other.

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Year in Photos 2018

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. In some ways, I agree. When you snap a picture, you freeze a moment in time. You capture the essence of the experience so that when you look back at them days, months, years later, the details conjure up the feelings of that moment. As much as I love writing my stories, I also challenge myself to tell a story through the photos I take. The angle and framing of the shot, what you include and what you don’t, and the focal point all contribute to the story. To my story.

I love reflecting on the past year through photos (you can click here to see my year in photos from 201720162015, and 2014). The process of looking back over the photos from the past year takes me on a reflective journey and I smile, remembering the memories once again. 2018 was full of family, friends, food, and travels- all of my favorite things. Without further delay, here’s my year in photos, in chronological order.

Confession

I have a confession. I’ve actually debated on whether or not to write about it. I mean, it doesn’t exactly make me look good. But in the interest of authenticity and writing the truth in my slices, here goes nothing.

I have a live-in maid. You may be thinking…well, I’m sure she has a big family and has an elderly parent to care for and works three full-time jobs in order to justify a full-time maid. Nope. I’m a single thirty-something with no kids. Let the judging begin.

It’s not something I planned on doing when I moved to Indonesia. I mean, I wanted to hire a maid to come in twice a week to do the major cleaning and laundry, as I have had in the other countries I’ve lived. It’s a perk of the international educator lifestyle- one that I’ve embraced with open arms. But when I visited Jakarta a couple months before the big move, a colleague who was leaving highly recommended that I hire her pembantu (Bahasa Indonesia for maid). Based on the recommendation, I was keen to hire Rohana. It wasn’t until later that I found out she was only looking for a live-in position, not a part-time one. After much consideration, I decided to go for it, mainly because I had such a big house and was worried I wouldn’t find someone who was as good, could cook well (Rohana is an excellent cook), and spoke a little English.

At first it was awkward trying to figure one another out, learning to live with someone after living alone for the past 15 years, and communicating with someone whose first language isn’t English. However, we quickly fell into a routine and I came to appreciate having someone around to help clean, do the laundry, prepare my breakfast and lunch to take to work, and cook dinner or at least help prep for dinner so I can cook when I get home. It’s also nice to have someone to deal with any repairs that need to be done during the day or bring me my laptop when I forget it at home.

For the past year and a half, I’ve become accustomed to having Rohana around and rely on her quite a bit for the day-to-day life stuff. Simply put, she makes my life easier and there’s less stress when she’s around. But she’s been away for the past three weeks and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s been hard. Like, really hard. Harder than it should be, especially considering the fact that I was used to making my own breakfasts and lunches, washing up, doing laundry, etc. before moving here. It wasn’t a big deal. It was just a part of life. I’ve come to realize that this part of being an adult is no fun at all.

Since I’m confessing everything tonight, I may as well tell you the whole truth. I haven’t done it all by myself the past few weeks. For one, I’ve learned that I have just enough clothes to last roughly a month (including undies) without having to do laundry. If she doesn’t come back this Sunday, I’m going to have to figure out how the washer works. A huge fan of Go-Jek, I have tried out a new feature called Go-Clean a few times, where I can have someone come to my house to clean on an hourly basis. It’s insane to think about, but the hourly rate is 35,000 Rupiah (about $2.50 USD). This nice lady (luckily the same one each time) has washed dishes and cleaned the counters and floors. I’ve also cooked less often than I normally do, opting to order Go-Food delivery instead, to cut down on dishes. It’s all pretty pathetic when you think about it.

So there you have it. My confessions laid out for the world to see. Hope you don’t judge me too harshly. But I wouldn’t blame you if you did.

 

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Keeping me on my toes

You know how we’re wired for routine and easily become creatures of habit? Like how you quickly become so used to your drive to work, you could do it with your eyes closed. But what happens when that routine or path is disrupted, such as construction causing you to have to take a detour? It shakes you out of your trance and you pay more attention to your surroundings and what’s happening around you, right?

Today, as I was on my way to the gym, I was running late for my training appointment. After my Go-Jek ride from school, I power walked into the mall and headed for the top floor via the escalators. Before I made the turn toward the escalators, I found myself pausing to look up, trying to gauge which direction the escalator on the right was moving. Was it going up or down? I didn’t have time to waste today.

When I first started working out at this gym last year, I quickly fell into a habit. Walk in by the Domino’s entrance and then take the escalator on the right next to Auntie Anne’s up to the fourth floor. A few times in the beginning, I would take my normal path, only to discover that the escalator was going down instead of up. Hmmm…I could have sworn this was the ‘up’ escalator. Maybe I was wrong, I’d think as I second guessed myself and walked to the escalator on the other side.

After this happened to me many times, I realized that the escalators change direction on an inconsistent basis. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the change of direction. Perhaps it’s due to different people turning them on in the morning. Maybe order and consistency doesn’t rank high on their list of priorities. Maybe they want to keep everyone on their toes. Maybe this is just how it’s done in Indonesia. Who knows?

So now, instead of following a set path each time, I have developed a new habit. I look up, determine which escalator I need to take, and head that way. Those escalators always keep me on my toes! I wonder if anyone else notices this, too. Does it bother other people the same way it bothers me?

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The Magic of Camp

There’s just something about going on camp that sparks a bit of magic. Breaking out of the normal routines of school, pushing yourself mentally and physically, disconnecting from technology, surrounding yourself with nature, all the while working as a team, brings about a sense of connectedness and excitement.

A 3-hour bus ride with 30 ten and eleven year olds doesn’t sound like much fun, but when they all randomly burst into song, a boring bus ride turns into a good time. Between the bouts of singing, we told stories, played cards, made each other laugh, and ate all the snacks! Before we knew it, we had arrived in Lembang. Checking into our hotel, students set up their rooms, excitedly making the space their own. Being able to share your own room with your friends is definitely fun!

From there, we headed up the mountain in our huge bus, barely fitting on the narrow, winding roads. More than once we caused a traffic jam and nearly got into a wreck! While the adults were stressed, this only added to the students’ excitement.

Our visit to The Bandung Treetop Adventure Park was a true adventure! Not only were we tasked with a physically challenging ropes course high up in the treetops of a forest, where we walked across swinging logs hanging from thin wires, climbed rope ladders, crawled through too-small wooden tunnels (my knees!), walked across wires that swayed in the breeze, and shot through the air on zip lines, a thunderstorm blew in quickly while we were all in the middle of our courses! Thunder boomed and lighting cracked as the sky opened up. Being high up in the air next to tall trees and connected to metal wires during a storm isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun time. The workers scrambled to rescue everyone by bringing us down one by one using a rope/pulley system. I was one of the first ones down, so I provided comforting words to stranded children who were understandably scared. We eventually all got down safely, and although we were thoroughly soaked and coming down from an adrenaline high, we were proud of the risk-takers we were!

Our first evening, after we were all showered and rested, was loads of fun! We had a traditional Indonesian dinner followed by some outdoor play, journaling about our day (nearly everyone wrote that the thing they were most proud of is not getting struck by lightning and dying!), and playing an intense few games of Mafia, a game they fell in love with and begged to play throughout the rest of the camp.

Day Two was full-on! Following an early morning wake-up call and a quick breakfast of Bubur Ayam, we piled onto the bus and headed for Tangkuban Perahu, a volcano with three huge craters, that last erupted in 2013. Hiking around the volcano, seeing the craters up close and hearing the history and myths surrounding the volcano, was exciting. The students (and me) were in awe!

After seeing the volcano, we spontaneously decided to go on a hike to see the natural hot springs. Not knowing what to expect, we headed off down the steep trail, with uneven steps carved into the path. The bulk of the group quickly went ahead, leaving a few of us behind. We hoped we were going in the right direction, but the stillness and quiet surrounding us was eerie, and more than once we doubted ourselves. Deciding to take it easy, we stopped and took photos of the natural beauty surrounding us. Craig is a budding photographer who captured a few amazing shots!

The hot springs were worth the trip down, and the students eagerly rolled up their pants to wade in the warm, muddy pools. Fearing that we had to make our way back up the trail that took us about 45 minutes to come down, I was excited to hear that a bus would be picking us up. Little did we know that the pick-up spot was another 1.2km hike away, about a third of it uphill! Bracing ourselves, we hit the trail, huffing and puffing our way through. Coming upon a natural spring with cool, clear water gushing through a pipe, we stopped to drink the delicious water. After making it to the bus stop, everyone was surprised to hear that we’d hiked nearly 10km (based on my FitBit). Boy were we tired, but at the same time, energized. After stopping for lunch and a quick swim at a hot springs resort, we headed back to the hotel, our bodies spent.

After dinner, the real fun started! We built a campfire, told scary stories under the stars (made more scary by Mr Marc’s well-timed screams), and roasted marshmallows to make s’mores. Many of our students, having lived in Jakarta, a major urban city, most of their lives, had never roasted marshmallows before. The excitement and sheer joy of this new experience was rewarding to watch. Fully hyped up on sugar, students danced to their favorite songs, ran around outside, played Jenga, and discovered what happened when you heated up a stick in the fire and swirled it above your head (it makes an orange circle!). We ended the night with a few more games of Mafia, staying up past our normal bedtime. But it was definitely worth it!

The next morning, after a nerve-racking room inspection by Mr Marc, where the students were rated on the cleanliness of their rooms in an over-exaggerated way, we had breakfast and played a few games before the students loaded up on the bus for the long ride back to Jakarta.

Earlier this week, I was able to attend camp with our Year 6 students. Being from America, camp is something that occurs over the summer, so the concept of students attending a camp during the school year is foreign to me. Until this week, it’s not something I necessarily bought into. But now, after getting to experience how camp bonds students together, allows students to partake in new activities, and gives them a chance to shine in different ways, I’m a camp convert.

Literacy Week was a Success!

Last week was my favorite week of the school year, hands-down! Literacy Week is just one of those weeks that’s full of excitement and joy, all centered around the love of reading and writing. What’s not to love about that?!?

Just like last year, I decided to dress up as a different book character each week. I then read to classes as the character. It was so much fun! Here were my outfits and books for this year:

Monday: Rainbow Fish

Tuesday: Pirates Don’t Change Diapers!


Wednesday: Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus


Thursday: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse


Friday: Max from Where the Wild Things Are

I mean…seriously, how can you not have a blast at work when you’re dressed up like this? However, it was difficult for other people to take me seriously in meetings. 😂

In addition to the character read alouds that I did, there were a few other teachers that dressed in character throughout the week and read to classes, which was fun for the students. Here’s a run-down of the weekly events that we had. Let me know in the comments if you want more information about any of the specific events. I’d be happy to share!

Monday:

  • Literacy Week Introduction
  • Poem in my Pocket began, where students wrote poems that they would carry around in their pockets all week to read to anyone who asked.
  • Cultural Storytellers from Australia
  • Treasure Hunt for lower primary
  • Door Decorating Contest began
  • DEAR Time daily

Tuesday:

  • Write Your Heart Out
  • Cultural Storyteller from Japan reading Kamishibai in both Japanese and English
  • Puppet show for upper primary
  • Book Fair
  • DEAR Time daily

Wednesday:

  • Pajama Day Read-in
  • Book Bites Bake Sale
  • Cultural Storyteller from Korea reading stories from Korea in both Korean and English
  • Indonesian Wayang Puppet Show (traditional shadow puppets) told in Bahasa Indonesia
  • Book Fair

Thursday:

  • Cultural Storyteller from Indonesia, who told a traditional Indonesian story in both English and Bahasa Indonesia
  • Puppet shows for lower primary, performed by Year 6 students
  • Spelling Bee for Years 3-6
  • Book Fair
  • DEAR Time daily
  • Door Decorating Contest Judging

Friday:

  • Book Character Dress Up Parade for the whole school
  • Cultural Storyteller from Pakistan who demonstrated oral storytelling of a Punjabi story, mostly told in English, with some Punjabi words mixed in
  • DEAR Time daily
  • Guess Who? Reveal, where students guessed who each teacher was based on the book they were holding in front of their face.
  • Battle of the Books, a book trivia game for Year 3-6 students

Coming back to reality this week has been hard, but the memories of last week are still with me. The students had so much fun, read lots of books, and enjoyed the variety of activities. I think the teachers did, too!

Do you do Literacy Week at your school? What is your favorite thing about Literacy Week?

Food, Colleagues, and a Sing Along #sol18

A few weeks ago I decided to host team dinners at my house as a way to get to know my staff on a more personal level and to give us some much-needed down time to just relax and enjoy one another. Today was my third one, and we had so much fun!

I rushed home just after 3:00 so I could finish up cooking and get everything ready for my colleagues to arrive at 4:30. Getting caught in the rain on the back of the motorbike meant I had to shower when I got home, so I got started in the kitchen a bit later than I wanted. Luckily, I have Rohana, my pembantu (maid) to help! She spent most of the day shopping, washing and cutting veggies, and making a few side dishes for dinner. I couldn’t have done it without her (unless I wanted to order pizza). All I had to do was throw together the appetizer, bake the dessert, and cook the panang curry.

People started arriving just after 4:30, and after getting them all a drink, I finished up the curry and took the blueberry bread out of the oven. Once everyone arrived, I gave them a tour of my place, and then we all grabbed a plate and sat down to eat. The spread included gado gado, tempeh with a sweet soy sauce, Indonesian corn fritters, rice, and curry, with blueberry bread, fresh pineapple, kiwi, and strawberries, and chocolate truffles for dessert. As we ate, we chatted, swapping travel stories and getting to know one another beyond our usual school chatter. As we began teasing one another, I noticed people’s guards coming down.

Throughout dinner, I’d had Amazon Prime Music playing in the background. Not knowing what type of music to put on, I had it tuned to an All 90’s station. As dinner was winding down, everyone made their way to the couch or the floor in the living room. Heri grabbed the iPad and started punching in song titles. Mita asked me to turn up the speaker since “this was a party, after all!” Doing as I was told, the music got louder, and the smiles got wider. Song after song, we belted out the lyrics, whether we really knew them or not! Laughing, we kept passing the iPad around, everyone trying to find that perfect song for the group. My favorite song of the night had to be “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Everyone (except Heri, who had never heard of the song…don’t worry, I gave him a really hard time about it!) sang the lyrics at the top of their lungs! When the Macarena came on, Ms Eny and I jumped up to dance, urging others to do the same. No one else joined us, but we had a great time anyway!

Today was the perfect end to a hectic day. As the year gets more stressful with increased responsibilities and due dates, it’s always nice to take a step back and relax.

The World Through My Eyes #sol18

Next week is Spring Break, and I’m really looking forward to my trips to Singapore and Penang, Malaysia! I’ll even get to add another country to the list…Singers will make #36! Since I have been thinking about my trip, I started reminiscing about my past travels, which prompted this poem. Rather than write about every country I’ve visited, I decided to limit to places I’ve been in the last two years. In no particular order, here’s my poem, a glimpse of the world through my eyes.

The World Through My Eyes

Indonesia is motorbikes, gado gado, macet, and the call to prayer.

Belgium is waffles, street art, and fruit beer.

Albania is colorfully-painted buildings, a perfect mix of old and new, and all the fresh fruit, veggies, and bread you can eat.

Montenegro is rocky beaches with crystal clear water, road trips, and weekend getaways with the girls.

Hong Kong is dim sum, the mid-levels, lots of hills, and like China, but better.

Mexico is beaches, pina coladas, and tourist traps.

Italy is stunning architecture, gelato, and literally the best homemade pasta of your life.

Canada is water taxis, clean and manicured, and friendly.

Senegal is bright colors, traffic, pushiness, and sand everywhere.

USA is home, comfort food, baseball, and familiarity.

Thailand is the land of smiles, tuktuks, mango sticky rice and kao soi, and three-showers-a-day hot.

The Netherlands is the most amazing cheese you will ever taste, bikes for days, and canals.

France is croissants and crepes, The Lourve, and walking two hours to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night.

Morocco is an assault on the senses, mint tea, and getting lost in the medina.

Year in Photos 2017 #sol18

Something I started a few years ago was reflecting on the past year through photos (you can click here to see my year in photos from 2016, 2015, and 2014). While I love telling my stories through words, there’s just something about a photo that can do it even better! Admittedly I take a lot of photos, so it takes me a while to sift through the virtual pile and narrow it down to the best ones. 2017 was a year of huge changes for me, both personally and professionally, and I am profoundly grateful to the people and experiences that marked this past year.

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