Category Archives: Indonesia

Things I love about being home: Things I miss about Indonesia.

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So a lot has happened since I last wrote on this blog, oh so long ago! The biggest thing was that I have returned home to the UK from Indonesia where I was teaching at an International school. It’s September now and boy is it cold here in Newcastle! Brrrrr. I miss Indonesia a lot, but there are definitely benefits to being home. I’ll try to weigh them up here.

Things I love about being at home:
1) Driving.

Yes, now I am back in the UK, I feel I can climb back into the drivers seat and drive myself in a car. Did I drive in Indonesia? Of course I didn’t! Have you seen the crazy traffic and drivers there? I swear to god, at roundabouts in Indonesia, people on the roundabout give way to people coming onto it. I remember one of my colleagues at SWA described how she loved driving in Indo. She described the craziness and lack of organised rules and space as something she enjoyed and that when she went home, she didn’t like having to drive slowly and watch out for speed cameras etc. Haha. Now I’m home, I’m thrilled to be driving but gosh, the speedbumps, roundabouts and slow drivers are becoming a little painful and frustrating. In Indonesia, every day in a car or even better, on an Ojek, travelling on the road felt a little dangerous, if not very dangerous! It is kind of liberating though! I did drive once in Asia, but in the Philippines which it has to be said, had similar road safety issues, and boy was that one story. Kerry and Daryl, you’ll know exactly which driving trip I am talking about. I’ll just say being persuaded to drive back one large van to the school in the DARK was not a hugely enjoyable activity for me! I did get there goodness knows how! Still on the whole, being able to drive in England in a definite plus of being back home. I really love driving.. Except have you seen the price of petrol in England at the minute?!

2) Being close to my family and friends.

Indonesia is a long way from from the UK! Skype is great but time difference is not. Being back has been lovely and I know how relieved my parents are that I am home safe and they can see me more often.It’s lovely to spend time with family and I’ve been lucky enough to see all my cousins and Aunt and Uncle who live far south from here since I’ve been back. I’ve also spent lots of time with my sister has been lovely. My grandma has  been ill recently and I’ve been thankful to be home and be able to visit her in hospital and spend time with her enjoying her company. I am very grateful that my sister came out to visit me in Indonesia. No matter how much I could tell people from home what my life in Indonesia was like, I really felt that unless you could be there and see it, it couldn’t really be understood. I wanted my family to see Indonesia and see my life there. I loved being able to show Carla around BSD, the Gili Islands and Singapore. I’m really glad she had the opportunity to come out and see me there. I felt so lucky. I wish my parents had been able to come but they will next time I’m teaching overseas!

3) Food – Cheese – Wine

The choice of food in England is incredible. Supermarkets, Deli’s, all kinds of shops so it was super, super exciting to walk into ASDA, one of my fave supermarkets to find whole blocks of cheese for 1 pound! That’s the equivalent of about 14,000 RPH! I LOVE cheese. Good cheese is sadly missing in lots of Indonesian supermarkets. Nice shops like Kemchicks or Hero’s would have some but it was super expensive. So just imagine my glee and how much cheese I gorged on my return! Wine is so cheap here. What a novelty! Wine was so expensive in Indonesia. And not of that great quality.

4) Rocking out at my kickboxing club, BSBB.

I love my kickboxing team. Rick, the Boss who runs is is a really wonderful example of somebody who has turned their love and passion for martial arts into a successful family friendly martial arts club. BSBB is a wonderful example of a great martial arts club. When I did Karate when I was younger, I really enjoyed the discipline. I got to 1st Kyu but stopped because I found the club to be a pretty demoralising place which didn’t make me feel any good at it. One of the instructors there I remember was pretty mean to us, even as young students. So finding a great martial arts club, as an adult has been a blessing and joy. Being awarded my black belt, almost 3 years ago now, was just so special to me. I finally had that black belt I had wanted for so long! Being back at BSBB now I’m home is really lovely. I’m getting fitter and having fun. I’ve also started as a STORM team member at BSBB so I’m lucky in being able to help instruct/ teach the kids and mini dragon classes. The mini dragons are students who are 4-7, which is the age of the kids I usually teach, and its so fun to see them enjoying sport and martial arts outside of my usual interactions with students in class. I found out the hard way running an extra curricular club last year that enjoying being an active participant of Martial Arts is VERY different to teaching it. Tons of respect to Rick and the rest of the great teaching team who do a fantastic job every day at BSBB.

I also had the opportunity to take part in a Fight Night at Andy C’s tournament just the other weekend. Andy’s events are always great fun and our club really enjoy taking part in them. I have been active in entering the tournaments and competitions there for a long time, but since heading overseas on my 2 year adventure in Asia, I haven’t fought in a competition environment for almost 3 years. So being asked to step in for an injured fighter was pretty nerve wracking, on 6 days notice. And I still didn’t feel that fit! I can’t describe my sheer terror in having somebody opposite me, fighting me, who I know is going to try their best to hit me. All I can do in that blind panic is move as fast as I can, dodge or block their attacks and hope to score first. Or more often than she does. I’m fairly well advantaged in the scoring system in that I have long legs and fast head kicks which score 3 points compared to 1 point for any hand technique. A kick to the torso is worth 2 points. So if you are good with your legs you can really score well in points fighting. However, there are lots of people out there in martial arts who are extremely good with their legs too. Nat Loy, my opponent in the fight night is very good with her legs. I really enjoyed the fight and the experience, and I was buzzing afterwards. Sheer terror beforehand though! That moment where you realise you just have to walk out there and get in the ring and do it. That’s the moment I tell myself, ‘if it works me up so much to do it, I’d better try my damn best to win this’. And I  almost did! Well I made a great recovery from a poor round which ended 8-1 to my opponent, to score 15 points in the second round and even it out to a draw at 16-16. That meant 30 secs extra time. I didn’t score in that time but Nat threw, I think, 2 lovely head kicks. Never mind. Great experience. Rick always tells our team and anybody competing, that everybody gains experience from entering. And it really is true. It takes balls to get up there and walk out to fight or compete in front of other people. It’s scary. It’s wonderful when you win but you learn the most when you lose. Here’s the video of the fight.

Things I miss about Indonesia:

Hmmm, this is going to be hard. There are many!

1) My friends and work.

I feel really lucky to have made some really great friends and friends that I know I will keep in touch with and be friends with for a long time. I’m lucky that skype and email makes it easy to keep in touch with people in Indonesia or wherever they are in the world now. I miss that real face to face experience though. I miss Book Club. I miss evenings spent with friends and wine, I miss easy and friendly company from my wonderful and varied friendships in Indonesia. I would love to come out and visit you guys at some point this year. Don’t know if I will be able to though yet!

I also miss my job a lot. I really loved working at SWA. It was a fantastic learning curve for me. I learnt so much. I grew so much as a teacher and as a colleague. SWA is such a beautiful school and working in the Early Years was a really enjoyable experience for me. I miss my students a lot too! I miss having a class of my own and enjoying the work day in/ day out. Working in the UK as a supply teacher is a very different experience. To all my friends still there and those who’ve moved on, I send you my love.

2) The weather.

Wow, coming home has proven to me just how much I dislike the cold. I have one Canadian friend who spent years evading a bracing, icy winter by travelling to hotter climes. He described himself as ‘allergic to winter’. I’m starting to feel that same allergy. Wrapping myself up in bulky coats, scarves, gloves. URGGGH. I feel claustrophobic in all that gear. And you know what, it’s still not enough! I’m still cold. My feet are still wet and my socks squelch. The UK has had severe weather warnings and floods recently and Newcastle and the North did bear some of the brunt of it. The other day, I looked at the gray sky outside, the water furiously lashing against the glass and the whistling wind which whipped the trees and decided I simply wasn’t going out in it that day. So I didn’t!

Weather in Indonesia was hot and sticky. But preferable to this cold. I loved the beautiful sunshine and blue skies. I loved waking up to a bright day (rather than it starting to get light at 8am here … urgh and the end of summer time will soon be upon us). I liked that even if I was hot, I could cool off in decent AC. I liked being able to wear nice light clothing, dresses and skirts every day of the year. And NO tights. Surely tights are the most irritating item to wear ever?! I spend the whole day pulling them up and feeling them pinch my toes. NOT pleasant.

3) The Chaos.

I love organisation. I really do. I like to clean. However I’m not so good in theory. I try but probably fail often. But in Indonesia, there was no pretence whatsoever in the city being organised. The traffic was horrendous. Roads were disgusting. Everything took an insanely long time to get done or do. BUT, the craziness and liberation of living in that society was exciting and fresh. Taking ojeks was a regular highlight for me. I loved feeling the wind whip my hair and my face being blasted with cool air as we zipped around on the motorbike taxi. Dangerous? Yep! Exciting? Absolutely!

4) The Travel and the Holidays.

Yep, it had to be in there. No matter what people say about teachers being in it for the holidays, I don’t agree. I don’t teach for the holidays. I love teaching. Holidays are a highlight though. But in Indonesia, it was so easy to travel for the weekend or the half term and it was affordable enough to do so with regularity. I went to Medan, to the jungle to see orangutans in the wild … twice. I climbed Anak Krakatau, a live and active volcano. I dived in many beautiful places including Bunaken in Sulawesi which has to be up there on the top 10 dive sites in the world. I’ve snorkeled on beautiful beaches such as Gili Trawangan and swam with bundles of exotic fish in warm, clear and crystal blue water. I traveled to Singapore several times. Bali. Boracay. Lake Taal. Thailand. Malaysia. Burma. What a treat to be able to indulge in so many places and see so much of the local culture and beauty of the places and regions I was living in. I can’t see me indulging in any holidays soon to escape the gray gloomy skies of England unless I suddenly get a full time job with a monthly pay check! Saying that, I can’t wait to see the Autumn leaves and colours soon splashing themselves over the foliage and trees. That will be stunning. Always is.

5) The language and culture.

I loved learning the local language. I actually think I got pretty good. I had some help with Indonesian friends, especially my cello teacher, Asep. At one time near the end of my stay, I spent 40 minutes talking to the taxi driver in Indonesian in traffic! I think that’s pretty good. As soon as you stop using it regularly though, you easily forget. I really don’t want to. I try to speak in Indonesian at some point, normally to myself haha throughout the day but already I am forgetting words and I have to really think hard to remember them. Even simple ones I used daily. Sigh. It was my first ever really decent attempt to learn a foreign language! I also loved many aspects of the Indonesian culture. BATIK! Gosh, I love batik design and clothing/ fabric. Some of my favourite skirts and dresses I bought in Indonesia and are made of batik. Intricate, colourful and local. I also loved the Wayang puppetry and shows. The traditional music. The local schools and children. The day to day interactions of a friendly and welcoming, warm nation. I heart Indonesia.

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Orangutans … a special place …

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So Sinead and I decided we needed to get out of the city and feel the love of nature. We flew to Medan and then travelled by car to Bukit Lawang, which is about a 4 hour drive in good weather. I was feeling pretty sick but perked up enough by the next day. We stayed at a wonderful place right on the river side organised by a homestay called ‘Green Hill Guest House’. It was lovely. Our room looked right over the river which made a tremendous sound. We were looking directly over the river to the jungle and I mean the jungle. We could hear the cicadas even from where we were. People said if you were lucky you might see orangutans, the wildlife Bukit Lawang is most famous for, from the river but we didn’t. We did see lots on our trip though which was so special.

This was the view of the river and jungle on the day we arrived. The sound of the river gushing was tremendous. People often travel down the river with inflatable hoops, they call it tubing and you could often hear the shrieks and laughter of groups doing exactly that.

The view of the river and jungle

The view of the river and jungle …

How stunning is that? Simply serene. It was the most beautiful place to go to escape the bustle of city life. Having wandered round the local area, all located by the river I captured this scene … this is just by the side of the river, so luscious and green, so many beautiful plants. if this doesn’t want to make you go there, I don’t know what will, except the orangutans 😀

Local area

Local area – Beautiful nature

Obviously we went to see the orangutans so next on our itinerary was to head to the feeding station which … was a LONG trek up what seemed like a zillion steps … it was tough work but worth it … we had to get on this rickety boat first to get over the river …

The rickety boat across to the jungle ...

The rickety boat across to the jungle …

It seemed a bit scary but it was quite fun. It works on a rig and pulley. And the man scoops out the water with a jug lol!. Still we got there and started the climb to the feeding station. I was a bit apprehensive about the feeding station but it was literally an area which they threw bananas onto a piece of wood. When I thought about it, the locals are doing a great service to nature. There is a great nature programme there and everybody who visits has to pay a nominal fee to help in this upkeep. If the orangutans didn’t go to the feeding station, they could be anywhere in the diminishing forest. The jungle here is protected but as we left Bukit Lawang, we saw miles and miles of Palm Oil plantations which were uncannily silent, devoid of any nature. At least in Bukit Lawang, they conserve the area, they observe and provide help to injured animals. They care. To be fair, as a westerner coming from a country which is relatively wealthy, I had to accept that in areas like this, locals must make the most of the resources they have and here it is tourism … who doesn’t want to see orangutans in the wild. I saw some in Taman Safari and it was sad. So after the long climb to the feeding station, we were lucky enough to see 3 orangutans including a mama and baby and a big male as well as many peter long tailed monkeys. We were so close it was unreal. Here are some shots of the big daddy orangutan and a mama and baby … I felt so lucky to be right there, right then.

Swinging through the trees

Swinging through the trees

Mama and baby ... :D

Mama and baby … 😀

Leisurely pace ...

Leisurely pace …

Enjoying a banana ...

Enjoying a banana …

The feeding station was amazing, I couldn’t believe how close I was to these ‘people of the forest’, seriously at times I could have stretched out my hand and touched the big male. Whenever he moved towards us, we all stumbled back though! These are powerful animals. Orangutan quite literally means ‘People of the forest’.  ‘Orang’ in Indonesian means People and ‘Hutan’ means forest. After the feeding station, we started our trek which was, to say the least dangerous and tricky in parts. It was also blooming hard work. However, we had two great guides who kindly carried our bags and let us take our photos and the sounds and beauty of nature were simply breathtaking.

Now I’m going to post a few of the many simply gorgeous nature photographs I was lucky enough to take. it was amazing to be in the heart of such jungle and hear the loud sounds of the macaques, cicadas and everything else. I’ll remember this trip for a long time. I was lucky enough to have gone with Sinead, a great friend who appreciated it even more so than I did, if that’s possible. She is a true friend and a great companion. And she truly appreciates nature. I’m so glad she suggested this trip and I recommend it to anybody.

Look at these leaves….

Beautiful leaves

Beautiful leaves

Mushrooms on Wood

Mushrooms on Wood

I would add more photos but my internet is ludicrously slow and I cannot stand to watch the file uploader crash one more time whilst I add photos. So I will include the video I made on Imovie which includes photos of the earthy soil and the mossy trees. I think after this trip, those are my two favourite colours, mossy green and woody brown. In the jungle, these colours are simply breathtaking. I would go back just to see those colours. We continued to traverse the jungle for hours with the careful help of our guides seeing monkeys, cicadas, termites, enormous ants, trees, flowers and gorgeous leaves, lying trampled under our feet, ready to disintegrate and decompose back into the earth. The colours, the smells, the sounds.

The last night of our trip it poured, Hujan besar!  Jungle rain. I guess that’s why they call it the RainForest. We sought shelter at the guesthouse and enjoyed banana/ pineapple fritters and pancakes which were deliciously naughty. We read books, we chatted to locals and visitors alike. We enjoyed each others company. We slept late the next day and sat on our balcony treasuring our last views of the jungle on our visit.

I would recommend this trip to anybody. Especially if you live in the hustle and bustle of the city where it is easy to forget just how quick you can be out of it and somewhere as beautiful as this. Thank you Sinead for organising it and asking me to come. It was a trip to remember for sure.

The Serenity of Krakatoa

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I did it! Moment of pure exhilaration …

This photo, I think for me, epitomizes the exhilaration I felt at the top of Anak Krakatoa. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but being there, in the silent calm actually brought tears to my eyes. I was there, alone, staring at the beauty of Mother Nature, marvelling at her enormous power, and feeling quite simply on top of the world. It was a moment for me where I realised that all that has happened in my life is irrelevant now, that I made it, to here, to now and just feeling how wonderful that feeling is. It was so still up there, as soon as we stepped foot on the island, I felt the awe inside me staring at this volcano, the product of such devastation caused by a tremendous explosion in 1883. Anak Krakatoa means ‘Child of Krakatoa’ which is what was created from the collapse of Krakatoa 44 years after the enormous explosion in 1883.

How the islands changed after the enormous eruption in 1883

Wiki describes the event as follows;

”The best known eruption of Krakatoa culminated in a series of massive explosions on August 26–27, 1883, which was among the most violent volcanic events in modern and recorded history. With a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6,  the eruption was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT (840 PJ) – about 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the Little boy bomb (13 to 16 kt) that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and four times the yield of the Tsar Bomb (50 Mt), the largest ever detonated.nuclear device. The 1883 eruption ejected approximately 21 km3 (5.0 cu mi) of rock, ash, and pumice. The cataclysmic explosion was faintly heard as far away as Perth in Western Australia, about 1,930 miles (3,110 km) away, and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, about 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away. Near Krakatoa, according to official records, 165 villages and towns were destroyed and 132 seriously damaged, at least 21,007 (official toll) people died, and many thousands were injured by the eruption, mostly from the tsunamis that followed the explosion. The eruption destroyed two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa. Eruptions at the volcano since 1927 have built a new island in the same location, named Anak Krakatau (which is Indonesian for “Child of Krakatoa“). This island currently has a radius of roughly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) and a high point around 324 metres (1,063 ft) above sea level,  growing 5 metres (16 ft) each year.‘ 

See this website for more information about Krakatoa and its infamous eruption in 1883.

First glimpse of Krakatoa from the boat
First glimpse of Krakatoa from the boat

Saturday morning, at a very early hour, we headed to Carita with some good friends, Sinead, Kim and Chuck. Sinead had scared me half to death with tales of her last stay there where she said there were literally about 20 cockroaches in her room, scuttling all over the place. I was determined we would find somewhere much nicer where I wouldn’t spend the night in terror! After arriving in Carita, we drove in search of a hotel and the first one we stopped at was so eerie, it reminded us of ‘The Shining’. It freaked us out and I was starting to think maybe the cockroaches were inevitable …  We kept looking. Linz was about to turn around after travelling the long coastal road when Kim spotted a place just a little further and thank goodness she did, it was wonderful! A real gem. Gorgeous little chalets, 2  lovely swimming pools and nice, helpful staff. We got a 3 bedroom room for one million between all of us! Total bargain! We had already decided since it was 11am we would head to Krakatoa the next day so we chilled out at the pool, napped (it had been an early start and a long day of driving) and played poker in the evening which was tremendous fun. Without poker chips, we had nothing to bet with so we collected rocks from the path and each of us had 20 rocks as ‘betting chips!’. The Indonesian people in the chalets nearby must have thought we were mad, collecting the rocks from outside! Still it worked and it was so fun. I haven’t played poker in a long time and I really love the game.

The next morning we set off to the boat excited for the day ahead. I had forgotten with it being rainy season that the boat ride might be choppy. Heck, it turned out to be an enduring ride… At first it was okay, but as the time went on, I got whiter and whiter in the face and all I could think about was getting onto dry land. Chuck also felt the same which comforted me, I wasn’t being a total wimp. Sinead loved the boat ride telling us she loved the sea. As you can see from this picture, she was feeling slightly brighter than me!

Sinead looking gorgeous … X

A prize of 5 rocks was decided for the person who saw Krakatoa first. Linz won that one. Pointing out the smoke plumes, we stared at the distant scene. As we got closer, we could see the magnitude of the islands. Vegetation was growing all over one of them, a testament to the wonder of Mother Nature after such a natural disaster which must have destroyed everything that was there with hot, fiery power. We were getting closer and closer to Anak Krakatoa and the water was azure blue. We finally arrived at the beach and we all got off. The sand was black and velvety smooth. Pumice lay all over the sand. There was a calm serenity to the place which we all felt. The only sounds as we walked through the jungle to the trodden path up the volcano was that of nature. It’s something I never hear in my urban life. Calm, quiet peace, buzzing insects, the wind blowing through the green luscious trees.

Disembarking from the boat
First steps on Anak Krakatoa

We explored the landscape of sandy, layered formations with huge rocks which must have been thrown from the caldera. It was so interesting to see how the very land we were standing on had been created.

The rivulets cut into the sand by water on the island

Then we started the long, steep climb up the bottom half of the steaming volcano. Boy was it dusty! Flip flops are probably not the best shoes to wear to climb this, be warned. To be fair, we weren’t actually going to go on the island due to the 3 KM exclusion zone set by Indonesian Law due to the Volcano’s recent volatility. However, we risked it after deciding it was a chance of a lifetime. I’m so glad we did. The climb up seemed to go on forever, and eventually some of the group decided to head back down. Kim was striding ahead to the top and I was following, wondering what I would see at the top.

Sinead on the climb up .. striking a pose!
Climbing up the dusty path ..

I finally reached the top, as far as we could go and it was spectacular … The view of the surrounding islands beneath us was breathtaking, the sulphur lay in crystallised patches over the dry foreboding land. There were rocks lying shattered following their crash landing after being spat out from the burning caldera.

Bomb blasts .. shattered rocks … the power of nature …

Having made it to the top, Kim and I took the chance to reflect. I waited for Kim to start her trek back down so I could just sit by myself (and a guide who I wished would do the same instead of pacing loudly over the crunchy gravel whilst he waited) to appreciate the silence and the moment. It was beautiful. The guide finally sat down and I was able to sit in wonder. How wonderful it was. I felt so lucky to be there, right then in that moment. To feel alive in such a breath taking place.

Quiet reflection …

Foreboding and ominous ...

Kim and I celebrating reaching the top 😀

Finally I set back down the mountain which was considerable quicker than going up. We found Sinead, Chuck and Linz at the bottom and off we set for the next adventure, snorkelling in the azure blue waters surrounding the islands.

Kim and I heading to the snorkelling spot ..
Smiles all round!

The snorkelling was lovely! We had saved some of the very dry and tasteless bread from breakfast to feed the fish and it’s safe to say they liked it a lot more than we did. There were so many fish swimming around us, diving forward to snatch a bite before retreating to savour it in safety. The reef was healthy and beautiful. Kim spotted a cuttlefish, one of my favourite things to see and we all watched as it hovered below us. We saw trumpet fish and one very sad looking black spotted pufferfish with its morose black eyes. We also spotted some weird jelly blobs which we worked out must be jellyfish. Guess who ended up stung on the lip by one?

Angelina Jolie Impersonation!

 With lunch finished (which was surprisingly tasty) we headed home on a slightly calmer sea which both Chuck and I felt thankful for. We waved goodbye to Krakatoa grateful for such a wonderful and thankfully safe day on an active volcano!

All aboard!

One final swim in the hotel swimming pool and it was time to head home. Huge Kudos to Linz for navigating the way home, especially over roads which were potholed to the extreme. There could be a whole TV show, perhaps called ‘EXTREME POTHOLES” filmed on these kinds of roads in Indonesia. At times, it appeared that the road had simply disintegrated! Passing trucks belching with black fumes, we were happy to finally hit a real road on the Tollway from Merak to Jakarta.

Potholes the size of ….
Eco friendly trucks …

What an amazing trip. I am so glad we went and it was a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Amazing friends, good company, beautiful sights and adventures. If you have the chance to go, do! I’ve been inspired to explore more in Indonesia. No more sitting around on the weekends …

Krakatoa …

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So beautiful, looking forward to exploring this ...

I’m off to Krakatoa in the morning with some great friends and I’m excited. I’ll post on Sunday when we are back, hopefully with some  interesting tales and exciting photos … We hear the snorkelling is amazing so looking forward to getting into the sea and swimming with the diverse aquatic life of Indonesia. I haven’t done a lot of travelling in Indonesia (although I’ve travelled to Gili Trawangan many times now!) and I’ve disappointed myself a little in my lack of exploring the beautiful country I reside in. I put it down to being so busy at work but I can also say that the traffic is a huge factor. Getting anywhere here is so arduous that it definitely puts a dampner on plans to explore. However, I know many people who have travelled so I can’t blame it solely on that. Anyway, I hope it will be a wonderful weekend. We won’t climb the volcano. There is currently a 3 mile exclusion zone, in place since Nov 1 after Krakatoa’s volcanic activity escalated after Mount Merapi erupted, with thick plumes of smoke containing toxic material emitted from the volcano. Let’s hope we make it there and back safely.

Here are a few photos from the web I found this evening in preparation for tomorrow. Enjoy .. Have a lovely weekend people. We are lucky enough to have 5 days off for Chinese New Year so Happy Year of the Dragon everybody!

Plumes of smoke ... maybe we'll see this tomorrow ...

Hopefully we won't see this tomorrow .. !

Gili Trawangan

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After two weeks in cold, miserable England in the depths of Winter, I booked myself some well needed sun therapy in the Gili Islands, one of my favourite places to go here in Indonesia. Off the coast of Lombok are three gorgeous little islands, Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan.

I really enjoyed chilling out here in the glorious sun for the final week before the mayhem of school started again! I especially liked learning how to Paddleboard, doing a little diving (in strong currents … everything was whizzing by), snorkelling (and seeing an enormous school of Trevally feeding!) as well as swimming a lot, eating good food and reading a few excellent books. All in all an excellent holiday although now we’ve begun school again, I keep thinking, ‘Was I really only on holiday this time last week?”

Here are some photos of the island that I took on holiday … enjoy 😀



My new camera has arrived … Excitement!

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Wow, I only ordered this camera yesterday and it’s already arrived! Thank you Amazon! Amazing service. I love this camera already. I’m no expert but the photos I’ve taken already are so sharp. I’ve spent lots of time fiddling about with it, checking out functions in order to try to work out all the settings, googling stuff. I’m definitely excited about learning more about photography and I hope this camera helps me do that. I’d gotten so fed up of my old camera that I’d had for about 3 years, I had actually stopped taking pictures. Now I’m going to catch up on 12 months of Indonesia, totally unphotographed.

Here’s a photo of the amazing piece of machinery I just bought! It looks so sleek!

My new camera!

Gili Trawangan, where I’m heading for my holidays! I’ll update with photos from my exciting new camera when I get back 😀

Gili Trawangan … Images from Web

The white sandy beach of Gili Trawangan, Images from Web.

Actually I think I’ve seen something about a photography walk in Jakarta. Maybe I’ll scout something out when I’m back. I can’t wait to get out and about more in Indonesia. I’ve got a weeks holiday in Gili Trawangan/ Lombok booked for my return to Indonesia. Definitely needed to get to a beach before school starts again. Gili Trawangan, close to Lombok is serene. I really love it. I’ve been there a few times now and it’s definitely one of my favourite places that I’ve been to in Indonesia. I can’t describe how relaxed I feel there except to say that one occasion whilst I was there, I suddenly realised how slowly I was walking and how relaxed I felt both in mind and body. I live such a busy hectic lifestyle in Jakarta that relaxing in the sun on holiday is just heavenly and allows my body time to breathe and rest. Go Vitamin D! I think when we go this time, I’ll do a little diving 🙂 lots of swimming, eat at nice beach bars for breakfast and have big bowls of fresh tropical fruit and head to the nice Italian restaurant for dinner. I’ll play lots of fun card games and watch the sunset sink beneath the bright lights of the illuminated boats from the wooden pier 🙂

Jakarta Traffic

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Imagine Jakarta now, in your mind. It’s definitely crazier and more frustrating at times than you’d imagine. It’s also become to me, a fascinating place where I can amuse myself over the idiosyncrasies of Indonesia. It’s become a sprawling hot mess I am starting to learn more about, albeit it from the passengers side of a car. Would I trust myself to drive here? No. Never. Well unlikely. Only by force or emergency. Traffic here is crushed to say the least. From where we live, in a suburb of West Jakarta it’s an almost statutory hour to town if not more. Once when we drove the Taman Safari, we literally didn’t move for over 40 minutes in a queue. Turned out they closed each side of the road alternately to allow the huge backlog move from one side. However for 40 minutes or more, one side is at total gridlock. Not the ideal situation.

Jakarta traffic - Image from web.

Jakarta traffic. Image from Jakarta Post

To drive here is to accept danger, know many people do not care for the road rules as I do and that  red lights just starting are signs to continue right through them for another minute. People here, generally seem to have no fear of danger when it comes to the roads. Huge heavy trucks are everywhere blocking the roads and gradually destroy and create huge chunky potholes. Police intervention has been to pull trucks off the road for an hour when they see them. You also have to learn to deal with the busy bee swarms of motorbikes and scooters full of entire families, babies carried in their mothers arms. Scooters ridden late at night along a long empty road by youth full of courage and bravado, screaming their scooters in dangerous stunts. Scooters which will at every point in your journey irritate you when they weave effortlessly through the traffic whilst you are yet again stuck behind heavy traffic. The only consolation I have had to this irritation is that now it is Monsoon season, I can smugly sit in the car, dry and cool watching giant puddles splash furious motorbikes. The motorbikes are ubiquitous and noisy.

I parked a car here once, once we were in the parking lot. I could deal with that. No crazy roads. It was a much bigger car than my Ford Ka though and I did find it a little harder to handle. Everybody here seems to have an enormous car! Would you believe it, there are even cars with automatic slide open doors. Wow thats pretty flashy. Ha and even more hilarious is that in every parking lot there are signs for ‘ladies parking’! I was wondering the other day what would happen in the UK or the US if a company introduced a ladies only parking spot with larger spaces and closer to the door. I imagine the cause of feminism would react furiously to the suggestion they could not park as well. There would be indignation. Here, it’s convenient and a total non plus!

That reminds me of a time in the Philippines when I was persuaded to drive Darryl’s car back to the house. I met Kerry and Darryl in the Philippines with their two gorgeous kids, Chloe and Keaton. What a wonderful family and I know after all the experiences we have shared including our daring escape from the Philippines, we will remain wonderful friends for a long, long time. It makes me giggle now thinking about the time I drove this car. So basically, it was a rented car that Darryl had hired for the day from a guy at school. We went swimming at this hotel in town (wait for it, Angeles City) and basically Darryl asked me to drive the car back. I was very reluctant. I did not want to drive on the roads of Angeles! However, finally I was persuaded and in the dark of night I drove the car back luckily without accident but with pure trepidation and fear of driving on the crazy roads! I did feel a little daring but will not be repeating this experience again unless as previously said, in emergency!

A true journey every day moving around in Jakarta.