Tag Archives: Indonesia

A special visit …

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My sister came to visit me! For the first time since I have gone overseas to teach, someone from my family came to visit and I can’t describe how exciting it was. It is just so different speaking to them on skype and showing them pictures or videos to actually being able to show them around in person. Carla, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming all the way out here, on a tremendously long journey just to come see me and I am so glad you enjoyed yourself.

Carla arrived on the Sunday before we finished school so I felt so grateful she was able to come in and see my beautiful school and meet my class and see me working in my job. I think she might have had this rosy tinted view of me coming here and hearing of all my holidays around Asia to what sounds like amazingly exotic places, that my work was perhaps a pretty light load. I think she got a real reality check into how busy my day is and how much there is to do as a Kindergarten teacher. She said it was hard for her to keep up her enthusiasm and energy as well as a smile all day! I love my job but it is seriously hard work. I wouldn’t change it for the world but I work really hard and I am glad Carla saw me in my work environment doing what I love to do!

Then once school had finished, we travelled to the Gili Islands. Carla is a little (understatement of the year) of spiders/ ants/ cockroaches and actually anything that moved. She did try to deal with her phobias well but I guess she had to since Indonesia is TEAMING with insects. We arrived in a monsoon rain and got soaked looking for some accommodation.

I guess the first place wasn’t such a good choice because Carla found seemingly a zoo of creatures. We moved the next day and Carla like the new accommodation much better.

The Gili Islands are so beautiful and relaxing and it was a great few days there. Carla even tried a try dive and I was so happy she did because I love diving and wanted her to experience it. She was so excited to see turtles which are so numerous in the waters surrounding the Gili Islands, you can and we both actually did see them snorkelling not that far from the shore.

We enjoyed good food, some great books and some serious chill time .. I heart the Gili Islands!

Carla tried to pretend she wasn’t burnt … but once I took this photo, even she had to admit it. LOL. That’s what happens when you paste yourself with coconut oil in the Gilis. I told her this is serious sun, but did she listen? No!

Still at least she is smiling 😀 We ate lots of wonderful food, and we had a lovely meal on one of our last evenings. I had this goats cheese salad which was so YUMMY!!!

After the Gili Islands, it was off to Singapore which Carla liked very much because there were no insects! LOL. We had a great time and were fortunate enough to be able to meet up with my good friend Kerry and take the (very expensive for what its worth) Jewel Cable Car ride. Pretty enough I guess. We also wandered around Sentosa and had lunch at the beach with them. Carla was braver than I and held a snake for a photo opportunity and claimed ‘Snakes don’t bother me at all, just ants, spiders, cockroaches etc’. Hmmm, I’ll call on you next time I see a snake in my house! Carla to the rescue! We stayed near Clarke Quay when we were in Singapore and our hotel was lovely.

Considering this post has been in my saved drafts for about a month, I’ll just add photos here because otherwise it might never get published … Oops. Carla, thank you so much for coming to see me and I hope you had a lovely time! Much love x

Enjoying a very expensive and TINY cocktail!

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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.

Hello world!

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Hello World! It’s definitely time for me to begin a blog about my experiences as I live and teach overseas! Several years almost out of date but I’m sure I can play catch up now. I’m actually just beginning my journey into teaching overseas since graduating from my teaching degree in July 2010. I currently work at a beautiful International School in BSD City, Jakarta, Indonesia.

I teach K1, students aged 4 turning 5 … which I just love. What a simply wonderful age to teach! Curious, intrigued and highly motivated students. My biggest goal as a teacher is that my students enjoy school and I love to see just how excited they are at school and how engaged they are in their learning! I see such confident and successful students and I really feel confident in saying that they do love school! So I feel extremely fortunate to be blessed with such a wonderful class and my amazing, colourful life out here in the hectic life of Jakarta. Even though we are only 5 months into the year, I see such amazing progress in all of my students and I’m so happy for them! Some have progressed hugely in their spoken English language skills having come into the class in August only speaking Chinese and now they are putting together some great sentences and are confident doing so! Some have made such progress in their confidence I almost don’t remember them anymore as the shy boy who rarely spoke at the beginning of the year! Some simply shone during letters and sounds work, ready for the next bit as they discovered their new and exciting ability to read! Wow, what an awesome inspiring event to be involved in!

One of my gorgeous boys always says to me ‘Miss Kielly, I can do it!’. I love to hear him say that! Yes you can! There’s no such word as can’t. My kickboxing instructor at home, a really great guy always said that and I love that ideology. Positivity. Don’t give up. What an inspiring attitude.

I just came home from Indonesia at Christmas and I simply love being here, sharing this family time at Christmas with my loving family and friends (an experience which never makes up for the time I spend away from them … and I wish could). But I also can’t deny that the gray skies and bitter, icy winds aren’t a little miserable. I’ve moved into slow mo at home recently and not done an awful lot since I got back and I’m certain the fact it’s so dark outside both morning and evening depresses my overall mood quite a bit. Yesterday I woke up at 6am and waited almost 3 hours for the skies to lighten so I was sure it was morning and my watch hadn’t just stopped. It was a long time to wait. Finally the gray sky lightened and another gray day began. Then there’s the icy cold. My feet have never warmed up since getting off the flight in Newcastle one chilled morning. When I stepped off the plane, I actually gasped with cold and shock. It’s almost indulgent to say it but I simply love being in a hot sunny climate.There’s something to be said for sunny, hot days every day! I can’t deny that looking up at the sky everyday whilst I live in Asia gives me a thrill that I am here, in life, right now enjoying such wonderful, colourful skies with their heavy drenching monsoon rains which soak in seconds and turn roads into muddy and puddled messes. A sunny life indeed.

I love my job and I love Indonesia. What a fabulous country, full of culture and wonderful, welcoming people and communities. I feel a strong connection, almost an affinity with Indonesia and Indonesian culture shaped by the experiences I have had in my time here, both professional and personal and the journey over the last few years which took me here. One tradition I love the most is the Wayang shadow puppetry. I simply love the Wayang shadow puppets and have spent numerous hours (!) scouting out wonderful traditional Indonesian household things or gifts at Pasar Raya in Blok M. I am also fortunate enough to have kind friends who give wonderful gifts of Wayang to decorate my sparsely furnished house! Minimalistic chic at its best.

Wayang Shadow Puppets - Image from Web

Balinese Wayang – Image from Web

I really hope this site will allow me to share my life overseas with family and friends back home. Despite photos and emails, without visiting, it’s hard to imagine what it’s really like. Until my family come, which I’m really hoping they do (!) then I’ll try to share more of my current life with them via this blog. I really hope I make this blogging a regular thing. There’s a huge IT initiative in my school which means everybody will be producing class / subject blog pages in order for our school to fufill its ambition of creating a ‘digital community’. I’m really happy about making my own blog for K1, it’ll be so exciting to share what’s going on in our classroom. I hope I’ll learn enough with this blog to hit the ground running when I start my blog for class. Different departments have different dates to start their blogs, a phased introduction. At first I was a little annoyed that I couldn’t do my blog earlier but actually perhaps it’s been a blessing. Last term was a very long and tiring term.  Already just a few days into the Christmas Holidays, I feel relaxed and revived, if a little cold back home in Newcastle, UK. Now I feel excited and motivated to do this whole ‘blogging’ thing as well as my other goals for 2012! Feeling excited about the adventures ahead 😀