- We are now in Yogyakarta because AVI have sent mum to language school for one month. Because dad and I are approved partners we get to go as well. Mum has her own tutor but dad and I share one. The population of Yogya is around 400,000 people and it is the cultural and university centre of Indonesia. There are so many university’s here it’s quite amazing. We are staying in a big mansion close to the Wisma Bahasa language school. It’s a home stay with an extended Indonesian family and they have about 10 rooms for guests. Some of the other AVI volunteers are staying here too & there have been other interesting guests such as a man from the UK who is doing his PhD on orang-utans. He lives in an observation hut in the Sumatran jungle so he can study them. I’m hoping we can go to Borneo to see the orang-utans while we are in Bali. I really love our home stay. The house is very big and has a lot of space. There’s no garden, which is common here, but the 5 year old grandson of the owners is able to ride his scooter through the house. Dinner is amazing, it is the best food I have ever eaten in my life. It is cooked by the old cook who is a servant in the house. Every night we have soup, a meat dish, 3 vegetable dishes, rice and fresh fruit. I don’t know how the cook creates such great flavours but mum said she is sending me to cooking classes in Bali so I can learn. That’s great with me because I love cooking. I thought the bathrooms were fine but mum who loves her hot showers only gets cold ones. Well they are sometimes hot but usually cold. And you can’t use toilet paper in the toilet. So this has been a very challenging experience for us learning how to use the bathroom hose. And there have been many disasters. Mum came out dripping wet once, it was pretty funny for dad and I. Language school has been a bit hard for all of us. We only go for 4 hours a day but you are learning the whole time and because we have our own teacher you can’t daydream like I often do in school. But still, I am learning very quickly. After just two weeks I can understand a simple story. Yogyakarta is really really cheap to live in. A 30 minute taxi fare is less than $3. All the beauty treatments that I love, manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, are also around $3. And the street food is so cheap. Less than $1 for a heaped plate of amazing tasting food. I never thought I would be brave enough to try street food but all the students at the language school know the great places to eat, so every day for lunch, that is what I have. Clothes are under $10 and I had some pants tailor made and it only cost $7. They are such a great fit.There have been 2 really bad things that have happened since we have been here. There aren’t many dogs in Indonesia (Bali is different) because to Muslims they are dirty. So if a family does have a pet dog it is probably kept in a cage like Buddha, the St Bernard in the photo. He lives in a cage on the hot street with no shade and his water bowl is empty every time we walk past. I would really like to do something to help Buddha but it is hard when you are guest in a country and these things are accepted. So as an Aussie teen living in Indonesia this is my first big challenge. The other thing is my grand dad. Mum was worried about only 1 thing when we left Australia and that was if anything happened to her parents we were so far away. Now we have found out my grand dad has cancer and we are not there. Mum said grand dad has to make some decisions about having treatment so we are all really worried about him. He is the only grand dad I have because mum and dad are older parents and daddy’s parents died before I was born.Next week I will write about other things I love in Yogya, places to see and if there is anything I can do to help Buddha.
Homestay Buddha Street food
I have just spent the 1st 5 days of my new life in Indonesia, in Jakarta. Mum and all the other volunteers who will be working in Indonesia have spent the week at the Australian Volunteer International office in Kemang, about 1 hours drive from the centre of Jakarta. There has been lots of sessions for the volunteers on what to expect in their new locations and roles and about how to stay safe and healthy. Dad and I have gone in with mum to most of the sessions and I really liked going to the Australian Embassy where we also had some sessions. I left my book How To Make Fairy Houses for the Ambassador. I also turned 14 this week and the AVI staff threw a little party for me.
The moment I stepped off the plane I knew I was no longer in Australia. My first thoughts were OMG its so hot. How I am going to survive 2 years in this heat. But I did get used to it and in the morning and evening it is comfortable to walk around the streets, just not during the day.
The population of Jakarta is about 230,000,000 people. That’s 10 people for every 1 Australian. It’s the second largest city in the world after Tokyo.
The traffic in Jakarta is very busy. There are lanes but no one uses them. You don't have to wear seat belts or crash helmets either. And you will often see a family of 4 on one motor bike & bikes piled sky high with plants or pots of other items that are for sale - they run their businesses from their bikes. With so much traffic it takes a long time to get anywhere and this is frustrating for the people who live here. You also have to be careful when you walk around on the street because even though you are on the footpath, bikes will often come up onto the path to get around a traffic block. And you wouldn't want to trip over in the street because you will probably be run over by 20 bikes and 5 cars in 5 seconds.
Mum & I loved our time in Jakarta. Things are so much cheaper here. I am still getting used to the money. On my birthday I spent over 1 million dollars! Well…..not dollars, rupiahs. This is $100 Australian. 11,000 rupiahs is $1 so I have to do lots of maths to work out the real cost of everything. Petrol costs 50 cents a litre, bottle water 20 cents, a cup of coffee around $1, an Aussie restaurant meal around $30 for 3, local food is much much cheaper. But don't buy wine like dad did. Mum was not happy. Dad bought a bottle of cheap Australian wine and it cost $50. For my birthday mum took me to a beauty spa. It cost just $30 for me to have a massage for 1 hour and for mum to have a 75 minute hair spa. The shopping centres are very big and beautiful like Dubai’s and you have to go through security to get into them. And they are deserted. I think people must go on the weekend, not during the day or night (they stay open til 10pm). Because we didn’t really see much I have to say my favourite thing was the cheap massages and beauty treatments. Mum really loved the narrow Jakarta streets, quaint houses and all the trees in the city.
Since we arrived we have been mainly eating Indonesian food; rice, soups, curries, grilled spicy chicken, vegetables in lots of liquids. And it’s really the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner, even snacks; dried & fried corn kernels, tempeh chips that are crispy biscuits made from soy beans & banana wrapped in rice flour noodle. The only time we have really eaten food we are used to is a little bit at breakfast and if AVI don’t have a dinner function for us and we go out for dinner at night. Then we go to a restaurant that has food we are more used to.
The food is all very spicy so it will take us a while to get used to. We also have to drink bottled water but that’s OK since it is much cheaper than Australia.
I am typing this blog sitting on a train going to Yogyakarta. It is an 8 hour train trip which is really great because we get to see a lot of the country. We have gone past villages, rice paddies, volcanoes, up mountains, over bubbling streams and seen people go about their lives on the side of the train track. It is fascinating. The air con stopped working for 2 hours so it got a bit hot and we’re hungry. We didn’t feel like anymore Indonesian food today so mum bought a packet of Orreo’s from the buffet car, the only food they have that we are used to.
On Monday we start at the Wisma Bahasa language school where all the volunteers and their partners (which means me and dad too) will have our own language tutor for 4 hours a day. We will stay in Yogyakarta for 1 month before leaving for Bali.
So, if you would like to share the adventures of an Aussie teen living in Bali (almost there), please look out for my next post.
This week is a big week for me as were packing up our house getting ready to fly to Indonesia. I have to decide what to pack into one suitcase because thats all I get to take for two years. As I sit on my bed looking around my room I have no idea what to pack. I am also worried because if I forget anything then I will have to deal with that for two whole years. But some of the most important things I want to take are my swimmers, for Bali's beautiful beaches, hiking shoes to hike up the volcanoes through villages, rice paddies and past temples, toiletries. I've heard that some of the moisturisers in Asia have skin whiteners in them, so I won't be using that. I will be packing some memory things that remind me of my friends and family here in Australia. And lastly some clothes and shoes that are good for Bali. And of course I am going to take my laptop, phone, iPad and some snorkelling gear. I know that there are lots of little islands in Bali to snorkel at such as the Gili islands. I'll also take some of m fairy house craft books as I would love to get involved with the world famous Ubud Writers Festival next year.
What I'm exited About
Everything in Bali will be different to living here in Australia. Everything I see, smell, how the people look, the culture, it will all be different and that's exciting. There will be so much to explore, new friends to make and a new language to learn.
What I'm Worried About
I do NOT want to leave my friends. I think the worst thing about going is that we had to put my little dog Nelson down. He was 15 and living on morphine. but it was still so hard to say goodbye.