Wednesday, February 8, 2012


It’s super important to read this if you want to keep following my challenges

I’ve decided to switch blogging platforms which means in turn I have a new URL for the blog. The new URL is below

Please check out the new site. The formatting is much cleaner AND you can sign up for updates!

Courts xx

Monday, February 6, 2012

Exploring the Special Region

Last weekend I finally found myself in Jogja so it was a perfect opportunity to really explore Daerah Isitimewa Yogyakarta (Jogja Special Region). Coincidentally one of the girls from my tour in Cambodia and her boyfriend happened to be in town so it was a chance to see some of the tourist attractions that I haven’t been to in several years as well as a few new ones.

Friday night was fairly quiet thanks to a sudden torrential downpour where I forgot both my umbrella and raincoat and proceeded to get drenched. We retreated to the old faithful, Via Via Cafe for dinner and a bintang to make plans for the day ahead. Deciding that we would get an early start and head out to the temples at 7am we had an early night and I came home to play some cards and hang out at the house.

The next morning was an early start. After brownies for breakfast (delicious but not very nutritious) I got the car we had rented for the day and went to pick up Sarah and James. First stop was Borobudur a UNESCO world heritage site and the largest Buddhist temple in the world. The temple itself was built in the 8th century and features hundreds of stupas and Buddha statues.IMG_5859 Interestingly it disappeared for hundreds of years only to be rediscovered and restored by Stamford Raffles in the 1800s. This was my second visit to Borobudur and despite heading out there early it was still ridiculously hot as you are smack bang in the middle of a plain with the sun bearing down on you. Also you are constantly bombarded with requests for photos and people wanting to practice their English with you which is amusing to start with but eventually becomes rather annoying. Generally the conversation goes a bit like this;

Indonesian student- Where are you from?
Me- Umm Australia
Indonesian student- What do you think about this temple becoming a 7 Wonder of the World?
Me- I’m not sure about that really.. It’s alright
Indonesian student- Can I take a photo with you? IMG_5873

Don’t get me wrong, Borobudur is an incredible, spectacular temple but after visiting Angkor Wat it’s hard to compete with that. Plus I prefer Prambanan (which I’ll get to later).IMG_5878 So after hours of questions and photos (what do all these people do with the photos of us?) we explored the grounds and found potentially the strangest, most out of place museum I had ever seen. The Unique Art Museum was mostly just a collection of pictures of world record feats and a bunch of miniature versions of Indonesian culture items. Let’s just say I’m glad they let us in for free.

Afterwards we had lunch before deciding to head up to Merapi, the volcano which looms over Yogyakarta and erupted in 2010 killing over 350 people. Exhausted we all fell asleep in the car on our way up there and as we went further up the mountain the destruction became more evident. We eventually reached a village called Kinahrejo only 4km from the peak of Merapi.IMG_5881 From here we went up the hill a bit further on motorbikes to see the home of Mbah Maridjan the gatekeeper of Merapi. The Kraton (Sultan’s Palace) in Jogja traditionally appoints a gatekeeper for Merapi whose job it is to communicate with the volcano. He refused to leave during the eruption so not to abandon his post despite being seriously injured in the 2006 eruption and sadly was killed during the 2010 eruptions. This is a symbol of how important tradition is in Jogja. The whole city is built in a straight line from Merapi to the Kraton to Parangtritis Beach on the south coast. Being around Merapi however made me feel somewhat uneasy as the village we visited despite being completely destroyed and having several villagers killed has been turned into a tourist attraction. The completely inappropriate tshirt award goes to a t-shirt you could buy with Merapi Volcano Tour written on it to look like blood. Walking through the lava flows it was fascinating to see the destructive effects of the eruption with us all agreeing that it was like something out of another world and a grim reminder of the dangers people in this area face. Riding back down the mountain it started to rain resulting in a freezing cold trip which was a bit of a welcome relief after Borobudur.


Next it was off to Prambanan which is undoubtedly my favourite temple in Jogja. Once the screaming kids of a school group had left the complex was quiet which creates a really relaxing atmosphere. The Hindu complex built in the 9th century features temples to Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva and is a bit similar to Angkor Wat in style. It also has heaps of big shady trees and if you explore a bit there are a bunch of other temples in the complex. IMG_5894 The other temples were a bit disappointing. Following the 2006 earthquake they suffered a lot of damage and have been rebuilt in a fairly shoddy manner with new pieces of stone being placed on them which don’t really fit in with the rest of the temple. After exploring for a bit and having a funny debate with some little kids about whether I was a londo or bule (both words for white person). We headed back to Jogja exhausted after 11 hours of exploring.

The following day I’d arranged to meet up with my friend Rayi who studied at UNY in Jogjakarta and I met in Canberra last year. The plan for the day was to go down to her house in Bantul. After getting picked up around lunchtime we headed south towards the beaches and I was rather impressed by the Gamelan (traditional Indonesian instrument) in her lounge room, more impressive was the spontaneous performance by her father which was brilliant. It was a beautiful day with the sky bright blue and no rain and the landscape down near the beach a stunning green. IMG_5942 We walked around, ate some gado gado and sat around drinking tea and chatting before deciding to go down to the beach. We drove a few km before we reached a less well known beach called Goa Cemara. When seeing the sign saying No Swimming Danger I didn’t know what to expect thinking it was just the government being overcautious (a lot of people can’t swim very well) but seeing the beach I understood straight away. Heavy shore break probably 6 foot high and a lot of very visible rips as well as waves slamming sporadically into sand bars- no place for a dip in the sea. It was a little bit sad to see how polluted the beach was with rubbish everywhere tainting the black sand shorelines but was still a fun afternoon and very interesting to see. After that we headed back into town for another game of cards at home and a bit of Top Gear. IMG_5948

So that was it for my weekend. This time in 2 weeks I will be back home in Canberra so there are still some adventures to be had I’m sure while I’m over here. My hand is still numb and on a completely unrelated to anything, note I just finished reading Life of Pi which was a fantastic book, one of the best I’ve read for a while.

Courts xx

Friday, February 3, 2012

Home Cooking and Hospitals- Week 4 in Jogja

This week has been interesting to say the least. The first two days of the week were pretty straight forward. Monday we decided to go get a snack of Gorengan (fried tofu, tempe etc) before dinner and ended up driving all over town trying to find a stall that was open eventually finding one just down the road from our house. After that we went to the angkringan for dinner (you pick different meat, rice, tempe etc and they heat it for you) and ate chicken heads then provided entertainment to the other patrons by re-enacting a chicken noodles commercial off the TV with said heads. Good filling meal for only 6000 Rp (9600 Rp = $1 AUD)

Tuesday after work Nick and I decided some vegetables were in order so we drove down to Milas (I’ve written about here before- delicious vegetarian restaurant) It was closed. So we head to another tourist favourite Via Via where I ended up eating a lamb pita pocket with salad (so so so delicious) before we sampled some of the dessert menu.

So a normal start to the week. We had made plans to cook for the dinner on Thursday night and had made a shopping list when at about 5:30pm on Wednesday we thought hey maybe we could just cook tonight. A mad rush around town to buy ingredients followed and we headed to a specialist butcher/western food store which was AMAZING! Can we make meatballs out of hamburger patties? Turned out we could and I also found Tim Tams (the Australian ones not the Indonesian version) and BBQ Shapes. Then we set to cooking. IMG_5841 The menu for the night was spaghetti and meatballs followed by apple pie. Despite the lack of recipe/measuring utensils both turned out really well and we gave the pie an Indonesian flavour by decorating the top with a Garuda (the Indonesian coat of arms) Unfortunately we misjudged the timing of the cooking and ended up eating the pie after 11pm. It was delicious the next day as well!

Thursday was another interesting day. I had woken up a few days before with half of my hand numb and pain in my elbow. Assuming it was a pinched nerve I thought it will go away. It didn’t. So I spoke to the doctor at our office who recommended I see the nerve specialist at the local hospital. So off to the Neurology department we went to see a lovely doctor who spoke wonderful English who checked out my arm and told me he wanted to run some tests so come back the next day. We also had a hilarious time with one of the admin officers who constantly joked around with us. He knew I could speak Indonesian so teased me (playfully) in Javanese so I replied in English using obscure Australian slang. Very funny and we had a cool handshake at the end. This morning I went in for the EMG (electromyography). After reading horror stories about how this test involved electric shocks through needles into the muscles I was pleasantly surprised to see it just was a few light (kind of ticklish) electric shocks through sensors on your skin. All the tests came back normal so probably just a pinched/inflamed nerve now it’s a case of waiting and hoping it goes away with the medicine he gave me.

As this is not my first time visiting an Indonesian hospital (I’m building a collection of membership cards) I was once again really impressed by the service on facilities. Sure it’s not as fancy or streamlined as a top hospital back home but you get to see a doctor quickly, most (in my experience) are very well trained and it’s super cheap- two visits to the doctor, drugs and tests only $50 give or take. Plus I got to keep the cool squiggly lines which are my nerve reactions.

So that’s my week! Tonight I should be meeting up with one of the girls from my tour in Cambodia and off to see Borobudur and Prambanan. Preparing for the swarms of people wanting photos!

Courts xx

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to survive Jakarta

Oh Jakarta. Hours spent stuck in traffic, extreme wealth juxtaposed against extreme poverty. The Big Durian. Some people love it, some people hate it- I think I’m between the two.  Flying out of Jakarta at night makes you realise how big the city actually is, well more like cities as they have all blended into one big mess of officially 9 million people (but realistically there are millions more- 28 million people live in Greater Jakarta) and millions of cars and motorbikes.

I had to go to Jakarta for a meeting but was lucky that my friend Kelly whose lovely parents live in Jakarta was going to be in town so a quick trip for a meeting turned into a long weekend of adventures. Flying out of Jogja I was excited to see a brand new plane waiting on the tarmac for me. Until I went inside and saw the classic tired, let’s fit as many seats in as possible interior. To make matters worse and to shatter my confidence in Indonesian airlines further, along with the emergency instructions card in the seat pocket was a card with how to pray for our safety in each of the 6 official religions of Indonesia. The fun really started when I got to Jakarta and had to find a taxi. There is only one real taxi company that is considered safe so after waving away many touts and finding a taxi I faced a two and a half hour drive to Kelly’s house in South Jakarta. The distance is probably about 40 kilometres and the constant honking of cars and barely moving gets somewhat frustrating after the first hour. The traffic is considered the worst in Asia and without great public transportation (like the MRT in Singapore or Skytrain in Bangkok) the only way to get around is to brave the roads.

You definitely notice the extreme difference between rich and poor driving from the airport to South Jakarta. From the slums on the outskirt of town and the over polluted canals to the modern sky scrapers which jut out from different parts of the skyline and the huge mansions. Beggars approach the highly polished private SUVs (pretty much a necessity in Jakarta) and run down buses and angkots clog the roads. It’s really interesting to sit back in the taxi (with air conditioning thank god) and watch it all.

As it was Australia Day we had a barbeque for dinner before heading out for a few quiet drinks at a few of the pubs. We were introduced to two stereotypes of South Jakarta- the sleazy old white man and the young rich Indonesian. While highly entertaining for us to talk to these people we definitely made use of the we have to meet a friend/our driver is outside bail out excuses. The night ended just shy of 3am at Kemang maccas (almost a tradition for us) and a sleep in the next day was quite nice.

While there are touristy sites to see in Jakarta we had very little desire to see any of them. I did get to drive past Monas (Monumen Nasional) as monument built by Sukarno and basically a flame on a giant concrete pillar, on my way to my meeting which as Kelly described, it was the most boring tourist attraction ever. The 10 minutes in front of it stuck in traffic was more than enough. It was really interesting to head into the CBD and see the expensive hotels, wide roads and huge office complexes. Friday we spent most of the day with me “preparing for my meeting” aka we ordered pizza and sat around in pyjamas watching the Chaser.

Friday night we faced the complicated decision of where to eat eventually settling on Hacienda, a reasonably famous Mexican restaurant. We ate far too much delicious Mexican food and had some fantastic frozen margaritas before heading home in a food coma. Perhaps the funniest thing to happen that night was just after we sat down someone we studied with in Salatiga two years ago sat at the table next to ours. While we knew she was working as a journalist in Jakarta the fact she came to the same restaurant on the same night was crazy so it was good to catch up!

Originally we had planned to hit a few of the clubs around town on the weekend however the previous weekend a drug related car crash linked to one of the notoriously dodgy clubs in Jakarta had killed 9 people so word was there were going to be drug raids. These raids can turn violent and realistically just ruin a night out so no clubbing (which wasn’t that disappointing in the end). On Saturday we decided that we would go have a massage then headed to two different malls. The first to buy dvds to watch that night rather than going out and then to PIM which is massive (although not the biggest) to have lunch and do some shopping. They had an ice skating rink set up and segway rides but we just ate some delicious Japanese for lunch before shopping for winter clothing in Zara which had a sale on. It does seem strange to shop for winter clothes on a 30 degree day in the tropics.

That night we had another delicious barbeque of pork ribs and prawns and watched the new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Inbetweeners movie (very lol) and War Horse (not that great- the horse was good).

The next morning we went to brunch. This is something that everyone should experience in Jakarta. We went to the Ritz-Carlton where there is a massive room with every type of food you could dream of and free flow champagne. We ate steadily for over 3 hours with quite the mix from roast duck, design your own noodle dish, sushi, giant pretzels, an assortment of cheeses, chocolate fountain, ice cream and cakes. All while waiters buzzed around making sure your drinks were always full. Not a bad way to spend a day and we all had a lot of laughs. One thing that you really noticed here was the heavy security. Less than 3 years ago the Ritz was target of a terrorist attack which killed a number of westerners so getting in meant the car getting searched, explosive sniffer dogs and metal detectors. We weren’t even able to take a photo in front of the lobby because of the security measures which are entirely understandable but make you realise that security is taken very seriously in this town.

After brunch it was time to say goodbye to Kelly and the family and Jakarta and head back to the airport. The airport was quite frankly awful with it impossible to get food (or water!) after security and my flight delayed for over an hour with no explanation. I think in the future I’ll shell out the extra money for a better airline.

So that was my epic Jakarta weekend! While it did involve a lot of time stuck in traffic the fun we had definitely made up for it (and being stuck in traffic isn’t that bad). 3 days of chilling out, eating western food and doing next to nothing is definitely what we needed before heading back to work and uni. While a lot of people  hate Jakarta I’ve never failed to have a good time so big thanks to Kelly and her family for an awesome weekend.

Courts xx

I forgot to take photos again (camera was too big to lug around, didn’t feel like taking photos of malls etc)

Jakarta from above! A bit of urban sprawl!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back to where it all began- Salatiga

It has been 2 years and 22 days since I came to Indonesia for the first time as a 19 year old who still wasn’t entirely sure why she was studying this language or if she would even like this country. Now after around 14 weeks spent in Indonesia over the last 2 years and 22 days with 11 weeks of those spent in Salatiga, it was only natural for me to return to my Indonesian home town from Jogja for a weekend to see old friends and people who have become like family to me.IMG_0660 It started on Saturday with a trip I had done a number of times. Train to Solo, taxi/becak to the bus terminal then the Solo-Semarang bus to Salatiga. This was a particularly awful journey as Chinese New Year (Imlek) meant there was a public holiday on Monday and everyone was heading back to their home towns to celebrate. The train from Jogja to Solo is called the Prameks or Prambanan Express. This in itself is incredibly deceptive as it doesn’t go to Prambanan and there is nothing Express about it. Imlek resulted in the train being packed with people to the point where the doors wouldn’t close and feeling like a sardine for an hour and 20 minutes. I noticed the sign in the carriage said it was built for 70 passengers. I feel it would be a safer guess to say 200+ were in it on Saturday. Following that the transition to the bus was easy and the bus trip while slow due to heaps of traffic wasn’t completely bad as I got a seat while several people had to stand.

Arriving in Salatiga I was super excited as we drove through the town to the point of bouncing up and down on my seat. I then met with one of my friends from my first trip as I had arranged to stay at her place. After having dinner we headed to Frame.IMG_5827 This is a new coffee shop in Salatiga which you can read more about here on another friend’s blog (I’d explain it myself but she does a brilliant job). Basically you feel like you are outside and the coffee is amazing. On the second night we went there I tried all different types of coffee from Aceh to Flores and they really knew their stuff. A real top quality cafe for an incredibly good price. Plus it was about 20 metres from my old house in Salatiga so it’s probably best for my bank balance that it opened after I left town last year. While we were at Frame I walked up the street to go to a small shop and ran into my host dad and it felt like I was coming home from university for the day and chatting to him was like I had never left. We arranged that I would stay at the house for my second night which I’ll get to later.IMG_5830 My time in Salatiga involved a lot of eating and a lot of meeting old friends. We had a reunion of a bunch of us from the first PIBBI program I went to, scarily only 4 of us were still in Salatiga with most of the Indonesian teachers and staff having moved to bigger cities and most Australian students graduating/finished their Indonesian majors. IMG_1135 I also ate far too much durian which resulted in me feeling rather ill and not being able to ate dinner preferring to spend a few hours in a food coma on the couch. We spent a lot of time just driving around town and up to Kopeng. Seeing Merbabu brought back fond memories- I’ll always love that mountain and never get sick of seeing it. Not a lot has changed in Salatiga but I definitely noticed small things like new statues and new buildings.

Going back to my home stay was really nice. Everyone remembered me and it was like I never left with me spending the night watching Nat Geo Adventure (Long Way Down and Banged Up Abroad) on the couch with my host dad and chatting about the other people who had come and gone in the past. Seeing the rest of the family was brilliant with new additions and new houses to visit as well as the important visit to Happy Chicken to eat the amazing fried chicken. I was surprised to hear my bike was still at the house and still in the broken state that I left it in (well more like broken state that I bought it in- fixing bikes is harder than it looks) and it was very nice to go to sleep in my old bed room there.

Unfortunately though as is often the case my trip to Salatiga was short with it ending as quickly as it started. There was definitely a sizable lump in my throat as I got a spontaneous tour of town in the travel as we picked people up and the sunglasses went on to hide any potential for rouge tears. I am so so glad I got to see all the people that I did and will really miss them all. I love Salatiga and although I also really love living in Jogja, I think Salatiga will always be home in Indonesia for me as it’s somewhere that I know my way around and know people.IMG_1354 It was a real struggle to leave as I have no idea when I will be back there. Perhaps it will be years before I make it back as the more I travel the more I realise that I have left to see in this great big world of ours. I have no doubt that one day I will be back but I’m sure people will have moved on and things in Salatiga will have changed a lot. Salatiga will however always be the place where I learnt to love Indonesia and where the passion that has shaped the last 3 years of my life began and I am so grateful to have experienced everything I have.

So to all my wonderful friends in that beautiful town a huge terima kasih and as we always say Sampai bertemu lagi.

Courts xx

Friday, January 20, 2012

Living la vida Jogja!

So week 2 of the internship has come and gone rather quickly. Life in Jogja is fairly easy and work is rather interesting plus my Indonesian is becoming so much better from all the translating I’ve been doing here. Because we had the Annual Meeting this week which I didn’t attend and rather hung out in Jogja after going to Jepara, not much exciting has been happening work wise (unless you want to know about regional disaster risk reduction programs in Indonesia- very interesting stuff!)

On the other hand outside of work I’ve managed to fit a fair bit into this past week. Generally we spend most nights hanging out at the house, chatting in English and Indonesian and sometimes having a bit of a jam on the guitar as well as watching some hilarious tv.IMG_5703 It has also rained a lot. A few days ago it poured for hours and Thursday morning it rained which was unusual but meant there was an amazing view of Merapi in the afternoon. The rain is great as it gives you about 2 hours of reasonably cool relief from the sweltering heat afterwards. A few days without rain and the humidity is enough to send you mad or at least walk around the office and house yelling PANAS! (hot)

Wednesday night I caught up with a friend from back in Australia who is studying in Jogja for 6 months and some of her Australian friends studying here. We went to a very nice restaurant at the mall sitting out on a balcony (Funnily enough it’s called The Balcony) and ate some delicious food (duck!) as well as some cocktails which were far too strong. It was very expensive by Indonesian standards (150 000 Rp or about $16) but it was nice to catch up and I had a wander around the mall afterwards as they don’t close until 9-10pm generally.

A few posts ago I was complaining about how expensive Jogja was- turns out I was completely wrong as we live in the student area meaning pretty good prices.IMG_5715 For example a few days ago 4 of us went to a kaki lima (food stall which basically consists of just a cart) and had some delicious mie ayam (chicken noodles) and es jeruk (cold orange drink) and it cost us 27 000 Rp or $3 for all 4 of us. Most meals I’ve had here when we’ve gone out have cost about $1-$1.50 tops and most have been incredibly delicious. Water costs about 40c for a 1 litre bottle and beer is also cheap but seeing a large Islamic university is up the road there is very little of that around. Even catching a taxi from the mall to my house is only about 9000 Rp or $1 but normally I just walk.

I’ve also been eating a lot of rice. Indonesian food 3 times a day sounds hard to get used to but is actually quite nice. I’ve also learnt that you can do amazing things to a packet of mi goreng with a few extra ingredients. Barely drinking any coffee here (although I’m having one as I write this) as sweetened tea is the drink of choice and it is incredibly addictive. Never imagined I would go from drinking black tea and coffee to overly sweet tea and milky, sweet coffee. Jogjakartans sure like their sweet food.IMG_5744 So back to my week, Thursday night I had arranged to go to the Ramayana ballet at Prambanan with one of my friends from the UNY group that came to Australia as he was performing in it.IMG_5761  It turned out a fair few of them were performing so it was great to catch up with them. We had a look around the grounds first and took some photos of Prambanan before I met some people from the office to watch the show. It was incredible! The one in Canberra was good but this was mind blowing. The music, costumes, dancing and acrobatics were amazing. For those unfamiliar with the story it is based around Rama and his wife Sita who is kidnapped by the evil king Rahwana. Rama then launches a rescue mission with the help of Laksmana and the white monkey Hanuman. In the end he wins back his wife and I presume they live happily ever after. IMG_5786 The plot is of course much more complicated (they call it an Epic for a reason) but it was a fantastic show. Also Hanuman’s monkey soldiers were played by kids probably only 10-12 years old and they were amazingly good and super cute.

Afterwards we rode home (Prambanan is maybe 20 minutes from Jogja) and were cruising along on the motorbike until suddenly da duh da duh da duh – tire puncture. Queue a good 20+ minutes of sitting on the side of the road while someone fixed the tire making what was already a late night even later. All good fun though and its amazing that you can find someone to fix your tire on the side of the road at 10:30 at night. IMG_5774 That’s about it for now. Exciting news is I have an amazing interview lined up in Jakarta next week so I have booked flights and will also get to spend 3 nights with my friend Kelly which if the last Jakarta trip we did is anything to go off will be a lot of fun. Booking flights was a struggle trying to pick an airline. As someone in the office said “They’re all just as good as one another just go the cheapest” so I ended up paying only $73 for return flights on an airline with a reasonably good international reputation (although I just read an article saying several pilots have been arrested for crystal meth possession). Also heading up to Salatiga this weekend and looking forward to catching up with everyone up there. It’s a public holiday on Monday for Imlek (Chinese New Year) so long weekend!

Courts xx


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jepara and Pati- Exploring the North Coast

Because everyone in the office is off at the annual meeting for the first few days of this week, myself, Nick (American engineer who works with the organisation) and his dad headed up to the North Coast to Pati and Jepara to have a look at some projects up there.

The trip started with a very long drive which was supposed to leave Jogja at 9pm but left at 10:30pm meaning we didn’t get to Pati until 3:30am and could hear the call to prayer and roosters as we were going to bed. While it was dark we still saw a lot of evidence of some of the awful floods that have been affecting the region as well as sprawling rice fields. Also despite the winding mountain roads and darkness our driver texted the whole way to Pati- very different road rules here. We woke up the next breakfast and had a huge breakfast (Indonesian style- I can’t remember the last time I had a meal without rice) before heading off to the Peace Place. This is a centre for promoting Trauma Healing and Alternative to Violence programs and is a beautiful building built outside town in the traditional Javanese style.IMG_5634 After hanging out at the building site and having lunch with the construction workers (including various types of offal) we walked back through the rice fields to the house we were staying at talking to lots of people along the way and seeing various different building sites where they are reusing old materials for new projects. After that we hung out at the house and visited the hospital (our friend had a family member there) and had a terrifying ride back to the house on the back of a motorbike with a 13 year old driving. He was a good driver but it was very unbalanced.

Next morning we woke up early and head some snacks before heading to church at 7am. I’m not particularly religious generally only going to churches for weddings and the like but it was very interesting although I tended to zone out when trying to translate the sermon (very long the service was an hour and a half). SingIMG_5654ing the hymns in Indonesian was very fun and we had to get up and introduce ourselves to the congregation in Indonesian. Afterwards Nick let me drive the motorbike back home which was a struggle seeing I’d never used a manual bike before but started to get the hang of it.  Then following another breakfast we went back to the Peace Place where there was around 15 kids ranging from 8-14 years for an English class. We played a lot of games in English and had a lot of fun before having a game of soccer inside. Teaching was definitely a lot of hard work so a lot of respect to all the teachers out there.

We then got on a bus to Jepara which was packed. We stood for a fair bit until I got a seat up near the driver and made a lot of jokes in Indonesian with him. They tried to rip us off with the price of tickets but soon realised they couldn’t trick us so we spent the hour long bus ride on the awful bus joking around with everyone. We were picked up by our friend’s friend and his son (who was the cutest kid ever) before going up to the church where we stayed overnight with the minister’s family. IMG_5671 Jepara is famous for it’s woodwork and the place we were staying was full of workshops of people making furniture by hand all hours even when we walked around at at 9pm on the Sunday night. The work was of a really high quality and is frequently exported abroad.

The next morning we got up early and visited the TK (school for 4-5 year olds) across the road from our accommodation and another school for 2-3 year olds. So much cuteness but a lot of confusion as to what the bule were doing there. IMG_5696 It was then time we actually did some work and went to the wood workshop and started to design and make some figurines for a developmental play program using blocks that Nick is working on. The guys at the workshop were able to make our designs so quickly despite my awful drawings. It was really amazing to work with these master wood workers in their workplace and it was an experience that very few visitors to Jepara would get.

Then it was time to head back to Jogja and on the way to the travel office (a travel is a small minibus between towns) we did a bit of shopping although I couldn’t buy anything seeing none of the wood was finished and then went and checked out the beach before the drive back to Jogja. The drive was pretty awful taking almost 7 hours including a confusing stop where we changed cars and being stuck in rush hour traffic on the road to Semarang.IMG_5699 It was a great trip and an opportunity for us to really see everyday life with people in these towns. The hospitality of the Javanese was overwhelming with people we had never met (although connected to the projects we were working on) letting us stay with them, feeding us and showing us around their towns. A nice break from Jogja although coming “home” here was also a fantastic feeling and there is still a lot more exploring to be done. Probably head up to Salatiga this weekend and going to Jakarta in 2 weeks!

Courts xx