Although I am a bit better at finding a country in SE Asia on a map now, I still don’t always have a great grasp on how it translates into to time zones crossed or the number of airports it takes to get somewhere. So, we were planning our Singapore trip this past fall I started looking at maps to see exactly how far it was between Singapore and Indonesia. Singapore is farther south than Suzhou, which surely means that it would be closer to Indonesia, right?!
The reason I was so interested in Indonesia is because we have friends, Jonathan & Amanda, from central Illinois (our home area in the United States) that live and work in Indonesia. After looking at the map, I decided that we may never be any closer to their home as Singapore, so we might as well take just one more flight and visit them.
The saying “walk a mile in their shoes” is true for a lot of things including living abroad. A few pictures on Facebook or a phone call can’t compare to a visit. I learn so much walking a mile (or a few more) in someone else’s shoes. To talk about things about your home overseas, things that matter the most like school, your favorite restaurant, the places you pass by on a daily basis, and not have anyone in your home country be able to directly relate can be really, really hard and lonely. That is one of the reasons I desperately wanted to make the trek to see our friends. It’s hard to push a place that you’ve visited to the back of your mind when you’ve stood where you’re friends have stood.
That said, we made our visit to Indonesia a priority…which makes the whole passport debacle (see previous post) even more emotional. In the end, everything was arranged and we took a short 2 hour flight to Central Java. I learn by “doing”, which is going to make learning about geography a very expensive lesson. Now that we’ve been to Indonesia I can find it on a map and can show you Central Java as opposed to the other parts of Indonesia. (Baby steps.)
|Waiting to purchase some snacks at the airport.|
We loaded the car, started munching on some sweet Indonesian bread, and made our way through rush hour traffic to our friend’s house. We watched the motorcycles whiz by and as I sat amazed by Amanda’s driving skills, we peppered her with questions about Central Java (or maybe it was more of an assault?) We referenced everything to our life in China and covered every topic we could think of. Schools, family units, household help, travel, infrastructure, language, and on and on.
|Will it all fit?!|
|We're all smiles, the luggage and people fit in the car!|
We spent our first full day in Indonesia touring a coffee plantation. Did you know that most of Indonesian’s coffee is exported first and then brought back into the country again to be sold to consumers? I didn’t either. We bumped along the path and looked at rubber trees and coffee beans. Our tour guide made all of the girls their own leaf crowns.
|Ready for our tour|
|Our very friendly guide!|
|One coffee princess!|
|Finally another adult was with us on a family|
vacation that could take our picture!
|Four coffee princesses!|
|Not a shabby view!|
|Walking home from school|
|A neighborhood mosque|
|Are these birds to blame for the early morning noise we heard?|
|Chasing chickens in the yard.|
|Jamie in traditional batik and on his way|
to speak to some university students.
|Following our friend Jonathan to the university.|
(He's the one with the backpack.)
Dining after Jamie's presentation.
I'll share the rest of our Indonesian adventure in a few days!