Indonesia: Day(s) 4-7

On Saturday we visited Josie, the Kowalski’s friend and language tutor, and her family! The street that they lived on looked like many of the neighborhoods around here, with a mix of broken concrete and rubble. When we got inside, we learned that the house had been recently remodeled, but the main room was designed to look like the old house that it has been many years ago. The walls looked like many kids had already had their effect on it with nicks and stains all over the place. It was really cool!

Arriving at Josie’s family home

Once inside, we were greeted by Josie’s family and a FEAST of food. I thought they were celebrating Jesus’ ascension into heaven (aka Ascension Day), but they were actually celebrating Josie and her mom’s safe return from a 3-week Europe trip. We asked Josie who made the food, and her mom had made it all! Turns out the mom had once been a caterer during part of her career. 

Throughout lunch guests kept arriving. Somewhere in the middle of the meal one of Josie’s friends, Pauline, arrived (you will hear of her later).

There were many different foods. There was Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), Nasi Udok (white coconut rice), noodles, and many other assorted foods that were all very tasty! One of my favorites was the beef or chicken (I don’t remember which!) that was decently spicy. Another was the small noodles that were yellow/orange and it was amazing!  I think it was called Bihun. I really hope I can find it at home.

The next day, I actually woke up sick, but I’m sure it wasn’t related at all. My stomach hurt and I also felt nauseous, so everyone went to church except me. I basically just stayed at home and slept/read the entire day. I was not happy with this. Miss Rosemarie stayed with me through the day and I was very thankful for that.

The next day I felt a lot better than I used to, so I got out of bed. We basically had a chill day on Monday since I was still recovering, so nothing much here.

IT HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY ONE WEEK ON THE ROAD!!!

I can’t believe that I have gone one week without a continually hot shower! No, seriously, I haven’t had one good hot shower for a whole week. It stinks. I have only had hot water once for fifteen seconds, but it’s not really anyone’s fault. We believe the reasons are that we only have tiny water heaters and that most people who live hear take showers in the evening because you get sweaty during the day.

 

Grateful for showers; more grateful when they’re hot
 
On Monday, we went on a HUGE walk through town. We went to a store called ACE (just like back home) where they sold a bunch of households fix-its, everything from showerheads to toilets to basketballs. They had a ton of stuff. They even sold POPCORN if you wanted to eat while shopping. At the very front there was this restaurant called Chatime and we had cold tea with tapioca bubbles in it.

We also went to a bunch of other stores and other places, but I don’t remember the names, so 😔. On the way back we took a taxi/taksi and I sat in the front seat since it is proper for a male to sit in the front. It was really exciting since our taksi driver knew how to cope with the traffic here, with the monkeys riding bikes, and the motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic. 

I know I’m a week behind, but I’m working on catching up and being more timely. 

See you guys later!

Indonesia: Things are a Little Different Here

Helloooooo W🌏RLD!

So, our first couple of days here I noticed a lot of differences between the U.S. and Indonesia.

First off, most of the locals here wear long sleeves even in this H☀T and sticky weather! Many of the Muslim women here wear headdresses, too! I believe they are called hijab. And even worse, the hijab are normally dark-colored so they soak up the sun and heat even more. If that were me, I would either faint, or get heat stroke.😰 🌞 

Another thing that’s different and sort of fun is that some of the companies here have names that have to do with their location. For example, when we were driving through Jakarta I saw a store called  Transjakarta. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of that, but I did get some photos of some other companies! 

 

INDOMILK … some brand of milk .

 
Indofood! A random brand of food. (like Kroger or something)
  

The third thing is TRAFFIC. Oh. my. word! It’s crazy!!!😳🚙🚘🚗🚕🚖 People don’t really stay in the lanes and kind of swerve around other cars to get to the place they’re going a little bit faster. Let me rephrase that: People don’t stay in their lanes and when they do it’s not for long! And people will swerve around other cars to get where they’re going a little bit faster, especially motorcycles! Man, if you’ve gone to California and you didn’t like how the motorcycles drove on the lines, you won’t survive here!😝 The motorcycles ride on the lines, drive on the opposite side of the street than they’re supposed to be on, go on the sidewalks even when it’s  crowded, and sometimes they have up to families of five squished on the same bike.    

 

Haha! I bet you guys think this is bad , but it gets way worse.

Oh yeah! I forgot to say that there are also some horses that ride along the side of the street. You can ride them around town! I haven’t tried it yet, but I hope to! They look really fun!🏇

The fourth difference between the U.S. and Indonesia are the bathrooms!😝🚽🚿🛁  So, there are these things I call bum guns. And whenever you go #2 you have to squeeze the lever on the handle and water will come out. Then, you clean your bum with it. It tickles! 

The bum gun!
 
Also, the water that comes out of the faucet isn’t clean for drinking, so whenever you brush your teeth you have to go to the water dispenser, get a glass of water, and brush your teeth with that. Another different thing about bathrooms are the showers!🚿 Since there is more water pressure in the morning, unless you take showers in the AM you will get C ❄ LD showers every day!

Well, that’s all for now! 

✌ ⭕⛎➕ (aka peace out)

       ~ Kamaile 

Indonesia: Our First Two Weeks

Around Bandung

Friends, there are so many things to tell you about this place, things you will understand and things that will make no sense. 

 

Some kids playing in an alley as we drove through the city
 

Indonesia is a beautiful country; well, truly I can only speak to the tiny bits I have seen in and between Jakarta and Bandung. Hills covered with houses and terraced gardens or rice paddies separated by jungle gorges with dirty, garbage strewn streams. Lush tropical greenery grows from the earth wherever it can. Things we transplant as tiny annuals at home, like impatiens, and sweet potato vines, grow wild and two feet tall. Banana trees are plentiful. Yet, familiar flowers like hydrangeas and day lillies are also here.

 

View of the lush green valley near our home away from home
 

I hear birds that remind me of the doves we are used to hearing in Hawaii, roosters crowing and dogs barking all hours, and nearly constant crickets and cicadas.  Then there are many sounds we are unfamiliar with, a few we have identified, but so many we have not. Mostly birds and insects, but we hear there are monkeys and haven’t yet figured out if one of the calls belong to them. We are also keenly aware of the five times daily Muslim calls to prayer as we can hear the loudspeakers of a half dozen mosques near our home. 

We knew there would be bugs, and have not been disappointed! We found a rhino beetle almost the size of a golf ball! A wasp with a body the size of two thirds of my pinkie finger was flying outside our room. Butterflies are all over, I don’t even know how many varieties we have seen: big, little, black with blue, brown and orange, bright orange, all white, and more! Not surprisingly,  the caterpillars they come from abound. We keep vigilant watch for ants, small or large, who may be searching for any food crumbs or otherwise trying to invade the house. Geckos are welcome guests in every room to help manage the mosquito population. I think I currently and avoiding scratching ad many mosquito bites as I got in a month or more at home. Paul had some sort of grasshopper land on him in the middle of the night, but it hopped away before we could get a very good look at it.  We have seen a number of spiders, one that nightmares are made of who’s body was several inches long and whose legs would have covered my dinner plate. Thankfully we spied him on a walk around the neighborhood, not in the house!

Traffic is a totally different animal here! On a road that at home would be a neat and tidy two lane road, one in each direction, here would have two lines of cars in each direction, and four lanes of scooters (motos) weaving in between. As long as you haven’t actually contacted another vehicle, it is all good. When you want to go a certain place or turn across traffic, you just start going and people make space.  Drivers are in high alert for all other cars, motos, and pedestrians. Generally traffic is moving slow enough that any collisions are pretty minor. Drivers also must remain vigilant as to road conditions that are extremely varied.

Speaking of motos, you would not believe how versatile they are! We have seen families of five riding together. We have seen then used as a delivery vehicle for large floral displays, lumber, long pipes, even a small  refrigerator! Ladies often ride dressed nicely for work in their heels, but we have seen people ride in flipflops or barefoot also. 

Other things are also ubiquitous as we explore the city. There is trash everywhere. Little bits of litter are all over. Piles of trash bags and loose garbage can be found anywhere. It is common to burn trash, so there will often be a smoldering fire alongside the road. Another thing we see all over are mobile carts! I am impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit of the people here. People sell all kinds of foods, drinks, necessities, and knick knacks from mobile carts. Sometimes these carts have put in a foundation and become  permanent. Either way, they are everywhere, on major streets, residential areas and alleyways.

School Visit

No matter where you go, some things remain the same!

One of the things we are doing while we are here in Bandung is to explore and visit organizations who are working with children that the missionaries here may be able to partner with. 

Along those lines we had the opportunity to visit a local Christian school one day. I really  didn’t know what to expect. What we found was a beautiful facility, well equipped, organized spectacularly, full of happy kids and teachers. Granted, this is a private school and not a typical neighborhood school, but it  was not a place to pity the children at all!

 

Happy pre-schoolers and dedicated teachers

We were able to meet with the curriculum director, principal, and vice principal. It thrilled my heart to hear them speak of not only being  teachers, but having the privilege to help shape the lives of the next generation of leaders.

As we chatted with the administration about their struggles, things sounded so familiar. In the classroom, their concerns were how to help the young ones develop the intrinsic motivation for good behavior and how to incorporate Biblical values into classroom talk and activities.  However, the biggest desire they have is for parents that are truly partners with the school as they train this generation. Similar to  home, more and more, parents are failing to engage in the training of their children, abdicating this role to TV, electronic devices, and school teachers. Being that the kids at this school primarily come from more affluent homes, this problem is exacerbated by a culture of helpers who work in the home as tutors, maids, and nannies who do most of the “work” of  parenting.

These awesome administrators even took us out to lunch when we were done talking. They treated us to a traditional style of restaurant where they bring plates and plates of food to the table and you pay for what you eat. Everything was delicious!

 

Enjoying Nasi Padang with the administrators Santy and Ruth
 

If you think of it, please pray for the parents of this school to be engaged and inspired to be full participants in the lives of their children and for the teachers to keep the vision of both daily and lifelong impact they have on the kids. 

Bandung, Indonesia: Initial Impressions

After these first 4 days in Bandung, it is still difficult for me to adequately describe our experiences, thus far. 

Therefore, I’m going to start by taking the easy route, showing off my Google skills, and sharing some quick facts about Bandung:

  1. Located in the western part of the island of Java, about 3 hours from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. 
  2. Founded in 1488
  3. Approximately 2.6M people within a 65 sq. mile area. In contrast, Seattle has about 650K people in a 143 sq. mile area. Bandung is the 3rd largest Indonesian city (by population). 
  4. The Average Monthly Salary is 2,940,000 Rp. This is roughly $224 or what many of us spend on Cable, Internet, and Cell bills. Click here if you’re curious to see more cost of living info. 
  5. The majority of the people in Bandung are Sundanese

For those that are more visual, we recently found this guy named Kyle Le on YouTube. He primarily blogs about Vietnam (and food!), but he recently spent a couple days in Bandung. Check out this vid: Indonesia Shopping and Street Food in Bandung City

What you see in Kyle’s video is pretty accurate in terms of the general chaos (by American standards) that exists in the city streets. Signs of varying size, shape, quality, and state of disrepair advertise everything from the familiar (Ace Hardware, KFC, and Pizza Hut), to the unfamiliar (innumerable food carts occupy every available inch of ground; even blocking larger, more established shops), to the unusual (DMV? No problem! Just buy your custom-made license plate on the side of the street).

No license plate? No problem!

This visual cacophony is eclipsed only by the aural cacophony created by the way-too-many cars, motorcycles, minibuses, and people on the road at any given time. The ever-present hum of engines, brakes, and horns are akin to TEN Times Squares. To simply say, however, that the roads are really loud would do this daily motor-ballet a serious injustice.

Our host, Wally, says that traffic laws around here (heck, even traffic lanes for that matter) are little more than “guidelines.” Ultimately, the social contract between motorists and pedestrians alike is that it is acceptable to do whatever ever it takes to get from Point A to Point B as long as you agree to constantly watch out for the safety of your fellow travelers. Everyone must be present, aware, and very much in the moment to ensure that major road catastrophes are avoided. There’s something really beautiful about that dynamic to me. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing that zoned-out, zombie thing during rush hour around here like I’ve done more than a few times while slogging through I-405 commutes. 

Speaking of those motorcycles/scooters, I’m not only struck by how many there are on the road at any given time, but also by how many people can ride together on a single machine. One rider is the norm, two riders are common, three or more riders are far from unusual. We often see entire families on a single motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic. I tried to convince Laura that we could save a ton of money by taking a similar approach back home; she was having none of it (shocking!).

Family of 3 on one moto/scooter. The daughter is not only precariously perched, but very asleep.

The food here has been incredible, so far. We haven’t been too adventurous, yet, but it’s not like we’ve actively shied away from anything either. We’re all fans of what the locals deem staples here–Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles), Bubur Ayam (rice porridge with chicken), and Nasi Udok (rice with coconut milk)–and we’re just getting started. 

We even had a special treat today, as we were invited to have Lunch in the family home of Ibu Josie for a special meal, called Tumpeng. We were gathering to celebrate Josie and her mother’s safe return after 3 weeks of traveling in France and The Netherlands. Above and beyond the great food, however, was the hospitality shown by Josie, her family, and her friends. We laughed often and the general ease of our hosts reminded me of parties with my own family back home (sans ukuleles and endless singing, of course). Definitely my kind of people!

Ibu Josie (3rd from right); Josie’s Mother (Center); Partof the feast (Foreground). The rest of the party is off-camera.

I realize that this blog post has been long and somewhat meandering. So, I’ll wrap things up by quickly commenting on the people. The majority of the locals whom we’ve met have been extraordinarily warm and friendly. From the people in random nooks and crannies of the narrow neighborhood alley ways, to the chain store employees, to the parking lot attendants and unofficial traffic “facilitators,” to the guys at the coffee shop who knew less English than I know Indonesian, to Ibu Josie and her family, everyone has been genuinely excited about the fact that we’re here from half a world away to learn about them, their culture, and their city. 

While I still am far from certain how the coming weeks in Indonesia will unfold, I am definitely excited by the possibilities. Here’s hoping that as we learn more, we’ll be able to find a way to help and serve as well. 

      !! INDONESIA !!

      Hey guys, guess where we are now?! Indonesia! We are staying with some friends and the house is amazing, I have my own room with a huge loft!

      When we got to SeaTac airport, and we boarded our first flight. It was a 12 hour flight to Taipei, where we had a four hour layover until our next flight to Jakarta for five hours.

      While we were in  Taipei, we had a meal that of consisted of dumplings and beef soup. While we were in the restaurant we met some people that were headed to Bandung to do missionary work! After the meal we passed the gates in the airport and they were all themed!  There was even a Hello Kitty gate and our gate was dedicated to sports!

      Tuesday

      When we arrived in Jakarta, we were greeted by some friends who sped us past customs and immigration in a fraction of the time it usually takes. After we got out we found the friends we are staying with, and left for home away from home in Bandung.

      I missed 90% of the ride home because I was asleep for it. For the parts that I was awake for was with very crowded roads, with cars within inches of each other and motorcycles still weaving in and out of traffic. When we got back, I was so tired that I had dinner and just went straight to bed.

      Wednesday 

      We went to a very cool store where we got our groceries for the next few weeks. 

      Rows and rows of noodles!
      When we got back, we had lunch and then I did my school for the day on my bed. After that we decided to go to dinner, but an unexpected guest arrived, so we got takeout instead. The takeout was stuff like Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) and Mie Tek Tek (Fried Noodles). While we were waiting for our food, we also watched a hilarious video named Flute 20th Century Fox.

      Thursday 

      When I woke up I spent a bit of time reading and texting friends back home. After I got out of bed, we had breakfast with the new groceries and it was very good. I worked on my school workbook and then had a very nice lunch that was made by the helper. We met some friends of our friends and they invited K and I to the pool! It was really fun, since there was a high dive that was maybe 12 feet off the water, and we used it a ton! When we got back, I took a quick nap (still dealing with jet lag), got up and went to dinner just down the road. When we for back, I flopped down and wrote the blog you are reading now! So far, the first three days traveling! My next post will be about our first walk from our neighborhood to the city center. It was a great experience!

      See you guys later!


      T minus 24 hours

      or thereabouts, depending on how you count it! 

      About twelve hours until we leave the house, about 24 goes until we leave to go to the airport, and 29 1/2 until we take off. 

      I look around the house. Bags are packed in the front room. Our things are almost all put away. The kitchen is almost clean, counters all cleared. The refrigerator is almost empty, I just finished the last of the milk. We’ve run all of the errands. We’ve had most of our last meals with friends and family. It is difficult to name all of the feelings going on. 

      Sad to miss friends, especially those who are moving away while we are gone and the neighbors we are used to seeing every day. 

      We are excited for a big adventure: new sights,  sounds, smells, and tastes. 

      There is definitely some nervousness and concern. 

      I am concerned about our first flight out, I would really appreciate it if you would pray about that with us. For our first flight (over twelve hours), we don’t currently have any seats together. I really do not love the idea of my sweet kiddos sitting next to complete strangers. We will be getting to the airport plenty early to see if there can be any movement. 

      We are so excited to arrive in an area of the world that is so unknown to us. We will be in Indonesia for the first three and last three and a half weeks of our adventure. The middle three and a half weeks we will be touring  Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.  I am anticipating learning so much about people, language, food, and culture. We have watched videos and read books in preparation, but I can’t wait for it all to be “real” to us. Bandung, here we come! 

      Above all, I have a huge feeling of something amazing about to happen. 

      Continuing to live out what we call our S.A.F.E. principles for this time: 

      • Service (our friends and people we meet) 
      • Adventure (um, everything about this trip from eating to moving from destination to destination) 
      • Fun (see amazing cultural and natural sites) and 
      • Education (again, just about everything we do well be a learning experience) 

      I really don’t know what God has in store for us, but we are ready to see!