Category Archives: Oh the places I have been!

I.N.D.O.N.E.S.I.A
The good, the bad and the beautiful

An email and a life after High School

Do you think now that there is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc high school reunions aren’t as interesting as they use to be? I mean you can discover whether your fellow classmates are married, what job they have or do they have children without having to change out of your pajamas or even prove you invented post-its.
In retrospect, what have I accomplished in the past decade that others will find interesting and will give me something to talk about at my upcoming 10 year High school reunion?

I think back to when I left high school and what I had planned for my life, never would have I entertained the thought of how it is at this very moment. During my senior years of high school I actually took Japanese! I only picked up Indonesian as an extra subject at University and now it is the governing factor that is determining the choices in my life. Ohaiyo Gozaimasu and Domo Arigato have morphed into Selamat Pagi and Terima kasih inside my head.

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Last week I discovered an email I wrote over 9 years ago, after my first week at University. The said email was so hilariously bad, I almost didn’t read it all. In saying that, it allowed me to see how many good transformations I have made since then. Honestly now looking back on the person that wrote this I cringe. I was guilty of trying way too hard and was too worried about what others would think of me. I was too precious for my own good really and those who went through High School or even University with me will (hopefully) see the more grounded person I have become today.

‘The email’

Hey!

Well its been at least 2 weeks since I last saw you all and boy has it gone quick!
Everything is fantastic, couldn’t have hoped for anything better in the country town of Armidale. I am not the furthest away from home, I meet someone the other day from Melbourne- how crazy is that?

O WEEK was massive and to say the least, a little more crazy than I expected.

The first night, Sunday night was a quiet one for me. After being in the car for 6.5 hours with 2 small breaks in between, then arriving at my place of residence (my address):

EARLE PAGE COLLEGE ARMIDALE 2351

I had to unload the entire car as I brought too much stuff!, then being bombarded with too much information and meeting a gazillion people I was buggered. Most people stayed up too we hours of the morning partying and getting pissed, but I just couldnt manage it I was way too sick. I managed to get alot of sleep though and missed getting up early for “BOOT CAMP” as they forgot about me in my room, YES!.
Monday involved an “official welcome’ by the Dean of the University of New England. This was my first experience of walking form college(my room) to Uni, its about 2kms and is up a steep hill. It takes me about 20mins one way. Its so much easier to walk back but hey its all exercise and I can really feel it working in my legs. Some days I am lucky and I can get a lift with someone from college, but most days (so far) I’m not.

At night time we had a round of “Fresher Games”. Freshers is what the first years are known as, as the older students didn’t come till later in the week. The games were

    • KNIGHTS, CAVALIERS, MOUNTS- This involved a girl pairing up with a boy and music would play then when it stopped we were told whether to ‘knight’- jump on th boys back, ‘cavalier’ be swept of our feet or ‘mount’ sit on the boys knee. If you didnt do it quickly enough you were disqulified. It was lots of fun but I cheated and stuck to one of the boys, Blake from my floor. We were in the top 5!
    • MUSICAL CHAIRS- A little different than usual. In this version you weren’t allowed to have any part of your body on the floor, which nearly led to a few injuries but was tons of fun.
    • SHOE GAME- Throw one shoe into the middle of the floor than pick up a different shoe and find its owner. This was not as good as I hoped as I ended bumping heads with another girl. Actually one from my floor (TOPA- top floor, Building A) Kate, one of my good friends now. There are actually only 6 first year girls and 11 first year boys, and in total including the older years 14 girls to 20 boys. It’s all good though cos everyone is really nice and I have nothing against anyone on my floor so far.

TUESDAY we had a BBQ Breakfast- this was the start of the many ahead (in all of O Week we had 5 BBQs. I do not want to see another sausage for a very long time!) Just before lunch time we headed over ‘up top’ to the Uni for “Academic Advising”, a bit like the Careers Market we went to in yr10 and 12 at UWS. I am doing a Bachelor of Asian Studies and I chose 4 subjects- Indonesian 101(beginners), Japanese 201(Intermediate), Linguistics 101 and Social Change in Asia. Later on in the evening we ahd a trivia night, this is when I realised how crazy my floor is, even though they are really nice and I get along well with them they are a bunch of drunks! This night I was really homesick as I kinda felt out of place as I missed you all, my friends. Yes I did shed a little tear, but its all good now!

WEDNESDAY was enrolment day when I had to finalise all my chosen subjects, it was good only took about an hour. Also they had like a big market of all the activities and clubs I could become involved in. Some were a little strange, quite nerdish eg. the medievil club, WHAT THE!. Again for dinner we had a BBQ but this time it involved all the other colleges, there is 6 in total- Earle Page(mine), Duval, Drummond and Smith, Robb, Mary White and St Alberts. I am so glad I got into the one I chose, its much better all round. We had to stay in our falcultys (mine is ARTS) and go around and introduce ourselves to people from other colleges- so I went up to all the good looking boys!

Later that night we had a Traffic Light Party. You were green if you were single, Orange if you were unsure and Red if you were taken- I wore Green but no luck! Actually the night started of really bad and boring! My friend Kate, I told you about hooked up with some guy from another college (Duval) and left me alone for a while. I found another girl form my floor, Jo she comes from Broken Hill on a sheep station. I actually lost my money ($10) and she bought me a drink, because the party was at our sponser pub “the newie” New Engalnd Hotel. I later found some of the boys from my floor and spent the rest of the night with them. They are great, a little silly when it comes to alcohol but fun.

-Simone

And that’s enough of that! Many lessons learnt since then.

Past Simone wouldn’t have shown this old email to the world. If I had stayed the same person as I was in High school I probably would have deleted it and never spoke of it again; too afraid at what others would have thought of me. I have to admit, I did remove a few super embarrassing lines but ultimately it’s still as it was 10 years ago- spelling mistakes, cheesy emoticons and all. Hats off to you as well if you got through it all without wanting to slap my former self, I couldn’t even get pass the first paragraph!

So on the 18th of October when I attend my 10 year High school reunion I will not have an awesome job to boast about, pictures of my children for you to ooo and ahhh over or even a house for you to admire but I will have become someone for the better. Someone who won’t sugarcoat her life story, who will be busting a move to a spice girls track and sinking a beer or two with an old classmate, whether we were close friends or not.

Cheers to being proud of whatever you have accomplished in life, even if its not how you planned it would be.

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P.s. Isan will sadly be unable to attend the reunion as my plus one. We are still waiting on his visa to be processed.

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Pasar-Pasaran please come back soon

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Almost 3 months ago Isan’s sister plus her cute little family and I took another day trip up to Ubud. The town is a great place for exploring when you live closer to the city; its like a breath of fresh air and the perfect neighbourhood to relax and recharge.

Isan had disappeared for a week to Bandung to help his Mum, so it was nice to be able to spend some family time without the structure of Isans regular Sunday routine. Vespa tinkering reigns supreme on Sundays.

Our plan whilst we were in Ubud was to stop by an awesome cafe, Warung Sopa where we had heard there was a quaint craft markets being held.

According to the markets Facebook page “Pasar-Pasaran” is a Sunday morning artsy crafty market in Ubud. Handmade goods + DIY crafting + local indie designers + workshops. The gathering enabled Indonesian artisans to come together and showcase their wonderful wares. There was a lot of beautiful things for sale and I could have bought one of each in everything. I tried my best to collect as many business cards as I could for future reference but alas I have seemed to misplaced the collection. If you are reading this and had a stall at the last Pasar-Pasaran please leave a link to your fb/instagram/webpage below in the comments section. Christmas is coming soon.

The markets were a buzz with kids playing, Mums and Dads relaxing and a creative young crowd who were setting the standard of all things cool in Indonesia. What I noticed most though was everyone was smiling. The markets premise “Make things not war” couldn’t have been more true as market goers and stall holders were just so lovely and the vibe there was extremely welcoming.

Throughout the day there were also various DIY workshops as well as musical performances to keep everyone entertained.

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People were scattered everywhere throughout the cafes’ blissful gardens; roaming, chatting and taking in the fresh air on picnic rugs.

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This was my first visit to Warung Sopa and since then I have been back several times. Its grounds are magical plus the menu is delicious and fair priced. I recommend this place to all families as there is an abundant amount of grass for all your children to run around on. There is even a tyre swing set for small and big kids alike!

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Arsa, Isans nephew made good use of the swing and we were able to capture some precious photos of him. The 2 below are my favourite, especially the one on the right; a gorgeous family memory and one for Yanti to dote over.

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Arsa loved the markets more than us and at the end of the day he didn’t want to leave.

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Since then 3 months has gone by and not a word has been spread about the next Pasar-Pasaran. Will there be another one? Please come back Pasar-Pasaran, we miss you.

-Simone

I will miss the sea the most

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Postcard perfect sunset from Uluwatu’s clifftop, South Bali

At the end of this year, perhaps sooner I will be packing up my bags and moving back to Australia. I have finally finished my university studies and now I must pull up my socks and search for a grown ups job. This year in Bali has been a great learning experience; my language skills have sky-rocketed (hampir lancar!), I’ve learnt how to cook delicious Indonesian dishes, faced my fears and learnt how to ride a scooter, gained a better insight into the daily lives of everyday Indonesians (hand-washing your clothes has that affect on you) and the most important thing, I’ve learnt that Isan and I have a relationship that’s worth fighting for. The whole point of us moving to a new place together, free from anyone else was to see if we were meant to be. Well due to the last post (you can find it here) I think you can pretty much bet that its going to happen; a marriage is in our foreseeable future.

I have enjoyed my time in Bali for the above reasons and later some day we will return to Bali to holiday, see our friends and eat some babi guling. Isan and I both agree that the one thing we will miss the most is the beaches of Bali.

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The above 2 photos were taken on a day out with friends. We all jumped into a car (much to Isans disgust- he reckons everywhere is better explored by Vespa) and headed towards the south of Bali, Uluwatu way. The plan was to beach hop around what I believe are some of Bali’s best beaches; Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Dreamland and Balangan. The sand is white, the ocean is clean and always a beautiful turquoise colour and I am told that’s where you will find the most thrilling waves in Bali.

Another time Isan and I snuck away for an afternoon to watch the sunset from the cliffs of Uluwatu. With an hour to spare before sun down we took the chance to explore around the beach below.
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The beach is also Kawans favourite hangout and I will miss the opportunity to run around and play with her seaside.
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When I return to Australia I will be moving in with the Rentals in the Blue Mountains of NSW. Its not ideal, but if Bali has taught me anything I am just lucky to have a roof over my head and a hot shower. 

In saying that, I suppose Isan and I will have to get use to moments like this too.
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-Simone

Jogja sweet Jogja

My Jogja sisters and I

My Jogja sisters and I. I miss these ladies alot

About a month ago Isan and I made a fleeting visit to Jogjakarta, Java for the weekend. Life had been getting us down in Bali and we needed some familiar surroundings. It was Jogja where Isan and I met, back in 2011 whilst I was studying through the ACICIS (Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies) Program. We didn’t meet at University but through a series of friendship channels. These friendships are what made Jogja special for us, as these people weren’t just our mates but our family.

We are Family

We are Family

Since living in Bali for the past 10 months we have not been able to create a support network like the one above. For me personally I have not been able to find people that I can connect with like this. Friends that treat me, as they do Isan. My Jogja friends don’t care whether I am black, brown, green or white, they just care that I am good to them and they are good to me. Simple friendships= simple happiness.

I lived in Jogja for a year, whilst Isan was there for a good part of 9 months. So there were a lot of people to see, favourite places to visit and loved warungs (local eatieries) to eat at. We were so busy that I didnt get the chance to take as much photos as I would have liked. We were also very fortunate that Isans Mum and younger sister had plans to spend the weekend in Jogja with us. Isans Mum is a wonderful, strong lady who leaves me in awe every time we catch up. This visit we spent a lot of time alone together and we got a proper chance to get to know each other better. I forgot to take some photos though…sad face. I did however play quirky photographer with Isans sister. See photo below, looks like Meity has flew from the sky, Dragonball style.

Isans younger sister, Meity....aka Dragonball meity.

Isans younger sister, Meity….aka Dragonball Meity.

We did however make the time to fit in a little scenic tour followed by a seafood feast at Depok Beach. The beaches near Jogja do not compare to those of Bali, but the prices and variety of the seafood available is more enticing. It seems the beaches still have lots of bounty and the prices are all set at a local value. We were able to enjoy crab, prawns, fish, mussels, squid and a large coconut each to wash it all down with. I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to dig in and that is why the photo below only shows the aftermath.

It was a delicious seafood feast

It was a delicious seafood feast

After we had gorged ourselves, I took a stroll down the beach whilst Isan had a nap.

I'm beached as bro....at Pantai Depok

I’m beached as bro….at Pantai Depok

When it came to the end of little getaway, we didnt want to leave. Jogja is very special to us and eventually one day we hope to make it our home.

Sunday Adventures

What a View! The Rice Terraces in Terisering, Ubud

What a View! The Rice Terraces in Terisering, Ubud

Up until now, I have been living in Indonesia for a total of 3 years, spending my time in Lombok, Java and Bali. I confess that during my time in the archipelago I have never really learnt how to ride a motorbike. Actually I am quite surprised that I have got around Indonesia for so long without the skill. In Lombok, everything was in walking distance or I shared taxi’s with friends, Java has its trusty Ojek’s (taxi by motorbike) and in Bali I have Isan to chauffeur me around (which I appreciate so much, Hatur nuhun Sayang). Looking at it now, its something I am not proud of and for someone with so much knowledge and understanding of the country and its lifestyle….. well I should have grown a pair long ago.

Two Sundays ago I decided, well really Isan decided for me that I needed to learn. So with a promise of Ubud as our destination, I jumped on the scooter with Isan in the passenger seat and we headed up the mountain. An hour later with white knuckles and a stomach full of butterflies we made it to Ubud, where we were to also meet up with Isans sister and her family. Isans sister lives in Bali as well and most Sundays we try to catch up. This particular family gathering we decided to visit the Famous Rice Terraces of Ubud. Next time when you visit Bali, you should really make your way to Ubud and its outer regions. The photos speak for themselves.

green ricesundownBright rice

The rice terraces are about 20 mins by motorbike from the centre of Ubud and entry is free. You are able to meander around the rice fields at your own pace, but beware that when the sun goes down there is no lighting, so make you way back to the entry before it gets too dark. We had lots of fun and even Isans nephew had time to sit down and enjoy a jam sandwhich. Simple pleasures.

Like Uncle, like Nephew. Having fun in the ricefields

Like Uncle, like Nephew. Having fun in the ricefields

Where's Wally?

Where’s Wally?

Cultural tip for this excursion: If you are going to take a photo of any of the locals around the rice terraces, please ask their permission first. If they oblige, you may give them some small change for their troubles, 5000 would be sufficient.

I’ve been to Bali too

My Dad and I in Bali, late 80s

Where it all started. My Dad and I first time in Indonesia. Bali, late 80s

Quick poll: How many of you have already been to Bali?

If you are reading this and you’re Australian chances are probably high. The Island of Bali, Indonesia takes in 16,000 Aussie tourists per week, on average 25% of total foreign arrivals in any one year are from the land down under.

I am one of them,  I think I am up to my 5th stint here in the ‘Island of the Gods’. I was so young the first time I came, that I cannot remember my experience. I had to ask my parents what Bali was like for me when I was a 3 year old.

The 80’s were a high time in Bali’s tourism, so we were by no means going off the beaten track. Though after talking with my parents, I could only giggle at how green they were. Stories of misunderstandings with local airport staff, Bali belly disasters and bartering mishaps led me to believe we were definitely experiencing a new adventure.

I can imagine me as a young tot, wide eyed and full of curiosity. Lucky my parents held me close by because they always rehash stories of my young male posse, local women jumping at the chance to stroke my blonde hair and Japanese tourists cornering me for a photo at any given moment. Times were different then, the world was getting to know Indonesia and Indonesia was beginning to get to know the world. Cut to present day Bali and I can walk down the main street of Kuta without so much as a quick glance some days.

Of course there has been many changes since the 1980’s. The Island has become more aware of western culture, there is a new airport and far too many new buildings, but ultimately the same travel stories are always on repeat.

Really you can’t impress anyone these days because they have probably been to Bali too. Australian band Redgum actually wrote a song about this in the early 1980’s. You must watch this video clip for the hilarity factor but also to listen to the lyrics and compare Redgums’ experience to yours.

How much do you think Bali has changed 30 years on? What do you remember most about your trip to Bali? If you haven’t been, I would like to know what is stopping you? Be honest, we are all friends here. Same, same but different.