On the Move! Bali, Lombok, and Java

A whole lot has happened over the past couple of months. I rounded out my second semester here, and my family visited for the holidays! It’s hard to cover it all in one blog post. Instead, here are a bunch of photos.

class 10
My counterpart and his homeroom class. We teach them 10th grade English together.
We focused on vocabulary building and storytelling this semester. Students learned sensory adjectives and delivered mini presentations about their favorite places to visit in Indonesia.
students 2
Jeopardy review game was new to our 12th graders. Even though they’ve never seen the TV show, they loved it. Competition was intense. Giving review periods and study guides is not expected here. But by practicing the material and the style of test questions before the exam, the students felt more prepared and performed better this semester.
teachers day
On National Teacher’s Day, teachers wore this black and white batik, which is special for educators/ government workers. We enjoyed free lunch in the office. No one went to class.
lake ngebel
In December I ran a half-marathon with another volunteer. The race directors failed to mention that they didn’t count inclines, so the 21 kilometers turned into 30 kilometers. Like, excuse me? Part of the trail overlooked Lake Ngebel in Ponorogo. It was humid as hell but they handed us a coconut and a straw at the end, so we survived. 

And then, my family visited Indonesia for Christmas! We went to Bali and Lombok, and then I took my parents to Madiun for an express visit to meet the host family, school staff, and some friends. Then we  spent a couple of days in Yogyakarta to see a bit more of Java.

First, Bali:

Bali 1
Bali was, of course, a dream.
Bali 7
The beaches make up for the out-of-control traffic.
Bali 5
We stayed in Jimbaran but visited Ubud for one day. In Ubud we went to an elephant rescue. We were wary about the ethics of the place beforehand, but I got a recommendation from a friend who’d been before. It was clean, there was a lot of space, and overall it seemed good. The elephants had been rescued from Sumatra, and the park was family-owned.
Bali 4
There was a baby elephant so we almost died of cuteness. He liked rolling around. Basically a giant puppy.
Bali 6
This is the fanciest nasi campur (mixed rice) I’ve had. I eat it all the time at school, where it’s a scoop of rice topped with a dollop of sambal, a few strands of noodles, and bakwan (corn fritter). But this was a more elaborate version. The rice is in the cone-shaped banana leaf.
Bali 8
We visited Uluwatu Temple in Bali. It’s a Hindu temple on a cliff. While we’re not allowed to go in the temple, tourists come from all over to watch the sunset here. Across the water you can see Mount Ijen, which is on the eastern most end of East Java.
Bali 9
Here’s the other side of the cliff, overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Then, Lombok:

Lombok 1
Lombok was equally dreamy
Coco Beach 2
Our favorite meal was at a place called Coco Beach in Senggigi, Lombok. You sit on the floor at a low table, right by the shore. This was traditional Indonesian food, where you can order many dishes to share.
Coco Beach 1
We tried plecing kangkung (water spinach with chilies and peanuts), sambal terong (eggplant with spicy sauce), grilled fish, a vegetable curry, mie bihun (rice noodles), and sate ayam (chicken satay with sweet peanut sauce). It was all majorly enak.

The next day we went to the Gili Islands.

Gili 2
We took a speed boat from Lombok to Gili Trawangan, where we cycled around the island and went snorkelling for the day.
Gili 1
Yum yum yum yum
Gili 3
Sometimes it storms in the late-afternoon. The Gili Islands are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. They are teeny-tiny and easy to explore from Lombok.

From Lombok we flew to Surabaya and made the drive to my site, where my parents were going to meet as many people as possible in a short period of time. Semangat! They visited my homestay and school, and got to meet two of my former counterparts and their families for dinner one night.

Madiun 5
My parents met some 12th grade students and my counterparts.
Madiun 7
Every photo opp is a photo shoot. My parents learned that “bebas” means “freestyle” and you have to change your pose at every click of the camera. Luckily they were down to go with it, whatever it was. These are some of the teachers at my school, all dressed in colorful batik.
Madiun 6
Everyone was incredibly welcoming, as is customary in Indonesia. Teachers took us out to lunch for soto ayam (Indonesian chicken and rice soup). It was a treat!
Soto ayam
My parents and I passed on the chicken ovaries (center), because while I think we’re pretty adventurous at this point, we’re not quite that adventurous. But ya learn something new about food here all the time. Everything is  not only edible, but could also be considered a delicacy.
Madiun 4
I was glad my family could meet my host family, too. We went out to dinner for traditional food. Lots of tofu and tempeh.
Madiun 8
Bu Emi also wanted to prepare a meal at home. We enjoyed nasi pecel (rice with steamed spinach, bean sprouts, and a mild peanut-chili sauce for lunch. My host family makes the peanut sauce mix at home and sells it online. (You just have to mix it with warm water.) I might be biased, but their recipe is the best.

After a couple of days in Madiun, we made our way to Yogyakarta (often shortened and pronounced, “Jogja”), which is in Central Java. We visited Borobudor Temple, a 9th century Buddhist temple that was repaired and reconstructed in the 1970s and 80s. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Yogya 1
Borobudur is massive. It’s tough to capture it all in one frame.

The crowds tend to take the stairs straight to the top. But we walked around each level first, because apparently that’s the path to Nirvana. You know what? Just trying to follow the rules.

Yogya 3
There are 504 Buddhas on the temple. I’ve never met so many Buddhas in one place.
Yogya 2
Other than being chased by local tourists asking for photos around each corner, it was very cool!

Back in the city, we visited the Kraton. It’s the sultan’s royal palace. We arrived in time for a traditional dance performance, complete with a full gamelan orchestra.

Yogya 4

There was also a fun 12-hour period in Jogja where we thought one of us had contracted dengue. Is an international trip complete without a visit to a clinic, my very basic translation skills, and a blood test? I say no way!

But so far so good. Everyone made it home alright. For now, it’s back to reality—whatever that reality is. I’ve been here over a year and I still can’t answer most peoples’ questions about Indonesia. There are too many islands, languages, cuisines, and traditions to sum up. I’m so glad that the fam got to get a taste of it all. Selamat tahun baru! Happy 2020. Here we go, ayo, back to the classroom, and into year two!

Madiun 3

2 thoughts on “On the Move! Bali, Lombok, and Java

  1. Wow! What an amazing experience for you (over the year past and coming) and your family. The photos are lovely; thank you for sharing! I can’t think of a better ambassador for us to send out into the world. Please tell me you have been writing down recipes for all of that wonderful food and that you will teach us how to cook some of it when you return!

    Liked by 1 person

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