Not just a tourist: Traveling to Indonesia

As noted in earlier posts, from 2009-2010, I lived in Depok, Indonesia as a United States Fubright Fellow.  This past February, after eight years of being away, I decided to make the long return back to visit with my husband.  I wanted him to see the land that shaped my life and I longed to see old friends and adopted family members.  We designed the majority of the trip as a social visit but we also decided to spend some downtime in Bali.  Although exhausted from the two-day journey over, the first week of our trip flew by with drinks out at my favorite Jakarta haunts, rambutan-filled car rides, late nights with Jakarta-based friends, and visiting my Indo family.  In Bali, one of my best Depok friends met up with us, and we had a whirlwind 2.5 days spying temples and monkeys, attending a Fire Dance, and drinking coconuts at…

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Monkey Trouble in Bali: Visiting Uluwatu Temple

My husband always considered me fearless until the monkeys… In Bali, we grabbed drinks overlooking the beach at Single Fin and headed to Uluwatu to see the Kecak and Fire Dance. The male performers artistically chant “cak” for over an hour during sunset while traditional characters reenact famous scenes from the Ramayana. The circle formed in the temple surrounding the fire paired with the backdrop of the glistening sun is just stunning. Personally, I loved that Hanuman started talking selfies with audience members—gotta keep it relevant. But onto the hissing monkeys. Let me start by saying that the Ubud Monkey Forest was a one-time experience (2009) that I will never re-visit. Never, never, never. On this trip to Indonesia, I told everyone: NO MONKEYS.  When we pulled up to the temple for the fire dance, our friend coughed out: bythewaytherearemonkeys.  SERIOUSLY?! While touring Uluwatu, announcements warned that if a monkey…

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Orchids and Eyang: How Living Abroad in Indonesia Touched My Life

I don’t believe that there are random coincidences; instead, I think every moment is a serendipitous sign that either strikes dead center to the heart or we blink too quickly, missing the message. One year ago, I was at the Epcot Flower and Garden show when I came across these nearly hidden orchids.  Orchids remind me of my Indonesian grandma, “eyang,” as she would vigilantly care for hers with a tender caress and kind word.  Every weekend when I approached Jalan Penjernihan in Pejompongan, Jakarta I’d find eyang on the front porch cultivating her flowery children, a lusty wink in her eye.   Last year when I first stumbled upon the Epcot orchids, I messaged Ibu Nina, her daughter, to let them know that I was thinking of them.  I had not been in touch for awhile but those orchids spoke to me.  Two days later, I found out that…

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Positano: Where You, Too, Can Run Into John Stamos

When you intoxicatingly admire how well your manicure matches the color of your Italian wine, you might miss John Stamos sneaking by. In Positano, I was doing just that. Tucked deep into the cliffside with a glass of red wine and mussels (to which a German tourist chided me were not in season) with my back to the world, my husband leaned across the table and whispered: “John Stamos just walked by.” I laughed, shrugged ‘you crazy,’ and continued intently comparing my wine with my nail polish. Then it happened again: John Stamos really was sneaking through the back alleys of Positano with his latest girlfriend. Jessie, I mean John, confirmed our musings with that quick (gorgeous) Full House-style smirk as I screamed, “Oh my god, that IS John Stamos.” Like a skittish deer not wanting to be captured or admired, he slipped seamlessly around the corner, lost on the tiny…

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