Date Night – Part 1. {The Night That Sparks Flew!}

For the last 6 weeks we have been getting around this little island town solely on foot. (No pun intended.) Getting licences, like everything – is a process that takes time. A few weeks ago we made the journey to the police station at a village called Taliwang to get our Indonesian licences. We were told in advance that whether we got a licence or not would depend on the amount we paid the men behind the desk at the station. We were advised to have the money ready in an envelope, and once we were at the police station, to hand it over and ask no questions. We took this advice, paid our ‘skin taxes’ which were the equivalent of 100 AUD, and sat down to wait beside a sign that ironically read “Stop Korupsi”. As you may have guessed, that would translate to “Stop Corruption”. Thankfully, we must have handed over enough money, because we left the police station a few hours later with licences in hand. IMG_3508 copy Sadly, getting Indonesian licences didn’t help much with our transport situation as we still weren’t licensed to drive inside the gates here at townsite. Out of necessity, Barry was first to go through that procedure – undergoing a mine specific theory test followed by a practical examination. Unfortunately for Barry, the theory test was written in Bahasa, and required 100% for a pass. After a few failed attempts at picking out key words he was familiar with and trying to fill in the blanks, the examiner took him by the wrist and guided his hand to the correct answers. Thankfully, such helpful intervention wasn’t required when he undertook the practical test!

On Friday Barry came home from work all licensed up, and we would have been all ready to go places except that we were still without wheels. Our assigned car was getting serviced on Friday, and we were told that it would be dropped off at our house on Saturday. I could barely contain myself at the thought of getting out of townsite and spending a day snorkelling, swimming, and having food and drinks delivered to us on the beach.

Saturday dawned, and after a leisurely start we made our way downstairs and opened our  front door, expecting the chariot to await. No sign of it. Lunch time came – still no car. We sat around all afternoon waiting, jumping up and going to the window every time we heard a car outside – but still nothing. Barry was still adamant that the car would turn up, and we would be able to go out for dinner. As the sun set though, my hope faded – I was getting hungry and all of my comments seemed to be oozing with sarcasm. I didn’t want to eat because I knew the moment I filled my stomach and destroyed my appetite, the car would pull up outside.

I held out for another hour, until every last bit of hope was extinguished before I went to the kitchen buttered myself a slice of bread. I sat on the floor eating my bread sandwich, completely bummed. As I finished last mouthful, I said to Barry ‘You know the car will be here any minute now that I’ve eaten that’. Approximately 2 minutes later, the car pulled up. IMG_7736 We decided that it wasn’t too late to turn things around, and we called it a date. Hopping into our not so shiny and new vehicle, we noted the absence of ‘new car smell’, and took a moment to refresh ourselves on all of the driving rules that exist within townsite. The rules inside the gates seem to be somewhat overcompensating for the lack of traffic order in general outside of the gates. You have to beep the horn 3 times before you reverse, twice before you go forward, the speed limit in the school zones is 20km/hr, and 30k/hr in the rest of town. At the gate you have to stop the vehicle, turn off the engine and put the handbrake on. While the car is searched by security, (we’re still not quite sure what for) your ID badge is scanned and you’re quizzed on where you’re off to.

We decided we were going to The Tropical, which is a surfing resort just down the road. We’ve been to The Tropical on a few occasions, and even spent a night there in the ‘honeymoon suite’ before we were able to move into our house. If you read up on some of the reviews of The Tropical on Tripadvisor you will get a bit of an entertaining insight into the way things ‘work’ around there. The resort is run by Australian surfers, and it draws a particular calibre of suntanned, shoeless, board carrying guests. On this night in particular, it appeared that several of these matted haired guests were intoxicated which only added to their charm.

Things started off so well for us – we ordered our meals, and sat there sipping lime juice while we watched the torchlights of all the little fishing boats out on the water. Our spring rolls arrived, and we’d just begun sampling them when there was a HUGE explosion that sent Bazil diving for cover and left me sitting motionless, frozen to the spot. Whilst I had a somewhat delayed reaction and appeared to be calm on the surface, I believe I may have nearly wet myself.

It turned out that one of the surfers in his intoxicated wisdom, had decided to kick off a fireworks display on the beach. Clearly lacking any sort of pyrotechnical skills, the surfer narrowly avoided having his long bleached blonde hair spontaneously restyled and recoloured. Having attracted the attention of his buddies, the surfer returned to the sand with (to my dismay), a whole armful of fireworks. I watched with growing anxiety as one after the other, the rockets failed to launch and they exploded randomly in all directions, shooting across the grass and sending the surfers staggering drunkenly out of harm’s way. Barry tried to assure me that it was all ok, and I replied, ‘It’s all good until one comes flying towards us and we can’t get out of the way.” He dismissed my dramatic statement, and of course the very next rocket came straight towards us, exploding just metres away.

Having a firework explode in your face is not something you want to happen on a remote third world island. I was fuming. I could feel the beast inside tugging on it’s leash, ready and wanting to take them all on. Barry saw the fury in my eyes, and reached out to take my hands, whether in restraint or reassurance I’m not sure. He politely asked the surfers if they could take their fireworks away from us. One of the surfers apologised, and went and picked up a different type of firework. He held this one up in the air and it sent intermittent explosions up into the sky.  A little calmer, I remarked ‘You know, that’s not going to keep him entertained for long.. I bet he starts aiming it at the others’. No sooner had I finished the sentence, when someone yelled out ‘Have a war!’

At this point, our meals were brought out but my stomach was in knots and I found eating to be out of the question. As I watched the surfers stumbling around launching fireworks at each other, all the while getting close and closer to our table I couldn’t help but feel we were getting our own private viewing of a tropical island inspired version of “Dumb and Dumber”. When one of the surfers decided to hide behind a pole right beside me I turned to him and said through gritted teeth “Could you please move away please. To put it nicely. Please.” When my overuse of the word please had no effect, I picked up my plate and went and sat with my back to the world at the bar. I figured hair would grow back, but a disfigured face would not. Barry joined me, and we ate the rest of our meals in a silence that was punctuated only by the occasional bang behind us.  IMG_7754-copy-3 We were glad to drive off into the darkness, watched only by the inquisitive gazes of several cows grazing beside the road. Concluding that the night was still young, we decided to take a bit of a detour off of the gravel road that lead home, onto a bitumen road that appeared to run parallel to the coastline. Barry thought he’d see how the car responded to some downward pressure applied to the accelerator. As soon as the speedometer reluctantly crept up over 50km/hr however, several components of the vehicle broke into a chorus of unhealthy sounds that suggested that the car wasn’t built for any sort of speed.

Concerned that a breakdown was imminent, and not wanting to spend a night stranded in an Indonesian jungle, we decided that it just wasn’t our night and we headed home. If you’re following our adventure on Facebook, you will know that this story doesn’t really end here! Check back here tomorrow for the rest of the story!

 

A Look Around Maluk

I have to begin this post by thanking you for all the comments, emails and Facebook messages that followed my last post! It can be a lonely existence over here, and when I hear from you – (whoever you are, and wherever you are) it aIways makes me feel a little bit less isolated! I had actually endured a week or more of technical issues while I was trying to get that post up, and at one point I actually lost my website entirely. After a whole day of fiddling around behind the scenes trying to get it all working again (and only succeeding in making things worse), I was ready to throw my hands up in the air and never return to write another word.

Over the years of our marriage, Barry has affectionally christened me with additional middle names that are usually inspired by the existence of some of my more predominant (yet apparently undesirable) personality traits.  One of these names happens to be ‘Stubbo’ which I’ve been informed is short for ‘Stubborn’. It slots in there between ‘Sarco’ and ‘Pesso’. While that streak of ‘Stubbo’ often comes up on the undesirable list, I maintain that some of my greatest achievements have been a direct result of my unwillingness to be beaten, and this was very much the case in the last week when it has been me, Deanna Sarco Stubbo Pesso Pamenter against all things technical.

My last few posts have been rather wordy, and I thought it was time to break up all of the words with some more photos. I seem to have a lot of photos taken from inside a moving vehicle, and while they’re not always fantastic photos they do give you a good idea of our surroundings. These were all taken fairly close to home, mostly in and around a village called “Maluk”. Maluk is the closest thing we have to civilisation over here, but don’t get me wrong – it definitely doesn’t fall into or even close to the ‘civilised’ category. I love visiting the colourful village however, and when we’re there I’m always hopeful that we’ll take a wrong turn and get lost in the backstreets as we have done a few times already – as they say, “getting lost is not a waste of time’!

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Notes to Myself: Remote Island Office Furniture Purchasing

I often find myself wishing I’d had a little more information back when I was packing my suitcase in preparation for this move. When we packed up, it was with the knowledge that our shipment would arrive here at the same time that we arrived, or a short while later. It’s now been almost 6 weeks, and that shipment is still in transit somewhere between Australia and this jungle island.

The point is, if I had known then what I know now, the contents of the suitcases that came with us would be possibly have be a lot different. Less clothes, more freezer bags – that kind of thing. Less shoes, more cinnamon. Some vanilla beans. My joggers. A copy of The Yellow Pages. Yes, The Yellow Pages. I never imagined I would find myself wishing I had packed a hardcopy, full sized version of a seemingly useless phonebook either. Funnily enough though, as I sat down for the first time at our dining table for a meal, it became quite apparent that a 4 inch thick phone book would have found a very useful place under my backside.

I’m not sure who crafted our dining table/chairs, but evidence suggests that it may have been a person with a somewhat elongated torso. We all know that etiquette requires us to lift our food up to our face. Upon sitting down to my first meal here however, I found myself in a situation where the my food was already at my face. I could quite easy rest my chin on the side of the plate. Whilst this made for fairly convenient dining, the dining room table is also doubling as my desk and I found that typing on my keyboard with my hands right under my nose was a little more than distracting.

I tried various combinations of pillows and cushions until I had a “Princesss and the Pea” situation going on right here in my kitchen. It wasn’t ideal, and knowing it was no long term solution we decided that we would need to go in search of an adjustable office chair. Now normally, this wouldn’t be something you would write home about. However, the days of a convenient and uneventful 5 minute drive to Officeworks are very much over. Now, even the most seemingly straightforward of tasks can bring about an adventure of sorts and I always write some notes along the way.

Notes to Myself: Remote Island Office Furniture Purchasing

  • Pack overnight bag, book hotel in Lombok and arrange for someone from townsite to drive you down to the ferry. This is a 30 minute drive. Make your way through security, and board ferry with empty suitcases in tow. (We’re learning quickly to capitalise on trips to civilisation)
  • At the mercy of the elements, make way across ocean to North of Lombok on ferry. Trip times vary depending on the mood of the ocean, but it usually takes 1.5 – 2 hours. 

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  • Arrive at Lombok. Locate driver, or rather – be located by driver as you’re the only foreign looking person in the vicinity. Learn driver’s name is Adi.

    Adi: “Where’s baby?”
    Barry: “No baby”
    Adi: “Ah, why no baby?”
    Barry: “Still practising”

  • Shake head – whether in amusement or embarrassment, you’re not sure.
  • Begin across land journey from north side of Lombok to west, a good trip takes 2 hours. Observe all manner of eye opening happenings along the roadside.

Just when you think you have seen it all – something makes you look twice, and you think to yourself ‘that must be it, really – nothing can surprise me anymore’. 5 minutes up the road, to your surprise, you are surprised again.  

  • Get lulled into semi consciousness by weaving traffic and constant beep beep beeeeeep.
  • Zone in and out of eyebrow raising conversations between Barry and Adi.

  Marriages in Lombok… Boy kidnaps girl, takes her away for a night… If her parents don’t find her, girl must marry boy… Many men have multiple wives, I hear the driver explaining.  “One night one wife, one night another wife, next night another wife, one night free.” Busy man. Too many wives. Too much work.

  • Return to full consciousness as car pulls up abruptly at a fuel station.

Adi: “I need to go peepees.” (Runs inside)
Me:  “Did he just say “peepees?”

Adi returns and we drive off.

Barry: “Feel better?”

Adi: “Much lighter, not heavy anymore.”
Barry: “Car goes way faster.”

  • Wonder if you really just heard that.
  • Sigh in resignation as traffic comes to a standstill all too soon.

Barry: “What’s happened?”
Adi: “Wedding!”
Barry & I in unison: “Noooooo.”

In short, weddings = traffic jam. Weddings involve the bride and groom and a huge colourful, noisy procession of people singing, dancing, yelling and drumming their way down the road at snails pace. Apparently Saturday afternoon is a popular time slot to exchange wedding vows. IMG_7626-copy

  • Eventually arrive at hotel. Note that the sun has very much gone down.
  • Navigate way to shopping mall.
Stepping out onto a road full of cars, trucks, horses, scooters and other assorted methods of transport all weaving in and out and around each other, is an exhilarating experience in the broad daylight when you know where you’re going. In the dark, where depth perception is challenged and you’re in unfamiliar territory – crossing a road can be a whole new level of exciting.
And a great source of amusement to the locals apparently.  

  • Miraculously arrive at mall unscathed, and somewhat humoured by the whole ordeal.
  • Walk up, down and around three levels of shops before finally locating one singular office chair. Note that the days of being spoilt for choice are also very much over. Sit down deflated on a pile of floor mats as you make the realisation that the only choice of chair is going to be way too big to get in the vehicle taking you back to the ferry.
  • Reluctantly return to hotel but feel your spirits lift as you notice a sign in the foyer advertising that the spa is open until “11 midnight.” Ring up and book hot stone massage. Visit spa, and meet the tiny lady who you expect will provide you with 90 minutes of hot stone bliss. Note absence of hot stones. Endure 90 minutes of torture at the hands and feet of tiny lady. Tiny lady, big pain. Emerge from spa limping and holding back tears.
  • Shower and crawl into bed. Lie awake listening to unusually loud drip inside wall. Pile clothes and pillows over head. Toss and turn. Whack the offending wall. Concede when the 4am call to prayer begins (right outside your room), that there may not be any sleep.
  • Doze off in early hours of morning, but wake unrested a short time later to an equally irritable husband displaying unmistakable signs of a developing ‘manflu’. Note that shopping is most definitely out of the question.
  • Call Adi and ask if he knows ‘computer chair’. Adi knows. Arrange to visit a furniture shop on way back to ferry. 
  • Arrive at shop, see a potentially suitable chair in the distance and jump out of car, excitement mounting. Get stopped at the door and informed ‘we finished’. Closing apparently. 
  • Drive to next furniture shop, tentatively walk inside and see not one, not two, but THREE office chairs! Realise that logistically only one chair is an option, and claim it immediately. Hand over what seems like a large sum of cash, and kick yourself for appearing so obviously interested and committed to buying. 

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  • Return to car, squeeze chair in and begin the 2 hour trip back to the ferry. Note that while Saturday was wedding day, Sunday appears to be funeral day and it seems that funeral processions have a similar effect on the flow of traffic as weddings.
  • Sprawl across back seat and catch up on some sleep. Return to the present on arrival at the ferry and see that it’s pouring rain. Board ferry getting rather wet in the process, and settle in for another nap. Wonder how the knees of the lady behind you could possibly be digging into your back, when your knees are 30cm from the seat in front of you. Consider making the move to the vacant seat behind her, to give her some knee prodding action of her own.
  • Receive information mid journey that there will be nobody present to drive you home when you disembark. Spend rest of trip arranging another driver.

We did eventually make it home with our new chair. (In case you were wondering). As we were walking back up the jetty towards home, wheeling a computer chair and trying to ignore all of the sideways glances in our direction, we both agreed that we wouldn’t be going anywhere off of this island anytime soon. A while ago we were talking about getting some new lounge chairs, but interestingly enough – the ones we have seem to be a whole lot more comfortable since our return from the office chair purchasing mission. Go figure.

 

Remote Island Baking

Remote island baking has it’s challenges. I feel like I could almost leave this post at that, but unless you’ve had to make something out of nothing, using a whole lot of not much you mightn’t really understand just what kind of challenges are faced in the jungle kitchen. A week ago, Valentine’s Day was looming and for one reason and another I found myself somewhat underprepared. I had also managed to pick up some nasty illness that left me sneezing, coughing and running to the toilet at the same time. As you can imagine it wasn’t a pleasant combination, and even if I had been living right beside a 6 floor shopping mall there was no way I was leaving the house to go looking for some commercialised token of my undying love.

Thankfully we don’t really do Valentine’s Day, as far as ‘buying’ goes. I’m usually the recipient of a handwritten, humorous poem, and I like to reciprocate the gesture by putting myself in charge of making something in the kitchen that I wouldn’t usually consent to making on the basis that it has no nutritional value whatsoever. Our shipment still hasn’t left Australia, so I’m working with a few bits and pieces in the kitchen that were issued to us on arrival. This doesn’t include things like cup measures, a rolling pin, baking paper, kitchen scales and other items obviously deemed unnecessary or too extravagant for this jungle existence.

So Valentine’s Day came along, and I stood staring into the drawer that I call my ‘pantry’  very much aware that whatever I ended up making was going to require some serious improvisation. I found some wholemeal flour (that smelled a bit stale), and thought maybe I’d have a go at making some shortcrust pastry. I had butter, salt, and ice cubes in the freezer so the only problem was the absence of any sort of weighing/measuring equipment. I did some of my best guesstimation work and put everything in the tiny 2 cup capacity food processor we were given. The burning motor smell that ensued made me wish I didn’t bother getting it dirty. Instead I went back to basics, using a grater to grate the butter up, and rubbing it in with my hands, all old fashioned like.

I had some frozen strawberries, cornflour and sugar, and I even had a couple of limes in the fridge that I’d picked up on a whim the week before, so I experimented over the stove until I had a thick strawberry pie filling. I was halfway through my pie filling experiments when there was a knock at the door and once again I had a group of non English speaking Indonesians here for company – this time to connect my broadband. That’s a story for another day, but their presence in general and their questionable work methods really added to the air of incompetence I already had going on in the kitchen.
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I didn’t have a rolling pin so I employed the use of two cutting boards, sandwiching the pastry between them to flatten it out as much as I could before substituting the absent rolling pin for a roll of cling wrap. Having no baking paper was always going to be a challenge. I decided to make a couple of mini pies and trial various non-stick baking methods, hoping that I would have one undamaged pie to show for my efforts in the end.  I can tell you that using a Scanpan (which I brought with me in my suitcase), as a baking tray is not a good idea.

It took the better part of a day, and Barry arrived home from work in the middle of proceedings which wasn’t my plan – but eventually I was able to present him with one mostly intact,’rustic looking’, heart-shaped, strawberry pie/tart. I’ve made prettier things, that’s for sure – but ‘pretty’ doesn’t seem to matter so much anymore. It’s not so much ‘look what I made, doesn’t it look good’, but more ‘look, I managed to make something and I believe it to be edible!’ IMG_7561 An oversupply of very ripe bananas forced me into experimenting further in the baking department, and yesterday I somehow turned out the most delicious banana cake/bread/loaf I’ve ever made. The only problem is, I wasn’t able to weigh or measure any of the ingredients, so I will probably never be able to repeat the process again!

A Successful Shopping Trip

I’m finding it a lot easier to keep our Facebook page up to date than this blog, especially when we’re on the move and/or have unreliable internet connection (which is more often than I’d like!). I’m not going to stop blogging here, but I just wanted to let you know that the 10 Kilograms Facebook page is public and I think you can still view it and see what we’ve been up to over here in the jungle even if you don’t have a Facebook account!

I’m a bit behind, and it might take a few posts to catch up but here’s what’s been happening. Last weekend we flew to Singapore for a couple of nights, and I finally got my visa. (Insert sigh of relief followed by fist pump + victory dance here!) Once all of the business was taken care of, my focus was on our extensive shopping list. Barry’s focus was on getting through the shopping trips.

I don’t have kids, but when it comes to shopping with this guy, I imagine it would be something similar to shopping with a tired, cranky and resistant toddler. It feels like we’re always on the verge of a tanty. At the very mention of the word ‘shop’ his bottom lip drops, his eyes go all round and fill with despair, and I have to put on a gentle, soothing voice (that I reserve especially for shopping) so as not to further encourage a public a meltdown with the help from my sharp tongue and it’s potentially inconvenient timing. It’s a rather delicate situation. Untitled-4 Thankfully, (for both of us) we knocked most of our list over with one trip to Ikea! I love Ikea because it’s big enough that I can hide briefly in a laundry or kitchen display, and subsequently lose my trolley pushing companion for a little while. This means I can go through my list and collect things without the constant sense of unease I have when I can hear him unenthusiastically dragging his feet along behind me. Our shipment still hasn’t left Australia, so we did a lot of shopping for household essentials – things like freezer bags, oven mitts, cup measures, clothes hangers and other random items. Things that you wouldn’t know you needed until you’re stuck on an island without them!

On the way back to Sumbawa we spent a night in Seminyak, Bali where our main objective was to locate and purchase an Esky/Ice Box and fill it with meat! (I also had a secret side objective which was to find an art shop and stock up on supplies!). As expected, it was quite a mission to find something that resembled an Esky but we did eventually manage to find a ‘Marina Cooler’ that was big enough to make future meat runs worthwhile, but at the same time small enough that we could do these future meat runs on the seaplane. (Within our 10kg weight limit.) We filled the box to the brim with assorted cuts of (very pricey) Australian lamb and beef, and had it frozen overnight at our hotel. Untitled-5 The next day after we’d had a super healthy breakfast and stocked up on things like non-toxic mosquito repellent from Down to Earth Bali, we made our way to the airport once again. A (delayed) plane flight, a road trip and a ferry trip later – we arrived back at our house and were very relieved to open our ice box and find that all of the meat was still cold. ‘Successful shopping trip’ has taken on a whole new meaning!

Language Barriers & Lightbulbs

I’m not much of a morning person, takes me a while to feel human in the mornings. A couple of days ago I had just sat up in bed and started to talk myself into busting a move when out of nowhere there was a loud knock on the door, followed by muffled voices and lots of shuffling around on the verandah downstairs. Just the day before, I had been given a heads up about the frequent and unannounced visits from the maintenance team but I had thought maybe they would give a girl a bit of time to settle in before imposing. Apparently not.

At first I froze, a bit unsure of what to do and I thought that maybe if I was quiet enough they might just go away and I could calmly go about my waking up process. Instead, there was another louder knock and I realised that if it was in fact the maintenance team, they could quite possibly have a set of keys to the house. In an instant I was wide awake! I flung off the bed covers and began kicking my pyjamas off of one leg, hopped over to the mirror on the other leg and attempted to restrain my matted bed hair with one hand all the while reaching for some clothes with any available limb.

I quickly tiptoed downstairs clearing my throat on the way, and made my way to the door. I rubbed my eyes, blinked like an owl a few times before opening the door and greeting my visitors with the most high pitched and pleasant ‘good morning’ my sleepy vocal cords could produce. There were three men dressed in their high vis orange uniforms, sitting in various positions around the verandah. One of them got up and came to the door. “Ah hello mam, we come to check plugs.” I invited my three visitors inside, and for an awkward moment paced backwards and forwards, unsure whether I should spring back upstairs to brush my hair and make myself and our bedroom more presentable, or if I should pick the pile of dirty clothes up off the living room floor.

I ended up doing neither, instead I slid down into the chair behind my computer at the kitchen table, and watched inconspicuously as they went about their business. I’m not exactly sure what that business was, but they went and hovered around each electrical appliance for a time and in the process of doing so, they noticed our new water dispenser and kettle on the bench. ‘You mind if we change plug?’ I reluctantly agreed to let them change the plugs, as we really needed those plugs changed. I didn’t really ‘mind’ as such, however it was becoming increasingly apparent that my bladder was unimpressed about it’s needs being overlooked in my rush to answer the door.

For some time my visitors happily sat at on the floor in the doorway going about their changing of plugs, humming away to themselves completely oblivious to my growing paranoia about malaria carrying mosquitos coming through the open door. After some time I came up with a plan of action that I thought would result in the front door being closed. I got up and gathered up the pile of dirty clothes from the living room floor and excused myself, stepped through their plug changing gathering and into the laundry. I put a load of washing into the machine, and returned back into the house purposefully shutting the door behind me. I smiled to myself, feeling as though one crisis was averted. No sooner had I sat back down at my computer though, you know it – the door was open again.

Time ticked on by, nobody seemed to be in a hurry and as the second hour passed I began to wonder if my address was the only one they had intended to visit for the day. Realising that I might have company for some time, I figured I may as well capitalise on their presence and I decided to start pointing out a few of the electrical problems we’d noticed since moving in. Knowing the language barrier would potentially be an issue, I decided to start with a basic one: the flashing light in our bedroom. There are actually about five lights in our house that flash while they’re switched off. Not a problem in the daytime, but at night I had become increasingly frustrated by the intermittent flashing from the lightbulbs, especially the one over our bed.

I approached the only man who had spoken a little bit of English to me and tried my luck.
Me: “Ummm.. permisi pax? (Excuse me sir?)
 “Upstairs bedroom (pointing to the roof) light (pointing to the light) flashing (make flashing hand signal)”
Man in orange: Blank stare.
Me: “Errrm… Upstairs.” (Pointing upstairs)
Man in orange: “Yes.”
Me: “Umm.. light – I show you?”
Man in orange: Follows me upstairs to bedroom
Me: “Flashing” (Pointing to light)
Man in orange: Turns the light on. 
Me: “Um no, no turn off.” (Pointing to light) “You watch.”
Man in orange: “Light working”.
Me: “No, you keep watching! Flashing – see?”
Man in orange: “Light working mam”.
Me: “Um yes, but light flashing. You watch. 20 seconds.”
Man in orange: “Light working ok”
Me: “Watch! (Stand there looking at light..) SEE?”
Man in orange: “Mam, what is the problem”.

Oh MY GOOODNESS. In the end, after what I’m sure was an interesting conversation with his colleagues, a decision was made and I was informed “we come back after lunch and change lightbulb”. Noooooooooo…

So, true to his word mid afternoon there was another knock on the door, and my hard hat wearing visitors descended on the house once more. They were carrying with them a step ladder, boxes of lightbulbs and this time they had another man in a yellow shirt with them. This newcomer seemed to have a little more English, so against my better judgement I explained the flashing light situation all over again. After much looking, pointing and nodding it seemed like we were about to make some progress. I left them upstairs and retreated back to the kitchen table. After a a few minutes the sounds of laughter floated down the stairs, and it gradually increased in volume and intensity until eventually the laughs were punctuated by uncontrollable snorts. I was feeling more than a little awkward about the whole situation, and more inspired than ever to get my Indonesian language lessons underway.

Eventually they presumably stopped rolling around on the floor wetting themselves at my expense, pulled themselves together and emerged – plodding down the stairs looking decidedly straight faced.

Man in yellow shirt: “Ok mam it fixed, your lamp is not already errr what you call it?..”
Me: “Flashing?”
Man in yellow shirt: “Yes, flashing!”
Me: ”Terima Kasih!” (Thank you!)”

As soon as they exited and I heard the car drive away I made my way dubiously up the stairs and stood watching the light for a few seconds. Sure enough, the flashing continues. It’s a little bit frustrating that they can’t understand me and I can’t understand them, but I’m finding the most frustrating part of this language barrier is that they pretend they do understand when they clearly don’t! Last night we took things into our own hands and removed the lightbulb before bed – problem solved! 

Home

As much as I love to travel and explore, I have to confess that I am probably more of a homebody than an intrepid spirit. I love home and the feeling of returning home after a trip away.  I love being on my own at home and I could happily pass days, even weeks without leaving home! I love decorating, cooking, gardening, creating and I tend to make it my mission in life to turn wherever I’m living from ‘house’ into ‘home’.

When I signed up for this adventure I knew that I would be spending a lot of time at home. I also knew that my happiness here would depend on how liveable I found my little island hut to be.Up until 3 days ago I hadn’t seen the house we would be living in before, all I knew was that we were moving into a 2 bedroom apartment style house so I was a little nervous about the introductions. I was more than relieved to walk up the front stairs and feel that sense of ‘home’. The ‘D’ at the front door, made me feel all the more welcome! There is nothing fancy about this house, it’s very basic and there are patch up jobs everywhere but I’m pretty sure we will be happy to call it home for a couple of years. IMG_3384   Let me take you on a quick tour. At the front you can see we have a nice verandah, complete with a table and some chairs. I will be investing in some citronella candles before we hang out there however. Off to the left of the verandah is a little laundry room, it has a washing machine, dryer and a mop and broom.

As you step inside the house, you find yourself in the living room. I think we can all agree that those lounge chairs have to go. They’re fairly well used.. dirty and stained. It’s a bit of a first world problem, but we’ve put in an unofficial work order to have them replaced, so fingers crossed a team of Indonesians turn up here one day with new chairs. Not likely, but we’re hoping. In the meantime they have been covered with spare sheets, and a recycled sari throw. IMG_3399
If you carry on walking through there past the dining table, you will see the kitchen. I was very happy to see that we’ve been given a brand new oven/stove, and we’ve also been issued some brand new appliances – a toaster, blender, mixer and a rice cooker. We have a very basic set of everything in the cupboards/drawers but I am very much looking forward to the day our shipment arrives and I can unpack some decent knives, some tea towels, freezer bags and some plastic containers! IMG_3397 Upstairs we’ve been lucky to find ourselves with 2 bedrooms. House allocation here works on a points system, and usually 2 bedrooms are reserved for couples with children. We have a king single bed in the spare room, and a king bed in the main bedroom. IMG_3403
I have already commenced my homemaking sequence in this room by doing a quick upholstery job on the bedhead, and adding my own custom made bedding (thanks mum!). IMG_3463
I will spare you the details of the bathroom, it’s not very pretty. The main bathroom is upstairs, and there’s also a toilet downstairs. They could both use quite a makeover, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to improve that situation! Closing the door is my temporary solution!

Lost In Translation

Today was a logistically (and somewhat linguistically) challenging day. (To put it nicely). The abbreviation LIT was introduced to our vocabulary by circumstance, and I think it will be here to stay.  LIT = Lost In Translation. LIT came in quite handy when we had to subtly communicate to each other that there had possibly been a breakdown in communication. Additionally, we found that “Lost In Transit” was also a pretty good fit after our luggage disappeared off of the radar at one point this afternoon.

We set off in the very early hours this morning to Changi airport in Singapore, hoping that by this evening our travels would have eventually lead us from Singapore to Sumbawa via Denpasar and Lombok. Unfortunately for us, being a little too punctual at Changi meant that little ole’ mate at the check-in counter (in his wisdom), got a bit confused with our itinerary and inadvertently printed out a pile of boarding passes that sent us off on a Tour de Indonesia. IMG_3323 It’s a long story involving timezone calculation errors, flights that didn’t quite connect properly, 90kg of temporarily misplaced baggage, blank stares, frantic jibber jabber and lots of pointing/waving of arms. I don’t have the capacity to relay the sequence of events on in their entirety just yet, but I will just concludeby stating the obvious – we are not yet at Sumbawa.

One LIT incident after another meant we weren’t able to get to the ferry this afternoon soinstead we have been checked in to the Novotel at Lombok. It’s not where we’re supposed to be sleeping, but I can think of worse places to land!  We’ve taken some time out on the beach to process the events of the day, watched a beautiful sunset through the palm trees, and enjoyed a 3 course candlelit dinner. The 5 star treatment here probably isn’t really helping to ease us into our new reality, but I’ll take it! IMG_3344 IMG_3300

We’re starting out early again in the morning, and we’re off to the ferry first thing so with any luck we will reach our destination at some point tomorrow!

 

One month later!

It’s already been a little over a month since we told you about this tropical island adventure that we’ve signed up for, and quite the month it’s been! We’ve packed up our house, sent everything off to storage, disconnected our utilities, cleaned it from top to bottom and left it ready to be rented. Luckily for us, (as there are another 87 vacant 4 bedroom houses just like ours in the area) we’ve been told we already have some tenants! We’ve also organised and painstakingly packed a shipment that will (hopefully) meet us in Indonesia once we’re there.

We’ve had thorough medical and dental check ups, and we’ve both been declared fit and healthy and psychologically sound. Phew! We’ve cancelled all our accounts, changed our phones to prepaid and redirected our mail. There have already been many hard goodbyes, and there are still more to come. Today, we find ourselves somewhat homeless and coming to you from an incredibly unreliable and slow internet connection. We’re currently with family in Queensland, doing some last minute bracing of ourselves before we fly out on Friday. IMG_3055-copy (Small) We’ve spent some time on the farm familiarizing ourselves with some of the more Indonesian ways of travelling, but sadly this all came to an end when a miscalculation surrounding fuel levels and reserves meant that we were most unfortunately stranded phone-less at the furtherest corner of the farm. On the downhill side of the farm. (Of course).

Earlier today we purchased some snorkelling gear, and this afternoon I was given an introduction to snorkelling in one of the dams. Well, lets just say I could use some more practice. Preferably in clear water where the thought of clawed carnivorous crustaceans lurking at my toes in the mud below is not a constant distraction. Right now I’m rocking a nasty headache that I suspect may have something to do with the many sudden and unexpected inhalations of murky dam water my sinuses experienced during snorkelling 101. IMG_3056-copy Over the last month, aided by Google maps we’ve taken quite a few people on a virtual tour of the jungle we are about to call home. I’ve taken some screenshots to give you a rough idea of where it’s all at, but you’ll find it a lot better if you look it up yourself – just make sure you go to satellite view. So below you can see Bali on the left, in the middle is Lombok and on the right is Sumbawa. If you look at the bottom left corner of Sumbawa, you can see a little tiny white patch that looks like a cloud – that is in fact a huge copper/gold mine called Batu Hijau, and that’s where we’re off to. 18-01-2014 6-46-31 PM As you zoom in a bit, you can see where the mine is in relation to where we’ll be living. On the left side of this map, right near the coast is ‘townsite’ – that’s us! It takes about 20 minutes by car from townsite to the mine. 18-01-2014 6-48-15 PM 18-01-2014 6-49-33 PM     I always locate townsite by the shape of the running track/oval in the middle, and then confirm the location by spotting the pool. This whole little village is owned by the mine, and is inhabited only by people working at or providing a direct service to the mine. Note how close it is to the beach! 18-01-2014 6-51-06 PM  Up until a couple of weeks ago we could have pointed out the exact house we’d be living in, but a few things have changed and now we’re not so sure. We’re thinking it will be somewhere on this map – hopefully close to the pool! 18-01-2014 6-53-30 PM  Sumbawa is a fairly big island, it takes a bit of navigating around – even on Google maps!  On this screenshot you can see the port where the ferry and seaplane come in, and you can also see a village right beside the sea called Maluk. 18-01-2014 6-57-00 PM We’re looking forward to exploring Maluk a little, this is where we’ll be trying to source most of our necessities.    18-01-2014 6-58-12 PM Tomorrow we’re off to Brisbane, and on Friday we’re flying to Singapore for a few days to pick up our visas. I was just in the middle of saying that I’ve hooked myself up with a brand new laptop and I should be posting here regularly soon, when the said laptop froze, and proceeded to shut itself down. There’s been ongoing issues with it freezing since we got it out of the box, so I’m not sure what the future holds for this computer or the regularity of my blog updates. I’ve set up a Facebook page that I’ll be able to update from my phone so until I sort my computer issues out that’s where we’ll be!

A seaplane, a suitcase and a sense of adventure

Words. That’s what I’m trying to put together. Just a ‘hello’, maybe a ‘welcome’ and a ‘here’s what’s been happening’. It should be easy – there’s so much to say that the words should be tumbling out so fast that they bump into each other. But they’re not.

It’s like sitting in front of a huge blank canvas – it’s intimidating and I hardly know where to start. If you know me personally, you will know that over in another little corner of the internet I call myself an artist. I’ve been painting for quite a few years – and from my experience with many large blank canvases, I know it’s best just to put some paint down! It doesn’t matter what or where, just slap some paint on!

So here I go, ‘slapping some paint on’ so to speak. Wearemovingoverseas! To a small island in fact. A remote, rugged, tropical, monkey populated island called Sumbawa. You’ve probably never heard of Sumbawa, so I’ve done you a favour and circled it on the map. i There’s not a lot at Sumbawa. The island is probably most well known among surfers, (extremely good ones) as it has some of the worlds best (but challenging) surfing beaches. It is also the location of a large copper/gold mine called  Batu Hijau – this is the reason for our relocation.

Last week we were flown over for a site visit to sign and seal the deal. We flew from Sydney to Lombok via Denpasar (Bali). From Lombok there are two ways to get to Sumbawa. Option A is a 2 hour ferry trip, while Option B is just a 15 minute flight in a seaplane. It sounds like a no-brainer, however if you choose Option B and take to the air, you are only allowed to take 10kg of luggage with you. Seaplane When I first read over our contract, these were the two words that my eyes kept darting back to. 10 kilograms. Just 10 kilograms!  My initial question was how was I going to pack my life up into 10kg? What would I take? A suitcase to start with I thought. I went straight to the bathroom scales with my empty suitcase. 3kg! On it’s own! In disbelief I sat down on the floor and announced that the only way forward would be travelling with my belongings in a garbage bag.

I’ve since learned that there are some options. If the flight is too heavy, they can take some bags out and send them on a later flight. At check-in, you’re allowed to hop on the scales with a backpack on. Because I’m not very big I quickly learned that I could stuff that backpack full and still weigh-in lighter than the average male that didn’t have a backpack. So while I was able to leave the garbage bags in the kitchen this time,  I don’t think that travelling to and from Sumbawa in the days/weeks/months to come will be without challenges. Indonesia Rice Fields The wet season is just starting in the tropics, and from my vantage point in the seaplane I began to understand that rice was soon to be quite a feature in my Indonesian diet. There are rice fields (I would say paddies, but the locals didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about when I referred to their rice paddy) as far as the eye can see in every direction. It’s not hard to imagine where all the mosquitoes and water borne diseases hang out either but I’m trying not to think too much about that! Sumbawa Indonesia Indonesia is made up of about 18 000 islands, so once you’re in the air it’s never long before you’re looking down on a stunning shade of blue.  It was only minutes into our flight and we were coming in for a water landing at Sumbawa. This jungle is our new home! Sumbawa Indonesia  We are very happy and rather settled here in our little corner of Australia, and I’m not finding the current situation easy. I’m usually all for adventure, and I am (obviously, or I would never have signed up for this one), but I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a mixed bag of emotions all at once before. At the moment, I’m feeling much more sadness at the closing of this chapter than excitement for the new chapter about to begin. Saying goodbye is never easy.  Sumbawa Indonesia  It’s just two weeks today until our house will be bare, and the journey really begins. I will be posting here as often as I can, and you’re welcome to follow along on this journey as we leave our home among the gum trees behind and make ourselves a new home among the palm trees!