A Delayed Delivery

Last week, after months of anticipation our shipment finally arrived in Indonesia! Once the boxes had cleared customs in Bali (read: once we had paid a ‘fee’ for the release of our boxes), they were brought over here to Sumbawa via Lombok and were due to arrive at our door sometime on Thursday. Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) there were some mechanical issues with the truck that the boxes were on, which meant that a change of truck was necessary and the delivery was rescheduled to lunchtime Friday.

As much as I was looking forward to this delivery, I found the timing rather inconvenient as Friday is also the day that my Pembantu (maid), Lenny comes up here from Maluk and works her magic inside this jungalow. Lenny and I can communicate on a very basic level, but comprehension of whatever one of us is saying usually relies heavily on the slow repetition and exaggerated gesticulation of the other.

Lenny starts early in the morning and is usually finished by lunch time, but knowing there was still a chance that 25 boxes would arrive at the door before she left, (thus requiring some sort of potentially awkward explanation) I was almost hoping that there would be a further delay to the shipment so as to avoid this complication. I wasn’t surprised though, when on Friday morning as I was sitting outside on the verandah trying to keep out of Lenny’s way,  a pink truck drove in and began reversing up to the door. It wasn’t even 9am.

Three non-English speaking Indonesians jumped out of the truck, handed me a list and began piling boxes up all around me. I noticed that none of the original boxes (that I had particularly chosen for their sturdiness) had arrived, but instead some poor excuse for boxes – many of which were wet and had already broken open, were being unloaded.

I felt my heart sink further as I scanned the list detailing the contents of the boxes and I realised that the boxes that I had taken so much care in packing, itemising and labelling had most likely been up-ended on the floor somewhere and the contents ‘repacked’ into these unlabelled boxes in no particular order. The most obvious problem with this was that about a third of the boxes that left Australia actually belonged to one of Barry’s colleagues, Glenn. Glenn had packed his shipment just as carefully, but now it appeared that our two separate shipments had been clumsily combined into one.

As I reluctantly signed off on the paperwork and started opening boxes to inspect the damage, Lenny emerged from the house, her eyes wide. I began attempting to explain in the most simple English – “Boxes from Australia, this my job – not yours”. I tried several variations of this ‘you carry on with the housework, and let me sort this mess out in my own time’ message, but apparently it was to no effect. Lenny could barely contain her excitement. She started ripping open boxes, one after the other – tearing away layers of paper and spreading the contents of the boxes all over the floor.

As I mentioned, Lenny lives in the developing village of Maluk, she has 3 young children and she earns roughly the equivalent of $2/hour. With every box Lenny opened, came the questions “What dis?” or “What dis for?”, and it wasn’t long before I was questioning the necessity of almost everything that was unpacked.  A duster with replacement heads – “Coot”, (cute) she said, as I demonstrated it’s use. “Berry coot”. Yes I thought, a novelty – not a necessity. Cute indeed. Lenny unwrapped my steam mop and looked at me questioningly. “Mop” I said. 
“Mop?” “Already have!” she informed me, referring to the primitive, shaggy mop she wrings out over a bucket by hand. I sighed, and resigned myself to the fact that I would probably be steam mopping my own floors.

I returned to the boxes, and unpacked a mattress topper that I had (thankfully) been advised to bring to add a layer of padding to the hard surface that we call our bed. I began to explain that I wanted it on the bed, on top of the mattress. “Already mattress?” she said, confused.
 “Yes, there’s already a mattress, but it’s hard, this one softer”. Hearing my own words, I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable and I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of mattress Lenny sleeps on. Maybe she doesn’t even know what it’s like to sleep on a mattress. What is her ‘bed’,  and how many of her family are piled onto that ‘bed’?

I tried to push aside my feelings of guilt, but this was difficult as we seemed to be continuing to unpack more boxes that also contained items I already had in the house. The main reason for this was that I didn’t receive a whole lot of accurate information about what exactly would be here when we got here, and I was told if I used it a lot, to pack it. So I packed some appliances – a kettle, a mixer, a blender/food processor, all of which it turned out were here already. Even so, I was glad for the arrival of some quality appliances, as the ones we had been issued with here each produced either an unsavoury burning smell, varying loud and unhealthy sounds, or a combination of both upon use.

To Lenny however, an electrical appliance of any sort was probably a luxury she didn’t have in her own house. I wondered if she even had electricity. “Too much, too many!” she said, as I attempted to fit everything into the kitchen cupboards, and I was inclined to agree. She pulled a muffin tray out of one of the boxes, held it up and exclaimed “Muffins!” 
“You know muffins?” I asked. 
“Yes, muffins – I like!”
“I make muffins for you”, “Next time”, I said. Her face lit up in an excited smile.

Sometimes I wish I could do more. I wish I could pay her more. I wish I could help her, them – all of them. There is so much poverty here, it seems so hopeless and it’s easy to feel helpless. We’re going to get involved in some fundraising and charity work in the near future, maybe we can’t make a huge difference but we can try. In the meantime though, I plan to put my newly arrived baking supplies to good use, and turn out a batch of muffins for Lenny and her family. It’s not much, but I hope that the gesture will help her to see that I am more than the spoilt, soft bed loving, hoarder of electrical appliances she currently thinks I am.


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!


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.
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!


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!