Some home movies from Belitung

Some call it embarrassing. I call it hilarious.

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Ode to mom

Let’s see if we can make her cry, shall we?

I haven’t always been grateful to my mother. When I was a teenager I could be a real bitch to her (and to my brother, although he wasn’t always nice to me either). When you are that age, you don’t realize that everything is not normal. It is not normal that your mother raises you all by herself, it is not normal that she spends all her money on you and your brother, but she doesn’t buy nice things for herself and it is not normal that she doesn’t always do everything for you so you learn to do things for yourself.

Back then, if she wouldn’t drive me to school when it rained, I thought she was being selfish. And when I had to start doing my own laundry, I didn’t like the extra chores. When my brother and I both had to start cooking every week, I felt annoyed because I didn’t like to cook and I wasn’t any good at it. I took it for granted when she spent a lot of money on redecorating my room, just because I wanted to move to the attic and get a bigger space.

And now I am so grateful for it all. Because now, I know how to cook, I know how to do my laundry, and when I left my mothers nest at age 17 I was a lot more developed than many other students my age.
I learned practical skills from her like fixing the television and putting together IKEA furniture. Once, I helped a friend move, and even though I showed up in high heels and a skirt (which was not really practical, but it looked pretty nonetheless) when it came to putting together a very difficult IKEA table, I could do it without any help, leaving my friend and her family with a look of surprise on their faces.

I know now that I shouldn’t take all her sacrifices for granted and being (sort of) an adult myself now, I don’t know if I would ever be able to do what she did. (How ’bout it mom, getting teary yet?)

Mama 2

I always called her when I just left home. I called her with the smallest questions, like: at how many degrees do I wash my red sweater, or how long do I need to cook potatoes, how do I install a new program on my computer… She always answered patiently and now I don’t have to call so often. I learned a lot of the things I know from her (although she still has to teach me how to use silver polish, because up until now I have only been using her skills for that) and now I don’t have to call her so often anymore. And now I can even give her advice or teach her something occasionally ;)

Whenever I need to make a big decision, I always call her. And it’s not even because I expect her to tell me what to do, because she doesn’t. But by telling her the whole story, I get some perspective myself, and usually by the end of the conversation, I will know what to do. And sometimes, I even already knew before starting the conversation.

She taught me to think for myself, instead of letting other people think for me. Because of my mother, I am independent. I can take care of myself and I do. And I believe that that is one of the main reasons why I am able to go on an adventure like this.

So, credit where credit’s due. And in this case, a lot of the credit goes out to mommy dearest. Even if I were as annoying as Stewie, she would have kept her patience.

I love you mom, and I am very, very grateful for the way you raised me and the way you continue to support me in everything I do. I’m definitely not taking it for granted anymore and I am well aware of your part in how my life turned out.

So thank you.

Update on resolutions (part two)

Now that I’m almost leaving Jakarta, you may wonder how it went with the resolutions (see the resolutions here, check out the first update here).
Well, some things were easier than others, but all in all, I think I failed a little.

It was easy to eat fruit and yes, I ate a lot of rice and a lot of vegetables. So that’s good. I’ve tried exotic and weird fruits, such as dragonfruit, snakeskin fruit (yes, it’s a thing), starfruit, papaya and the best mango’s in the world. The food here is fantastic, but, even though I thought it would be very healthy, it turned out to consist of a lot of oil, sometimes a lot of sugar… Yes, they use fresh ingredients, but a lot of the food contained some not so healthy additions as well. So that was a downside.

Walking to work is something I did every day, and most of the times I walked back also. Sometimes I had plans after work, or I just felt lazy and ordered a Go-jek.

The thing about Indonesia is that it is hot. And the warmth makes you feel lazy and slow, which made it very hard for me to get off my but and hit the gym. So I only did this a couple of times and I wasted perfectly good money on the membership. So even though I did walk to work everyday, and back, most of the times, I didn’t really run or jump or whatever. In the next few months I will let this resolution go also, because with all the travel it will be tricky, but there will be a lot of walking. And then when I move to the next location for a longer period of time, I will create a new plan.

I really wanted to learn yoga while I was here, but I didn’t. I feel bad about that, but my new plans include a ten-day meditation retreat in Thailand, in March, where the morning includes an hour of yoga. So I hope that will give me the basis I need to start doing more yoga.

So yeah, not all my resolutions were accomplished, but that is basically how they work though, isn’t it? I have many resolutions for my time in Paris as well, but we’ll just see how they go. But right now, I am assuming I will accomplish them all then, so I can go on a guilt-free trip the next month and a half.

 

(full disclosure, the picture at the top was taken in Singapore)

 

Welcome to paradise

The name: Belitung.
The atmosphere: Tropical.
The scenery: White sand beaches, blue water, beautiful palmtrees.
What more do you want? Nothing.

I went to Belitung, an island in Indonesia, where I spent a relaxing weekend with my friend when she came to visit. Our house was right next to the beach and had everything you could want (a bed and bathroom). The place is only 25 euros a night and you won’t find anything like this in Europe for that price.

The beaches were truly amazing and on the second day we went islandhopping. We got on a boat (by walking into the water and climbing the ladder) and sailed into the great big unknown. We saw a beautiful lighthouse that proved to be very photogenic, we went into a bit of a jungle, we interacted with one of my new favorite animals: turtles and we went snorkeling. And when I say WE went snorkeling, I mean my friend went snorkeling while I was crawled up like a ball in the boat for half an hour, trying to fight the seasickness.
I did throw crackers into the water though, which makes all the fishes come to you and that was awesome.
The next day we went into more jungle, we saw the smallest monkey in the world (but we did see the biggest kind of the smallest monkey, the Tarsius monkey) and we went to a museum. We also saw the place where a movie was shot, called Rainbow Troops. I still haven’t seen it, but it’s on my to watch list.

Just dream away with the pictures we took, and if you want more information or the number for our contact on the island, just contact me 😃

 

What happens when you yell ‘bomb’ on a plane

When I arrived in Singapore it was quite a contrast with Indonesia and I was happy to be able to say I have now been in two Asian countries. We arrived in the evening and took a taxi to our hostel, and right away I noticed how quiet it was in the streets. Sure, it was the middle of the night, but in Jakarta that really doesn’t make a difference. There is always traffic. Not in Singapore.
Another shock I had was that everybody stopped at the traffic lights when they were red. In Indonesia, it’s really more like a suggestion. And this kind of became a general idea during our stay in Singapore. People would simply stick to the rules. And I’m not just talking about written rules, such as no chewing gum (which is literally a law), no food in the subway and no smoking in a lot of places. I’m also talking about the unwritten rules, like getting up for the elderly in the subway or in the bus, like staying quiet in the street when it is late at night… And all these unwritten rules have written forms that really impressed me. One of the things I kept noticing in Singapore is the amazing marketing skills they have. Look at some of the signs below, that really speak to you and make you want to stick to the rules. #standupstacey

 

I really felt like Singapore is a city that really focuses on making it as comfortable as possible to live in. There are plenty of subway stations and busses to get around, they have many parks and benches, places to relax… They even had a charging station in one of the subway stations, which I thought was such good service!

The trip to Singapore already started great. I met my friend at the airport and together we waited for our flight to Singapore (where she had a layover a few hours before, which we didn’t know beforehand). We saw a sign there, in Indonesian, which I roughly translated to: you cannot shout the word ‘bomb’ at the airport.
When we were in the airplane, I explained to my friend that everybody in Indonesia asks you ‘where are you going?’ instead of ‘how are you?’ I told her how you just give them the simple answer, like: I’m going to the office. But you won’t tell them what you’ll be doing there, like: I’m going to the office to plant a bomb.
‘I thought you couldn’t say bomb?’ my friend asked.
‘No, you cannot shout it,’ I clarified, even though that was just my interpretation of the sign.
A few minutes later I started playing a game on my phone (not because we were already sick of each other, but because I was restless and needed something to do) and I decided on Fruitninja. For those of you who don’t know the game: what rock have you been living under?
In the game, there are pieces of fruit and there are bombs. Can you see where I’m going with this?
After a while I hit a bomb and in the heat of the moment, I yelled: Ah, no, I hit a bomb!
There were no consequences and I think nobody paid attention to the two loud bules in the airplane, but I thought it was kind of a funny moment.

What they say about Singapore is true. It is very clean. And I expected it all to be very modern and fancy, but the truth is, Singapore has many different areas. We went to Little India (where we stayed in a hostel also), to Chinatown, to Arab street, and in each of these places the atmosphere is totally different and a lot of people from these countries lived there.

The food was amazing. We went to this one restaurant that was a one minute walk from our hostel, where they made the most amazing sauce to go with the mini springrolls. So we ordered that a lot, even if it was just for a late night snack. We ate a huge plate of vegetables and some falafel in Arab street and in Chinatown we were adventurous and ordered some stuff off the menu of which we had no idea what to expect. Plus, I found a salad bar that became my favorite place in Singapore on day one, so we went back one more time later that weekend.

We also spent one morning in a great natural park, where we were planning on hiking for 5 kilometers, but we ended up walking only a fifth of that. It was so hot. But it was beautiful and we also saw a bit of the natural activities there, like an ant migration and a monkey running through the playground.

One of the main activities during this trip was making small videos, usually of us singing. When I edited this all together, I will share some of those moments with you. Some may say it’s embarrassing I just say we were having fun.
And we did.
But until I can upload the videos, you’ll have to do with the photographs below.

 

One more week…

And then I will leave Jakarta. For good? I don’t think so. But for now.

I had such a good time here. I learned so much about the Indonesian culture, about working in a multicultural atmosphere and about myself. I made friends I will miss so much and I met people that entertained me for a day and I know I will never see again.

I always thought that when I was older and I needed to settle down (whatever that means) I would do so in The Netherlands. The thing is… now I’m not so sure. Honestly, it was not hard for me to adjust to a different culture and country. I blended in smoothly (despite everybody looking at me) and I was even able to learn some of the language during my time here. So now that homesickness and fear won’t be a factor, I can really live anywhere. And that is both a liberating thought, as well as a scary one. And a very difficult one, because how do I ever choose a place to live forever?

The answer is I don’t know yet, and I don’t need to know yet. I will know eventually and even if I don’t, I can always move around until I find my place under the sun (but I would prefer to have some sun, so that is -1 for The Netherlands).

In my last week here I will try to write many blogs, because I am far behind and have so much to tell and show you. There will be some very funny videos from my time here with a friend that visited me and I will post many pictures from my latest trips.

So there is much to come. But there will be even more later. Because even though I will leave Jakarta, I will not leave Asia, as I will be traveling through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia before I leave.

So yeah, my life is still awesome. And I’m happy every day that it won’t end soon.

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