Yet another group bites the dust ) ......... And our last night was lovely........we went for a posh goodbye meal in a lovely restaurant set outside with candles everywhere and beautiful scenery in our glam clothes......... And then headed to the infamous Raffle Bar for an authentic Singapore Sling ( possibly my fav cocktail, although a little expensive) and an evening throwing monkey nuts at each other...... It was a night like no other:) never gets easier saying bye to some great people you have shared amazing experiences with ........ On the plus side, a lot more holiday homes around the world. Was glad some (lynsey, brooke, olivia, karen, will and charlie) had decided to carry on the trip to Indonesia the next day for our new group
After an hour delay and panicking over not having a visa (app you need one for Indonesia- whoops), we finally made it to the hotel in time for the welcome meeting. We met some new faces :
Rod - a max Clifford look a like from canada, who has practically travelled everywhere and has given me so many tips already on my stay in Bali
Neals - a police officer from Germany who has had so many interesting experiences
Class- a guy from Belgium who already looks hilarious, love teaching him some English 'slang phrases'
Birju- my next door neighbour from harrow who is also really well travelled and has great tips
Helen and philline- 2 friends from Germany who remind me so much of lea and Claire from the last tour
And of course our tour leader- PANJI - a lovely guy with tons of knowledge.
Got to know everybody really well at our welcome dinner at an authentic Indonesian restaurant where you order your main ingredient (chicken, pork, tofu etc) and then tell them what spices you want added, finished off with some sambhar at the side- it was lovely. Naturally we wanted the night to carry on but sadly there were no bars nearby and alcohol is prohibited in certain places so we did it 'Jakarta style'- bought some from 7/11 and sat outside and chatted ( this is seriously how things are done here- cant imagine doing that outside cost cutters in the UK)
Jakarta- day 2
We were all raring to go sight seeing - booked our taxis, got to the harbour and the skies just opened up- it was non stop torrential rain for a whole hour......... We had no umbrellas or ponchos so huddled around a mini umbrella at a bus stop for some shelter while panji ran around trying to find us ponchos- it's not ideal for 14 people to huddle under a tiny umbrella but we bonded.....panji finally hailed down a bus for us and we had to practically crawl on and cram in together while panji was practically on top of the bus- it was an experience
Once the rain settled, we headed to the old town which is a massive square which looks Victorian and has an amazing feel to it with old post offices and water systems.....we then went on to visit the national monument which had lovely views of Jakarta including a mosque which holds 100 000 people at a time
The evening in Jakarta was by far one of the best nights out I've had since I came to Asia.....
We started off going to a bar with some live Indonesian music - we didn't understand a word but was great just nodding along
Some of us decided to find a club which is hard on a Monday night especially 'the way you looook' as a local told us so we decided to try other bars instead........
The first was a disaster- as soon as we set down with our drinks, we saw a cockroach and went on to scream the place down till the staff came to broom the cockroach out........ Of course Charlie though it was hilarious to pretend to see a cockroach so us girls would start screaming - kind of back fired on him when a cockroach went down his top and came out of his shorts while he jumped around- now known within the group as the cockroach shake ( Harlem shake is so yesterday)
Naturally we did not stick around there and found the best bar ever next where the guys ordered beer towers and the girls sipped cocktails......the locals were so welcoming and got us on the dance floor for some Indonesian folk dancing (which is a combination of line dancing and the Indian dance - ranjharyo- I'm sure I've spelt that wrong but you Indians know what I mean) we ended the night at 2am with dance offs between the locals and 'us westeners'- a night I will always remember))))
The next day we set off for Cianjur for our homestsy at the house of one of the locals.........after a stopover at a tea plantation where we saw ladies cutting tea leaves ( they get paid by the kilogram so they were snapping away) we arrived at our house for the next 2 nights....... I was expecting a run down hut but was pleasantly surprised to find a small cosy house well maintained by a local family.....
A lovely tofu lunch with crackers and potato rostis was waiting for us when we got there.......
The family then drove us down to catch a fishers boat to a floating village where we saw loads of little kids who were so excited to see strangers and surrounded us and played games.......the floating village itself was so surreal.......there were platforms made out of bamboo sticks and huts where only one person can sit and the locals use this to trade food, souvenirs to tourists it was a fantastic experience. We stopped over at a tiny hut which had 4 platforms made out of bamboo sticks - we all spread out and sat down to keep a balance and dipped our feet in the water so the fish could nibble away at our feet- a free fish pedicure- was a strange experience especially for those of us who are ticklish and kept rocking the platforms.......we were then driven home where we had a chilled out evening with the most amazing meal cooked for us- glass noodles pen dura, tofu and for desert - warm milk with peanuts and pieces of sweet bread- reminded me of hot chocolate with marshmallows........ This was also the first time I felt a teeny bit homesick when I suddenly realised I've forgotten what mum and dad look like!!
The next day we were driven to a remote land where we trekked 2 hours to get to an isolated village....... We saw a lot of creepy crawlies ( am proud to say I don't scream ALL the time anymore), loads of plantations made by locals (coffee, beans, brown sugar, spices and herbs ) which the locals trek few hours each day to sell to market traders......we were welcomed by another local family in the village hut who had a coconut tree and took some fresh ones down for us to drink along with watermelon and chocolate syrup ( amazing combo)........ We were then welcomed into their 2 room hut which consisted of a kitchen and a spare room which multi functioned as a living room, dining room and bedroom....... The lunch was phenomenal especially considering they only had a log fire to prepare the rice, noodles, corn fritters, eggs, curry and potato rostis for 14 people!!! I have new found respect for the microwave- we have it so super easy........ The old lady who made our food was just so lovely and blessed a few of us for helping her clear up after ........... It's amazing how much of an impact a person can make in such a short time:)
Another gorgeous meal was prepared for us again by our homestay family......with my fav being the potatoes dipped in honey and coconut milk (wow) . had another blonde moment when they bought out snake skin fruit which i loudly wondered why it was called that WHILE peeling off the snake skin ( the reactions were priceless) we spent the evening out on the patio playing games and singing along to songs while panji played the guitar- of course my request was firework by Katy perry and I killed the song ( it took me 5 times just to sing the first line in tune with the guitar- 'do you ever feel like a plastic bag'- apparently a hilarious first line for those who had not heard the song so I ended up giggling from that point- we made it to the end though...... With great guitar skills from the locals too.
Just want to say a massive thank you to our homestsy family in Cianjur who made this an unforgettable experience with all the activities and showing us true village life:)))
It's been nearly 7weeks since I left home now and it has been the most amazing experience of my llfe....... Meeting new people, experiencing local culture......... There have been a few times where I wished I had taken more photos, particularly with the homestsy, but sometimes you get so overwhelmed by your surroundings and experiences, taking photos just doesn't come into it....... I defo recommend this experience to everyone, photos can not do it justice......
Ill stop babbling now and get some sleep while we are on a 7 hr journey to our next destination- yogakarta:)