[7] Bali Bound

The idea of going to Bali with my parents and sister, to meet Kelvin’s parents, seemed so easy and peaceful the morning we drove to the airport. However, when we realized we had forgotten Kelvin’s laptop bag in the car that had just driven away and my sister was throwing up in the airport bathroom, it seemed slightly less peaceful. Needless to say, thanks to the amazing women who translated for us as we called the GoCar support line, as well as a handy airport wheelchair for my sister, we were happy to report we eventually made it to Bali!

We stayed in the Ramada Encore hotel for the equivalent of $30/night CAD. It was an unreal deal for the cost of our stay. We were also able to walk to the beach in about 20 minutes, which lead us through some great shops and markets on the way.

First day exploring the beach and everyone was smiling! Even the one who had been throwing up in the airport the day before!

We spent the day going to a bunch of different beaches and rotating through swimming, eating, and relaxing. It is a hard life!

…like really hard life.

We then headed to one of the temples and loved listening to the sound of the waves crashing up against the cliffs.

Kelvin’s parents knew of a much more remote temple and somehow managed to direct our driver there. We felt like we were walking on the cliffs in Australia; it was strange to remember that we were still in Indonesia!

We then headed for lunch and found a great place, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, that had a beautiful view of the rice patties.

Naturally, we then headed back to the beach after lunch – ha! It’s no wonder we were as sunburnt as we were. We sat down on these lounge chairs, foolishly thinking we were doing an innocent act but didn’t realize we were starting our tab where they would then tell us how much we owed them for sitting down. Since we realized we were paying, we decided to make the most of it and had coffee brought to us and continued to enjoy the sound of the beach. Again, certainly not complaining!

One of the things I was most excited about for this trip was getting to see sunsets again. In Jakarta, there is usually so much smog that it is very uncommon to see the sun setting at night. This was a big treat!

The next day, we got to go to a bunch of different spots all over Ubud. Our driver was fantastic and had some great suggestions. We started at a cultural dance performance which was a really neat experience.

We then went to a silver manufacturing store and learned how much work goes into creating the beautiful jewelry that we see in stores. Each bead takes about 1 week to make from start to finish and is sold for a total of $8 CAD. Since moving to Indonesia, I have learned so much about knowing where products come from and looking past the price tag when making decisions about what to buy.

We then went to a coffee plantation and were so thankful that our guide brought us here. They started by showing us the process of how coffee is made, and then led us to a table and told us to wait there as they brought us some samples. We assumed they might have brought us a pot of coffee and some mugs, but instead, they brought us the most incredible spread of AMAZING coffee and tea to try. I might be back here 97 more times in my life.

Did you really go if you don’t take photos in all the tourist traps?!

We then headed to another temple and really enjoyed walking around and admiring all the architecture of the buildings. I remember going through the churches in Europe and marveling at all the detail that went into literally ever cm of the buildings. I found similarities in these temples as the detail was absolutely mindblowing.

We then got to check out the rice patties and enjoyed such a beautiful landscape that isn’t one we are used to.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Bali without going to the Ubud Monkey Forest. My mom absolutely loves monkeys so it was pretty fun to bring her here!

Needless to say, the monkeys certainly weren’t lonely!

By far one of my favourite moments of our trip. This guy (who I still don’t think actually worked there) offered to give us food so we could get a little closer to the monkeys. Needless to say, when I told my mom to come over here for a moment, she was in for a surprise!

If only the photos could capture the squeals that came from this woman when we were there…

Kelvin somehow managed to summon the monkeys over to him just by sitting still and looking somewhat ‘calm.’

Continually thankful for the sunsets that we got to see!

Bintang, want to sponsor us?

Quite confident I could move into a tent on the beach for the rest of my life and be quite content…

As much as I love the sunset, the part I often love the most is the colours that come out after the sun has set. This was easily one of the most pastel-like nights that I have ever seen. It was stunning!

Our last spot was heading down to Uluwatu temple and we once again got to see the beautiful coast. One of the features that stood out to me the most in this location was the beautiful flowers that lined the edge. It’s hard to leave places like these! Though the mildly terrifying monkeys lining the roads helped us decide it was in fact, time to leave eventually…

Forever grateful for family who were willing to fly out to spend time with us. We love that us moving has meant more time traveling with our family and getting to explore new places together. So very thankful!

[6] The Countdown is Over

So most people move overseas and maybe see their family once a year. I had made it three months and was beyond proud of myself. Needless to say, I was PUMPED when the day finally came where we got to welcome my family into our new home!

They right away got to experience the joys of living in a busy city as the ride home from the airport took about double the amount of time it should have as there was so much traffic. Technology is a game-changer when it comes to being able to let others in on your experiences. Nothing about our home surprised our family as we had given them so many virtual tours of our place, which I loved.

I was super thankful to have been granted a personal day, so had a chance to see the sites with my family on the first day they were here. We headed to the biggest mosque in South East Asia and the third-largest one in the world. We had a fantastic tour guide and really enjoyed what we learned from our time with him.

We then got back into a car and started towards our next spot. My parents had been in the process of trying to sell their house, so they thought they would quickly check their emails to see if there was any update. A few minutes later, they were signing paperwork that officially sold their home. Never a dull moment in the back of a GoCar driving down the streets of Jakarta!

We then ended up at a Textile Museum where it showcased some beautiful Batik work. My mom and sister were quite excited, while my dad patiently waited on a bench for the shoppers to be done…

We then had a chance to make our own Batik! Quite possibly the first time in my life I saw my dad do “arts and crafts,” and more than likely the last time – ha! We started by choosing a design that we traced onto a piece of fabric.

This was his reaction when he found out that the tracing onto the fabric was only step one…

We then used a tool to put hot wax all over the design. It didn’t take long for us to have a new appreciation for how Batik is made as it was quite the process!

The staff then took our final products and finalized the design by dying them in different colours. As we waited for them to dry, we went for a walk in the courtyard and found some beautiful spots!

We definitely need to give credit to the lady who dyed the final product as these look approximately 500x better than when we handed them over. Having seen this tiny taste of how much work goes into the final product, it definitely made us appreciate what we have seen in stores so much more!

We then headed to my favourite restaurant for some delicious food before heading home and basking in the AC. We didn’t think their Jakarta experience was final until we ordered food to the pool and had massages arrive at our home… it’s amazing that they actually got on the plane to return home a week later!

We also had a chance to introduce my family to some of the key people that have made our journey here so fantastic. We love that they had a chance to meet the faces that we have been talking about for so long.

That weekend, we were officially on break so we all headed on a plane to go to Bali and meet up with Kelvin’s side of the family! So very thankful that everyone was willing to fly out here to spend time with us!

[5] Are we there yet?

As the weeks went by, we slowly got more and more settled into our new home and were loving the adventure we had been on so far. The one thing that continued to be a big adjustment for us both is how little nature is around us as we are in such a big city. Having moved from Vancouver, we realized just how spoiled we had been and how little we had stopped to appreciate the beautiful sites.

We decided to go to Bogor, which is a city just south of Jakarta, for the weekend together. Back in Vancouver, we used to go on “staycations” where we would book the cheapest hotel about 10 minutes away from our house and pretend we were tourists for weekend. The only rule was you had to walk into the hotel, ask for recommendations of what to do, and then you had to do whatever they suggested.

This weekend felt a bit like that, except for the fact that we definitely were tourists and relied heavily on the locals to give us recommendations (but our hotel definitely still fit in the ‘Benger Budget’ category).

After a night at the hotel, we both woke up excited to get out and adventure for the day. We booked a car, thinking we would be with our driver for about an hour long drive, but ended up spending about 14 hours with him that day. We thought we were just driving up to some waterfalls, but we ended up running into a full day of hilariously random attractions.

About 20 minutes into our drive, we were no longer on the main road, but were on a super bumpy dirt path that was about a car-width wide, and was far from a one-way road. Add in motorbikes, lots of walkers, and some random animals every now and then, and you’ve got yourself an eventful drive! One of the things I was most struck by was how it felt like we were driving through textbook poverty; small shacks, half clothed children, kids turning trash into toys and yet, it also was one of the most hardworking villages I had ever seen. Every single man we saw was outside, doing some sort of manual labour. Every woman we saw was either cooking food, playing with children, or sitting with the other mothers, who were also with their children. A sight like this could be seen as textbook poverty, or a flourishing community that we should all strive to be more like. Perspective is powerful.

Once we arrived at our destination, we couldn’t help but laugh. We had literally driven up the side of a mountain and seemed to have arrived to a place that resembled both Disneyland and a waterpark, with a pirates and shark theme. For people who were trying to find nature, this was a hilarious sight to see.

Once we finally figured out that we were supposed to get in the back of a guy’s truck that had seats raised up to get to the waterfall (silly us, not assuming that), we headed to the base. There, we were met with someone who was really excited about my camera, so they conducted a full on photoshoot for us…

Then the moment happened, we finally found the waterfall!

We were a big fan of the view from the walk back down the mountain!

We then hopped back in the car, and headed to our next spot. Thankfully, our driver had agreed to wait for us and ended up being our driver for the day. This was super helpful as we definitely wouldn’t have been able to find a driver in the area that we ended up in.

We decided that the only natural place for us to go to next would be Venice…

In case you are as confused as we were when we arrived here, it turns out there is a place called, “Little Venice.” They have re-created the most well-known components of Venice and given you a little taste all for only $9. The most hilarious part is that I have been pestering Kelvin to take me to Italy for many years and he was gloating that he found such a good deal to take me there. I spent the remainder of the day trying to convince him that this didn’t count, but he didn’t seem to agree…

We also got to go for a gondola ride for $2, fully equipped with some nice Italian music that was blaring from Kelv’s phone.

I think one of us enjoyed it more than the other…

This definitely goes down as one of my favourite photobombs I have ever been part of. I had asked a gentleman to take our photo with my camera, and then about 5 seconds later, all these ladies came running over. The man who was taking the photo was so mad he wasn’t in the picture (and none of the ladies were willing to get out of the photo so he could go in for one), that he grabbed his selfie stick and hopped in. Definitely a hilarious moment.

After eating at the only restaurant in the park, we got back in the car and started on our 4 hour journey home. Needless to say, getting out of the car at the end of the night was a beautiful moment! Thanks for the memories, Bogor!

[4] Fifth Floor Humanities

The first day that we stepped foot into our new school was beyond exciting. We are working at an International School called, “Sekolah Pelita Harapan,” located in Kemang Village. The schools target the wealthiest children in Indonesia with the hopes of making an impact on the nation as a whole. One of the biggest reasons we decided to accept positions at this school was because of their mission and vision for this country. Kelvin is teaching Business 7, Math 8, Math 9, and Business 9. I am teaching Humanities 8, Global Perspectives 9, Global Perspectives 10, and English 9. We were so fortunate to find a school that had two positions open that were perfect for each of us.

Bonus, our rooms come with a pretty snazzy view as we are up so high. Word on the street is during rainy season, you can actually see mountains where you just see pollution; definitely excited for that day!

We had new teacher orientation for the week and were so excited about all the staff that we were going to be working with. It’s a really unique situation as your colleagues are your neighbours, weekend plans, church carpooling group, and the people you eat lunch with everyday. It’s a big win that the staff are amazing, as avoiding them would have been next to impossible… ha!

My favourite moment was when our Head of Schools took Kelvin and I for a tour around the school. As we got to the fifth floor humanities wing, he showed us Kelvin’s room. We then walked a little further down the hallway and he casually said, “I think Megan is right next to you.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as this was a dream come true for me and Kelvin’s worst nightmare. I was thinking about how adorable the setup was, while Kelvin was thinking about how high energy of classes I like to have (which don’t usually make for the best neighbours). The bonus is, when we walked in the room, we realized that there is a glass panel about a meter wide that goes floor to ceiling and allows you to look into the classroom next to you. As I started brainstorming the pranks I could do on my next door neighbour, Kelvin was brainstorming what he could put up to cover the glass panel.

Here’s the before and after of my attempt at making my room a little more homey:

It was lots of fun to try and decorate the rooms, without all the usual dollar stores and teacher warehouses around. Kelvin spent about 95% of the week prepping curriculum and 5% attaching some things to the walls and I spent about 95% decorating and maybe 5% prepping for curriculum. I figured if I could distract the students with nice aesthetics, they wouldn’t be able to tell how little I knew about what I was teaching that week…

Here’s a photo of Kelv hard at work when I needed a break from decorating… I’m learning he really loves when his neighbour visits him while he is trying to work.

We ended off the week by having all the new teachers over to our place for a games night and pizza, which was as close to home as our condo had felt since we moved here.

Beyond grateful to work at the school we are at and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store!

[3] Home Sweet Home

“There are great things in store.”

“There are great things in store.”

“There are great things in store.”

This is what I heard the Lord say to me over and over as I turned to him in moments of slowly processing what was happening. I realized at multiple points just how easy it would be to freak out.

Move across the world. Say goodbye to everyone you love. Move out of your first home together. Quit your job that you love. Say hello to a new culture, new language, new food. Move into a new home and start a new job.

But, there are great things in store.

We will never forget the feeling of being picked up at the airport and being driven to our new home. For two hours, we drove down unfamiliar streets, saw faces of people who we have never met, and names of restaurants we didn’t recognize. It was a surreal feeling to be driving through our new neighbourhood, knowing that this was our new home.

We walked into our condo and were met by the wife of the Head of Schools and her kids. They showed us around our place and put in a pizza order for dinner for us. We were then left just the two of us and stood in the middle of the room beaming at each other. This was it. The start of the dream we had been dreaming for so many years.

Later that evening, we went to the clubhouse to try to connect to wifi so we could send our families a message. We were then greeted by another couple who lives here and they had two big containers of vegetables and fruit for us. They had literally walked around the complex looking for us so they could deliver the food to us as they remembered when they first moved here, all they wanted was fresh veggies and fruit. We knew in that moment that we had just moved into a very special community.

On our way back to our condo, we stopped in the middle of the complex and looked up at the sky. It was full of bright stars, which, we would soon learn how rare of a sighting that is.

After a long and eventful day, we put our heads on our pillows, and were fully convinced that there are great things in store.

[2] Singapore Sights

After a very tearful flight, we successfully landed in Singapore. It didn’t take long for us to be amazed at all the sights in front of us (of course, starting with the Hello Kitty Lounge at the airport).

One of the most incredible parts of Singapore starts in the airport (and is even more amazing than the Hello Kitty Lounge believe it or not). There is an incredible indoor waterfall that you can visit that is breathtaking.

Once we had left the airport/Kelvin finally convinced me that there is more to see in Singapore than the airport, we headed for our hotel and settled in for the week ahead. We booked the cheapest hotel we could find and had a laugh as we opened our bathroom door which had the toilet, shower, and sink all in about a meter by meter spot. Multi-tasking made easy?

Once we dropped off our bags, we headed to Orchard Road to look around. I thought of my sister who loves to shop as we looked at the hundreds of stores that were lining the streets. As neither Kelvin or I are shoppers, we headed straight for the bubble tea stand (sorry sis).

We then googled, “Free things to do in Singapore,” (learning the theme in how we travel?) which led us to the Botanic Gardens. We assumed it would be a short walk through, but were absolutely blown away by what we saw. There were stunning orchid gardens, beautiful trails, and the most breathtaking views. When I had stopped to take about 50 photos within the first 50 meters, Kelvin was getting a little nervous as to what he had committed to…

After walking through the gardens, we headed for Clarke Quay, which is an outdoor shopping area with some great restaurants. We especially loved the colourful buildings and street music.

My Dad had told us to make sure we went to Little India while we were here, so we headed there next. We loved seeing the community that had been formed in this area and greatly appreciated the colourful spices and products that they were selling in their market area.