Adventures living as expats.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Moving on from Jakarta

A few months ago, Jeff and I received the much anticipated news that we would be moving to Taichung, Taiwan.  After returning from our home leave trip in late July, we immediately got started with all the moving preparations - securing Taiwan visas after gathering all of the paperwork, sorting and packing up the apartment, moving into a temporary residence, cancelling our Indonesia residence cards and working visas, and saying many heartfelt goodbyes to our wonderful friends in Jakarta.   During this time we had a bit of a chance to reflect on our experience in Jakarta and recall some of the ups and downs we've had.

We've been fortunate to have such an amazing opportunity to travel and experience living in a completely different culture; however, it has come with sacrifices and taught us a lot about ourselves and how blessed we are as American. We've never regretted our decision to take on Jakarta and will always look back on it with overwhelmingly positive memories.  Here are just a few of the things that we'll miss as we adjust to our new home in Taiwan.

  • Indonesians are some of the friendliest people we've met in all of our travels.  They are always ready with a warm smile and a "selamat pagi" (good morning) or "hello mister."  Even during the fasting month of Ramadan, I was blown away at how positive people would remain.  
  • Spas are everywhere and prices are unbelievable.  We typically would get a weekly reflexology or massage which would cost us anywhere from $7 - $12 for an hour depending on how luxurious the setting was.  
  • Jakarta has a fantastic fine-dining restaurant scene with so many cuisines to choose from as well as great casual cafes and coffee shops.  Some of our favorites restaurants were Monologue, Goods Diner, Potato Head, Union, Le Quartier, Turkuaz, Han Yang Garden, Taco Local, Anomoli, and La Luce.  
  • Having a housekeeper / cook was such a luxury that we're unlikely to have again anytime soon. I loved having a clean house all the time and not worrying about when I next needed to clean the bathroom.  I will miss ironed pajamas and perfectly folded underwear.
  • Travel opportunities from Jakarta were extensive and cheap.  During the last 3 years we've visited 11 new countries and 20 different islands throughout Indonesia.  Some of the most memorable trips have been with friends like Nusa Lembongan with Brendan and crew, Anyer with Adelle, Lombok for Mia's 30th, Pulau Macan for Bede's 30th, Yogyakarta with Tane and fam, Bali with Dalena, Vietnam with Tav and Jenny, Oz with Matt and Adelle, and of course the epic Banda Belters trip.  
  • Above all else, Jakarta has an incredibly welcoming and adventurous community of people and we've made so many life-long friendships.  From the first month we arrived through to the last week, we always had people inviting us into their lives and supporting us through struggles we were having.  
This farewell post would not be complete without a list of the more humorous and strange things that became very normal in our lives in Jakarta, so here goes.  

  • Beware of Jakarta street food and fresh fruits or vegetables.  This is not the same risk level as a local taco stand in Mexico.  Three years in Jakarta doesn't make you immune either as both Jeff and I can attest to.  Moreover, don't assume you or your visitors are safe in fancy restaurants (sorry Tav and Jenny). 
  • Embrace side cutting in lines.  Our initial polite attempts to queue in lines often felt like a test of patience.  Merge into the line on the side like the rest of the crowd.
  • Security screenings don't need to slow you down.  You're not required to take off your purse or stop when the metal detector goes off.  Just follow along with everyone else and keep moving.
  • Singapore medical outs are fantastic.  Why not combine a vacation with teeth cleaning?   
  • Four people on a motorbike is average, five people is worth a look, six is worth a picture.  
  • Someday you will have to clean up after yourself.  I love to tell people of the time that our housekeeper called in sick on a Monday and I forgot to tell Jeff.  He got home before me and called in a feigned panic claiming that our house had been ransacked while we were at work.  Actually we just left our apartment looking like a tornado had ripped through it.
  • When in doubt about the food while traveling to remote areas, you can subsist on rice for several days.  Nasi goreng (fried rice) and nasi kuning (yellow fragrant rice) are great options in these situations and rarely will your stomach regret it later on.  
  • You can pay "jockeys" in Jakarta to ride along in your car so that you can use 3 in 1 lanes during rush hours.
  • Jeff had a special pair of "massage underwear."  
  • We often sent more texts to our driver than to each other.
  • Discussing stomach health (or lack of) was a surprisingly common and popular conversation topic.
  • Being asked personal questions like "how much weight have you gained?" or "why have you been married 4 years and don't have any kids yet?" became the norm.  
Sampai jumpa lagi Jakarta.  We will miss you.

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