Sunday, 4 October 2015


October 4th, 2015

Jenn aka Mama

Benny is famous in Jogja. Basically he's like Justin Beiber, except slightly less of an asshole. Everywhere we go we are flocked by young girls with their iPhone cameras out and their cheek pinching fingers ready. He's gotten very good at answering the questions "Where are you from?" and "What is your name?" except he thinks his name is Buddy.

We have a few places we visit regularly like Epic Coffee and Merapi View Clubhouse and everyone there knows him by name. Anytime we walk into Epic Benny goes straight to the Barista and asks for "one iced tea". Jesse and I could actually just drop Benny off at a store or restaurant and leave for a few hours if we wanted some alone time and he would be showered with attention and fed all kinds of sugar...don't worry MOM we won't. 

Benny is attending an Indonesia daycare called Bianglala 3 days per week for around 4 hours per day. I take him there in the baby seat we attached to my bicycle and then I go to the gym and pool for a couple hours. The teacher, Pita, who takes care of him the majority of the time speaks a little english so she is able to communicate with us quite easily. In Indonesia everyone is addressed with a title and then their first name. Female teachers are addressed as 'Bunda' which means mother. When Benny wakes up in the morning I usually ask him what he dreamt about the night before. The other day he said "basketball net" and "Bunda Pita".

Since Benny is the only foreigner in his daycare, all of the other children and the teachers speak Bahasa Indonesia. Benny is picking it up quite well, he can already count to 10 on his own and can say quite a few phrases like "Hati-hati" (be careful) and "sama-sama" (you're welcome). I'm sure he'll be fluent by the time we leave and will speak much better Indonesian than Jesse or I.

Benny's love for sports has definitely not faded since arriving in Indonesia, if anything he has been introduced to new sports like ping-pong and futsal, turning him into even more of a fanatic. There is a little basketball 'court' and volleyball 'net' just up the alley near our house. I use quotations because it's basically just a big field of dust with a metal hoop hanging on the concrete wall and some bamboo poles with a net attached. By the end of every day Benny is pretty much black from head to toe like the kids who were sucked up the chimney in Mary Poppins. I still don't understand why everyone insists on having white marble floors here...All of the kids are fascinated by us, and by fascinated I mean they think we're hilarious. A little boy ran up to Jesse, pointed at him, and laughed in his face yesterday. When I get annoyed I usually call myself the 'Bule Monster' and chase them around with my arms outstretched and my fingers clenched like claws... it's fine.

Indonesian words aren't the only thing Benny has added to his vocabulary. He likes to to sign along to Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk, especially "Too hot, hot damn" so now if his bathwater it too hot he says, "hot damn." The other song he likes to quote, unfortunately, is Bubble Butt. Anytime I'm getting dressed he says "bubble butt" and then proceeds to smack my bum--I wonder where he got that from?!

He's not totally ruined though, he is using his manners very well lately. It melts my heart when I hand him something he wants and he says 'Tank you Mama" or if he asks for something and we ask him to use his manners he'll say "Plee" (please). Benny also likes to say goodbye to EVERYTHING when we leave somewhere, whether it's a restaurant, the park, or a room. He'll say "bye ball, bye tree, bye up the stairs, bye slide" when he's finished his bath he puts all of his toy fish away and says "bye fishy fishy, bye yoap (soap)" and then points to the tap and says "bye too hot". Last night we were at a park and Jesse changed his diaper on the grass, when we were leaving Benny pointed to the grass and said "bye clean bum".

Things Benny loves in Indonesia:

-Riding the 'mo bike' (scooter). He likes to sit up front with daddy and press the horn even though it makes everyone on the road think we're passing them...

-Mie Goreng (fried noodles). He could and basically does eat it everyday.
-The loud speakers at the mosque. He claps his hands and says 'Yay' at the end of the call to prayer which sounds like a song and is announced 5 times per day.
-Drinking from coconuts
-All of the art and statues, he is constantly saying "Woowwwwwww".

I just asked him what else he likes and he said "money".

Being able to leave my job and spend all of this time with him in a new world has been so rewarding. I feel very blessed for this experience and even more so for being able to immerse my child into a new culture at such a young age. I know this adventure will have lasting effects on all of us and it has created such an appreciation for the supportive relationships we have made in this life.

Selamat Sore!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Best Student Directed Muslim Sex Education Class I've Ever Attended

Part I: The Flood of Awkward and the Drowning of Ease
September 17, 2015

*Names and dates have been changed to protect the innocent. Quotes have been paraphrased to spare the reader from the harsh conditions that we all faced*

The following is a tale not for the weak of heart. If you grew up with a caring, well adjusted family and easily assimilated into social situations following the exact patterns a healthy, normal, completely sane member of society should follow, you need to stop reading now. This is not a story for you, go back to your impeccable, well-timed haircuts and your perfect sleep cycle.

This is a story for the clumsy, the coarse, the ungraceful, the uncomfortably blunt, those of us who didn't even get to talk to the homecoming queen and if we did, it was a terrible experience for her. This is the story of a gangly crew of misfits not unlike you and me. This is the story of my Indonesian Language and Culture Class and two very specific classes within the curriculum, Romance and Sex Education.

I must say I was worried coming into it. I'm no stranger to awkward situations but even I couldn't fathom what would become of a class of 20 year old Muslims wearing their Hijabs opening up about something they've been told not to discuss their entire lives. The teacher set the stage, she challenged us, she made the environment a safe place, a place of sharing, and share we did.

The first class was about romance and courtship. Just a nice little warm-up for the main event. At Gajah Mada  student-directed classes are fairly normal. So just picture all the awkwardness of a 10 minute student presentation, then give the speakers English as a second language, then make the presentation 2.5 hours.  Awkward.  Heavy, penetrating awkward coming at you from all angles, you'd look over at the person next to you and you could see them, in that very moment, scarred deeply and hauntingly in a way that would stick with them for life. Everywhere people were shifting uncomfortably in their seats, trying to time their bathroom breaks perfectly to minimize the damage, some just completely gave up on their lives and let their heads fall onto the desk submitting to the awkward.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the presenting students instructed us to look under our seats. Four seats had pieces of paper taped to the bottom of them, these were to be involuntary actors in a play about romance. The awkward was beginning to darken, no one would emerge the same.  After the play which featured men cast as women and vice versa, the presenting students realized they still had time to kill. They would not just kill this time but murder it in a vicious, blood-thirsty massacre that preyed upon whatever innocence we had left in our hearts.

"And now, we would like to play a game called 'Awkward Dating Moments'."

The awkward was harsh, black and stinging all it touched. Now it was doubled, we would be in an awkward situation talking about previous awkward situations.

"I would like to tell one." Said a tall, thin-faced student feeling that he could defeat the awkwardness by embracing it.

"I am once talking with this girl on the Facebook. And in her picture she is very nice. Nice smile and pretty face so we make the date at a mall. Well I got there and I could not see her so I call on phone and she says 'yes I am here already.'  I look to see her and she is very pretty in Facebook picture but in real life she is so fat! I text my sister to call and say my grandma is sick so I can leave."

The awkward subsided just for a moment and was replaced by moral judgements.  One girl in a floral patterned Hijab broke the silence.

"I think it was very unfair the way you treated her."

"No you don't understand. She was sooo fat."

"But is that the only reason you left? Didn't you consider her feelings?"

"I'm sorry. I don't think you hear my story properly. In her picture she was pretty but in real life very fat."

"Did she use a fake picture?"

"No it was her face only not body."

"So you thought her face was pretty?"

"Yes, but that is before I knew she was fat."

"This is very irresponsible. You shouldn't have left like that."

"I'm sorry. I wish I had picture to show you because then you understand. She was sooooo fat."

The back and forth continued and the awkward began to reestablish itself as the dominating force in the room. This young man did not understand the fact that fat people have feelings too and the more they tried to convince him the more confused he became assuming they were confused. The teacher allowed this conversation to go on unmoderated. In the back of my mind I think she knew what she was doing, she felt a surge of power from the deep social discomfort we felt. We needed an out, we needed a lifeline. We were two hours in and the biting, trenchant, soul-choking awkward threatened our ability to ever exhibit smooth confidence again. At the moment the teacher interjected.

"Alright class, that is it for today's lesson. I will see you all next week for our lecture on Sex Education..."

We thought it was over, we thought we were free, we were wrong.

To be continued...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Oh Yeah... Indonesia

Oh yeah... Indonesia

September 11, 2015

So I had a moment the other day where Nick Brandle's voice popped into my head: "So there I was at rush hour in Jogjakarta, driving my scooter up the sidewalk to bypass the line of cars ahead of me with my sleeping toddler son on the back..." Because the only way that random ass phrase really makes sense is if it's something that Nick's beard told him to say. But then I remembered 'Oh Yeah... Indonesia'

That's the phrase that has really dominated my life as I start to become somewhat comfortable and then I see something that just should not be. I wonder, then I remember. Here's a list of examples:

Oh cool I wonder if this is some kind of scooter rally... Oh Yeah... Indonesia. 
Why is there a man selling toy airplanes in the middle of this four lane highway?  Oh yeah... Indonesia. 
Why did the plumber say he'd be here at 10 on Tuesday morning and just showed up at 3pm on Wednesday? Oh yeah... Indonesia.
Why is this group of schoolchildren all pointing and laughing at me? Oh yeah... Indonesia.
Is that guy wearing a Yankees jacket and a Red Sox hat? Oh yeah... Indonesia.
Why is this the most beautiful restaurant I've ever been to and the most expensive thing on the menu is 6$? Oh yeah... Indonesia.

We're eating at incredible restaurants every night and we've made a nice cross section of friends. Everyone from traditional Muslim (and catholic) families, to crazy sexy European students, to the Expats. The expat community is amazing, they are perfectly our speed, they don't party till 6 am and then go home to presumably have hot, fashion-conscious orgies like the Europeans but they still like their booze and Cards Against Humanity. They have kids to play with Benny and there's an actual real live North American to talk to! When we got to the BBQ it was like prison yard introductions. "This is the guy who can get you any pork product you're after. If you want whiskey talk to this man here..." It was very bad ass. The pork guy did not fail to deliver. We ate smoked ribs, double smoked bacon, back bacon, double smoked chicken that tasted like bacon, incredible homemade pepperonis and jerkey and then they go "Okay time for dinner, here's the steaks." Oh my god it was amazing. Then the beer guy showed up, it's illegal to sell beer in the North end of Jogja so he brought beer for everyone from the south. It felt like Canada once again.  But next time I jumped on my scooter I thought:

Why is that guy balancing what seems to be 6 dozen inflatable beach toys on his head while driving a scooter down the highway?
Did that scooter just cut off a 5 ton truck narrowly avoiding death by mere inches?!!?! Oh yeah... Indonesia.

Driving a scooter in Indonesia has changed my perspective of living in the moment. Because it is absolute chaos and believe me when I say there is no time for one second of daydreaming . Trying to do little errands has changed my perspective on communication. Do you have any idea how hard it is to venture into Downtown Yogyakarta at 8pm in search of four M6 screws? Damn right I failed. But I did get directions to an address I half forgot from a guy who didn't speak a word of english. Didn't fail to find the party!  So maybe it comes down to how bad you want to understand.

Hey... Why is that woman picking up Benny and getting her picture taken? Oh yeah... Indonesia.

Benny is absolutely tearing it up. He loves his celebrity status and he has definitely made the most friends out of all of us. When there are other kids around he becomes the happiest little dude just running around, counting loudly, whipping the ball everywhere. He hates leaving though and says bye to every object in the place. "Bye fish, bye ball, bye slide, bye mow (a cat), bye 1,2,3 (if there's any numbers in his view) bye up the stairs, bye turtle, by lizard, bye motor bikes." God forbid you are actually trying to get something done and he sees a basketball net somewhere. He just wants to go look at it. Seriously, he'd be happy just watching an unused basketball net for an hour or so.

Why is there a chicken in the office of international affairs at my university? Oh yeah... Indonesia.

School has been awkwardly inspiring so far. The Language and Culture class is my favorite for sure as we have a teacher who likes to challenge us and our perceptions and students who react with nervous humor. This has led to some of the greatest unintentional comedic moments of my life as we discussed sex and romance as a class the last two sessions. However, that deserves it's very own blog post. I hope you enjoyed this blog post as all of the computer rooms are closed for Friday prayers so I just jumped on the librarians computer. Been here an hour, no one has said anything. Oh Yeah... Indonesia.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Every Day is a New Adventure

September 3rd, 2015
Yogyakarta (Jogja)

So we've finally moved into our new home in Jogja. We said goodbye to our Homestay family and living in 1 room with 3 people and hello to a huge, 2-bedroom, open-concept, beautiful home complete with an indoor fish pond, a full kitchen, and an actual bathtub (yes, this is a big deal!). We were also greeted by the previous tenants messy floors, cobwebs, dirty cabinets and flooding toilet. As a result, we met their pet ants, cockroaches, and other terrifying insects that make me itchy just thinking about them. I'm just finally coming to terms with sharing our house with geckos and frogs, but cockroaches--THE WORST!

Our Family at Andelis Homestay, Jogja
Maybe Benny knocked off his tail with his umbrella 'hockey stick'

Needless to say my paranoia and OCD kicked in to overdrive after we found a banana half eaten on the kitchen table when we woke up in the morning (IT WASN'T BENNY!) and we went on a cleaning frenzy, had the landlord call a plumber, an exterminator and a house cleaner. I know I am a Westerner clean freak living in SE Asia and trust me I am adjusting to lower standards, but I can't sleep knowing there are cockroaches big enough out there to take bites out of bananas like that, it might be my face next time....

Despite the unwanted house guests, our new home is very beautiful and I know it will just be a matter of time (and bleach) before we are settled in and feeling more comfortable. Benny doesn't mind sharing a room with house geckos and he has so much room to play here; our front entrance is basically set up as a basketball court at the moment.

We have explored our neighbourhood a little and there are plenty of amazing restaurants just a short walk or scooter ride away including a seafood restaurant called Rasane where we had an entire grilled fish, calamari, fried tempeh, green beans, mussels, rice, and all of our drinks for about $12CAD amongst the koi ponds and palm trees. We have also dined at a few warungs now that we are becoming a little more adventurous with our digestive systems.. (I just want to note that my auto-correct changed Warung to 'warning' which is actually quite valid). A warung, for those who don't know what the hell I'm talking about, is basically a small, family-owned (sometimes just an extension of their house) shop or food stand generally made out of bamboo, wood, and/or tin. The warungs that sell food typically offer local dishes like Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, and Sate; they speak little to no English; and chef Ramsey would use a lot of F-bombs about their sanitary situation. To give you an idea: lunch for the 3 of us (either fried rice or noodles with chicken or chicken sate with rice and peanut sauce) including drinks is about $3CAD. Because they don't speak any english and the menus are all in Indonesian, we  generally end up having whatever we can say in Indonesian like "Nasi Goreng Ayam" (fried rice with chicken), or we point to a picture in the menu which is great if you like to play Russian Roulette with your mouth and end up burning off your taste buds. PS. Never trust an Indonesian when they say it's not spicy, they are lying--Always "TIDAK PEDAS"

The View at Rasane Seafood 

Our new neighbourhood is also great for Benny and me when Jesse is at school because we are a short walk away from a great cafe called Epic Coffee, which is where western people go in Indonesia to eat French food. We are also a 10 minute walk to a preschool/play group where Benny can socialize with other kids his age and where I have offered to volunteer once a week; however, one thing I have learned being here is that you cannot get your hopes up about anything as the organizational skills of some of these establishments is non-existent. ie. I brought Benny to this playgroup 2 days in a row, interviewed with 2 women who confirmed Benny to come back the following day to begin his first day and then I received a text message from them saying their school is full... UUUUGH, and you don't argue with them because this is just the way it is here! So we will hope for good news by the end of the week to see when we can start, otherwise there are a few other schools including a Montessori preschool in our neighbourhood we will check out.

Another benefit to our new location is being a 5 minute drive to the 5-star Hyatt Hotel where all of the culture shocked foreigners go on Sundays for an amazing brunch buffet and to swim in their many luxurious pools amongst the palm trees.

One of the many pools at The Hyatt

Is this real life?

Tomorrow, Benny and I will attempt to order a taksi to take us to a gym I have heard about from other expats that has a great playroom for children and a swimming pool. I am certainly missing my workouts and I cannot keep using the phrase "I'm on vacation" for 5 months. It will be great to establish some sort of a routine for both me and Benny as life has been super chaotic these past few weeks, every task is a challenge for us with the language barrier, the new surroundings, and the difference in culture. Each time we walk out our front door we just don't know what might happen, every day is a new adventure making me so grateful to be here with my little family.

A few things I am missing about Home:
1. Sidewalks: these just don't exist in Jogja. You're lucky if you find a street where there is a foot of broken up brick and sand that you can walk on that isn't already covered with chickens (trust me, they don't want to cross the road), usually you just walk on the road while a thousand scooters swerve around you without slowing down, it's great.
2. Recycling: everything goes in the trash, which is then burned on the sidewalk (actually)... Mmmm nothing like waking up to the smell of burning trash in the morning lemme tell ya.
3. Drinking tap water: I have a hard enough time bathing in the water here knowing what the river under the bridge smells like.

A few things I am loving about Indonesia:
1. The people: there are 400K people living in Jogja (a city that is about 33km2, which is less than half the size of Victoria) and I have yet to meet one I didn't like. The positivity and generosity of these people is unlike anywhere I've been.
2. The food: obviously!
3. The pace: talk about island time. Although it can be frustrating when you would really like something to be done at a time when they say they are going to do it, no one gets worked up about it here, it is just the way it is and even though it would kill a business in North America, it is a nice way to live for a while.

Selamet Sore!


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Random thoughts: Initial reactions to culture shock

August 30th

So we are settled in Jogja and just spent last night in our new place fending off lizards, frogs, ants, and firebrats. Then the power went out... and the noises got louder...  But that's another post for another day. For now here is a collection of random thoughts I've put together since being here. Enjoy.

-I've seen like five people wearing Agnostic Front shirts. As in the obscure punk band. I only ever saw like two in Canada. But they always wear English shirts they have no idea about. Or shirts that say 'Rocking Gear Funky Town Cool Gang' or something like that.

- There are stray cats and chickens everywhere. There were dogs all over Bali but I haven't seen any in Jogja.

-I've heard the song "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith about 40 times since I've been here.

-The devotion to religion is outstanding. The sung prayers come out of every nook and cranny of the city throughout the day. It's actually not surprising that they are really good singers since they practice 5 times per day. Many buildings have loud speakers set up 50 feet in the air that project the prayers far and wide.  One of the songs kinda sounds like that "Got my head in a cage, Feel like I'm twice my age..." song.

-Best signs we've seen so far: "F-R-I-E-N-D-S RESTAURANT, eat your food not your friends." "WHATEVER PERFUME" and "JACKASS PENGUINS" at the zoo.

- I was prepared for poverty and though there is certainly poverty, I'm not sure that's exactly how I would describe my overall impression now that I'm here. There is so much stuff (some of it quite nice) everywhere it's hard to imagine people being poor.  Everyone seems to own a small business and three scooters at least. The cars for the most part are on par with Canadian cars or maybe even a bit nicer on average. So I don't think poverty is the main problem. The infrastructure and overpopulation are the glaring in-your-face factors here. The infrastructure is abysmal, it's actually really impressive the way the Indonesian people take matters into their own hands but there's only so much they can do. If you are out on a walk and smell sewage you know that there is a huge hole in the sidewalk somewhere close. And when I say sidewalk I mean the 2 feet of road pedestrians can feel confident that scooters and cars will swerve out of their way if someone happens to be walking. And no I did not say they would slow down.

-Speaking of small businesses, I have no idea how the economy works here. I've seen more small shops (Warungs) than residential houses by about a two to one ratio. There are about 50 shops per city block. I don't know what kind of role credit plays here but I can't imagine it's huge, so how did everyone manage to put together these shops with all this merchandise that they are literally selling for pennies?

-The breadth and depth of these shops is insane. I've seen a half dozen chandelier shops since I've been here, roadside stands that sell nothing but fans, birdcage stores, there are custom stamp shops everywhere (my teacher said it's because everyone wants to seem more legit than they actually are) and then there are fruit stands with all the types of fruit, fruit stands that specialize in juice, fruit stands that make fruit shish kabobs and fruit stands for every individual type of fruit. In our cab one day I decided to count the number of sunglass stands outside the university. There were 21 identical sunglass stands side by side. How do they make money?

-One thing is for sure, their labour costs are not too high. I have not seen one shop yet that is understaffed. Most of the time shops and restaurants will have about 3 people working and about 9 or 10 standing around. It's cheaper to rent a car with a driver than it is to rent a car by itself. Every parking lot has an attendant or three. We will have a security guard at our house everyday from 7pm till 7am. I'm very curious how much they make for a days labour but I don't know how rude it would be to ask. I'm guessing it's well under 10$ a day.

-The kind of prices we're paying here range from about on par to 10% of Canadian prices. It really depends where you are. An entree at a fancy restaurant costs about $7 but you can buy your dinner from a little Warung for $0.90. It's just a matter of bravery. Jenn and I checked out the mall which was the most westernized place I've seen since we've been here. It cost pretty much the same as Canada.

-There was a guy on a bicycle moving two full sized couches on his back. Our host family was telling us those guys bike couches in from 10km out of town and people usually buy them because they feel bad. If the bikers don't sell them they have to bike them back.

-Traffic is absolutely insane. The only time anyone stops is at traffic lights, other than that it's just slow down and speed up. You see guys on scooters with 10 foot long 2x4s on their shoulders weaving in and out of traffic like it's nothing, going like 50. If you can make something work to your benefit you do it. Case and point we had a cabbie who was waiting for a traffic light and got a little impatient so he just went into the oncoming traffic lane and waited there. He then drove in front of an entire line of cars as soon as the light turned. The funny thing is as soon as he did that every car behind him followed so it basically became a one way street for about 90 seconds except oncoming traffic didn't slow down at all.

-I'm finding I'm actually doing well on the scooter because the basic idea is that everyone drives like an asshole but they also respect and accept that they are surrounded by assholes. So basically you are allowed to do whatever you want whenever you want. The thing with Canadians is they try so hard not to be assholes but then when someone else drives like an asshole they overreact and start driving like assholes. So we're all traffic assholes, Canadians are just angry about it.

-Other than the traffic, I have not felt any sense of danger or the slightest bit unwelcome whatsoever at any point this whole trip. Even the most hardcore looking tattooed badasses greet us with giant smiles making silly faces at Benny.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Hong Kong to Bali Photos

13 hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong makes for a tired Benny...

...and a tired Mama.

Watching the planes go by outside our window in HKG

HK airport getting ready to do it again! We are thrilled. Next stop: Bali!

Arrived at our hotel: Febri's in Kuta, Bali. Jet lag in full force.

Kuta Beach, it's a shame such a beautiful place is polluted with so much trash, really makes me appreciate how clean we live on V.Island.
The days of sneaking into resorts for skinny dipping are behind us, now we sneak in to use their playgrounds.
Benny might be able to get used to it in Bali after all
yah, I think we'll do alright.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Jenn's side of the story.

August 20th, 2015
Yogyakarta (Jojga)

So I thought I would invite myself to contribute to Jesse's blog, mostly for your benefit, because Jesse seemed to do a lot of whining in his previous post--the trip to Indonesia was pretty exhausting and challenging, but it wasn't all that bad. I would definitely like to thank him for taking care of ALL of the diaper changes on our 13 hour flight to HK in the tiny little bathroom with the tiniest little change table that would even make Asian babies be like 'this is TOO small!'

I could also point out that I knew Jesse would be thanking me when he got off of the plane at what would have been 2am our time and all he had to do was walk across the airport to our hotel in HK rather than save the $50CAD and commute into the city with all of our luggage and a jet lagged toddler from hell just to turn around and do it again the next morning for another 5 hour flight..but no one likes an 'I told ya so'.

Adjusting to a new time zone reminds me of when I was like 20 and could stay up all night drinking vodka redbulls and chain smoking until the sun came up, but without out any of the fun and 2x the anxiety the next day. Add a toddler in the mix and you've got a nice prescription for Zoloft :) :(

Ok, but seriously, we have nearly recovered from jet lag so we have decided this trip was a good idea after all. Benny is a huge hit in Indonesia. We have paparazzi following us around giggling all day long so Benny is developing a bit of a complex. We actually had a young Asian girl pick Benny up at the mall today to pose in pictures with him while all of her friends pulled out their iPhones. When they were done I told her it was $50,000 Rupiahs, but they thought I was joking! Benny is a fantastic ice-breaker though, I highly recommend everyone to bring a blonde-haired, blue-eyed toddler with them when they visit SE Asia, it will make getting directions much easier.

So we are in the city of Yogyakarta, known as Jogja by the locals. I have to say we would not manage very well if it weren't for the help of our friends from Jesse's school UGM. Novi and Cahyo have been our lifesavers here in Jogja and I don't even care if Novi is only our friend because she has a huge baby crush on Benny, I actually think her exact words were "You should breed everyday!" and Jesse didn't hesitate to reply "Well it couldn't hurt to try!" But really, without them I would still be standing in the middle of the Indonesian grocery store being like "ok, so what do I do with this?!". They have helped us complete all of our immigration requirements, are helping us find a home, and have been huge sources of comfort for us when we are so immensely overwhelmed with culture shock, not to mention we would have been dead trying to cross the street about a dozen times without them. As soon as we find a place of our own I will have them over for a terrible homemade Nasi Goreng. I should also mention that our host family at our current home-stay, Andelis Homestay, is also incredible. They are super welcoming and have been so good to us with Benny. They have a daughter a few years older than Benny and it is so good for him to be able to connect with another little person and even though they don't understand each others' language they manage to be friends, children really are our teachers, aren't they?!

Showering in Indonesia is the worst. If you don't know what I am talking about, the showers here are just fixtures attached to the wall in the middle of the bathroom, there is no separate shower like you have at home (forget about a bathtub). So, when you go to have your shower you fill the entire bathroom full of water. Like really, how do they do it? Actually, most people don't I suppose, they just have that little pail next to the tap and give themselves a little rinse, like what you might do in the morning before the walk-of-shame with your shoes in your purse. I guess that's why they have that sign Jesse mentioned about washing your feet in the toilet.

Tonight we went to an Indonesian cultural festival just down the street from our house. The traditional Javanese dance and music was beautiful. We were the only 'bulai' there and the emcee didn't mind pointing us out on stage and saying something in Bahasa and then giggling with the crowd, but it probably wasn't about us... One of the dances was a Javanese healing ritual, the costumes were so colourful and the dance was so elegant, Benny was completely in awe of the entire experience, it was beautiful. I just wonder if the dance will heal traveller's diarrhea because dinner was only 90cents CAD and that worries me a little.

All kidding aside, our week in Indonesia has been a blessing and we are so grateful for this experience. We would like to thank our friends and family back home who supported us in any which way to make this trip possible and the people of Indonesia who have welcomed us into their country and into their lives with such generosity and hospitality -- we are so thrilled to immerse ourselves in your culture, to learn your language, to eat your delicious food, and to become your friends.

Selamat Malam!