Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
This morning my husband left our apartment early in search of some special culinary treats for my birthday. He explored a huge covered marketplace bustling with vendors and customers and bulging with stalls of raw meat, fruit, vegetables, savory snack foods, clothes and other essentials. He returned triumphant with Lontong which is a local dish of rice, coconut soup, and meat. We set off with the hotel car for an adventure in Bandung and along the 1 hour drive there we saw small agricultural plots utilising every available part of the landscape, children playing football, a large gathering of families, myriad food stalls, some selling 1 liter glass bottles of petrol and hundreds of scooters.
Our first stop was the geological museum. Our driver spoke to the gate attendant then drove around and around the complex before dropping us off without telling us that it’s closed on Fridays! He doesn’t speak English so perhaps the thought of trying to explain that to us was too much but it would have been pretty handy to know that before he drove away and left us there. Fortunately the museum has some beautiful specimens in their garden so we spent an enjoyable 1/2 hour playing there before moving on.
Next we set off to find the Postal Museum using the address listed on Trip Advisor. We passed a locked park, a flea market, a large plant nursery, lots of houses and nice leafy streets. We reached the address and realised that Trip Advisor had it wrong again so we turned around and traipsed back again but this time we were assisted by a lovely Indonesian woman who saw us turning around in circles and rushed out to help us. We watched a group of teenage school girls standing on the basketball court trying to format a human pyramid but slipping and dropping the 3 girls onto the asphalt. We stopped at a fancy café for some delicious strawberry juice and a tiny but tasty birthday cake.
As part of my job I travel to the Middle East and wear head scarves while there out of respect for the culture and to help me to blend in. In Pulau Penang I bought one of the clever Malaysian hijabs that’s an all in one ensemble and very quick and easy to put on and take off. After attracting so much attention in the last few days I decided to wear it today. I was pleased to find that I was a comfortable temperature despite the warm and humid weather. Interestingly I attracted just as much attention but this time drew calls of ‘Muslim, madam’ and was greeted numerous times with the traditional Arabic greeting which I automatically returned (I’m learning Arabic).
As you can imagine we were pretty disappointed to arrive at the Postal Museum just minutes after they closed for lunch! Fortunately we were allowed to explore the beautiful formal gardens and array of Dutch colonial administration buildings behind the post office.
We walked through increasingly narrow, tree lined streets with increasing numbers of vendors, vehicles and pedestrians until we entered the traffic clogged central part of Bandung. We rested in a park and watched boys play soccer with 2 vendors on the edge of the game ready to serve refreshments. A security guard lounged around nearby and we shared a smile as we walked past him to attempt to cross the bustling road with unending traffic outside the park. When he realised our ineptitude at handling traffic he rushed to assist us by stopping traffic for us and offering another smile. We saw several Christian churches in the centre of town and many colonial buildings that are grand and in very good condition.
Our destination was Jalan Braga (Steeet) which was a bit disappointing and has art deco buildings, shops catering to tourists and many eateries with menus in English. We walked the length of the street dodging relentless traffic and walked around the corner to a cafe in an old Dutch building. The café was also a bakery and our children were delighted to eat cheese pizza in a country where cheese is uncommon. We have had difficulties every day in finding nutritious food that our children will eat and frankly it’s a source of stress and disharmony! I had a delicious meal of gado gado which is steamed vegetables with tofu and rice cake that’s all covered by peanut sauce. Soon after we sat down the skies opened and thunder and lighting crashed as my husband read aloud 3 chapters of Cressida Cowell’s brilliant dragon series. A couple of hours later the rain had abated enough for us to don our raincoats and set off to explore the new shopping centre on Jalan Braga called City Walk and is mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide. We were surprised to find that it’s only partially completed so we bought takeaway food, asked a smiling security guard to call us a cab and set off to our apartment in Lembang. As we approached Lembang we saw dozens of rabbits in cages at roadside vendors that offer sate rabbit!