Wednesday, 1 September 2010

We're going Home

It will be just over 4 years living in Jakarta when we go home in December to live a mere 45 minutes from where we spent 13 years previously (this was not by design but pure coincidence). Everyone is very excited and the kids are busy designing a "fort/jungle gym" that we will get built in the backyard (can't wait to have a back yard big enough for that)

I'm not sure I can pinpoint the best things about living here the last four years and this is not in order of what I have enjoyed the most:

  1. Not having to fight about who does the washing/cleaning/cooking/mowing/pool cleaning (and having the response - that's my job - I'll do it!!!! - I will never get used to that)
  2. Forming so many great friendships (you meet a lot of kindrid adventurers!)
  3. The kids not needing to go to daycare or before/after school care!
  4. The school embracing International Primary Curriculum (7 habits of highly affective people for kids) and seeing the enthusiasm it brings to learning.
  5. Living in a beautiful complex with the best neighbours you could ever hope for (and being woken by birds in a city of 12 million people).
  6. Being able to go on ANZA scavanger hunts with the kids (how to look really silly in public) which helped us see and experience new things in Jakarta.
  7. Having trustworthy staff who have never stolen anything and you can trust with the kids (that works both ways - my kids are very manipulative).
  8. Being 7 hours closer to Singapore, so closer to everywhere else in the world.
  9. Being able to have 12 weeks a year spent on holidays with my kids.
  10. Being able to work part time and still be able to save something.
  11. Seeing my children grow into global citizens and know their way around international airports, train stations.
  12. Being part of a friendly school community and always feeling at home.
  13. Being able to go on 2 ski trips a year and watching the kids learn and grow to love skiing.
  14. Participating in our very own "amazing race" every xmas for 3 weeks and teaching the kids how to travel without a travel agent or a private car/taxi etc (hoping this pays off when they are 18 and backpacking around the world in their gap year).
  15. Being part of the PTA and helping to organise some pretty amazing events.
  16. Watching my kids learn, embrace and thrive in their various sports (and compete successfully internationally).
  17. Seeing enough of Asia to have my curiousity fulfilled (for a few years anyway).
  18. Being able to see something "amazing and unique" (not always in a good way) on every drive regardless of how short or long (and being able to read my book in the car).
  19. Being able to travel to remote areas with work and see a whole other side to Indonesia.
  20. Finally being able to blow off the "Australian" attitude that the only place in the world is Australia (this is a bit harder as we wake up to Triple M from Melbourne (where J hasn't lived for 20 years).
  21. Going to amazing parties, both children and adults.
  22. Having your child in the most amazing school plays and school activities. I usually cry for the first 10 minutes just for the sheer joy that my child has the opportunity to be part of such an amazing thing.
  23. Being part of two seasons a year football (soccer) tournaments as a coach - can't see that being a possibility in Australia (the playing 8 months a year part).
  24. Being able to go out for dinner without the kids and know that the babysitter isn't costing more than the dinner (or wine in the case of Jakarta).
  25. Factory outlet shopping - being able to buy goose down jackets for USD25 or Nike pants for USD6 - all 5 - 20 minutes from home.
  26. Being able to all go to the cinema with popcorn for less than $30, or being able to go with some friends to the premiere lounge, have an armchair and rug, a couple of G&T, all for less than $15.

Things I won't miss so much:

  1. The traffic during the month of Ramadan (I actually calculate % of trips for the period and cross them off - it is sometimes more than double the normal travel time (which is already quite large).
  2. The polution from vehicles and factories plus the smell of smoke when rubbish is being burnt in the evenings (everything that can be recycled is, but there is remainder that needs to be destroyed - so fire it is (just like Australia until the 1980's).
  3. The daily reminder that the gulf between poor and rich is so massive (100 million people in Indonesia survive on less than $2/day/family, but there are 20 families of billionaires in Indonesia (and they all have kids at our school) - don't know the statistics of millionaires, but it would be in the 1,000's). Being surrounded by incredible wealth in some places, but having a child with a baby beg for food at the traffic light 2km away - it does mess with your head.
  4. The kids being pinched, poked, hair touched and giggled/laughed at when in public places (this is by the adults). It will be nice to just be normal kids/people again.
  5. Having a small backyard and high fences.
  6. Paying USD30 for a A$7 bottle of wine after producing a passport and making a special trip (Dan Murphy, here I come, I may just walk up and down the aisles for hours).
  7. Paying USD70 for a A$10 bottle of wine in a resturant (yeah, it would be easier if I just didn't drink - right?).
  8. Feeling like life is cheap - if a local doesn't have enough to pay for the hospital (upfront) then they are left to die in the car park/sent away - road death toll in Jakarta is >400/month.
  9. The knowledge that I have a rare blood type for asia and the only way of getting a blood transfusion is with the blood bank ringing around the expats with the same blood type (I am on a register) - and hoping someone answers the call before I am dead (B- is not a blood type found in Asia). Stupid me only enquired about the kids blood type (AB+) and if it was easy to have transfused when I was researching moving here (they have the easiest you can get). I can be so dumb (it took me 3 years to discover this).
  10. The lack of personal space when you are in a public area - this is due to the fact that there are so many people, same space - so the amount of personal space reduces - just simple maths, but I won't miss it - especially around escalators.
  11. Going for a walk at lunchtime and coming back streaming with sweat - looking forward to winter, spring and autumn - will be a nice change.
  12. Considering myself lucky that I have crossed the 8 lanes of traffic to get to starbucks and back at lunchtime with the knowledge that I have not been hit by a motorbike or bus travelling on the footpath (not joking - motorbikes, all the time - but you would be amazed how fast you can throw yourself against a fence when there is a bus rumbling along the footpath at 20km/hr towards you (and you've just innocently turned a blind corner on the footpath not expecting to be almost hit by a bus)). And pedestrian crossings are not controlled, so the only way to cross a road is to hope like hell you can avoid the traffic and that you don't get hit by a rogue vehicle travelling where you least expect it.
  13. Unroadworthy buses that stop anywhere (middle of the roundabout, middle of the road, 3m up the road from the last place it stopped) - all owned by people who are making a lot of money and spending zero on maintenance for the last 25 years (ie. black smoke, rust filled - 28 buses are roadworthy out of 15,000 (from Jakarta expat last week)) - and yes, I have travelled in one (but it was for a 40th birthday party, fully decked out with a portable bar (aka esky) and containing armed security guards).
  14. The poverty of so many people and the lack of equality in one of the most resource rich countries in the world.
That is all I can think of - coming here was the best thing we ever did. We really wanted an adventure and we absolutely got that. Every "summer" holiday that we went back to Australia, we would feel like we didn't belong and be itching to get back to Indonesia. Eveyone looked so busy and worn out by the daily dredge - did people really enjoy travelling only 100km to their holiday destination? Would they chose the life they were living if they had the opportunity to do something different? Normally on the way to the airport we would be saying goodbye to everything for another year - quite happy in the fact that we wouldn't be back for another 11 months. Everyone happy to be going home (to the point where they counted down the landing into Jakarta).

On this trip, for the first time, we weren't itching to get out. The blue skies, the fresh air and the job opportunity were invading our thought processes. For the first time since we left, we could actually see ourselves living there again. We visited our old friends who live just outside the town we used to live in - it was like we hadn't left. I must admit that when I drove into my old town, I almost had heart palpitations with blind panic that I was returning to live.

So no, we aren't going back to the same town or to the same life we left. We are going closer to the coast by 45 minutes, to a city 5 times the size. I will be working from home and J will be working 10 minutes to the west, kids will be at school 10 minutes to the east. Skies will be blue, air will be clean and the yard will be big and flat with lots of kids running about getting filthy (because I have heard 100 times from our last trip back to Aus, we are not city kids Mum - we need trees and lots of space to get dirty).
We are seriously looking at this house at the moment (sorry no photo of actual house)
Looking South
Looking North
Looking South East

It will be a nice change for 3 -5 years anyway - then we shall see where we can go then........


Shannon said...

Wow! I am glad that you feel it the right time for you to leave. When we left due to Dave's job I felt (and still feel) like so much was left unfinished. I really miss Jakarta and hope to get back there some day.

johnorford said...

Best of luck!