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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Aku Cinta

INDONESIA | Friday, 30 October 2015 | Views [2721]

Coming over from Bali for a few days I'd experience Lombok and the "real Indonesia" for awhile. As I exited the ferry I managed to hitch a lift with a local on a motorbike from Lembar where I could immediately tell Lombok is vastly different to Bali. In stark contrast to the largely Hindu Bali, Islam rules the roost on Lombok as large mosques abound and canang sari (offerings) are largely absent. Gede (pronounced like the Australian "G'day") is my CS host in Lombok and is an English instructor. He told me to meet him outside McDonald's in Mataram. With the golden arches I bit the bullet today and got some fries, as the Indonesian style of BBQ sauce (elsewhere) is this powdery stuff that likely has no BBQ sauce in it whatsoever. Asking Gede to bring an extra helmet he brought me to his village. His classroom is in his home and there are several students. It sort of reminds me of being in the Dominican Republic: conditions are very basic and the majority of people have very little. The main difference is that the students are older. Many of these students are learning English so they can work in the tourism field and the best students are offered a trip to the Gili Islands. Gede asked if I could teach his class a bit! The students are very curious about me and noted how they like my English and how I speak very fast, and I can be one tough teacher at times! Nearly half the students were on their mobile phones whilst I tried to teach so I confiscated them and told them they'd get them back after class. In secondary school, if I had a mobile phone out it'd be confiscated and I wouldn't see it again for at least three months. Gede would later praise me as he taught the students on paying attention to the class and the teacher and not on their phone. 

Away from the comfort of my homestay in Bali where I have air-conditioning, a warm bed, a stove burner, and a proper toilet and shower, I'm sleeping in and with bare basics: a mattress on the floor in a hot and steamy room without even a fan, where the mozzies can feast on me all night of they wish. This is truly a world away from Bali, and in Indonesia it doesn't get any more eye-opening than this. The toilet is the squat kind and you wash yourself with water hauled from a well. Sara Wall posted something recently about how her brief stopover at Narita Airport allows her to use the world's best toilets; in sharp contrast to Japan, Indonesia receives the award for world's worst toilets. Nearly everywhere, public toilets are so foul you'll be constipated for days on end! Basic as it is, I really enjoy it here. Gede and his wife have one daughter and his mother and cousin also live there. They eat simple Indonesian fare of mostly rice and noodles and Gede's mother does most of the cooking. As a Muslim, Gede prays five times per day. One of his dreams is to partake in the hajj. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in terms of population yet perhaps the most far-flung. Gede estimates the trip would cost him at least 60 million rupiah ($6,000 US). Sadly, many Muslims never get to reach Mecca due to financial constraints. After some teaching, Gede would take me on a walk to his uncle's home. On the way there was a man hauled sand from the river to sell for construction. A car- or truck-load of sand sells for only about 160,000 rupiah and it's very hard work.

From there we met Gede's uncle. Shaking hands has been an awkward situation for me the past few days due to having an injury on my right hand. In Islamic countries it's considered bad form to shake with your left hand since it's typically used for rinsing your bottom after using the toilet. The other day I fell off a motorbike and scaped my right hand badly, and I've been cautious since injuries are more prone to infection in these types of climates. Gede's uncle dries chilis in the sun.

With the students learning some English it gave me the chance to learn some words in Bahasa. "Love" is "mencintai" and "I love you" is "aku cinta" (which I'd later send in a text message to Ning). The students were even more attentive the next day but I still had to take away a few mobile phones. One student is a police officer, and I unknowingly took away his work phone so Gede said to make an exception for him. Two of Gede's students, Jirhan and Rohim would take me to their homes to introduce me to their families and offer me a bit to eat. Like at Gede's the fare was simple though at Rohim's I got to bite into some juicy papaya. Rohim and Jirhan would later show me some rice fields with a great view of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's third highest mountain.

Hospitality would get even better as I was invited to an Indonesian birthday party! There was no birthday cake but it was a big feast of rice, fish, and jackfruit stew. In texture, cooked jackfruit feels like chicken. 


Away from the confines of Bali, I'm on Lombok doing my part and making a difference. Everyone asked me if I was going to the Gili Islands but I have no intention of going there. When I'm receiving this type of hospitality, why go there when I can teach English to students in a small rustic village? 


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