My first shopping experience in Jakarta was rather comical. It is well known here that things are not cheap. I have been told that if you want something inexpensive you need to go elsewhere like Thailand or Singapore for example.
I decided to go to a place that could resemble Walmart in the states and, still very different. Obviously!
You didn’t have to walk around for hours looking for help. They found you before you entered their shop.
Picture this… A great big warehouse of different vendors all competing for space.
I was looking for exact items; Black Sandals, a pair of black dress pants and a dark solid colored shirt.
I found a pair of sandals. I tried them on and they didn’t fit. The clerk said what size. I gestured bigger. We do not have that shoe in your size, she explained with a smile. She showed me a red one with sparkles. I shook my head. Good lord, that’s not me! I picked up another one. She speaking in Indonesian and trying to tell me they don’t have that one in my size. How do I know that I interpreted her correctly you might ask? She handed me a white tennis shoe. I started laughing and said thank you but no thank you and left.
I went into another store and, I picked up a pair of pants. I hesitated and, gestured a bigger size? He gave me a large. I smiled and was guided to the corner of the 4×4 foot shop where they wrapped a curtain around me. All I could do was giggle. I pulled these up to my knees and gasped…OMG people say I am small. These people can fit through a straw and sit on a thimble. WHY OH WHY did I allow my brother Terry to talk me into not bringing clothes from the states!
I left and gestured to the clerk. Too small!!!!
The next place was a vender set up smack dab in the middle of the store. No walls and no curtains. I found a pair of black pants.
I cringed and gestured where do I try these on? She gestures back…pull them up over your shorts. I waved uh, no! I remembered how the previous pair fit and I knew if there was a snow balls chance in %#¥£ that these were going to fit I couldn’t afford extra clothing underneath. As it was, I already had too much I was trying to fit in Indonesian designed pants.
She insisted this is how they do it here and so I thought I would play along. I pulled them up over my shorts and Holy cow if I inhale from the depths of my toes I can actually button my pants!!! I was ecstatic:):):):)
With excitement I smiled and gave her money!
I pull down my dress pants and I notice my shorts were on inside out from the last place I tried on pants.
I thought… Great! I am so not going out of this mall looking like this.
As the clerk was getting my change out of her fanny pack I looked around and there was a man standing a few yards away, some children running about and a few women perusing though the racks of clothes.
You know where this is going don’t you?:):):):)
Yep I DID IT! I threw modesty on the clothing rack and yanked those puppies off and turned them right side in there in front of God and the rest of the non forewarned bystanders in the “Indonesian Walmart!”
The clerk caught the foiled attempt of my carefully orchestrated clandestine operation and both of us started laughing hysterically.
The morale of this story.. Being a chicken will not allow you to look like a fool in or outside the store:)
I want to share two monumental events with you that have opened my eyes.
I have a neighbor who is Muslim, well I have many:) but this woman opened up to me. In the midst of our conversation. We talked about eating organic and many other things. She also invited me to see parts of Jakarta that many tourists would never see:)
She then uttered some powerful words.
“I am Muslim and you are American and you like me?” I started to well up with tears.
I am riding my scooter home yesterday and became totally lost. I pulled over and 7 individuals congealed together to help me get safely home.. I didn’t understand what they were saying but by observing all the nuances among the individuals involved in the collaboration of my rescue mission I noticed there was one gentleman who was leading the Calvary.
I so enjoyed watching the interaction.
By the time it was all said and done he had organized an escort to guide me home!
Deborah Welch Morrison you were right:)
I learned something very valuable in that moment of being lost, scared and what felt like alone and in the conversation with my neighbor.
This country is over 80% Muslim.
All the beliefs and stories that were shared with me before coming over and some of them my own, were dissolved in these interactions. I have experienced only love and compassion since I have been here.
I was so ashamed for harboring those thoughts.
This has made me stop and think. Who else do I do this with in my life?
No matter who you are or the color of your skin, no matter where you live, no matter what you do for a living or the status you uphold we all have the same core needs.
To be loved, have food in our bellies and to feel safe and secure.
What brings us true joy is really very simple.
I was reminded today to open my eyes.
I cannot even begin to tell you what this moment means to me. I just rode my scooter to school! Let me explain… Given what you have seen with the traffic videos I have posted on my blog you can probably understand my trepidation! I was so emotional when I reached school! I could not believe I mastered it! Thank God no one was watching me they would of thought I was smoking something.
Now I know it’s 5:30 on a Saturday morning and the traffic is much slower. One other thing you may not know here is the streets all look the same. Often times there are no street signs and when there are street signs they will change along the way. There is no consistency. It makes it really challenging for a newbie to remember the route especially if the OJeck (scooter taxi) that I have been taking is always taking a different route due to construction or busy streets!
I am telling you I am dancing on air baby!!!
Learning to love without attachment is virtually impossible. A friend of mine shared with me that loving without craving or expecting things to show up in a certain way is what is essential to our true happiness. Oh how so very true!!!!
This brings me to my topic for this writing.
It’s my naïveté and lack of education that makes living here in Jakarta a challenge. It injects fear. Creates frustration. Leaves me lonely at times.
It’s learning not to expect things to show up differently but to be present and accept each moment for what it is and what I can learn from it.
1)Like accepting that it’s ok to be this close to another driver while driving. (I just need to remember when I get back to the states that this rule of thumb probably won’t be accepted. LOL) darn consistency:)
That waking up to no electricity and having the caretaker tell me it will be on tonight at 10pm. When I have been told by expats that’s “Indo time. ” That doesn’t mean it will happen tonight at 10pm.
😅I may me up for a midnight swim
2) Being awaken every morning at 4:30 with the “Muslim call to prayerl” on loud speakers is ok.
(The only way I can described it is like a chant. This happens all across Jakarta)
👌I have not set my alarm since I have been here:)
3) It’s ok not to be understood or to understand everything all the time!
When I was first learning sign language I remember the teacher asking each student to give one sign expressing how they feel. When it was my turn I wanted to say I was hungry but I signed horny instead!
Oyi was I embarrassed! Here I thought I was cool because I was picking something no one else had picked. HA!
😳I guess I succeeded!!!
4) It’s ok to not have what you need when You think you need it.
😜It teaches me that I have choices and that I have the option to learn something new or not.
( Some public restrooms come with sprayers. Others come with pails of water and a ladle. You stand over the toilet on the raction marked feet rest on both sides and squat.
When you are finished you are to wash yourself off.
More often than not public restrooms do not have toilet paper, paper towels or hand soap.
The right hand is for eating and shaking hands. Your left is considered the unclean hand.)
With everything that happens with us we have a choice to either respond, take a breath and relax into the moment or to react and get frustrated and or upset.
So I ask myself… Why not enjoy the ride? I know it can be a lot more fun if I choose to laugh and play and enjoy these moments.
It’s in these moments that my mind opens to a new opportunity. My judgement disappears and my heart opens to a new way of experiencing life. I can then embrace a culture and except those who appear to be different than my self.
Isn’t that why we are here…to love one another and it be alright ✌️
This morning I decided to embark upon a walk/jog at the Jakarta Zoo.
I have been told it is a safe place to go and get your exercise. A much needed respite from the pandemonium on the streets.
At 6:30am they open up the Zoo exclusively for exercise enthusiasts before they actually open to the public. You pay the standard entrance fee of .45 cents and you along with other jogger’s, runner’s, walkers, bicyclists and specialized groups who come to practice their favorite form of exercise can do so till their hearts content or till they collapse from the heat and the humidity.
You are totally entertained by the Howler monkeys who’s call is echoed across the park. There are an array of street vendors setting up to sell their wares of different trinkets and food. The street cleaners are using straw brooms to clean the streets of falling debris from the canopy of trees above. Sounds lovely doesn’t it?
About half way through my walk/jog it hit!
OH NO!!!! My first squatty potty…Uhhhhhh nope… I changed my mind. Not ready for this!!! There is no toilet paper!!! Dang it! I forgot to bring my own:( and I am not ready for a public sitz bath.
Needless to say my jog turned into a full blow RUN!
I wanted to give you a glimpse of a BUSY street.
We all share the road. The traffic will go around me or wait.
The man you see walking towards me is covering his mouth and nose with his hand so that he doesn’t have to inhale exhaust fumes.
Yes the traffic is chaos.
Its 91 degrees in Jakarta. I am going to mall.
I have given up fixing my hair as most of the time I take a scooter taxi. Which requires me to wear a helmet. Many people wear a mask or a scarf because there is a lot of exhaust from the vehicles and the scooters. If I don’t it makes me sick to my stomach.
Today I am going to show you what it is like to walk on the streets of Jakarta.
It is not always safe and you have to dodge a lot of obstacles. AT&T could use this as a good commercial for not texting while walking, driving or riding a bicycle:)
The man is helping the car back out of the parking lot into oncoming traffic so he doesn’t get hit by another vehicle or scooter. He gets paid a mere $2,000 Rupiah. Approximately .15 cents ( I said .35 in the video…I was wrong)
My whole body has locked up!!! OMG I ache everywhere.
Have you ever experienced what it’s like to be rigid in your thoughts. Hanging on to old ways of being? Of course it will manifest differently in each and everyone one of us. For me I ACHE and I do mean everywhere!
Its day 4…
I miss brushing my teeth with tap water.
I miss being able to express with ease what I need or want.
I miss walking or driving around town and not being afraid of getting hit.
I miss hearing someone speak English.
I miss buying foods without sugar and MSG and foods that aren’t fried.
I miss not being able to have consistent internet service.
I did not realize how attached I was to technology, clean air, clean water, toilet paper, the ease of picking up the phone and not having to figure out what time zone I am calling before I can talk to someone I love.
I have taken so much for granted.
On the plane to Jakarta it became obvious that time is an illusion and age is irrelevant. It makes me think this would be a great excuse to travel more often
Jakarta is 12 hours ahead of the Central Time Zone in America. When Daylight savings occurs its 13 hours. So this means that I am a half a day older just by flying there. BAHAHA
On my flight from Tokyo to Jakarta I sat next to this wonderful woman named Swan. She lives in the U.S. now but born and raised in Jakarta. This lady is so flippin adorable. I was filling out my immigration paperwork on the plane and I said to her, “I don’t know the address of where I am staying. It’s on my phone but I can’t access WIFI right now.” She looked at me and said, “oh just tell them you are staying at the Marriott. I can’t think of the street name but that’s ok.” I said, will I get in trouble if I lie?” She started giggling and said, “I don’t know, they would have to find you first.”
As the conversation continued she shared with me that she loves to travel and often time does that alone. She also talked about how she loves food and there is NOTHING she doesn’t eat. Then we started talking about age and I asked her how old she was and she proudly said, I am 76. She asked, “how old are you? I said, 54. She said, oh you’re so young! According to who I thought? We have been in route to Jakarta for almost 24 hours. My muscles have atrophied. I can’t open my eyelids and I don’t even remember what fresh air smells like anymore. But this woman smells like a daisy and sprinted to the bathroom like Sheerah! Maybe it’s her “no holds barred “food consumption.
Jakarta Airport:) Oh Thank God!