Java Travel

Arriving in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

I arrived Bandung, West Java, a couple of weeks ago on a high from my enjoyable journey through Singapore and Malaysia. Well, the high actually wore off before I arrived in Bandung. Boarding the plane to Bandung, I was the only white person in line. I was unexpectedly unnerved! I was fidgeting and trying to quell it by slouching and acting cool. On the plane, when the announcements came on in English immediately after the Indonesian version, I imagined everyone was thinking “this is for the white guy”. Of course they weren’t (were they?), but I was becoming unsettled. Arrival at the airport in Bandung provided another unexpected challenge. I had to rely on my limited Bahasa Indonesia skills to negotiate my way through customs and immigration — there was no falling back onto English words when I didn’t know the Indonesian version — no safety net.

Things got worse when I entered the cab. The driver had zero English, it was 11pm and he didn’t know where my hotel was despite saying he did. He took me to Unik Hotel whereas I wanted to go to Unique Hostel. Simple mistake. So we were stuffed. We drove around aimlessly for about 20 minutes before I had a great idea. I’d been looking at Google Maps on my laptop before departing Malaysia and I still had the browser window open. So I fired up my laptop, amazingly zoomed into the address of the hotel and I was able to direct the driver there. It was stressful because the whole saga played out in Indonesian and I’d only just hit the ground.

I settled into the hotel and woke the next morning to a pretty ordinary breakfast. Bread, a sausage with some creamy, moussy stuff in the centre and some coffee. Of course I ate it. That day I walked the 7km up the hill to my language school and got a good sense of where it was in relation to the rest of the city. I also researched a few hotels along the way in case things didn’t work out at Unique Hostel.

The next day I tried to get a motorbike licence from the police station, but the intelligence guys who deal with foreigners told me it wasn’t possible. Likewise, it was impossible to get a post-paid sim card for my phone. I would have to stick with the entirely adequate pre-paid system. That same day I stumbled around some upmarket cafes and got a feel for where I would espcape to if the nasi goreng on the streets got too much.

By this stage, I was settling in and quite happy to take the next 10 days to travel around Java with the confidence that my return to Bandung would be easy. Or would it? Halo Halo Bandung!


Marriage Break-Up: Pre-Moving Out

The catalyst for me starting a new blog is the break-up of my 12 year relationship with my good friend and wife.  We had previously been writing for and made a good go at blogging, lifestyle design and a new way of living.  So rather than getting down into the doldrums about a break-up, I thought I’d write a little bit about it.  Since the decision was made to separate, I’ve been documenting my feelings and reactions to the whole process.  To date (and prior to moving house), these are the key points:

Shock – For me, this was accompanied by a kind of numbness that meant I wasn’t emotional.  In this stage I was very clinical and matter of fact.  I did, however, lose my appetite completely and gain a new friend which I call an “Anxiety Ball”.  Essentially, this was a terrible tension in the stomach area that wouldn’t allow me to focus on anything else except the issue at hand.  Most of this lasted about a week from the decision to separate.

Fear – One of my big fears was about the future.  I had not given any thought whatsoever about my direction without my wife and this meant I needed to act quickly to determine what the best course was.  The problem was that most options seemed so backward given that I’d recently left a career, a house and relocated to a new city for a new life.  My initial reaction was to head back to the safety of what I knew – a full-time job, move back to my old city and try and get some “normality” back into my life.  After pondering these thoughts for about a week, I had a revelation and came up with a solution which is not much different from what I was going to do with my wife anyway.  It’s just that this solution is more independent than before.

Optimism – Many believe our feelings are beyond our control and that our frame of mind is fixed by our moods.  There is some merit in this, but I believe that with strength, we can shift our moods.   In times such as these, it would be easy to be pessimistic about the future.   It’s the default position for most people, me included, and one in which we feel entitled to.  Well, we may well be entitled to pessimism, but wallowing in our own self-pity won’t get us very far.  Optimism is king here and I think it’s worthwhile steadfastly sticking with optimism even when it feels good to wallow in self-pity.

So whilst all this sounds terribly depressing, it doesn’t need to be!  If we allow ourselves to be slaves to our emotions, we can easily fall into the abyss.  So I think the first step is to recognise that significant life changes are all part and parcel of life itself and with significant life change comes discomfort.  I say a big, “Hello!” to Mr. Discomfort but, “you can bugger off if you’re going to try and drag me down.”

For many people in relationships that are heading down the Lifestyle Design path, the issue of the relationship itself is quite often off topic.  As I move forward, I plan to give more thought to how relationships both enhance and hinder the Lifestyle Design process.  Happy to discuss!