That Awkward Moment When…

You ask to go to the bathroom, are shown the room, brush your teeth, decide the hole in the ground is not the toilet and ask again.

Phun: Ridwan, where’s the toilet?
Ridwan: Over there.
Phun: No, the toilet. Not the shower.
Ridwan: Huh? Over there.
Phun: …..

This happened on our trip to Tasik Malaya, Ridwan’s family home (Ridwan does all the admin at TLF). It was a weekend full of eating, walking and cringing with embarrassment. Because what is a gap year without hanging around at people’s houses and feeling awkward! Especially when you don’t recognise the toilet…

Still, it was a great weekend. On Saturday, we went in to the rice fields for breakfast and caught the fish we ate five minutes before frying them. Dhenny climbed up a tree like a monkey to pick us some coconuts. And we ate rice and tempe with our hands. It was an amazing meal.

And then we climbed five hundred bloody steps to the top of Guning Galunggung – I thought I was about to collapse when we got to the top but the view totally made it worth it.


So did swimming in the warm spring fed by the volcano. It was almost too hot, especially as I haven’t taken a warm shower for over a month!  I’m now so excited about going back to Jaks just to wash my hair in warm water. This photo is taken when it started to rain – look at that steam!


Sitting around eating at the pool unfortunately led to another, even more cringy moment. Being asked why I wasn’t praying. For those of you who don’t immediately guess the answer, you really don’t want to know. If you do know, you can clearly imagine my mortification when Dhenny worked it out and announced it to the whole group. Erm, disrespecting my privacy much?

And then it was Sunday and we arrived in Kampung Naga, a traditional village surrounded by lush rice fields and rolling mountains. The people live without any electricity or gas – everything is done the hard way. For example, pounding rice plants in to rice grains.


I was amazed at the strength of the women – they kept on going for so long, slapping their staffs in to the bowls. It made me realise how much we depend on modern appliances for everything in the West and how little we know about living a basic life. Imagine a life where you grew everything you ate and had no electricity or Internet. Crazy.

Of course, the village was also a bit of a tourist show. We’ll never know how much of what we saw was just a show for the tourists flocking the area. But it was still a beautiful place and an interesting experience. And, of course, a great opportunity to take more pictures…

And now it’s back to everyday life at Karang Widya. Today we had our final test – an eight page epic on (almost) everything we’ve taught. There’s only one week left until graduation and so we’re trying to wrap up. And desperately trying to avoid bursting in to tears. It feels like leaving high school all over again. If there’s definitely one thing I’ve learnt in the last two years, it’s how to say goodbye. Although it never gets any easier.

I’m going to miss everyone here so much, not least because their lives are on such different tracks to mine. I’m guaranteed a good job and a (hopefully) privileged lifestyle. So many of the students from KW have no idea where they’re going or what they will work as. They’re all so close in age to me. It makes me feel so small to see the differences between our lives. Not to mention guilty. Here I am, lording it up teaching them English, and who knows if they’ll ever really need it. I don’t really know how to feel. Happy that I made new friends and sad that I may never talk to them again. Hopeful that they will lead good lives, scared that I will never know if they do. It’s so confusing.

And then there’s always that burning question: how much have I really done? Will English ever really help them? Will their time at Karang Widya leave a positive influence? …..

But more on that next time. Expect a deep, reflective and very emotional blog post. I’m dreading leaving so much!

Sampai Jumpa.


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