Our Indonesian counterparts warned us at pre-departure training to expect the unexpected, and indeed, this program has presented a unique variety of challenges. As one of the only Australian participants experiencing Indonesia for the first time, this was particularly relevant advice for me as I explored a brand new culture and lifestyle with with my host families.
A traditional home in the Kajang culture, local to Bulukumba. Many participants lived in homes of a similar style to this.
MAKAN - eat
Eating Indonesian food requires a special technique and for a beginner it can certainly be challenging. Usually I ate on the floor rather than at a table, and often we didn’t use cutlery! Instead, I’d had to master using my right hand as a scoop to pick up rice with whatever else was on the menu. I learnt quickly that using the right hand was particularly important as the left hand has a dedicated purpose for Indonesians… washing after a visit to the restroom.
While this new skill has been tricky for me to pick up, it has been interesting to see how my Ibu and Bapak eat their three meals a day with pure ease.
MENCUCI PIRING - to wash dishes
Washing dishes in the kitchen is done by Ibu, my host mum. It’s quite strange when I want to help my Ibu in the kitchen, and the answer is always 'No need'. Most households in the village don’t use dishwashers or washing liquid and all crockery is cleaned by hand with cold water.
MENCUCI PAKAIAN - to wash clothes
Washing clothes for many of the participants required collecting water from a well, using one bucket, and hand washing outside. The humidity and lack of dryer has also meant I’ve had to make adjustments to my washing habits to make sure I have clean and dry clothes to wear!
A fellow AIYEPer collects water from the well in her host family's home.
TIDUR - sleep
Most beds during the village phase have been quite firm and only have a very thin foam mattress (if any mattress at all). Most participants also have had to share, sometime with two boys in a single bed! I found it quite uncomfortable when the beds didn’t have any blankets, but this is where the sarong my host family gave me as a gift came in handy. My host family also sometimes slept out on the lounge room floor as it was the coolest room in the house.
TECHNOLOGI - technology
Appliances in the village are very limited. Kitchens are very basic, usually containing only a stove and some pots. But no microwave, oven or toaster. Electricity across our village frequently cut out – a problem in Indonesian called ‘mati lampu’ or ‘dead lights’. It is hard at times when there would be no connection for the fans on a hot night and no way to charge our phones when we needed to contact the rest of the group.
BAK MANDI - to bucket shower
The family bathroom is quite an experience. The room contains a basin of cold water with a bucket for washing. There is no shower, mirror or basin in the room. The toilet is usually a squat toilet, which definitely takes some getting used to, as well as rarely having toilet paper available.
My first experience of Indonesia has certainly been challenging, but it has also been a privilege to immerse myself in a completely different culture and gain an understanding of Indonesia and life in a village.
- Abbie Boyd, NSW