Monthly Archives: June 2013

A breakthrough moment in Pacitan

Pacitan what a great place! I was in heaven once I arrived and was able to go to bed with the sound oft the waves. I slept like a baby and left the city smog behind me.

At Harry’s Ocean House you get invited quickly in to a community, I loved it straight away. I also got to cook for the first time in Indonesia my self and really enjoyed going to the market and buy fresh vegetables and tofu with a lot of chillies of course.

Pacitan is rather small and there isn’t much going on. You won’t find any touristy things and I really appreciated that fact a lot. You go there because you love the nature and you surf. There is not much else to do.

Getting up in the morning and having at first a look at the surf then jump on your motorbike and off you go to one of the three main surf spots in the area. There is also one spot that I call “my secret beach”. To get there it is quite an adventure. After a drive on the motorbike in the hills on a road that requires a certain driving skill, you have to put your motorbike on hold and hike the rest. It was burning hot on that day as I made my way to the secret beach. On the way I came across an older Javanese man, who decided to walk me to the beach. He spoke not a word of English and we walked rather quietly side by side. We came across farmers in the hills and I was amazed how they live and work up there. It seemed like a different world.
They road made it’s way downhill and suddenly I saw beautiful rice fields just like I pictured them before coming to this country. I could hear the waves a bit further a way and I knew I couldn’t be too far away. And there, peeking out between the palm trees and rice fields was a cove like I have never seen before in my life. As I reached the beach with the old man I was lost for words. The pure beauty of nature was mind-blowing. The water was turquoise and blue, the sand white with palm trees greener than green. Not a single other human being was on the beach. I sat down and just looked out in the sea and enjoyed the beauty. The old man sat next to me and he kept pointing to my board that I carried with me with the hope to be able to surf. I smiled and tried to explain to him that the current was to big for me to go out alone. He smiled and I wasn’t sure if he understood what I was trying to say. We sat a bit longer underneath a palm tree and later made our way back towards the bikes.
He seemed to have known every farmer we came across and eager with a big smile pointed towards me. I figured he said he brought me to the beach but wasn’t sure what he really said to them. As we reached the motorbikes I tried to give him a little bit of money as a thank you but he refused it and I finally gave in. I thanked him gratefully and we tried to get back with our bikes, which was harder than I thought.
It was a beautiful day and I was thankful to have met such a wonderful man.

In Pacitan I finally got my answer from RADA. I was waiting for this now since Mai. All this time whilst traveling I asked my self “what if” I get in “what if” I don’t get in. The funny thing was the longer I travelled the more I kept thinking that I get in and that it would be a nice way of knowing which direction my life would go. I would sort of have something to return to, something that defines a plan.

I have experienced so many wonderful and beautiful things so far on my journey, and there hasn’t been a moment in which I was bored or didn’t know what to do. Nevertheless you live day by day, not knowing what will be tomorrow. For me something I am not used to. It needs a lot of confidence to trust your self to know that it will all be just fine. I think the reason why we all make these plans and put our self’s in to these boxes, so-called career or social agendas, is because we are scared of the unknown. It is ten times easier to make a full worked out life plan by what time you have which degree ad which job title, when you want to get married and have children than just live your life. I have always admired people who are able to do that. I am someone who always had a plan. I always knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Here I was about to open that certain message that again is putting me in that box that I was not that happy to be in anymore and all I could think was: I hope I got in! I have to admit that the last few days I got a little scared of not knowing exactly how my journey is going to continue. By the fact of a “yes” from this school I could plan out the whole next few month till I would have to go back to London.

I opened the message and I couldn’t believe the word that stuck out to me in huge letters. “Unfortunately”! I didn’t even have to read on, I knew in that moment it is a “no”!
I got so angry, frustrated and also sad. Why didn’t they want me? Why didn’t they accept me? I had a “kitchen floor melt down “ moment. I could feel how my whole world collapsed. What was I going to do now? I suddenly realized that I fooled my self. I did say I wanted to go on this journey to find out what I really wanted to do. And there I got exactly what I asked for only that I didn’t count with the possibility to be literally so exposed to it and that in the middle of nowhere in Indonesia. In a way I think I never even considered not doing it or doing something else. The share amount of possibilities what I could do now was suddenly frightening to me. I could travel everywhere and I could work anything. What am I going to do? What is my purpose now? That was the question!

That night I went to bed with tears rolling down my cheeks. I tried to be quiet since I was sleeping in a dorm and didn’t want anyone to know that I was crying because I got rejected from RADA.
I got up very early and went straight to the beach, jumped on my board and started to paddle out all my anger. It felt good that I could feel my body, but I wasn’t there. My thoughts were still circling around that letter and my situation. Therefore I didn’t surf well because I wasn’t in the here and now, which then of course frustrated me even more. I felt like I was doing worse than before.

Actively I reminded my self why I love surfing so much. That moment you connect with the nature and you feel your body. You put your self in the here and now and it is almost like a way of meditation. In that moment it seems there is nothing else that matters. And it worked! My heart relaxed my brain stopped running in high-speed motion and I felt happy. In that moment I took my best wave so far and the feeling was extraordinary!! I was filled with joy and all I could think of was that I was thankful for being in this beautiful country and get to live an amazing life!

I didn’t spend one more negative thought on RADA and the whole story. I understood why it had to happen like this. And even though it is scary and unknown what will happen in my life, one thing I was certain of: I was one more step closer to my true self because I put my self for the very first time in the present. There was no plan that I could think about there was no past that I was missing, there was just the now. And in that particular “now” I was just happy and that felt great!

Pacitan

Pacitan

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My little secret of Yogykarta

Lock in Yogykarta

As I walked trough the Sultan Palace in Yogykarta I suddenly realised that my Star of David is no longer around my neck. I lost my necklace that I carried everyday because it reminded me of my father. The first one that I received from my dad, got stolen while I was on a shoot for a Film. Now the second one that I specifically bought to remember him is gone as well. I didn’t even flip out or got really sad or mad. I only said to Emily, with whom I made the trip that I could use a drink now. As we were walking through the market, the sun was burning down and I felt like I was about to melt, I thought about my necklace and what it represented for me.

Did my necklace represent another box, a box that I have to leave as well? Was this meant to happen because I am on this journey? I never wore it because I felt that I was very religious not at all, but it was always very important to me to connect it to my father. Since my father was an orphan from the Second World War and he never really knew where exactly he was from, this was what was left in terms of roots. He wasn’t religious ether but the only thing he would say was: “I am Jewish”. I always wanted to know where I was from and it is still a desire I carry around with me. So in a way I continued what my father did.

I had a big sip from my beer and I could feel that through the heat it went faster in my bloodstream than usually.

Who am I without my necklace, my father, my job, the theatre and my comfort zone?
It made me think of the Sultan Palace I just saw. All these pictures of the whole monarchy, that went back over generations. The whole palace and even the water palace, which was the Sultans bath, made him in a way immortal.
Did I really need a necklace to make my father immortal for myself? No, I don’t even need him to be immortal. I loved my father more than anything and no matter if I carry a necklace to remember him or not, I will never forget him and nether my roots. In a way I felt lighter. Unusual and constantly with the feeling of that my neck felt very naked, I decided to embrace this new opportunity.

And then something interesting happened. Since my dad was a big fan of culture, travel and art and as a child we would always have to go see every temple, monument and museum etc. as soon as we were on a trip, I started to look out for things he would have liked or we would have talked about. I suddenly started to look at everything with him in my mind and I saw things that I would have like better and things that he would have found more interesting. Ever since he passed that was the moment I felt my roots the most. My father thought me so much through his work, his interests, and his travels that “this” was in a way him. I carry on what he thought me, how much more can you ask for when it comes to roots. Yes, I might not know exactly which country and what cultural influence I carry in me but I know where I am from. From my father!

In a way Yogykarta showed me a hidden secret about my self almost like it’s hidden street art, which is also my favourite thing of Yogykarta. If you look for it you can build your own city map just with the street art and you will know where to go. On my way back from Pacitan to Yogy I found myself being pretty secure with directions due to my own “city map”.

Another very impressive moment was when Emily and I went to go see how they built the Shadow puppets. It is fascinating how delicate this work is. To finish one of the puppets it takes one week and that is without colouring it. The artist who explained to us where the puppets come from and what their meaning is had a so much passion whilst talking about it, that I was totally captured by him and the whole art. I wanted to know everything. Every figure has its own story and in the whole design you can find their power and purpose. Very Impressive! One of them stuck to me, it was the one with a big bum. And if you looked closely you saw three major circles in the figure. One was the bum, one the stomach area and one the head. The three represent the three centers in the body:
Mind – feeling – instinct.
He explained to us that there must be a balance between all three of them otherwise it wouldn’t be healthy. I had to smile a bit, then he was so right. How often do we not succeed in finding the balance between all three of them! Often in the Western civilisation we are more mind oriented. We believe we can control everything with our thoughts and it will all work out. We have fix plans on how things have to turn out and by what time we have to have accomplished certain things. It made a lot of sense to me what he said, but I also thought it is easier said than done.

He saw my temporary tattoo on my wrist, which represented for me the waves, life, vitality and creativity. He looked at my tattoo and said: “This is very you. You are a very passionate woman and you care more for others than your self. You have a very deep character and you take a long time to decide. You think about it for a while and once you know you want it, you go for it. You connect quickly to people and you give them your trust. But often you don’t stay true to your self. You let other people influence you. You have to trust more your heart!”

I stared at him and at first I couldn’t say anything. How right the man was! One of the reasons I left was exactly that I wanted to learn to listen to my heart and not be influenced by others. And still on my journey when I spend a few days with someone, I always want to make sure they are happy. Day by day I am learning more to do what I want to do, regardless of what others think or want to do. And it gives an inner peace to your heart, because you can feel that the decision was the right one.

The next day Emily and I took a trip to Borobodur. It is Javas biggest Buddhist Temple. We rented a motorbike and I enjoyed that part very much. Driving in the city with the locals, surrounded by thousands of motorbikes, I was finally part of the “honey bees”. I was happy to see that Emily trusted my driving style and I trusted her with finding the way to the temple. We made a pretty good team. Once we arrived at Borobodur, we had to see that this place is a massive tourist attraction. Nevertheless I wanted to see it. We put on our sarong’s and made our way to the top. Pretty quickly we had to realize that not the temple was the main attraction, we were. All the Indonesian tourists asked all the Western tourists if they can take a picture with them. We were literally followed around the whole temple. I didn’t like this at all. I wanted to get a feeling of the temple and its history. Emily and I started to hide in places where they wouldn’t go. Once there, we realised what an incredible place this actually is. The enormity of the whole temple is incredible and beautiful.

On our way back we not only had to get the tire fixed but almost back in Yogykarta we ran out of gas in the middle of the highway. So I started to pull to the side and saw across the street a little place who would sell gas. I started to talk to them and they were laughing so much, but a split second later the older man ran across the street and filled our bike back up with gas. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t a problem for anyone. No one honked the horn no one screamed: “Get out-of-the-way”.

I learned in this country that the people here always see a solution when there seems to be a little problem. For them it is more about finding another way to solve the situation. They don’t seem to get stressed out that quickly at all. I am so grateful I get to experience this culture and I have learned so much from them already.

street art in Yogykarta


Cimaja – Pelabuhan Ratu – Sukabumi – Bandung – Pangandaran

I left at 5.30 in the morning to catch the first bus towards Sukabumi. As I left Leo’s little paradise I felt almost a little wistful about leaving Cimaja. This place really has grown close to my heart in only this short period. But I was also excited to see more of Java.

With the little ankot to Pelabuhan Ratu from there with the bus to Sukabumi. Change the bus in Sukabumi and go to Bandung, from there one more change and off to Pangandaran.

I had about a 12 hour journey in front of me. In Pelabuhan Ratu was my bus already waiting and it also left right away once I was on the bus. Strange, I thought, since when do these buses actually leave on time!? I said to my self, it must be the early hour. I was still very tired and felt safe enough to fall asleep in the bus. I read and heard everywhere that if you travel alone you shouldn’t sleep on the bus because your stuff will be gone. Also, my friend Walet told me the story that on this particular way people try to sell you rings in the bus and if you put it on your finger you will be falling asleep. Once you wake up all your stuff will be gone. I even saw the rings so I can assure that it isn’t a fake story. Never the less, I didn’t have any problems so far and I always fall asleep in these buses. Since the roads are so bad and it is extremely bumpy and wiggles you around like a baby in a crib. Just not as soft. But for me it works like a charm.

We arrived in Sukabumi and again there was my next Bus waiting for me and again left within the next five minutes.
This time I wasn’t as comfortable as before. The bus was so full that people had to stand. I was sitting with one buttcheek on the seat and with the other one in the air, because I squished my backpack on the same seat. I didn’t think that I was going to sit like this for the next 3 hours but I actually had to.

The bus stopped and a young woman came on and sat next to me. She looked like she was fifteen years old but as we started to talk later on, it turned out she is twenty. She also, like many others, works in a bigger city during the week and then goes back home on the weekends. Her mother was with her, and for almost everything she wanted, like for example food in the bus, she asked for permission. It made me think how I was with twenty or how the twenty something ones are in London. I don’t think any of them are asking for permission anymore.

We were getting closer to Bandung and I was expecting a huge city. As I was looking out the window and realised due to the traffic that we must be in the city, I couldn’t see that “huge” city that I was expecting. Shortly after we already stopped at the bus station and I realised I never really made it in the centre. I got out of the bus and stood in the middle of all these buses of which most of them were about to drive of. Everything around me was moving and I had trouble finding the name Pangandaran on any of the buses. After walking in a circle and asking people who seemed to keep pointing towards all the buses I decided to stand in the middle of the square and shout loud “Pangandaran”. A man in a bus on the left hand side already on the move, shouted back: “Here Miss, here Miss – Going to Pangandaran!!” I ran after the bus and while I was running I kept asking if he is going to Pangandaran. His answer was rather wage but I had to decide in a split second and jumped on the bus.

Once on the bus I realised that I was in an economic bus. Packed and full of men who were staring at me I tried to find a free seat. No luck! I had to stand for three hours straight and I definitely reached the moment where I left my comfort zone. Judged and stared at, I couldn’t help but think that every single person in this bus was thinking: “Ah god another traveler! Another Backpacker!” I tried to smile my way in to their approval but never ever did it take me so long.
I had to change bus again and finally I was on the one to Pangandaran.

After twelve hours of travel, I finally arrived in Pangandaran and made my way to find a hostel.

Pangadaran beach

Panorama guesthouse it was!
A little guesthouse more or less right at the beach run by Tika, a lovely local lady. It is a cute little guesthouse that is very simple but has a lot of charm and so far the best banana pancakes I had in my life!

Pangandaran is a village that has become a holiday resort for locals from Bandung or Jakarta. You can tell when walking through the village that tourism has taken over. Unlike Cimaja it is not rural anymore and the moment you arrive and step out of the bus you will be asked by plenty of men on their motorbikes if you need a ride. I was in the mood for walking after twelve hours of sitting on my bum, and it was quite a task to full fill, believe me!

The beach is a beautiful sand beach with great waves i the morning. If you get up early enough you will have the perfect break. After twelve noon it will be flat and you will have to wait till around five and if you are lucky you can have a late surf again. There are a lot of locals who have surf shops a long the beach and so I was fortunate to get again tips after tips. I had an amazing time with them and all I wanted to do was to get better. The feeling I had ever since the first moment I started surfing got stronger and stronger. There is only one place I can turn of my brain (which is kind of hard for me), be in the moment and feel that I am alive. I have absolutely no sorrows once I am in the water.

There is something about Pangandaran that is capturing even though it is not as beautiful as Cimaja in my opinion.
You can take day trips to the green canyon and green valley. Or you can go to paradise island and see amazing animals and a beautiful white beach. But right here is the thing about Pangandaran. All those places lose their appeal, in my opinion, because all the local tour guides ruin them with their trips. It is all about money! Of course I understand that this is the way they are making their living but it is also them who don’t take care of their own land. The amount of trash that they are throwing on the ground is shocking!

I wanted to go by my self but it is not so easy to do, because faster than you can blink you have one of them on your side and they wont leave till you paid them. I still went for one trip and decided I wanted to go see the waterfalls in green valley. I expected a hike and huge waterfalls, but as we got there the way was plastered with stones so that every one, no matter how out of shape, will eventually get there. When I wanted to walk to the second waterfall a bit further away, it was more of a hike and my tour guide was the one who was out of breath.
Even though I was a bit disappointed, it was still very beautiful and worth my trip!

One thing that impressed me in Pangandaran was how much the locals love their village. The ones I met and surfed with all worked in Bali for sometime or still do. But all of them every single one, said they want to come back and live here in Pangadaran. For them it is the best place to be.

All my live it impresses me when I meet people who love their home town so much that no matter where they go in the world, they know they will eventually come back home. I never had that feeling to the place I spent my childhood. It was beautiful for sure, but I know for a fact that I will never go back there. On the other hand I have learned that home can also be in one self. If you are happy and content with yourself and you know who you are, you are basically home everywhere you go.
Nevertheless, I think we all search for that place and person that we can call home. For some it is where they grew up for some it is a new place and for some it is a person. More importantly it is the ride that counts and that makes us appreciate “home”. Without the ride we wouldn’t know what we miss, love or want.

The stories of those guys reminded me on my ride and how grateful I am for being able to do this. Little by little I know more what it is I want for my home!

I spent a memorable time there. Meet amazing people, learned a lot about my self and surfed for the first time a 6ft short bord.
Thank you Pangandaran!

Beautiful wave in Pangandaran


Little Cimaja

Cimaja is a little village 30 minutes outside of Pelabuhan Ratu right at the beach. It is quite small and the people are very friendly. They welcome you with everything they have. Almost the whole village felt like it was a big family. Everyone knows everyone and of course everything about everyone!

The first morning I went straight to the food market in Pelabuhan Ratu with Ben, whom I met at Leo’s little paradise. It was raining so once we arrived there at the market we walked ankle-deep through mud along all sort of things. From clothes to shoes and finally to my fruits. I was longing for this the whole time ever since I arrived. I have heard so many of my friends talk about the fruits in Asia and how different they are. I wanted to walk through the whole market and we came across the most interesting food I have ever seen. The way they preserve the fish was incredible. They put it in a lot of salt to preserve it and never before have I seen so much tofu. There were these chillies everywhere and I was allowed to try one. Knowing a little bit that they are very spicy I thought I just go for it and took a bite. Wow, not only did I think my mouth was burning but I couldn’t stop crying. So there I was laughing at crying at the same time. Of course all the locals at the market had a good laugh about the whole situation.

I wanted to buy so many different fruits just to try them, but I could never eat all of them, so I thought I bring some to the people at the hostel and share them. Who doesn’t like fruit, right? After bargaining down the prizes with Ben who speaks Indonesian we enjoyed our fruity breakfast back at the hostel. My friends were right, I have never tasted such a good mango and pineapple before. We enjoyed fresh coconut and dragon fruit, watermelon and matakucing – it was wonderful.

Ready and energized, we went to the beach and I had my first try at surfing. Since I windsurf and snowboard I thought I must get the hang of this pretty quickly, but once in the water I realized it is quite different. I am really ambitious when it comes to sports I won’t stop until I can do it. The feeling I had when I stood up on my first wave that day was incredible. There are no words to describe this feeling! I was hocked immediately. From that moment on I knew this is what I want to do everyday and become better and better. So the next day I was up at six am, ready to go see how the surf was. The locals were amazing, giving me tips and kept shouting: “Now, this one – go, go, go!” So, day by day, I could tell I was improving and the feeling kept getting better. But I wanted more. I didn’t care how much my board rashes that I meanwhile got on my legs and chest, were hurting. The bare feeling of freedom on that board and the absolute peace I felt in the water, were much stronger than the pain.

I believe I never had a feeling like this before in a sport and I was always very sporty. Already back in high school, I went to a sports school and the passion for sports is not new to me at all. Still, I reached a totally different level with surfing. I want to get up at 5.30 in the morning for it and I already missed the feeling that one day I was back in the bus to continue my travels.

A few days later a French couple joined us in the hostel and Vincent, what a coincidence, happened to be a surf instructor in France. I took my chance and asked him if he could give me later a few tips and therefore could improve my surfing. He wanted to go in first him self and then he would give me some tips. I wasn’t going to wait and went in with him straight to the big waves. He was quite surprised after I told him that it was my third day and said: “One thing is very good, you are not scared of going in to the big waves.”
I didn’t even realize it, all I did was I followed the locals. I kept watching them how they did everything, started to talk to them and simply believed they must know where it is good. Was my thinking naive? Was I without caution? No, I don’t believe so. I gave them my trust and they felt it. They always watched if I was doing O.K. and I felt safe.
That day I had a few acid drops (When you take off on a wave and have the bottom suddenly fall out as you free fall down the face), but I went back out every time. Vincent gave me the tip to go practice in the white swell. If I can manage to get up there, it would help me to get a better balance and control in the wave.
Immediately I went closer to the beach and I literally wouldn’t leave the water until I had it down! I just kept doing it over and over and wouldn’t give up. Eventually I got the hang of it and started to feel the movement.

That day a wind suddenly came up and the waves started to be flat. No chance you could surf. I found my self at the beach with no book no paper to write on – nothing! And for the first time I realized that I had a big problem with just being there and doing nothing. I was talking about this in my first post, that I wanted to go to Bali, learn how to surf, meditate and do nothing – just be. Well it turned out I wasn’t so good at the “just be” part!

I sat at the beach looked out in to the sea and could feel how my brain started to run in high motion. What was that? Why could I meditate and get to a state of not thinking and being absolutely in the moment but not while sitting at the beach? Did it have something to do with the fact that meditating is also doing something?
I believe that it is a something very healthy when you can manage to come down and just be in the moment. It is important to give your brain and body a break so you can recapture your energy.
The reason I think many people struggle with this is, because if you keep being in action and doing something you don’t have to confront yourself with certain feelings and thoughts.
I also found out that many of these backpackers don’t have that tranquillity. Even if you put in a day of relaxation and you “chill” there are always other people around. It is harder that one can imagine to end up alone and really be with yourself. There is always something happening and you always meet someone new. Plus most of them don’t travel alone. But may be not all of them have that desire like me to come closer to your self and really get to know who you are. Which is absolutely reasonable too.

I was still looking out in the sea and thought about my journey. I am extremely thankful for what I have been able to experience so far. It was full of excitement and new things that I forgot a little about what was missing in my life in London and why I went on this journey. On the right hand side was a couple in the water taking a swim. They were adorable how they forgot everything around them. The share amount of love between them was blowing in my direction and therefore evoke the feeling of love inside of me. It has been a long time that I felt that way and was able to share it with a special someone. I had to smile and while watching them and it made me think of one of my favourite quotes:

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you desire, and at last you create what you will.”
George Bernard Shaw – Playwright

I absolutely live after this and I believe it works. I imagined my self on this trip far before I thought that I actually will be able to do it. But every day while meditating, at work, in the tube or in the shower, I would imagine my self in Bali. Sometimes still can’t believe that I am actually on my way there right now.

Suddenly a voice behind me took me out of my thoughts. Rudi, or Walet as the locals call him, asked me if I am interested in going to the hot springs. Of course I was! I read about them before and wanted to go see them anyway. Quickly I hoped on the back of his motorbike and off we drove up the hill to the hot springs.
Directly from the lava underneath the ground comes hot water up in the air and drizzles down in the little river that is cold. The perfect spa session in pure nature right in front of me! Amazed by what I saw I walked behind Walet in the river and stood underneath the hot water. That was perfect after the surf this morning. I could feel how my skin and my muscles enjoyed the hot water. The locals take a lava stone from the river and rub their skin with it. Your dead skin gets rubbed off and it becomes super soft.
We laughed and talked with a mixture of English and Indonesian till our hands and feet looked like “grandma-skin”. It was the perfect day.

Another moment that I will keep dearly in my heart from Ciamja was, when I was on my way with Ben and Peter to sunset beach. They wanted to stop to have some soup. At a small place right next to the road we made a quick stop. Suddenly there were all these school girls around the age of 16 on motorbikes giggling and looking at us. Finally they came over and with all their courage they asked us if they could interview us for a school project. We were happy to help them in any way.
The group leader (at least that is what I sensed) kept apologizing for her English. And when I told her that her English perfect and she is doing a fabulous job she blushed and hid with a big smile behind her hand.
They asked us all sorts of questions about where we were from, what we are doing here and what we think of Cimaja and Indonesia. They also asked us what our profession is and Peter responded and said: “ I am a medical student.” They only understood student and nodded with their heads, so I quickly jumped in and said that he is a doctor. And there they was their big “Awww’s” and impressed eyes.
It was my turn and I told them that I am an actress and a writer. Risa, the leader, couldn’t believe what she heard and kept asking me if I am an actress and I kept saying yes. Once she translated it to her friends, they all started to laugh, jump around and scream as if I was someone known. For them this was a big deal and the girl immediately wanted to know everything about me. Moved by their reaction I asked Risa what she wants to become one day and she told us that she wants to be a teacher. I told her that this is a very good and important profession and she was thrilled to hear that. The last question was what is you most memorable moment in Cimaja and we all said: “This interview!”
After our short photo session we hoped in the next ankot to sunset beach. We were talking in the bus about the girls and how wonderful it is to see that a teacher here encourages their students to practise English and be courageous and interact with other people.
I only learned later that it is not obvious that every child can go to school here. The government won’t change that on purpose and I think it is so sad to see that a change in that matter will still take many years!

I had such an amazing time in Cimaja that I decided to stay one more night and will enjoy the surf the next day.
For my last evening I went with young Mr. E (That is how he calls him self because it is more simple, he said.), a local from Cimaja, to get some traditional food. I was in the mood for fish and he took me to a cute little place where they literally fished the fish out of the water killed it and grilled it! I would say it doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Cimaja is a must in my opinion if you travel through West Java. It’s charm will take you in immediately.
A place of tranquility and fun with locals – a place that I can only recommend!

School girls who interviewed Peter, Ben and me


Jakarta – Bogor – Pelbuhan Ratu – Cimaja

It was a bit before noon when I finally left the hostel and made my way to the train station. It was warm, humid and all the motorbikes on the street gave the city a sound to it as if it was a huge “honeybee farm”.

At the train station I decided to buy an economic train ticket not because I wanted to spend less money but because I wanted to travel like everyone else. So I thought! As I was waiting on the platform I quickly had to realize that there is no chance I could understand which train is the one I am supposed to take. I turned around and asked the women next to me if she speaks English. With a very big smile she answered with a no! I took out my Lonely Planet and went all the way in the back to the very small phrasebook part. I mumbled a few broken Indonesian words: “Di mana kereta api Bogor? Jam berapa berangat?” The face of that woman lid up and she started to talk as if I understood every word. Not only Mary did, but also the man sitting next to her started to jump in and took great pleasure in talking to me. I tried to follow and flipped through the book as quickly as I could. Finally I got at least that the trains here don’t have different wagons with the different class it is an entire train that defines the class separation. Business class is faster and has air condition, plus the doors close. While on the other hand an economic class train has no air condition and the people sit and stand everywhere plus on top of each other and there are no doors.
Mary pointed to the train that was like mine for another direction and said: This is you, you bought an economic class thicket. Are you sure you want to go on this train?
I looked at the train, then back at her and then back at the train and mumbled out a very vague, yeah!
Another business class train to Bogor arrived, by now it was the second and I couldn’t go on it. Mary got up because she had a Business class thicket, waved me goodbye and left with the train. As I watched the train disappear I realized that Mary is like everyone else here and despite me on the train to Bogor. I ran downstairs back to the thicket office and asked if I can change my thicket back. The man behind the window started to laugh when he saw me and handed me quickly the money back I spent and gave me a business class thicket, which I gladly paid. I ran back up and there it was my train to Bogor. I was finally after one hour and a half on the train.

In the train I met Buriman, a cook who works 3 days a week in Bogor. So far I recognized that Indonesian people are very open and want to get to know you. He asked me the same questions I get asked all the time when I meet somebody here. Where are you from? Are you traveling alone? Are you married? I told him I am traveling alone and because I didn’t want to get back in to the conversation of why I am not married I invented a husband. I came up with a whole story. Where he is and what he works and why we are not together on this journey. I did feel a bit bad but I couldn’t bare that look again as if I am damaged goods or something. After that story he was pleased and told me he would make sure I would get to the bus station in Bogor so no one would rip me off with the ticket. I was really happy for his help and I quickly followed his lead once we arrived. We jumped in one of these ankot buses. They are quite small and always have one direction. So you can hop on and then once you want to get off you just tell the driver, pay him and jump out. I really like that system, how practical is that!
In the ankot Buriman asked me if I had lunch or if I was thirsty. I could use something to drink, I thought. A bit worried to say yes I trusted my cut and said: “Yes why not. I am very thirsty!” He smiled stopped and paid the bus and we jumped out. At the restaurant he offered me a coke and I drunk it as if I passed the Sahara. Soon we went our way, with his friend joining us because apparently he knew more about the buses to Pelabuhan Ratu. Once we left to the next ankot we walked towards a bus station that looked rather shady. I saw nowhere even one backpacker or tourist. But I wanted to get to Cimaja and so I went along with my two new friends. Finally we found the Bus and there was also Andrew who was in charge of the bus. A very skinny local who had an extremely long and strange nail on his left pinkie. Buriman made sure I had not to pay too much and that Andrew would make sure I get to the right bus to get to Cimaja in Pelabuhan Ratu. I thought it was so adorable how they took care of me I couldn’t believe it. After a quick photo session, they left and I went on the bus. Turned out I was the only person on that bus so far. So I waited a while to see if there are more people coming or if we would leave soon. After a while finally some people came and I asked someone when the bus would leave. They answered with the head tipping to the side: “In have an hour.” OK, I thought, that is perfect. After a have an hour we didn’t leave and so I asked again. “In have an hour”, said Andrew. I didn’t say anything and thought you can’t change it Sarah you might as well go with the flow. Another have an hour later we still haven’t left and once I asked again he said: “We are just waiting till the bus is full!” Fantastic! I feared to be sitting at this bus station till the next day. But out of the blue suddenly people ran in that bus and we were ready to leave!

The drive was nothing like I expected. The roads were so small and so terrible. Sometimes the wholes were so deep I flew through the whole bus. But here and there suddenly someone jumped on the bus and sold fruits or something to drink and then jumped back out. That was so great even the food was coming to you! It started to rain and the ride was long and slow due to traffic.

I had enough time to look out the window and let my thoughts go. Suddenly I had to think of John and how crazy this whole thing was. I realized that I literally took a plane and a train to go see a man I barely know to spend with him an evening!! That is not nothing I would say!
It was getting dark outside and I started to feel a bit lost in the middle of nowhere in West Java in that bus, in which no one really spoke my language.
What was I actually expecting from John? Was I fooling my self by pure romanticism that this was supposed to evoke a reaction out of him?

There it was my first movie moment that I was talking about in the beginning and not like in a big picture but rather very much like ordinary life it is not as romantic or dramatic. There is no one running across the big screen because he just had an epiphany moment when he realised that he actually does like you.
Fact is when I met John I was attracted to his energy. It was so positive and full of life. The way he talked about his travels and surfing involved so much passion, that I wanted to find more out about it my self. In a way I guess, I should thank him. Because I could have also been jealous and negative about the whole thing since I was working almost everyday in rainy London. It pushed me in a way and here I am today traveling alone through Indonesia, getting to know an entire new culture, country and beautiful people. I am finally surfing and writing. Happier than ever I’m doing everything I love.
So I guess I don’t have to expect anything from John. I want to thank him. Even if I will never see him again, and I hope that wont happen, I will never forget him.

Two month before I left London I changed something essential in my life. My attitude! I decided to be happy. This may sound silly and strange but it literally was that simple. The grey, cold and rainy London made me see the things more deconstructing than they were. Finally I got so sick of my own feelings, that I decided: “Enough with this I want to be happy!I want to do what makes me happy. I want to be with people who inspire me, who think positive like me. I want to earn my money through work that I love.”
I started to listen to upbeat music that put me in a sunny, shiny and happy mood. And it worked!
If you would have asked me 5 month ago if I think I would be here in Indonesia, I would have probably said no. Everyday I learn new things about my self. Like for example that I can be patient. I learned that through the bus rides here in Indo. You never really know how long they are going to be and take once you are on them and since I don’t have to be anywhere at a specific time I learned to just – sit!
It can happen that your thoughts wander off in to the negative when you sit in a bus for 12 hours.And I think that is absolutely O.K. The one thing I learned in these moment was, do I want them or not!

No, I don’t know what John feels and if it evoked anything. In the end if we are meant to meet again we will. It would be absolutely fantastic, but until then all I can do is trust, believe and be patient!

Those three words: Trust, believe and patience, are big words that we sometimes underestimate. I think if you can manage to really truly live them in everything in your life, you will eventually get what you want. You must only know what you want!

Finally in Pelbuhan Ratu I was lucky enough that Andrew told his driver that they were going to drop me off directly at my hostel in Cimaja. Thankful that he held his word I sat in the front with them and they started to smoke. Never in my life have I seen people smoke so much like the Indonesian men.
Twenty minutes later we reached Leo’s little paradise and I was finally in Cimaja.

Sunset at Sunset Beach in Cimaja


Pipit – 4.6.2013

I met Pipit in the plane to Jakarta. Only at the end we started talking and he seemed very nice and welcoming. As I passed immigration and made my way out there he was again asking me where I am going. I told him I am looking for the bus to Gambir. It took him not even a second and he offered me to help me to find my bus. Gladly I accepted his help. As we were walking towards the bus station we started talking and he told me that he is on vacation here in Jakarta.

Pipit was born and raised in Jakarta and is working at the moment in Helsinki in a hotel. The reason for that is, that he makes approximately $1000 a month in Helsinki, while he would only earn $150 a month here in Jakarta. I was shocked by the number, thinking that $150 would not get me very far in England. He told me that he is very excited to go home because he will finally see his baby son again. After he was born he soon left for work to Helsinki to be able to support his family better. Now his son is more than one year old and has not seen his father since he was born.

Of course he asked me if I am married and I had to say no. He was a little surprised but I quickly changed the focus through asking since when he was married. Then he started to tell me how that works here in Jakarta: You meet a girl, you like her, you start to date her, then you bring her home and if your parents like her and her parents like you, you get married. And all that happens within one month!! Wow, I couldn’t believe it! Of course this is a completely different culture but nevertheless one month was unbelievable for me! I was very moved by his story. I had to think about if a man in England or lets say Switzerland would even consider going so far away for his family so they have a better life! Or even commit in that way. I wasn’t sure…
Pipit waited with me till my bus arrived. He gave me his number and email and said if I ever need something in Jakarta I should call him or his family.

In the huge traffic jam I thought about Pipit and my very first moment in Indonesia. What a warm and lovely welcome. I would say this was the perfect start!

Once I arrived in Gambir I wanted to hire one of these motorbikes but then these two Dutch guys wanted to share a cab, which of course was a lot cheaper, and so we hoped in the cab and drove towards my hostel.

The hostel is run by two twin sisters with their husbands, whom are from England and Ireland. Very quickly I felt a bit back in London. It was a funny feeling sitting with them on the rooftop drinking a Indonesian beer and making jokes while looking at the skyline from Jakarta.
But before that I went across the street, which is an adventure for it’s self, and tried for the first time in my life authentic Indonesian Bakmie Goreng. I love this food, the people and the vibe.

On the rooftop we were people from all around the world. I was amazed by how quickly you built a connection whilst traveling alone. The next day I almost considered staying a night more because I had such a great start. But I wanted to get to the beach and therefore towards Cimaja!


A wee bit of Pastis…

I was on my way from Nice towards the Golf of Juan-les-Pins and my train was 10 minutes away from its final destination when I still didn’t know if John really will be there and at what time. His location kept changing the last to days that I probably know every hostel along the Cote d’Azur now.
So there I was sitting in the train towards the Golf of Juan-les-Pins, with no clue where I would be sleeping or meet him. I have to admit that it was exciting!

Knowing that I will be leaving for Indonesia on Monday, put me in a state of absolute calmness. Nevertheless, I was getting more nervous by the second. I kept thinking I should have expectations of how this evening is going to turn out, but the only one I had, was that I would actually get to see him in person. That was it!
And No matter how it would turn out, I will be leaving for my trip and that took away all those reasons or facts that we start to build up in our self through the years from experiences we made and we eventually end up having those expectations. If you are 21 you definitely look for something else in a man than when you are 29. So it often happens that you judge too early when meeting someone or you immediately put them in a box. You don’t allow your self to simply find out if you connect with that person.
In a way it was the best feeling to have if you are in a situation like this. Because it allowed me to be absolutely open to the moment.

I was one stop before the one I was getting off when I finally got a message that he will be there in 10 minutes. Suddenly this whole adventure became really real. Until now I could still use the “what if” and as we all know, it is a beautiful safe term that we all love so much because we are too scared of the real moment where we can’t hide anymore. Thoughts started to rush through my mind in an extremely fast speed. And there it was, the “what if”, but in a more negative way. It dominated every thought of mine. What if I don’t feel that connection at all anymore? What if I get really bored? What if I make an absolute fool out of my self? What if…and then I stopped! No, I came here because I didn’t want to leave for Indonesia and regret not finding out, not taking the risk, not be living the moment. I didn’t want to have to say; “What if I would have gone toward his direction first?” Right there in that moment that smile was back on my face and I was so happy knowing what ever will happen is supposed to happen.

As I walked towards him it felt a bit unreal. I met this man one time before in my life and there I was flying to South of France just because I thought that there is something about him that really interests me!
It was obvious that we were both very nervous. The area at the port of the Golf of Juan-les-Pins is very cute and rather small, but there was a small French bar where we had a Pastis to start of. Pastis is my favorite drink and on top of everything being in South France and drinking a glass of Pastis sitting across from John, I already got all I expected.

We walked along the beach towards Juan-les-Pins and stopped right at the beach for a glass of wine. The sun looked out the last time for that evening behind some rainy clouds and it gave almost a kitschy scenery but beautiful. And all I could say was; “That right now was worth my trip!”

I really enjoyed the whole evening and I was more than positively surprised by him. Because I knew that this is it and we are both going our separate ways from here again I didn’t feel any pressure on my self to impress him or be someone I am not. I also didn’t have any expectations from him. It gave the whole evening a very relaxed feeling. Even though he mentioned a couple of times that he had this night planed out differently, I didn’t mind at all. I thought it was perfect!

As we said goodbye there was a part of me who wanted him to stay. Yes, it was too short in a way, but may be this was even better that it was unexpected and not going as planed. Because I believe in a way it also showed a true color of both of us. I did tell him to come find me in Indonesia and how exciting would that be?!
With a smile and grateful, I walked back to the apartment which some friends of his rented and enjoyed the rest of the evening there.
And how do you say: The third time is the charm!

The next day I got up after a fun night and thankful for that I was able to sleep there, I went for a coffee with a french croissant in the sun. I could feel how my skin was so happy to feel finally the sun. I thought about last night and how I was scared to lose my balance. All sorts of different emotions were coming up and so I decided to walk from Juan-les-Pins to the Cap d’Antibes and all the way along the coast to Antibes. I didn’t really know how far it was or how long it will take me to get there. But with good hope and the map seen before and now in my head I reckoned that I will have enough time to enjoy that walk before I will have to hop on the train back to Nice.
It was so beautiful and I can only recommend on doing this. It is a bit of a walk but absolutely worth it. The sun was shining, I was in my Flip Flops and just happy! At the cape I went all the way to the last cliff and stood on top of it, feeling the breeze of the wind, looking in to the small but beautiful blue waves that were clashing on the cliffs. No, I didn’t loose my balance at all. I was feeling so content at this very moment and even more ready for Indonesia.

Once I arrived in Antibes I still had enough time and I was getting a bit hungry. There were small kiosks with food along the beach and smaller bistros that definitely would have fit more my budget, but all the way in the front I saw this beautiful fancy restaurant and I decided to do something I have never done before like this in my life.
I never went to a nice restaurant by my self. The host welcomed me very polite and asked if I am looking for a table for two. With a big smile I replied: No just for me! There was a brief moment I did feel a bit awkward because most guests were definitely from a different society but nevertheless I decided to treat my self. I enjoyed my octopus salad with a glass of rosé in the sun, the ocean a meter next to me and in front the view of beautiful boats and yachts. I indulged every bite and every sip and did not distract my self with my mobile or any technology. The waiter was so lovely and courteous and made this whole experience even better. It was an amazing feeling that I had once I left and made my way towards the train station.

Back in Basel not even the rain or the cold temperature could change my mood. I was feeling great and this trip was more than worth it!!
In Bern I went back to the place I used to work and was welcomed so warm and with so much love that I was a bit overwhelmed. I had a fantastic last night in Bern with my best friend and one day left that I will happily spend with my friend who is turning 30.

Excited and getting nervous but in e very good way I can’t wait to finally get to Indonesia. Now there is only one quest left before I leave and that is packing my backpack.


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