Facing the unfamiliar

For the first time since our travels began in early January 2016, the pace has slowed down. Since we arrived on Java, there hasn’t been the same thirst for seeing as much as possible, because there hasn’t been a strict time limit. We had two weeks on the island, so could slowly make our way round, seeing the sights and maybe even relax a bit. Turns out, Java hasn’t got much in the way of sites. They have a lot of gorgeous places where you can walk to at silly o’ clock in the morning to watch the sunrise, but I did that once and that was enough. 

Also, we appear to be the only western tourists for miles around, so we attract stares and horn honks and general calling out to. Sometimes it’s lovely, school children wanting to high five us was a particular nice moment, but you do sometimes feel like a zoo animal by the way people intensely stare. The heat on Java is even more intense than the Australian outback and as a woman, I have to cover up most of my body. For the first couple of days on Java, I was struggling to adjust. 

And so we retreated. We spent a day at the mall, the most western amusement there ever was, eating at fast food restaurants and ordering room service. I ate a lot of French fries in a couple of days. That was my period of reflection to take time and realise that travelling is about seeking out these new cultures and learning from them. Not everything works like the UK and the quicker you get over that fact and appreciate the beautiful places in the world there are to see, the better your trip will be. It would be easy to run in horror at squat toilets, ignore the spicy breakfast food and never go outside due to the lack of pavements and amibguous driving style. But soon enough, you get over yourself and your previous lifestyle and you have to throw yourself in. When you got to go, you gotta go, so that obstacle was fairly quickly  accomplished. I eat curry, rice, broth, crackers, any gluten free Indonesian food offered finds its way onto my plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I’ve even learnt how to walk in front of traffic, which is surely a lifelong skill.

The lesson here is that it does not do to be afraid. Things are often unnerving when you are travelling the world, but if you jump in, you’ll end up having a much better time than if you try and cling desperately to what you already know. 

These are strange lands!

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