Working Holiday Visa, New Zealand


ToNZ #1 – Now that I arrived to New Zealand, I could start what I originally departed from Europe for: my so called Working Holiday. This here is a short overview about my adventures with the visa so far.


Getting It

There are 42 lucky countries in the world whose inhabitants have the possibility to apply for a Working Holiday visa to New Zealand. They usually do it because New Zealand is pretty, it’s a perfect place for a bunch of exciting looking activities, a smart choice to make some money and in addition it’s far away from every other part of the world. These adventure-hungry inhabitants have to register on the proper website, fill in the application form, pay the application fee and boom, they can start their 12 months there.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, actually it is. Most of these lucky countries have a highly limited luckiness, and there is a certain amount of inhabitants who are allowed to receive the visa. In Hungary it’s 100 person per year. For 10 000 000 people. It’s only 0,001% of the population. But it’s still better than China where the limit is 1000 person per year, for 1 357 000 000 people. Can you guess how much is it? Yes, exactly, it’s only 7.36919676e-6 percent!!
The actual number of the countries that don’t have a quota is 11. The ones in Western and Northern Europe plus USA, Canada and Japan. The rest has a specific day every year when they can start to send the application form and it’s open until the limit is reached. Usually it happens still on the same day. In the case of Hungary, it was open for 9 minutes: from April 20, 00:00 to April 20, 00:09.
I finished my application form at 00:06. A lot of preparation have been made before, both on mental and on practical points of view. I started to collect money about one year before and got a credit card. Before the big day I watched some youtube videos of someone filling out the application form and I saved my answers in a text file. Short before midnight I was frequently clicking on the refresh button of my browser and when the application site finally opened, I used my quick, yet not nervous style to put every answer to the right place. In the last step they accepted my payment and after that the endorphins suddenly occupied my whole body for a few minutes.
I could finally start making my plans. I wrote to the people in Sapporo. I registered to Couchsurfing. I found the mysterious website called workaway.
The rest is history.

Using It

Let’s skip the how did I get here part, you, dear blog reader, already know this better than anyone else. First I went to Japan instead and didn’t really care much about what I’ll do in New Zealand. They wrote on the immigration website that I’ll have to prove on the New Zealand border that I own a specific amount of money which I didn’t know that they won’t check when I enter the country and so I took it really serious. It meant that I knew that I’ll have enough money when I arrive so I didn’t stress about finding a job there for a long time.
The first time I was searching for backpackers jobs in New Zealand was in Pattaya. After a while I started to check only two websites frequently, this and this. But the jobs there weren’t too interesting. Mainly some agriculture stuff.
When I was in Malaysia, I read the advertisement of the Chillawhile Backpacker Gallery, they offered a “paid internship”. Which was good because it’s not common that a hostel provides anything else than free accommodation. And I saw the photos and there was a piano right next to the reception. At this moment I couldn’t control myself and wrote to the hostel. Kelly, the owner wrote me back when I was in Jakarta and told me that she watched my epic youtube video and she definitely wants me, we can skip the interview and all the other bureaucratic nonsenses. So that escalated quickly. And I think none of us regretted their decisions. The money I get is not much but enough to cover the daily expenses, especially because it excludes the accommodation. The job is great. I’m not complaining.
So that’s how I started my working holiday in New Zealand. Now I work in the Chillawhile as a receptionist. Kelly always has two receptionists, me and a German girl called Katja arrived almost at the same time. Katja prefers the morning shift because she’s free after that, I prefer the afternoon shift because then I can sleep all day, so there is no dissension between us.
That’s it for now. I’m having good times at the moment but not much is happening. So I probably cannot keep writing something every week. We’ll see how it goes.

Just so nobody can say that I didn’t put here any photos, there is one here of Oamaru North.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Expenses And Incomes


TotW #20 – How much did I spend on flights, accommodation and food? And was it worth the money? Scroll down and check it out.


Expenses
Flights

I was flying 13 times, here are some details.

Date From To Airlines Cost (EUR)
Jul25 Budapest, Hungary Sapporo, Japan Qatar 378
Aug13 Tokyo Seoul T’way 154
Aug22 Seoul Taipei T’way 137
Sep25 Taipei Shanghai China Southern 91
Sep27 Shanghai Hong Kong Hongkong 64
Oct02 Hong Kong Da Nang HK Express 131
Okt10 Da Nang Bangkok VietJet 64
Nov02 Pattaya Kuala Lumpur AirAsia 56
Nov10 Singapore Jakarta LionAir 41
Nov17 Bandung Pekanbaru AirAsia 46
Dec01 Pekanbaru Kuala Lumpur AirAsia 49
Dec01 Kuala Lumpur Auckland AirAsia 271
Dec03 Auckland Christchurch JetStar 102

It’s 1584 EUR altogether.

If you’re a visual type, this picture will be helpful:

karte-0-9016

I have one big lesson for my future flights: there is no need for a check-in baggage! The promo prices you can see at the first place in “lowest price first” mode usually mean tickets that allow you only a carry-on backpack, with the max. weight of 7-10 kg. If you have a baggage, you should add about 30% to the promo price so it won’t be that promo anymore. I made a lot of thoughts while pulling my useless baggage behind me, if a backpack alone would be enough. My final answer is absolutely yes.

Accommodation

My travel consisted of 132 nights, spent as follows:

City Place Nights Cost (EUR)
Doha, Qatar Hamad International Airport 1 0
Tokyo, Japan Haneda Internationa Airport 1 0
Sapporo, Japan Spa Hotel SOLE Susukino 2 60
Sapporo, Japan Keizo’s Place 3 0
Sapporo, Japan AirBnB 6 111
Hakodate, Japan Guesthouse Hakodate Bay 1 27
Tokyo, Japan Thao’s Place 1 0
Fuji, Japan Goraikoukan 1 70
Tokyo, Japan Thao’s Place 3 0
Seoul, South Korea AirBnB 7 64
Suwon, South Korea Couchsurfing (Minji) 1 0
Suwon, South Korea Jjimjilbang 1 8
Taipei, Taiwan Workaway @ Duckstay Hostel 24 0
Nantou, Taiwan Jack’s Place 3 0
Taitung, Taiwan Robert’s Place 3 0
Kaohsiung, Taiwan Single Inn 1 13
Kaohsiung, Taiwan Couchsurfing (Andrew) 1 0
Tainan, Taiwan Yenling’s Place 2 0
Shanghai, China Shanghai Hostel International Youth Hostel 1 14
Shanghai, China Pudong International Airport 1 0
Hong Kong Castle Inn 2 17
Hong Kong Pui O Campsite 1 0
Hong Kong Nam Sham Campsite 1 0
Hong Kong Hong Kong International Airport 1 0
Da Nang, Vietnam Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel 1 14
Da Nang, Vietnam Workaway @ Glocal Beachside Hostel 7 0
Saigon, Vietnam AirBnB 1 15
Pattaya, Thailand Workaway @ Eelswamp 22 0
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Homie KL 1 14
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Agosto Guest House 3 29
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Raizzy’s Guesthouse 2 10
Singapore Betel Box Backpackers Hostel 2 16
Jakarta, Indonesia The Packer Lodge 1 10
Bogor, Indonesia Some Traveloka Room 1 0
Bogor, Indonesia Some Traveloka Room 1 10
Bogor, Indonesia Ria’s Place 1 0
Bandung, Indonesia Dipo’s Place 3 0
Pekanbaru, Indonesia Workaway @ UIB School 14 0
International Area Airplane from KL to Auckland 1 0
Auckland, New Zealand Auckland Airport 1 0
Oamaru, New Zealand Chillawhile Backpackers Art Gallery 1 0

Which was 502 EUR – 3,8 EUR per night in average.

Here is a nice graph about the expenses:

graph

My absolute winner for stay is workaway. Very easy: first pick a country, then pick a place there, choose a time interval, write the owner and you’re good to go. Accommodation is guaranteed, meals as well if you’re lucky, and there is no need for extra visa because it’s volunteering, you don’t get any money. If I make a similar journey again, workaway will play a role in the first round of the planning process.

Food

Shame on me but I didn’t record every single sushi, kimchi, stinky tofu, goi cuon, pad thai, laksa and martabak I bought. Wherever I stayed for longer, I set up a daily limit for food. It was 1200 yen in Sapporo (10 EUR), 200 NTD in Taipei (6 EUR) and 0 rupiah in Pekanbaru (0 EUR). I always felt that I spend too much for food and at the same time I always felt hungry as well. A workaway place with free food is a jackpot, that could solve both of these problems.
Summary: all the money I spent from buying the first flying ticket until setting my feet on Oamaru’s rocks was somewhere between 2800 and 3000 EUR.
Yeah well, could have been better, could have been worst.

 

Incomes

Originally I didn’t plan to write this section but going through those flights and beds just brought up so many memories that I thought it’s time for a short summary.
So I picked up one most memorable element from each country.

Japan – A Great Place to Start

The first station of my trip was Sapporo, a city where I already spent an exchange semester two years before. Sapporo is the northern point of Asia anyway so it could have been a reasonable first choice even without that. But after arriving to a familiar place and meet the familiar people there I felt so comfortable that I never began to doubt if this long journey I just started and cannot even see the end of yet was really a good idea. Those impressions I got there gave me confidence to keep going on.

Korea – Time To Socialize

When I came to Korea, I had my flying tickets and my accommodation booked for one week, but no schedule at all. Then I met a tour guide who introduced me to her friends and her friends introduced me to their friends. Besides I also had some spontaneous meetings which I didn’t really experience anywhere else. So I met some new people almost every day and my time in Seoul was getting better and better. Too bad that I left so early.
Plus it’s not just I liked South Korea, South Korea liked me too: in the last month 47% of all my youtube channel‘s watching time came from that country (Japan is the second with 19%).

Taiwan – The Best Company

I really liked working with my colleagues in the Duckstay Hostel. There were four volunteers working there. Eastern European migrants were overrepresented – a Polish girl living in Denmark, a Romanian boy living in Sweden and a Hungarian boy living in Germany. Together with the local employees we had a common goal: try to kill our free time. Sometimes everyone did it their own way, sometimes we did it together. The mission was finally always accomplished somehow. It was the only time that I was part of a community – not as a retarded foreigner but as a full member.

Shanghai – Planning for One Day

My first visit in mainland China lasted for one day only. I wanted to spend it in a way so I won’t regret later that I paid almost 100 extra Euros for a ticket that allowed me to actually go to the city with a transfer visa. Finally Nina from Chengdu city organized me three volunteers who all wanted to show me around so at the end we had to arrange a strict schedule so everyone has enough time. I’m not saying that this was the best way to spend the day in Shanghai but considering the other possible options, I think I cannot complain.

Hong Kong – Days in the Nature

If someone told me that I’ll spend two days camping in one of the countries I visit, Hong Kong would have been one of my last guesses. But when it turned out in the Duckstay that Valentin (“a Romanian boy living in Sweden”) will be in Hong Kong at the same time as me, that’s what he recommended. There are many camping places in Hong Kong, only 30% of its area is the actual city so it was a very good idea. We were hiking on one of Hong Kong’s biggest island for two days. It was a bit exhausting but it was nice to see only trees, mountains and small villages for a while.

Vietnam – Áfonya

The Glocal Beachside Hostel in Da Nang accepted me as a volunteer but when I came there, the boss told me that he’s not sure what he could give me for one single week. So I bored most of the time until Áfonya showed up. Then boredom suddenly disappeared. We had a few days there to spend together and we enjoyed them a lot. Chitting and chatting, going here and there, doing this and that, exploring an unknown city in an unknown country – it was a great adventure.

Thailand – The Best Accommodation

My very best (and very cheapest) room with an unbeatable private bathroom lasted only for two weeks. But the farm in Pattaya wasn’t just about my room. Gardeners were working every day there to keep it pretty, and Mr. Burton, the rich Australian lawyer built there everything as he wished: the piano room where the temperature was always 24 degrees, the pool in the middle of the garden, the gym on the top of the piano room. He sent his Thai wife to a one year long cooking school and as the result the food there was also the best I’ve had during my travelling months.

Malaysia – Sitting And Waiting

In Kuala Lumpur I spent my days in my hostel, and I had nothing to do, just waiting to leave. This wasn’t the first place where I arrived with no big plans to but this was the only one where things didn’t turn better even after my arrival. It could have happened in Seoul, could have happened in Da Nang, but I was lucky in those cities. I guess Kuala Lumpur helped me to realize that. Spending some days in a new city won’t necessarily result a great story. Especially not by sitting and waiting.

Singapore – Meeting Up

My visit in Singapore was special because I agreed already in April to meet someone seven months later. Back in Germany I was very excited that I have a guide somewhere in a mysterious Far East country. But the truth is that when I already arrived in November, I’ve had so many other meetings behind me and so many plans for the future that Singapore reduced to a list item to be checked. Still, the storyline itself is unique and it was worth to try. It will probably remain a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Indonesia – Growing a Branch

Not literally. But metaphorically. It was the first time that some people gathered together with the purpose of learning something from me. One of my students there told me that after learning English at the institute she wants to become and English teacher herself. Because if you have a knowledge but you don’t share it with others, she said, you’re like a tree that has only roots but no leaves and branches. Nice motivation. I assume that after spending two weeks at the school I do deserve a tiny little branch on the top of my big fat root.

 


Contact

Dear blog reader, if you want me to love you even more than I do now, please take a look at this postal address and then listen to your heart.
I’ll stay here for 3 months.

Szabó Dániel
Frome St. 1
Oamaru North
Oamaru 9400
New Zealand

 


Well, that’s it for now. I saved all the posts in a pdf file for offline pleasures. You can Download Here.


 

From Pekanbaru to Oamaru


TotW #19 – On Thursday it was time to leave Pekanbaru and finally go to Oamaru. Suhai picked me up on Thursday morning and I started probably the longest trip of my life. Even if these towns have relatively similar names (their Damerau-Levenshtein distance is only 5!), leaving my room there and arriving to my room here took more than two whole days.


Last Days at the UIB

The last days in the Pekanbaru were really rainy so the students didn’t come to class. They all use motorbikes and motorbikes in rain are too inconvenient. So Suhai asked me to make a website for the UIB Institute and I was working on that. We registered a domain name, namely the www.uibinstitute.com and he gave me some Indonesian material to put it on the site. It was my third time after Taiwan and Vietnam that I was making a website. After some further practice I could make money with it. So I could keep travelling while working.
The December started and I had to go. I woke up early on Thursday. My plane departed in the afternoon but Suhai said that I have to be finished with packing in the morning because he wants to bring me around before. So he picked me up short after 9am and we started to go around. After a while we arrived to a riverside. Where are we going, I asked. The port, man, answered Suhai. Oh, and why do you bring me to the port? Because I have never been there, he answered. So we went to the port, Suhai found some ships there, I had to take a few photos of him smiling in front of the ship. Then we left the port. So, did you like the port, I asked. A little, he answered.
The he drove to a hidden, barely used road and we were going until we reached a dead end. He found there two random fishermen fishing in the river. He talked with them for a while, tried to catch some fishes then took a lot of photos. After this we visited his friend who had his own English school. I had to talk with the teachers there so they can practice speaking English. Finally he brought me to a restaurant which he likes a lot because they have orange juice with coconuts in it. Then we went to the airport and said goodbye.

The Way To Oamaru

My first flight brought me to Malaysia. I had to check out, get my baggage then check-in again. I never thought that Malaysia will be the first country I will return to. See the irony? The next flight was to Auckland but it had an extra station in Australia. So we landed, everyone had to get off, make a circle through a security gate on the airport and then board again. Then we kept flying to Auckland. I was not sure how smooth it will be to enter the country. I had my printed visa and my bank account details and I was also prepared that they will want me to buy a ticket to outside of New Zealand to make sure that I won’t stay for too long. But there was absolutely nothing. They didn’t even make a photo or a fingerprint copy like they did in almost every country. They just looked at my passport and my arrival card. How long do you stay, sir? About 7 months. Do you have anything to declare? No. Any fruits, food, medicine? Nope. Oh okay, thank you, next!
I arrived to Auckland at 5pm and my flight to Christchurch departed at 6am so I decided to take a bus and have a short look in Auckland city. I had really good impressions. Not because it’s such a pretty city but because it was great to be back in the Western culture. I was not a weird strange foreigner anymore but just a usual everyday foreigner. The tropical climate that started in Taiwan, finally disappeared. I could breath again and carry my useless baggage without starting to sweat in 10 seconds. Another, less enjoyable consequence was that the prices were super high again. But since I can make some money here, it won’t be a too crucial issue (I hope).
I came back to the Auckland airport in the evening and couldn’t sleep until I was on the plane to Christchurch. In Christchurch I went from the airport to the bus station where my bus from Oamaru was supposed to depart at 2pm. I had a few hours to kill so I went to a square close to the bus station. The Koreans were doing the Korean Taste Festival there. They sold Korean food, played Korean games and on the stage some local politician talked about how extremely important it is having Korean community in Christchurch. They are really the best. We are very thankful for them. It’s such an honour that they invited me and I can speak about them on the stage. Thank you. Then I got on the bus and fell asleep.
The bus trip was about 4 hours long but we all had to get off and take a 30 minutes break in the middle and I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. So I was just watching the area. The ocean on the left, cows on the right. Then the bus arrived to Oamaru. On the city border a sign said that this is the steampunk capital of New Zealand. I’m going to find out its reason. My very last mission was waking 2km with my useless baggage in the summer rain, from the bus station to the hostel. It took me about one hour and then, at around 7pm on Saturday, I arrived to the reception of my future workplace. I will replace a French girl who will train me in the next few days and then leave. She said that the job is very easy but the salary is only enough to buy the food for yourself so if I want to save some money, I better look for something else and do it together with the receptionist job. I’ll probably try later. But first, I just slept for 12 hours.

Before I Forget

I’m glad that I arrived to New Zealand. After those 4 busy months I don’t mind at all having a break and staying at the same place for a while. Before I start to concentrate on my time in Oamaru, here are some plans for the time after that. So far I collected 7 destinations I want to see during my way back to Europe. Here they are in the most probable chronological order.

1. Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The second most common statement from my Indonesian students after that Pekanbaru is the most boring city was that Yogyakarta is the best one. It’s the cultural center of the country with temples and things like that. Also mountains to hike are nearby. And Bali is also not far away from there.

2. Phuket, Thailand

When I saw pictures from Thailand, with the pretty islands and blue water, I thought I will see them in Pattaya. I definitely didn’t. It turned out that those pictures were taken around Phuket. It’s in the southern part of the country. Áfonya in Vietnam also recommended me that place as a perfect place for diving.

3. Chengdu, China

When I was in Shanghai, one of my three little helpers (can’t remember, if it was no.1, no.2 or no.3) said that in China Shanghai is the economical center, Beijing is the political center and Chengdu is the fun center. Besides, it’s also Chinas panda bear center. And I also have some people there.

4. Hualien, Taiwan

I had good experiences in Taiwan and i want to go back there but Taipei for more than 3 weeks was enough. There is a specific place in Hualien I want to go, it’s the hostel I wanted to join on workaway but it was already full. I want to give another shot and see if I can spend some time by them next summer.

5. Busan, Korea

Just like Taiwan, Korea is also a country I need to visit again. So far I only saw Seoul. My next choice is the second biggest city called Busan. I don’t know much about it yet but on workaway most of the Korean offers come from there. So it must be some really popular city.

6. Kyoto, Japan

I’ve already spent more than 6 months in Japan but never visited Kyoto, the old capital. It’s a really common tour, going to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka and if I go to Japan next time, that’s what I want to go through.

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Weekly Best Of

+ arriving to New Zealand
+ reaching the hostel in Oamaru
+ looking forward to what’s next

English Teacher in Pekanbaru


TotW #18 – My last program before New Zealand is being an English teacher in a hot and boring city in Sumatra. The first few days made me want to leave but after getting used to the unique schedule I was able to get some good experiences.


Teaching and so on

I came to Pekanbaru to teach English. Long ago it seemed to be a good idea having one more little adventure in a random Indonesian city before arriving to New Zealand but while I was waiting for my contact person, the owner of the English school at the Pekanbaru Airport, bothering with stupid students for two weeks was something I had absolutely no motivation for. Suhai, the contact person was supposed to pick me up at the airport but he used Indonesian timing so I had to wait for him for 30 minutes. Then he came, together with his wife and his one year old son. His name is Abibi, said Suhai. Then he turned to Abibi: look, this is your new uncle, pointed at me. Uncle Bule.
In the evening Suhai invited me for a dinner so he could introduce his institute. He opened his school 3 years ago, after finishing his English studies at the university. He’s trying to keep it as cheap as possible, gives discount to the poor children which makes him difficult to pay the rent. The facilities aren’t too good. Sometimes the electricity just turns off. It’s not easy to find good English teachers. There are many problems. But he said he always looks at the problems as games. That you can solve. Man, if you look at the problems as something bad, then you know what? Then you just go crazy, man.
Next morning I asked him what’s my schedule. You will teach, man. Ok but what? English. Yeah but which part? It’s up to you, man. What’s the student’s level? It’s different, some are higher, some are lower. How long is a class? Maybe at least one hour, or one and a half. Or maybe just half an hour. Uhm, so when should I finish the class? Just talk to them as long as you can. And will I be the only teacher or I’ll be together with a real teacher? Just you, man. And when does the first class start? Maybe in five or ten minutes, just stay here. Okay. Me as a teacher, in a few minutes. It was sudden. Four students came in the classroom and I had no idea what to do with them. I’ve never been a teacher and never even wanted to. Well, hello, my name is Daniel, I said and tried to say some things in English. Then I asked them about some things too. Then I wanted them to ask me but they didn’t. So my first class was really short, a bit less than 30 minutes.
I had another class on that day, but together with an Indonesian teacher. It was a bit longer. But actually it didn’t matter, the classes didn’t have an official length or an official starting time. On the first days I always asked Suhai what’s my schedule for the day but even if he gave me something, it had nothing to do with the reality. So later I gave up and just did whatever Suhai said. “Come on man, let’s go” – this is how it always started and it was always a big surprise, what he wants. Let’s go, you have a class now. Let’s go and have dinner together. Let’s go to the university so we can promote my school there. Let’s go to the city to hang out and drink juice. Let’s go to my friends, I want to introduce you to them. Let’s go to the bank, I need loan for my English camp. Let’s go, I want to buy a motorbike. Let’s go to a house in the other corner of the city, you will make a private class for a 9 years old girl. It took me a few days to get used to this lifestyle and I don’t think I will miss it later but I could live with it for my short time there.
Suhai wasn’t very organized, as I just attempted to show, but he loved what he did. He started the school to improve the education in the city. Later he wants to run a school where the poor kids can learn for free. And the big dream of his life is to open his own university. But he’s not thinking about education only. Once we sat in his car and he told me: man, we should buy property. Oh, and why? Because that’s where the big money is, man. Here in this city? Of course man, Pekanbaru is a developing city. We buy a land, build 50 houses then sell them. It’s 30% profit at least. Another day he brought me to a steakhouse. After ordering the steak he wanted to talk to the manager. Then after he got his contact, he turned to me. Food delivery, man. I want to run a food delivery business. People just choose the food, I get a notification and I call the nearest restaurant. I have a full-time employee in every district whose only job is to go to the restaurant and bring the food to the people. Every restaurant will pay some fee for me. No risk, man, if there is no order, we still don’t go in minus. So, you study computer science, right? Can you make me a website for this? Oh, and also an app so people can order on their phones too.
He also wanted me to make a presentation about the importance of learning English. You have to practice public speech, man. On what event, I asked. A conference in the university. It’s about the political issues in the Middle East. More than 500 people will come. Uhm, how is my topic relevant to the Middle East issues? It’s not, man, but the conference about learning English is next week and you won’t be here. So I prepared with a presentation and we went to the campus. I will be the moderator of the event, he said, when I say your name, you just start to speak. Then we sat in the first row in the hall, waiting for the start. Hey man, he said, this conference is about Islam politics, not about learning English. Yes, I know, I said, so what do you want. I don’t know man, if I call you, then start to speak, if I don’t call you, then don’t start to speak. Then he went to the stage and started the moderation. The performers started to speak in Indonesian about Islam stuff, I almost fell asleep. Suhai saw that from the stage and called me on his phone. Hey man, don’t sleep, he said. Do you want to go home? Yes, I wanted. Then he called someone else on the stage while some Islam guy was making his presentation and 10 minutes later I was sitting on a motorbike, heading home.
So the only sure point of the days is that somebody brings me to the school by motorbike somewhere between 8am and 8:30am and I meet Suhai, whenever we both happen to be near the reception. What happens after that, it’s always a secret. I usually have some classes every day, in random times. In my classes I stopped trying to make conversations, mainly I play some card games with them or watch the Life of Pi which seemed to be a good choice as a muslim compatible English speaking movie. There are really no foreigners around in the city. Even one of the English teachers of the school told me that she’s 30 years old but has never talked to a foreigner. The students always take photos with me at the end of the classes. The staff of the school as well, from the teachers to the receptionists. Sometimes the salesmen in the shops too. And university students as well. Some of them just in paparazzi style because they are too shy. I think Suhai seems to be a really cool guy in the town now that he’s always together with a bule.

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Weekly Best Of

+ my first try being a teacher is a really new experience
+ free Indonesian food
+ only 4 days left to New Zealand

Looking Around in West Java


TotW #17 – I knew I’ll go to Bogor since the first steps of my journey plannings. I had three old classmates there from the HUSTEP times and each one invited me while I was still in Sapporo. Now I met each of them and they didn’t disappoint me.


Bogor

My time in Jakarta consisted only of a long and stressful walk from the Gambir Bus Terminal to the Jakarta Kota Train Station, interrupted by an overnight in a hostel. Then on Friday I took a train to Bogor where Laura was already waiting for me. She’s recently graduated and hasn’t found a job yet, so she had nothing to do and volunteered to be the protagonist of the week. She couldn’t give me accommodation in Bogor but recommended to go to Bandung on Monday where I shall stay in the room of her brother, Dipo. The two other Bogor people I knew from my HUSTEP semester were Ria, she said she comes back to Bogor on Sunday and I can spend one night by them plus her mothers friends have some wedding ceremony in Jakarta and I’m invited too. And Wike, she’s at the university on weekdays but she could meet me on the weekend and see what happens.
Laura said that the only thing to see in Bogor city is the botanical garden. We spent almost the whole Saturday there. We used angkot for transportation, it’s some small van, about 10 people can sit in the back (only 5 with my size) who shout when they want the driver to stop (“kiri-kiri”) and then pay for him. There is no time schedule, neither a fare table, everybody just does this as they feel.
On Sunday should have been both my meeting with Wike and the wedding in Jakarta. Wike lived about one hour away from the city center, after we went there, somehow she got two other students with motorbikes, they were supposed to bring us to the Nangka waterfall, which was another one hour away. But on the way there a huge tropical storm reached us so we had to stop and wait. This is how rainy season works. She said after a while that the rain won’t stop soon so we left the boys there with the motorbikes and caught an angkot back. But everything was so slow that finally I missed the wedding in Jakarta too. So no Nangka waterfall and no wedding in Jakarta. Sorry that the plan didn’t work out, said Wike. It was a very nice plan, I said diplomatically. And it really was a great time after all. If I stop thinking about what I missed on that day, then it wasn’t a bad day at all. I met Wike, we ate some local soup, used a lot of bus, motorbike and angkot, and at the end of the day I found myself at Rias place who gave me food and bed. Try to concentrate on the positive stuff, as Valentin suggested long ago.

Bandung

Monday was all about travelling from Bogor to Bandung. I woke up really late at Rias home, she already went to work. She messaged that she’ll come back soon so I went back to sleep. It was already noon when finally me and Laura took a bus to Bandung. Of course it had no timetable, Laura said that the bus will start when it’s about half full. I really don’t get the Indonesian style of handling time – I already used airport shuttle, train, angkot and coach but none of them had a departure time. I wonder how this will work for my flight to Pekanbaru. Anyway, we arrived to Bandung about 5 hours later, her brother Dipo was waiting for us, then he brought me to his room and Monday ended.
So on Tuesday it was time to finally do something. Dipo had a motorbike and was ready to show me around. First we wanted to visit a pretty small park with lakes and stuff called Dusun Bambu but it was closed because of some recent flood. Then we went to see the Tangkuban Perahu volcano. At the entrance he had to pay 20.000 rupiah for the entrance guy which is around 1,4 Euro. Then the entrance guy came to me and said that I have to buy a foreigner ticket which costs 200.000 rupiah. I asked back two more times, thinking that his tongue slipped but no, the price didn’t sink. I wanted to grab my helmet and hit his stupid face with full power but we just turned back and left instead. Just like Japanese have gaijin, Indonesians also have a swearword to address foreigners: bule. They use it for Westerners and associate them with free money. This was not the first time I experienced it, even before that I always let Laura and Wike to do the business when it was about paying the food or the angkot. Because when Indonesians see my retarded Western face, they think it’s moneytime and charge me based on their little conscience which, as seen in Tangkuban Perahu, might results the regular price times ten. Finally we went to Maribaya Resort, a pretty little area with a small zoo, some waterfalls and a hot spring. I liked it. After not seeing the Nangka waterfall, the wedding in Jakarta, the Dusun Bambu and the volcano, it was easy to make me satisfied, I was happy with anything. We started the whole trip at 7 am because we had to come back at noon. Afternoons are always rainy in this season. So we went back, fell asleep, and yup, when we woke up, it was raining.
The Wednesday has been spent in the city. Dipo brought me to some historical districts, showing the signs of the Dutch influence and brought me to the Geological Museum which was free for us because of his connections. In the afternoon Laura joined us and we went to eat. Then we went to a mall. Then they both went to pray. Muslim people stop doing everything five times a day, find a praying room and go to pray. At sunrise, at sunset and three times between those two. Except when they have period. Then they are not allowed to do that because God said so. Laura and Wike didn’t have period so I had to wait for them for 10-15 minutes always when praytime came, on the train station, in the mall, in the campus. Once I asked Laura after she finished if it was fun. No, praying is not fun. Prayers only become fun when your wishes come true, she said. Dipo was also religious but I didn’t notice when he did his praying during the day. I don’t know if he was more flexible with this or if he did it too quickly to see. Or if he had period. But when we were in the mall with Laura, they both went to pray together to the praying room.
After they finished, they brought me to karaoke. Laura also called her good friend, her good friend’s husband, her good friend’s husband’s sister and her good friend’s husband’s sister’s mother. The mother is a psychologist, warned me Laura, so be aware, she can read you. I didn’t want to sing at all but at the end they put an Indonesian song in my face and I had to do something with it. After that, while we were leaving, Dipo asked if I know what was this song about. No idea, I said. It’s that when a boy meet a girl, the girl always gives him two options: honey or poison. So, which one would you take, he asked me. I said I’d like to mix these two. Haha, mix, that’s a very good answer, laughed the psychologist mother, the one who could read me. Then the karaoke guys went home and there was only Dipo, Laura and me again. We went to see some fountain garden then had a dinner. Then Laura left as well, we went back to Dipos place. Next morning Dipo called a car through the app called Grab (I still hate taxis but after the long and stressful walk in Jakarta my baggage became totally useless) and I left too.
A nice week it was, I must say. I remember when I entered the classroom in Sapporo for the first Japanese grammar and communication classes, I sat somewhere far away from everybody, thanks to my outstanding social skills. When the Indonesians saw that, they came to me. I found Ria sitting next to me in communication class, Laura behind me in grammar class, my only job was not to refuse them. It wasn’t an easy decision, thanks to my outstanding social skills again but after this week with them I’m glad I didn’t run away back then and started to communicate with them. Without that I’d have arrived now to Indonesia as a stranger. And it’s not a comfortable feeling being a bule in Indonesia.

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Weekly Best Of

+ meeting the HUSTEP people (and Dipo)
+ the nature – everywhere outside of the cities seems to be super pretty