Kuala Lumpur | Malaysia

Anyway, since I am going to be here for the next two years, I have taken some time to try to make my apartment feel like home. Undertaking this task has posed a challenge in some ways because not everything I've been looking for can necessarily be found in Indonesia. In light of this discovery over a period of weeks, I decided to take a weekend getaway to Malaysia for...IKEA! My friend Dani was able to come along. I'm not gonna lie, I spent almost 3 hours inside. It was just a little taste of home.


After Ikea we perused Borders for a bit, because it still exists over here, then headed to the Batu Caves to do a little sight seeing. I've already posted about this particular landmark but it is one of my favorites so far in Southeast Asia so here's another look:


We stayed the night at a hostel in Chinatown. Although I walked through Chinatown during my layover in May, I saw that it is a completely different place in the dark!


This was my first experience staying in a hostel. I was pleasantly suprised that I was only vaguely reminded of my days in a dorm. We had a lovely view eating breakfast on the rooftop overlooking a hindu temple and the city!


You might have noticed that it's been awhile since I've posted and there is a tragic reason for that. All of my pictures, movies, and shows are stored on an external hard drive. A few weeks ago, while I was watching a movie, it suddenly stopped and began to make a strange rattling noise. I took the hard drive into the IT guys at school who informed me that the entire thing had been wiped clean. I'm still not sure exactly how it happened but that means that all of my pictures from the last few years are [temporarily] gone. They have sent it off so hopefully at least some of the data can be recovered! 

Gili Trawangan | Indonesia

Paradise. You've seen it in the movies, read about it in books. Palm trees, white sand beaches, water in varying shades of turquoise. That, my friends, is where I blissfully passed the a week on holiday.

The Gili islands are located off the coast of Lombok, which is off the coast of Bali, which is off the coast of Java. We've been hanging out on Gili Trawangan, the furthest island. Just to give you an idea of size, you can walk around the entire island in less than two hours. Cars and motorbikes aren't allowed here and the only modes of transportation are bicycles and horse carriages.


Aside from aesthetic beauty, this place is also known throughout Indonesia for scuba diving. We stayed at a place called Blue Marlin Dive and subsequently completed our open water dive certification during our stay. That means that I can safely dive down to 18m!


Idul Fitri | Lombok | Indonesia

Imagine the most spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display you have ever seen. Multiply that by a thousand and you can begin to imagine the scene that unfolded in front of our hotel Saturday night!


Saturday night marked the end of Ramadan fasting which is celebrated with a parade featuring floats from each of the mosques in town and of course, fireworks. This year, there was a debate on the starting date of Ramadan because the holiday is based on the cycle of the moon so we weren't quite sure if we were going to get to see the festivities. We were a wee bit sad as we left dinner because there were no signs of fireworks. But, as we walked out the door of Pizza Hut, the parade rounded the corner and suddenly, we were right in the middle of it all!

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We tried to get ahead of it and get back to our hotel so we could watch from there but got sidetracked by the cutest little kids at a fireworks stand. We bought them some fireworks and began to shoot them off above the parade. This was our friend who gave us special price.

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After spending some time down on the street, we negotiated front row seats on the roof of our hotel with the security guards. The fireworks were exploding right in front of us. Literally. I would like to point out that I did not zoom into the pictures below, they were just erupting straight at us!

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Lombok | Indonesia

We've been in school for a month and it's already time for a holiday! My friends and I are jointly  celebrating Indonesian Independence Day and the end of Ramadaan by island hopping around Lombok. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Indonesian geography, Lombok is the second island to the east of Java (where I live), right next to Bali.


Our flight took off, on time, Wednesday which is a rare occurance here! We got to Lombok where we were able to stuff ourselves into a car to go to a city called Mataram, where we're staying. We all split up here because two of my more adventurous friends decided to hike a volcano for a couple days; I decided the beach would be a bit more relaxing.


On Thursday, we drove down the coast to a harbor town that chartered boats to a cluster of gili (small) islands called Gili Bedis, Gili Sudak, Gili Tangkong, and Gili Nanggu. 


I don't know if Gili Bedis (below) even classifies as an island (it looks more like a sandbar) but google labeled it that way so that's what we'll go with. We went snorkeling around the islands and I discovered that I am downright terrified of fish.


In fact, on one of the coral reefs, I almost drowned myself by accident. Upon seeing some fish coming out of the coral that I was floating a mere foot above, I flinched, which caused my snorkel to fill up with water which meant I couldn't take a breath. I also didn't want to take my eyes off the fish so I couldn't take my head out of the water and with all of my thrashing, my mask also filled up with water. Definitely one of my finer moments.

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School | Indonesian Independence Day

In celebration of Indonesia's 67th year of independence, we all wore red tops and white bottoms (like the Indo flag) to school on Tuesday. We were definitely looking classy!


We colored maps of Indonesia, labeling only the major islands (since technically there are thousands, more on that later).


And we ate A LOT of traditional Indonesian food. It kept coming ALL day!


To cap off the day (and keep me sane during the ensuing sugar high) I taught the kids how to play a classic: Head's Up 7up. It took a few rounds for them to catch on but they were pretty competitive by the end!