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All the Little Things

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” -Robert Brault

Is the above quote a bit cheesy? Yes. Is it also true for me right now? I think so. Even accomplishing what would be considered small things back home, seems like a bit of a feat here, like joining a gym and finding a coffee spot that isn’t crazy over-priced and has air conditioning. But, slowly I am starting a routine. I joined a gym. What, Lydia going to a  gym? Well, yes, to Gold’s gym to be specific. Yes, that same one we have in America is in Indonesia. And this gym is way nicer than my gym back home. They have a sauna and personal flatscreen TVs at every machine and signing the contract for a membership here was just as complicated too! When I was joining the gym the lady and I started talking and she told me kids in Indonesia are starting to get fat because they really like American fast food and they don’t get enough exercise – sounds awful familiar – this has really become a world-wide problem.

The photo below is of my neighborhood. I live on a narrow street and you have to walk along several small streets to get to the main road. I like this because there are always people out and about with plenty of food stands. It really is just a small neighborhood amid all the skyscrapers and although I stick out walking around here, people are friendly. There are lots of kids running around because there is an Islamic school not far from where I live. I can imagine what Jakarta was like 20 to 30 years ago by walking around here. It really does seem like a small village in ways.

Motorcycles are everywhere because they are much cheaper than cars and because you can weave around all the cars sitting in traffic. Ojek, motorcycle taxis, are always trying to get you to hop on for a ride and they provide extra helmets, which is great because I hear this is not the case in Vietnam.

Isn’t this flower nice? Well take a closer look at what is below it. Along the sides of the streets are canals, some narrow, others very wide and some you don’t see because they are covered by cement slabs that serve as a sidewalk. Yes, that’s raw sewage that sure has a lovely smell when it gets hot in the middle of the day.

The water in Indonesia is not safe to drink. Once you walk along these canals you don’t have to think twice about using bottled water to brush your teeth. Although there are NGOs here working on water issues, the green environmental wave hasn’t taken too much root here yet.

Another “little thing” that I really love is my fruit cart. I noticed the cart on my to the gym and I stopped and for less than $1 I got a box of all the different fruit in the cart sliced up. You can also buy individual pieces for mere cents. The fruit vendors keep large blocks of ice in their carts to keep things as cold as possible.

Next to the fruit vendor is the cart of random fried goodies. I pointed at some and figured I would give them a try. I had an awesome potato tempura-like piece and a fried ball of onions, carrots and greens. Both of these kinds of carts are common all over Jakarta. They are very cheap to eat at, so everyone from men in business suits to barefoot kids go to them.

And the last “little thing” I have to mention was the discovery of a coffee spot. I decided to wander a bit which with the heat and traffic can make for a tiring and dangerous combo. I spotted a house with a garden and on the inside were lots of vendors. This coffee place and I were meant to be – they put the sugar in a separate container! Indonesians love sugar. Some of the bottled drinks are so sweet here that it’s almost unbearable.

So from now on I’ll be drinking my coffee in the lush jungle atmosphere forgetting that skyscrapers are just a slight tilt of my head above the plants.

Tomorrow is my day off, so I am going to go do some exploring. Happy weekend to everyone wherever you may find yourself in this fascinating world.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kirstin #

    Happy weekend to you too!! Congrats on finding a good coffee spot – I feel like this is an essential part of being content in a new place. And the fruit looks delicious!!! As for the lovely water, I recommend my sister. She can probably stop by Indonesia on her way to curing cancer.

    To be clear, I’m waiting for a photo of you on one of those motorcycles, and I unabashedly hope that when you come back to the states you forgo cars and get a motorcycle instead.

    July 15, 2011
  2. Lydia #

    I have yet to get on a motorcycle! I’ll be honest – they scare me.

    July 16, 2011
  3. Kirstin #

    Ah, but hope springs eternal!

    July 16, 2011
  4. Peter #

    If the water quality is poor, aren’t you worried about where the ice on your fruit comes from? Take care!

    July 17, 2011
  5. Lydia #

    Ah, should have mentioned this. In the mornings and sometimes in the afternoons, ice vendors walk around. I read that in Jakarta and other major cities the ice that is sold is made from clean water. If not, at least all the individually sliced fruit is kept in plastic bags. In most food courts and restaurants I have been to, all fruit drinks are blended using water from coolers (same kind in offices across America) which is purified.

    July 17, 2011

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