Saying goodbye to Kupang

Here come some pictures from our last days in Kupang. Saying goodbye is never a nice thing. Because of the distance it is unlikely that we will ever come back, and that makes it even sadder to say goodbye to our friends and our life here. The children say that they will come back when they become adults and can afford their own tickets ūüôā

Our last days were spent packing, cleaning and saying our goodbyes. We sold the car backjuni 2013 003 to the man we bought it from, and in whose name the car was registered as we are not allowed to legally own it ourselves. He was going to Jakarta right before we left, so he came a week before we left to pick up the car. ( He came in and talked to us a bit, gave us the agreed cash without even looking at the car and then  drove off. ) Not having a car at the end was actually a real relief to us. Taking bemos  to and from the school went surprisingly well.

last day on the bemo

last day on the bemo

We had told the woman who bought our house the date we were leaving many times. This woman already lives in the same neighbourhood. She came over to talk to us on the day we were leaving and told us that she was going to Jakarta. (The phrase ” I am going to Jakarta” is one that we have heard numerous times here…) We said that we were leaving at 11. She said that she wanted to talk to us one more time before we left, so she would be back at 9 or 10. Seeing that it was quarter to 9 at the time we didn’t completely understand but she said then that she would be back at 10. She never came, we picked up the children and left for the airport without her having come back. Then when we board the plane we see that she gets on the same plane and sits only 2 rows in front of us! We didn’t understand why she was so surprised to see us…So she told us that she thought we were leaving on the 11th of june, and that she had meant that she was coming back the 9th or 10th of june…What a misunderstanding ūüôā

Here are some pictures of last goodbyes with some of the people who have helped make our time here in Kupang very special. People who we will always remember.

Our very good chinese friends who made our life in Kupang possible

Our very good chinese friends who made our life in Kupang possible

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Daniel is very happy to have his best friend from kindergarten visit.  They are a very nice family who we have gotten to know and they came  on our last evening with nice batik shirts for the whole family.

a last conversation with the security guard at school

a last conversation with the security guard at school

          

The luggage is in the car, the driver is ready and the neighbours have come to say good bye

The luggage is in the car, the driver is ready and the neighbours have come to say good bye

              

Enjoying doghnuts from the newly opened moccofactory that one of our neighbours gave us as we were leaving

Enjoying doghnuts from the newly opened moccofactory that one of our neighbours gave us as we were leaving

  

Joakim met a classmate on the plane, sat next to her the whole flight and was having a great time chatting away in Inodesian.

Joakim met a classmate on the plane, sat next to her the whole flight and was having a great time chatting away in Inodesian.

  

We have arrived in heathrow, and so has all our luggage

We have arrived in heathrow, and so has all our luggage

                                                                                                                                                                                                            So now we are in England and are trying to find our feet here.

We have for sure been enjoying life here, and the boys have really enjoyed all the impressive playgrounds and parks here in Ipswich.

What a feast to be able to have bread, cheese, salami and fresh milk for breakfast!

What a feast to be able to have bread, cheese, salami and fresh milk for breakfast!

I think we can say that we are quite overwhelmed at the things God has done. We came on a Saturday. On the Sunday we found a car that we reserved. On the Monday we got insurance, paid for the car and got the car. An hour after we got the car we went for our first (and last appointment) to see a house, and were also miraculously allowed to open a bank account without proof of address. On Tuesday¬†we put in a bid for the house, came to an agreement about the price, reserved it and started that whole¬†process. It feels like a time of great breakthrough, but also a time of great challenges. There has been a lot of stress with practical details. Also for the first time in¬†my life¬†I ( Monica) am¬†experiencing jet lag.¬† I am writing this blog at 0340 in the morning…It also doesn’t help that the girls who stay in the apartment above us live their lives ( and wash their clothes…) in the night…All in all we are amazed at what God has done, and¬†are very thankfull…Thank you once again for all of you who have been praying for us ūüôā

Tired boys...

Tired boys…

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THANKFULNESS

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Our time here in West Timor is coming to an end. On friday after the children are finished at school we will fly to Bali, from there to Kuala Lumpur, and then to London.

When we think back we can surely say that this has been a very DIFFERENT year for us as a family. We have experienced a culture and a life style that is  far removed from anything we have experienced before. We have had a year with practical challenges, and we have for sure learnt to appreciate the things that we take so for granted in our western world. But first of all when we look back at this year we are filled with THANKFULNESS. We are so amazed at how God has taken care of us here. He has helped us and blessed us so much, kept us happy and given us good days. We have really appreciated this time to focus more on God. We are amazed and so thankful for how God has shown us so many things and is leading us into something new.

We are also very thankful for the good friends God has given us here.¬† It is no exaggeration to say that we could not have been here without their help. We are also very thankful for the way God has taken such good care of our children. They have had to adapt to very different environments, and have shown an amazing positivity. God has given them very good friends at school, and very good friends in this little housing complex. Every afternoon they have been out playing with their friends. There have for sure been some tears, bruises, conflicts and even fights ( play fights) but mostly they have had hours of good play times. They are for sure going to miss these times, and all the friends they have made.¬†We too will miss the peaceful atmosphere¬†and comfortable temperature outside as the sun starts to go down. Probably this little neighbourhood is one of the things we are going to miss the most as we leave Kupang. It is going to be strange and sad to leave the life we have had here. We will miss all the nice and friendly people we have gotten to know.¬†( We were very happy today when we¬†got to see our next door neighbour’s¬†newborn baby boy. He was supposed to be born in the middle of June, but came early and was born on Joakim’s birthday! )

There are other things that we will not miss at all, and that we are quite happy to leave behind. Top of our list at the moment is probably the rat in the kitchen, but we will not go into any detail about that now…….( the¬†reason that we all have this¬†old ¬†UB40 song on our minds nowadays…”there’s a rat in the kitchen what am I going to do with it……..” )

Also we are very thankful to all of you who have followed us on the blog, all the comments and for those of you who have been praying for us. We are extremely thankful for that. And for those of you who want to pray some more we will be needing God even more now as we go to England. Our first prayer requests¬†is for a house in England. We will firstly be looking in the Ipswich area. One thing is that we need somewhere to stay, another thing is that in order for everything else to be worked out in England like school, job, bank account, insurance etc we need an address…

This will be the last post we write on our blog from Indonesia. Maybe we will write a post or two once we get to England, we will see…But otherwise the blog will be finished now. Thank you again for all of you who have taken the time to read¬†our updates:)

Otherwise we also have to say that we will be in Norway the whole of August, and are looking forwards to  seeing  as many as possible of our friends and family then!

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CELEBRATING JOAKIM!

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Celebrating Joakim’s birthday was one of the last things we did before we left Norway, and now it is one of the last things we do before we leave Indonesia. So this whole weekend we have celebrated Joakim turning 6 years!

Firstly his day was celebrated in¬†the two¬†reception classes on Friday. The¬†Ben 10¬†cake had been ordered a while before, and Joakim had been counting¬†down the days for quite a while. On the day itself we had a party for the children in the street. Joakim really wanted to invite all his friends from reception too to¬†the party at home. He was quite disappointed¬†when we said that our house was too small to invite all the extra 40 children plus¬†teachers,parents, maids,siblings and so on…He had obviously been thinking about this for a while¬†and asked if we couldn’t just buy some more chairs…

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some of the boys in the street

some of the boys in the street

 

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SCIENCE FAIR

The last two days of last week the school arranged a science fair. The first day the parents were specially invited, the last day some classes from nearby schools were invited. The children had a performance that they had been practising on for a long time. Daniel’s class had a presentation of the life cycle of a butterfly. Joakim’s class sang the rainbow song and a song about recycling and taking care of the earth. Erik’s class had a presentation of all the things you find in a garden, in the jungle and in the zoo. Otherwise there were stands with different activities, competitions and a quiz. The children enjoyed themselves and we got to take lots of pictures!

Daniels best friend enjoying speaking in the microphone!

Daniels best friend enjoying speaking in the microphone!

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Some of the teachers at the kindergarten

Some of the teachers at the kindergarten

Joakim and miss Yuni

Joakim and miss Yuni

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A written competition for the older children

A written competition for the older children

Since we are talking about scientific things we have to include a little weather report here. By now we should be getting close to the winter season. June, July and August are the winter months here. In this time the temperature in the night will go below 25 degrees, and sometimes even below 20 although we have not yet experienced that. The temperature in the day will still be above 30, but because of a much reduced humidity it will still feel a lot more comfortable. It also gets very windy at this time of year, with cold winds coming in from Australia. Since this is also the dry season there is a lot of dust and sand blowing around. But as we have mentioned before things here are often quite unpredictable, and things don’t always follow the book. So the reality is that this month has been the warmest for us so far, with temperatures close to 38 degrees and a very high humidity. The last days we¬†have even¬†had some heavy rain again…The heavy rain stopped 2 months ago, and the last month we have had no rain at all, but now the dark clouds are rolling back in and we are wondering what is happening…Even the Indonesians who are very good at taking things as they come seem to be a bit puzzled…

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EXTENDED EXTENSION

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It is now just  3 weeks until we depart from West Timor for England. We have now received our final visa extension, which means we can be here for the remainder of our time, not having to worry about the visa situation. When we left Norway, we had a 60 day tourist visa which we could extend for a total of 4 times 30 days meaning we could be in Indonesia for a total of 180 days. After this time we had to leave Indonesia, and headed for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Whilst there we successfully applied for a new 60 day extendable tourist visa for each member of our little clan. So after the 60 days were up, we got an extension of another 30 days through the local immigration office here in Kupang. This we did 2 more times.

Each time we have been to the immigration office, there has been something which has happened that didn’t happen before (including the time the whole immigration staff were playing volleyball in the car park, which meant I, Peter, had to park on the road). The one but last time, we almost accidentally drove into the midst of an official motorcade. I don’t mean crashing, but driving where they didn’t want us to be. It could have been the Governor, or some other high-ranking¬†official, who was coming to visit the immigration office, just as we drove out of the car park to leave (on our normal route which we had done countless times before). But a smartly¬†dressed soldier, turned us back into the car park, and then waved us out-of-the-way of the official’s car.

So, because of it being our very last time to apply for an extension to our visas, and being aware that there could be some little surprises along the way, we decided to apply a bit earlier than we had done for our previous applications. Monica and I drove up to the immigration office, but it looked closed. This was strange as we were there in opening hours. We had to meet our sponsor for signatures for the required sponsor letter afterwards, so decided to meet her first and then return to the immigration office later. This we did, but it still looked like it was shut up. We saw a random man, who had stopped on his moped near the office. He then walked into the parking area, so I decided to try to speak with him. Luckily, he spoke a bit of english, and said that the immigration office had moved! I asked him where, and he said that it was near the airport, which is on the other side of the city virtually.

We thanked God for the random man, and headed off towards the direction of the airport. Random man had not given us an exact description of where we should go, but we drove to where we thought it could be. Once we had driven past the place of our thoughts, we decided to stop at a little shop and ask some people if they knew where the ‘Kantor Imigrasi’ was.¬† They didn’t speak english, but got a nearby woman to come and translate who amazingly spoke english. This seemed so random, even more than random man at the original immigration office. Anyway, one of the two men phoned a friend (‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ style), and they got the info as to where the office was, and said that we could follow one of the men on his moped, as we drove.

So, he then drove as if he was trying to win the Superbikes¬†championship, but we managed to keep him in sight. After a while we realised that it must be near one of the hotels we stayed in when we first came to Kupang. And indeed, it was quite close to the Timore¬†Hotel. Soon we were at the newly built ‘Kantor Imigrasi’, which happened to be right next door to the children’s prison (don’t ask!).

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We were quite impressed with the new building…it was bigger, brighter, had a feeling of niceness about it, and even had air-conditioning. We handed in our applications and were told to come back in a week to pay. Seven days later we returned, but they told us that more time was needed to process the applications. They told us to come back 3 days later.¬† We¬†went back after 3 days ¬†to find out what was going on.

On arrival, they told us that Daniel’s application had been accepted, but only his. This was strange as we had never had a problem before, or experienced that one or more had been accepted before the other members in our family. They told us that more time was needed, as there seemed to be a problem ‘with the system’. We assumed their internet connection was giving them problems, as our applications had to be sent to Jakarta. We said that we would come back the next day, a Friday. Our visas expired on the Sunday, and the office was not open in the weekend. Early Friday morning we returned keen to see that everything was okay. However, it was not, and they didn’t know when the problem would be corrected. There was a man at the office who spoke good english, who we had spoken to a lot, but he was not there. One of the ladies who spoke a little english phoned him, and he said to return in 3 hours or so. Monica and I went home. Throughout the whole process we had been praying for God to help us. We had a peace that He would sort it out, as the thought of us having to leave Indonesia at very short notice was not good. Where would we go?…East Timor (10 hours drive and anyway we would have needed to apply 3 days before for a visa…), Singapore for 2 days, Kuala Lumpur again, Australia, or just go back to London now?

Some hours later we returned (with the children who were a little curious to see the new building-and the children’s prison). Still nothing had been sorted out. The lady said that everything would be okay in an hour. How did she know this? We decided that we couldn’t sit there for an hour with the boys, so drove home. Right after we got back to our house we got a phone call saying that we could come back as everything was okay… So I returned and paid for the applications. On the Monday we returned to pick up our passports, which had the correct visa extensions. So even though we started very early with the process this last time, it had taken around 2 weeks to get everything processed. The immigration staff have been helpful, and have given us no problems, even though we have had a few surprises along the way. In some ways, we have got to know the staff a little,¬† and we have very much appreciated¬† their help.¬† We must admit though that we are very happy¬† not to have to apply for any more visa extensions. ūüôā

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GETTING AROUND KUPANG

december 2012 019It has been such a long time since we have been able to write here. Apologies for that, but I, Peter, will try to explain. You may have heard that wordpress was attacked by botnets, and that it has not functioned properly as a result of this. However, when this happened, our internet connection was so poor anyway, that we could hardly do anything on the internet…let alone upload photos onto the blog, as we couldn’t even open wordpress. For a few days even, we had internet access for maybe a few minutes each day, then nothing at all. So we went to talk to our internet provider, and they (to cut a long story short) informed us that we actually have access to a much better and faster internet network than what we have been using (we now use that). Why they didn’t tell us this months ago, will forever be a mystery, like with what happened to the Marie Celeste, what came first, the chicken or the egg, and where do all the flies go to in winter (in the northern hemisphere)? But enough on this blog about our blog.

Family 5 travel...count the legs. Plus a little girl on the front.

Family 5 travel…count the legs. Plus a little girl on the front.

We have mentioned before that driving in Kupang is a challenge at the best of times. God has blessed us with a car, which you need to get around here. It is not safe to walk on the pavements…actually there are no pavements where we live. For us as a family of 5, we need a car. However, the local population seem to get around the city using differing modes of transport without too much problem. There are the bemos, a kind of public transport. The well off people will have a car (and usually a driver, and a maid for each child, and a maid to clean the house, and maybe a gardener too-but I’m getting off the point a little). Yet the most common form of transport you will see in Kupang is the moped, or motorbike. And the humble moped can actually be used in so many varying ways. It can be a people carrier, poultry deliverer, hardware carrier; be used to carry bottles of water, bags of cement, ladders, long poles, timber, and many other things. Please take a good look at the photos I have put on here. But don’t worry, we don’t have a moped. Most drivers of mopeds will use a crash helmet…even if it is just to hang on the handlebars, in case they see a policeman. But the passengers very often do not have a helmet, and the children very rarely do. Of course this is very dangerous, and we have seen people fall off or have minor crashes. The only positive here with the traffic is that you very rarley go faster than 40 kmh (around 25 mph).

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Bob the builder?

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Mysterious Jedi knight?

Wet season?...no problem.

Wet season?…no problem.

Chicken run

Chicken run

Cow on truck

Cow on truck

Men on truck

Men on truck

Waiting at the petrol station

Waiting at the petrol station

Could take a while

Could take a while

Our post!

Our post!

Daniel chilling in the heat

Daniel chilling in the heat

 

 

 

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Some weeks ago we got to celebrate christmas again.We knew of some post that had been posted to us from Norway. Well, we finally received it a few weeks ago. This was only after a trip to the post office here, and being quite persistent with them, as they denied that anything had come for us from Europe. Eventually, they found 4 packages to us. Some of those had been posted long before Christmas, way back in September or October. Each thing was very much appreciated. Thank you to those who sent these things.

Bike race

Bike race

As you may see from one of the photos, all 3 of our boys are now biking without stabilisers (st√łttehjul). Daniel being the youngest was the last to achieve this. It was quite amazing, as he asked us to take off his stabilisers. Then maybe half an hour later, he was biking with no problems. It’s opened up his biking world so much, and he really enjoys biking with his brothers and the rest of the gang in our street. We are very blessed to have a street that is maybe 100 m long which has a gate at the end. This is watched over by security guards, who at times will join in the football matches with the boys.

Playing at the new kindergarten

Playing at the new kindergarten

After Easter, the boys moved to a new building with their school/reception/kindergarten. It is not far from the previous buildings that they went to. And now, Erik is in the same building as Joakim and Daniel, which makes it more convenient for us in dropping them off (even though they’re still finishing at different times).

Now it is only a month until we begin our long journey to England, via Kuala Lumpur. The timing of us getting better internet is very good, as we need it more than ever now to do things in preparation for moving to England. God is with us in all this preparation. Thank you to those who are praying for us in all of our travelling from one side of the planet to the other, and back again (almost).

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THREE WAY CONFERENCE

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Last semester the children had a “student led conference” that we wrote about in a previous post. This¬†semester they had a “three way conference” right before easter. This time the teacher also participated, but other than that it was very much the same as last time. The children show a lot of the work they have done in school. It is very nice for us as parents to see what they have done and the developement they have had. Our boys were really looking forwards to this day, and so were we.

looking at pictures

looking at pictures

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walking from the school to the kindergarten

walking from the school to the kindergarten

When we came here none of our boys were reading. Now Erik is reading very well in both Indonesian, English and Norwegian. Joakim has lately started to read too. Even Daniel can read some simple words and sentences. When we came here we were quite surprised to see how much was expected of the children at such a young age. We almost felt a bit sorry for our youngest boys who had little chance to play and instead started learning letters and numbers.

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The children though have really enjoyed it, and have had a very good time in the school and kindergarten. There are two teachers and maximum 20 children in each class, and the teachers have very good relationships with the children. Our boys have also made some very good friends here. They are looking forwards to going to England and Norway, but are sad that we are not going to come back here. They are sad that they will not see their friends again. And they have already started praying that they will get new friends in England.

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KFC IN KUPANG

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What would we have done without KFC here in Kupang? Being the only western style restaurant here it has been quite a big part of our life. So we cannot have a blog  about our life in Kupang and not have a post about the KFC ( Kentucky Fried Chicken).

Very often when we go to the KFC I ( Monica) think back to the day we arrived here in Kupang. We landed at the airport and got a taxi to take us to the hotel where we had booked a room. The room consisted of 2 single beds, a mattress on the floor, and a lizard…Not very inviting. (¬†The next day we checked into another much nicer and more practical hotel) So we got out on the street to check out this new city we had arrived in. This street is one of the most busy in the whole of Kupang, and not really that inviting either. So we decided to make our way to the Flobamora mall and the KFC that we had read about on the internet. We tried to get a taxi, but there were just lots of bemos and we didn’t know where we had to go.¬†Luckily we saw a policeman and asked him where we could find a taxi. The policeman didn’t speak much english but understood where we wanted to go, and offered to take us there in his police car! He even wanted to give us his phone number so that¬† he could come and pick us up after we had finished!

After our first meal at KFC we came back quite often. Especially in the first month when we were still living in hotels.We were there probably 3-4 times per week. Thinking back now I wonder where on earth we ate those days when we did not go to the KFC? Once we got our own place we were able to gradually start cooking ourselves. ( Once we found out a few meals we could make) so our trips to the KFC became much less regular. And now when we have the new hypermarket we can cook nicer food at home and go there even less.

So what is so special about KFC? Nothing really, just that we all like the food, it is nice and clean, and the children really enjoy watching ads for KFC on all the TV screens they have. Also it has quite a nice little play area. This means that it is very popular for arranging birthday parties for children…

The birthday girl

The birthday girl

Last week Daniel came home and proudly showed us his invitation for a birthday party at mars 2013 004the KFC. One of the girls in his class was celebrating her birthday there. After having been to a few parties we are starting to learn the codes for parties in Kupang. The first thing to know is that unless you want to be the first person there you should not come on time. If you want to arrive right before the program¬†starts you should come¬†one hour late. People will actually be arriving all the way up to the time the party is finished. Another thing to say mars 2013 012about parties here is that they are BIG. Everyone is invited. Friends, family, neighbours, everyone you know. And many¬†children will bring their siblings, parents, maids and so on…So back to the party at the KFC…Once the program started they had a lot of party games for the children. A big part of the party is slicing the birthday cake. But only a few chosen people get to taste a little spoonful of cake. Then completely at the end the food is handed out. Boxes with chicken and rice, drinks, and¬†a bag of sweets¬†( which are enormous¬†and in reality enough for a whole family). Then people go home and eat the food at home. In most parties¬†though the food is served and eaten at the party.

 

Otherwise we just want to wish you all a very happy easter celebration! Our easter holiday starts tomorrow after we have had a ” three way conference” with all the three children. This is similar to the student led conference we had in the autumn, just that this time the teacher is also a part of it. We are really looking forwards to this holiday, as I am sure you all are!

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FEVER IN THE TROPICS

According to our travel health book fever in the tropics should always be taken seriously. If living in a malarious area consider fever to be malaria until proven otherwise, it reads.  You have to get to the doctor preferably within 8 hours of getting a fever, it goes on to warn us.

So, is¬†Kupang a malarious area or not? This was one of our big questions before we¬†got here. According to all medical resources all of east Indonesia is malarious area. Otherwise cities are usually counted to be malaria free, but not Kupang.¬†Most people will say that there is some malaria here, but mostly a less dangerous type (vivax). We had to make a decision whether or not to use anti malaria pills.¬†After a lot of reading on the internet and praying about it we decided not to ( considering all the negative side effects of malaria pills ).¬†¬†Instead we decided to make sure we didn’t get any mosquito bites.¬† This is of course quite impossible. By installing air conditioners in the house and sealing all gaps between windows and doors we have been able to make the house mosquito free. The children are sprayed with mosquito repellent before they go to school and before they go out to play in the afternoons. But they still get bitten. We have even tried eating B vitamin pills. Medically it is just a myth that this works against mosquito bites, but after having used them for some months they actually seem to work at least a bit…

mars 2013 003A bigger problem than malaria is dengue fever. We are at the height of the dengue fever season now, being at the end of the wet season. One of our neighbours had dengue fever a few weeks ago and was in hospital for a week. The day she came home somebody came and sprayed the whole area for mosquitoes. This is a free offer from the government in trying to minimize the problem.

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So after having been here for over 9 months we have¬†had our first high fevers.We had had some quite rough weeks leading up to this where we were not able to sleep very well. Mostly because of a lot of very heavy rain in the nights, and also quite¬†a lot of power cuts. (A few weeks ago we had 8 power cuts in a period of 24 hours, the longest one lasting 3 hours. Then¬†last week we had a power cut in the evening/night that lasted for 6 and a half hours. This in addition to all the shorter “normal” daily power cuts).¬† In addition the kitchen exploded with mould. Wether it was the lack of sleep or the mould or just some virus, we don’t know, but the result was that we all got unwell. Aches, colds, head-aches, coughs…….and fevers…..So we chose to play safe and had our first encounters with the health care system in Kupang.

What we had heard about hospitals here was not that great. The more well off people here will go to Jakarta or some other bigger city in Indonesia when for example giving birth. The facilities in Kupang are not good enough. Luckily we have a small but nice, new and clean hospital just a short walk away from our house. This is actually a maternity hospital, but they also take other patients. We had to go there two days in a row with two different family members. The conclusion was that it was nothing serious. Monica was quite happy to check out their very small and very basic lab.

On the way home we even met a British woman whom we have spoken to a couple of times in the hypermarket. She actually lives 5 min walk from here, and we never knew. She came to visit us with her little baby daughter a couple of days later, which was also very nice ūüôā She actually told us that she has had malaria three times and dengue fever once. It’s very¬†useful for us to hear about other foreigners experiences.

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BEING DIFFERENT

januar 2012 009There are not many foreigners here in Kupang. Once in a while we can see a backpacker or two walking around. (Maybe on their way to see the komodo dragons, the worlds biggest lizards, on one of the nearby islands).  There are a few mixed marriage families, mostly men from Australia married to Indonesian women. There are also some people from other countries, even a norwegian man, we have heard. The Irish/ Indonesian family who we had a bit of email contact with before we came here moved back to Ireland only a few months after we came. As far as we know we are the only all western family here. There are no foreigners that we have any regular contact with, so we are quite alone here in being different. We for sure stick out, not just one white person but 5!

Most Indonesian people are not very discrete, at least not on this remote island. So when we turn up somewhere new they clearly show their amazement and amusement at seeing us. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their however many children would probably not get as much attention if they showed up in our home countries. Especially the boys get a lot of attention. ” Ganteng” is a word we hear a lot, which means handsome. People will want to touch them and squeeze their cheeks. Our boys actually handle this surprisingly well, so much that we finally realized they quite like it. As long as it doesn’t go too far, like when a big woman pinched Joakim’s cheeks so hard that he started crying. I looked at her, anticipating some kind of apology, but what did she do? She laughed…( maybe more on Indonesians and laughter another time…)

To us adults, people will say ” Hello Mister” ( often to both of us depending on how good their english is) Another word we hear often is¬†“Bule”. According to one blog we found this means ” big, white fat buffalo”. I have unfortunately not been able to confirm this interpretation, but for sure it is used to describe ” white” people. There are long ongoing discussions on expat forums on whether this is an offensive word or not. I guess we would say that depends very much on how it is said…

So how are us adults handling all the unwanted attention? Not very well, we must admit. We do not really enjoy it,¬†and to be honest we are not really getting used to it either. Walking into a shop and everybody bursts¬†out laughing is one of those things we have to put up with. And people are not laughing because of our bad Indonesian, but just because we are different. Even when we walk into more¬†modern offices people will suppress their giggles behind a more sophisticated¬†response.¬†Another thing we have to put up with is a lot of staring. People¬†will regularly¬†just stop and stare at us as we are shopping or whatever else we are doing. Something not quite as bad but still a bit annoying is when people stare at what we have in our shopping trolleys. A few times people have even taken things out of our shopping trolleys to study them a bit closer. Yes, we truly stick out here and so does what we have in our shopping trolleys…

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Luckily we have our places where people are getting used to us and we can feel a bit more normal. And when we are with Indonesian friends we are almost a bit “protected” from the crowds. Of course not all the attention is negative. A lot of people are genuinely¬†friendly and respectful.¬†We see a lot of smiley and friendly people, and these absolutely make up for a lot of the harassment we occasionally get from others.

The boys playing football¬†¬†in the pictures are examples of some very nice children. We met them one time on a little trip, they joined us, played football with the boys, ate our biscuits and even dared to taste our waffles. Good memories. These boys were very friendly, respectful and helpful.¬† Quite normal ¬†actually…

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