Over Christmas-New Year holiday period, my husband and I had a chance to travel overseas. Naturally, we returned to a place we both loved – my home town, Jakarta.
There is something extra-special about travelling back to your own home town; something that goes beyond than just soaking up the culture of the place, the tradition of its people, and the unique, delicious cullinary the country has to offer.
Whenever I travel with my husband from our hotel to a particular mall, I paid extra closer attention to the roads. In addition to pinpointing the landmarks – buildings, other malls, statues, I also raked my memories when travelling through the suburban/back-alley roads. I continuously asked myself whether I’ve gone through these roads before, back when I was living in Jakarta. And I squealed excitedly when the taxi happened to drive through the streets near my school, or the local produce market nearest to my old house.
I find myself drawing comparisons between the Jakarta I grew up in and the home town I return to after living in another country for so many years. Back when I first migrated here, I found myself having to think of everything I want to say in Indonesian and translate it to English. Now, having conversed in English to everyone on a daily basis, I found the process of my assimilation to the Indonesian culture was much slower. Now, I have to translate everything from English to Indonesian. Much as I didn’t want to admit it (to myself or anyone else), there were some words I honestly couldn’t recall; some slangs I had no idea what it meant. I found myself having to ask the cashier/waiter/waitress to repeat what they had asked me, because their Indonesian was waaay too fast for my ‘foreign’ ears.
Most of the fond memories I had of Jakarta had been through the lens of a young child growing up. Returning as an adult, I almost always encountered some unique experiences. Some can be categorised as minor and pleasantly surprising, like finding out one of the malls you used to frequent as a kid has expanded to house bigger and better shops, or making small chit-chat with the taxi driver about the constant traffic jams in Jakarta. Some are more challenging, like having a taxi driver confronted me about giving exact money for the taxi fare – something that I have become so accustomed to in Australia. Or ‘winging’ it when I go to the grocer market and haggle my way to buy bags/wallets/watches/sunnies – something that the younger me have always left to my parents to do. Or, in this particular occasion, having to rake my brain as to finding an alternative route to get to our hotel due to flooding; one that took us 3 hours to get home instead of the usual 30 minutes. At one stage, my husband and I were contemplating to get out of the taxi, took off our shoes, and walked barefooted through the flooded street had it not for the cracked skin on my foot and the risk of catching malaria from my open wounds.
Perhaps the only constant thing I could rely upon was the food. Each time I went back, I found the authentic Indonesian food was just as I last remembered it; food I grew up with, and with one taste, I felt like I became a twelve-year-old girl again, sitting on a wooden bench outside my high school, enjoying this delicious food during first break.
So, without further ado…. here are some highlights of our latest Jakarta trip.
Food… Glorious Food!
Having A Great Time!