I always wanted to workaway. In fact I’ve been a member of the community for about three years now and there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to do some volunteer work wherever possible when I would eventually start traveling . The first experience happens to be in Klaten hosted by a lovely family that own an English school. Originally I was planning to stay in Yogyakarta for 4 days to overcome the jet lag but I cut it short to 3 days and before I knew it I as in a train filled with locals, heading 40min away, to Klaten.
Klaten is considered a “small” city that is home to more that 1.5million people and it protects within it’s limits the beauty of Javanese culture. From the people, to landscape, to food and everything else- if you’re looking for an authentic experience, this is one of the places you’d like to visit.
Being here for a couple of days now there are a lot of things that contributed to me having a big culture shock:
1. White” people are a novelty. People here don’t usually meet westerners and everywhere we go we are being watched with curiosity by everyone else. White is also considered “high class”. Some women will use whitening products and men will grow one or more of their nails way longer than usual to show that they are not working in the fields so they get more respect in society. I wish one day we would stop differentiate ourselves and look at everyone as equals the way we truly are.
2. Indonesia is heavily religious. What is amazing is the upbringing of Muslims and Christians in the same place. There are prayer rooms available everywhere and a couple of times a day a prayer will sound in the school or on the streets so most of the children and adults alike will stop their activities and start to pray. If they are too busy, they will make sure to pray as soon as they have the time. People are very respectful of each-others beliefs (as it is in most of the countries of the world and as it should be in all the countries of the world).
3. How happy and friendly people are. Indonesia is not a rich country. People are poor, the pay check is low and work is hard. I come from a somewhat similar country, however our people always worry and forget to smile quite a lot. Here everyone is very friendly. If I smile at someone, they will return it back, wave their hands, say hi and would like to know me more. There is a huge sense of community. I hijacked a coconut shop when we got stranded in the middle of the road and the owners sat us down and spent time with us until we got back on the road safely. I’m mesmerized by their hospitality. Music and dance is a regular sight everywhere you go. I’m polishing my singing skills so heavily I’m afraid I’m going to lose my voice!
Being here and experiencing an authentic Indonesian life is quite surreal. I had to ask my host family how to use the shower because I had no idea what was I supposed to do. I had locals teaching me how to eat local fruits because I had no idea how. I probably ate the freshest mango juice in my life after waiting for it for about 30min, watching the shop worker peeling /cutting and blending the mangoes. I’ve been here for only a couple of days but I keep learning things everyday. I’m very thankful for all the people that are welcoming me here as their friend and are sharing their world with me! ❤️