We were up early for the bus that was to take us to Cianjur a place we knew very little about but the bumpf about it looked good so the decision was made. Getting out of Jakarta was as much of an ordeal as getting in though this was largely because of the early morning traffic which was horrendous. At the many intersections hundreds (and I am not exaggerating here) of moped riders would ready themselves to do U-turns kamikaze style as everyone in Jakarta went their way to work. How the masses were not dying in their thousands was beyond my ken!
To get to Cianjur was a bit of a trek as we seemed to be travelling uphill for a long long time and as the bus was part taxi and ourselves being foreigners, we were the very last stop. However, all said and done it was a good trip through countryside that looked a lot like the Cameron Highlands and it was a nice drive to reach our destination even if there was a fair bit of rain along the way. The homestay (our digs) was a great big place with a very high roof and we had a very nice big bedroom – hoorah. Also as soon as we arrived we were cooked some dinner – including my favourites corn fritters – so everything was good with the world. The owner, Yudi gave us a sheet with translations of various English phrases into both Indonesian and Sundanese (the part of Indonesia we were in) – useful phrases such as ‘Hello’, ‘Thank You’ and ‘Can you please not drive so fast I do not want to die!’ – as I said useful stuff for the part of the World we were in. We had no ideas about what we fancied doing in the afternoon but a young Dutch teacher called Elsa explained about treks she had done and the school visit, which even as a teacher she found very interesting, so we plumped for going to the school having only slight idea of what that would entail and less work than walking.
We should not have worried as it took only a short while before we found out that the school was a great place – ran by a guy called Sting who actually looked like an aged rocker but he is a really sound Indonesian guy. It was run by volunteers, teachers and young people (former pupils) who had learnt at the school. The pupils had to pay for the lessons but this was for the upkeep of the place and they also had special rules for poorer families so they could get lessons for their children for free so the place seemed really well set up.
First off to ‘suffer’ the Hughes’ Preparation School for Aspiring Young Englishmen and Women’s teaching methods were the 4 to 7 year olds. A lot of these simply looked bemused by us let alone our unusual teaching style. They taught us an Indonesian nursery rhyme and in turn Liz had great fun teaching them Incey Wincey Spider and then moved on to Humpty Dumpty which she wrote for them on their whiteboard – she seemed really at home whereas I was more of a spare part and some of the kids looked on as an oddity, a scary one at that!
The next group which I shall call 11 to 14 year olds – I have no idea of age so they could have been any age really – these kids could see the reasoning behind my more relaxed teaching style, although I still think Liz won on points. All the kids were really up for learning and really polite and were very good English speakers, as a matter of fact having us teach was probably putting them back donkeys years. It is quite strange when they were asking us why we say the things we do – this got both myself and Liz thinking about our language which made our heads hurt – this teaching malarky was not as easy as we first thought.
The last class were even older – as mentioned I am not great at ages so I will call them 15 to 51 years old and they were all young ladies. Again, the pupils in this class were not only keen but also very adept at English if a little shy, often they would need a bit of a push in order to converse with us but once the ice had been broken things were much easier. Later it was explained to us that in Indonesia there is now a big push towards younger ladies being encouraged to learn up to university level so they do not simply settle down young so it was really interesting talking to these young women who were clearly seeing learning as being an option open to them.
As each of the kids left they would say thank you and their goodbyes and then take your hand and put it to their cheek, something we had not seen before in Jakarta but it was really very touching, but they were surprised when we told them we had not seen this form of goodbye before. It must have been more of a rural thing to do or something more associated with the Sundanese people.
After school we had quite a good laugh with the teachers and one of the lads told us that him and his mate had a two-piece band and things were really starting to happen for them in Indonesia – since this our first meeting they have been interviewed on the radio and even been on Indonesian TV. His name was Rivens and he was a really good guy, a good laugh too and him and the other member of the band (Dayoo) took us for a beef ‘satay’ which was excellent. This ‘satay’ is actually cooked on the side of the road and this is simply because as it is cooking the meat is fanned to produce tonnes of smoke and give the marinated meat not only a savoury sweet taste from the marinade but also a smokey flavour as well – it was delicious. I think I had seconds, thirds or perhaps even more.
After food it was back to the homestay and it seemed like they were having a downpour of small black evil smelling beetles – so we ducked out the way and went off to bed.