Jepara and Pati- Exploring the North Coast

17 Jan

Because everyone in the office is off at the annual meeting for the first few days of this week, myself, Nick (American engineer who works with the organisation) and his dad headed up to the North Coast to Pati and Jepara to have a look at some projects up there.

The trip started with a very long drive which was supposed to leave Jogja at 9pm but left at 10:30pm meaning we didn’t get to Pati until 3:30am and could hear the call to prayer and roosters as we were going to bed. While it was dark we still saw a lot of evidence of some of the awful floods that have been affecting the region as well as sprawling rice fields. Also despite the winding mountain roads and darkness our driver texted the whole way to Pati- very different road rules here. We woke up the next breakfast and had a huge breakfast (Indonesian style- I can’t remember the last time I had a meal without rice) before heading off to the Peace Place. This is a centre for promoting Trauma Healing and Alternative to Violence programs and is a beautiful building built outside town in the traditional Javanese style.IMG_5634 After hanging out at the building site and having lunch with the construction workers (including various types of offal) we walked back through the rice fields to the house we were staying at talking to lots of people along the way and seeing various different building sites where they are reusing old materials for new projects. After that we hung out at the house and visited the hospital (our friend had a family member there) and had a terrifying ride back to the house on the back of a motorbike with a 13 year old driving. He was a good driver but it was very unbalanced.

Next morning we woke up early and head some snacks before heading to church at 7am. I’m not particularly religious generally only going to churches for weddings and the like but it was very interesting although I tended to zone out when trying to translate the sermon (very long the service was an hour and a half). SingIMG_5654ing the hymns in Indonesian was very fun and we had to get up and introduce ourselves to the congregation in Indonesian. Afterwards Nick let me drive the motorbike back home which was a struggle seeing I’d never used a manual bike before but started to get the hang of it.  Then following another breakfast we went back to the Peace Place where there was around 15 kids ranging from 8-14 years for an English class. We played a lot of games in English and had a lot of fun before having a game of soccer inside. Teaching was definitely a lot of hard work so a lot of respect to all the teachers out there.

We then got on a bus to Jepara which was packed. We stood for a fair bit until I got a seat up near the driver and made a lot of jokes in Indonesian with him. They tried to rip us off with the price of tickets but soon realised they couldn’t trick us so we spent the hour long bus ride on the awful bus joking around with everyone. We were picked up by our friend’s friend and his son (who was the cutest kid ever) before going up to the church where we stayed overnight with the minister’s family. IMG_5671 Jepara is famous for it’s woodwork and the place we were staying was full of workshops of people making furniture by hand all hours even when we walked around at at 9pm on the Sunday night. The work was of a really high quality and is frequently exported abroad.

The next morning we got up early and visited the TK (school for 4-5 year olds) across the road from our accommodation and another school for 2-3 year olds. So much cuteness but a lot of confusion as to what the bule were doing there. IMG_5696 It was then time we actually did some work and went to the wood workshop and started to design and make some figurines for a developmental play program using blocks that Nick is working on. The guys at the workshop were able to make our designs so quickly despite my awful drawings. It was really amazing to work with these master wood workers in their workplace and it was an experience that very few visitors to Jepara would get.

Then it was time to head back to Jogja and on the way to the travel office (a travel is a small minibus between towns) we did a bit of shopping although I couldn’t buy anything seeing none of the wood was finished and then went and checked out the beach before the drive back to Jogja. The drive was pretty awful taking almost 7 hours including a confusing stop where we changed cars and being stuck in rush hour traffic on the road to Semarang.IMG_5699 It was a great trip and an opportunity for us to really see everyday life with people in these towns. The hospitality of the Javanese was overwhelming with people we had never met (although connected to the projects we were working on) letting us stay with them, feeding us and showing us around their towns. A nice break from Jogja although coming “home” here was also a fantastic feeling and there is still a lot more exploring to be done. Probably head up to Salatiga this weekend and going to Jakarta in 2 weeks!

Courts xx


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