Back to where it all began- Salatiga

24 Jan

It has been 2 years and 22 days since I came to Indonesia for the first time as a 19 year old who still wasn’t entirely sure why she was studying this language or if she would even like this country. Now after around 14 weeks spent in Indonesia over the last 2 years and 22 days with 11 weeks of those spent in Salatiga, it was only natural for me to return to my Indonesian home town from Jogja for a weekend to see old friends and people who have become like family to me.IMG_0660 It started on Saturday with a trip I had done a number of times. Train to Solo, taxi/becak to the bus terminal then the Solo-Semarang bus to Salatiga. This was a particularly awful journey as Chinese New Year (Imlek) meant there was a public holiday on Monday and everyone was heading back to their home towns to celebrate. The train from Jogja to Solo is called the Prameks or Prambanan Express. This in itself is incredibly deceptive as it doesn’t go to Prambanan and there is nothing Express about it. Imlek resulted in the train being packed with people to the point where the doors wouldn’t close and feeling like a sardine for an hour and 20 minutes. I noticed the sign in the carriage said it was built for 70 passengers. I feel it would be a safer guess to say 200+ were in it on Saturday. Following that the transition to the bus was easy and the bus trip while slow due to heaps of traffic wasn’t completely bad as I got a seat while several people had to stand.

Arriving in Salatiga I was super excited as we drove through the town to the point of bouncing up and down on my seat. I then met with one of my friends from my first trip as I had arranged to stay at her place. After having dinner we headed to Frame.IMG_5827 This is a new coffee shop in Salatiga which you can read more about here on another friend’s blog (I’d explain it myself but she does a brilliant job). Basically you feel like you are outside and the coffee is amazing. On the second night we went there I tried all different types of coffee from Aceh to Flores and they really knew their stuff. A real top quality cafe for an incredibly good price. Plus it was about 20 metres from my old house in Salatiga so it’s probably best for my bank balance that it opened after I left town last year. While we were at Frame I walked up the street to go to a small shop and ran into my host dad and it felt like I was coming home from university for the day and chatting to him was like I had never left. We arranged that I would stay at the house for my second night which I’ll get to later.IMG_5830 My time in Salatiga involved a lot of eating and a lot of meeting old friends. We had a reunion of a bunch of us from the first PIBBI program I went to, scarily only 4 of us were still in Salatiga with most of the Indonesian teachers and staff having moved to bigger cities and most Australian students graduating/finished their Indonesian majors. IMG_1135 I also ate far too much durian which resulted in me feeling rather ill and not being able to ate dinner preferring to spend a few hours in a food coma on the couch. We spent a lot of time just driving around town and up to Kopeng. Seeing Merbabu brought back fond memories- I’ll always love that mountain and never get sick of seeing it. Not a lot has changed in Salatiga but I definitely noticed small things like new statues and new buildings.

Going back to my home stay was really nice. Everyone remembered me and it was like I never left with me spending the night watching Nat Geo Adventure (Long Way Down and Banged Up Abroad) on the couch with my host dad and chatting about the other people who had come and gone in the past. Seeing the rest of the family was brilliant with new additions and new houses to visit as well as the important visit to Happy Chicken to eat the amazing fried chicken. I was surprised to hear my bike was still at the house and still in the broken state that I left it in (well more like broken state that I bought it in- fixing bikes is harder than it looks) and it was very nice to go to sleep in my old bed room there.

Unfortunately though as is often the case my trip to Salatiga was short with it ending as quickly as it started. There was definitely a sizable lump in my throat as I got a spontaneous tour of town in the travel as we picked people up and the sunglasses went on to hide any potential for rouge tears. I am so so glad I got to see all the people that I did and will really miss them all. I love Salatiga and although I also really love living in Jogja, I think Salatiga will always be home in Indonesia for me as it’s somewhere that I know my way around and know people.IMG_1354 It was a real struggle to leave as I have no idea when I will be back there. Perhaps it will be years before I make it back as the more I travel the more I realise that I have left to see in this great big world of ours. I have no doubt that one day I will be back but I’m sure people will have moved on and things in Salatiga will have changed a lot. Salatiga will however always be the place where I learnt to love Indonesia and where the passion that has shaped the last 3 years of my life began and I am so grateful to have experienced everything I have.

So to all my wonderful friends in that beautiful town a huge terima kasih and as we always say Sampai bertemu lagi.

Courts xx


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