We start the day lazy, a bit of a sleep-in after our busy day yesterday and head to breakfast around 8:30am.A small dining area and selection, but enough tasty variety... and guess who cleaned out the bacon!The view is to die for and I take my time eating green pancakes with syrup and shredded coconut.We finish up and go back to our room to veg out (so I can upload yesterday’s blog) before our driver Nyoman, who we found on the street last night, collects us at 12:30pm to take us to the school.
We head out the side entrance (less stairs) 5 minutes early with the large suitcase and two plastic boxes (also filled with stuff) and who should be coming towards us: our driver – right on time and a hotel staff member ready to relieve me of the boxes.With the car packed, we make our 20 minute journey to Pejengkawan Sekolah.A quick check of the address and Nyoman knows exactly where to go – his village is the next one over.He informs us there are three schools in the area and we are visiting school number 2.He tells us he has two children, a girl 13 and a boy 8 who go to the 3rd school.Nyoman thanks us multiple times for what we are doing – his sincerity about the fact that we are helping his people, even though they may not actually be his family or from his village, is extremely touching.
He drops us out front of the school and before we take out the bags/boxes, I pick out a few items for Nyoman to give to his children.He is undoubtedly grateful and asks if ok to take to his children while we stay at the school – of course he’ll be back to collect us in about an hour’s time.We are immediately greeted at the gate by many eager children and Nyoman tells us they must know we are coming and have been waiting to meet us.He comes inside the gates with us and helps by asking the children to locate their teacher.I am so excited!I approach the children and chat with them in rusty Bahasa Indonesian, but they are keen to communicate in English.We enter the classroom and put the bag/boxes up on top of the tables at the front of the classroom and the kids are just bursting to see what is inside.
Within 10 minutes Ms Tatik arrives, apologetic for not being there to greet us, explaining she was with her baby (the children mentioned earlier that she is at home, so she must live close to the school) but says we are early (she tells me she sent an email this morning, but I had not checked until we got back and although originally she said to come at 1pm, her email said to come at 2pm).All that aside, she is just as excited we are here as I am to be here.Ms Tatik converses with the children in Bahasa, most likely settling them down and introduces us before offering the children the opportunity to ask us some questions (in English of course), such as: “what is your name”, “where do you live”, “what is your job”, “what is your hobby”, “do you have children”, “do you have brothers or sisters”.Once they have had their chance, I go around the room one by one asking each child their name.
Today’s lesson is “Verbs”, which I explain to the class is known as “doing words”.The children have a photocopied workbook to refer to and a small exercise book to write in.We turn to page enam puluh satu (61) and it is my turn to play teacher.I carefully pronounce the words in the boxes, e.g. “jump”, “climb”, “ride”, “read”, “write”, “drive”, “throw”, “dance”, put them into a short sentence and the children repeat aloud after me.I explain about “magic letters”, e.g. the b in climb, the e in dance.Ms Tatik then shows the children actions for each of the words.Once we’ve practiced these a few times, it’s kind of like Simon Says with me playing Simon.I call out the words and the children must demonstrate the action.I have noticed a gorgeous little girl sitting in front on her own, appearing a little withdrawn and can’t help myself by grabbing her when I say the word “dance” and ask her to dance with me by twirling her around in front of the class, which soon puts a huge grin on her face.The children are so excited and make lots of noise, laughing and cheering when I do this – how this makes my heart happy reliving this moment!
We soon hand out the brown paper gift bags pre-made with love at home, with the help of Miss 7.Each bag contained various stationery items, stickers and a novelty gift – the whistles were a huge hit!We also gave the children a lollipop, which I think caused the most commotion.We had made (hopefully) enough for all of the children, as this was only one of the three classes to attend the school.The lesson is almost over; it’s time for group photos and to say our goodbyes.Just like all children in the 8-13 age bracket, some are cheeky, some are shy, some are confident, others are reserved, but by the end of the lesson I’m sure each and every one of them would have happily come home with me.Every single child shakes our hand, some twice before leaving for the day – hopefully with a little everlasting imprint of us in their lives.
Ms Tatik does not want us to leave and pleads with us to stay for the remaining two classes.We decide to wait until the next group of children are settled, answer the usual questions and get the chance to hand out their gift bags and lollipops.Our driver is waiting, so reluctantly Ms Tatik bids us farewell and I promise to keep in touch by email until hopefully I return (for longer) next year.
As I head to the car, I keep my overwhelming feelings of emotion in check and know that I have gotten just as much, if not more out of this day then perhaps the children have.Hubby and I reflect on our experience and he is pleased with how it all went, as initially he was worried it might not meet my expectations and didn’t want me to be disappointed.He says that while I was playing teacher with the children, he chatted with Ms Tatik who expressed her deepest gratitude for the amount of donated resources – thanks to my dedicated colleagues, family and friends who pitched in – and told him they had never received so much all at once.We both agree that although it would be nice to do this same thing in our own country, the sense of kinship and culture is just not as present as it is here and there would never be that same sense of appreciation applied to the situation.This makes me momentarily sad, but reaffirms the reasons why I feel so compelled to give to the Balinese people who have the ability to touch me in a way that I just cannot explain.
Nyoman takes us back to our hotel, stopping for me at a bookshop along the way.He drops us back at our secret entrance and we happily pay him his fee of 170,000 Rupiah – with a little extra for good luck and a couple of Aussie dollar coins for his children.He is such a nice man and we keep his card with the promise to call on him next time we visit Ubud – so now we have two very trustworthy drivers to add to our friend book.
At the hotel, we change into our swimmers and decide to dip in the pool just outside our room door – how convenient.After a little while, we decide to battle the very steep stairs to the lowest pool, the biggest with the most beautiful view.Thankfully when we get there, we have it all to ourselves.While swimming, we notice some hotel staff climbing trees close by and are offered some freshly picked Rambutan from the tree – how nice.We dry off, change clothes and wait in reception for the free shuttle into Ubud centre.
Not being very familiar with Ubud, we wander around aimlessly and discover we have turned onto Jl Monkey Forrest and before you know it, we are standing in front of the actual Monkey Forrest.Not wanting to risk losing our glasses, without which we will not be able to see a thing, we keep walking right on past happy to watch the monkeys loitering out front.I spot a couple of gorgeous sarongs along the way and manage to buy both for 120,000 Rupiah – another thing to tick off the list; I really wanted these to stretch over canvas and hang on my wall at home.
Eventually we end up back where the shuttle dropped us (about 1.5 hours later) and once again have very sore legs so decide to offer the next person saying “taxi” 30,000 Rupiah just to take us up the hill to Murni’s Warung for tea.I tried ringing to make a reservation earlier in the day, but the number on Trip Advisor and their website was not connected, so I sent an online booking form.I am pleased to say they responded to my email within a couple of hours.We got a table with no problem though – must be due to low season – however there were still quite a few patrons.Although the food was delicious, it still wasn’t as nice as (in my opinion) and was much more expensive than Warung Pulau Kelapa from last night.We ordered Spicy Onion Rings, Beef Ribs with fries and salad, Nasi Campur, Banana Caramel Cake with Vanilla Ice-cream and their famous Ginger Sauce (yum), a Coffee Thickshake and 2 large Bintangs (we were also given FREE small bowl of peanuts and 2 bread rolls) – total cost 379,000 Rupiah.
Thankfully, Murni’s offered free transport back to our hotel.Our driver was kind enough to drop into the local Indomaret to pick up some Bintangs on the way and was willing to drop me at Putri Spa until I looked at my watch and realised they would have just closed – how very disappointing!Oh well, back to the hotel with enough time to put together today’s events, pack our stuff ready for another early start – we’re off to become Indo-chefs for the day tomorrow...
PS. I couldn't resist unwrapping my weeping buddhas for another look, so here they are!