Friday, December 11, 2009

This Past Year

It's been awhile. I am not sure why I haven't posted since last Christmas, but there has been no shortage of noteworthy events in our lives during this time. Life in Jogja remains fascinating, full of the curious and strange.

Since last Christmas we have been to Singapore and Bali for holidays. Singapore is nice, but it isn't really for me. For shopping, it is an incredible experience. Orchard Rd. is worth the trip to Singapore, but I am not sure it is worth a return trip. Lori disagrees. Shortly before we left, the girls came down with a flu. The rumour in town was that it was swine flu. We were very nervous as to whether the girls would be healthy enough to travel, and whether they would get through the health checks in Singapore. Fortunately, the day we traveled, they felt better. On arrival, however, I became sick and so appreciated Singapore even less. The rest of the family enjoyed the trip. As for Bali, well we enjoyed that as usual.

I also traveled to Hong Kong for a conference. It was on this trip that I learned the hard way that we need permission from the government to leave the country. This is not permission to return, but simply to leave. Even if we have no plans to ever return, we need to apply to Immigration for a special permit that allows us to leave the country. So, after finally getting permission to leave, I arrived in Hong Kong a day later than planned. Because of the schedule of the conference, I wasn't able to see much of the city, but I did skip out of an afternoon session in order to wander around. What I noticed was the remarkably well designed parks. They are designed for all age groups and well maintained. I was there during the beginning of the swine flu scare and saw city workers spraying down the children's play equipment with disinfectants. Hong Kong is a city I would visit again.

Our kids were more sick this year. We had the flu thing before our trip to Singapore, but we also had Chicken pox. Katie had the shot so she was not effected, but Mia and Sara got it. Fortunately, both had mild cases and the worst of it was the fever. We are not sure about Raina. She also had a fever but never showed spots. Chicken pox hit the girls' school hard, leading to the cancellation of the Halloween party. Katie was not impressed with that development as she had her costume all planned out. In general, it seemed as though our kids had more fevers. Fortunately these were never serious. We have very little confidence in the health system here so ill-health is always a concern of ours. Curiously, there are some well-equipped medical labs here, so we can get quite a wide range of tests done. And there is a reasonably good supply of drugs here, though I am not confident in their quality. The problem lies in diagnosis. I was recently told that Indonesian doctors are first introduced to human biology when they enter med school, a fact that did not inspire me.

Lori and I continue our teaching. Lori is still teaching English to theology students at the local Christian university. She is also continuing an ESL correspondence certificate from the U. of Saskatchewan. She says that the courses she is taking for her certificate have been very helpful in the courses she is teaching. I continue to teach at a local Islamic university. I am enjoying teaching and am regularly surprised. Recently, in one of my graduate courses, I had a student give a defense of terrorism. I doubt this would be something I would experience if I were teaching in Canada. I keep thinking how remarkable our time in Indonesia has been.

We are now preparing for Christmas. The girls had their school Christmas event and all three of them were chosen to give a short speech on why Christmas is special for them. I, of course, continue to think it is wrong to celebrate Christmas when I can't stop sweating. Last year, I played the Scrooge and refused to buy any Christmas decorations. This year, our neighbour undermined my opposition by giving us an artificial tree. So, we have a Christmas tree in our house. I continue to play the Scrooge, but I can't argue with free. We haven't planned a holiday for this break. One reason is that I am teaching until the end of the year (I have Dec 25 off), and Lori thought she began teaching the beginning of January. We just found out that Lori begins teaching a bit later and so perhaps we will try to fit in a trip to Bali.

Hopefully, during this coming year, I will be more diligent in posting to this blog.