Pin It
The Solo Traveler Blog

Into Homes, Schools and Villages in Java and Bali

The woman who showed us how to make tempeh - mentioned below.

Truly, this woman was smiling before I asked to take her photo. She smiled a broad yes then closed her mouth and looked straight into the camera.

Look. See. Take photo. Repeat.

That is not my kind of travel.

I like to explore a culture. Go behind the major sights. Get into the nuances of daily life.

This is an aspect of travel that Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) does really well. I’ve just completed my second trip with them, this time to Java and Bali. I went as their guest. I did so because of their policy regarding solo travelers and single supplements – it’s the best I’ve found. They allocate a minimum of three spots on every trip for solos to have their own room without a supplement. On the trip I was on there were seven solos, all with their own room and no supplements were paid. Amazing when compared to other tour companies.

Ah, but let’s get back to traveling behind the scenes.

Wandering through small villages.

It is highly unlikely that I would explore a small village of about 100 people on my own. I would feel like an intruder – as if I had wandered into a home uninvited. But the villagers knew our guide and were accustomed to seeing small groups walk their streets with him. I’m sure they also appreciated some financial benefit of letting us see their everyday life.

After visiting a temple we toured a small village and popped into a number of homes to learn how local food was made. This woman showed us how tempeh is made.

After visiting a temple we toured a small village and popped into a number of homes to learn how local food was made. This woman showed us how tempeh is made. Her photo is also above.

As we wandered the village we met a number of people who were relaxing in the mid-day heat. After all, "only mad dogs and Englishmen stay out in the mid-day sun".

As we wandered the village we met a number of people who were relaxing in the shade away from the mid-day heat. After all, “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun”.

Living history.

The Indonesians fought for their independence first from the Dutch and then the Japanese and then again from the Dutch until it was finally secured in 1949. This is recent history and was shared with us a few times before we reached the Bandung chapter of the Veterans Legion of the Republic of Indonesia. What a privilege to be warmly welcomed by these veterans and hear from a General in his 90s and others who fought for independence.

A trip to meet the veterans who had fought for Indonesian independence was an amazing opportunity to see into the history of the country through the people who helped form it.

A trip to meet the veterans who had fought for Indonesian independence was an amazing opportunity to see into the history of the country through the people who helped form it.

The women in yellow are wives of veterans. We were each  given an honorary headdress for our visit.

The women in yellow are wives of veterans. We were each given an honorary headdress for our visit.

To Sara’s for dinner.

A homestay or a home dinner is always on the OAT itinerary. Our group of 15 were split into four and driven in the private cars of four families in Yogyakarta for dinner. Three other travelers and I visited the home of Sara and her family. Sara is a new stay-at-home mother who lives with her husband’s family as is the tradition. We were at the home of her parents where her father did the cooking. Her mother who is a quality assurance specialist with a medical company was home from one of her frequent trips to Singapore.

A home-stay or a home dinner is again, always on the OAT itinerary. Three other travelers and I visited the home of Sara and her family.

The dining room / living room of Sara’s family home has no front wall all year around.

While Sara's father is an accomplished cook, he was under strict orders to serve us a meal that the family would eat any day of the week. It was delicious.

While Sara’s father is an accomplished cook, he was under strict orders to serve us a meal that the family would eat any day of the week. It was delicious.

School visit always fun.

Another OAT standard is a trip to a rural school. To get there the 15 of us climbed into four minivans to take the steep, narrow roads into the mountains at Lovina to visit the Sekolah Dasar Negeri 3. Talking to the headmaster we learned about the curriculum. We attended a class where the students demonstrated their knowledge of the political structure of Indonesia. And finally we were treated to a traditional dance by a very talented student. The children were a delight.

A visit to a local school is on ever OAT itinerary. These children sang us a welcome song in English.

The children were singing us a welcome song in English.

OAT is associated with the Grand Circle Foundation. This bathroom facility was built with the donations of OAT and Grand Circle travelers.

OAT is associated with the Grand Circle Foundation. This bathroom facility for the school was built with the donations of OAT and Grand Circle travelers.

Cottage industries and extended families.

After visiting the school we went up the road to visit a family of basket weavers. We were shown how the bamboo is died and then woven into baskets. They produce for local markets and they also make custom orders where they may weave the owner’s name into the basket.

After the school visit we went to the home of an extended family who produced baskets and learned how they are made.

After the school visit we went to the home of an extended family who produce baskets and learned how they are made.

Their products were beautiful.

Their products were beautiful.

Lunch at home and a meeting with the village leader.

We also had lunch at a family home as a group. There we met the village leader and could ask him questions with Manik, our trip leader, acting as interpreter.

Over the course of the trip there were a number of impromptu connections with locals as well. I’ll cover these in next Wednesday’s post.

We also had lunch at a family home as a group. There we met the village leader and could ask him questions through our trip leaker, Manik.

Our trip leader, Manik, is on the left. The village leader is on the right.

Before lunch was served I helped lay out the offerings to the the gods. Offerings were placed at the rice, water and in the family temple.

Before lunch was served I helped lay out the offerings to the gods. Offerings were placed beside the rice, the water and in the family temple.

I thank Overseas Adventure Travel for sponsoring my trip to Java and Bali.

Related posts:

  • Joy

    Janice, we are taking that OAT trip next spring. What would you suggest for gifts for the home visits? Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

  • Jennifer 1962

    In remote villages, the local people may not see too many westerners. They don’t always feel comfortable about getting their photo taken but my have smiled /or even posed and said yes….I too have photos of people who asked me to take their pic (years ago but when I got the photo developed was surprised to see scared/severe faces…

  • Thanh Binh Hoang

    I don’t know why the woman did not want to smile anymore.

    It is weird

  • Trisha Andrus

    Janice-this trip sounds SO very cool! That has got to be a wonderful way of travel. Great pictures! Thanks for posting!

  • corinne

    looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip. I am off to Bali, borneo and Thailand in September for a long trip so any advice is welcome. I would also be grateful if you could ask in your blog about the difference between indonesian and Malaysian Borneo, best regards, Corinne

About Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 8.52.44 PMI'm an author, blogger, speaker and traveler. I became a widow and empty-nester at about the same time. And then, I became Solo Traveler... Here's the full story. >>
Tracey NesbittI’m a writer, editor, food and wine fanatic, and traveler. On my very first trip abroad I learned that solo travel was for me. Here's the full story. >>

Get the Solo Traveler Newsletter…

Subscribe Now!

Sign up for the monthly Solo Traveler Newsletter and get the monthly Deals Advisory as well PLUS a free copy of "Travel Views: 9 Travel Stories by 9 Travel Bloggers.

Accomm Guide Ad for Sidebar

Satya Banner Ad 02 FINAL design - 250x125 pixels
3rd Cities Beautiful Ad 8-2014 (1)

Follow Solo Traveler

Google+
rss

As Seen In…

Archives

RESULTS MAY VARY (The disclaimer.)

The content of Solo Traveler and any resources published by Solo Traveler are meant for entertainment and inspiration only. Every person and every travel situation is different. Your safety, satisfaction and fun traveling solo are your responsibility alone and not that of Solo Traveler, its publisher, editor and/or writers.