Three weeks after arriving in Indonesia, it somehow both feels as if I have done everything and nothing. As an expat learning to live in a new country, I’ve done everything.

Get a bank account.

Get a cell phone number.

Order a Grab (the Indonesian version of Uber).

Learn how to get to the grocery story. 

Begin to understand currency. 

Eat lots of new foods.

Try learning Bahasa words.

All things I've done.

Lunch at the Riady's home with all the new gals.

Lunch at the Riady's home with all the new gals.


Yet, as a tourist, I feel like I’ve done nothing. I’ve done very little sightseeing. Learning life has consumed the majority of my time. To me, as an impatient adventurer, this is a little frustrating, but I know that it will all come with time. The Asian games are coming in a few weeks and October break will bring all sorts of excited! In lieu of recounting any thrilling tales of my first weeks in the East, I though I would share a few small moments that help color the picture of my new life in Indonesia.

Critters of all sorts

While I hear that Indonesia is home to komodo dragons and rhinos and orangutans, most of my experiences with the local fauna has been on a smaller scale. In addition to the more exotic creatures, Indonesia is home to a veritable smorgasbord of creepy-crawlies. Ants, lizards, spiders, beetles, snakes, scorpions, bats, mosquitos… Normally, I’m not a person to be too bothered by otherwise icky creatures (with the exception of that snake in my kitchen one time). It’s the way that these little guys sneak up on you that gives me the heebie-jeebies. 

Someone wisely told me “it takes a lot more work to keep things clean here. You really have to work really hard to keep the bugs away.” She was right, but even with excessive tidiness, the lizards seem to be unavoidable. They do eat the bugs so you start to not mind them so much. There are two kinds of lizards here. The little brown ones that are tough to catch and skedaddle every which way and the Tokay geckos. Tokay are named after sound they make ("to-kay to-kay") . They’re a blueish-brownish color with orange spots and are very noisy. One family here told me that they have bunch of them living in their air conditioning unit (I did see one pop his little foot out from behind it other day). I don’t think I have any Tokays but I do have the tiny ones. They are equal parts endearing and a nuisance. 

Male Tokay Gecko

Male Tokay Gecko


The other day, I was hanging a map on the wall with some double-sided tape. Feeling pretty successful, I put the roll of tape down on the floor and headed off to bed. A day or two later I finally went to pick up the tape. 

Maybe some of you who are more logical than me can see where this is going. 

In near darkness, I start to roll up the tape on the ground. There is something gummy attached to it. I keep tugging at it until part of it came loose from the tape. Could it be gum? Did I step in something? Nope. Poor little lizard stepped on the tape, got himself stuck, aaand he died there. And that little bit that came loose? His tail. Yep. I had ripped his tail off. 

I’m sorry, lizard but not that much. Let’s remember, it was you who broke into my house in the first place. 

Pray for health. Pray for continued adjustment.