From KLIA LCCT, Malaysia

View Larger Map

This morning, I left Indonesia, and am currently in-transit to Japan.

It’s hard to put into a single post what my experience in Indonesia was. The two months were full of experiences, many personal, that forced me to think about life, love, and many other things. Korea was the beginning of my trip, and was filled with optimism that, it turned out, was misplaced. In Jakarta I had to rebuild internally, before I could enjoy the country for what it was. But one I did, I thrived, and felt that two months was far too short.

When I arrived, I had an incredibly difficult time adjusting. Indonesia felt incredibly foreign, different, and despite all my experiences abroad, I felt completely out of place. In this I learned a valuable life lesson – it’s not your ability to adjust that makes you a traveler, but your courage, and most importantly, patience in the face of difficulty. If there was no challenge in traveling or living abroad, then why would I ever want to leave home?

The warmth and kindness of Indonesians helped, from the great Couchsurfing community, to the staff at Kehati who gave me far more than I gave in return.

I learned an immense amount about development, the environment, and the complex challenges facing biodiverse developing countries. I saw the darker side of consumption and it scared me. A city where green spaces meant little. But I also saw signs of hope, in the fact that even here, there are people who care amidst overwhelming odds – the students of Teens Go Green Jakarta, the staff at Kehati, or the volunteers I met at various environmental events.

Indonesia has given me the confidence and courage to go home, work hard, and return and help make a difference. As I head to Japan to join the US Future Leaders Travel Program, I feel, for the first time, that I can be a future leader.

Will I be back? Definitely.

My family with local, organic farmers outside Yogjakarta, one the few organic farms in Indonesia.

Free weekly roundups, straight to your inbox


Asia Undercovered: Get the stories on Asia that mainstream media doesn’t cover.




You've signed up! Please check your email to confirm.