The Indonesian word ‘kampung’ translates as ‘village’, but the SE Asia concept of village is very far removed from the European version. In my husband’s kampung, there are no roads, just dirt (often muddy) paths between the houses, which are built from an assortment of materials, but which are mostly quite humble affairs. Definitely not an air-conditioner in sight. Chickens and the odd goat roam free. So do the kids. And there are LOTS of them. Their laughter and games always filling the air – from early morning til surprisingly late at night.
Everyone knows everyone in a kampung and like many kampung families, my husband’s family is large, so many people in the kampung are somehow related.
It’s always big news when we arrive.
Over the years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the village. In the early days when it was just my husband and I, I’d find it quite stressful because everyone was shy around me and there was lots of furtive watching and giggling and observing my every move. I found it hard to ‘fit in’ because I was clearly so different from everyone else.
These days, with the children, it’s a very different story. The kids are the focus. No-one really pays that much attention to me anymore and I can blend into the background a bit more easily without feeling like I am under constant scrutiny. And of course we have the mutual topic of conversation now – if there’s one things Indonesians love to talk about, it’s their children .
So settling into the village is easier.
Highlight for M was lots of games on the Playstation and rolling about with his cousins, getting lots of tickles, staying up very late and taking the motorbike out for spins around the village.
Not really. But I am sure he would have liked to.
Highlight for A was all the cuddles and attention. And the baby swing, Indonesian style, which he loved.
Highlight for me was getting time to read my books, eating bananas and papayas that are freshly picked and drinking lots of terong belanda juice (tamarillo).
Not enough time though. The downside of the village is that with such communal, basic living, irregular hours and different diets, kids get sick. And our kids all got sick. Nothing critical, but skin infections, colds, fevers, spews, poos.
In short, a lot of hard work and not enough time to enjoy the peace and the views. And it doesn’t matter how many cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, neighbours and friends you have around who want to help out, when kids are sick, all they want is their mum.
BUT we did have a few special events while we were there of note. I will write about those tomorrow…