Selamat Datang di Kendari, Sulawesi

A woman zooms past me on a motobike her arm stuck out at a weird angle.
It is not until we come to a stop side by side at the traffic lights that I realise that she is holding a live chicken by the feet.
Young boys run past on their way home from school yelling “hello miss!” with the occasional “hello mister” shouted as well.
The man at the local warung nods and says hello as I walk past.
As I enter my street the local kids come running to greet me, high fives all round and questions as to when we can hang out.
The Ibu at the dress makers shop smiles and waves from behind her old black and gold manual Singer sewing machine.
The men working on building the house next door shout out hello and sometimes I have to search for them before I see one on the roof to say hello back.
Just outside my house one of the neighbourhood boys jumps out from a bush yelling “rarrrrr” and and then after laughing hysterically at my shocked reaction shyly hands me a drawing he has made for me.
Some days it is hard to get the door to the house closed with all of the kids trying to stream in but finally I am home, sweaty and hot and desperately needing a shower.
I head upstairs to my room on the second floor and grab my towel before heading to the bathroom.
Yet we don’t have showers, only a mandi.
A big bath of water that we fill up every four days when the water comes on and you use a cup to scoop the water onto you.
In the tropical heat here it is really refreshing.kendari
I love the house that I live in, it is based in a beautiful community where everyone knows everyone and from the second floor balcony there is always something to see.
Stretching off into the distance on two sides are tin roofs, some colourful and some a combination of grey and ochre rust.
The walls of the houses are all painted bright colours of blue, green, purple and yellow.
Pot plants spill out onto courtyards and roadsides.
To the right there are roofs and then palm trees stretching out as a mass of green fronds.
Behind the house is a steep cliff face of dirt and random fruit trees clinging on for dear life.
The occasional chicken can be seen scratching around for worms and the other day I heard a squawk and a flurry of feather and leaves and saw one fall down the slope.
From up on the balcony I can hear the merchants walk by shouting their wares, sometimes corn or other food.
Occasionally a local kid will run past and shout “hello Morgan!”
Welcome to Kendari, a city of 300,000 people in south east Sulawesi, Indonesia.
and my new address.
Life in this fishing town is relaxed and slow.
Nothing happens too quickly and everything stops when it rains.
The climate here is hot and sometimes humid and today for example the rains finally arrived.
For the last two weeks there have been increasing episodes of thunder and dark menacing clouds rolling in but with little or no rain.
Today though it finally poured.
And as a result everything stopped.IMG_3203
There is a saying here that one of my local friends told me.
If there is thunder and lightning then it will only rain a little if at all.
But if there is no thunder and the dark clouds roll in then get ready for a downpour.
There is little traffic here in the city unlike other cities in Indonesia like Jakarta and it is a really safe place to live.
The people are the most friendly of all of the Indonesians that I have met and are the most genuine.
No one tries to sell you anything and an ojek driver the other day (motorcycle taxi) gave me change after I thought I had bargained him down the fare when in reality I mixed up my numbers and bargained him up.
Being a foreigner I attract a lot of attention everywhere I go and it is still so strange to be mobbed or asked for photos.
I now know how it must feel to be a high profile actor or singer.
The streets here are not really exercise friendly, and walking anywhere still elicits the usual “ah miss what are you doing? Where are you going?!” from people.
So I have had to do the unthinkable, the thing I said I would never do.
Join a gym.
And surprisingly I love it.
I have been running and swimming and really getting into it.
Kendari is effectively a dry town, alcohol is rarely served in cafes and restaurants and therefore bars don’t really exist.
So this has been the perfect opportunity to get into some of the hobbies and activities I have wanted to get better at.
I brought along my guitar and after spending two weeks trying to locate my tuner and find a battery for it I am now trying to practice and play more than two cords.
I have also started trying to learn to draw and paint.
And of course there is always Indonesian practice to be done.
I had already studied Indonesian a little bit before arriving and can understand people when they speak but am still struggling to be able to speak back and know the words to use.
It is coming along slowly but each day I am trying to have conversations in Indonesian with the locals and each time they are getting longer and longer.
I really am looking forward to spending the next six months here.

5 Responses to “Selamat Datang di Kendari, Sulawesi”
  1. ari303 says:

    Hi Morgan,
    I’m a PhD student and just recently moved to Kendari for research. I came across your blog while looking for things to do during my time off and have really enjoyed your posts! Are you still here by any chance? Ariani

    • morganhannah says:

      hi Ariani,

      So great to hear from you and thank you so much for reading my blog!
      Alas I have left the crazy tropical paradise of Kendari behind but I hope that you have a great time during your time there and make sure you go and check out Wakatobi and some of the nearby islands!

      • ari303 says:

        Morgan, sorry to hear that you’ve left already, but hopefully you are off to new adventures!
        You mentioned that you found a gym in Kendari (with a pool?!) – what was it called? And yes, I can’t wait to make it to Wakatobi etc.. 🙂 Cheers!

      • morganhannah says:

        Hi Ariani,
        The pool and gym is at the Swiss Bell Hotel which is located on the bypass road that runs parallel to the waterfront. You can purchase quite a cheap membership there to use the pool and the gym 🙂

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