A Story of Smoke and Oranges

Bunda: Hello Ruth.

(Ruth looks up from her laptop)

Bunda: This weekend Ayah* and his friends are going to Lembang. Do you want to join?

*my host dad

(Ruth thinks this over in her head, taking into the account that every time Ayah’s friends come over they sing loudly for 5 hours. But then she decides that traveling is traveling and 80’s hits are a small price to pay)

Ruth: Why yes, I would love to go.

And this is the story of how I found myself on a bus at 6 AM. More specifically, a bus full of middle-aged Indonesians.

As soon as we hit the toll road, a woman gets up and starts handing out oranges and salak. The bus is soon saturated with the scent of oranges.

My host dad gets up and walks to the back of the bus, where there is a smoking room (#onlyinindonesia). There, he begins to smoke with some of the other middle-aged men on the bus.


Now it doesn’t smell just like oranges, but smoke. Smoky oranges. Someone starts warbling Angin Malam on karaoke.

I turn my head and look out at the green beyond the window.


We arrive at the Floating Market in Lembang. I’ve been once before, but never while it was raining, as it is when we pull up.

Promptly upon entering the Floating Market, the middle-aged peoples (henceforth known as MAP because my fingers are fatigued) assemble to take a picture. Knowing that not only would I be part of this picture, but part of pictures with subdivisions of the MAP and individual pictures with the MAP, I pull Sabrina (from Germany) and my host sister aside to hide amongst the flowers.

Close up.f

The problem with this thinking, I discover, was that they forgot we existed and went to peruse the market without us. At the same time, their amnesia is somewhat  fortunate because it provides me ample time to take photos.


We eventually find my host parents and their MAP group at the market park of the floating market, where we eat noodles and drink soursop juice (one of my favorite meals).



After going to the floating market, we go to our villa. It is drizzling and everyone settles down inside their respective villas.

I decide to go on a photography walk.

The mysterious woods.

The grounds of the villas.

The grounds of the villas in a moment of sunshine.


The place is breathtakingly beautiful. The only problem?

The ridiculous amount of flies.

They are everywhere. Cover everything.

The rest of the evening is preoccupied with trying to eat without getting files on our food and sleeping.

The next day, we decid to go on a “hike”. It was essentially just a slightly vigorous walk through the forest.





We leave after eating lunch.


We are whipping down windy mountain paths when suddenly someone on the bus yells, “WAIT STOP.”

You’d think with such a big vehicle and the speeds we were going at it would’ve taken a little bit, but the bus pulls over very quickly.

We get off the bus and check out the side-of-road fruit shops.

Side-of-the-road market

My host mom buys a couple of pineapples, which are AMAZING, juicy, and super sweet. Behind the side-of-road fruit shops, there is a killer view.

The Lembang Landscape.

After another couple hours drive, we got home.

Short trip, but a beautiful one!


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