Helen and I had a lovely morning this morning. We were up at 4.45am (only 15 minutes earlier than a workday) and were in the centre of the city after a 20-minute (world record) drive. We parked outside the Governor’s palace, where there were already market stalls set up, and an extremely well-patronised ladies’ aerobics session about to begin.

A bloke guided us towards the Balai Kota (city hall), where the World Food Program was beginning its first “Walk the World”. I was extremely proud to see so many of my teachers and students there. Many of the Year 11 and 12 students were acting as officials, and other students were performing.

The actual walk was about 5km around the centre of town, and the lines of the more than 5000 participants were very impressive. Helen and I had our photos taken frequently, so we will have to peruse tomorrow’s local papers. It was great to be able to walk in the centre of the city, and have the time to notice things that you can’t take in from a car, or even a bicycle – we also noted an ad for a cycling event in a week or two, which we might join. We decided it is certainly time for another overnight stay in town.

We got back in time to see two of our girls playing violin. They were followed by some professional dangdut singers, who had the crowd going. I was accosted by the principal of one of the local primary schools. Our kids had provided tickets for 80 of his kids, and our Community And Service Coordinator had organised for our school buses to bring them. We talked to some of the primary school kids on the way out; they were really cute.

According to the organiser, our students sold 1000 of the 5000 tickets. He also said that his Jakarta office would believe that he could get any more than 3000 people out walking. It was certainly a great start for something big.

Helen and I remarked to each other how sad it is that so many expatriates love the lifestyle, but rarely actually engage with Indonesians. To me, there seems little point in living in a foreign country if you only watch it from the window of your car.

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