Museum of Fine Arts, HCMC: Buddha (replica)Everything has to end and I have come to the last days of my stay. Yesterday I got my Exit Permit from the Immigration Department and the finality of it struck me, as I read the stamp giving me six days only to leave the country. I will be leaving on 14th night, 15th technically speaking as mine is a midnight flight, so in less then six days.
The stamp on my passport
It has been an intense three months. I was based in Jakarta most of the time and I would be lying if I described this city as glamorous. It certainly has beautiful spots, the people that live here are wonderful, it is a dynamic city but...the traffic jams are too much for me, it took me a couple of weeks to adjust and there have been moments, whilst sitting in my uber car, stuck in a very slow moving column of vehicles, surrounded by hundreds of motorbikes, when I almost burst into tears, unable to bear it. It's a miracle I have not got a flat bum just from sitting in a car all day long - I made sure to continue my exercise routine and not eat more than I needed.
But I have had wonderful breaks - in Yogya, in Bali - still dreaming of The Mejanggan - and then last week in Vietnam with which I am quite in love.
The MejangganDuring my stay I suffered a family bereavement and this made me feel quite lonely at times, I longed to be with my own family, as I had to hide my loss and my true feelings from most people.
I have met many wonderful, talented, creative people who welcomed me and were willing to share their knowledge and experience. Indonesian fashion is surprisingly diverse, aimed at a cosmopolitan urban wearer and it eschews the fast fashion model, which feeds indiscriminate consumerism. A plus point indeed.
I attended many fashion shows, ranging from very high profile events such as Jakarta Fashion Week, to less formal affairs as the fashion event at Fashion First.
I even participated in photoshoots, thanks to my weird hair, and in a high profile fashion show as a model for IPMI designer Tri Handoko. I can't say as it is usual that I walked for him as his was a show with a difference, with models not walking at all but standing still to be photographed close range by the public. It was a very emotional performance, as Tri Handoko had lost his father while working on this new collection and the show encapsulated his feelings of loss. It really deeply resonated with me, because of my own loss.
Tri Handoko's Mind Game, IPMI Trend Show 2016, Jakarta
I also hope to go to Vietnam and visit it properly. I was only in Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City and liked it immensely, the rest of Vietnam is stunning, so I am told (but Vietnamese is a tough language!).
I now feel very comfortable with my basic bahasa Indonesia and have had lots of conversation lessons from my uber drivers while waiting in line. I am not sure I would be able to pick up Vietnamese in a short time, but that's another story. I bought a lovely bag in Saigon, made by an ecologically aware designer - Vietnamese fashion will soon burst on the global scene, no doubt about it, to remind myself that fashion is what brought me to Southeast Asia. I would like to take something home.
I am taking a short break from blogging and will write after Christmas, from London. So I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy festive season.