We arrived in Malang, which is a city on the eastern part of the island of Java, on the 25th, after a 12 hour overnight bus ride from Bali. We're here visiting some of Chris's friends who live and work in this area.
Our first few days here, we got the chance to meet some students and spend some time with them. On Friday, we helped the students make a sweet soup made with bananas, sweet potato, jackfruit, and coconut milk. After bagging portions of the soup up, we went outside after sunset to a busy mall and passed the soup out to people who were breaking their fast--we are at the end of Ramadan season, which is time when Muslims fast from sun up to sundown. Unlike Bali, which is prodominantly Hindu, Java's population is prodominantly Muslim. You can see women and girls wearing pretty headscarves and can hear the call to prayer. Tomorrow marks the end of Ramadan, so it is the tradition for people to return to their hometowns and villages to be with family to celebrate together. Lots of places will be closed and students off from school; it is like our Christmas holiday in the States.
On a side note, it has been interesting trying to find places to eat during the day, especially since we can't use our typical gauge of "if it is busy, the food must be good and fresh"--the restaurants are completely empty during the day! Speaking of food, we've been eating lots of yummy rice and noodle dishes.
Our friends have been awesome hosts, making us feel right at home, showing us around and having us over for dinner. I commented to Chris that I was ready to be away from tourist areas (like Bali) and longed to be in a place where people we just living their day to day life and we didn't get treated like tourists. Malang fit the bill. We have used public transpo a few times--here there are little blue mikrolet buses where a ride costs 2500 rupiah, which is about 27 cents. It's a tight squeeze, as the driver waits until it is completely full before taking off, and you're for sure touching knees with the person sitting across from you. But it seems to be a great way to get around, once you can figure out which one to take!