The Bali Tour – Visiting Pak Agus & SMK 1 Singaraja

We arrived in Singaraja yesterday after once again getting lost on the way! Thankfully Pak Agus was able to rescue us! We followed him home where we met his wife and two children.

For the whole time we were at Pak Agus’, food was continually brought out for us. We were first given water which was quickly followed by a bowl of mandarins. Soon afterwards we were served boiled corn & tahu isi (filled tofu) and then lunch was served!! Lunch was also delicious and included tempeh manis ( tempeh covered in kecap manis), nasi merah (red rice mixed with white rice), kangkung plecing (water spinach covered in sambal), omelet and a fish soup. While eating the snacks before lunch, the entire family sat with us on the small tiled verandah in front of their front door. It was lovely and cool sitting there chatting. Pak Agus insisted his daughter, Tia, only use English to speak with us and I was very impressed with not only her English but also her determination to try her best and give it a go. However for lunch, Pak Agus’ wife and son went inside and only Pak Agus ate with us and while we were eating, Tia photographed us! Made us feel like celebrities! After the meal, I discovered his son eating his lunch in front of the tv while his wife was doing the ironing!!
After lunch, we went for a brief walk to a nearby field to look at the tobacco growing there. Apparently the fields are used for growing tobacco in the dry season and then in the wet season they are used for rice. With the low rainfall, rice can not be grown all year round here.


20131007-170500.jpgthe flower

20131007-170553.jpggrows just like a spinach plant!

We then went for a drive to Pak Agus’ village which is east of Singaraja and as soon as we arrived, we were served a kelapa mudah (young coconut drink) and the most delicious bubur I have ever eaten. Do you remember what ‘bubur’ is? Sort of like risotto but the rice is not as dry as risotto, it still has a little liquid in it. This bubur was vegetarian and used lemon grass, chilli and greater galangal and then was also served with peanuts, popcorn and urab (vegetables mixed with coconut).

20131007-170645.jpgAltogether the meal was very tasty.


20131007-170823.jpgPak Agus and his father
All that food in one afternoon, Marg & I were so full that a walk around the village was welcomed for several reasons! I was very surprised at the amount of new building happening in his village. The market had recently been demolished and several men where in the process of building the new structure. The new frame was entirely from steel! This together with the nearby new and ornate pura desa made me think that the village must have some very wealthy residents. We also passed a house which was obviously recently renovated. Pak Agus explained that one of their sons works on a cruise line! I have heard of many families having sons or daughters working on cruise liners while on this trip but this is the first time I have fully understood just why this is such a highly sort after position!
By the time we returned to our hotel, we were still full and happily showered and collapsed into bed, before setting the alarm for 5:15am. Thankfully our hotel is just around the corner from SMK 1 Singaraja, Pak Agus’ school!

This morning, we were up in good time and actually got to school a little too early so we walked passed up to the next corner and discovered that right next door is a SMA (academic high school). Pak Agus teaches at a SMK which is like a vocational high school. In a SMA and at a SMK, students are in the equivalent of year 10,11 & 12. Sometimes students use this terminology and sometimes they say that they are in 1st, 2nd or 3rd class.
Being Monday, the school day began with the flag raising ceremony. Marg took up a position on the verandah above to get some photos and I joined in the teachers who were lined up to the left of the ceremony.

20131007-172907.jpgThe fellow wearing the light blue jacket is a student teacher! Attending the ceremony were only the years 11 & 12 students as the year 10’s attend the afternoon school session. Pak Agus’ school has about 1500 students and they are divided over a morning school session and an afternoon/evening school session. Teachers who teach at both do so mainly for the extra income it attracts! Considering that the morning school session starts at 7am and goes until 1pm & then the afternoon session starts at 1pm and goes till 7pm, it would be a very long day! However probably more manageable for a secondary teacher as their timetable is more flexible with less face to face teaching time than primary teachers.
This flag raising ceremony lasted one and a half hours with the students largely standing in the sun until 8:30am. It went for such a long time as it also included recognising the newly elected OSIS (Student Representative Body). This ceremony was largely similar to all the others I have seen although with a few differences. One being that the only part of the entire ceremony that the students joined in on was the saying of the pancasila. Even the national anthem was only sung by the choir. I was disappointed about not being able to join in!! Another difference was that any students who thought they may have difficulty standing for the whole ceremony could sit behind the teachers in the ‘sickbay’ area. There were also 2 students wearing red caps and as students started feeling faint, they would help the class leader (ketua kelas) bring them over to the sickbay.
After the flag raising ceremony, Pak Agus took us to the canteen where we could choose what we wanted to breakfast. Marg chose bakso (chicken meatball soup with noodles, bakwan & cabbage)

and I enjoyed some beautiful nasi kuning.

I don’t know why but Balinese nasi kuning always tastes so much nicer! Must be the spices used!
After breakfast, Pak Agus very apologetically explained that he has to head off to the university for a meeting, so he left us in the capable hands of Bu Itta who also has very impressive English. In fact there are many teachers here at SMK 1 with fantastic English.
Bu Itta’s first lesson was a double hotel communication lesson. They were studying specifically about housekeeping policy. Students are obviously nervous about this aspect of working in the hotel industry and had many questions about issues that could happen. Several were amusing scenarios but there was a level of seriousness underlying the questions.

I was very impressed with Bu Itta’s rapport with her students and the way she answered all questions seriously. None of the questions or questioners were ridiculed even though some of the questions could have been interpreted as being flippant.
After Bu Itta, Pak Goritno took over the class to teach ‘guiding’, meaning teaching students how to be a tour guide. The students in groups, had to give a presentation to the class. The group had to decide who would be the tour leader and then the other 3 in the group became local guides. The tour leader’s role was to take the ‘tourists’ to various places of significant interest in Singaraja where a local guide would then take over and show the ‘tourists’ around a particular site giving explanations and it was all done in English. Most of the groups included various local temples, the Buleleng Museum, the Singaraja Harbour, or the the library. One by one, each student in each of the groups came out the front of the class and talked to the class as if they are the tour group and using a powerpoint projected up onto the wall next to the white board.

20131007-171306.jpgconducted the ‘tour’.
Both classrooms we visited had data projectors attached to their celling which is the first time I have seen them in schools in Indonesia. Unfortunately the ceilings are very high and to turn them on, a student had to put a chair on his table to be able to reach the ON button! I could hear Mr Tapscott having kittens!
While at SMK 1, we observed 2 classes giving this ‘guiding’ presentation and the comparison between the two was noticeable however this was largely because the first class wasn’t quite ready and the few students who presented were purely doing so to rehearse and get some feedback before presenting officially the following week whereas the 2nd class were being graded as they presented.
We were invited to be the ‘tourists’ on the tour, so I took some notes so that I could give some specific feedback to the students. Our main feedback was to speak slowly and that every time they speak to their tour group, there is no need to constantly say “Ladies & Gentleman”. Overall we were very impressed with their enthusiasm and their courage to get up and have a go inn front of westerners with no warning! One of the groups explanation explained how to make dodol and it was fascinating!
Pak Guritno, the teacher, has offred to send me the presentation as well as various other ones that look fantastic, all made by students at this school!
Pak Agus returned to school just before the last lesson finished. We waited till both his children arrived here and then went out to the Buleleng Harbour for lunch. This harbour area was one of the tourist areas the students had just been telling us about, so it was great looking around and recognising different aspects from the photos on the student power points! The harbour is of historical significance because it used to be a very busy trading port. During the Dutch occupation, Singaraja was designated the administrative centre for Bali because it was the perfect location for ships to stop on their way to Malukku (Ternate) to collect spices. It wasn’t till 1958 when the airport was built that the administrative centre moved south to Denpasar. Pak Agus remembers coming to visit the harbour with his father when he was in kindergarten and he said it was still largely the original harbour then, however now little of that remains. It is purely a tourist area now with various restaurants over the water on a jetty structure!!
The harbour is now dominated by a huge statue of a muscly looking man holding a huge flag of Indonesia while pointing out to sea. This statue commemorates the actions of I Lontong. After World War 2, the Dutch attempted to reclaim Bali. When they hoisted the Dutch flag in Singaraja, I Lontong climbed the flag pole and replaced the Dutch flag with an Indonesian flag. The Dutch were not happy with his actions but the locals here were immensely proud of his courage that a statue was erected in his memory.
There is so much history here in Singaraja!
We are now sitting in the hotel room waiting for Pak Agus to arrive to take us to the night market for dinner! Yum what will I order?


4 thoughts on “The Bali Tour – Visiting Pak Agus & SMK 1 Singaraja

    • Thanks Georgia, what a lovely surprise to hear from you. We are having a fantastic time although Mrs Roberts only has one day left before she heads home. How is everyone in your family? What are Emily & James doing this year?
      Hope you are also having a great holiday,
      from Bu Cathy
      PS Say a big hello to Mum!

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