I often find myself waking up to the smell of steamed sweet potatoes, the clamour of construction outside my window, and a glimmer of sunlight peeking through my blinds. 

“Keiran! I have made tempeh and fried bananas for you and Haley. Let’s sit on the balcony and have breakfast together.”

Lilly’s Breakfast

This is an almost daily occurrence. Sometimes we will be surprised with steamed pumpkin or sweet potatoes, other days we have vegetable soup and eggs. Lilly has shown me the best of what Indonesia represents: kindness, generosity, friendship, and delicious food!

I am now halfway through my internship and cannot believe how quickly my internship has passed me by. My last blog post felt like yesterday, although it was nearly three months ago. Time truly does fly when you’re having fun. 

As I sit here and reflect on the last three months of my placement in Jakarta, my biggest takeaway has largely revolved around how amazing the people in Indonesia are, so I thought it would be fitting to dedicate a post to the people of Jakarta. 

Countless times in my conversations at work, throughout my intern reports, and in brief conversations with my friends back in Canada, the topic of Lilly has come up countless times.  


Meet Lilly! She is one of the most generous people I have ever encountered. She enjoys cooking, baking, and the finer things in life like high tea, salsa dancing, decorating, and, as she would call it, “coffee time”– a moment each day where we sit and have coffee and snacks together on our balcony. She retells stories of her past, and our conversation often revolves around Indonesian politics and the delicious food we plan on trying together. 

Our coworker and friend, Adit also lives in our building, and he often joins the three of us for “coffee time.” He, too, has met us with so much kindness. More recently, he bought us some coffee from Tana Toraja– a region in Sulawesi famous for its coffee, which also just so happens to be the place where Lilly grew up. 

This past month, we hosted a Thanksgiving Party and invited some friends our building and office. Lilly and I spent the entire day roasting pumpkins to make soup while Haley went out to pick up flowers to decorate our table, as requested by Lilly.

“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.”

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Lilly setting up for our Thanksgiving Party

Lilly and Adit have truly made our building more than just a place we sleep and eat. They have cultivated this warmth that is so homey and familiar. They have joined us on weekend adventures to find the best dim sum and have helped us bargain with local vendors.  

Me, Lilly, Haley, and Adit eating dim sum

My coworkers at CIPS are no exception to the standard Lilly and Adit have set. I have been blessed with so much kindness from the people at CIPS. In fact, this past weekend, Haley and I were invited on a weekend getaway to Bandung with several of our coworkers. Our time was filled with delicious food and many moments filled with laughter. One Indonesian snack in particular, “Bola Ubi” (the literal translation being “sweet potato ball”) was a snack I discovered in Bandung, and it has become a mission of mine to find them back here in Jakarta. 

During our time in Bandung, we stopped for dinner in Nara Park, where there just so happened to be a performance from “Endah N Rhesa”, a famous music duo in Indonesia and South Korea. The restaurant we were sitting at also happened to be the location where the band chose to eat after their performance. To our surprise, we ended up meeting them and had a brief conversation. They were so incredibly humble and down-to-earth.

Us meeting Endha N Rhesa (middle)

Upon the contemplation of this blog post, I was trying to find a common thread involving the experiences I have had here so far. While the culture, nature, and adventures I have had here have been amazing, I realized in that moment that the people are truly what have made my experiences so remarkable. With the help of the wonderful people that I have met throughout my adventures here in Indonesia, I am starting to feel slightly saddened by the idea of having to eventually part ways with the place in Southeast Asia I call “home.”  Home is no physical place; it’s a feeling– a feeling of comfort, warmth, and safety. These people have helped cultivate that feeling for me; and for that, I am forever grateful.