This Expat Life: Month 11

By the time you read this I will have officially left Jakarta.  And if everything went according to plan I should be on a plane bound for Boracay, the Philippines, as you read this.

Are you jealous?  Because you should be…

This Expat Life: Month 11 - Travel Lush

While I’m so excited about my summer travel plans and my imminent move to Cambodia, I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that I’m actually moving on from Jakarta.

I spent the month of June tying up loose ends.  I finished my writing job in Jakarta a couple of weeks ago.  Since I had a little bit of free time my last two weeks in Jakarta, I tried to be as productive as possible.  My goals were to research apartments in Cambodia, apply for jobs and write tons and tons of blog posts.  Despite my good intentions I don’t feel like I was productive at all.

This month seriously flew by.

I was also on a mission to see as many of Jakarta’s tourist attractions as possible.  And I actually did pretty well on this front.  Aside from some sightseeing, I attended a few gatherings that were hosted by some of Aaron’s students.  I finally got to meet a bunch of the students I’d heard Aaron talk about all year.   It was a blast meeting them and seeing just how much they loved being taught by Aaron.  I can now see why he is so sad to leave them because that group of kids is awesome (hi guys!).

This Expat Life: Month 11 - Travel Lush

The month of June was full of goodbyes, farewells and see you laters.  There were moments of nostalgia and pangs of sadness, and I found myself stopping and thinking about all the things I’m going to miss about my life here on many occasions.  I’m going to miss my job, my paycheck, the food and, most importantly, the people.

But at the same time it’s been a month filled with giddy excitement for the future (I’ve literally been X-ing the days off of my calendar each evening) and a general readiness to move on.

But that’s enough rambling…here’s what I was up to during the month of June:


I didn’t travel to any new and exotic destinations this month.  Instead, I decided to spend my last weeks in Indonesia hunting down all of Jakarta’s top tourist attractions.  I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed playing tourist in my adopted city.  And I can now honestly say that Jakarta is definitely worth exploring for a few days if you ever have the chance.

This Expat Life: Month 11 - Travel Lush

Sampling Jakarta’s food scene…

Food is a big part of traveling, so I made a conscious effort to eat as many Indonesian treats as possible this month.  I made sure to get my fill of all of my favorite Indonesian foods, but I also had the chance to try some new and amazing eats.

Have you ever heard of martabak?  It’s like a super thick pancake filled with savory and sweet fillings.  It’s actually been around Indonesia (and other parts of Southeast Asia) for ages but it’s all the rage in Jakarta right now.

This martabak had to weigh at least five pounds.

I tried a Nutalla and cheese martabak.  It might sound like an odd combination but it was so freaking good!  I’m kind of glad I didn’t discover martabak earlier because I probably would have gained a good 30 pounds while living in Jakarta.

I also discovered that Jakarta has some awesome Indian food.  The district of Pasar Baru is actually home to a sizable Indian population and there are tons and tons of vegetarian Indian restaurants scattered around the area.  Why, why did it take me 11 months to realize this?  Expat fail.

Mock chicken masala!

On the eating front Aaron’s students have been showering him with gifts and food all week.  As I’m writing this, my kitchen table is filled with 2.5 pounds of chocolate covered banana chips, bags and bags of fried Indonesian snacks and six cupcakes that look too beautiful to actually eat.


Suffice it to say, this has been a month of eating.


Like I said earlier, I finished my job here in Jakarta a couple of weeks ago.  My job has been the best part of living in Jakarta.  It got me back into the writing game and I even had the chance to publish travel articles, which is a dream come true for me.  That being said, that one gig took up most of my time and was my primary source of income.  So leaving that job means I am unemployed, yet again.

But after working for the better part of a year doing what I love, I’m much more optimistic about my career prospects this time around.  I’m currently in the midst of sending out applications to magazines and newspapers in Phnom Penh and attempting to navigate the world of freelance writing and editing.  I’m a little nervous about not having a steady paycheck anymore and not really knowing when I’m going to have one again.  But I’m actually feeling pretty good about the future.  I’m prepared to work my butt off to make this freelance writing thing work for me.


I’ve been trying my best to blog more over the past two months, especially about life in Jakarta and travel in Indonesia.  It’s always a challenge to balance blogging and working but I’ve tried my best.  Here’s what I wrote last month:

Most popular:

And the rest:

I’m off to do some traveling.  In the next month I’ll be spending some time in the Philippines and the US before making my way to Phnom Penh in August.  As always I’ll be posting lots of pretty pictures on Instagram,  @thetravellush.  If you’re not following me yet, now is definitely the time!

How did your June shape up?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

18 thoughts on “This Expat Life: Month 11

  1. Errrm yes- I am very jealous you are on the way to the Philippines! I mean- don’t get me wrong, I am currently looking at the beautiful Newport Beach coastline and I love it- but I do love SE Asia. Plus it’s too cold for scuba diving here (in my opinion- I know people do it off Catlina Island but when you got your PADI in the Gilis..brr). Well we made it to CA and love being here. Currently trying to find a place to live but that will work out in time. We had a day of looking at places in LA yesterday but none of them were the one! Hopefully we’ll find a place we like somewhere between San Diego and LA at some point in the next month or two haha!
    Joella // Paper Crane Stories recently posted…10 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit China

    1. I love California but there is just something about Southeast Asia. I have to be honest though…Boracay is a totally different place in the off season. It seems like people weren’t exaggerating about how windy the beach gets in the summer…it’s insane! Ha, so you don’t have to be too jealous! Oh and even though I’m from California I still think the water is really cold. I do swim in the ocean but it’s too cold for my tastes.

    1. Yay, I technically lived in Leucadia (right next to Encinitas and pretty much the same place). Make sure to stop off on Highway 101 and eat at one of the Mexican food restaurants. There are tons but Juanitas is really good 🙂 I’m obsessed with researching places to live. Make sure to drive around and check out all the cool houses for rent in that area…there are some great places around there. I loved my little house 🙂 If I were still living there I would totally show you guys around…

  2. Oooh, we love murtabaks, though the ones we had in Singapore & Malaysia look very different from the one you sampled in Jakarta: the ones we have had are always thin, more like a crêpe or an Indian dosa, rather than a pancake. Regardless, they are DELICIOUS.

    Enjoy the Philippines! I kind of can’t believe it’s been almost 3 years since we were there last. Where does the time go???
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Haters Gonna Hate, But Guadalajara’s Great!

    1. How funny that they are so different in Singapore and Malaysia. All the martabaks (I guess that’s how it’s spelled in Indonesia?) I tried in Indonesia were super thick and really rich. The first time I ordered one I kept trying to order one for myself but the people insisted that Aaron and I split it. When I saw it I understood why. They serve ’em big in Indonesia! Ha, it is so weird how quickly time flies. I can’t believe it’s almost been two years since I was last in the Philippines. It feels good to be back 🙂

  3. Wow busy girl! I can’t believe you are going to the Philippines – I am very jealous! I hope you have an amazing time and I really can’t wait to see pictures. I spent most of June lying around – I mean exploring the beaches of Crete Greece. But it’s been lovely here in Greece, despite the crisis, so I am happy 🙂
    Katie recently posted…Balos Beach through Photos

    1. It is seriously going to be a jam-packed month, but I’m excited! So far it’s been really stormy in Boracay but hopefully it will clear up soon. Regardless, I am so happy to be back in the Philippines. And I’ll be posting Instagram goodness soon 🙂 Also, I’m really jealous of you. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Crete. It must be an odd time to be traveling there, but I imagine Crete is incredible. I’ll have to pop over to your Instagram 🙂

    1. Silvia! Boracay is insane right now. I had heard White Beach gets windy in the off season, but holy crap. It is so windy there are wind guards along the entire beach and there are like 4-foot waves! Where is the pretty beach that I remember?! Perhaps traveling here in the off season wasn’t the best of ideas. Oh well!

  4. Yay! Best of luck with the move. And the traveling in between. I have a soft spot for Cambodia, so I hope you have a wonderful time settling in! Savor that part – it’s hard, but as you know, some of the sweetest memories are of those times too!
    Julie recently posted…My First London Music Festival

    1. Thanks Julie! I have such a soft spot for Cambodia (especially Phnom Penh) too. And that’s really good advice. I’m going to try my best to relish this experience as much as possible.

    1. Boracay was not its best this time of year. It was uncomfortably stormy! Regardless we had a good and relaxing time which was exactly what Aaron and I needed 🙂

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