Indonesia is amazing. The air is hot and smells like oriental spices. We abandon our coats and pants and walk around in shorts and singlets with sandals on our feet. Our hotel is pure luxury, surrounded by magnificent trees and tropical plants with leaves bigger than my head. Vines grow everywhere and squirrels run along them between the tree tops. There are large statues of horses and elephants beside a crystal clear pool that we can see from our suite. In my mind I make believe I am a princess and the hotel is the palace surrounded by a magical rainforest filled with magical creatures. The walls and doors are covered in large wooden carvings, that go all the way to the roof, which is higher than any ceiling I’ve ever seen. There are other carvings near the reception area and throughout the hotel grounds, of animals and people and other odd shapes and designs. Aunt Kathy points to them and tells me they are all hand carved and I try to imagine how long it must have taken to do.
Our suite has three bedrooms. I choose my room, which has a large bed in the middle that is made of wood and has elephants carved into it. I jump onto the mattress and it is lovely and soft. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world right now. In some of my other foster care placements I was lucky to even get new clothes, let alone a trip to another country. Kids in care don’t get holidays like this, it just doesn’t happen, not that I’ve ever heard of anyway. I wish Paige was here too and promise to get her something from our trip. It’s so unfair that the Department wouldn’t let her come with us. The Department of Welfare for Young People (DWYP) is where all the big decisions are made on what happens to us foster kids. They tell us where we will live, what school we will go to and how often we get to see our families. The adults all call the Department D-whip, but us kids usually call them D-wipe, because well, we’re not always the biggest fans of the Department. They don’t always make decisions that we’re happy with. I shake my head and try not to think about being a kid in care. I want to be like any other ‘normal’ kid on this holiday and vow not to think about it for the rest of the trip.
The bell boy brings our bags to the suite, he is wearing big black shoes with pointy toes that look three sizes too big for him. They flop around on his feet and he lifts his legs high so as not to trip, which makes him look really funny. He smiles a lot and when Quentin and I start laughing, he laughs with us. I don’t think he has a clue what we are laughing at. Aunt Kathy does though and she shushes us quickly.
Once the bell boys leaves, we make our way to the restaurant, walking along the pathways winding through the magical rainforest. The restaurant is right on the beachfront, with umbrellas over the tables to protect us from the sun. Quentin and I run to a table closest to the beach and take our seats, before Aunt Kathy and Uncle Peter even get to sit down a beautiful lady wearing a waitress uniform comes over and hands us a menu each.
She smiles and speaks in a strong accent “Hello, Welcome, you like a drink yes?” Quentin and I giggle and she laughs with us, while we look at the menu. Luckily, it is written in English, so I am able to read it.
“Can I have a coke?” Quentin looks at Aunt Kathy for permission and she shakes her head.
“No, you can have a fruit juice.” She flips the menu to the drinks page and shows us the list of fruit juices. Quentin orders pineapple and I choose the watermelon.
“A juice is $11,000” I look at Aunt Kathy in horror and she smiles.
“Thats only about $1.10”
“Then why don’t they put $1.10?”
“Because this is Indonesia, so we have to pay in Indonesian money, just like if they come to Australia, they have to pay for things in Australian dollars.
“But we don’t have Indonesian money.” Quentin panics and we both stare at Aunt Kathy and Uncle Peter.
“Yes we do, we got some at the airport.” Aunt Kathy pulls a wad of notes from her purse and gives Quentin and I a stack of notes each. I count them, feeling like royalty with so much money. There’s $750,000. I start thinking of all the awesome things I could buy with so much money. My first thought is to buy myself a car, a flash red sports car with seat warmers.
“I know it looks like a lot of money, but you only have $75 each, so don’t go being stupid with it.”
Huh? “All this is only $75?” I hold out the wad of cash in my hand and Aunt Kathy nods and tells me to put it away. Well, I might not be able to buy myself a sports car, but I still feel rich. I’ve never had so much money in all my life. I start picturing all the lollies and toys I can buy with so much money, but I can’t decide on what to spend it on, so instead decide to keep my eyes peeled open until I find a shop I like.
In no time at all, our drinks and meals are brought to the table and we all nod and smile and say ‘thanks’ to the lady. I take a sip of my watermelon juice and the sweet taste explodes into mouth. WOW! The juice is fresh, with little chunks of watermelon in it. It tastes so much sweeter and fresher than any watermelon I have ever tasted. I look at Quentin and his eyes are wide with surprise at the taste of his drink too. We swap and take a sip from each others drink, then nod in appreciation to the amazing taste of each others drink. The juice here in Indonesia is so much better than drinking a can of coke.
After lunch we walk back through the magic rainforest and go to a massage place. On the way there I notice all the low hanging power lines, some of them so low you can touch them. I spot a particularly low power line right next to Quentin, who is looking in the other direction and hadn’t noticed it. I grab at his singlet and pull him away from it and Uncle Peter gives us both a warning not to touch the lines, or the thick poles that line the side of the footpaths.
There’s relaxing music playing when we enter the massage place and everyone is talking in whispers. We all sit down and four ladies come over and kneel down at our feet. I feel rich and important and I smile over at Aunt Kathy, but she has her eyes closed. The lady tells me to sit back and put my feet up on the foot rest. She grabs a small stool and sits down near my feet, then takes my right foot in both her hands.
Instantly my whole body tingles and tickles at the back of my neck. She massages the bottom of my foot and I feel all my muscles relaxing. For a moment I’m worried about peeing my pants if I relax too much, but the thought passes quickly and I’m grateful it doesn’t happen.
“Okay, yes? Harder? Softer?” The lady whispers to me and I smile and tell her it’s perfect, then lean my head against the pillow and close my eyes.
I think I hear soft snoring and suddenly whip my eyes open and look at Quentin and Aunt Kathy, they’re both holding their hands over their mouths and trying not to giggle. I feel the blood rush to my face in shame, then I hear the snoring again, only this time a little louder. The whispers stop and everyone turns to look around and people are trying hard not to laugh. I lift my head and look past Aunt Kathy to where Uncle Peter is sitting, his head is tilted to the side, his mouth is open and he lets out such a loud snore that everyone bursts into fits of giggles. He mumbles something in his sleep just as the ladies wipe our feet dry and stand up.
Uncle Peter stirs awake and mumbles “Mmm, that was a good nap”. The entire massage parlour fills with laughter as we get up to leave.