One of my favorite things to do, whether I am traveling or at home, is to find pretty scenes in otherwise-not-so-nice areas. When I lived in Cincinnati, my neighborhood was somewhat rough, but with a little digging, I always managed to find interesting architecture, secret gardens, or other hidden gems.

Living in Indonesia is no different, and while I still haven’t had a chance to see the parts of the country that people rave about, I have found plenty of lovely things in my own neighborhood. Indonesian cities–including my own–are full of traffic, the air is almost always hazy with smog, and trash covers the streets, sidewalks, and any other available space. So of course, I’ve made it my mission to find all of the pretty places among the pervasive mess of my city.


This is a story of one afternoon’s worth of discoveries.

On this particular day, I wasn’t looking for beauty. In fact, Josh and I were looking for an office where we could get our internet fixed. Having taken an angkot most of the way, we then picked our way through the litter-strewn streets until we found the office building, which of course was closed. It was not a wasted trip, though, as our journey to the office included a pleasant surprise.

During our walk, we ended up climbing a small grassy hill and passing through a row of trees, which led us into a secluded meadow. We wandered along the edge of the tall grass, admiring the afternoon glow of the golden-green overgrowth and the wildlife that populated the enclosure.


Josh remarked that this would be the perfect place to finally take a good picture of us together. I eagerly agreed and insisted that he set a self-timer on his camera so that we could do so. There was nothing on the ground to perch his camera on, but we were determined and ultimately had to dangle his camera from a tree.

I was very pleased with the end result and though Josh easily could have edited the photo so that it wasn’t tilted to the side, I preferred the imperfect angle as a reminder of the silly lengths we went to in order to get our first formal post-marriage picture together.

Meadow Love

Of course, having discovered our new “selfie” technique, we wanted to apply it to other situations. On our way home, we strapped the camera to the fence that stands on one side of our sewer walkway. Josh set the self-timer and rushed to join me in the picture, both of us leaning into the fence to avoid finding ourselves in deep doo-doo (literally).

Sewer Love

We managed to procure our photo without plunging into the malodorous depths below, and our photographic creativity was satisfied. Well, almost. We both have a knack for finding beauty among chaos, or in this case, crap; before carrying on with our walk, I pointed out some perfect heart-shaped leaves that were snaking their way around the bottom of the fence, and my obliging photographer snapped a shot as a reminder that beauty can be found anywhere (if you ignore the stench that permeates the thick tropical air in this case).


As we exited the sewer and entered our neighborhood, we were hyper-aware of our surroundings and on the lookout for any signs of photogenic images that we may have missed before. Indonesia never disappoints in this aspect–the tropical climate here means that new scenes are always emerging, whether it’s fresh green shoots, or a perfectly reflective post-rain puddle. On this day, we found both of those things together at the gate of our neighborhood.


And so we experienced another beautiful afternoon in Tangerang. While probably no visitor to Indonesia would choose Tangerang over the country’s other picture-perfect destinations, Josh and I are finding plenty to appreciate about living in this area.

Love, Elizabeth

*All photos were taken by Josh, who understands that when I say “Wow, look at that!” what I really mean is that I would like for him to take a pretty photo in the way that only he can do.