Love in In­done­sia


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Fang Xia is an em­ployee for the In­done­sian Takala coal- fired power plant project of China Gezhouba Group In­ter­na­tional En­gi­neer­ing Co., Ltd. It didn’t oc­cur to any­one that he would find his love here, like the Takala power plant falling in love with the land.

In April of 2014, Fang Xia ar­rived at the project de­part­ment of the Babibalu Coal-fired Power Sta­tion. At first, Fang could hardly get used to the lo­cal peo­ple’s English ac­cent and found it dif­fi­cult to com­mu­ni­cate. This made most of the work hard to carry out, but he felt that In­done­sians were very warm and friendly, and al­ways wore smiles on their faces. So Fang started learn­ing In­done­sian step by step, and tried to com­mu­ni­cate with the lo­cal peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, he would talk to cooks and driv­ers when­ever he was free to bet­ter un­der­stand the lo­cal lan­guage as well as cul­ture and liv­ing habits.

Fiyo was a univer­sity stu­dent work­ing at the project de­part­ment. Out­go­ing and dy­namic as she was, she breathed fresh air into the de­part­ment. “At first, I was not very fa­mil­iar with Fiyo. We liked chat­ting with each other and talk­ing about the dif­fer­ences be­tween Chi­nese and In­done­sian cul­tures. Grad­u­ally, we started get­ting more and more fa­mil­iar with each other,” Fang re­called.

Fiyo loves Chi­nese cul­ture. She learned Chi­nese when she was in se­nior high school, and also hired a Chi­nese tu­tor to teach her Chi­nese af­ter work. Later, her col­leagues ad­vised her to ask Fang Xia to be her Chi­nese teacher. Fang agreed with­out a sec­ond thought.

“Traf­fic jams are com­mon­place in Jakarta. Fiyo lived far away from the com­pany. Every morn­ing, she had to get up at 4 am to ar­rive at the of­fice at 6 am. We used the 2 hours be­fore work to learn Chi­nese. I lived right at the project de­part­ment. So I only needed to get up at 6. I thought it was tir­ing for her to get up so early and be­came more and more con­cerned about her,” Fang re­called when speak­ing of his feel­ings for Fiyo.

A month later, Fang re­ceived a no­ti­fi­ca­tion to be re­lo­cated to the Takala project de­part­ment. Fang

and Fiyo were upset about the up­com­ing de­par­ture.

It was at the time of the Mus­lims’ Eid al- Fitr, when lo­cal peo­ple en­joyed a hol­i­day and Chi­nese em­ploy­ees worked as usual. Fang sud­denly had no stu­dent to teach, and Fiyo could not see her teacher any­more. They just kept in touch over the In­ter­net and both felt some­thing was miss­ing.

“One week­end, Fiyo in­vited me to her home. I ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion hap­pily. That week­end, we went many places to­gether. Her fam­ily treated me, a spe­cial guest, with hospi­tal­ity and warmth. Fiyo sang along with ra­dio songs when we were driv­ing and trav­el­ing. Look­ing at the blue sky and sea out­side the car win­dows and feel­ing the soft wind, we were both very happy. She was will­ing to share her feel­ings with me and talk with me about a world of things. At that mo­ment, I felt at­tracted to her. Go­ing back to Jakarta, I worked up my courage to ex­press my feel­ings for her. Af­ter that, our re­la­tion­ship took a great step ahead,” said Fang.

Learn­ing a lot about the lo­cal lan­guage and cul­ture from Fiyo, Fang be­came more com­fort­able com­mu­ni­cat­ing with lo­cal peo­ple. When he bumped into fi­nan­cial and tax prob­lems, he would turn to Fiyo for help and ask her to do some trans­la­tions for him. The lan­guage bar­rier was in­deed a headache; how­ever, it also be­came a cat­a­lyst for love.

“Think­ing that their daugh­ter would be mar­ried to a Chi­nese per­son and live far away in China, Fiyo’s par­ents wor­ried that they would have no one nearby when they grew old, so they felt upset. At first, they did not want us to be to­gether. She told me about her par­ents’ con­cern and cried over this, but in fact, I un­der­stand her par­ents’ mind­set.”

Fang’s par­ents were sur­prised and did not agree to this re­la­tion­ship at first, ei­ther. “I didn’t tell Fiyo about this, I knew she had al­ready suf­fered a lot from the pres­sure from her par­ents. More­over, I be­lieved that if we were clear about our de­ci­sion, and re­mained de­ter­mined, par­ents will al­ways choose to sup­port their chil­dren in the end. I took time to per­suade my par­ents, and grad­u­ally soft­ened their at­ti­tudes.”

In the end of De­cem­ber of 2015, the com­pany or­ga­nized train­ing ses­sions for for­eign em­ploy­ees in China. Fang ap­plied for a leave to go back to China with Fiyo and took her to meet his par­ents. See­ing Fiyo, Fang’s par­ents found her a good girl, and they had no trou­ble com­mu­ni­cat­ing with her in Chi­nese. They all felt re­lieved. Fang took Fiyo to Wuhan, Bei­jing, and Shang­hai. Along the way, he in­tro­duced her to the cul­tures of these cities. Fiyo loved China all the more and said she would like to live in China af­ter they got mar­ried.

On Septem­ber 1, 2017, Fang and Fiyo mar­ried in Jakarta and em­barked on a new life jour­ney to­gether.

To­day, Fiyo is study­ing Chi­nese in Bei­jing. She gets im­pres­sive aca­demic marks, and plans to go for a master’s de­gree in the Chi­nese lan­guage. Mean­while, Fang is still work­ing in In­done­sia, and plans to stick to his post un­til the com­ple­tion of the project at hand.

“As China is grad­u­ally open­ing up, the bar­rier be­tween dif­fer­ent places will be smaller and smaller. For peo­ple in love, no mat­ter where they live and work, the dis­tance won’t be a prob­lem to them.” With a beau­ti­ful fu­ture ahead, Fang and Fiyo are con­fi­dent.

2016 年 5 月,方夏和菲欧在塔卡拉项目现场 Fang Xia and Fiyo at the site of the In­done­sian Takala coal-fired power plant project in May 2016

2017年大年初一,方夏与菲欧在雅加达订婚Fang Xia and Fiyo were en­gaged on the Lu­nar New Year’s Day of 2017.

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