Monday, 28 June 2010

Who, Where, Where

I receive many readers from all over the world and it is great for me to see where people are from. However could I ask as a one off, you comment on my blog and just tell me Who you are, where you are reading it (city, country) and where are you are reading it (home, work, car etc) as I am curious. For those select few that actually receive this blog please do the same.

Also I am toying with the idea of inviting guest writers to write on the blog to share their experiences where ever they are. If you are interested please let me know t through my contact details.

Always much fun to be had.

Finally, thank you one and all for taking the time to read, comment and who knows even enjoy what I see and write about.

2 weeks in June

I took a bit of a rest from blogging over the last 2 weeks as I have been tired and also work has been full on and getting home in the evening I have not really been in the mood to write lots and lots. 

The tempo at work has changed with a new manager and the helm and some other new faces. Also the start of the summer morning classes has put a lot of pressure on the team and myself. The team are doing a fine job and have been remarkably patient and tolerant. Something that I am proud of and happy with. Even more so with the late news of schedules and others changes to the center and things.

With another 2 weeks to go, it is not getting any easier and I think we are all getting tired and in need of some rest. This is the worst part of the school year as the teaching is all day with little respite. 

Away from work and the school I have been letting the bites heal (after 2 weeks now they are a just an ugly memory) and hopefully they will go completely in the next 2. The air does nothing for the healing process over here, and with the muck and dirt in it I can see why.
The hand gel is coming handy at the moment as it keeps the muck off my hands.

I got knocked off the bike on the way to work, not completely over, but I bounced between a truck and van and had the truck run over my foot, it hurt at the time but there was no visible damage so that was good. As it was a Monday morning not the best way to start the day. 
The traffic gets worse then bad then worse again and with the rain also it just makes riding around simply worse to be honest. Dusty or dirty what a choice. I cleaned the bike yesterday so lets hope it will remain clean for a week or two before I take it back to the place for another wash. 8000 which is a great price. Sunday it took about 1.5 hours as there was 4 bikes ahead of me and the place was full of kids and noise which was nice. 
Its clean now and all I need to do now is get it serviced as the next one is due. 

Been rushing around the city over the past few weeks. More beers at the marina, time in Central park. Puri Mall, Taman Anggrek, The Pavillion (PX) next to Puri, FX and a few others. Almost a blur. 
Central Park is finally shaping up to look like a mall. The factory outlets of Puma and Reebok are not helpful or nice but serve a distraction. The most exciting places are Starbucks (yes really), Domino's Pizza (30 mins guarantee) and Burger King. With the Dominos and Burger King delivering to the apartments. How fantastic is that. How fat will I get.
Almost every restaurant delivers. Starbucks won't and quite right too but with JCO doughnuts also delivering I am going to get lazier and lazier. I am already lazy as my GF calls for food. 
Central Park also looks like there will be more restaurants and maybe a couple of beer serving establishments as well. Which will be nice after work to stop by and have a couple.
However, the price of beer is going up. Bintang cans are now double what they were in 2007 (13,000 now) and bottles are over 23,000. My local Hero had Carlsberg bottles and San Miguel bottles cheaper than canned beer. Then I went and bought it all and now they have none left. It is a good job I have cut down on the beer as other wise I would be broke all the time.
There are still bars though that have specials and good deals so that helps and serves as a distraction once in a while.

The world cup has been a huge part of the last 2 weeks and all the matches have been shown. However ESPN and Star Sports did not have the broadcasting rights and neither did the cable channels so it has been antenna tv with blurry shapes and crystal English commentary blaring out. I have not really watched much of the world cup. England Algeria was shocking. Ghana USA was amazing, England Germany was disheatening. But still thats football. The most lucky thing was that the last match was on at 9pm whilst the others were on at 1.30am and they finished past 3am, so tired was an understatement.
England were dismal. There is nothing else to add in this blog. I leave it for the bars and clubs and newspapers to report and vent. 

The news stories get worse and the focus on what is important seems to be slowly slipping away. A statue in the east of the city was taken down by the local government as it deemed offensive to the local muslim population, so it has been sent to Bali.
A pop star has been making dirty movies with his girlfriends and then they got stolen and posted on the web and now everyone has been arrested under the strange pornography bill for making and distributing them. The people involved have to be subjected to dental checks and being photographed nude to ensure it was them in the films. This story has gripped the nation for the last 2 weeks.
Some Muslim clerics in the east of the city is calling for a holy war against the christians for some obsure reason and that is quite unsettling to read. 
Some local boy had to marry the cow he had sex with in Bali and then the cow was promptly drowned in the sea.
There was a 2 year old smoking 20 a day although not sure it was roll ups 
Gas bottles keep exploding as there are fake ones on sell everywhere which is scaring everyone it seems
Drug smuggling has increased 30% over the last few years 
and the usual crap about dishonest police chiefs, government bodies, lawyers etc still rumbles on

I have posted the link before but the Jakarta Post makes sense of it all and it helps to explain what happens here. Not a reporter or being paid but life in another country especially this one needs some help to explain it,

There all caught up I think. Hoping for less rain now and maybe some days not so hot as recent.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Belitung Indonesia

 A long week that one. Started slowly. Got to hump day (Wednesday) and then suddenly got better. Work for the best of it was well ordered and easy going. Everything was going well and stayed that well.
Wednesday was my birthday and I would like to thank everyone who sent me birthday wishes. Thank you.
I ordered JCO doughnuts as they deliver!!! What a great idea and I am just so lazy to go get them . Unbeknown to me my boss got me a cake and everyone sang happy birthday to me, something which did delight me and I was made to feel very humble. Then the doughnuts arrived and it was sugar rush all round and all day.
I finished work early on Thursday and I was home by 5.30pm, some thing that is so unheard of in my work and it felt great. I got some stuff done and then waited for my gf to arrive.
We were flying to Belitung for a weekend on Friday and had to be at the airport for 6.20 as we had the first flight to the island. We were not supposed to be on the morning flight as we opted for the 9am flight but the flight was going to be delayed/cancelled so we had a chance, either 6.30am or 2pm. So I went with the 6.30am. It meant more time on the island and then to return the flight back had been set back to 4.20 over an hour later, so that was good.
The taxi like normal to the airport took a little over 30 mins and so we joined the queues for flights and waited to check in. We were flying with Sriwijaya and it was to be the first time that we had taken this airline.
They do not issue e tickets but still the paper ones. So we checked in and went for some breakfast.
Anyone who knows the airport in Jakarta will know that the domestic terminal is busy, noisy, full of smoke and independent restaurtants, probably a friends of friends etc and so the choice is never good, but a warm cheese slice sandwich later we were sat in the departure lounge. Yovita noticed that she had the return ticket removed from here ticket book and spoke to the man on the desk who said it would be no problem and the ticket would be returned when on the plane. She accepted that. I never.
I spoke to the man on the spot and told him that the ticket was wrong and I wanted the right one back and now. He looked confused and then understood that I would not sit back down and so he told me I had to go all the way back to the check in desk to get it sorted. So I did. When I got there, he shouted at various people who seemed to ignore him so someone else came over and did some more shouting and then eventually it was sorted out. It took about 20 minutes and luckily the flight was delayed other wise I would have made it so.

Luckily the cabin crew and service on board was far better than the ground staff at Jakarta airport. We got fed and watered and in a short space of 40 minutes flight time and the flight was smooth and quick and it was a lovely clear day, so flying into Belitung was lovely.
We were met at the airport by a driver from the cottages and whisked away through palm trees plantations and through unfinished roads to the resort.

Belitung is a lovely island which is 40 minutes flight time to north west of Jakarta, east of Sumatra and next door to Bangka. It is full of old mines and new palm tree plantations. It is fairly rural but the roads are well looked after and there was little mess anywhere. It was quite orderly.

The resort was amazing. It was just 8 bungalows, a main building, sea, sand, smiles and big rocks. Which was great.

The views on the beach were amazing and the sun was so strong the photos do not do the place justice.

It was like a real paradise island, better than the places I had visited in Thailand, Malaysia, Spain and other parts of the world. The beaches and quality of the water is far better than the beaches around Bali and Lombok. Although Bali does offer something different. A nightlife!

But as you can see there is nothing much happenuing on the beach or the island.

 There are huge boulders everywhere and the water around them is so clear and clean and the sand is really soft. The rocks though do have shell fish stuck on them and they hurt your feet when climbing.

                                                                                I could have sat under the trees for hours, I should                   
                                                                                    still there actually or rather I wish I was

 The second day was a boat trip on the seas which were flat and despite the rain never got the boat to rock more than it would anyway so that was good.
 We stopped off at the old lighthouse, which is still in use today. It is manned by 2 men, 1 from Jakarta and one from Ambon who are employed to sit there and make sure the light works and not much else. Its pretty squalid but they just sit about the island or lie in the hammocks and do nothing. I guess they could clean the island up or wash the building to make it more pleasant for guests. You can go up the lighthouse for free although they do welcome donations. They did not charge nor want to. They seemed happy to see us and stood about and chatted for a while before retiring to their hammocks for a lunch time snooze.

 The great thing about the Lighthouse was that not only was it over 110 years old but it was also built by the British!!
The lighthouse is basically a jigsaw puzzle of iron pieces bolted together. and it gets narrower at the top. Each piece of the puzzle is numbers so it all fits together. Genius.

 The view from the top is amazing and on a clear day I can only imagine how hot and sweaty I would be to see the views. I think if I went back it would be amazing to watch the sun go down from it. Something that I might just do!

 I have seen starfish in the aquarium but not just lying around in the sea, or swimming to new homes and to pick them up was great. What happy murderous creatures they are.

The starfish were found on one side of a huge pile of sand in the middle of the sea which fills up with people to have their photo taken and then empties again. Just a sandbank and a builders delight. The sand reminded me of what Jewsons ( a builders merchants back in the UK), sells!
 Here is my cottage and it was nice on the outside and lovely on the inside. The AC was good but the water was from a groundwell so it was brown and certainly unfit for drinking or cleaning teeth but for showering it was ok, the soap was good.
There were lots of mosquitoes though at night and that is why all the beds had huge mosquito nets which did work.

 Just more picture postcard views.

I went through some pain for these photos. With beer at 20,000 for a large bottle of Bintang the need was more urgent than ever, the bigger issue was the little sandflies which live on the beaches. They took an instant liking to me and I am covered in bites. Very strong repellent with high levels of toxic DEET will keep them away. Strong winds and apparently different seasons also. But for me I am not in a world of pain with the tablets and creams keeping the need to scratch to a minimum.
As Buffalo Bill says in The Silence of the Lambs: "you don't know what pain is!". Too right. This is agony but at the end of the day with sunsets and views like the ones I shared with you, they are definately worth it.

My last day on the island was in the rain which made it cooler and so we hung around and read books, finished the beers off and scratched alot.
I had the driver take me to the main town of Tanjung Pandan to get me to a pharmacist to get some medicine as the chinese oil I was given to help never.
We eventually found a small chinese store that was open as everything else was closed on a Sunday, open and so for 6000 idr I got a tube of something in chinese which was supposed to make me feel better.
It never but it got me from the island back to my apartment where 120,000idr later I had real stuff that works and makes it all go away for awhile until I shower and then all the bites come out and play.

But despite this it was awesome and a great trip away. Not sure where my next trip will be but it for views and laid back nothingness it will be hard to beat thats for sure.

For more information click one of these (my hotel review site)

and for more pictures all taken by me

Monday, 7 June 2010

Floods Jakarta

Well it is the rainy dry season handover with everyday currently becoming a will it wont it rain day. It has rained everyday for the past 2 weeks in the part my girlfriends lives and works and where I am almost the same. It is being described as monsoon rains which I don't remember it being called last year.
It rains very heavily and then its all dry after an hour or two. Localised flooding is the order of the day, mainly due to the drains either blocked from the road, from peoples trash, the amount of rain that falls is far to big for the drains to cope with immediately and there is the chance there are no drains.
At the moment I would say it rains for approx 2 hours and then all goes. In 2 hours maybe 30 cm of rain depending on the strength of the storm. Hooray for the 13 rivers that criss cross the city as they do take all the water. For those that ride motorbikes, I am sure you will agree riding in the rain at any speed is not that bad an experience as long as your face is covered as it hurts otherwise. The roads here in the rain are beyond bad. But I think mainly because not only do they flood but the motor cyclists stop under bridges and trees to wait which slows the traffic down and riding on the left often means riding in 40cm of water and hoping the bike wont stall. I have ridden in water 60cm deep which was quite a challenge but the bike did well and was well revved through out.
The flip side of this has been some clearer and healthier clean air days (although not many) and intense heat and sunny days.
I have and I dont take any credit for these found some photos around the web on floods in the city and other parts. Just remember the floods are from rain water not burst rivers...

 Typical scene through the city, the lanes on the far left drain into the lanes where the buses on with the hope that the drains will take the water.

 Seen this, done this (although not so deep) and it is so scary

 I travel close to here quite often and it is not a nice place to be, in the rain,

 This photo is from a school in Makassar and was from the The Jakarta Post, taken recently. So don't start complaining about the schools where you come from. The students have to attend and bless them they come and still try to learn.
 This a river in Jakarta, although I suspect it has been cleaned up since this photo was taken. Still this is a common occurence when the rivers get so full and they are blocked at bridges etc. The rubbish is simply terrible. The housing over the water is mainly the toilet or shower room. Gravity flush.
If you sit and wait men come on bamboo rafts and start to take out the plastic as it is can be sold on.

You would be surprised how quick the locals are to sell you dinghys, and trips in them. I was told recently that someone paid a million to get pushed out of a flood by a gang of boys who make a lot of money in the rain!

 A train stuck in the floods. I am not 100% convinced it is a train from Jakarta or indonesia as there is no graffiti or cages overs the glass but I could be wrong.

 Just some other photos from the golden age of motoring in Jakarta. I was told this photo was taken near Glodok.
A picture from the 70s as you head out towards the city 

 Now, How things have changed. And changed so much.

But the floods remain, as I tried to explain to a great friend today, the rain sadly does not clean up the streets it just makes it muddier and dirtier. If  I have to choose then the dusty days are better I think as I dont get covered in mud and shit on the bike and a facemask helps with the air. The rains just takes the dust out of the air and puts it on the street and makes the streets dirtier!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

3d Movies Jakarta

Having had a long weekend off ( well I did still work on Saturday but it was still a longer weekend ) the decision was made to go to the movies. Having missed Iron man 2 for some reason and Robin Hood (I think it has been and gone, I could be wrong) that left us with Shrek 4 and the Prince of Persia.
Friday was a national holiday and so that meant a lie in and a slow start to the morning which was exactly what happened. We (Yovita and I) eventually drifted to Senayan City to watch Shrek in 3D.
The tickets were 50,000 each but as its 3D then thats understandable I think.
Sadly for me the movie was not as good as I had hoped and the 3d option carried it for me. Whilst the cat is always amusing it was quite serious with the jokes being entrenched.
The glasses were uncomfortable but they worked and the images were well projected and over all it was a great time and the movie ended with every singing and dancing so that was good.
Saturday we went to FX and watched Prince of Persia. Now if that was in 3d it would have been even better and it was good enough to start with. Lots of action, swords and brotherly oaths. The Hassassins could have come straight out of Life of Brian but other than that it was a fun movie with a not too predictable ending. But yes it was good and cheaper by 30,000.

Speaking of Life of Brian, I should endeavour to return here with the movie and show some of my friends it just for my amusement. Whilst the Wizard of Oz is nothing at all like the Life of Brian it does have people captivated by it from the outset and as it contains flying monkeys and a truly scary witch is a really fantastic movie. And hardly anyone has seen the Wizard of Oz. (it does kinda make sense but my writing has got a bit lost there I think!)

Anyway I digress,

I have received over 2000 hits to this blog over the course of the last 5 months and that again is some thing I am delighted with so thank you one and all for clicking and reading it. My adsense value is also staggering at an amazing £4.54 to date. So who said money cannot be made by blogging. This time in 10 years time I will have almost 1 million rupiah a truly remarkable landmark for me.

I have been asked why I never really blog about my work and what goes on all day. Well the answer is simple, I really don't want to include my daily dealings, feelings and reelings here and have better sense to discuss my employers and employees and the trial and tribulations working in a foriegn land brings. Needless to say that I am very happy with those I work for and those that pay me. I am delighted to be given the chance to work here and prove my ability to them and those I work with. And thats that. For anything else. Nope.

So apart form going to movies and having some great discussions on line about tourism, beer, blogging, and a few other things its been a saving kinda week and a heads down kinda week. I have swapped phone networks yet again mainly due to the fact that 3 allows very cheap calls to the UK and when the network does work properly it is good as any other, although it does sometimes not send messages for hours and then I get lots at once much to the distress of my gf and others.  But hey, I bought 50,000 pulsa and they doubled it immediately for me so that was helpful and kind of them.
I finally got the bike washed and now I can see it shiny again and for 8000 I will get it done more often. Mind the guys at the wash looked a but annoyed I never paid more but I only had 8000 and a hundred thousand note and I sure that they did not want to deal with that. Next time I might tip them.

Nothing out of the sublime has happened for a while to me, The lifts at the apartments seem to break down daily and there are often floods in the bike park but I dont know where the water comes from, I guess the drains are blocked!! Considering the bikes are parked in the basements basement, I only shudder to think what the water contains.
I would urge you to read the Jakarta Globe to keep abreast with what is happening here so you too can share my bemusement with Indonesia as it well worth it.

Finally, I have started to appreciate twitter and all the merryment and musings it brings. I have learnt a fair few things from the site from news to information about FB, blogging and other people so it is actually becoming a good idea. Quicker than the BBC or CNN it is providing me with some information and news. Especially Darth Vader, Homer Simpson and LameBook! Why not give it a spin.