Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Pick and Mix

Short blog really this week as still counting down to Christmas in England and all things cold and snowy.
I have been advised to wear winter clothing when I get there. Well that advice is more than welcome, however thats all well and good but please dont forget that is normally around 30 degrees here on a daily basis and therefore I dont really need jumpers, sweaters, hats and gloves and other random  warm clothing. So I will put a jumper on when I get to my mums house and not really a minute before as I dont have any here to bring with me.

For the rest of the week, really been the usual affair. However with the threat of rain in my part of the city and heavy rain in my gf's part of the city, created some difficulties and annoyances.
Saturday we were supposed to meet at mine and then go into the city for dinner and a movie, however the rain decided to pour Saturday morning which meant all the taxis are used and traffic grinds to a standstill so our plans had to change. I was teaching until 2 and so after getting back to the apartment and then finding a taxi it was gone 3.30pm.
We had already bought tickets for Harry Potters new adventure of standing around in forests being moody, wearing very little in what looked like mid winter and not exhaling visible breath when talking, for 8.30pm and so that meant we had a lot of time to kill.
We were watching the movie at FX next to Ratu Plaza and despite the rain and traffic I got to the mall in under an hour and also by going a different way which was impressive as my Indonesian used actually got the result I needed.
We ate in the Pizza Marzano and then tried to relax in Starbucks for a couple of hours, however the Starbucks there is just not that welcoming or relaxing so getting restless we wandered about the mall for an hour and FX that is a very hard thing to do as there was nothing in there to look at for a change.
So the Deathly Hallows, great on effects and perhaps character development but I felt there was a lot left out of the film to allow for that and so lots of important things that happened were mentioned in passing. However saying that I was did not get bored and did enjoy it overall. I think that over time I will come to appreciate the movie, I actually think it  will look good on a small screen rather than a big one.
There I have said it and discussed it. Lots of hype but like a cheap pie, lots of pastry and little meat!

As I am sure some of you know, I have a BlackBerry, its useful, grown on me and now it seems Nokia was 100 years ago, however never being satisfied I must complain about the battery and the fact it goes flat after around 14 hours, whats that all about?

But to end on a high note and a happy one, I have won a prize or rather a prize from a fellow blogger who was offering to send some Swedish goodies to one lucky person who entered the competition and well, I won!!!
Top news and I am more than happy with that.

The site deserves a huge mention and I urge you all to visit and read ropcorn.com and follow the stories of Alexandra, her dog and her life in Sweden.

Thank you so very much and I look forward to opening it all when I arrive in England :)

While I am here, I think I will mention a couple of other sites that are simply great fun, interesting, highly topical and worth a read, so please follow the links and enjoy.

http://metromad.blogspot.com/ - fantastic, professional and satirical view on all things Indonesia

http://smile4meonline2.blogspot.com/ - Life as a Call Centre Worker in the Philippines, well written and always a delight to read

 http://multibrand.blogspot.com/  - A commentary on all things Legal, Political and Diverse as Indonesia can produce, which is stimulating and inspiring

http://riatumimomor.blogspot.com/ - Great insights into the daily travels of a public transport user here in the city

http://al-terity.blogspot.com/ - a different perspective on life in the archipelago

So there are some other things to read after this and in all honesty you should. They are all worth it.

Det var allt för nu och tackar för att du läser detta och har en bra vecka

Thursday, 25 November 2010

A town called Malice

Been a while and I guess I have been lost in my thoughts and concerns over the past couple of weeks, that and I have been nowhere or done much more than sleep, work, eat, sleep.
As I write (this is bit of a brain dump so should it ramble bear with me) 23 days to go to I fly home to England and all that is familiar in a distance way.

My brother who is currently serving in front line defences with the British Army in Afghanistan is also home at the same time and I am really excited about that as not only will I see my parents but my brother, his kids and his wife and it will feel good thats for sure. The rounds of beer will flow long and large and that will be good. Mother, if you are reading this, get a bigger bottle of gin, We will need to down a few large ones!!!

I gave my passport in today to be processed and have the correct stamp from Immigration put in it so I can leave and enter Indonesia legally and without any issue. I hope that Immigration are kind enough to leave me alone at the departure points and wont menace me for money or anything else like they like to with people. So that bits done and that good.

A schedule is slowly being formed for England and then destroyed and a new one written, I really dont know what I will do when I get back but I will try and see as many as I can weather and energy permitting and I am hoping some will come and visit me which is also a great idea.

I also signed my contract for another year in Sunny Jakarta which for me personally is a great relief and so it means I can focus now on other things as that been a bit of a bind and worry for me (slightly under expressed but it will do). That also means that this blog will continue for a while longer and  it means I can put some other ideas and a new blog into play from 2011 something I am looking forward to.

And that's about it for now really except a photo from this mornings queues near UKRIDA university next to Tanjung Duren. Astounding.

So other things which I am enjoying the city other than the traffic!!!

The Walking Dead on FX, Jaffa Cakes from England, Very loud thunder, My BB (really) and fighting the viruses and malware on my computer at work!!!

As for a town called Malice? Not only is it a top song but it strikes a chord:

"Better stop dreaming of the quiet life,
Cos its the one you'll never know.
And quit running for that runaway bus
'cos those rosy days are few

and stop apologising for the things you never done
'cos time is short and life is cruel but it's up to us to change
this town called Malice"

Happy Days and for those that enjoy Christmas here is a top video telling you its coming.... 1 month to go

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bogor Botanical Garden Kebun Raya

I enjoy my little trips to the botanical gardens in Bogor as it feels so different and is quiet and green and full of trees and a million miles away from anything Jakarta has to offer, which in itself is a huge shame, as the city is crying out for a park where people can just visit, wander about and sit in.
The gardens in Bogor are next to the Presidents Palace and are fairly big and every time I visit I notice something different or something has changed and hopefully for the better. 
Taking a Becak from the railway station was a lot easier than walking up the hill to the entrance and this time we went in through the entrance by the post office, which I have never seen open before.
10,000 rupiah later we are in the gardens and its kind of a nice feeling especially as you need to push your way through the vendors selling food, drinks, toys, black plastic bags and then you are in a world full of trees.

However the first sign you see is one that tells you all things you can't do, I wonder if there is a place in the world that tells you what you can do.
Odd you can't play football, but you can buy blow up balls in the park, cant drive bus in but they have little mini vans running about carrying the lazy people, Can't have fires yet the workers are setting fire to trees and rubbish which all seems a little contradictory, But then this is Indonesia.
The roads are well maintained and lined with well cared for trees, you can wander around the park and over the grass and down the small paths.

The palace is lovely and is the official home of the president. It is stunning to look at and it is a shame you cant get any closer. The gardens are fenced in and there are deer that eat the grass inside as well as many figurines and statues.

This one has to be a favourite and I have no idea what it is supposed to represent

The deer looked pretty chilled out and they are fairly tame and can be fed by hand if you want

From one of the bridges you can see the locals and their washing, the river is fast flowing and the rocks must have come from further upstream. It must be pretty impressive to see the river running when there has been lots of rain.

Just some of the flowers that were out at the time, the gardens has a orchid garden, herb garden, somewhere in there are giant rafflasias and also a nursery for plants

The restaurant is a welcome stop to eat and watch the clouds go by. The large grass slope often fills up with people and the ponds at the bottom are full of flowers.

The cactus garden and palm tree collections are great and there are some very old and very tall trees in there
There is also a museum full of skeletons and stuffed animals and bug collections. There is also a dutch cemetary and memorials to Thomas Raffles, the great Englishman who created the park, built the palace, rediscovered Borburdur, founded Singapore and wrote some of the best books to detail Indonesia.
Still once you leave the gardens, the peace, the secret corners for the young lovers, the giant ants and humid tree lined avenues, you are immediately immersed back into the randomness all of all again where money talks louder than sense and roundabouts that could have ornate statues have huge telecommunication icons instead...


Monday, 8 November 2010

Trains to Bogor

***Hello, there has been some changes with the trains to Bogor, please click Here to go to the post which explain this, thank you***

After a most challenging and frustrating week, I fancied a trip away to anywhere, anywhere not in Jakarta as I needed a break from the heat in the city and so after consulting the map, the bank balance and the choices, I settled for a day trip to sunny Bogor. 

Ah Bogor, a 'mountain resort' (not my words click here to find out who's), 60km south of Jakarta and about 230 meters above sea level. Yes its an exciting almost dry city. Almost dry as in it rains almost every day and it is almost impossible to find beer openly being sold like you can in Jakarta.

So getting up far too early on a Sunday (6.30) I headed off to Gambir railway station to meet my gf for a trip away. The taxi driver was very helpful, offering to drive me to Bogor for a princely sum and then looked and acted rather annoyed when I explained the train was 13000 rupiah and he wanted 150,000 so why go with him? 
Gambir railway station is next to the Monas and is a 4 track station which serves as the main station in the city although most trains originate from Kota. It is not hard to spot, it is lime green in colour and on 3 levels with the trains on the top level. 
Gambir is a lively place and always busy. It is both old and new with dark smokey corners and the look of a run down government building whilst being fresh and new with restaurants and bright signs help sell you things not tell you things. 
The tickets for the train are 13,000 idr or $1.30 or 70p one way on the Pakuan Express fully A/C train which is good enough for me. However finding train times are again a little hard to come by. http://www.kereta-api.co.id/, the Indonesia railway website does not list the service and http://bogorfreeguide.tripod.com/  provides lots of information but the times are out of date but the prices are correct. 
However I can assure you that there is a 7.45am and then 11am train. 
The next best thing about Indonesian railway stations is the updated customer information boards. Through out the busiest railway station in the country there are at least 0 boards telling you anything. Only some dodgy microphone announcer telling you the next train and where it is going to.
Buying the ticket easy. Being told the train will leave from platform 3 easy. Standing with 300 other people departing Jakarta for Java in all directions easy. Not knowing which train is yours and on what platform, hard.
Ours arrived on 4 not 3.

The mountains to the south seen from Gambir railway station
A train rumbling in from Surabaya 

The train to Bogor
The wire mesh is to protect the driver from stones, axes, tigers whatever is thrown at them

The trip to Bogor takes an hour and its quite a nice trip except you cant really look out the windows as the blinds are down and you face into the carriage so you can stare at each other and watch each other sleep, but apart from that, the trains are clean and bright and the A/C works.
The inside is much like a Tube train and they have female carriages only and to make you know the trains are well built and not new, original Japanese signs are still visible and in use in the carriages!!!

Bogor railway station or shed was opened in 1881 and it feels like a railway building. The other train shed is from my home town in England (Frome) and the station opened in 1850. How similar are they considering they are so far away from each other

The orange train is the ekonomi train for 2 hours and for about 20 English pence or 30 cents you can endure the same trip in window and door less carriages full of people, animals, vendors, guitar players or you can sit on the roof for free. 
Hmmm the agony of choice. 

I like Bogor railway station as it is one of the only places I have yet to encounter in Indonesia that makes me feel like I am truly in another country because as you walk out of the railway station you are met with noise, bustle, stalls, people, bemos, becaks, sounds, smells and it is a little breath taking really but I love it. 

The main entrance, and then stalls selling everything, inside the blue tarpaulin are more stalls and to walk through it is like walking through an oven.
The street is full of carts, becak (bike taxi), mini vans and motorbikes and it is almost impossible to walk through it all. 
The becaks are really scary to sit in as you are thrust in to the traffic and in the hands of a very fit cyclist who for next to nothing will pedal you to where ever you want to go. 
The bit in the middle where we actually did something is in a separate blog as I want to include photos. 
The journey back was  just as eventful really. We got back to the station got the tickets and went into the station. There was an express train waiting to leave so we get on it. The vendors who sell you everything spotted the token 'bule' and started not only selling me food and drink but also started explaining this was the AC ekonomi train and not the express. My gf eventually listened as you have to ignore them as they think you want something, which normally you dont and so we got off that train as the real express arrived and so we could go back.
Again the complete lack of signs and help from anyone frustrated everyone there, not just me but I suspect the Indonesians and the vendors as they provided all the information for free without a thank you. 
I like trains and travelling on them and despite the tardiness, lack of information and speed of the trains here, they are fun and cheap and fairly reliable and you get to see amazing things from them.