Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Farewell 2011

Wow, that was one big year for me. In some ways it was annus horribilis what with the loss of a dear friend and teacher and the aftermath.
However on the other hand it was a magnum anni (a great year) of which I am listing through the months through this blog post.
This is my last post of 2011 as well, as I am off to Bali to celebrate the end of this year and to welcome in the new year and all the promise and hope and excitement it brings with it. Oh and maybe just maybe, too drunk to blog but never too drunk to phone mum and dad. Bali is 8 hours ahead of England so that just makes things so much better. I can call people in the afternoon and wish them happy new year before passing out. Cant wait...

I celebrated the birth of 2011 in Frome, my home town with my cousin Emma in the Wheatsheaf, coming up for air around 1am, Kebab and sick on the way home and then hungover for the rest of it.
Tony drove me to the airport and Helen said goodbye. Such good friends.
Flew to Jakarta, then flew to Bali. Proposed to my girlfriend, on her birthday and agreed the date for the wedding in 2012.
Started another year with English First, welcomed new teachers and waved old teachers goodbye. And went again to Bali for the annual conference. Ended up in a gay cafe in a power cut with friends and well a night which should be forgotten.

Trips to Singapore  due to visa issues. Saving money and arranged for another year in the apartments after loosing the will to live after looking at Kosts in Tanjung Duren.

Earth hour in Starbucks with low level lighting and the rest of the place lit up  like a Christmas tree. Visits to malls and it seems working lots and lots but still the weather was nice.

Sighting seeing through Jakarta again which is always great fun. Trip to Kuala Lumpur for the day with teachers and my fiancee which was great fun.

Visa time after another trip to Singapore. Bacon sandwiches and Strongbow in Muddy Murphys which was a welcome relief.
Time out in Yogja for a weekend which was great and nice to see Merapi and the cool and lovely Java countryside.
My blog reached 10,000 visitors which was exciting and it was also threatened to be closed by lawyers of Gary Larson who claimed I breached copyright. Best not call them names just in case they are still checking.

A month of mourning as one of my teachers died. Took time to move on  but I have.
The center celebrated my birthday with a cake and it was a nice surprise amongst all the sadness.
Took a day trip to Paris Van Java ( Bandung) by train and enjoyed the journey and the day out.

Big party at Planet Hollywood with lots of kids and someone called Petra Sihombang. Managed to watch Harry Potter finally as major movies started coming back into the country after a brief spell of absence.

Idul Fitry came and went and I spent the time in the city, avoiding the noise and the traffic which was nice. Huge riots in England caused shockwaves across the world and was saddening to see. Managed to get my SIM for another year after a trip to the licensing center in Dann Mogot.
Took a day trip out to Bidadari Island, 20 minutes from Ancol.

I dont remember doing anything useful in this month at all. Work work work...

Said goodbye to Blackberry once and for all and welcome back Nokia as I changed phones again for the 3rd time this year.
Trip to the unknown and unfriendly wildlife sanctuary at Angke Muara.

Had the chance to stay in the Mulia Hotel at Senayan which was nice and very posh. 3rd trip to Bali and to sort out the wedding with our wedding planner. Visited the 'Rock Bar' and plan to return very soon.
It was nice to return to the island although Kuta is becoming more ugly by the day.

Annual conference with English First in the Morrissey hotel next to Jalan Jaksa was a great couple of days and very upbeat.
Spent some time away from work before the Christmas break shopping and taking it easy. Christmas in the Akmani hotel and lunch at Eastern Promise made Christmas far more special.
Now flying to Bali to meet some old friends to see in the new year and enjoy the last moments of a challenging and difficult year.

Overall life seemed a little quieter, I did manage to visit 5 different countries (if you count the stop over in Qatar on the way back here), get to Bali 4 times, Singapore 2 times, Malaysia once. Visit some of Java. Get 3 different phones, and a Tab.
I also did the most exciting thing ever, I got engaged and organised a date for marriage and it is all sorted out , pretty much.

So, 2012? Lots of things in store I think. Marriage, a new home, See family and friends here, work, Travelling more. And that is just for starters.

And well there we are thats my year all wrapped up. I will leave now wishing each and everyone of you, a happy new year full or success and good fortune. Happy 2012. Bring it on...

Amazing New Year Greeting

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas in Jakarta

Spending Christmas in Jakarta was to me not the best of choices as I have always managed to celebrate it somewhere other than here (England, Lombok and Bali) but it seemed 2011 did not give me a lot of choice so I decided to move into a hotel and try to enjoy Christmas in Jakarta.

I moved into the Akmani (hotel review here) hotel in the city, near Jalan Jacksa and Sarinah. Not far from Grand Indonesia shopping village, the Monas and Gambir railway station, so it is close to most places and easy to travel out from there. The hotel was nice overall and that helped the day.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual works pub quiz at Eastern Promise in Kemang and while I was there, reserved a table for Christmas day as they seemed to have all the trimmings and the food etc to help make the day special. So I was looking forward to that.

I took a couple of days off work before the school finished for the holidays to chill and enjoy some extra time. It also allowed me to go Christmas shopping and get some bits and pieces I needed. I did my shopping in Central Park as it is next door and for a change, it was quite enjoyable. I do like being stared at in ladies fashion stores as I look at skirts and tops for my fiancee. Makes it far more fun.

Christmas Eve came and so I loaded all the presents up and headed into the city. Checking into the hotel I settled down for a bit, before deciding to go for beer and food. I ended up in Ya uhdas restaurant. The restaurant is a great place to eat and drink and the food is mainly european and well priced. The curry was good and the beer cold. The restaurant used to be in Jalan Jaksa but it moved. To get there, go past the Morressey hotel. When you see a Permata bank go right and look for a building with orange and yellow railings and awnings. It always looks closed but it never is.

Stopping off in the local Hero at Sarinah, I loaded up with beer and snacks and settled into the hotel for a night of bad TV, internet and time with my fiancee.  At midnight I spoke to many friends in England, wishing them happy Christmas as they are 7 hours behind and that was good.
At 6.30am I spoke to some sober friends in England as they were just about to celebrate Christmas day and I had already started!
Gifts opened and played with (in the corner), breakfast and then out for coffee and then to Kemang.

The AC for some reason was not working or switched on in EP (Eastern Promise) and that made it more cosy and hot. Our table was ready and the place itself was fairly packed. The meal offer was standard christmas farye for 185+++ but instead of plated food, it was actually a buffet which was really good. The food was hot, well prepared. The turkey and Gammon was really nice and despite no sprouts, everything else I would eat for Christmas was there.

 Ate all my food, and certainly drank all my wine. Thats was nice. The original wine was unavailable so I opted for the house red with arrived in a Jacobs Creek bottle, now whether it was Jacobs Creek I could not tell you but who cares, it was wine and it was good and it went well with the food and it made me smiley and  helped the day along lovely. The food as my place clearly shows was great and the fact EP provided Christmas Crackers as well made the meal far more fun and homely. It was a good choice to go there for Christmas.

Taxi back to the local Hero for more beer and then an afternoon of drinking and TV only leaving the hotel for Pizza and some coffee and then back to the hotel for TV and yes, more beer.
I phoned my parents around 8pm to wish them Happy Christmas, as is family tradition, mum was already on the gin and father was watching Morecombe and Wise on TV so they were happy. For me, this has to be the most difficult time of the year, as I do miss my family and friends back home. However, everyone back home and my fiancee have been wonderful and so the homesickness has been kept at bay.

So, Christmas in Jakarta is certainly not the best place to celebrate it, if you like lots of activity and Christmas spirit. But if you are in excellent company, have good food and fun times then it does not matter where you are as that feeling can still be felt.
Boxing Day (26th December) was spent taking life easy and doing not much. Watching the football now and  thats a nice way to end the Christmas festivities.

Friday, I am back off to Bali for New Year. I am meeting old dear friends from England which is great and it will interesting to see the New Year Celebrated in Balinese / drunken Australian style. Can't wait.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Happy Christmas


Just a quick note to say to everyone who stops by to read my blogs and notes. 

Have a happy Christmas and a joyous new year. 

Good old Norad is ensuring Santa gets about safely... Worth viewing for the sheer fun of watching him deliver the presents around the world.

Sorry if this page is slow to load

Transferring Photos

Well Christmas is nearly upon us and so that means, food, presents, trees, family, good times, parties and ultimately happy memories. There is also the spiritual side and the religious side but to be honest, that really is not my understanding or approach to Christmas but I do feel I approach Christmas in a christian way, peace and goodwill to all men and the like...

Still thats not really my point to this blog. What is, is the tedious and often complicated process of uploading photos to computers etc from phones and vice versa when pictures are taken. I am sure many new phones, pads, tabs, pods, netbooks, laptops, PCs, Blackberrys etc will be unwrapped and loved on Christmas day and then used to the battery dies and of course charged again and repeated many many times.

I take lots of photos with my camera, tab and have to then push them all together through bluetooth or cables to and fro my netbook. However for some reason I found a programme which seems quite usefully to do all this for me. The program is called Dropbox and it is so far one of the most useful things I have found  for my computer.

Very simply, Dropbox allows you upload photos from any device that has access to the internet and then it shares it with other devices that are connected to the same account, for free and immediately. I currently have it installed on 4 devices and the sharing and then storing and swapping of photos just happens straight away and with out any fuss (as long as you are signed in of course).

For most platforms and devices it is simply called DropBox, for my Nokia I am using Cool Box.

No doubt some of you will have some concerns about security or safety of materials uploaded but I don't and so I just get on with it. However I am sure the small print on their site explains everything well enough.

So click on the picture and take a look.

Monday, 12 December 2011

December nights

Its been a while since I wrote about anything normal since my last posts were all connected to my last trip to Bali. Since then its been the same and usual state of affairs, work eat sleep and the occasional dodging of rain through the week and weekend.
Actually perhaps a tad more exciting than that. The battle for the sink was eventually won and the ants have left that theater of war for now and I am sure are sat inside the wall somewhere, plotting their revenge and new plan to try and invade my apartment and take it over. I am sure they might have realised by now that they should just call it quits and head next door, where perhaps the resident is a little more friendly towards these melon carrying fiends.

At some point over the last few weeks I managed to sign for another year with English First. I am delighted with that decision and I am looking forward to another year working with great people and the students who are an endless source of fun and energy, even when they have national exams or the worlds worries on their shoulders. A few laughs and the present perfect and they seem to be more relaxed and cheery. Now to work hard for the year after or what ever will happen at the end of 2012.

Speaking of work, EF Indonesia had its annual conference in Jakarta. I am calling it annual despite being Bali for the 2011 conference in January. Still the conference was held in the Morrissey Boutique hotel at the end of Jalan Jaksa in Menteng. My review of the hotel can be found here
The conference was fantastic as usual and I am looking forward to the new books and ideas and technology being rolled out through 2012. Should be great and so much fun to teach and study. 
Actually it seems I am going to promote my company a bit more as I have been doing more than teaching recently. We had a colouring competition a couple of Saturdays ago and that was great fun. 82 kids from 3 to 9 busy shading in a picture in order to win a trophy and cash. It was a fun Saturday morning and time well spent.

Then the weekend just gone, the annual EF SWARA pub quiz in Eastern Promise, Kemang took place. 9 rounds of insane questions or insanely hard questions for the teachers to answer, all with happy hour beer prices and top food. I believe I will be there for Christmas dinner this year as the menu looked good. We will see.

All my Christmas cards and postcards have been written and if you dont get one, dont complain. I did ask everyone through Facebook, if they wanted a card to send me their address. Some did, the others never. I have lost more addresses than I care to remember but still, those I could remember have had cards sent out.
I am not really doing anything to spruce up the apartment for Christmas. Not much point really, as I wont be in it for most of Christmas and it would be only me to see it anyhows. So the cards I get will do. Next year, a tree and the usual other stuff I will do. 

However I leave you with a picture of the tree at Central Park, billed as the 'tallest musical light tree in the country' or some nonsense. The photo is not very good. Nor is the tree.

Last years

Far nicer

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Bali Beaches

Having returned from yet another trip to Bali (3 this year so far) I must admit to being refreshed and more relaxed from the time spent there. Bali for all its faults and the list is growing is still a place for me to relax and feel at peace despite the noise and chaos all around.
We flew Air Asia and arrived late at night so everything was either closed or closing as 10 or 11pm seems to be bedtime for most bars and restaurants and if you want later then you need Legion and the noise, mess and drunk loud tourists letting go and partying it out, probably to the bemusement or annoyance but acceptance of the locals.
We stayed at Pesona Beach Inn in Poppies 1 again as it is cheap, clean, big rooms and very quiet and restful.

The reason for the trip was not only to chill and enjoy the island but to meet our wedding planner, visit the hotel where we will be married and to visit the famous 'rock bar' in Jimbaran and generally have a great time. I think we did that down to the last letter and for a change I was sad to leave and return home.

We had hired a car for 250,000 idr for 10 hours not including fuel but including driver and so at 10am the next day we got in and headed towards Echo Beach.
Echo beach far away in time, is a favourite 80's classic song of mine and so the actual to chance to visit a beach of the very same name had to be to good to miss. It is also know as Canngu Beach and is about an hour from Kuta heading west.
The beach is find sandy one and has some great surf and huge waves. There are some man made water break things which prevent the aggressive sea from eating away a temple and eroding the coast line further. Still it was a nice place and I think somewhere to return to for a long visit.

Not sure the photos do it justice but the weather was glorious and the sound of the sea and the waves and the place was simply great

After some factory outlet shopping and some lunch we headed for Jimbaran and found a most delightful beach way off the beaten track but next to the entrance to the Ayana resort complex.No signs just a road and then at the end of the road is of course another temple. To get to the beach you have to climb down through the rocks and then is amazing.

So quiet apart from some fishermen and that was it. We stayed about an hour, getting burnt and then we headed for our next beach and to get to it, into the very expensive and exclusive resort Ayanna Resort and the some what famous Rock Bar.

Rock bar is a great place with greatly priced menus but worth every penny. You have to sign in, wait to be called, wait to be transported down the cliff edge in a trolley and then shown to a table. You are given free snacks, free ice cold towels and umbrellas to shade yourself from the sun. There are steps to the beach. It was a great place to watch the sun go down.

Last but not least was the infamous Kuta beach. Now I have been going to Bali frequently since 2007 and in that time the beach has been reshaped, restyled, cleaned, covered in trash, covered in dead fish etc but honestly, this was the first time I had seen it so clean and it was really stunning.

The water was cleaner than normal and the waves still big and noisy and excellent for surfing. I have so many photos of the beach and the sunset, I should really create another blog with them all in. You never know it might just happen.

That was my last Bali adventure but not the end of them. Always more to come....