Sunday, 25 March 2012

Home living

After 2 months of riding through the city to work and  back everyday the journey does not seem to take as long as it does. I have learnt that railway tracks are dangerous places to be, that no one cares about fixing the roads and that riding anywhere there is a market is just dangerous as the traffic there seems to ignore all the rules. You know my feelings about buses so there is no point of harping on about it this time, but there will be another time thats for sure. 
I also have a sneaking suspicion that the rainy season has almost finished. The rain has just stopped, the heat has just got worse and when it breaks there are no huge downpours everywhere. I am hoping that the dry season is here now, and despite the heat being a pain, it will be better than riding wet. 

The house is still standing which is nice and I  have not really done anything extra to it. The wedding is now . key and so the bits that I still need can wait. My cooking skills have not grown but have been just constantly used. Soup and sauces are the next thing I need to learn and getting an oven as well so I can start baking and making lots of different food that is not fried and therefore has to be a little more healthy. A student gave a large lump of dutch cheese which was really kind, really tasty, really smelly and left me wanting really more! I like cheese.

The ants and cockroaches are ebbing and flowing and maybe that's the weather that sets them off. A nest is found the ants die. A cockroach is found it dies, the ants take it away and then I find where they take it and then they die. Natures cycle. There are some large black ants in the back area but they seem to be less annoying and more scary than the smaller ones so they live. The lizards are up to 4 now and whilst they crap everywhere, they are useful at eating things that move. 

I am now in the process of filling the front up with plants. My fiancee has found a cheap place in Kali Bata where the plants are good and there is a large variety. Sadly if I go then the price goes up and so instead of 7 for 100,000 I would have to pay more. But she seems to like it so I will ask her to go and get more so the front is more green than just concrete and fence. I am after frangipani, jasmine and anything else that smells and looks pretty but am more than happy to have any plants as they just brighten the place up and make me happy. I used to have lots of garden and plants back home in England so I have missed seeing the everyday and making sure that they are growing and things.

Not much to look at today but I am sure over time they will be. Acorns and oak trees as they say. I will have to re-pot at some point but not this weekend.

Finally whilst I don't have the best view of the sky the sunsets are still pretty cool when the pollution in the air turns the clouds pink.

Plus it is good to show the world the fact that my streets street lamps work and how tidy the wires are in Asia.

Shopping in Jakarta

Plaza Senayan, Senayan City, Semanngi, Pejaten Village, Puri Mall, Epicentrum Rasuna, Pasar Festival Rasuna, TIS, Sarinah, Java dept store, Central Park, Blok M Pasya Raya are all places I have been to over the past couple of weekssearching for clothes and things for the house.  Mainly clothes for the wedding for myself, my fiancee etc. and also things to make the house more a house.

Jakarta has little else going for it at the end of the day when you are in the city and there is a holiday. No real parks or art galleries or museums or theatre that is accessible to all but malls, plazas, squares, shops, stores and all over again.

However for a change my luck was in. Being 189cm and not thin with size 11.5 feet (UK), clothing is not so cheap or easy to find. But over the past couple of weeks I have been fortunate.

Marks and Spencers in Senayan City have my size in shirts and trousers and shoes. It is not cheap but the clothes and quality are worth the money. I found shoes in Metro department store. Clarks shoes from almost 2 million to 1.3 million in the sale but that was too expensive. M&S has similar shoes for a million. Shirts and trousers were easy and with promotions a plenty in the spring sale, I managed to get some good deals for clothing. In the Debenhams sale I got again shirts that fit and are tailored.
The Java department store has a great range of cheap clothes that fit and so that was good as well. Next in Central Park have jeans in my size and the exact same ones I got in England and the price is almost the same so that's useful to know.

I now have only to find sports wear and shoes to fit and I will be finally at ease with shopping here. Now the next step is to wrestle with the cost of it all.

After all this searching for clothing, I have what I need for the wedding so that's one thing less to worry about.

Now to discuss the lack of anything interesting in Ace hardware. Not to lambast it too much but it is very boring. I have been to a couple of stores recently and yes I have found what I needed but it is overpriced and far too cluttered with stuff that I am sure people buy.
Their gardening center is poor. Their kitchenware is poor. Paint and brushes OK. The current sale has so much on offer it is impressive and we walked away with a table at a great price. However there is little competition in this area of retail at the moment, actually I don't think there is any competition for Ace currently, not in chain store contender fashion. Lots of local small retailers but no major chains. I guess that would explain a lot of the reasons they can do what they do and sell what they sell.

After all these visits to all these different places I have a fairly good knowledge of what is inside and what to expect. Not sure how that helps but it does. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Adding photos to blogs


Well now I am in a quandary. Should I share my world and what is around me in both words and pictures or just in words?
I provide photos for my blog to help illustrate my world and what I see and I am not that concerned that people  copy them and take them for their own interest, but what does annoy me is the lack of acknowledgement from those that do it. True it can be argued that this is the kettle calling the pot black . However, I can relate this feeling of lack of appreciation that real authors and artists have when others steal or copy their work. Yet, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery in many ways.

All I have ever asked is for those that do take my pictures for their own needs is to leave a comment on the post from which they took the information. That's all.

So, please if my pictures interest you and help you in some way then please just let me know.

Although why people keep downloading this picture is quite simply beyond me! Its been downloaded 7 times in the past 2 months and its not my mum doing it.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Home living Jakarta


Its been a long time since I crawled out of bed at 11am on a Sunday after having a long lie in and having nothing to do early on a Sunday morning. My old routine always saw me up and about by 8am sorting out laundry and then wandering to Starbucks for breakfast before spending the rest of the day in front of the TV slowly going mad, not that everything has changed dramatically but I cannot remember the last time I did that and it was good.

The change to my life from Apartment to house is huge. I am back cooking daily and eating more veg and fruit and spending far less on take away and rubbish junk food the change is huge. The travel and long days at work also make me very tired but that means, I think, more sleep although whether it is more refreshing that's hard to say.

On the other hand, getting up early does have its merits. Yesterday I was at a Yamaha bike service center by 7am to get my bike serviced, sitting in a Starbucks for breakfast by 7.30 and at work by 10.30 after being very busy all morning. Then in the afternoon once home, beer, TV and some good old fashioned steak egg and chips and footy on the TV. So British and so easy, and much more interesting that cap cay goreng!

The bike service was less than expected and came in at 162,000 due to some work on the brakes and a tune up. I will or may invest in some new tires next month as I am becoming more and more convinced that the ones I have are no good. They are after all 3 years old and whilst the bike has only done 10000km the tires still have taken a beating. 200k for a tire is a lot of cash when compared to the value of the bike service but it is a cost that I will endure.

My weekly spending has changed now, I am cooking at home every evening and so that means more time in the supermarket but overall I am spending less in the week. My major expense now is fuel and I am spending around 27k every 7 trips or 220km. Is that good fuel economy? I have no idea. I have moved to Pertamax and that is one of the reasons my fuel costs are higher and on the odd occasion I visit Shell then it is standard fuel but still more expensive that Pertamax.

With my enjoyment for cooking still gathering speed, the investment in an oven will be a good one so I can start to do baked and roasted foods which will cheer me so much. Interestingly the local supermarkets (Hypermart at Pejaten Village, Giant just down the road and Carrefour Market in Tendean) all offer something different. Hypermart is just full of everything but the choice of meat and the cost of it, is expensive. Giant has a limited range but the meat is fairly good and not too expensive while the Carrefour has good meat but ants and small cockroaches scurrying about on its shelves. All struggle with the restocking of beer and Giant has not had any Anker beer for the past 3 weeks and has now run out of Carlsberg. Carrefour also has no Anker but still Carlsberg and well I have not been to Hypermart for a while so I cant say.
Carrefour is on the top floor through the clothing store!?

Another interesting quirk is the cost of the electricity and water here. Happily I don't have a water bill as the water comes from a ground well and is pumped into the house. How the water gets replaced in the ground and where it comes from is beyond me. There is always a little bit of black grit in the water and it cant be anywhere near safe to drink but cleaning teeth is OK for me. I really should get it analysed to see how polluted it really is but the fear of knowing is greater so I will be in glorious ignorance until I go mad later in life and then someone can say 'tha'ts from the water in the well that did that' yes, that and years of living in dirty foul air and riding in cancer emitting traffic. I am sure something like that will be said.
Anyway, the bill was a lot less than the bill in the apartment and with an AC running, a water pump running etc it makes you think what kind of markup the Apartments put on power and water and then pass to the dweller.
Indovision also sent me a bill via their TV system but for some reason I managed to delete it and so I don't really know yet what to pay, I guess a phone call to someone will sort that out.

So living in a house is a completely and interesting experience for me as everything keeps changing. The street life also is new and not always pleasant and not always unpleasant. Last night there was a guy sat outside the house trying to play guitar and try as he might, he failed. The noise was bad and not really enjoyable, luckily I am patient enough to ignore it. At 2am however people, locals playing football are a little more annoying but I cant really complain as they might be off to pray or something and it would be dangerous for me to tell them to shut up or be quiet etc so I let it pass. Why is it unwise to do such things? well the simplest answer is being western, living alone in a busy street with people that watch the house 24 hours a day and so knows when I am home or not and paying 2 pound a month to the local security to keep things safe is really no insurance policy. Even if I paid 4 pounds I am not sure it would make me feel any better. However, the 2 padlocks, barred windows and meshed and locked front door kind of helps my feeling of security!

I am now looking for some plants to make the front a bit better and hopefully a little more pretty and fragrant although the promise of giant bees coming to visit has not been well received. I will wait and see what happens but there will be plants....

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Internet Jakarta

Since moving to my house, I have been looking for a way to connect to the web in a more normal way than my Tab. I wanted to use a service provider such as Speedy or First Media but connection it seemed was not going to be easy.
First Media seemed to be the ideal package, an all in one tv and internet option which would sort out all my needs, alas not available in my part of town. Telcom requires a land line and that is something I just don't need at the moment as the cost of having a line to the house and then paying for something I wont use seems very pointless. Biznet is not an option so unless I get a landline installed I have to find another way. 
Having Indovision you would have thought that they could also provide an all in one package with both TV and Internet beamed into the house via a satelite dish but Indovision have yet to sort that out.

I am lucky enough to have a Galaxy Tab which allows me to use it as a portable wifi hotspot but I dont want to use it just for that and so I have kept looking and thinking what is the best thing from there. 

IM2, Telkom Flash and a host of other operators all provide wireless connection over the air, I assume fast internet connection through 3g or something for a price. The trouble is for me, is that the web sites are not easy to understand and the price range is vast. So knowing all this, I went off to Ratu Plaza to sort it out once and for all.
Finding Telkomsel Flash first for around 400k with 3 months unlimited use seemed a great option however when I went to pay with my ATM card, the shop could not accept it and so on the premise I will return with cash, I left and went to another store. This time I found SmartFren USB connection for a lot less (270,000k) and a months free unlimited usage and the store were happy to take my Permata ATM card. Good enough for me I thought and so 10 minutes later when the store registered it for me I was on my way home with the internet connection I needed.

Its slow but not slow enough to really worry about. The speed is good enough for browsing, playing online games and up loading photos. I don't download music or watch much You Tube so it suits me fine for now, until something better comes along. 

As far as I know as long as I pay 100k a month in top up for the telephone number then I will get a 'relatively' decent speed for browsing. I don't need to take the net book with me as I have a tab so for just general browsing at home, its just the job. 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Air Asia sales

Yep, another post about Air Asia and the fact Everyone can fly. This time a moan and groan about the way they sell you tickets and then cancel flights or change them.

Every few months Air Asia announces fantastic Sales and stupid cheap tickets to fly to anywhere they fly, often within time limits and all are non refundable and fixed dates. And to be honest for the price they offer, there should be no reason to change the flight times.

Luckily, if you fly with Air Asia Indonesia, they are so helpful they will do it for you.

I have bought tickets several times during their sale promotions in the belief I am getting a better deal and bargain only to have the airline simply cancel or change the promoted flight times. Leaving me ultimately out of pocket, frustrated and having to travel at less useful times. The reason I bought the tickets at the particular times are not only because they are cheap but also because they suit my travel needs.

So changing the flights makes me feel that they are simply a con to fill seats and a quota to impress the stock market not to help the consumer.

The flights to and from Bali in November 2011 were rescheduled and they were 'very sorry for the above reschedule.' But insistent that for me to...
'understand with the issue and accept our sincere apologies.'

Being a 'Dear Our Valued Guest,

 First and foremost, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing Indonesia AirAsia.

We deeply regret to inform you that AirAsia flight...' 

The above statement does not really help. This is classic giving bad news in a positive way.

Then in May I am flying to Bali again to sort out wedding details, I need to be in Bali before the evening as I have things I need to do. Air Asia prices are so cheap it was a good idea to buy the tickets. All the meetings etc arranged around my flight times. Then the bomb drops that the flights have been cancelled so I have had to reschedule the whole of my trip.
Yes it is my fault for believing one of the largest and most successful airlines in the world and the promotional material and promises it makes. Yes I should fly Garuda and not deal with the cheap end of the market and Yes, serves me right for trying to do things on the cheap, however like everyone else who buys these tickets, we do so because of the price and the flight times.

'Dear Our Valued Guest,

First and foremost, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing Indonesia AirAsia.

AirAsia would like to advise that our flight QZ 7624 scheduled to depart from Bandung ( BDO ) to Denpasar ( DPS ) at 17:00, effective 25th March-25th October 2012 has unfortunately been CANCELLED and MOVED to later flight QZ 7916, which DEPART from Bandung at 19:40 and arrives in Denpasar at 22:25. All in local time.'

Cancelled? Did the flight really exist? Cancelled a flight to fill the late flight to Bali I presume. Cancelled a flight which must have been filled pretty much due to the price.

Flying that late into Bali is a pain and a waste of the evening. Hence why I chose to fly earlier.

'Once again we hope you will accept our sincere apologies for any inconveniences caused, and we will try our best to improve our service continually to meet with your satisfaction.

We are looking forward to welcoming you onboard and provide you a renewed and positive Indonesia Air Asia experience.'

My satisfaction will be met if the flights I book I can actually take and then the flights are not late taking off (which is also the norm).

We will try our best - suggests currently they are not.

How will the cabin crew provide me with a positive and renewed Indonesian Air Asia experience?

The cabin crew on a whole are fantastic as are the pilots and ground crew. The service from those that operate the airline needs fixing.  Thats all.

You can also be sure I will write about my day trip to Bandung and my flight from Bandung to Bali in May.