Monday, 26 July 2010

Jakarta Buses

Living in Jakarta I see buses everywhere, all day all the time. There are several buses that stick in my mind - Transjakarta, Steady Safe, Kopaja, Metro Mini and the very scary green and white one that goes through the city at full speed and without any indicators. Then there is the Grogol express from Tangerang. The feeder bus from BSD and then the long distance buses going everywhere in the country, daily. 30 hours to Bali on a bus or 1hr 40 on a plane, 10x the cost but hmmm which would I want?
Then the Angkots and blue minin vans which run around everywhere else. Then the cancer producing Bajai, and finally the unfriendly Ojek which for me are not really a nice option. 
Last week my girlfriend was surrounded by 3 men on a bus as she tried to get off, they managed to take from her zipped up bag, her phone, money and some atm cards. She then got off and it was too late to do anything about it. The Driver and the conductor could not care and more than likely accept bribes from people like these who prey on the unsuspecting and busy. Sadly reporting the incident to the bus company, the police or anyone else is complete waste of time as frankly they dont care or have the manpower to solve this. 
On the organised and pre routed Transjakarta there is now more cases of women being groped and the police really quite unwilling to sort the problem out or the people that do that. Transjakarta, help but again are powerless. 
The Angkots that zip about at speed over charge over fill and are very dangerous to be in and have little or no safety features. 
As a motorcyclist I have to ensure I read the signs of these things and what they will do. Some buses will just pull out at speed and go straight across 3 lanes without a care, some just stop without any warning, often most have defective lights and pump out black smoke. 
I guess I am at a loss to how these situations could and would be 
sorted out and by whom. The constant announcements that police are checking drivers and stopping them does nothing to the bus drivers etc, who disregard safety for money and ignore the dangers for the sake of an extra fare.                                                               

I wont be travelling on a bus in the city thats for sure and would only get on one if it was a Transjakarta or had limited seats. The sardine cans on wheels are certainly not something I will ever plan to use. But, for those that do, just be so so wary of those around you. Zip your bags and hold them tight. 

Friday, 16 July 2010

My life since I was 4 in under 1500 words

My Life since I was 4.

I was asked to write this to help a colleague with a university topic. It was written in ink to start with but I transferred it to here for safer keeping.
To have to write such a long story, now I am 38 is going to be a big task, but lets see what kind of adventure it will be.
Well, my name is Luke, I am 38, Male, English, left handed and I am the Director of studies at EF English First Puri Indah, Jakarta. I have lived in Indonesia since January 2007 and I must say how fun and enjoyable it still is.
Before we delve into me, I must comment that I can’t or won’t get all the facts right and the timings might be a little out as 34 years is a long time to write about in a short amount of space.
My first days in education were are St Johns Primary school in my home town, Frome in England, where I spent many a happy day playing and learning. I have little or no memory of my lessons, just walking home with either my mum or neighbor as often my mum was working.
I guess the early days were spent playing and fighting with my brother. Our holidays consisted of day trips to the beach on the train, car journeys to Scotland or trips to Germany to see my family.
I had my own bedroom I remember that but we had a lodger so I shared a bedroom with my older brother.
At around 9 years old I moved to Selwood Middle school and stayed there until I was 13. I used to walk the 4km to the school everyday and it took about 45 minutes which was never a bother, except in the rain and because I went with friends it was always fun.
At this time I joined a choir in the local church, not because I was religious but mainly because I got paid to sing  and whilst not much it was certainly some extra money.
During my time at Selwood I went on a school trip to Normandy, France which was heaps of fun despite almost getting expelled or sent home for some reason but I don’t remember getting told off though, so maybe it was not all that bad at the end of the day.
At 13 I moved to Frome Community college and this was when I had to start making choices about my courses and really I suppose my future. I started to get more homework and more to do at school and it was generally a happy time.  I took up rugby and got a job as a paperboy before working part time in a local shop and stopping rugby to play American football with the local team.
The exams at the end of the day were not that stressful really and I did ok, yes I could have done better but we can all say that however my focus was somewhere else I guess. I had a job working in the towns supermarket  and I worked weekends and evenings, I had found alcohol and girls also and was playing a lot of sport so I was always busy.
At 16 I moved into higher education and studied business and finance for 2 years, earning a diploma in those areas and then again it was choice time. I had the opportunity to either go to university or to work. I had offers for both.  However I was earning a lot for my age at the supermarket, I had passed my driving test and I had bought a car so really there was not much more I wanted. The lure of work and money over rode the desire to carry on learning. And financially for both me and my family it would have been very hard to impossible to finance that so I went to work.
I was offered a job with my local supermarket ‘Safeway’ and I was a management trainee at the age of 18. I was still living at home and I had to travel around the southwest of England as part of my job which was always fun.  I was expected to work very long days every day but I was paid well and that allowed me to spend well, something which still continues to this day.
By the age of 19 I was the youngest manager in the company and it was always hard work and I had to work hard at it every single day to ensure I became the best I could be.
I was working away from home and travelled everyday and this meant over time I lost contact with a lot of friends as all I did was work.
I met my long term partner during this time  and we eventually moved in together. Our first house was rented and we stayed there for about a year, but with us earning more and getting promoted we found we could afford to buy a place of our own.
We moved to my partners home town which was also where she worked. We stayed in the same house until 2001 I think and it was a good time overall. We holidayed well and visited Rome, Cyprus, Tunisa, the USA and Canada a couple of times and travelled all over the UK.  After another promotion we moved to our final house , which was too big, too expensive but situated between our home towns so it was equal distance to both our parents homes.
I continued working in different towns and slowly but surely our relationship fell apart resulting in a final split in 2005. The split was mainly over money and I had also changed companies and that was not really liked by her.  Never mind.
So, I moved out, sold the house. I don’t really know what happened to her. I guess she got married, fat and had kids.
Eventually for me, I quit working after 16 years as I had choices – work or travel. I chose travel as it was something different as I had done the other too much. I talked it over with my parents in great detail and they were fully supportive and then at a family do I told everyone I was going to travel and so I had to, I felt obliged.
In 2006 I said goodbye to food retailing and sold my belongings (I had no need for a TV, sofa, Fridge etc), bought a ticket to the world. I ended up in Thailand for 3 months travelling around with one of my best friends. After which I went to Spain for a while then a month in Ecuador, visiting the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. The most amazing place I have ever been. 
Getting back to the UK I then studied to get my teaching qualifications before returning to Thailand, then Malaysia and Germany. I came back for a rest for a week before flying off to New Zealand for 3 months which was simply amazing.
I was offered a job here in Jakarta the day before  I flew to New Zealand so all credit to my mum who sorted the flights and faxes out for me while I was  away. I returned just before Christmas and 2 days after Christmas day I was flying again, this time to New York to see in the new year, something I had always dreamed of.  I went there with another very good and close friend and it was the best way to end a year of travel and to start a new life.
I landed in the UK on the 4th January 2007 and on the 9th I was in Jakarta and settling into my new home and adventure in Jakarta.  I worked in Cengkareng for around 18 months before being offered the position of Director of Studies at Puri. I took a short trip back to the UK at the end of 2007 to see my parents, something I am planning this year also.
And that’s it. 34 years in 1366 words

Thursday, 15 July 2010


I wrote today something that stirred lots of memories in me. I wrote my life since I was 4 on 2 pages of A4. It took 40 minutes and wow, lots of memories rose from somewhere and I now after reflecting on it, I need to get a copy and type it up and post it. 
Writing for me is a way of clearing my mind and trying to relax from everything and by doing so, everything comes out and there is nothing left.
I don't have to write about the things that happen at work either directly or indirectly, or my personal life which can have the same kind of pressures and feelings to clear out the mind as it is not really fair on those I work with and for or the people I spend my time with. They are who they are and for that I am happy. The good goes with the bad and those that know me can see what I think and what I would really like to say or do. But alas, I am often reluctant to do those things to keep the peace. Oh but how I would like to.
In my old life, the one I left in England I was not known for my temper, just my lack of cheeryness which actually was a myth as when spoken too or when I talked, most people found actually I was alive. I do know exactly what is going, its all part of my way.
Anyway back to the point, I never got angry as that was often the wrong way to be, I became very honest and very direct and that often is more effective. However sometimes I did let go. I once reduced 3 teenage boys to tears in 5 minutes, made a grown man quit and walk out of a very highly paid job and had women literally beg me not to fire them. I ain't proud of those things at all, it was part of my job and who I had to be. I don't do angry. Not now. I certainly could not do that here. 
Anger for me is not the answer as I wont go to someone else's level. I prefer my own. Control is important. More gets lost in 2 minutes of rage than a lifetime of talking and remaining in control.

Sometimes I feel like shouting at people stood at the top or bottom of escalators, people who stand in doorways so you can't get by, kick the cars that pull out and head toward you regardless, make the motorcyclist talking on his phone whilst riding brake suddenly and the list continues but I still remember the words from someone who was even more calm and patient than me.

'Let the person who is in a hurry be in a hurry and don't make it worse for them or you by slowing them down as you never know why they are in a hurry, it could be good news or it could be bad, so let them pass and wish them well"
The person that also said
"Never sit behind  truck with symbols on the back of it that say corrosive, flammable, risk of death, etc or gas tanks/bottles as when they go up in flames so do you!!!"
"When you start work worry, when you leave work stop" 

So wise and helpful.

I guess after all that writing my point has pretty much died out, mind that could be because of the Kopi Ya advert on TV which shows a motorcyclist with lots of eggs riding around and not breaking any. That is a true mystery of the orient thats for sure. Then so is buying eggs by the kilo.

There we go. Thats better

Sunday, 11 July 2010

sea shells Brighton

So I am talking to Helen in Brighton, England and she is at work and not that busy. It is summer and she has, I think one of the best be side the seaside jobs ever.
Nope, not working in the Ice Cream Van, selling Fish and Chips, postcards, rock (candy), or deck chairs but she is actually working in a 'tongue twister'. Nope not that kind although I am sure there are those places in Brighton, Helen correct me if I am wrong about that bit, but she is working in a sea shell shop.
So the truth is : She sells Sea Shells from the sea shore. The shells she sells come from the sea floor. Yes she is working in a little shop on the sea front selling all things sea shellly (if that's such a word, if not it is now). When I get the link to her flickr then I can add it. But for now I am smiling about the job and how laid back working there would be.
And here is the link........... 
Keep it up and good luck when you return to University.

So what's with the weather still.....El Nino and its pushing warm air around. According the Globe the weather is almost the same as it was in 1998, extended rainy season and shorter dry season with rain throughout. Almost as accurate as the British weather. Clear with the chance of showers, Max temp 35 min temp 1.
Mind it is still very hot here and that bit is always nice.
The Summer Academy is finally over, all the teachers are back (although is in Kupang at the moment) and next week normal service starts again. So no more 12 hours teaching days and more time to review, observe and plan things and push it all along again. Almost happy with that.
I managed to find some time to get the bike serviced and at 8.30am in the local Yamaha service station you get immediate service and it took only 30 mins to be sorted out so that meant I got to be at work early again whoo hoo!!!
Being awake so early is one, being observant is another and I managed not to notice the fact the sky was black, there was a strong wind and 200 metres from the service station, the heavens opened and down came the rain.
By the time I got to the school I was drowned despite the poncho. My shoes are still at school drying and the socks took 2 days to dry. The roads flooded out and the traffic ground to astandstill although that was mainly due to the fact the motorcyclists all congregate under bridges to keep dry causing bottlenecks.
2 cups of coffee later and wearing no shoes for the rest of the day I was fixed and ready for work.

The service was free as the bike is still under some sort of warranty. After 7 months I have done a staggering 2560 km on it going nowhere each week and not worrying about it. I like the bike more and more now as it is run in and seems to get me out of trouble and the fuel is lasting longer which is always a good thing.
A few scratches and marks but it still shines when it has been cleaned.

Saturday was a holiday which meant no school and no work and chance of rest. However it was the 10 7 10 which is lucky out here apparently and so that meant, yes... a wedding on Saturday morning.
Actually it was. My manager was getting married and so I felt honoured to be there, one of only 2 western guys there. It was also my first Muslim wedding which apart from the very big sound system and sitting around is very much the same as any other service.
We got to the place in Tangerang and the wedding was being held in the home so the whole street was closed and the place was turned into a big marquee with lots of chairs and a area for the bride and groom. I was sat in the front of someones house and no one seemed to mind. The sound system was far too loud for the area and actually I could not see anything but could hear the prayers etc as the service was carried out.
The couple exchanged rings and then shared food. I am not familiar with the rituals of the service but they both looked happy and my manager, well she looked amazing.
After photos and some talking, time for food. Then as the music started we left.
I had been there for about 3 hours in the heat so it was a good time to leave.
We got back to Puri mall and then went for a wander around the mall.
I am looking for a new sofa as mine is well rubbish and I need a new one. In Index I found a nice sofa bed for less than 2 million as it was in the sale. After being told it could be delivered on Monday at 1 and that they had new in stock, I said yes and wanted to buy one. Then I was told that would mean 200k delivery charge as it as was under 2 million. The sofa was in the sale and was originally 2 million. No flies on them!
That was still ok, so we got taken to the cashier. I mentioned the fatal words, this is never going to work and something has to go wrong when I pulled out my Permata card (Permata is the No2 bank in Indonesia) and was told they don't take Permata.
What kind of a national chain of stores would refuse a card from the number 2 bank in Indonesia and think nothing of letting the sale go?
I got up said bollocks to you and left. Index need to sort themselves out.
To calm down Starbucks.

After Starbucks I met Steve and we headed off to the Marina for the usual Saturday get together and beer up to gossip and relax in good company. The beer always makes things better.
One of the guys there had his parents over from England so that was a welcome diversion. Esia a phone network was also having a 'gathering' (company event) and were all wearing pirate hats and went off for a cruise to watch the sun go down.
Got home drunk and passed out.

On Sunday, woke early as that is always something free from drinking. I was meeting Yovita to see a movie today and decided to ride across the city as it was not too hot and the city would have less traffic as it was a holiday weekend. 30 mins to go across from here to Mampang which was nice. Parking the bike in the bike wash as it is the safest place to leave it for me and it gets a good clean, I met Yovita and headed to FX mall.
We were going to see Eclipse. My review. Too much love and short scenes, not enough vampire fighting. That said it was a good way to waste a few hours and she loved it so thats the main thing.
More coffee after to enjoy the sunset and then back to the bike and home.

The AC has been leaking all week and that has been annoying me. However after some searches on Google I went and looked at the drainage pipe and found it was dry, so after some fiddling inside with a coat hanger and screwdriver, the blockage was cleared and the water flowed again, no more dripping :D Yeay.

Busy week really with lots of little things happening and that makes for more stories and adventures. Number of malls visited this week....2 so that's better.

Finally some photos of the city taken from the FX mall City Deli which has some great seating views of the baseball park and skyline.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Homeless world cup foundation

This is a not my normal blogging but a show of support for a really worthy cause and something that should be supported and encouraged by all.

Please follow the link below and take some time to understand and appreciate the hardwork that is being done to help the homeless throughout the world through something that always brings people together. Football.

Thank you

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Hard Rock Cafe Jakarta

12 hour days are currently getting on my nerves but I do know that I have to do it and that it will be over very soon and things can get back to comparatively normal as the morning classes will have ended and we can go back to just the afternoon and evening classes.
I have all week been trying to get the bike serviced but the only day I could do it (Thursday) I had to be at the school for a meeting and I also wanted to help out some of my teachers so will try again this week.
On Tuesday I went into the city for a meeting with English First to learn and be introduced too a new set of text books and processes to ensure the transition goes well and without too many hitches. Heres to hoping so.
Getting into the middle of the city was easy as we left at 7.00 and an hour later we were at our destination. I forget the name of the hotel but it is opposite Jaya Pub and the Ibis, just up from Sarinah and it is a very posh 4 star affair.
Food for lunch was good and plentyful and there was lots of things to eat and drink through the morning although the coffee was bad and not to my liking thats for sure.
Getting there 1.5 hours early never really cheers me and knowing I was working until 9pm kinda made it worse.
The long days have been hellish and made even more so by the fact that my migraines and insomnia has crept back. 3 migraines in a week has cleared me out of Bodrex and that is worrying. However, I will say that Bodrex is simply the best thing I have ever had to cure my headaches, although the gas after must be a side effect. You dont hear of that on the TV ads!!!!

England, Brazil, Argentina have crashed out of the world cup then, all kinda lost in a humiliating way and so that makes for a more exciting conclusion to this world cup which I think will be an all European affair, maybe Germany and Spain. However all the games are now on at 1.30am here so  I want be watching any more matches as I will be trying to sleep.

The weather finally seems to be changing and the days are drier and dustier and the ozone / pollution is getting really bad. I am going to have to buy a mask I think. It was pleasing to have very heavy rain yesterday to clear the skies somewhat as the air was getting very bad. A good thunder storm is what is needed really. And Jakarta does that very very well.

The weekend was the Summer Academy party and this was a chance for the students who have attended the morning classes to get together and do things. It happens every year and is always a success.
This year was no different. It was held for 8 schools and there were about 120 kids, parents, staff and a few teachers. The event was held in the Hard Rock Cafe in EX plaza next to Plaza Indonesia near Thamrin.

Hard Rock Cafes bore me. They are the same the world over and have wooden tables and chairs and on the walls are Guitars from musicians and 'rock stars' some I have heard of and others I have not. They are also over priced. Saying that I have visited a few in the states and now 2 in Indonesia, Jakarta and Bali. However the food is always good but there are so many better places to eat here.
The man himself Hardrock

So, this party was for the kids and as I said it was very well organised. It was chaired by the one and only 'Take me Out' host - Chocky Sitohang much to the delight of the Mums and female staff and also the girlfriend who had a crazed grin on her face for 3 hours (like the rest of the women!).
It would be fair to say he was very pleasant and friendly and happy to go along with it, although individual photos were not part of the package never the less there are some group photos and once I have them, maybe I will post them in this blog.

After lunch,we headed out from the Cafe and head off in a taxi to FX mall in search of beer. The Bluebird managed to drive around one of the biggest roundabouts twice and go down so strange alleys to get us to somewhere close to where we needed to go and half the cost was getting out from Thamrin. The Saturday afternoon traffic as usual, awful.
We ended up in a bar in FX mall and despite the big signs saying all you can drink for 198,000 (for 3 hours), the all you can drink for 198,000 was not valid during the world cup. Thank you Bloeming. The bar is quite nice and the beer almost cheap and they do a range of flavoured beers which are ok for girls but thats about it. It is more pricey than Minus 2 though.
They have 3 or 4 beers and they are served in boot shaped glasses.

Moving on from there in the traffic to Aphrodite's (yes again) for a few more beers and some food. Always nice in there and food is normally good. This time was better than normal as we never had to pay for my meal as it was left off the bill, so we paid in cash and left!!!! The best way. Saved me 100,000 rupiah and I wont argue with that.
It took over an hour to get back to the apartment just in time to watch Germany beat Argentina. It had clearly been raining hard and the city had cooled down.

Back in the apartments, some bright spark has decided blood red mats are needed in the elevators, this makes them look darker and also smaller. I am certain getting them to work more reliably and faster would be a better way to spend money on them but hey what do I know?
The best thing about the elevators is when they jump up and down or the lights flicker or the doors refuse to close; 80% of the people in the elevator get out and wait for another, which means you get to travel sometimes a lot less a like a sardine.

Finally, something to smile about. The other week whilst out with friends we saw this.... It was something rare here, even rarer than seeing the mountains, Enjoy this for another week,

Taken at Batavia Marina