Monday, 24 January 2011

January in Jakarta

 Not really much going on so some ramblings and things to write in general.

I actually think the days of being approached to buy watches, perfume, girls or offers of illicit taxis and hotels at the airport are almost over. In the 8 times I have been there (yes 8 times already) this year I have only had to deal with some strange man calling me boss while waiting to meet a teacher and telling the Diamond Taxi man at T3 to go away as I would never take a Diamond anywhere and certainly not from the airport thats for sure. How on earth that company got a stand there I will never know. Still I could rant about crap taxis here all the time and all it will do me is make me more annoyed so I will stop there.
I do like my trips to the airport but really only when I am flying away. Meeting people is ok as it involves sitting in a car and then getting back in a car and leaving again.
The porters do irritate me, they want 50,000 rupiah just for lifting a bag into the car. Happily they settled for nothing as go away often works wonders. But the sheer cheek of them asking is unreal, but again I can imagine tired and jet lagged people just saying yes and paying it. I remember one guy told me the 5000 I offered him would not buy him a cigar. He left rather sullenly with nothing. Cigars.....
I also got to the airport in under 20 minutes on Sunday. And yes we were going fast, far too fast to be honest and it not like we were in any hurry. Getting back was equally as fast although we went back through Kalideres and then Dann Magot to Puri Indah. The new toll from Puri is good and always empty. I need to get some photos of the part of the toll that just ends as if the constructors ran out of money. I would imagine they ran out of land ownership and could not go any further. However the toll way is great thats for sure.

So thats the trips to the airport done for now and I hope the next there is so I can fly away somewhere. Anywhere really!

The rest of the week was spent inducting a new teacher and I am doing the same this week which is fun, although there is so much to go through that I have to be careful not to over load them all. I finished my last contract on Friday and despite having the weekend off, did do the teacher pick up on Sunday. I started my new one today.
Saturday was spent shopping and relaxing in FX mall not doing much, which is my kind of day off and fun as well. The city was fairly quiet and not too busy.

Not sure what's going on with the weather as its just been cloudy through the week, very few blue skies and the only bad weather was on Thursday and then only for a few hours and then it went back to normal. In the papers there is comment that this will remain for a few more weeks maybe months yet and now dengue is become a problem because of the rain and puddles and damp. So have to be extra careful not be bitten.

I have actually had my first normal week in Jakarta since leaving for England and it has taken awhile to get back into some of the old routines. It was my first weekend here since December as well which was nice and I think it is nice to get back to normal. I will be back working Saturdays again from this weekend as well and so that will be good as I like my Saturday mornings at the center as I can get lots done in relative quiet.

I have been intending to start up a picture blog, taking different pictures of things I see every day but I seem to be very busy and forget too every day. I think it might be put on ice for a while until I become a little less busy and everything calms down again.

Time for an adventure into the city and to do something different........

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Back to Life, back to reality

Yep as the song goes, I am back to life and back to reality. Hitting the ground running as Tony Blair once said and dived head first into work and teaching and all things routine.
Trying to diet (as in cut out beer, chocolate, sugar etc) to get rid of the belly and some fat here and there as I look far too healthy for an expat, I am sure that it will happen in time.
Some things have gone rather well for me; I decided to get a netbook and so bought an Acer One for not a lot of money and this thing is rather good and fast and nice small enough to carry and easy enough to use everywhere.

On Monday I had to get back on the bike and to my delight, not only did no one steal the mirror or fuel but after 3 weeks it started up straight away which was great. Mind it covered in dust and I have yet had an opportunity to clean it, I have been hoping for rain, but there has been none since I have been back when the bike has been parked in the open.
My staff at the center have also been behaving and so there were no nasty shocks on my arrival back to work. The credit cards were not over spent, the pln bill was pretty much in line so everything is and remain pretty peachy.

On Friday  last week, I was flown back to Bali for the EF Indonesia annual conference, this year being held in Benoa, Bali. Benoa is an tourist resort spot on the east coast, almost in the opposite direction from Kuta. The area looks interesting enough for me to return and explore and the beach is golden sand with bays and coves and flat seas. Sadly it is under the flight path into the airport but even in paradise we can find something wrong if we have to find something.

Some views of the hotel

Sunrise over the pool

The beach at 7.30am 

The Ramada Resort was great, the conference stimulating and the entertainment enjoyable. Dinner on the beach the first night with free beer and then into Kuta the second night in torrential rain and power cuts. So it was hot, dark and wet. The Indian restaurant however was great and the company better and the beer cold so there was no complaints there. Sunday morning was spent shopping for souvenirs (oleh oleh) and then we took a City Link flight back from Bali. City Link is Garuda's attempt at low cost budget airline and it was ok. The plane was small and old but on time and with out stress. With all heavy rain both in Bali and Jakarta the views of both flying out and then in were the best I have ever witnessed. You could see far into Bali and tops of some of the volcanoes and then getting into Jakarta, the Thousand Islands were very clear as was the lines in the ocean between currents and colours. The clarity of the view has to be perfect. The rain must have washed the pollution away. Its back now, mind but for that short period of time it was absent.

From the airport, I took a taxi to Semanngi to visit my fiancee. Sounds simple enough but with a taxi driver who seemed  a little lost and the closure of the gap at the Tebet Toll 1 or where it is, we ended up driving around the Crown Hotel being watched by Armed guards but eventually we got there. From there to FX for dinner and a great way to wrap up the weekend.
Monday was again back to reality but with a break from it almost immediately as I had to go back to the airport to pick a new teacher up. I have been to the airport 6 times so far this year, flown to Bali twice, been on 6 aeroplanes and its not even the 20th of January!!!
I should mention that the water was again cut off at the apartment due to my landlady doing something to annoy the management I am sure and so a few strong words at reception seemed to remedy that and life is its normal status quo for the moment.

Its been rather a busy month all in all and there is no sign of it abaiting. I would like to that you all for your kinds words of congratulations and I will keep you updated on the wedding plans once I have some set in stone, but that is still a while off I am sure. 

Monday, 10 January 2011

4 Days in Bali

What a busy start to 2011 what with England and then flying back to Jakarta and then the next day flying off to Bali. Yep thats right, I took another few days out before work to relax and chill in Bali. The paradise island of Asia, or rather Paradise lost I think, but I should get to that.

After unpacking the gifts and stuff, all 23kg of it I should add and hardly any of it was for me as that is being sent out later, and then doing the laundry it was time to get back to the airport and catch the next flight out of here!!!
So as usual we got a taxi which promptly got lost and headed into the city and then with a lot of complaining and frustration turned around and headed to the airport and with some help we got there.
Flying with Air Asia meant the nice new terminal 3 at the airport with its over polished floors and great views and the obvious and natural delay that the airline always has. Surely its slogan should be 'now everyone can fly after a little delay' as that would be more correct and honest. Still never mind. I had jetlag so I was just going along for the ride at that stage.

The shiniest floor ever?

My plane arriving late

Someone actually working hard at the airport other than a tout

Exciting chairs 

Great views of planes landing, taxiing and taking off 

We arrived a little than 30 mins late and went straight to the hotel. We were staying in the Pesona Beach hotel in Poppies 1 for the night as we were moving to Lovina the next day so it was just time enough to acclimatise and relax. 

The hotel was nice although the room was per person not per room but it had a TV and AC and was only 280k with pool and breakfast. Not sure about the quite rooms but it was very quiet and quite comfortable.

What a mess Kuta is.... There is so much building work, roadworks and reconstruction going on it bewildering and it makes life there even worse. And the beaches are well terrible and very dirty. Not a good thing.

Still after a quick trip to Starbucks we found our car and driver and took the high road and slow road to Lovina through some truly stunning landscapes and beautiful places until we climbed up over the mountains and then headed into the cloudy day on the other side at Singaraja and then to Lovina.
Lovina has to be still, my favourite place on Bali, its quiet, not over priced, calm and quite opps I mean quiet and the hawkers leave you alone after a while, there is a great bar and restaurant on the beach and the trees are always in flower which is nice. Oh and the mosquitoes are really big so get the repellent on. We stayed at the Angsoka hotel again as well I like it and its fair priced, 2 mins from the beach very quite and relaxed and all the chalets are in lovely well looked after gardens. There are frogs and crabs running about at night and huge spiders that live in the roof outside and on the glass to make you go pale when you see one quickly but after  a while you ignore them and that takes some doing as I hate spiders!

The dolphin Statue at Lovina

Views from the Restaurant 'Sea Breeze', Lovina

Views around the hotel

On Thursday, it was girlfriends birthday and I thought I would be romantic by taking her firstly to Bali to celebrate her birthday in her favourite place and also to propose to her and ask her to marry me as well. So armed with ring and good intentions, I promptly proposed to her on her birthday and she said yes. So next year, I will be married and blogging all about that!!!
I am more than delighted with that result and whilst it has been a long time coming I know it is right for me and for her and that we are more than suited and am looking forward to getting married.

The rest of the day was spent in relative silence as she was still in shock and awe and as happy as I have ever seen anyone be, it was magical. 

We left Lovina and the stifling heat on the Friday and ventured back to Kuta for one last night and then to fly back to Jakarta on the Saturday. Lots of shopping was done and food ate and drink drank and we had a great time. 

Right on cue the flight back with Air Asia was delayed by 1 hour and so we got back to Jakarta for 12.30am

So tired and happy, here we all are. Back to work today and back with a jolt but a good one. 

Role on the rest of the year and lets hope it is full of more surprises for us all.

England and Beyond

I enjoyed England and catching up with my friends and family and making sure everything and one was ok and that things were not too bad.
I must admit to drinking and eating too much and I know I put on weight and have grown outwards a fair bit. So it's diet time.
The last part of my trip in England was spent with friends and family and it was a real good time visiting them all and so thank you for that.

I returned back to Jakarta over 2 days and despite the ice having to be scraped off the wings at Heathrow and drinking too much at the airport the return trip to Doha was lovely.
The next part of the haul back home was from Doha to Jakarta and thats when I knew I was returning home and in a different world, and sad to say for those that are my friends here it was not the most pleasant.
The thing about flying from Jakarta to the middle east and then onward to London is that the flights are completely different. The flight into Europe is more civilized and friendly while the flight into or out of Asia is more hostile and the service is bad. Now that is not to say that the inflight service is worse or the staff are rude but the culture of the people on the flight is different and so I guess the service has to be adjusted for that.
An example of that, is quite simply I was one of 4 western people flying onward to Jakarta and I was pushed and shoved out the way as the other passengers (majority women) got on the bus and then the plane and literally moved you out the way to be ahead of you. There was no politeness or manners just the calamity that I had left in Indonesia and did not experience in England. Quite troubled I was and very amused or bemused and BANG it all came back top me.
To make this worse, I had forgotten how polite English people are or are now, there was lots of greetings and genuine help offered whilst in the UK and that was great, that or I looked like a tourist needing help, either way it felt good to recieve it.

I sat next to a Pakistani man who could not speak English and he got me to complete his arrival card and the women sat next to him as well, I wonder if they were allowed in?? I must say I did not do it very well as well, at then of the day its not my problem. I dont mind helping but I had my own concerns but getting into the country.
But luckily despite some confusion with my departure card I was stamped and hurried out Jakarta Airport with no or little stress. I was met by my girlfriend and then whisked away to my apartment in no time.

And it was good to be back.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Indonesian BlackBerry Overseas

Happy New Year and all that and this is my first Blog of the 2011. Ironically written on the 1/1/11 which is nice!!!

I just wanted share some information about using mobile phones from Indonesia in other countries and how to get around the feeling of isolation once your Blackberry Messenger, Email, FB, Twitter etc are all not able to be automatically updated over the air.
The majority of networks found in Indonesia have links to other countries networks for a price and so you can, if you can afford it, 'piggyback' off that and carry on.
If like me you have IM3, then you are stuck, thats for sure and with my recent trip to England and 3 day forced stop over in the middle east (namely Qatar) contacting friends and relatives is a must.
My network unsurprisingly has no access to the networks in Qatar (Qatel and Vodaphone) and again no access to the UK ones (3, Vodaphone, Orange, T mobile etc) and this has caused a few problems and also released me from the stress of a constantly beeping and vibrating machine who like a hungry child demands attention all the time.
Luckily for me, my girlfriend gave me some useful advice and that was to connect into the wireless signal where ever you were.
So at Doha Airport, I eventually connected to the signal there and got full Blackberry services including Messenger which was fantastic. In the hotel again it was wireless so I had access to everything. The mall I went to in the city had no wireless connection I could find which again was annoying but not the end of the world. Even the Starbucks offered no wireless service.
In England I used Lebara which was ok as a provider but it did not allow me internet just sms and calls which were free to other Lebara users but as no one seemed to have heard of them I was not able to take advantage of it.
I could have used any other of the networks but that would have been more expensive.

Again I managed to use Wireless networks in different places I visited to take the opportunity of catching up with  email etc where I could. However in some places I could only do that with the mobile signal switched off first and then switched back on once connected into the wireless network.

At the end of the day the Blackberry's connection into a wireless network was seamless and very simple and I am very pleased I could do that.