Sunday, 31 July 2011

Work no play

 Long week that one. Early mornings, late nights, taxi rides, car rides, motorbike rides, trips to the doctor, the mall, excellent curry, beer and time with friends.
It all started with an Inschool teaching position in the city which was and is a new experience for me. 6 classes 25 students in most; so much noise and energy, it certainly takes it out of you. Then back to my center for more teaching and other things that seem to be happening, some not so good but on the whole all the rest are very good.
Lots of things in the pipeline all of which currently are exciting and with only 28 days before a weeks holiday, things have to remain good.
The best thing about teaching away from the center is the chance to travel and see parts of the city at different times, something I really like to do and so travelling early morning from my place to a school in Jelembar was interesting. Traffic (of course) early morning markets, people wandering around and the city getting in gear for another heat filled busy day.
Taxi journeys home too are nice as there is no fighting with traffic or anything else and a chance again to watch people and there battle to get home or to the mosque to pray.

Speaking of which,

Tomorrow is the start of Ramadhan for the islamic people of Indonesia and elsewhere throughout the world. A month of peace and good doing by the people for the people and also a month of fasting from sun up to sun down and goodwill to all.
As a non muslim, I won't be fasting but I will be trying to be observant and respectful of those that are and will support them and help them. However, I do find Ramadhan to be more dangerous on the roads as people seem to be driving worse (which is possible) and so will have to a little more patient and far more alert.

So to all my Muslim friends

'May the spirit of Ramadan illuminate the world and show us the way to peace and harmony.' 

oh and if you have any influence, could ask the mosques to turn the volume down a little. Thanks :)

Hurt my back in the week somehow, the pain came and went and then on Saturday it returned with vengeance and that has made every single thing I do painful and made me think about how I do everything from putting on socks to walking down stairs. If you never have suffered from lower back pain, I hope you never do and if you have, my sympathies are with you. It hurts.
So after much to ing and fro ing I was taken to a Dr in the clinic at the apartments who after testing my blood pressure correctly identified me as having back pain and suggested an MRI scan to see if there was any damage. Whilst I am sure it might help the damage would be in the wallet I am sure no where else. However should it continue to restrict me from walking etc then maybe I will take a trip to the local hospital and get a scan.
The pain killers make me drowsy and so if there are more errors than normal its because I am trying to stay awake.

Still, I managed quite bravely to go into the city and enjoy a day eating, drinking meeting friends and watching Harry Potter. We ate at FX in a restaurant called Dome where the burgers and pasta are good and then watched Harry Potters last movie and that was really good. Sadly not in 3d but maybe next time if it is still on in a few weeks time. After 10 years of watching the movies, reading all the books, and enjoying the DVD's the finale movie was a successful conclusion to the story although I would say the ending was a little rushed but then again it never spoiled it for me so it really does not matter.
After that we went to Kemang to wait and then meet friends for a curry and a beer. Kemang is the popular trendy spot in the city for the  young and rich and so feeling out of place settled in quite nicely. However despite its amount of bars, bistros, clubs the phone signal was somehow lacking so much as not to have one.
After an hour in Starbucks chatting with Yovita we left to the Expat Bar - Eastern Promise where we met some friends and had some great curry and conversation. Beef Madras always enjoyable.

And thats the week that was. Next week should be fun as I have a training workshop for 2 days, a student recruitment drive and lots of teaching.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


Probably 'Dust' is too short to show up in google searches but I am sure that does not matter. It been a tiresome week full of the usual angst and stresses but with some good rewards and experiences so never bad just another type of challenge.
Been observant again and have noticed a few things recently. The lack of maids in malls but more mums with prams and therefore more prams. Not sure if they have gone or they have stopped wearing uniform but as I am spending more time in malls recently there does seem an absence of maids but more family members only. However the Malls are Central Park and Puri Mall both in more affluent areas and CP is surrounded tower blocks and Universities so I guess there are lots of younger people here and Puri is certainly a richer area and so again maybe the times when I go it is family time or something. I don't really know.
Saying that, just saw 3 nannies!!!!
The water in my shower room smells, and I mean smells bad. It has to be one of the worst but also most recognisable smells and no end of Domestos or Harpic is getting rid of it. I am sure there is a reason and it ain't me. There is a really fantastic TV advert here at the moment for Harpic toilet cleaner, where a woman is visited by  the Harpic TV crew and shown the worlds filthiest toilet (proud housewife time) and with one squirt of Harpic and 30 seconds later it is the worlds cleanest. The shame of both watching it and being on TV unable to clean a toilet.
Moving on...

So I am sat in Starbucks taking advantage of free internet, free coffee and free AC and all I can say is 'mutton dressed as lamb'

The dry season seems to be in full swing and its funny how no one comments on the change as there is a noticeable change this year, sure it is still raining but only occasionally and so the days are hot and dry and dusty. There seems to be a never ending layer of dust in my apartment, the dust / dirt comes in rain, it hangs there and makes everything filthy and god knows what I am breathing in. Saying that there are fewer buses currently I am meeting spewing jet black smoke on the streets and even the noisy smokey Bajais seem to have reduced in number. The crazies on the bikes are increasing though but that has something to do with the schools being back.

So pretty random stuff this week but with all the violence, death and destruction around the world its probably for the best. Lets hope this week is a quieter safer week.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Police escorts Jakarta

Friday night, on my epic journey through the crowded traffic congested roads, I happen to be next to a very small motorcade containing someone not really important but wealthy enough to have a police escort and a car full of heavies following it.
Now in the middle of Tanjung Duren at 7pm no cares who you are or what you do, people are trying not crash, die on the road that is swamped in traffic and so it amuses highly how the rich and slightly famous can be so impertinent to have a policeman on a bike clear a path through the traffic (which is ultimately doomed to failure) so that the person can get to the next lounge appointment quicker than the other 20 million people in the city trying to get somewhere. 
I see the fire trucks stuck in traffic and no one lifts a finger for them to get moving and they sit in traffic sirens wailing while nothing happens yet, if you get in the way of the oh so important motorcade you can be arrested. So after being bounced about by other bike etc on my way home, I was not in the most passive of moods and so riding past this assemble of vehicles I cut into the front of the policeman and slowed down as I wanted to turn right, lots of sirens and honking of horns followed so I slowed down further and rode slowly. I wont be bullied into getting out the way. What can they do anyway? 
Of course I could have been arrested and probably out in jail as the legal system is two tiered and unjust for the normal person and those lacking financial support but that would have attracted attention in the press. But I never.
I am not an aggressive driver as I fear for my life most days but the sheer cheek of these jumped up people in black cars ignoring the issues everyone faces everyday is sadly all too typical. 
Worse and this is worse are wedding cars with police escorts... whats that about?
So I guess the traffic is getting to me at the moment as there seems to be just some really dumb people on the roads at the moment which more often or not is not the case as I do see some good polite driving on a daily basis often from other bikers and cars but recently that seems to change, perhaps its the weather making people crazier than normal.

As long as I am in Jakarta I am sure to comment on the traffic and the worsening situation and at some point I will begin to ask, am I becoming like them, am I being assimilated? Is resistance futile?

                                                            which one is me?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Google Plus

I managed to get an invite to join Google Plus, the latest social network site and this one is by google. I use buzz although it is only updated by tweets from my twitter timeline but at the end of the day, I am getting bored of Facebook as there is nothing new or exciting now after 5 years, everyone states more or less the same stuff every day or are playing random games as a way of passing the time. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan but I have grown tired of the games, the tagging, the pokes, the updates and the almost banal chat over it. That might upset a few people but there we go.
So after accepting an invitation to join Google+ I accepted and am now trying to marvel at its simpleness yet confusing ideas which do work.

I have quite a lot of contacts to join it as well so we will see what happens should they do that.. You can only join currently if you have a google email account (so I have read, but could be wrong) but from there it sits nicely along side gmail and the other bits google offers.
If you use chrome or firefox you can get extensions for it as well such as a twitter feed and er... a facebook feed :) (well you have to come down slowly) there are also applications available to pull all your photos and friends from Facebook and add them to G+ as well.
It links into Picassa for photos and so photo sharing is really easy. Adding friends is not difficult as you can put them in different circles and allow them to see what you want, however whilst sharing photos is easy, I am not sure yet what people can see so currently most of them are blocked.

If you want to have an invite then message me through here with your email details. and have some very useful information and ideas and tips and applications.

Why not try it, at least Cafe World, Farmville, Pet Society etc etc. are not part of G+ but then it might only be a matter of time...

Finally there is this button which seems to be cropping up everywhere you add it pretty much everywhere too.

This button is google's 'like' button, however if you have G+ and you press this button on a site, link, post, etc then the link appears in you G+ +1 tab. Which is useful when you want to refer back to a site again. Bit like a bookmark but in your social feed.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sunday Morning Jakarta

Spent the weekend away from work after getting a couple of days off. A 3 day break always welcome and much deserved. I am sure to return to it both refreshed and with the expectation that there needs to be things sorted out immediately, we will see.
So I managed to get out from work early and then met Yovita for dinner at the local mall. We went to La Biere, a name full of promise and expectation and to be honest it is really nice to sit outside and enjoy the quiet evening. The food was ok and the cost was not too much although not the biggest of portions. The beer was cold and that helped. On trying to pay with my ATM card I could not as they did not accept Permata cards. The manager said sorry, the cashier said sorry but I think this has to be one of the key things that pisses me off here, is not being able to pay through my atm card. I don't like carrying cash as it seems to get spent more quickly and I feel safer with out it. This is another place I cant spend my money. Ace Hardware, Starbucks Thamrin and now La Biere, all places I wont return too.Luckily for me there are 000's of other places to go to who will take my card and therefore my money so its not all bad.
Up early Friday and off to service the bike at the local Yamaha dealer. A good use of 2.5 hours but if the bike is fixed and running better so what. 78,500 rupiah it cost me ($6 usd or about 4 pound 50p in sterling) and for an oil change, brake clean, complete safety check and test I wont complain.
From there to Fish and Co for some good old fish and chips with salt vinegar and good it was too. Made me almost homesick (they don't serve bread and butter or brown sauce) as it reminds me of Christmas getting fish and chips for me and my parents, ignoring my mothers warning of 2 pieces of fish as the fish is big and coming back with 3 bits and getting told off by mother and told I should eat it all!
Slept most of Friday afternoon, catching up on lost sleep over the weeks and I still managed to get another 9 hours in Friday night.
Saturday morning was spent as mornings should be, doing absolutely nothing and that was simply great. Eventually I headed out to the city to Semanggi to meet Yovita and from there to Aphrodites for pie and mash and buy 1 get 1 free beer.
The rest of the day was spent watching movies and tv and chilling out which was good.
My initial plans of going to an island this weekend were scuppered so eating lots of English style food and relaxing seemed to be the best next choice.

As for today, well breakfast and coffee in Starbucks in the local mall whiling away some hours with reading and some angry birds!
Seems almost a routine now, wander over to Central Park for early morning coffee and to sit in the quiet of the mall before church kicks out and the kids start running about the place.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Planet Hollywood Jakarta and Transformers

Had a splendid week all things considered. Why? mainly because of the public holiday on Wednesday breaking things up, being paid and being able to spend time with friends which is something that can be more precious than anything else out here.
So Wednesday was spent out enjoying myself. I met my fiancee at Semanggi and did some sale shopping and browsing and then we had lunch. After lunch I had to leave her as she could not spend the whole day with me sadly and so I went off to the Marina for a quiet afternoon of chatting and the chance to partake in some beer. Needless to say Wednesday was a day well spent.

Currently at work we are running additional classes for students in their summer break and part of the activities that are held is a 'party' for the students somewhere. Last year it was Hard Rock and this year it was Planet Hollywood Jakarta.

Planet Hollywood is between Semanggi and Tebet and just after the Crown Plaza hotel. It is a little hard to spot and a not really well promoted but I guess a chain restaurant runs on reputation rather than advertising. Unlike Hard Rock, you dont see many people wearing Planet Hollywood t-shirts.
The day was full of activities and music.
We were treated to a magic show, live bands, human beat boxes, kids singing, a talent contest and all in all it was good fun.

Someone called Petra Sihombang came and sang some songs which the girls liked so that was nice. I have no idea what the songs were about as they were Indonesian but they were loud and belted out.

The event was fun and the kids enjoyed it.

The event finished a little after 2 so I headed with Yovita off to Senayan City for something to eat. We ended up in Spageddies and had pasta and a few beers.
On our way out of Senayan City we were met by a collection of Chevrolet Cars and their transformer selves. Excellent. Just a shame I might not be watching the movie as still we cannot watch hollywood movies here due to some unpaid taxes/corruption/extortion whatever. The fact remains we cant watch them. :(

 and for those that want a little bit more here is an advertisement from the UK containing a transformer.