Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Jakarta oh Jakarta

Sunny days, free and easier motoring through Jakarta, helpful staff in stores and malls, fewer buses can only mean one thing. It can't last. The Jakarta quickly described is to me as rare as a glimpse of the mountains to the south of the city from Gambir railway station (next to Monas). A rare and beautiful thing.

Mountains from Gambir Railway Station, November 2010, well just but they were visible.

So Pulang Mudik has happened, the newspapers are reporting an increase in traffic fatalities through this years mass travel home to 345 people and at least 8 million are travelling back to their home towns and villages across the vastness of the country (sources the The Jakarta Post), not including the mass exodus of the rich who without maids and drivers are forced to holiday overseas rather than wash up or do cleaning themselves. Finally with everyone preparing to end Ramadhan and celebrate Eid, the government gave the information that there was to be one more day of fasting which seemed to cause some disagreement and confusion between some Islamic leaders here but there we go. Highlights of the news through the mass travel home have to be the hijacked train into Jakarta, The local bullies, the FPI making a TV station change it's programming and the fact an estimated 2 billion sms's will sent over the holidays. 
So never dull here and with the fact that the fasting is nearly over and maids, drivers and families have returned to their homes means the city is rather empty of people and traffic although the malls are full of lost souls, looking for something to do, eat, buy, see etc

All the pictures could represent how I see people in the mall wandering around... There has to be some similarities if you just think about it. And the last picture looks like the car park at Central Park!!!

Well zombies aside, actually there is not many other places to go in the city during the week let alone during this holiday or lebaran, it just takes less time to get there at the moment. I am doing well, I have been to only 1 mall so far this holiday. 

Mind having really bad food poisoning at the start of the holiday does seem to slow you down as in you dont need to be far from a toilet and whilst I am almost over it, I would be lost without my fiance, norit (highly recommend that stuff), panadol fever tablets, Orange water, Pocari sweat and finally, Burger King. After a few days of eating little and drinking lots there is nothing like a double whopper with cheese to stuff the body back up with fat, protein and all things good and maybe it does not do any actual good but mentally it makes me feel better so why not. 

The weathermen keep threatening rain in the city and so far apart from a strong breeze, lots of cloud in the afternoon and strong hazy sunshine there is no sign of rain, I know it is coming and it will be good when it does but I will be careful for what I wish for as whilst it will make the place greener and the air less dusty it will no doubt cause chaos and misery for some, especially this weekend coming as the 8 million or so that left the city will be all be coming back at once as well.

This year like the last, I have made no plans, no travel arrangement and have no intention to venture outside of the city or anywhere too exciting, it seems to work better that way although I could do with some beach time but that can wait until November and by then I will be truly ready for it .

Some borrowed photos of Mudik....

I will assume waiting for a ferry


Looks far too familiar

A family of 4 plus luggage maybe gifts going home

Finally I wish everyone a happy Eid 2012  or Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1432 :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Independence Day Jakarta

A very busy week, lots of work and lots of things happening. Happily with a holiday slap bang in the middle of the week as well which was ultimately the best news.
Independence day 2012 Jakarta. A national holiday and that meant a day off from work and a chance to rest and take it easy.
For the school kids that means school in the morning to salute the flag and sing the national anthem and take the day off.
For me take the day off.

I spent the day in Tebet and Mampang with my finace and for a change I took my bike and rode over. It was pleasant enough on the way even though the traffic was heavy but on the way back the traffic was very heavy as everyone was rushing to Central Park for the sale, break fast, and anything else that was going on. The traffic was possibly the worst I have seen there minus the flooding.

I will comment that I saw little of any national pride from riding around and there seemed to be less flags and events this year, I guess due to the day falling in the middle of Ramadhan.

On Saturday I decided after work to meet again my fiance at Tebet so being brave I decided to ride out from Puri to Tebet. This is actually really simple had I made it really simple and not get lost throughout the trip and getting lost and taking the wrong route on a Saturday in the heat and chaos of the traffic in Jakarta is not always a good idea thats for sure. Apologies for the maps not being correctly placed on the blog, the one frustration I have is with sizing of photos maps etc in blogger.

My supposed route

Puri Indah - Slipi - Mampang - Tebet

My actual route

Puri Indah - Tanah Abang - Harmoni - Monas - Semanngi - Tebet

As you can see I went off in a different direction but that was only to find a road and route I knew well so I could get to Tebet. The journey took me about 1hour 20 minutes instead of about 45 minutes but I saw a street market, A new starbucks, The Monas and lots of buses and people. Delightful.

Coming back the road is literally a straight one to my home and once I got past Slipi the traffic died away, mainly because it was 5.45pm and everyone was preparing to break fast. Next time I will turn right and head for Senayan rather than Tomang, thats got to work and thats a task for next week!

So an interesting day and week all in all.

Finally I am posting the following award which was given to me by a fellow blogger and friend who decided that I should be celebrated. So thank you Umi for the award you are most kind.

http://umidishes.blogspot.com/ is her blog and it is quite fantastic.

I would like to mention the following people for this award as well even though some have been nominated already but hey what can I say,  I like what I see....

Umi - http://umidishes.blogspot.com/
JP -   http://smile4meonline2.blogspot.com/
Alexandra - http://ropcorn.com/
Ria - http://riatumimomor.blogspot.com/
Harry - http://www.multibrand.biz/

You all have great blogs, views and stories I enjoy reading and commenting on. Keep it up and thank you.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Bidadari Island

I went to Pulau Bidadari or Bidadari Island on Sunday, which was a most enjoyable event. Whilst it is clearly not everything the leaflet said it would be it still was full of natural charm and had a certain beauty about it.

The trip was organised through some work colleagues and there was about 10 of us that went along. To get to the island, you need to take a boat from Ancol Marina. So at 9.30 my fiancee and I were picked up and taken to Ancol and then after weaving through the whole complex, we got to Ancol Marina and then waited to get on a boat.
The weather was simply lovely and it was hot and with a nice sea breeze made the boats in the marina rock a little more than normal. We had to wait an hour or so for some reason that escapes me and then finally we got on to the boat.

Crammed into a little crusier we turned and headed into the Java sea and toward Pulau Bidadari.. As ever I wanted to take as many photos as possible but there was little chance of that on the boat as the windows had to be closed due to the spray coming off the boat and the waves were making the boat bounce a little. However, after 20 minutes we had gone across the sea, past some very big ships and were almost at the island, which from a distance looked quite nice.

On arrival we were welcomed by the islands resort staff with a welcome drink and information lunch would be served between 12 and 1. This meant we had 40 minutes or so before 12 and so we started to wander off and see how big the island truly was. I have not been to the Thousand Islands (although actually there are only 348 of them) so was excited to explore these little clumps of land in the sea.
 The islands from a plane landing look so small and compact from above so I was curious to see what they were like on the ground. Strangely enough on the ground they are small and compact. After a very small walk we were almost 75% around the island and had visited everything on the map!!

After lunch we carried on exploring and saw very large monitor lizards (about 1.5 meters) and lots of small ones running about but happily not at you but from you.
There were chalets for lease and also boats for charter to take you out to smaller islands as well.

 The sea was a greeny brown colour and not really suited to swimming as well, coming from Jakarta and being this close to the coast you have some idea of what is in the sea, but for a price you could hire canoes,
 Kayaks, have a banana boat ride and other things and thats ok if you wanted to. I did not.
On land there was a volleyball court, table tennis tables, billards, a small childrens pool, free push bikes to ride around the island (so it would take 5 minutes to go round rather than 10 on foot) and all these amenities were being used by everyone who was from the boat.
The most useful thing was the chance to take photos of things and  sea without going too far from the city and when the haze moved you could also see some of the city as well.
There was not as much rubbish as I expected around the island and the paths and beaches were all clean. There was flotsam and jetsam all over the place but mainly organic not plastic or other materials. However like everywhere else in this country there was litter but it did not spoil it for me.

You cancharter boats to the smaller island and there is also the opportunity to sleep on the sea in the huts provided. They looked very comfortable and welcoming although none it seemed were being used on the day.
Inland, rather behind the main complex, is the remains of the old dutch Martello tower built by the dutch to help guard the entrance to old Batavia harbour. It was round and was destroyed by a giant wave following the Krakatoa eruption in 1883. It is well preserved and looked after and you can climb all over it.

Finally and possibly most sadly there are some very small holding tanks for dolphins should you want to swim with them. I suspect that this has be discontinued as you can do that in Ancol now but the tanks remain.  Happily without any dolphins.

So did I enjoy it? Quite simply yes I did. It was a welcome break from the dusty and polluted city I live in and the peace and quiet, the white coral sand and shady trees made the island a welcome break from Jakarta. It also has a better IM3 signal than my apartment!! which was interesting. The beer was cold and the food was great.

I enjoyed just sitting and watching the sea go by, the birds fly and the lack of doing anything or the need to move. And finally I saw a sunset which is always nice. The boat leaves at 6pm and so we all spent the last hour on the west side staring at the crab/squid farms and the sun setting very slowly over a smaller island.

Strangely my camera managed to photograph the sun as a 6 pointed star which it is fascinating for me.

Every one has told me that there are better islands in the Thousand islands but as the trip was less than 150,000 rupiah per person and only 20 minutes away, the it was the perfect place to be. For more information, click this link

Monday, 15 August 2011

England Calling

I have been asked to try and explain some of the reasons behind the recent violence and troubles in England which flared up last week has shaken England to its core. So here are some of my views and thoughts.

England has never been free of public disorder in any corner of the land and it is not rare for police to be in numbers in the major city centers at various times of the week and year, normally to help subdue any trouble caused by drunks fighting, football matches and the odd out of control demonstration. But as a rule civil unrest is largely unheard of. 
The riots in Toxteth and Brixton in the late 70's and  the miners strike of the 80's are images and memories many people have and they were a result of government decisions for the country as were unrest and dissatisfaction that followed. They were sad times and bloody times but as a country we got through them.
In recent times there has been a change in society, behaviour and attitude from all ages. It is easy to blame parents, the media, schools, the police, government or anyone else but at the end of the day everything in England in my opinion is the result of the recent show of civil unrest.
I come from a small town of 25,000 people. It is a small country town, nothing special, it has a market and a high street. The town is near some larger cities and so is called a dormitory town as people only live and sleep there and work elsewhere. The main factories are closing, the local industry of quarrying is scaling down and so there is little prospect for the youth. 
I used to run one of the towns supermarkets and was constantly dealing with rude, bad mannered youths, drunken teenagers, drug addicts, rude adults and so I was often at the sharp end of sorting them out, dealing with threats and abuse. The local police station was not manned 24 hours and so response to an incident was always 20-30 minutes later so not worth calling so I had to manage best I could and I did. 
I used to have to talk with the local teenagers outside and despite their bad behaviour and language and attempts to steal alcohol from me, they were at the end of the day, bored teenagers with nothing to do. 
Our schools finished at 3pm, there was little homework to do. It is accepted that children can play out late as long as the parents know where they are. The parents might be working 2 jobs or might be in personal difficulty and so unable to raise their children properly or even know how to as, there is little support for some parents. The kids being kids are outside but the local playgrounds are locked, so they hang around and become bored and therefore destructive. Dared and bullied to steal food, or alcohol to get a 'high' resulted in them getting a taste for alcohol and or cigarettes. Access to soft drugs was easy and available and so once hooked into this there is little to get them off it.
The police don't have the manpower to patrol and the local government has not the time or resources to improve standards of living or satisfy the needs of many low income families.
Nothing is free and when disadvantaged teens see big cars, happy families etc, then they can become jealous, disengaged with society and turn nasty. 
The local economy does not guarantee them a job and then even if it does it is minimum wage or a low paid low status job which whilst pays for a lifestyle, it wont get them what they need. The schools try their best but they are powerless to establish discipline for fear of backlash or being sued. Neighbours cant complain for fear of retribution and so neighbourhoods become unfriendly and unwelcoming places and people then begin to fear worried about what that can bring; robbery, mugging etc. 

And that's just parts of my town. It may sound harsh or negative but I look at it like this. When at home in England I am more worried about looking at the wrong person, saying the wrong thing or being at the wrong place at the wrong time than anywhere else as there is a chance of being attacked or mugged or just beaten up. It is a sad fact but that is what happens and has happened. 

What has this to do with the trouble through the country? Well everything.The youth of today in certain parts of the country do not really have a voice or can see a future for them or a way out. Unemployment, the cost of living, reduced living conditions have created these thoughts and behaviours. The social divides are getting wider between the haves and the have nots and ultimately people don't like it.

The initial troubles started when a peaceful vigil was taken over by gangs of youths looking for trouble and they attacked a police station and the rioting started. The vigil started due to a local man being shot dead by police in north London. The rioting and looting that followed was not out of protest but out anger and frustration by people mainly young gangs of men and women. I would imagine that these people had no idea of the damage or upset that they caused to many areas of England and the troubles spread to cities which have the same social issues as London. 
The behaviour of these gangs was wrong and out of control and came as a complete shock as no one expected this level of unrest to happen from nowhere, also there was no real sign that this would happen. I think that it was society letting out a big sigh about how they see the way life is in England. It is not across the whole board, not everyone thinks like that but many do. Not many would riot like that as they know better and know that they have lots to lose, but a 19 year old with no job or prospects and living in a small flat in London has nothing to lose so perhaps to him, why not riot, steal and do damage. Prison time is limited and the fines paid will taken from benefit money he gets from the government. It can't damage his prospects of a job as there are none. 
The trouble died down as soon as the police stepped up a notch and the communities gathered round to clean up and show that the community spirit is as strong as ever and always there.

This is the England I am proud of, the way strangers get together to fix a  problem and show unity. The offenders will be caught I am sure of that and perhaps this wont happen again for a long time but that is hard to tell. I am not there. Local council, police and community leaders will be working together to try and find solutions and outcomes which will ensure they don't but I do believe the problem is wider than that. 

Employment, Cost of living,  Decent housing and go government are what is needed to boost these areas and people and show them that they can improve their life and their world, if that is, they want that.

Sunday, 14 August 2011


So its another Sunday morning and I am sipping an ice cold Latte and wandering through the blog world and I have started wondering where all the bloggers have gone. Searching through sites I find more blogs about money, diets, photos, business, news, food but very little content from people about what matters to them. Of course the blogs I follow are updated, fresh and interesting to read and I continue to enjoy them but searching out for new ones is becoming a little more complicated. I guess with Mybloglog closed there is no easy way to search for and follow other peoples blogs. I use Bloggers, Blog Catalog, to name a few.
I find reading other peoples blogs more interesting than the news and if they are commentating on news, then even better as opinions matter. So if anyone knows of a good place to find fresh personal blogs then leave me a comment, I am running out of ideas.

So I guess I should mention the terrible turn of events that have hit England hard over the past week. I am not really going to comment too much on the things that have happened but I would say that I feel proud of how people came together and cleaned up the mess left by the people who started to destroy their own communities, that is the part of England I miss. I can always comment on the amount of anti social behaviour and mindless vandalism that is apparent in England but there is also the community spirit, rallying round that still remains for times of hardship.
Facebook and Twitter were alive with comments and support for the police, the communities affected, thoughts and opinions and condemned it all. A few days later, there is nothing being said although the papers and news are still full of comments and stories and also what is happening to those that created this in the first place.
Zero tolerance has been used so many times and I think that is simply the best thing. Quite simply Zero tolerance is taking an active stance against anti social crime such as graffiti and petty vandalism. So if a window is smashed it is replaced immediately and not left so that the vandals see that action is being taken and therefore the areas affected look the same. The policing and punishment is more harsh and swift and whilst I am making it simple the concept does work. The railway station in my home town is painted pink, not a pretty pink but pink. Now this means the morons that like to spray paint every where wont go near it as it is not a cool place to be so there is little damage done there.
I can only hope that the people affected can move on and life goes back to normality and those that did the damage understand the impact they have had on their on society and England as a whole and will have helped change policing and views on civil unrest forever and pay for the damage done.
Following the riots and looting this far away through international news coverage put things into perspective and that is, that the international community was stunned that this could happen to England, safe, happy, friendly England. Well it could be now that the bubble has burst, and CNN will be doing exposes into the dark side of England instead of some other country. Lets watch this space.

Back to this side of the world, I have been working my through the week with an all time high level of teaching hours which have left me tired and wanting sleep but I also enjoyed the week all in all. In one week I have taught every age range, pretty much every type of class I can and had meetings, discussions training and time to laugh,.

My drivers licence is up for renewal this month and so I decided to get it renewed a couple of weeks before it expired to stay away from the idul fitry rush for new sims at Dann Mogot police center and sorted it out this week. Yovita helped me so much with organising an agent and on Friday he came to my place of work to collect all the pieces of paper he needed (copies of my legal status here etc) and went away. This meant that the paperwork was all completed on Friday and so Saturday we turned up at the licencing center, went straight into the photo room, got pushed past the people sat patiently waiting and then within 25 minutes my sim was ready. I was stunned. I was out of there before 9am. I should apologise to those I went ahead of as I do feel a little guilty but 25 minutes I was delighted. The cost, well thats another story.
Anyway, I am legally allowed to ride a bike in Indonesia and that will always make me feel a little better and safer though not much.
If I want to get a real 4 year sim., I must become a citizen of this country. Something in the pipeline but a way away.
The weekend is now being spent relaxing and taking it easy. I can see the need for a mop around the apartment but we shall see.
Bank Mega keep calling me at work, and it is always just before I arrive and they never call back, I still don't know what they want. Perhaps they want to give me more money for free, one can only hope. Perhaps one day they will be brave and phone later in the day, I know that they can speak good English but what are the odds of that happening when they call me.
I was in fish and Co yesterday and despite asking for Fish and Chips I got Danish fish and chips and the chips were spicy? and the fish whilst was big contained Cheese. If any Danes are out there reading this, is this a traditional dish, Fish and cheese Danish style or just marketing for the restaurant chain? I had a sprite and for soda, they are refilled for free. I think I had 4 different staff ask if I wanted another one/forth refill, the cheekly lot were counting and then with the bill comes around a 30% tax and surcharge. 30% is a lot to add on. So I guess the refills are not free at all!
Back at the Mall, some of the mobile phone shops are advertising the new Blackberry Playbook with prices between 5-7 million. Do they have any? No. So whats that about. The Galaxy Tab is 4.8 million so cheaper than the Playbook and far cheaper than the Ipad but there is also an LG one, HTC one and so on....

The week ahead looks fun, lots more teaching but its Independence Day for Indonesia on Wednesday and so that means a day off in the middle of the week which will brighten everyone's face. Happy days

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Training Days

Took Monday off to rest the back which I think was a sensible idea and spent the day sleeping and taking it easy. That's the second sick day in 2 years, I need to be careful as it might become a habit. I did feel better at the end of the day and by Tuesday was almost at 80%. However, putting on ones shoes was more than a hassle and so that convinced me that a taxi was the safer option than riding. So I took a taxi to work. That was nice and relaxing and effortless. There are times like that when I wish every day was like that, getting to work under someone else's steam and stress and no worries for me, but alas I am not super rich or rich so the bike will just have to do.

Wednesday was the start of a 2 day training workshop with EF Tamara in the city and that was kinda exciting as it was my first event like this and so I was looking forward to it. 
EF Tamara is in the Tamara Building in the city and it is the main office for all EF franchises throughout Indonesia, it is a relaxed and happy place and the training on the first day was exactly that. Happy and structured with lots of conversation and talking and it was fun to be with my peers and the head of the organisation and the operation managers. 
After the first day we had went to a restaurant and spent some of the evening talking and eating before going to a hotel for the night. Now I know I live in Jakarta and could have gone home but I like hotels and also it would save me some hassle getting in and out of the city so I opted to stay in a hotel. The hotel was the Prasada Mansion Hotel and my review can be found here.
It is behind the office buildings down Sudirman and literally 5 minutes from the building I was in. Once checked in I ventured out for some snacks and ended up in the maze of streets behind Sudirman but I got to an Alphamart and back without too much worry. Having lived in the city now for a while, I am used to the dark and narrow streets and the lack of help given. 
Despite being woken up around midnight I slept well and the hotel room was ok. 

The next morning I had some stomach problems and a high fever. Probably caused by too much chili and spicy food the night before, but the fever I don't know. It was random, I only had it really in the hotel and near the hotel, after leaving and going back into Tamara it went. 
The second days training was good and again lots was covered and I have lots to share with my team at work which in time I will as there is a major holiday to enjoy first and organising meetings sometimes can be tricky.

So back to work on Thursday afternoon, which was nice and to get back with the team as I had been away for a few days. 

The weekend, well, Saturday was at work all day to support and be with my team at the center and then the late evening was spent relaxing and having fun.
Today I finally got a haircut although getting to the Barber shop in Puri mall was so much like hard work. The taxi driver took the usual route only to find it was closed and so instead of turning around, headed through the smallest of streets and after stopping for directions a couple of times got back to a main road and eventually to the mall.
From Puri I then headed through the city to Tebet for lunch with Yovita and some more time with her for the afternoon which was good and enjoyable. I apparently ate in a famous restaurant called the Citrus Cafe. Not sure why it was famous but the food was good and not overly expensive.

Ramadan is truly here and I have teachers fasting and students fasting, everyone seems ok at the moment. The city is a little more quiet than normal but I have noticed Taxi drivers are more drowsy than usuall and motorbikes are going slower although with less care as I have seen some small smacks and hits caused by sheer carelessness.
The call to prayer has not been very loud in the morning but the prayers after fasting are very noisy. I am not complaining but I don't remember hearing 2 hours of prayers everyday last year after fasting. I live high up so I miss the drums at 3am and the rush to eat at 6 in the malls and streets. The traffic was light this weekend when I was out and about although the daily crush is still apparent. 
I  am sure as the rest of Ramadan unfolds I will have different things happen, even if I don't, at the end is a week long holiday.... yeay