Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Being busy

Its been a busy month for me and also a period of change. Gone has the luxury of laziness in my apartment and the lifestyle that went with it. This has been replaced by home living and living in my own house and commuting to work on a daily basis.
Choosing the house was pretty easy, we eventually settled and agreed on a property very close to the main drag to the south of Jakarta and on a relatively quiet and peaceful street. Yes it is in the south of the city and whilst Mampang seems to be far away from things, I am in fact closer to so much more despite living next to 3 malls. I am closer to more visited areas such as Rasuna, Kemang and the city and so taxis and trips to places are shorter and cheaper which is good.
Buying furniture and arranging AC installation, Indovision, builders to finish the house for us has been fun and tiresome but necessary and now I can say I am on the way to feeling at home and comfortable with the place. Some plants out front will be nice.

I went to Ace hardware on the weekend to get some paint and brushes so that I could start repainting the house as the landlady did such a bad job at redecorating the place that I need to do it again. It may be rented and so I don't need to care too much but I still want it right.
Ace Hardware don't seem to understand that people can actually buy paint and a brush without help and that many expats can actually decorate, paint and fix things without getting some man round to do it for them. Some even enjoy it. I am not really in the enjoy it bracket but the painting is needed.

Painting the bathroom took some doing even though it is a small room. Several coats of paint to make it watertight and less patchy but it worked and so the next room will be the bedroom and the area around the kitchen to make it more presentable.

I guess I will be spending time painting the place and making the house nicer in that way.

Away from the house, I went to Singapore for the day for another visa run and that went rather well despite landing late in Singapore and having to rush to the meeting point. I spent the day pretty much nursing tea in Starbucks and taking advantage of their free internet. The rain was pretty heavy for most of the afternoon however this did not have any impact on my flight back and in fact I was slightly early.

I have also been to immigration for photos and finger prints. This time I was ushered upstairs to a quiet area with leather sofas etc where I waited and then swiftly processed. As the immigration center for me is in Kota Tua, it takes over an hour to get there yet I was in the immigration office for less than 20 minutes. Such is life.

So busy with work, my new house, planning a wedding, trips to Singapore and spending at least 90 mins a day riding through the city to get to and from work. I am finding more and more shortcuts and that is helping. My bike is doing well and whilst it uses fuel quickly the bike seems to be in condition. I will get it serviced next week and make sure it is in good order.

Moving back into a house and setting it up from scratch also makes you realise what I have been missing.

Cooking, washing my bike, walking places, shopping for real food, sleeping on a proper bed, sleeping under a duvet are a few of the things I have missed thats for sure. All of which help me enjoy life in the city just that little bit more.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Galaxy Tab portable Wi Fi hotspot

Computer engineers are the cleverest people in the world because they make very clever things work for very stupid people and that has to just be hard work for them and for us, truly thankful.

I currently do not have internet access and well I don't mind so much as I have my Galaxy tab and its 3g capabilities to surf, tweet, email and generally keep abreast of things online and that keeps me smiling. However, I have missed blogging and updating my life to the world and that has been kind of frustrating for me.

I remembered at some point reading about how my Galaxy Tab 10.1 ( as can all Tabs ) be used as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot and so this means you can connect your wireless phone, iphone touch, net book etc to the internet and still get relatively the same speed as the tab gets when it is surfing. This is something you can do with most mobile phones but until now I never knew how.

So here I am tapping away on my keyboard and updating my blog with this news, I am very impressed.

Follow the screen shots below for guidance. The hotspot is secure and works for up to 8 devices although I would not like to see the speed for 8 devices pulling data from a 3G signal all at once.

From the home screen hit the apps button at the top right of the screen and then find the 'settings' icon and press.

This will then open up the settings screen and you need the top one, Wireless and networks. Press that and then find 'Tethering and portable hotspot'.

 Select that and then tick the box for 'Portable Wi-Fi hotspot' and you are almost there.

Lastly select ' Configure portable Wi-Fi hotspot' and a pop up screen will appear for all the details. If you select the 'show password' box it will reveal the key you need to type into the screen on your other device to ensure connection.

And thats it from the Tab side of things. If you look closely enough you will see on the bottom of the screen shots a blue symbol, this means the hotspot is active.

For your device you are going to use to connect to the Tab you need to ensure it is able to search for wireless connections and then when it finds the Android Hotspot ( the network SSID by default) you then tap the key into the box that pops up and you should be connected.

If not, well try again and make sure your devices are able to connect wireless.

But it works for me and my netbook and my nokia phone... lovely.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Street Noises

Back in 2007 when I arrived in Jakarta, I lived in a house in a nice suburb of Cengkareng, West Jakarta. It was a 6 bedroom house with maid quarters, ensuite room, and it was a shared teachers house so it was friendly and communal. Just what was needed for my first year. It was also less than 100 meters to the entrance to the local kampung or village area so there were always sounds of street vendors and people shouting and motorbikes racing round. I then moved a few streets up to a smaller house opposite a kindergarten school where they played the same song every morning for over a year. But there was little else in the way of noise. I remember fondly riding my bike from that house to the big teachers house and balancing my dirty washing basket or clean washing on the bike over speed bumps and in and out of cars.
That house was a medium sized house with 3 bedrooms and it was very cosy.

Not long after that, I moved to Puri Indah to start my new job, position etc and so moved into a 6 bedroom house which was and still is mostly an impressive house. It was huge. I stayed there for around 5 months and then moved to my apartment at next to Central Park. The housing in Puri was great and there was little noise from vendors or bikes except the veg seller (sayuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrr) who used to shout 'sayur' every morning at 7.

Living on the 23rd floor at Mediterannia there were no such sounds, although the motorbikes did still make a lot of noise all the time with the sounds rattling around the apartments. The odd car alarm going off after being activated by thunder used to make me chuckle a lot.

The one sound  I heard more than anything else at the apartments was the call to prayer from the local mosques all competing or something at prayer time. I never got annoyed by the sounds as it became just part of the background noise you hear on a daily basis.

Then I moved to Mampang and a street not too far from a kampung area but not too close. The street is a busy one and there are times when it is very noisy and there are times when it is very very quiet. The most noise I hear is the continual drone of motorbike engines as they go up and down all the time. There is a big boarding house across from my house and that often has music blaring or someone has a guitar and tries to play it into the early hours of the morning.

Surprisingly enough I don't hear any call to prayer and I find that a little strange but OK. I don't mind that much. I do hear to my annoyance more than any thing else the Satay man selling his wares with the most annoying loud car horn to attract buyers. 4 beeps every 20 seconds so it seems. I don't even mind when he stops outside and the smell wafts into the house. I like the smell but not the sound. The 'tock tock tock' of another salesman is OK. Then there is a the sound of a piece of wire being rattled around a frying pan, not sure what that is for. The horn noise of the bread man. The happy Walls ice cream sound. I heard whistling the other night and so can only assume it was the sound of the steam corn man going by. I never looked.

The rubbish collectors have their own calls but I have not recognised that one yet and the veg and the fruit seller seem to be very quiet.

So many sounds through the day and into the night are nice. I don't complain, it is actually quite pleasant to hear the sounds of life around me. The apartment was sterile and devoid of any life in that respect. Just the knock on the door of someone delivering water or food.

Moving back into a house has been a great experience and I am happy to have done so. True it is a way to work but the journey has yet to start to hurt or bore me. I am tanning up nicely! I am learning more about life in Indonesia and experiencing it everyday. By the end of the month I will know how much to pay the local security, the head of the street and the garbage collectors. I am looking forward to making friends with the veg seller and getting my veg from her. I already know the local laundry guys and they already know my name which helps as everytime they ask for my mobile number I shrug and say I dont know. As I dont.

I have borrowed these pictures and will
replace them  when I take my own.
However the guys that fish out what ever they fish out from the open drains in front of the house confuse me. I don't think I would like to that, unless I drop my keys and I am not planning to do that anytime soon.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Commuting in Jakarta

So its been a couple of weeks now since I moved into South Jakarta and to be honest, I am not there enough to really appreciate the area, the sounds, the noise, the calm, anything. I leave for work at 9.30 and get home around 8.
I am not complaining about this as I am actually enjoying the ride both to work and from work and despite the weather, the traffic, the heat, the pollution and the fact that I am constantly alert for the risk of being killed by the other riders, drivers etc around me, so far so good.

I work in the west of the City and the reason I moved south was a purely personal one. So I cant complain as it is my choice. Back in the UK when I worked I had to travel over an hour each way in a car every day for over 15 years for work so having to travel to work is hardly a new thing for me. However when I tell people here that I have to travel across the city it is met with 'that's so far' and 'that's a long trip'. Yes it is. But actually I am on my bike and when I ride past those lost souls in their AC radio playing fuel drinking cars I don't see the trip as 'far' or 'long' as I am moving and getting closer to my destination every second. It is a long way but compared to the cars and buses that sit and wait my journey will always be a quicker one.

The bad traffic spots for me are in the mornings at Mampang, Polda Semanngi, Palmerah Market, the busway at Kebon Jeruk, Around Binus. In the evening, Kebon Jeruk Busway, Senyan City, Around Blok M and of course Mampang. I have cut out Semanggi, Slipi and Taman Anggrek in my trip so I am moving a little more freer. Of course you have to argue what exactly is bad traffic. I would put it down to. Bad traffic is when everything has stopped moving including the motorbikes and for at least 5 minutes. Not because of traffic lights or stupid policemen unable to direct traffic but to the sheer volume of traffic.

Water always flows to the lowest point and like water, motorbikes also find a way to keep moving. The erratic swerving in and out of stationary cars keeps things moving along. Racing off at the lights like Motor GP keeps the cars together and the bikes together. Dangerous? yes, stupid? yes, part of that? yes, necessary? no not really but I want to get home or to work.

My trip is a little short of 20km each way and the time is takes is currently no less than 40 minutes. Due to it being Jakarta there is no upper limit. My first trip to work took me a long way out of way to get to work and the my first trip home took me over 3 very bad traffic spots so I had to change them, thats for sure.

So for those that know the city. You can get from Puri Indah to Senayan without a toll in 20 minutes, Blok M in 30 and Tebet in 50. Mind that's on a bike.

My journey into work is Mampang (traffic) to Palmerah (following the toll), then Palmerah to Kebon Jeruk doing a U turn into Meruya for Srenseng and then down into Pesanggarhan and finally reaching Puri.

This journey is OK as I dont have to fight with buses for long and once I am past the Sultan Hotel the traffic thins out until the busy streets around Palmerah and Kebon Jeruk, with countless blue mini vans doing the rounds, Uni students getting into Binus, people at Palmerah Market and then the usual congestion that goes with out saying. No trucks, few buses just cars and lots of them. Great.

Getting home is slightly more of a challenge but still it is not as bad as I thought. I had given myself and hour and a half to get home but I have been doing it in 45 to 55 minutes.

The journey home is Pesanggarahan, Permata Hijau, Senayan City, Blok M, Mampang to make it simple.

I have to get to the bus way for Pondok Indah, hook a left at Permata Hijau and then cross the railways tracks, ride past 2 of the cities best malls (both in Senayan) then the one way system into and around Blok M and then it is pretty much a straight road into Mampang. There is of course a lot of bikes cars and buses but the traffic so far has been moving all the time and that has been a great relief. Even in the rain the trip home has not been too bad.

Riding in the bus lane? Only at night and on a couple of sections with others.
Jumping lights? No there are too many policemen waving at the traffic and it is too dangerous
Holes in the road? Yes that comes as standard
Crazy traffic and road users? I get the deluxe version

As for fuel, I have learnt I think that subsidised fuel at 4500 a litre whilst cheap does not last long nor give me any extra power into the bike, in fact with Premium I am refilling every 5 trips where as with Pertamax at 8700 a litre it is around 8 trips and the bike seems more responsive,. perhaps its all in my mind but the bike feels better with the better fuel.

So my daily road trip is a big one and it is a challenge but I feel I know even more roads and back streets of the city and am more confident to ride through places that I have never heard of and probably never see many white faces on a weekly basis.

Ride straight, not too fast, not too slow, in a line, following the traffic and the bigger bikes and things will be OK, know where the cars and buses are. Hope to god that the idiots swerving in and out of the rest of the traffic like crazed loons don't get it wrong and riding out here is almost but only just almost fine.

Finally I dont really want to admit it but I think a bigger bike might be in order as the MX will take a beating over the next year, maybe I will be persuaded to get a Vixion to help me get to work but the size sort of scares me.

We will see.

From this....

to this


Sunday, 5 February 2012

An update

I have not been blogging over the past couple of weeks mainly due to work and the fact that I have just moved from my apartment.
My lease was up for the apartment and I wanted to move closer to my fiancee to help financially and also to prepare for the wedding. So just after the new year we found a home in Mampang, South Jakarta.
I then had to move all my things from apartment, have Yovita buy new things for the house and part with hard earned cash to pay with it all. On top of that, I  have had 2 new teachers arrive to train and induct and also I had to go to Singapore for visa reasons. Quite busy really.
Finally typing on my tab is not the best and I am still waiting for some kind of internet connection to feel very at home. The AC, Indovision and new cooker are helping that bit so much, but being online again will pretty much complete that.

Once I am, then I will catch up with my blogs.