Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year 2014

Well this is my last post of the year and all I want to say is to those who frequent my blog is thank you and have the best start to 2014 and may it continue into the year.

Happy new year one and all....


An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.  ~Bill Vaughan

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits.  ~Author Unknown

Oh I found these on the internet. If you feel your festive greeting should not be on here, do let me know but still happy new year to those who made them.

Please feel free to comment and I will reply as soon as I can. Thank you

Monday, 30 December 2013

Tangkuban Perahu, Bandung

Part of my Christmas break and time with my family and our friends from England was a little day trip out of Jakarta to either Bogor and then to Puncak or out to Bandung and to an active volcano called Tangkuban Perahu, which means upturned boat.

The volcano won and so after some serious bargaining to hire a car for the day we arranged to be transported about in a big Black Nissan Serena which could sit 5 people fairly well and was big enough to carry everything we needed because with Jeremy we need to take a lot of stuff. 1.2 million all in for all day, fuel, tolls and tip for driver which was a great deal seeing the same for a day in Jakarta was 900k.

The car came to the house for 6am and so off we went out east on the toll. A quick stop for coffee and breakfast we were soon on our way and by 8.30 we were outside Bandung and heading up into Lembang towards the Volcano.

Happily for us the weather was sunny and not too cloudy and so the trip to Bandung was very scenic with lots of mountains and tea plantations to see as we drove in. Driving up into the mountains was also nice. When we got to the entrance to the Volcano we had to pay 200k for all in the car and the car itself. The cost per expat is far more than for Indonesian but we paid and off we went up higher and around lots of s bends until we reached the craters edge, the car park and lots of people selling crap and stuff you really do not want to buy.

The volcano is active through its constant release of sulphur steam deep in the crater. There was little else to suggest that it was active although access to it was closed in October due to erupting a little more than normal.

There were lots of people looking at the volcano and there are far too many gift stalls and strawberry sellers and the like although the tofu we purchased was great. There is a path that goes all the way round the crater should you feel like walking about.

With Jeremy in tow, he did not seem too impressed with the place, the volcano or much to be honest but he enjoyed looking and wearing a jacket once we managed to get him into it! The journey to Bandung was his longest and he slept, ate and played all the way there and he never got upset or too bored.

After a while a cloud came over and took the view away and for the first time since England in 2010 I could see my own breath when breathing out which made me smile.

Heading back down to Bandung, we stopped at Paris Van Java mall for lunch and a rest and to change Jeremy so he was less smelly and more smiley. The mall is a mall, its OK and we stayed a short time and then decided to head back.

Travelling to Bandung is always a short trip for some reason maybe because we are heading away from Jakarta, however returning is always a long trip and it took 5 hours or almost double the time to get home and the return trip dragged and everyone was getting less fun and more tired as the minutes dragged on. The traffic in Jakarta was its normal mess and so it was a relief to get home, shower and relax. Jeremy again was no real problem but Yovita and our housekeeper were worn out by the amount of energy given to making sure he never screamed or got bored.

So for a trip to nature, it was a great day out. That was my second time there and I am sure to go again. Active Volcanoes are always interesting to look at. But like the first time I went it, there will be a stop over in Bandung to break the travel up.

Please feel free to comment and I will reply as soon as I can. Thank you

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Jakarta 2013

Wow, what a year. Its been a busy year this one so I thought I would recap some of it before wishing everyone a happy new year.


We moved to our new house which had just been built. I attended a conference in Bogor and the city became deluged through a huge storm.

Our school went to Anyer for its annual trip out and Yovita was now 5 months pregnant.


I took another trip to Singapore and after a lot of hassle and messing about getting a new passport to help with my visa it was decided that it would be all ok after all.


Took a boat around the harbour at Sunda Kelapa and was on red alert for the birth


Jeremy came into our lives


Celebrated our first wedding anniversary


My blog hit 5 years of being written
I finally managed to get health insurance for the kids but it still took another 3 months to finalise everything...


Jeremy turned 6 months

First trip or holiday since the birth

Work conference in Bali


Jeremy's first Christmas

Friends from England came and stayed for Christmas.

It is a shorter list than normal perhaps but the arrival of Jeremy, my world is him and so there is little personal time to explore or do things.

So 2013 was an awesome year. I can only think 2014 will be just a lot bigger and far more exciting.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas in Jakarta

Having 2 weeks away from work and the fun that that brings is definitely a good idea and so that is what I have done this year .
My school was due to close on the 24th so I took a few extra days and took from the 20th giving me a lot of free time to things. Plus I was also having friends from England staying over Christmas which has been wonderful.
So I have spent my days, shopping and drinking and visiting far too many coffee shops and bars (like thats a problem!) and having a lots of fun in and around the city.

On the Thursday the tree was finally put up, the box room sorted for our guests and everything made nice. Friday was spent shopping and finishing up the bits and pieces that we needed to get, this actually spilled in Saturday but again no worries as it was fun. Saturday night was spent drinking away in the Irish Bar in Arcadia with good friends and it was nice to catch up with everyone.

On Sunday we had the use of the school car so we took advantage of that using it for shopping and things which was very useful because it rained all day. We then went to the airport to pick up some friends.

My friend Helen and her Husband Chris had come out to Bali for their honeymoon/holiday and so they were invited to stay with us for Christmas which would be good fun. I first met Helen in the Cameroon Highlands in Malaysia in 2006 and we travelled about there for a while and kept in touch ever since and so to see her and meet her husband after a good few years was fantastic.
They were promised a tour of Jakarta and so we started with Ya Udhas in Menteng for dinner and then a trip home and from there a tour of the house.
Helen and Chris with Jeremy

Yovita had to work Monday so that left me in charge so we walked to the Busway and then took the bus to Semanngi mall for breakfast and then the bus to Kota Tua. After fighting with the motorbikes riding on the sidewalk (that does piss me off) we wandered through the square and could not visit the museums due to them all being closed on Monday and then headed to the old fishmarket at Sunda Kelapa and from there the old boats and then to the marina. It was  a bit of a walk to be fair especially in the heat and direct sunshine and so by the time we got to the Marina not only were Helen and Chris pretty fed up with me, we were all very thirsty.

Monday Traffic

Big food and drinks later everyone was happy and again and before the rains started in we headed back to find a taxi, however I went straight instead of right from the Marina and we eventually got a taxi outside the Nippon Paint factory near Mangga Dua, so that was yet another very long walk!!

The sky above the Marina

From there we went to Pasar Baroe and wandered through the market looking at silver and belts and stuff before heading to the mosque and cathedral. Following the railway from Juanda we got to Monas where it started to rain and so we walked through there a little quicker and took a taxi at the top of Thamrin and went to the Starbucks next to Yovitas office to wait for her so we could eat together.
The monas

Christmas eve was a trip to Bandung and that is covered in a separate post in detail but we hired a car for the day and set off at 6am and got home at 7pm, tired hot and hungry.

Christmas day came and so after presents and gifts we headed to Liberica coffee in Kemang and then Paasr Raya at Blok M for some shopping. For lunch we went back to the Irish Bar (Mollys) for food and spent a good few hours there eating ok food and in the company of another good friend of ours.
Christmas day was busy but also very quiet. It made a change.
Jeremy with his first Christmas gift

Boxing day again was a lazy affair with some more shopping around the city, watching the rain in the afternoon and then having a big local food feast consisting of Bakso, Goringan, Rendang, Rice and things which was great.

Sadly today Helen and Chris left for Bali to continue their holiday and enjoy some AC in their room as there was none with us but it was a great experience for us all.
Senayan City's Christmas decorations

So Christmas again in Jakarta was a different affair with lots of things done that have not done before. Plus we were given a Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding and some brandy butter. The cake is almost all gone but is great. The pudding will be eaten over the new year.

Christmas Cake from Morrisons no less

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Jeremy at 7 and a half months

Jeremy is 8 months in January and he has suddenly become a flurry of activity. He is now totally curious about everything, alert to his name is making huge strides into being able to walk.

I have read somewhere that most infants develop skills from 9 months onwards. I have to say this that Jeremy is outside that.
I will also say that Jeremy is not your average sized Indonesian baby. At 7 months he is now 69cm and weighs around 9kg. He is not overweight just bigger than most of the other infants we have seen and we are now getting comments about his size because people see him as a year old.

He is now able to climb up to stand and whilst cannot walk yet is attempting it as often as he can. He can tell the difference between the bed and the floor and when he is on the bed he is more active and rolls and falls over whilst on the floor he is more careful with his movements and prefers to sit up and play.

He has been determined to climb and stand next to our beds headboard and last night for the first time he did just that much to his delight. Then after falling over, decided to celebrate by sleeping. His sleep has changed, he now is too big for the cot and so he sleeps in the bed or rather on it and on most of it as he sprawls out sideways but he is still sleeping through the night and enjoys nothing more than slapping me on the head at 6am or staring at me until I wake up so he can play. Yovita and I are both OK with this for now and it helps as his farts are worse than mine and so he gets blamed more for the smells.

He has been babbling now for a while and the words are coming and I am hoping soon he will be saying more than the odd mama and dada and fatha and it will come more naturally for him. These are exciting times.

Jeremy was very ill this week with a fever around 40 degree a night of screaming and tears and no sleep for anyone and a emergency trip to the doctor due to the high fever. Being told its either a sore throat, measles or dengue was also a worry but it seems that a day later with some cough drops and fever reducing drops all has cleared up and he is back to full strength. A relief all round.
The last trip for his vaccinations was last week and he now does not need any thing until February which will be the measles jab. His milk remains hypo allergenic until his 1st birthday and then hopefully we may be able to switch. But he loves Heinz baby food in jars both veg and fruit and also biscuits and rice porridge so he is getting to taste and eat lots of food. He does have a sweet tooth thats for sure and chocolate is a favourite but he can wait a long time before he gets to eat a lot of it. I wont have him looking like a lot of Indonesian children with black rotting teeth due to lack of brushing and too much sugar. That always looks bad in my opinion.

Christmas is almost here and the tree is going up at some point today and I am sure he will fascinated with the lights and the baubles and tinsel and will try his hardest to grab it and pull it over!

Can't wait for that....

Friday, 6 December 2013

A short break

Last week I was sent to Bali (imagine being sent to Bali) for a 3 day conference which on the whole was very good with a lot of free time and chance to explore green bottles with colleagues. 

We stayed at the Pullman at the end of Kuta Beach which was nice and spent all day there and the evenings free to wander to the nearest bar and stay there.

My flight was at 7.40 in the morning and I was flying with Citilink which is in someway connected to Garuda. You fly form Terminal 1C which is crowded and messy and all too Indonesian. The trip in the taxi from my home took a staggering 25 minutes due to it being early and no traffic and the driver clearly did not want me to be later for my flight. I was more than happy with that.
Landing in the rain in Bali was not the best thing and with the building work at the airport still going on, although much has been finished we took a shuttle bus the 200 meters to the arrivals and then waited for transport. 

Once the conference had finished I had chose to stay another night and was being met by my wife on the Friday. Jeremy was with his gran for the night so we could have a short break together.
I wandered away from the conference after lunch, jumped into a taxi because it was raining again and went to the hotel we were staying at for the night, the Flora Hotel. This is near the Ramayana just up from Kuta Square. After a small snooze, I ventured back out in the drying heat, down the beach and then up Poppies one to the Swell bar and sat there until around 6. I was intstantly recognised by the staff and made welcome. This would be because every time I have been to Bali I have always gone there! 

I spent the afternoon in beer and sandwich land and then after Yovita told me her flight with Air Asia was delayed decided to go for a walk to the Discovery Mall and wait for her in a bar. The bar I wanted to go to was the Sports Bar but on arrival I discovered it was closed and had turned into a chemists. So I decided to go and meet Yovita at airport which made her very happy. 

The most interesting thing about trips to and from the airport are the costs. From the Discovery Mall to the Airport cost me 30,000 and the same trip back 65,000 due to it back fixed rates to anywhere in Bali from the airport. 

After getting changed etc in our room we went out for dinner in a small restaurant and then waited for a friend of Yovitas to arrive and then we walked to Beach walk and wandered about until late.

Early on Saturday I could be found on the beach looking at the volcano and the sea as the air was very clean and clear. We ate breakfast in Swell and then had to check out of the hotel. 
This is really Kuta Beach with the volcano as a back drop

We spent the rest of the few hours on Bali in the Discovery Mall buying bits and pieces and enjoying the weather before getting back to the airport.
View of the sea from the mall

Bali airport is still being reconstructed and so it is still a mess. The departures of domestic are in a big hall with signs for Visa on Arrival and as usual the locals all spread everywhere pushing and shouting etc. The Citilink check in is hidden around the corner from the other airlines and after getting our boarding passes went and waited by the gate. 

The normal chaos and lack of announcement for the flight ensued but we were still on time and left only 10 minutes late. The flight back to Jakarta was pleasant enough and soon enough we were back in the city.

We had ordered a private car to get us back home and for 200k (all in tolls, tip, fuel etc) we were driven home in a big black Toyota thing which was a great way to end our short trip. This was the first trip away anywhere since Jeremy was born. 

Some links

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Costs in Bali

I have just spent a few days in Bali courtesy of EF English First where I attended a fantastic conference which was the best one I have attended so far. But this post is not about that.

Wandering around Kuta like you do in the off season with far fewer tourists than normal, it felt good to be in Kuta and in the sunshine. I thought I  would share some of the prices I saw whilst there.

  1. Taxi to Kuta square was 70,000 fixed price. It is half that on the return trip to the airport.
  2. Pizza in a small restaurant is around 50,000
  3. Beer small 20-22k and large around 30k
  4. Breakfast around 50k if not included
  5. Fast boat to Gilis and Lombok is around 950k before you negoiate.
  6. Domestic Airport tax 40,000.
Exchange Rates 30 November Kuta

Massage prices 30 November Kuta

Shuttle Prices 30 November

The pictures of the boards were taken on the 30th November and were around Kuta. If you get there and the prices are different, hey,thats the way it goes. The pictures illustrate the kind of prices that are being charged at that moment.

So enjoy your trip. Stay away from Paddys. 

Please feel free to comment and I will reply as soon as I can. Thank you