Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas 2014

Not the Christmas I had hoped for, but then they normally arent. This year was very low key and not really a festive one as with Yovita working and the housekeeper deciding to go home for the entire holiday time I am off, really never left too much to do anything at all. But then spending time with Jeremy is always fun if not a lot stressful and tiring. The holidays are not over until the 5th of January and we are off to an apartment overlooking the city for new year tomorrow so that is good news.

I took Christmas eve off from work, as usual and spent the day going mall to mall, buying bits and pieces for Christmas and  I met Yovita after work and we went home together which was nice. I ended up buying a range of spirits as well for the holiday which also was nice.

Christmas Day saw Jeremy overloaded with gifts from Mum and us and he has a lot more new clothes that fit and more toys and books and has sensed something was up. He was dleightfully excitied and full of life has not stopping playing with the toys or asking for the books to be read to him. The best bit about Christmas, I think is seeing others happy and enjoying the day.

Yovita and I took off for lunch around 12 and ended up at Senayan City mall where we queued to buy tickets for the Hobbit movie and then ate large amounts of Italian food washed down by beer before watching it. The movie was so so and it did not seem odd to see a movie at a cinema on such a traditional family day (for the British) and the mall was packed by the time we left. Christmas here is really just the day, everything returns to normal the next day and like all other national holidays, everything carries on regardless what national or religious holiday it is. 

Posh Tree thing at Senayan City

The 26th was spent shopping and eating and then resting at home as have the last couple of days. Yovita went back to work today, leaving me with Jeremy all day. I am now exhausted.

Christmas Tree Gandaria City

Jeremy with 2 giant Christmas bears

So a small and quiet Christmas but lots of love and laughter for all and a nice time was had I hope, by everyone. 

Monday, 22 December 2014


Holidays are nearly here and that has been a long time coming. I have not had really any time off since August and I am tired. Jeremy is always awake by 5.30am therefore so am I and I dont sleep early as I have trouble sleeping, so I choose to sleep later so I can sleep through the night.

December has been a fairly uneventful month so far, obviously Christmas changes that. The weather is changing and the rain is starting to come almost daily which makes everything slower and the humidity after is surprisingly intense after. The lightning storms are back which is great but that does bring the rain with it however they are nice to watch.

The plumbing in the house is determined to get worse. The kitchen piped decided to clog up with dirt and stuff so we fixed that, but that then caused my shower to to do the same and that can't be fixed as the pipework is behind a tiled wall and we need permission from the landlady to smash the tiles etc and fix it, so we have to wait until we pay the rent for that to happen. The upstairs bathroom now has a leaking pipe and the floor in the housekeepers bathroom seems to be sinking so the water does not drain away. Add these annoyances to the fact the amout of water in the ceiling is increasing, I try not too look  up any more. I will endeavour to paint the ceilings early next year to make me feel better if nothing else.  Oh and now the AC needs cleaning again, right before Christmas. Joy.

Jeremy has begun to scream now and takes delight in running and spinning round and round. I think he is bigger, he feels heavier. He has most of his teeth I think, and we have introduced him to toothpaste and brushes but he prefers to comb his hair with his brush or brush the wall with it rather than clean his teeth. We instruct him often but this one will take a lot of time.

And that must leave Christmas. Its almost here. The house is not decorated this year, as Jeremy will certainly destroy the tree. We have some lights up but cant switch them on as again, he pulls them when left to himself so next year when he has some understanding of right and wrong. Good news is the presents have been wrapped, cards sent and countdown is on. 2 days at work for me then I am done until January 5th and 4 days to Christmas day.

The bad news is that Marks and Spencers in Central Park where I normally buy lots of Christmas food, had none, in fact it looked like they were in the midst of closing the food section down completely, which is a shame.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Floating Market Sentul

Think Asian Markets, think Floating Asian markets and instantly you create a world of long narrow boats full of fruit all tied  together with men or women in big rice field hats smiling and trying to sell you anything and everything. That exists in real life but in Thailand. This is Indonesia, its just not the same.

Still moving on. Last Sunday EF Puri went to Sentul, a place between Bogor and Jakarta and to its floating market.or Ah Poong Floating Market or Sentul Eco Park but for me it was the Floating Market at Sentul.

Taking the toll from Cilandak and heading south it took us not ime at all to get there and for a change that was good.

The place basically is a restaurant surrounded by water, a river and a small garden with some statues. It is a big 'eat and eat' whereby youy purchase a credit card type card and add money to it and then choose from the vast range of Indonesian foods and drinks and other food goodies; basically like the one in Gandaria City but with natural lighting.

I chose Sop Buntut or Oxtail soup. Which is bits of Ox tail in a clear soup. It is always good and this one was very good. After that some Mango frozen Ice and some other snacks. The eating seemed to go on for a long time and then it was time to explore.

Bouncy bridge over the river

We took a boat trip (5,000 rupiah each) to the weir and back and that was a good 15 minutes spent and then from there a walk through the gardens to see some bizarre unnaturally linked together Statues.

Whatever you think that horse is doing, it is
A transformer and a good one at that

A fat man

For a Sunday lunch activity it was fun and easy to get to and it was nice to see the mountains around Bogor and have the lungs filled with cleaner air. And it is that air which has probably made me sick since!!

Happy days.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Nexus 5 Lollipop

I have owned a Samsung for a while now; my tab which is at least 4 years old, a Samsung Grand and a Samsung  Mega 5.8. They are all amazing devices and can do amazing things, however I have been getting frustrated recently with my Mega and so I have been looking to change it for something else. Android something else.

I ended up with the Lenovo Vibe Z, Samsung Note 8 and the Nexus 5. I have used Lenovo before and so know what they can do and Smasung is always easy to use. Nexus 5 is an unknown quantity for me but has very good reviews and interestingly enough is in the same price range as the other 2.

On Saturday after much searching, I ended up in Pejaten Village at 7pm at night (I had been doing other things as well) and after being told the Vibe Z is no longer sold and the note 8 was not 3g, I found myself in a phone store which had Nexus on offer for just over 4 million.
Typically, the store took only BCA or Mandiri debit cards and I did not want to pay with Credit Card so I had to go to an ATM and come back with far too many 50,000 rupiah notes and stood and watched amused as the cashier counted them.

Then once the Mini Sim I had been using was fitted I was and still am the proud owner of a Nexus 5 black phone. The mini Sim failed so I had buy a new Sim Card and number and that is now causing me a headache but I will sort that out later.

Yesterday I updated the phone from Kit Kat to Lollipop and its awesome. Battery runs a little fluid but its great.

Some specs if you need them.

Its Black, made by LG, 8mp camera, 1.3mp camera on the front, non removable battery, 12gb free memory but no expansion. Android 5.0 Lollilop. 5 inch screen and groovy.

As of day 2 it was a good move to switch over to Nexus and I am not missing Samsung at all. I hope it is all that I think it is in 3 months. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Renting in Jakarta

I think we might be on the move and after 2 years we will probably look for something a little smaller and not so expensive.
The house we are in is rented and there is no real chance of us buying a property just yet due to one thing or another so we need to keep looking and work out the best way to do that. 

The rent of the house is in my opinion over priced and with the cost of everything else increasing balancing everything is becoming too difficult. The house is a 3 bed 3 bathroom affair in the middle of everything. It is 3 years old yet has problems with a leaking roof, cracks in the wall, wonderous plumbing and the phone signal around the house is getting worse everyday. It still has a great view, ideal location and plenty of space but I am beginning to tire of the noise from the bike shop and the constant worry when it rains of where the next leak will come.

Looking into the Kitchen

Naturally the landlady remains absent and unattached to all this, rather just sits and waits for the rent to be paid and lets the house continue to not be maintained, which is a shame. I think the approach from the landlady is that there always someone who will live there and therefore pay the money, but this will come at a price to her because if she wants to rent it again so much will need to be repainted or repaired to make it more viable. She not set foot in the house since we rented it in 2012. 

However, searching for property to live in is not as easy or as hard as people make it out to be. You can go on line and search for property for rent or sale or pop into the various estate agents who will help you and give you a price and then when they see a westerner give another price because we are all far richer than those in Indonesia, yet I dont have a house or a car so hows that? Or you can roam the many streets and see what is being locally advertised and then send in all those that are not Indonesian to look at the place and negoiate a price before the westerner is seen and yep the price will go up again. The second option is cheaper and far easier.

So yesterday we rode around the streets close to home looking for places that are for rent and found 3 or 4 places with phone numbers displayed which we will follow up and ask how much is the rent, how big and how many bedrooms. We cant really move too far away from where we are now due to the school Belvan goes to, the closeness of work for Yovita and the fact that her family is within walking distance and that is good news for her and the kids. Plus if we move too far away then the cost of transportation will negate any saving on the rent over the year and therefore potentially be more expensive. The final reason  we have to consider is if we lose our current housekeeper (it took 5 months to find this one) then we have to again rely on Yovitas family and my working hours for child care which becomes more stressful by the minute for all. 

Not the best view in the world but its the one I have

I hope we can find something we can settle into for even a year while we work out what comes next. Of course if we cant then we will stay where we are and look again next year, but in the mean time all the housing in and around Mampang and Pancoran seem to be turning into guest houses therefore shutting out people with families who want to live there. I guess we would ultimately be forced to move somewhere else where there is more affordable housing but further from everywhere we want to be. 

If we do stay then I guess I will have to buy some paint and give the place fresh look as it does need it. The roof can continue to leak and the plaster cracks widen but I am sure a coat of paint will make things better in some ways. Afterall, I live in a country where painting over the cracks is the solution to most things.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Ocean Dream Samudra Ancol

The idea taking Jeremy to the zoo and see animals has for a very long time appealed to me. Mainly because when he looks at his books or sees fish in the local ponds he gets very excited. So we planned to take a Friday off work, hire a car and driver and go to Taman Safari for the day. But as it turned out it became too expensive, what with the number of adults going and the cost of the fuel and car for the day so we opted for Ancol and Sea World. Sea World has been closed down due to a land ownership issue so that was that out of the question. 
After a little bit of searching for things to see at Ancol for a very young child we eventually came across te Samudra Oceam Dream place which boasted bird gardens and Animal shows and also a dolphin show. We took that option. 

Ancol is a vast area of north Jakarta and is on the coast. It is very easy to get too, however because it is privately owne you have to pay to get in. 4 Adults and a car cost 120,000 which was fair enough as there is enough free stuff to do there, although you still need to pay for the parks and rides and events. 
We arrived around 8am and is was very quiet, getting hot and the only people there were the joggers and I guess the locals getting their daily fish from the fishermen waiting. It was nice. 

We wandered about there for an hour and stopped at a beach and took a walk along a walkway over the sea and so by 9am, we were ready to go to Ocean Dream.

The tickets cost 100k and I think Jeremy was free and apart from the several hundred school kids and mums and 3 nuns we were one of around 4 families there. The benefits of going on a school day I suppose. The park itself looks a little shabby and under maintained yet the grounds were clean and free of litter and the facilities were all good. The restaurants were not open so you could not buy any food but you could buy ice cream or water etc. It is not a big place and you could easily wander around it all in under 20 minutes. 

The first thing to see was an animal show. This comprised of 2 otters playing basketball and pushing things about. 3 parrots dancing and doing something else not too interesting and a Sun Bear driving a go cart and a few other things. The school kids liked it. I was hot. Jeremy was interested but hot and tired and I dont think he really understood any more than I did and it was very noise, oh and hot. This show lasted about 20 minutes which was good for the animals and enough for me.

After that, we skipped the Sea lion show and found a place to rest in the mother and bay room which had AC and chairs. The dolphin show was on around 11.15 so we went to the place to sit and watch. Outside in a big covered tank, like a bandstand but full of water were 2 dolphins swimming round and round and round but they seemed happy enough. The dolphin show was in a big open tank of water with seating in stands. The whole thing had half a roof to keep the sun out but it kept the heat in.

The dolphin show was entertaining I think. Jeremy seemed to enjoy it when he was watching. The dolphins swam about and jumped through hoops and played with balls and did some counting etc and it was pretty good. It lasted no more than 30 minutes and by then we were all hot, hungry and feeling the need to leave, and we did.

Leaving Ancol behind we took the short trip to the Marina and Sunda Kelapa for food and drinks and enjoyed the view of the sea and boats that had moored there. By 3.30pm we were back home. Jeremy had fallen asleep and the rest of us were just tired. But it had been a good day.

I never tire of this view from the Marina

The cost of the car+fuel+driver+lunch+tip was no more than 600k and Ancol was just over 400k so for less than 1.4 million it was a day well spent and Jeremy did enjoy it, see something new and have fun somewhere new. 

But I wish they would open Sea World again. It was good as far as I remember it. 

Walking with Jeremy in Ancol

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Jakarta Days

Hooray its a holiday for me and I am away from work for the next few days. However its only going to work that stops, nothing else. I am still awake by 5.30am and staggering around the house by 6. The fact that I have run out of coffee does not help the staggering thats for sure.

So todays plan was to ride about the city on the bus stopping here and there for food and drinks and then by the afternoon find a quiet bar and wait for Yovita to finish work and then go home with her. However with her working in a hotel today and fact I dropped my motorcycle helmet causing the visor to come off has changed all that.

I still took the bus but not for a joyride but for purpose. I had to go to the bike helmet store in the whole of the city that has my size and that is in Citraland, in the west of the city. So I got to the Transjakarta bus stop and they have decided that this route now uses electronic payment only and so I had to buy a card for 40,000 to ride a bus for 3,500. Still the bus was new and I got a seat. 30 minutes later I was at the mall which was good and just a little slower than if I went on my bike.
The helmet store opens at 11 so I waited and had a coffee and then bought the only helmet there that fitted me. Another NHK helmet but I like them and whilst they are more expensive they do the job.

Thursday morning Traffic

Citra Land, West Jakarta

My new Helmet, with Jeremy for scale

So then I took the helmet all the way home as it was cumbersome to carry again on the bus and the bus once it decided to leave got me across the city in no time and after a quick walk I was home.

20 minutes later I was on an Ojek to another bus stop and this time to take a bus to the centre so I could have beer and good food near Sarinah in Ya udhas bistro. However, this bus route does not take electronic cards so I had to pay cash and then wait 30 minutes for the crappest bus in the fleet but again the lack of traffic in the bus lane allowed me to get to Sarinah in good time.

Rules of the bus including no touching Women

Whilst the door just about closes, the fact it closes to a gap is a wonder

Ya Udahs is always a good place to go and this time, pork sausages and beer were enjoyed before I moved on to Starbucks (where I am typing this ) and making use of the really slow and pretty poor free internet,  but it is working.

I found this notice in the toilets in the building where Starbucks is. The toilets however have no soap, hot water, hand dryer or towels so it seemed a bit over the top.

Ebola is taken very seriously here apparently

Can you even get to play with monkeys and baboons here?