Friday, 28 March 2014

11 months on

Gran says Jeremy took his first steps today or some first steps. That is very exciting news. He sometimes stands up for a second or two before sitting down again. He likes to walk while holding onto something and when he crawls you have to think fast to stop him going places he shouldn't. Thats a challenge but we are learning!!!

He seems to have a perpetual cold and running nose, his cough has gone and he now makes the best faces with his 3 teeth and strange clicking noises and then laughs.

Due to there being no house keeper to help at the moment, I have lots of time with him in the mornings until around 11.30 so that means I get to play, talk, carry, feed, wash, watch and grow with him. I have his sleep routine sorted so that once he has had his morning bath and fight getting dressed, he gets fed, I get fed, he then has milk and will promptly fall asleep. I normally then follow him and get another hour in so that when he goes to his grans' he is wide awake and full of life.

Jeremy likes birds and pointing at everything. He seems fascinated with light bulbs and likes to stare at them regardless of whether they are on or off. He enjoys watching life from the balcony and we spend time there in the sun in the mornings watching the bikes and cars go by.

Jeremy is beginning to achieve eye hand coordination and can put things inside other things but not always. This again is amazing to watch. His vocal skills are developing and whilst he has not moved much from Da and Ma and ba ba ba etc he does I, believe, understand more words and sounds and when he is able to say them he will be quick to speak.

Times are getting exciting for us because mum is coming out in May for his birthday and this will be the first time they have seen each other. It will also be the first time Jeremy will fly, see the sea, eat sand and all the other things toddlers do when at the sea side. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Weekend getaway Jakarta

Lots of things have been happening recently making all of us very tired. Everyone sick, everyone working hard and Jeremy getting more active, oh and the housekeeper deciding to want a break, which has left us without for a while, we decided to book into a hotel for night and have a little bit of pampering and peace and quiet.

So last weekend, we booked up a room at the Morrissey in Menteng. It is just off Jacksa and I have stayed there before for work reasons but it is a comfortable place to stay

On Saturday morning, Yovita brought Jeremy to my office so the staff could see him and take photos with him and so when I went to work, I took most of the things we would need for the night away. Pram, clothes, food, toys etc all for Jeremy and gin for me.
I like postcards, so send me some

After leaving work, we headed straight to the hotel and checked in. Our room was on the 9th floor and over looked a building site looking north east. The window was floor to ceiling which was nice because it meant Jeremy could lookout whilst sat on the floor.
Enjoying the view

The room itself was fairly compact but it came with a small kitchenette and had a fridge, microwave, untensils etc. There was no bath just a shower which was good enough.

Around Menteng there are lots of places to eat so we walked to Thamrin and Sarinah, ate in Oh La La by mistake (the food was ok but the flies were everywhere). Don't buy beer there. 64k for a bottle of Bingtang. I had a coke. We then ordered take out Pizza from Pizza hut, got coffee from Starbucks, beers and Baby food from Hero and then went back to the room for the night.

The best thing about hotel rooms is the peace and quiet, large TV screens the lack of need to do anything at all. Which was nice.

Sunday morning started early and we were having breakfast at 6.30am. Toasted French Brie Sandwiches and all the yoghurt you could eat with very strong coffee was the order of the moment. The gin and beer was needed the night before and now coffee was next. Breakfast was in the Bella and Ocha restaurant in the hotel, so the food was good. I would not eat there because the prices are expensive although drink yes because they have good deals.
Deciding it would be good to go for a walk, we took Jeremy into the street and to the Car Free event on Sudirman, which happens every Sunday. Not much was happening to be honest except it was hot, there were many people on bikes or walking and that was about it. So we went back to the hotel and spent a few more hours chilling out.

On returning home, the expected news that our housekeeper would not be returning greeted us and so now we are with a carer for my son and the house and the weird thing is that she left money, clothes and shoes in the house.

Ah well, the anger has subsided. All that needs to happen now is we need to find another housekeeper....

Saturday, 15 March 2014

7 hours in Singapore

My visa run leaves approximately 6.5 hours of daylight in Singapore. I land at 9am, rush through the airport and then get a taxi into the city. This takes about an hour. I hand over my passport and cash and then I am free to around 4.30pm when I can get it back. Bearing in mind that I left my home at 4am and will get back around 11pm, the joys of rushing are somewhat limited.

So what to do?

Happily now, the meeting point is an actual office and it is very close to China Town if you walk through the Korean part of the city ( assuming that is what it is ). China town is huge and there is lots to see and do although at that time of the day most places are opening up. 

Some views around China town

You can jump on the MRT and ride about. I went from China town to Bugis. Go off at Bugis, when up and had a look. It seems just roads and buildings and too hot to walk too far, so I got back on the MRT and headed to the Promenade which is next to the Singapore Flyer and a short walk to Marina Bay Sands, so that was good.

It was very quiet on the MRT, almost empty

The mall there is cold so after wandering around outside it was nice to chill out inside. From there I went back to China town for lunch and sat again somewhere cold and read a book.
By now it was around 1pm. 

Around Marina Bay Sands

After that I decided to walk back the meeting point and found a bar selling buy one get 1 dutch beer which was very well received and of course real bacon, which is too expensive to find here. The next few hours were very well spent.

Dutch not the stuff made in Indonesia

After collecting my passport and visa, I headed back on the MRT to the Airport. Checked in at T3 for Lion Air, ate in Subway, brought some gin and waited for my flight.

Departure Lounge and a plane, a big plane.

I have also over the years been to:

Little India, On the Singapore Flyer, travelled all over the city on the MRT, been all the way and down Orchard road, been to the parks, the butterfly place, the coast, various bars etc. All my working visa trips are time limited but if you push yourself ( I really don't any more) then you can get a lot into your day.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Visa Run Singapore

Every year I have the (mis) fortune to have to go and have my working visa renewed or have a new one placed in my passport due to my working terms and conditions with my Indonesian employer. This means that I have to be sent to Singapore to get my new visa.

For some, Singapore is a great place to visit and travel through and enjoy the sites, the city and the attractions like Universal Studios, China Town, and Sentosa. However for me, its a day trip. Starts at 4am and ends at 11pm or later when I finally get back to my house. Singapore is wonderful but in a day its just a place to sit and wait so I can go back to Jakarta and be all legal for another year.

So setting off in a taxi just before 4am on Friday meant waking up at 3.30am which is never enjoyable. Happily everyone was asleep and remained so when I left. The trip to the airport takes less than 35 minutes at that time in the morning and so there I was at Terminal 1 queuing to get into the building when I am told I am at the wrong terminal. I needed to be at Terminal 2. That annoyed me. Whether the taxi driver took me there by mistake or I believed the Internet and departure websites for Jakarta Airport which state Lion Air flies internationally via Terminal 2 or maybe I was still asleep made no difference, I still needed to get to the correct terminal. 
Hailing a taxi, the cheeky sods wanted 30k to go 10k journey. I offered them 20k but 2 refused and started shouting when I just got out of the taxi leaving the car door open. A kindly bluebird picked me up, stuck on the meter and took me to the correct place. I gave him 20k for his trouble and then found my way into Terminal 2.
This Terminal is a mess. For Lion Air there were no signs, no staff and no direction or screens telling you anything. So, after asking several 'staff' there I was put in a long line of people each with 6 bags in one of the 2 lines to check in with. After 15 minutes of standing still, I asked someone else and they told me I was in the check in line for Bangkok and I needed to change lines. So I did. Then after another 10 minutes I was eventually able to check in for my flight.

(JT*) Lion Air 154
(CGK) Jakarta, ID to (SIN) Singapore, SG
Last change to status more than 3 hours ago
Scheduled Departure:Scheduled Arrival:
11:15 AM - Sun Mar-9-20142:00 PM - Sun Mar-9-2014
Departure Terminal:   1
General Flight Notes:

  • We do not have the necessary data sources to detect the departure of this flight; however we can detect the arrival of this flight.
The information above is from telling me I can fly to Singapore from Terminal 1 with Lion air when it is Terminal 2.

Actually to get to the plane, we boarded a bus, went out of Terminal 2, past Terminal 1 and to the Cargo area where the plane was waiting. So that was exciting and a waste of time.

Immigration this year was a breeze and the office was almost polite and then after grabbing a Starbucks Coffee I headed to the information board for confirmation of flights. My ticket said D4 but the board said E4, who to believe? This is Indonesia so something is always wrong. So I headed to E4 and asked. I was told to go to D4 and as I walked there someone announced the change in departure gate for the flight. 

The flight to Singapore was simple enough. Being surrounded by Bank Mandiri staff on a weekend to Singapore they looked confused to see a western man sat in the middle of it all, laughing because he was watching The Family Guy on his tab but hey its my flight as well.

No issues getting through Singapore Immigration after walking the mile or so to get stamped out, it is a big airport. 

Driving through the city the driver used his GPRS on his Samsung Phone to get me to somewhere near China town and the journey involved going through a long tunnel and past the container port which was nice and despite going too far and not getting to the correct place, he told me to walk a little bit and I would find the street easily (where as he never) and he apologised so that was nice.

The old place to hand your passport over was outside McDonalds in Orchard Road but now you have to go to the actual office of the agent and do it under cover and that felt a little less dodgy. Handing over 2 passports because one was full and one was not was met with, 'I am not sure how we do this but we will try, come back at 4.30'. So I did.

views of Singapore
Waiting outside the building with the other people collecting visas that day is always interesting. Everyone looks either hungover or dead tired or very excited. I go with the dead tired look. Eventually some man turned up with a ruck sack full of passports, handed mine over and to my delight my new 11 months (never know why its not a full year ever) visa is in my new passport so that means I can retire my old one.

I headed then back to the Airport via the MRT which is the simplest and quickest option and was back in Changi 45 minutes later.

Views of International Departures Singapore
No issues with checking in or immigration but I never expect any, the wait for the flight was nice enough. 

Happily the flight back to Jakarta was on time and so that made a change. I was sat in row 10 and some fool in front of me decided to fully recline his seat into my space so I stuck both knees into his back and kept moving until he complained directly to me. I told him to sort his chair out which he did and the rest of the flight was simple enough.

After the bus trip across the airport like the one to get to the plane to fly to Singapore, I got stamped in by Immigration, again with no concerns and stepped back into the smoggy hot air of Jakarta at 10.40. By 11.30 I was home. 

Next stop is the Immigration office in the city to get finger printed and photographed like every other year.

Monday, 3 March 2014


I have been far too busy with family and work through February to really provide my normal narrative on life out here but that does not mean it has all stopped, quite the opposite, it continues.

Throughout the majority of February I have been soaked daily due to my working schedule and the frequent passing storms and the rain they dispense. It has even taken the pleasure out of riding.

My shoes always damp, my helmet smells, my new water proof coat and trousers leak and the bike has changed colour to a browny dirty one.  The house has got damper, the water features on several walls are interesting and the mould which has moved into one corner of the kitchen ceiling as put by the landlady's builder 'is to be expected, it is raining hard and so houses leak'. So thats OK then. I won't fix it or try too and if something like the water pump breaks down, I will let it rather than telling the landlady because clearly something's out here are not important; like preventing things from getting worse. I don't know why I am surprised I deal with this a lot.

It seems that out in Indonesia, a problem is something that has broken beyond repair otherwise it is not important if it can be taped over or ignored until it breaks. This way of life means that people save money on repairs because it is cheaper to buy new. Everyone excepts this. I try not too but seem I have too because, that's the way it is. The idiom painting over the cracks seems to spring to mind and with the cracks in my walls then it needs filling then painting over. The cracks could be the normal ones you get in new houses or the due to the plasterer who when plastering the walls, did half a wall one day and then the other the next and in between it dried and shrank, like its supposed to do. Sigh.

Still moving on, its still a nice house when it dries out and the sunshines and that is now starting to happen again and the temperature is back to the mid 30's in the sunshine so that makes it better.

One thing with all the rain is the fact that bugs and things grow and reproduce and once the rain has stopped these things then come out of the water and go and find you. Things like mosquitoes which carry dengue fever.

So on the first dry, sunny and hot Sunday of the year the ominous sound of a petrol driven leaf blower could be heard and that meant the man with the killer smoke for the drains was coming and so we had to shut all the doors and windows for the next.

Basically someone wanders around the streets of Jakarta with this death machine blowing some kind of insecticide into the open drains and drain holes and the like in the hope of killing larvae and other nasties lurking below. It can't be a healthy job nor nice for the person doing because of the abuse they must suffer.
More smoke and god knows what else to breathe in
 The smoke is blown through the street and then once he has passed the great migration of cockroaches starts and they all run onto the streets to die unhappy deaths through either poison or the locals killing them all. A lot of these horrible insects ran under the gate and at the house to escape this but ultimately died anyway but it is quite a sight watching them all run at you.

Scattered around the car port to die
After about 30 minutes later they were all pronounced dead and whilst some continued to scuttle in there were very few left. In our house all the drains are covered to prevent mice and the roaches from getting in so we never had any, maybe one.

You don't see this in the guidebooks
Once they were all dead, it was up to me to collect them all up and dispose of them in the bin and the clean the carport down, check the shoes and washing and then open the windows again. Happily though I think this happens no more than twice a year so we don't have to breathe it all in.