Tuesday, 29 December 2015


Another year over, another year older and despite a feeling of doing absolutely nothing all year, I guess I was busy through it all.
Compared to life before Jeremy, it isn't as glamorous as it was. The idea that life as an expat is all glamour and living the high life, certainly does not reflect reality unless of course I was paid the same as I would be for the same job in England, but I am not so it can't be compared. However, there are still lots of times I have been able to explore the city and do other things. I would, of course like to travel more and explore more but when you have to consider everything that involves, it won't happen as often. So that means then that every time I go somewhere, I make the most of it and try to enjoy things a lot more and soak up what is around me.
Jeremy through the year has developed no end; His humour, his moods, his level of spoken language both in Indonesian and English. He motor skills and coordination have all grown and he is becoming his own person in his own right. What needs to happen now is to have integrate with more children his own age and to learn social concepts and behaviors to make him understand new skills such as sharing and being kind to others especially strangers. Thats next year.

For now a review of what happpened in 2015.


With the rain and floods and work I spent the month really working. Car free days were fun as that involved taking Jeremy out into the city on a Sunday as were swimming weekends


The floods finally hit the city and a few days were lost by my team who couldn't come to work. The floods only seemed to last a week on and off, and they hit different parts of the city at different times.
I finally was diagnosed with Typhus after a couple of months of wondering why I was so tired and ill and even took a week off work for bed rest, which of course was not that possible with Jeremy so it was more like rest and play.
My company celebrated 50 years as a business world wide and that was good. We had a mini gathering and a cake and toasted EF Education Firsts birthday and got new tshirts.


March saw me still being ill although I was finally clear of any illness and life continued. The road building work around my area began in earnest and so travelling to and from work became just that little bit harder and longer.


I became old. The reason I became old is I finally had to accept there are times when I need to wear glasses, although not all the time. The amount of screen time I have and looking at different sized screens containing text started to give me headaches so I had to buy some reading glasses to correct this. I still don't wear them often but now and again when I feel my eyes hurt or I start getting headaches again.


May kicks off with Jeremy's birthday and starts the cake eating season as there are many people and family with birthdays in May and June. We celebrated Jeremy's birthday at home with cake and presents as he was still not fully aware of what was happening around him. I think his 3rd birthday will be completely different as he is learning about these things and will know something is up. He was spoiled by all and had a very happy day.
I was also lucky enough to pay a visit to the Thousand Islands north of Jakarta for a weekend. This was our annual Centers team outing and with it falling on a long holiday weekend we took the plunge and went to the islands for 2 days snorkeling and boat rides and relaxing which was great.


I turned 43 in June and took the day with my wife to enjoy it. I also went to Singapore for the first time in a year and that was a fun day out. It was also my first flight of the year.
My phone died and after some anxious moments, I had it restored at the LG service center free of charge and it is now as excellent as ever.


With Ramadhan in June and July Car free day become less frantic and more enjoyable as there were less people there but we never really did anymore once Idul Fitry came and went due to the hordes of people, runners and cyclists which caused problems with Jeremy as he wanted to run as well. However 2 year olds do not perceive dangers so we had to stop going.
I took a random bike ride to the  West Java coast with every intention of staying over the night but with the influx of traffic and crowds it was not to be and so I had an 18 hour round trip through amazing countryside and interesting roads. I think I saw the sea before we turned around and went back. It was exhausting.
I also took the family to Bali for a cheap holiday (well cheapish) and we stayed in an amazing hotel and enjoyed doing nothing for 3 days. We enjoyed it even more as this was the start of the volcanoes in East Java erupting so Bali Airport closed down and so we had to wait for an extra day for flights to go again. It was suddenly not so cheap! But it was a great holiday and a peaceful one. I also discovered Jeremy likes the sea a bit but not sand. But he does like grass now. Sand will grow on him I think.


I had a new teacher arrive in August and another depart for medical reasons. It was my first Airport pick up for a very long time and in the middle of the night as well but no bother.
We stayed in the Mulia hotel for a night and enjoyed 5 star luxury and I must admit, I do like these free nights. I also like Jeremy running around the foyer and watching the staff being uncertain as to what to do with him as he is happy but not loud just running and touching things with dad running after him telling him not touch things.


I met an old friend and his wife for the first time since 2007 and we spent some time catching up and drinking beer. Nothing too amazing about this, except he comes from Canada and took time to visit my family. That bit is more special for me.
I returned again to Singapore for another visit and some shopping, which was nice. I also started teaching again in St. Ursula but this time with the High School students which has proven to be a big challenge for me and learning to balance everything; work, school and home, but it is fun nevertheless.


A dry rain free month of not much. Work and shopping and lazing in malls when me and Yovita had the chance. I spent nearly all my free time with Jeremy and teaching him and playing with him which is always fun.


I discovered the joys and stiff leg pain of riding on motorbike taxis and have not stopped doing it. GoJek became a more useful option as the police checks across the city at the time I was riding were becoming a nuisance and I really never fancy being stopped and having to pay out for no reason at all. Paying 15,00 idr for a one way trip is good enough even if I have to hold on for dear life and navigate the way there and back. It is still worth it.
EF held its annual conference in Surabaya and so this was an opportunity to visit a different city and enjoy a few nights in a decent hotel with good food and company as well as learn and share whats happening with colleagues from around the country. A free bar helped this along.  And whilst I never won any prizes, there is always next year!
The rain finally started to fall although not by much but it signaled the start of the rainy season.


No early mornings as my inschool classes finished have left me with lots of time with Jeremy in the morning as well as more GoJek rides and better time at work with my job.
Christmas started here with the malls all competing for the best Christmas effects. Happily I haven't been to many so I can't say which is best.
The rain has become more constant and there has been a little flooding here and there but nothing too great.
We took Jeremy to Waterbom, a large water park for a Sunday morning and that was great fun for him as all he did was splash and run about and enjoyed his time there. We stayed for around 3 hours. That was long enough.
Yovita sadly was in hospital for a few nights as she was sick but has since recovered and all is well. This brings me up bang up to now and having been to Singapore for some Christmas shopping and enjoyed a quiet Christmas with my family (separate post for that) I am kicking back and going to look forward to spending New Years eve with my family and enjoy that. With the help of some vodka.

And that was my year. Action packed enough all things considered and equally as tiring. I wonder what 2016 will bring. Hopefully bigger and better things....

Friday, 18 December 2015

Why is Indonesia so Appealing?

Recently a question was posed as to why Indonesia is so appealing. I have given it some thought, and here is my answer.

Why is Indonesia so appealing to me? Well currently its not as much as it was so I am removing the 'So' and will try again. Why is Indonesia appealing to me?

When I chose to come here it was to explore another Asian country that I had not really heard of and to take up a completely different form of employment. After 3 weeks, I decided that I could stay here for a lot longer than my initial years contract and so started to settle down. My first impressions of palm tree lines streets, endless sunny days that were hot and humid with a constant supply of cold beer and happy faces have never left me.

Part of my walk to work when I first came here.

8 years on and its still all there. But how everything has changed. I got engaged here, married here and had my first child here. My wife who is Indonesian was one of the first people I met. I met her after work in a coffee shop in Senayan. We have been together ever since. She is a reason that keeps me here. My son is another,the palm trees and sunny days are more.

The missues back in the day

Jeremy as a elf

The people, some. The lifestyle?, not really as its no worse or better than being home. Is it cheaper? sort of. Am I happy? Yes everyday as there is more to be happy about here than back home.
I live in one of the most diverse cultures and environments in the world and that cant be beaten.
Thinking back to life away from here and its problems such as; crap boats, dodgy planes, rubbish buses, lack of care, poor sanitation, bad education, lethal alcohol, overspending, overeating, poor medical facilities, bad air, filthy rivers, flooding, intolerant people, religious fanatics, terrorism, corrupt officials, incomprehensible rules, drugs, dangerous fireworks, too much MSG does sound a lot like here in fact its almost the same but everyone speaks a different language and smiles more and accepts their fate.

The Good

The Bad

 and the ugly

So perhaps I swapped one existence for another, but despite all the things that can go wrong have gone wrong for me, I don't want to leave. I want to see my family grow up, I want to settle here somewhere and live life quietly, I want to be chased by tigers, scared by Jungle men, alarmed by booming volcanoes, laughed at by the locals, amused by the randomness of life, bemused by the red tape, feeling less stressed, enjoying the sun and haze and everything in between.
Why is it appealing to me? Because being in Indonesia has taught me more in 8 years than 30 something years in England about life, living and how many exciting and mysterious things there are still to be discovered.

Being English I can choose to moan and groan about everything as that's what we are good at. But actually nothing really matters so I stopped that. Being happy matters. Indonesia makes me happy. Its as simple as that.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

And so it begins

Not getting out much recently what with family illness, rain and lack of time, I may have missed that wonderful moment in Jakarta. The moment it goes from nothing to 100% Christmas land without missing a beat or providing a reason.

The tree where I work

Commercially of course it does wonders for Malls, Restaurants and anyone else who will be celebrating the idea of people celebrating the festive season and I am sure by next week, that Christmas Trees in ACE hardware will be already at Sale price.

And the sales have started as well with Gap at 60% off, Sports Stations at 70%, Kidzstation upto 50% off and therefore that will mean so will many other places have sales. Hooray for that. That makes the cost of Christmas just that little less expensive.

With Jeremy not quite 3 and still enjoying the 'don't touch, leave it, nooooo, well you were told' hourly conversation, again, this year there will be no tree put up for fear of it being  pulled down with in an hour of it up and also any lights which can be pulled at and therefore brought down. But I might do a bit Christmas eve to make Christmas Morning more pleasant. That should work.

Jeremy is now saying Christmas like it means something to him, although it doesn't. He knows something is happening as Youtube has more christmas videos and songs and it is mentioned in the house. I am sure he will be overly excited in less than a fortnight and I hope to capture it all on a camera. Next year we will push the boat out and make it far more special as he will understand it better then.

So back to Jakarta and its mass attempt at being festive. Considering its a Christian tradition but the country is predominantly muslim, the use of trees, and Santas and choirs and snow and reindeer fit really well as that's got nothing to do with religion and therefore works. The concept of giving? I am not sure. The understanding why all that stuff is happening now? Yes everyone knows and I think is happy to celebrate the birth of a religion as it is a happy time and whilst I am sure like most years, there will be a call not to wish anyone happy Christmas or stuff for fear of being converted, everyone will enjoy the sights and get on with life.


Yesterday I was at Pacific Place, an upmarket mall bolted onto the Ritz Carlton and they had 'Christmas'd' it up and made it more jolly. Carols were being piped through through the tanoy system and the Customer Service staff were wearing their Elf hats. Much to securities annoyance, everyone was taking photos despite the sign say 'no photos' and I was followed for a while by a guard as I took a few myself.

A very tall mall, and yes that is a Aircraft sticking out, but no its a model

Pacific Place has a Parisian theme and its OK. Very nice. At some point out came some carol singers dressed in Dickensian Costumes to sing a few songs while fake snow was gently pumped down from above onto them. Yes.  Very tastefully done. its 34 degrees outside,  But very nice.

Not a model, just a very tall mall

People for scale

Those White spots is the fake snow

This weekend I will be in another mall so I am hoping it will be more crass and that will make me smile and then I can take more photos.

The one and only CIF pouch Christmas tree from 2014. Wins all the time.

Nothing will ever top this Christmas display

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A ride to work

Having ridden across the city for the past 6 years, I seldom share images of whats going on and how the journey is, yet I do mention it rather a lot.
So with taking motorbike taxis becoming more frequent I have the opportunity to actually see where I am going and share some of the things with you.

Here are some videos from my camera as I went to work today. They all involve major traffic spots and just after peak morning traffic.

This one is from the start of the chaos past a new flyover to help traffic from the east of the city get into the city if people are not using the main toll way. Before this thing was being built it was not nice to ride through. It's even less nice now.

Next thats us getting through the traffic lights and past more traffic. You should understand that my daily journey is pretty much like this everyday although there are times when I can see the road ahead.

Finally this is us getting past the last major tollway exit to the business part of the city and its not that busy to be fair and with the amount of police present there is some behaviour of traffic. All the buses are full.

Here are some other photos

What riding looks like

Then the customary bike crash you see everyday. The amount of commotion around it prevented me from better pictures but it looked like no one was hurt and a taxi driver was either sorting it out or trying to say sorry.

The view to another traffic hot spot (there are over 400 of these through the city) and a close up of a the back of a bus which is a place I try to avoid due to the jet black smoke they produce.

A very busy toll gate with random man walking through it all for effect.

Finally, you know how everyone complains about the Rubbish truck when it does its rounds? Does it look like this? This truck is there everyday and leaves full. It is parked on the road and the rubbish collectors have to throw the waste into it everyday. The traffic around it pays this no attention.

This Orange cart is how household and business waste is collected. Some just collect plastic or paper and cardboard but most collect household waste. The smell is amazing.

The human chain to load the truck.

I might venture out with my camera to take better pictures especially in the rain, that will be fun,

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Rain at last

The dry season has well and truly been dry and the dust and soot more visible than normal. Jakarta is its normal lines of wet and dry but there seems to be a bigger change in the weather with some more longer periods of wet weather and storms as we approach December.
Naturally it hasn't seemed to stop raining in the mountains and hills around the city and some of the low lying parts of East Jakarta have began to flood already.
The Jakarta administration is saying that this year won't be as bad as last year or as terrible as 2013 and the city will flood for a day or 2 but to be honest no one knows.

Motorbike taxi in the rain

For the past week there has been a team of workers shoveling the mud out of the drains near the mosque by the house and hopefully all that effort will finally stop the flooding around the mosque and housing. Similarly there has been some local roads raised up through layers of concrete to stop flooding as well so that again should help the locals.

Cleaning Drains looks something like this (http://beritajakarta.com/)
I am currently using motorbike taxis which are becoming quite fast and less stressful even if my hips seem to seize up after sitting in the same position for 45 minutes but I will become worried if it rains and whether they will be available in the rain. If not then the trusty bike will push me through the rain and puddles and I guess that will be OK.

Looks about right (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/)

This is also OK and even more fun in lightning storms....

However, I  must buy some new waterproof trousers and jacket just in case as the ones I have now leak.  Riding in the city is so much more fun in the rain.

But unlike flood water in England, the flood water is warm, filthy but warm and so that makes it less of a hassle.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


After 8 years of living on the Island of Java, I  have finally stayed in the second most important city on it and maybe in Indonesia, Surabaya. Surabaya is in the east of Java and like every other city in Indonesia consists of lots of traffic, heat and bad buildings. Apart from that, the only other difference was the lack of very tall buildings.  Hows that for an introduction?

Java with Jakarta in the West and Surabaya in the East.

So, in order to explain how I came to that conclusion here is my story. Last week I attended EF English Firsts annual conference which was held at the JW Marriot hotel in Surabaya. I left Jakarta on Tuesday with my manager and colleagues from other centers and flew Citilink to Juanda airport. Our flight was at 10.00pm and we got there after 11pm.
Citilink are a good airline as their flights are normally on time and the planes are pretty good. Being the low cost carrier belonging to Garuda helps as well with that.

From the airport in Surabaya we took the 34km trip to the city (that's what Google Maps says)  and to the JW Marriot hotel. It being late at night, the traffic was pretty good and so we were there in no time or just around an hour.

A big metal boat on the wall by reception

On arriving at the hotel, we were met with armoured cars, armed police and a tank due to the fact that the president of Indonesia Joko Widodo was staying the night which added to the fun of arriving late.
Walking down the red carpet to check in I was met by the head of the Hotel and wished a pleasant stay; He didn't look stressed at all! My room was on the 7th floor and so I went to drop by bags and then join some friends in the bar to say hello. On entering the room, I discovered it was a smoking room and in one of the single beds in it, was a man fully dressed dozing while the blue haze of cigarette smoke hung over him. I bid him farewell and went back to reception to complain and get another room.
This action got me a new non smoking room and it was all mine for the night which was even better.

I did eventually share the room with a nice chap from Depok (a satelite city outside Jakarta) who would try and feed me every night croissants or whatever he bought downstairs. That was very nice of him.

Views from my room of Surabaya

The conference itself was highly enjoyable and there was lots of sharing and chat and a good party at the end of it. English First is celebrating 30 years being in Indonesia and that's a very good thing. There 74 EF language centers in Indonesia now and that number is growing. Its a big organisation with over 280 attendees and there were people missing due to holidays etc so that number should have been closer to 300.

Party night taking us back to 1986

Got to love group photos. I am at the back somewhere

Friday morning arrived as did a few hangovers and after the last of the meetings and discussions, it was time to checkout and on yer way, but eat first as lunch was provided. We were flying back later in the evening and so we had time to explore the city. I went with some friends to the nearest AC mall, had a coffee and waited for time to pass. Eventually enough had passed to get a taxi back to the airport and fly home.

What did I see in Surabaya? Nothing. Where did I go? Nowhere. Will I go back? Well, maybe. The hotel was nice. That bit was OK but I really never had any time to explore and still don't know where I could explore in Surabaya although I am pretty sure there is lots to see. So perhaps in time I will visit it again. The flight was good and the hotel was very good. There are plenty of taxis around to get you places so I might return.

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

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


There is a new thing happening in the city at the moment and it is spreading across Indonesia at quite a rate.

The arrival of paid / uniformed Motorbike taxi riders or Gojeks (Ojeks is the common name for all motorbike taxis) is a new service being offered.

Still an Ojek but in a green coat

Basically, you book a bike to pick you up from your phone (its an app, they love apps here) and then a man arrives on a bike. He gives you a helmet a face mask and a hairnet and then takes you to wear you want to go for a fixed fee. Tip him or don't, its OK he gets paid by the company to take you.

For a distance of up to 25km its 15,000 rupiah fixed fee. So from my house to work its 15,000 in total. If I compare:

A Taxi - 80,000
Ojek, Bus, Taxi - 55,000
Ojek normal - 50,000
My own bike - Free (except, fuel, service and parts, and the chance of being stopped by the police)

So its pretty good value and there is insurance too. 

Map of the route to the destination

I took my first Gojek  recently. However, the GPS on my photo for some reason was not operating properly so the man thought I had cancelled when he called. Then he did not know where I wanted to go so I had to direct him all the way. It was however still 15,000 and with a tip of 10,000 it'd still easier.
On the way back, I could not get a phone signal so a colleague ordered me one. He arrived and took me pretty much straight back home; 15,000 rupiah plus tip and no issues.
We rode through 2 police stops as well which was good as I am sure I would have been stopped had I been riding alone.

However, I can't take them everyday as the cost is still high over the month and the guarantee that there are some Gojeks waiting about is not always there but I will use them more now I understand how to. 

They also offer the following but I cant say if I will use them yet

Go Send - Parcel delivery
Go Ride - Motorbike taxi
Go Food - Man picks up food from selected restaurants
Go Mart - Man goes shopping and brings it to you
Go Busway - Live busway showing where the buses are
Go Box - Large parcels delivered 
Go Clean - Cleaner comes and cleans the house
Go Glam - Hair and Makeup on your doorstep
Go Massage - Someone comes round and gives you a massage but its not a happy ending service

GO - HOE has not been created yet and probably wont be (not legally) but I am sure there is a service out there already, its just I am not aware of it. Although it happens in Kuta, Bali!

So they have a lot of different services and they are expanding. 

There are other players out there now, namely Grab Bike but they are more expensive but maybe I will try them. They also have Grab Taxi which is slightly cheaper than normal taxis and Grab Cars which are private cars for hire and they are far cheaper. And apparently you can hire a Ferrari or something through them as well if you want to show off. I don't.