Saturday, 23 May 2015

Harapan Island Jakarta

With last week end being a long week and our annual staff outing on the horizon, it was decided that we should make the best of the weekend and as a group go a bit further than Bandung or Carita and have 2 whole days on a team outing. The place chosen was one of the Thousand Islands called Harapan Island.

Harapan Island is 3 hours 'express' boat ride north from Jakarta and is mainly full of places to stay and as a starting point to explore the many islands around it.

3am on Saturday morning, I am up and awake and getting ready for the weekend. My taxi arrived at 4 and so by 4.30am I was stood inside my center having a cup of tea. By 5.30 I was in Mcdonalds having breakfast. We should have all left at 5am but well, there is always someone late. The boat was due to leave at 7 and so we had to be there to catch it.

Looks nice

There is the sea under all that

Trying to get on a boat

Not our ferry

Another ferry

On the deck


Thats your seat for 3 hours

Fishing boats

A view

What I could see if I stoodup and looked down

Jakarta in the distance as we set off

The boat leaves the delightful harbour of Muara Angke, North Jakarta which is next to Pluit. It is a full on fishing harbour and considering the size of Jakarta, it should tell you then that the size of the harbour was big and packed tight with fishing vessels of all shapes and sizes and rich smells and dirty harbour water.
We had to walk t he last 10 minutes of the journey due to the traffic outside the harbour. From there we walked with the masses to a meeting point and was told our ferry was the last in line, which meant crossing 3 other ferry boats to get to ours and after clambering around we found that we had to sit in the open sun on the top deck due to the amount of people already on the boat.
The boats themselves have 2 decks of which the upper deck has a large area that is just open. The cabin area (if thats what you call it) is very low, there are no chairs and 2 fans. You have to lie or sit on the floor and sweat away. Outside you have the breeze and then sun. There is no cover from the sun so it burns.
After waiting just over an hour and with at least 300 people on board, many sat on the roof of the cabin we left the port and headed into the Java sea. It was a pretty much routine trip, clear skies and flat sea but it was hot and becauseof the sun I was wearing my black hooded top to help keep the burn away as well as my sons factor 50 sun cream, which did work. After aback numbing 3 hours of looking at small islands and the sea we eventually arrived at Pulau Harapan or Harapan Island. Again, we had to clamber over other ferries and then pretty much jump on the quay and fight through those leaving the island to get to the land. All typically Indonesian.

Arriving at the island

Tourist boat

Getting off the boat


Welcome to Harapan Island

A view

Outside the homestay

The homestay

Main room



From the front door

Side alley

We were staying in a house or homestay which was right on the sea which was nice and not far from the ferry. It was quiet enough there, and the house whilst run down had AC in the bedrooms and there were plenty of bathrooms. So plenty of space for 30 of us.
After lunch of chicken and rice we waited for another boat to take us out snorkelling. One of the best things about the islands is the amount of reef and coral that can be explored and whilst not completely pristine there are lots of colourful fish and things to look at and the water is clear, clean and warm which is good. We set off in a small fishing boat and headed off to see some fish and explore some islands. Being me, I have no idea what islands we saw, nor did I ask but most had white or golden sand with a backdrop of tress and looked nice.

Off exploring

Typical island

Golden or white sand
The blue ocean

Sun set

The snorkeling was good with the exception of how to get back on the boat as there was no ladder provided so you had to climb up onto it via a tyre which was not very helpful. After a while we set off to another island passing a overly full exposed sandbank full of tourists. We headed to a delightful islands chose not to get off the boat as the island was full of people so we headed somewhere else and snorkelled there instead.
Bobbing about in the sea we were supposed to watch the sun go down but it turned cloudy as it often does here at sunset so we headed back to the house, and once there, showered in the delightful salt water Mandi and went and ate.
After eating and things we played some 'games' which seemed to involve a lot of shouting and arguing but was good fun and the someone arrived with BBQ food for us. The Tuna was great, however that was all I ate. I like Tuna.

I passed out before 11pm as being up so early finally hit me however by 4am I was awake and so stumbled out of the house in the morning found someone selling drinks, bought some coffee and juice and watched the sun come up, which was nice.


Sun rise

By 8am everyone was up and off exploring the island and on another boat trip. I decided to stay at the house and relax and try to sleep.
By 12 we were fighting to get back on the ferry and once on it found that the open part of the top deck had a tarpaulin sheet covering it so there was shade from sun and once we started moving the breeze kept us cool as we endured another 3 hour boat trip back. It was a little more choppy and so the ferry moved in the swell somewhat and someone threw up which was nice especially as the boat was so crowded but it was another uneventful boat trip.
Back at the port in Jakarta we had to again work out how to get off the ferry and onto land by negoiating the other tied up boat and then walked off to find a taxi. By 4.30 I was home and in the shower feeling clean again.

It was a great trip away from the city depsite the boats and the heat and not getting burnt from the sun was a plus. The ferry trip was an experience and one must do these things however next time, I will take a fast boat out. I have no idea what else is on Harapan island as I never had time or made time to explore it but the islands around were great and they are all worth going to.
For a quick break from the city which is cheap and cheerful and a true Indonesian travelling experience go to Harapan Island.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Thousand Islands

Take a boat from one of the many harbours and ports in and around Jakarta and you will inevitably end up going past small islands full of green trees front by yellow or white sand. These islands are know as the  Thousand Islands or Pulau Seribu. However there are not a thousand only from around 110 (wikipedia) to 128 (Thousand Islands website), so who knows and to be honest it does not really matter. The Thousand Islands are little places of escape for Jakartans and hopeful travellers looking to get out of the big Durian for a while and slow the pace of life down through sun bathing, different water sports, snorkeling and swimming or just plain nothing. 

Getting to the islands can be as enjoyable as your pocket is deep. There are chartered ferries, public ferries, fast boats, fairly fast boats. With some islands only 20 minutes away and others more than 3 hours, it does depend how you want to get there.

If you want the thrill of a fast boat and have not desire for crowds and sweat then head to Ancol and take a boat from there. If you want a ferry then get to the Fishing port at Muara Angke, next to Pluit and negoiate a ticket and clamber on board a large wooden boat with no seats, just the floor to lie or sit on and enjoy the sea trip. 

Recently I have been to Pulau Harapan in the East of the islands and 3 hours by ferry or and hour by fast boat, but thats a blog to come.

Here is a map. Which does not name all the Islands. Harapan is above P.Kelapa island or Coconut Island.

Prices start from 30,000 rupiah one way to well what ever. Just remember, that the more you pay, the 'quicker' or more comfortable the trip. Safety, no comment, its best not too. However, if you have ever been to an Asian Bus Station, Airport, or harbour before then the cheap boats are just like that hot and sweaty crowded moment you enjoyed then but maybe a little more...

Couple more links for you

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Jeremy's second birthday

Just over 730 days ago, my wife gave birth to my new world and life, Jeremy. It seems amazing and such a short period of time in which so much has happened. I suppose as Jeremy is all consuming in terms of my time and energy so that there is nothing else really going on for me. And with the departure of the house keeper, there is no time but time with Jeremy or a mop. Who needs sleep and free time anyway? At least with Jeremy being 2 now, he is a little less dependent on everyone and can and will sit and play quietly for short periods of time without feeling the need to run off and be mischievious somewhere and have dad stop him.

Playing in a car at the mall
 Jeremy has become a firm follower of You Tube videos for kids and is not really that interested in the TV at the moment, although he will sit and watch Baby TV all day, or at least look at it now and again when it is on. Cbeebies seems to be losing ground to Baby TV and the other channels really dont get a look in at the moment.
I have downloaded a load of You Tube videos and he is content enough for now to watch them repeatedly which again leaves a little more time for me to do something else.

His new scooter

Over the weekend it was Jeremy's birthday. He turned 2 on Sunday and it was a good day. On Friday we took him to the ELC in Gandaria city to buy him a ride on scooter bike thing. We would have gone to the one in Grand Indonesia but the police had closed all the roads leading there as it was May Day and there were '000's of demonstrators marching about.
We brought him a Scooter and he now just sits on that whizzing about. Some other toys I have not seen since as well were bought but I am sure they will appear when he is ready to play with them.

From Auntie Margaret

Thanks Helen
On Sunday we did not really do much with him. He unwrapped his presents, not really knowing why and played with his new toys while me and his mum fussed over the new clothes and when in the year he will be big enough to wear them. Jeremy was happy all day and in the afternoon after shopping and more toy buying he helped cut the cake and enjoyed eating some, before retiring to his chambers early and sleeping for around 10 hours.
His cake

Blowing out the candles
I am pretty certain that next year he will be far more aware to the fact that he has a birthday and also this will probably happen at Christmas.

But for now, his second birthday was great time and fun had by all. Of course, being Dad I got to eat nearly all the cake.....