Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Puri Avia Resort

I am not a big fan of Bogor or Puncak despite its beauty, fresh air and cool weather mainly because you can never judge what the trip there or back will be like if you go by any means of transport from motorbike to train. Also once there, you have to rely on minibuses to get round or motorbike taxis and whilst that's not a really a problem it become more problematic with a small child. However, if there is a chance to overnight then sure count me in. And so last weekend with everyone at EF who I work with we all jumped on a bus and headed into the foothills behind Bogor for our annual outing.

Our Bus

This year it was decided not go to the sea because for the previous 3 years that is all we have done and so after realising Bandung was a bridge too far, the villas and peace of Puncak over looking the city of Bogor was the place to go. 

Ready for the off

We had given ourselves 3 hours journey time which should have been enough, considering its only 70km away and even on a bus it should not take much more time. But, as soon as we got on the toll we faced traffic and delay. The 3 hour trip ultimately took just over 6 hours. Still, everyone was in pretty good spirits after the traffic and the traffic was awful and the huge rain that fell did not do anything to help matters. I managed somewhere along the way to grab a Starbucks so that cheered me up some but ultimately the journey was fine. 

Traffic waiting to pass a toll gate

There is always a risk of traffic when you head into the Puncak on a weekend because it is one of the most visited places by people from Jakarta. The road up into the area is also over crowded and the police often close the road in one direction to allow traffic to either go it quicker or come down it quicker.  The police had this in place on Saturday but still we got there.


The evening was cut short by the late arrival but we had time to eat and chat and play some games before being ushered off to sleep around 1 am. Our rooms were all sharing and the rooms were pretty good. I was sharing with 3 others. We all had beds and the room was big with good AC as well as hot water from the shower so it was nice.

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The room
Hot water, always welcome as well as a western toilet

In the morning there was no real hurry to get up and most of the 30+ people were at breakfast before 8.30 am. It was an all Indonesian food affair but the rice and noodles were good although the coffee was pretty weak and lifeless and only really started to kick in after 4 cups!!!

Our villa

Nice pool

Views  from the venue

As it was an official group outing, games ensued in the Outbound area. Everyone seemed to enjoy them and everyone won a prize of some sort which was good. After the games were done, it was time for more photos (there were far too many photos as normal taken) and some time to relax before lunch of random fish and rice and then back on the bus for the trip home.

The complete view

We left just after 2 pm and got onto the toll before 3 which was good but the traffic heading into Jakarta was pretty horrendous again so by 6.30 pm we were in the middle of the city but not at the final destination. I was lucky enough to be able to get off and catch the Transjakarta back to my home where I met by a very excited 3 year, a wife bearing pizza and the chance to catch up on my sleep.

The team who I am proud to work with

It was a short trip out but a fun one and now I have been and stayed in Puncak twice in 9 years. 


Saturday, 28 May 2016

May 2016

Its been a funny old month, this one for many reasons.  It's been super hot and super wet. The traffic has been beyond really bad and also non existent at times. Lots of days off due to holidays and a 5 weekend month which has stretched the budget an awful lot. May has also been a busy one.

Jeremy turned 3 and we celebrated that in Sea World. His gran and Auntie here were in Europe for most of May so they missed his big day but did celebrate it with him when they returned. Our house keeper decided to leave 3 weeks before the start of Ramadhan for reasons still unknown leaving us without a nanny for Jeremy and the washing to do. This again makes life a little more complicated but we manage.

Great cake for a great boy

I finished teaching in Santa Ursula for time being after 4 years of being there and so no more coffee and doughnuts and time spent in a fantastic building with amazing students and teachers. But on the flip side, I can sleep in on a Monday and Wednesday now and no one has to be up at 4.30 in the morning any more so we are all pleased about that.

The Breakfast of Champions

A fantastic building and school 

The bikes licence expired that had to be renewed so I spent a couple of days riding and taking random Grab bikes and Go Jeks to and from work, which was just as tiring and annoying as riding, especially as many would cancel because of where I live. Once I had the bike licence back I have had the pleasure of taking different routes due to unbearable traffic in the city and also random police stops which I am not wanting to be involved in. Jakarta always has bad traffic but when it takes 30 minutes to go less than 2km on a bike, you know that its a bad day. I have had too many of them recently.

New licence and the bike is taxed for another year

Finally I had the joy of a quick trip to Singapore for some shopping and enjoy the sights. I don't write much about Singapore as I never really do much. But I did enjoy the double 1/4lb with cheese from McDonalds and also the fact that the tomato sauce actually tasted of tomatoes, unlike the stuff they serve here. I must buy a bottle of proper tomato sauce next time I am there!

A21 is the furthest from Immigration, and is next to A16. Its a
long walk or you can take the mono train thing

More views of T3 Changi Airport, Singapore

The most interesting part of the trip out was the fact that airport security actually exists now in Jakarta, despite Lion Air dropping international passengers off at a domestic terminal and letting them all leave (Air Asia has also done this, this month). At Jakarta Airport you now have to remove belts and shoes and computers and stuff and the queue for this was around 20 minutes and my flight was calling its final boarding calls but it was OK. I spent most of the day not wearing a belt sue to the amount of times I had to remove it.

The queue for Security checks at Jakarta Airport

And to end the month, not only are the stocks of Gin restored but I am off to the mountains above Bogor for the weekend, so fresh air here I come. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

4G Jakarta

Jakarta for all its faults and there are more than a few has recently started to improve its WiFi and telecommunications  because pretty much every person over 10 has a phone and accesses the Internet from it (if that's a slight exaggeration I am sure I am not that far from the truth). Internet access to homes is not available everywhere and the providers of Internet are limited and their quality of service is not guaranteed. 
When I arrived in Jakarta 2G and CDMA networks were big, then came 3G which is pretty good throughout the city and since around the middle of last year the bigger network providers have been pushing 4G. I use BOLT at home which is a 4G provider and you buy a modem and connect your phone to that. At times it is really fast and at others, no. It isn't that expensive and is fairly reliable but it is not good enough for working on a lap top so just phones and tabs for You Tube and photos and chatting really. Still it is welcome in my house because 3G is often not available or very good.
Using Telkomsel, I have to buy a package which includes 4G allowance which is great but my sim card is not a 4G one so I have been paying for something I haven't been able to use. This has been annoying me for a while, so much so that recently I went to the local Telkomsel store in Gandaria to see if I could change my sim for a 4G one, but with Jeremy in tow and the queue at epic numbers it was not really possible.
However, having just had 4 days off I took the opportunity to try again (without Jeremy) and went back to the same store and this time I was directed to a machine that created a 4G card for you free of charge whilst keeping the same number. This procedure took about 5 minutes. 

SIM card making machine (http://blog.telkomsel.com/corporate)

So I swapped old for new and then to my surprise no signal. Nothing. WiFi was working but there was nothing I could find on Google to tell me what was wrong so I turned off my phone. Upon switching it back on I had a full LTE (4G) signal and super fast speeds and everything was alright in the world once more.

I am getting around 12mps download speeds and 3mps upload with 4G compared with 4.2mps 3G download and 2.5mps upload. With WiFi I am getting 2.3mps downloads and 830kbps which is not good.

The signal at home is faster than BOLT which is great and there has been no issue across the city. At work it seems to switch between 3 and 4G as the signal is not so strong but that's OK. However, 4G does seem to kill the battery when the phone is being used for certain apps although I still working that out. Unlike 3G the 4G signal is constant (so far) so the phone does not appear to be searching for a signal all the time which is reducing power loss but still the battery lasts less than 10 hours now because of that which means the phone is nearly always being charged. My phone is 2 years old now and heavily used so the battery has taken a beating but the phone is still good enough to cope with everything I use it for.

Coverage of 4G in Jakarta (overall)

Current pricing 

 Switching up to 4G has so far been a good experience and with Telkomsel no problem even if the packages are a little pricey.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Jeremy is 3

3 years ago a little boy arrived into my world and since then everything has changed and the world became bigger and smaller at the same time. 3 years ago is a long time but watching Jeremy grow everyday has meant time has gone quicker.
3 is a big step for us all and he has become his own person and despite being very stubborn and sometimes a little too excited or active but his language acquisition of both Indonesian and English, motor control, memory,
He is a happy go lucky and responsive little boy as well as an eating machine. His imagination and creativity grows and grows and all this will help him no end when it comes to school and his future.

And he was 3 on Tuesday. For me, 3 means no longer a baby or toddler but rather a little boy. He still has needs and behaviours that he will out grow. Toilet training and milk bottles are a couple of the key ones.

But being 3 it was time to celebrate and do something special for him. So knowing how he likes fish, we went to sea world.

off we go

I last went to sea world in 2007 and as far as I remember it hasn't really changed much. It was closed for a period of time due to some problem with land ownership but happily it is open now.

With mum looking at fish

Seaworld is in north Jakarta in recreational park called Ancol. We took a grab car to Ancol and the journey was quick and quite cheap compared with a taxi (80k for the car instead of 100k + for a taxi). Then we had to pay 145K for entrance to Ancol. There were 5 of us and a car so that soon added up.

Outside with mum
Seaworld cost 80k each and Jeremy being over 80cm also had to pay the 80k. It is 90k on the weekend. We were there fairly early and so the place was empty. Upon seeing the fish tanks and the fish he went slightly mad with excitement which was to be expected.

Also very dark inside

Stair way

Inside the walkway

Inside Seaworld there are a lot of tanks of fish and a few sharks. There is the tunnel to walk under fish so you can see Rays and big fish. There were some touching pools and thats aobut it. No crabs or octopus or other little sea creatures. Sharks and fish and eels. But still he loved it.

Touching turtles with Belvan
The only photo we could take as he wanted to run around
We stayed for around an hour as to be honest there are only so many fish to look at and being hungry we took another grab car and headed into traffic to go to the city. Our grab car driver was clearly a fan of driving and so took us a long way round to Senayan City Mall which never dodged the traffic rather headed straight into it. Still we there was no rush. After eating and buying cakes we headed home for presents and cake.

Jeremy still does not understand birthdays but I am sure he will understand Christmas this year. But he understood parcels and presents and was excited to open the ones he got.

It was very kind of the friends and family that bought him gifts, he loves them all

More clothes and books to wear and read and his first Duplo lego from us has made him a very happy boy and he hasn't stopped playing with it all yet.

The cake we bought was a nice chocolate cake and he always enjoys blowing out the candles.

Cutting the cake is lots of fun

And that was my boy's special day and fun and tiring it was too. He fell asleep around 7pm worn out but happy. Next year he is 4. School approaches...

some links

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