31 Mar 2012

Finally, the school holidays are here!! Two weeks of no school! There is now a chance for us to have a bit of a catch up, a relax and actually get out to do some sight seeing in Jakarta!!

When we first arrived here we flew in on the Thursday, went and bought uniforms and essentials on the Friday then packed everyone off to school on the Monday...and with 3 kids' school/sports/birthday parties/other social calendars, we have not really had a chance to catch our breaths since!  Phew!!! But, we made it through the 12 week long term!

Today is Sunday, and the kids are frolicking in the pool.  We are relaxing by the pool, watching the children while on our computers (wasting time I am, while MOTH does bill sorting...did I say I love you lots and lots honey!?!?!), temperature is bearable...just need a cold wine...soon. Wi-fi is grand!

Our holidays will not quite be our own, as we are "blessed/cursed" to have a very talented swimmer on our hands. (I do not know where the sporting prowess comes from, as neither MOTH or I are at all sporty!) Daughter 1 (D1) has been selected to compete in the Asian All Stars Swimming tournament in Perth in the second week of the holidays. So, it is training as normal for her poor thing through the first week. 6.30-8.30am M,T,W,Th (Good Friday - none), then back on the Monday for another session.  We fly out on the Tuesday via Bali to Perth.  We had to cancel our "Bali by the pool" holiday - damn!! We are staying at Scarborough, by the beach.  The hotel we are staying at looks lovely.  It will be so, so,so  nice to go "home" even if only for a short break.  To breathe in some fresh air, suck in some blue sky and stock up on some Australian essentials will be lovely!!

It will be divine just to enjoy the open spaces again that we take so for granted, and to go for a walk!! Jakarta is incredibly disabled "unfriendly".  Having initially arrived here on crutches due to an ankle/foot injury, I have become acutely aware of this fact!  Even for the able bodied it is perilous at times to just get around on foot. There really are very few footpaths - so you tend not to walk anywhere!  (It is also so hot!!)  If you do walk you have to take your life in your hands and walk on the side of the road! (Not a great idea - especially with three kids who are not "Jakarta-traffic-savvy"- in tow!)  Then, if there is a foot path, or "flat area", the concrete will often be all broken and uneven, or rocky and gravelly.  The whole place is built full of stairs.  Sometimes there will be lifts or escalator, but not reliably, and then they'll often be out of order...tough! Everything is tiled in marble (even around pools) , so then of course with the frequent downpours that comes with the monsoonal climate, the floor/stairs will be as slippery as glass...just lethal!

Life is good though...I might just go and open that bottle of cold wine. Oh bugger...that's right I'm here...no wine for me today!! (Had limited supplies but shared them on Friday night! Man - I am a good friend!!!)

23 Mar 2012

I am finally over my bug.  Boy, the cervical lymphadenopathy (enlarged glands in my neck) was impressively big and very unpleasantly sore!! It has finally settled down today...but it took a full week and a bit! I hope I didn't pass that one on to anyone!

I spent the day today cooking a Red Thai Curry from scratch for friends who came for lunch.  It was very nice to potter in the kitchen and just enjoy cooking.  It was also really lovely to be able to source all the ingredients easily, and so fresh!  The recipe I use is from the Spirit House in Yandina (Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia)...and I must say, it is very, very nice!

The galangal was amazing and so young and tender, same for the lemon grass. The ginger was beautiful, tender and fragrant, lovely kaffir lime leaves, aromatic garlic, fresh tamarind, fresh bamboo shoots and pea eggplants!!  The pea eggplants I had looked for in Brisbane for years to no avail.  I walked into the first supermarket here, and there they were!  All packaged up neatly and readily available (and cheap!)

Actually pretty much all the vegetables here are cheap I think, and amazingly fresh and just beautiful! The range is impressive too. I can get baby zucchini (about a dollar for 12-15), baby chokoes (cheap, and just absolutely incredible in quick vegie saute with a big splodge of good oyster sauce!), baby corn and slightly bigger not-so-baby-baby-corn-but-still-baby-corn (also cheap, and delicious) and all sorts of other things that sometimes, I've no idea what they are let alone how to use them!! The only thing that sadly is quite expensive is pumpkin! We can get beautiful butternut pumpkin, but it is grown in Japan (a bit of a worry at the moment...) A medium sized pumpkin (about a kilo) was about 12 dollars the other day!! Can I say, we REALLY enjoyed our roast pumpkin...A LOT!!

The fresh tamarind brought back memories of eating tamarinds under the massive tamarind tree in our primary school in Far North Queensland.  We used to call them "monkey nuts".  Those were the days! (How old do I sound?)

As another aside, I was amazed to find a copy of the Spirit House's BBQ Cookbook for sale right here in Jakarta at one of the local bookstores!  Seeing it brought on waves of fond memories of doing the cooking classes there (a must do - I'll have to ask for commission here!!) and a big jab of homesickness!

Not sure if the right way to say it, but HAppy Nieppe everyone! (Balinese New Year)  Shhhh....it is apparently celebrated in silence and everything shuts down and there is no talking or noise.  Different - I can't imagine a silent New Year's Eve celebration!  Jakarta has remained as is, but in Bali, even the airport shuts!  ALL DAY!

18 Mar 2012

Being sick is never fun...for anyone.  I've been holed up in bed for all of Sunday with a buggy-lurgie thing, and wish I could crawl back there today too...but the call of children, school, pre-work commitments, household chores all call.  One of the cool things I did discover while I was laying in bed trying to not feel so miserable was that we have a resident squirrel!  He (or she) frightened me the first time I caught a glimpse of it...it is soooo darn quick!  And, I wasn't sure what it was.  But it seems to live in the big tree just outside of our bedroom windows.  We do not have squirrels in Australia, and I must admit I more associate them with North America or Britain. I would not have thought that they would be residents here. Anyhow, it put on a skittish show for a few minutes then scampered off.  Too cute!!

14 Mar 2012

Well, second entry in a day!

So far I've had one cyber person tell me this text appears in Dutch...I cannot seem to get rid of it, and make the page fully in English.  Australian friends have not mentioned any problems, though.

Another friend says I need a widget thingy to follow other blogs...mmmm...this is opening up a whole other world!

Tonight MOTH has gone out to a work function.  Some business dinner. Kids and me at home alone. (admittedly I am at home with our lovely Guard, his wife (our housekeeper) and their two littlies...so I'm not quite alone I guess.)

We have had dinner...all miraculously cleaned away while I was sitting and eating dinner with the children!! I think I can get used to that bit that's for sure!!

We have been waiting on and off all day for a workman from the furniture shop to come and assemble a fold out sofa I bought on Monday.  This fold out sofa is for our driver to sleep on if he needs to stay late, and it then folds up out of the way when it is not being slept on.  The shop just rang (at 2015h) to say they'd be here at 2100h to install it!!!!! I am not sure quite what they have to "install"...as it looks incredibly straight forward to me, but they offered, and it was no extra, so why would I argue?

It is a very different set up here with the shops...of course!! Shops here generally do not open until 10 am. Some grocery stores do open at 8 or 9 am.  The street food vendors are open 24 hours...eat there at your peril though!!! Schools here seem to have shifts - a way of rationing resources for the masses.  My driver just laughs at me now when I want to turn up early...he says, "Maaam, no open until ten". Duh!! I forget...every time!! Everything is then open until at least 10pm...every single night...even all the shopping centres! Later on weekends. The food courts are lined with great restaurants, so shopping here really can be a marathon affair!! I guess it is one way of creating jobs and spreading out the crowds.

The school hours the children keep are also amazing...some start at 0630!!!! There is no way in the world I could get my kids sorted to be out the door for school by that time!  Amazing.

Anyhow, we'll see if this guy shows...

13 Mar 2012

Well hello!!

I am very, very new to cyberworld, and indeed blogging!  I am still getting the site up and running - I think!! I have no idea what I am doing really, but I'll bumble along if you can all bumble with me!!

Parts of the page are still displaying on my computer in Bahasa Indonesian, so I am not sure what will show at your end...or how to change/fix it!!

We have been in Jakarta now for nearly 11 weeks - which is hard to believe! It seems like an eternity, and a blink all at the same time! What a whirlwind!!

We are much more settled in our house now, things are more and more unpacked AND put away in (by our standards) logical places!!  When we moved in there were 11 Indonesian men from the removalists, their foreman, our driver, maid and gardener and us, plus three kids all unpacking! It was CHAOS!!!! It was great as everything got unpacked rapidly and the boxes and paper all disappeared on day one (I am not at all complaining!!!) - but I then of course had ABSOLUTELY no idea where ANYTHING was!!  I have managed to rearrange the kitchen and S3's room, so it is nice now to also have a bit of order.  D1 and D2 have managed to rearrange their rooms themselves with the help of our house keeper. Our bedroom is not too bad.

After 10 weeks in the hotel, can I say it was just bliss to melt into OUR BED!!!! Night one....ooooohhhhhh, it felt soooooooo gooooood compared to that hotel bed!!! Soooooooo nice!!

We settled in all excited that first night, ready to channel surf away on our newly acquired cable/pay TV!!!! Oh wow!! We had never succumbed to cable TV in Australia as we always felt it was a waste of money, and that the children (and we) would of course just watch MORE TV!  Here of course, all the local channels are in Bahasa Indonesian...so not really an option.  Anyhow, then Daughter 2 (D2) went to change channels and it all fell apart!  This message came up...IN RED...(never a good colour for information text!!)..."unable to something or rather...please contact service provider".  So, of course we got mad at her, she got upset, then we got upset. That was about when MOTH (Man of the House) pipes up and says..."oh yes! I think I was supposed to pay them some money by today.  Do you think that might have something to do with it....?" Do ya reckon!! Yup!! Nothing to do with poor D2...it was that the bill hadn't been paid!! DUH!!! All fixed now thank goodness!

We have had our second water delivery today.  You cannot drink the tap water here, or even cook in it! It is OK for bathing and washing only.  Apparently there are high levels of E.coli contaminants, and also heavy metals, chemicals etc.  Noooice! Arranging the delivery was not easy! I had sent a few website enquiries, then phoned many times all to no avail...various reasons had been given, none consistent...but eventually I was told someone would call me.  Someone finally did call, but they didn't clearly identify themselves at the outset of the conversation.  So I started in on them about coming to install our washing machine!  I asked at least 5 times were they from Miele..."yeeeees"...each time was the reply.  I could not make head nor tail of their end of the conversation...until I caught "aqua" at one point.  (aqua is Indonesian for drinking water)...that is when the penny dropped, and I said "ohhhhh, you are from Aqua (also happens to be the company name too!)..."yeeees" was the reply.  Well, you could hear the relief from both sides!!! Pheww!  Within an hour or two a man from Aqua was at the hotel, signing the papers with me...all done!! I was very proud of myself indeed for sorting that out!  (A lot more communication has happened behind the scenes for sure with our driver and the water company...but I'll run with that small victory!!)  The water people reappeared today and have replenished the supplies, so, so far, so good.