Saturday, October 28, 2006
The Rainy Season
The weather has been hot for the past few weeks, slowly building in intensity as the clouds gather and one knows that the rainy season is due to start soon. Can’t start soon enough for me. I love the beginning of the rainy season, washing away the accumulated dust from the months of dry, everything goes green and the garden resorts to its full lush beauty. Having recently discovered that I am enjoying having a garden, I’m looking forward to hitting the plant nurseries dotted about
The plethora of plant life here is extraordinary; one can buy just about anything from exotic blooms to orchids to a thousand different types of ferns etc. It’s a gardener’s paradise, yet the sad thing is that you don’t see many householders out enjoying their gardens. The neighbours across the street used to look at me quite strangely every afternoon when I went out to water the garden or pull a few weeds (at least I hope they were weeds). Seems the garden is the province of the maids to look after, the family residing in the house only takes pleasure in that it looks good. I have never seen anyone in my street sitting out on the lawn, pottering about or just playing. This just doesn’t happen. I guess we are the first to break with the streets tradition in that we are always out front, kids running about, us reading books, having a coffee or sundowner etc. Indonesian families live indoors, making little use of their gardens. However, they do come out at dusk for a stroll, along the street, kids will come out to play, on the street, (as do ours when there are other kids out there) and maids will gather in small groups, on the street, to keep a watchful eye on the little ones and have a relaxed chat about their day. What do they talk about? Is it politics, gossip, life in general? I have no idea but they seem happy.
All activity takes place on the street; I think it has something to do with wanting to see what other people are doing. Or it could be the same thing as going to the mall. You go to look at the shops, to watch what others are doing, not necessarily to buy. As they walk past, parents will look into each garden, conversing in low tones, but will give you a smile if you catch their eye. You wonder what they say to each other, and it does make you feel somewhat self conscious about the state of the garden, the paint job, the car in the driveway, how you are dressed and so on. Or, as they pass are they not really commenting on anything they are seeing but looking for the pleasure of looking at something different than the four walls of their own houses? The mall culture seems alive and well in middle suburbia.
Once the rainy season really gets going, you can almost set your watch by it. Every afternoon the downpour begins around 3pm, coming down in huge sheets of water that engulf the drains and rise rapidly to encroach on low lying streets. By 4pm the roads are flooded and cars are sending great planes of water from either side, drenching any poor sod who happens to be coming along on his m’bike. We did wonder when we first arrived why almost everyone had a Kijang, Panther and so on. When the first rains hit, all became clear. Living in
If you are lucky enough to be at the front of the flooded road, its not so much an exercise in patience as it is in testing ones bravery. You look at the mad rush of water running across the street and discuss with the driver just how deep you reckon it is. It’s a risk to venture through it; you just never know what depth you might hit. There maybe a pothole that has sunk the road further or the height of the curb can’t be seen so you try to work out how high the water is, and then act accordingly. In my trusty 1997 hi-sporty Panther, thinking that it’s high enough to get through a couple of feet, I usually risk it and head out into the unknown depths. Haven’t stalled yet but there will come a time I know. A friend of mine was driving to Tanjung Lesung last rainy season in a Daihatsu Zebra, and came across what he thought was fairly shallow water. Once in, the engine died and it took ten people to push him out to the other side. He told me later that it was just deeper than he had thought and it was only when the water started to run through the doors that he realised he was in trouble. Poor fella!
The best part of the rainy season is the general state of cleanliness that occurs due to the water washing everything down. Dust is sent packing, dirt swirled away, rubbish and leaves swept into neat piles. The city and surrounds takes on a fresh look, the air is cleaner, and the patter of rain at night sends you soothingly into a good sleep.
Roll on rainy season.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Looking at jakartass.blogspot I see I got a mention! This is one blog I have always admired (see link on left), mostly for the dedication to his writing and the variety of information/observations he makes.
He is right when he says that as short termers (we have only been here three years), life is different from those who see
I have friends from Australia etc, married to Indonesians, who live here happily and with little complaint. They have adapted to the lifestyle, live on the most part simpler lives than the corporate expats (those who live in huge houses with huge salaries), and are keenly involved in their communities. One guy I know lives in the middle of a kampung and says he wouldn’t have it any other way. The ebb and flow of village life, the goodwill extended to those who live amongst them, is something that we as expats living in our gated communities will never experience.
One group of expat guys I used to hang out with in
Another friend of ours is an American woman, Margaret Alibasah, who ventured out here in the 60’s, met an Indonesian (Pak Ali Alibasah-deceased yet never forgotten for his generosity, humour and love of life), married and has lived here ever since. An English teacher, academic and translator (most well known for her collection of stories on “Kancil”) Margaret is getting frail now, yet takes an enormous interest in Indonesia from both a social humanitarian and political perspective. A friend of my parents from when we lived in
A few years ago, I returned for the first time to
We have other friends; expats newly arrived from
Last night I was at a gathering and some of the expats were complaining of the mosques that have been going almost non stop for the last few weeks due to Ramadan. I can understand where they are coming from but can’t accept it. I figure that if you live here you have to go along with what goes on around you. Yes, they can be noisy and, yes, it can be a bit hard at 3 in the morning to find yourself awake listening to a long and mostly incomprehensible sermon delivered through loudspeakers seemingly aimed at your bedroom window, but then, this is
Monday, October 23, 2006
It's pretty amazing what you can find out there by just clicking through a few sites. I have been enjoying looking at various photographer sites which, at times, have some great pictures worthy of contemplation and/or enjoyment.
This one is a list of photo blogs where you can roam to your hearts content.
Some nice pics by a guy called Imran
Magazine and arthouse pics by David LaChapelle
Unusual and lovely black and whites by J.John Priola
A photo journalist (Patrick Andrade) with a good selection of those moments that have transfixed the world. The sept.11 pics are worth looking at as are the various galleries on Iraq.
Fashion and Art photography, some might not be SFW but quality pics all the same.
Excellent B&W (and colour) pics by Thierry Le Goues
Portrait photography, a lot of Indian/Asian subjects, each face tells a story.
Some lovely work by a professional couple, David and Libby Nightingale.
Another photojourno, German, looking at Iraq, Indonesia etc. Excellent Indonesian Tsunami pics while terrible in what they depict, create a poignancy all of their own.
Hope you find something you enjoy!
Thursday, October 19, 2006| | | |
Lil C posing...
Sunday, October 15, 2006| |
Another sunrise shot.
The view from the summit of Mt.Batur, Bali.Helluva climb but breathtaking views.
Sliding down the other side through volcanic sand and rocks, and we took students up there? Must have been nuts.
Just noticed for the first time that I can send pictures through Picasa directly to my blog. Was trying to figure out how to upload them, looks like this is the answer!
If you click on the picture you get a bigger picture and the load size is not too big either.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
While I'm in the mood for posting links, let's take a wander though a number of sites collected over the past while.
The camera I would love to own: Canon Rebel XT
An excellent photo organiser from Google, Picasa is free. This great little program lets you organise your photos, fix them, and email them instantly which automatically downsizes them for ease of transmission.
A great car CD player. After some research, I settled for this CD Player We have been very impressed with it. Great sound and cool styling.
You want to get an Ipod? Or a laptop? This site has everything. You usually have to buy in bulk, but the prices are much less than in the shops. So the idea would be to get some friends together, decide on a product, then go looking for it: Alibaba
Like Indonesian food? Check out this blog Indo recipes , has a large number of 'em, and very good at that. There is also this site, a favourite of mine. Recipes are in Indonesian and English. One more, all in Indonesian, but excellent recipes!
Curious as to what cars cost in Indonesia? This site sells both new and used. Cars are expensive here, and this site gives you a good idea as to just what is available and for what price.
If you wander the net like me, there are times when you come across a webpage and have no idea what its about. Luckily, Altavista has a great spot where you can insert text and ask for a translation.
This is an interesting site. You meet people through the net and give them a room. In return, you get a room in other places when you travel. All free and for those who are adventurous at heart. CouchSurfing.com "helps you make connections worldwide. You can use the network to meet people ... When you surf a couch, you are a guest at someone's house. They will provide you with some sort of accommodation, a penthouse apartment or maybe a back yard to pitch your tent in".
A pretty good online radio station
For those who are able to download lots of music etc, then this is the site for you. It's filesharing, and a good one. If you have a good connection, then it's invaluable. The fastest download speed I can get is around 45kbps, so I usually don't bother unless there is some track I'm looking for.
Ever heard of retro running? It's the art of running backwards. has a growing number of disciples, including me. Near the end of a session on the x-trainer, I do 500 mtrs or so backwards. Excellent for a variety of reasons, I'll let the site explain why.
Kids are calling so have to run. Hope you find something useful on one of these sites!
I've been wandering round the net lately, and have these to share.
This one consists of the most amazing portrait photos, seems to be from Israel, check it out, you won't be disappointed: Portrait Photos
This a huge collection of photos on Indonesia covering all sorts of topics and ideas: Indonesia Pics
For those interested in the Vietnam war, this is an unusual but rewarding site, showing the human face of a conflict so much has been written about yet little understood: Vietnam
This a large number of albums from a couple who have travelled all over, some interesting photo's here, and yet the couple concerned give no information about themselves, which makes this even more interesting as you wander through their archives: Big Trip
Speaking of travel, this is a collection of "travel related ephemera" from the 1920's and 30's:
Still on travel, this is the work of a UK based freelance photographer, some stunning pictures. Check out India, one of my favourites: World Photo's
Friday, October 13, 2006
Been busy at work these past couple of weeks but all is well. Lil D is just so typical of a little boy, is getting into trouble everywhere, climbs, jumps and constantly has me in fear for his limbs and life. He is such a daredevil, and thinks everything is hugely funny. His newest question is “Why?” and we have to explain everything to him. If he doesn’t understand, and this is most times, we get the why again and have to try and figure out how to explain it all over again! He loves his games, follows Lil C everywhere, tries to do everything she does, and then some, and chatters away all the time. His language is still a bit difficult to understand but Lil C is good at explaining what he wants so she makes a good interpreter! He is extremely active but also enjoys sitting down and watching pooh bear videos with Lil C. His tooth seems to be okay, has dropped back down quite a bit but most probably is dead tho we just have to wait and see what happens. His forehead scar is barely noticeable and so we are very relieved. We try to make sure they get a lot of play outside and mixing with other kids. Lil D goes to music appreciation on Friday mornings and playgroup on Wednesdays.
Lil C is as active as ever and is really enjoying school. I go look for her at times when I can during her lunch break and usually find her with Lil J, the Australian teacher’s child who is in her class running around full tilt. She does swimming lessons on Saturdays, touch football on Friday and tennis lesson on Tuesday! This keeps her busy! Her career options are opening up and she now wants to be a rock star, lord knows where that came from but she is really into it, dancing around miming songs and pretending she is playing an electric guitar. She has already extracted a promise that she will get an electric guitar for her twelfth birthday, and next year will get an acoustic one to practise on. Next Friday all the kids in her class have to dress up as their careers so she is going as a rock star. We got a note from the teacher today stating that the kids were all putting on a show and in Lil C’s writing she has listed what she needs for hers, to wit, a microphone, a guitar, music and “cool” clothes.
All is good tho it’s getting hot, the rains will start soon and you can feel the buildup in the air, it’s muggy which can be tiring. We are all coming down with flu’s and bugs etc, which is another indication of the changing weather. Hopefully the rains will start soon. C has been unwell this week but is okay. She is enjoying her Monday morning tennis with the other ladies and her tennis lessons. She is still doing yoga and does the run most Wednesdays, tho is now doing the adult touch footy every fortnight. She is also working a bit now, doing around 6 hours a week, 2 hours a pop, and seems to enjoy it. She is now busily preparing for an expats kids Halloween party going to be held in someone’s complex where houses have been forewarned! C is in charge of the games so has been doing quite a bit of research on the net. Tonight she was making three jack o lanterns to be filled with sweets etc by covering balloons with strips of paper soaked in water and flour. C is also involved now in EWAS as secretary, they asked her to stand as president but she declined, as it would have meant quite a bit of work and she is already involved in the tulip foundation, a charity run by expats to help village kids born with cleft palates. They have been doing quite a bit of fundraising recently; it’s a worthy cause as the kids are ostracized until corrective surgery is done.
Last Saturday, J, an 8 year old from the family four doors down had a b’day party so they had it at the complex pool. There were about 20 kids, mostly Indonesian, all splashing about and having fun. C helped organise the games and they loved pass the parcel! An early night as we were tired after a long day with C at yoga in the morning followed by Lil C’s swimming lesson then shopping for J’s present. On Sunday we went to a friends house for a BBQ and had a lovely time, they have a pool and the kids all swam and had great fun. The adults sat around, chatted and it felt like we were back in aussie again. Went home after six as the kids were getting tired, and had an early night.
One more week then its Idul Fitri where we all get ten days off to relax. Most people go home to the countryside to see family etc, and you give the maids a months salary as a bonus for working, except if they have only worked for six months or less then it’s half a month’s salary. So P got a full month but S the driver and A the cook got half months. They were all pleased with their bonuses! P doesn’t want to go home this year so she is just going to take a couple of days off but instead will get new years off this year as she wants to get together with friends. The driver and cook both get four days off as they are only going a short distance, and they seem quite happy with that. The city will empty for the week and most businesses will close, including restaurants etc. it will be very empty on the streets tho this won’t bother us as we are just going to use the club and enjoy.
We still haven’t decided what to do about Xmas, we did email P and C and asked them if they wanted to come to
Well, that’s all the news. I hope this finds you all well and in good spirits.
3rd World Culture Kids
Tomorrow night we are going to a going away party for a family who has been here seven years! They are going home to
Lil C asked me awhile back when we would be returning to
I’m going to have to look into this more closely soon and try to figure out just what the various experts are saying. One thing I don’t want is Lil C, who is quite a sensitive little soul, having to cope with rejection and ostracized for being “different”. There is an innocence that the kids develop here that you don’t see much of back home. They live in a protected bubble in some ways, yet they also see the worst that a third worlds society has to offer by just getting in the car and going to the city. Any question she asks is always answered carefully, and she has already been on school trips to a local school, villages and so on. She gets to see things kids her age back home could not even imagine; the poverty, the dearth of social support, and the sick and so on. Yet she seems to accept this as being part of
The front lawn is now looking fantastic, I water it every morning after I get up then again in the evening when home from work/gym. It was cut yesterday for the second time and is very smooth and healthy. I am really proud of it and most mornings find me watering and weeding as I go while having my coffee! I will post a picture of it soon. I have found that I really enjoy getting out there every evening to water and watch the sky gradually darken, lights come on and as dusk falls, the call of the local mosque. It’s peaceful. Sometimes the kids come out to join me and they both dodge and run around the hose, C will come out for a chat and it just seems like a really nice way to end the day.
My Australian curriculum class is nearly done, only one more week to go then they start sitting the various exams from
The others are all heading off overseas, with most to
I am still going to the gym almost every day, and have ramped up the time spent on treadmill and x-trainer as well all the weights. At the moment I’m doing about 20-25 km’s a week across both machines and am now pushing weights of around 135 pounds and pulling 150 pounds. This is a big development on when I started three months ago. I started at around 60 pounds, so seems the workouts are having an effect! I’ve set myself a target of push 275 and pull 300 pounds, and know it will be a long time before I get there but it’s good to think that maybe one day I’ll achieve this. I figure at least another 12 months before I get close to being there.
I’ve lost quite a bit of weight (it was around 8 kgs but has now steadied as I put on mass), feel great, and enjoy the workout. Clothing is now a problem as I will have to get new trousers etc, the work clothes are belted in tightly just to stay up, satisfactory in principle, but doesn’t look all that good. Beer is out during the week but really don’t miss it, when I get home from the gym there is always a big jug of iced tea waiting for me and I find that far more enjoyable.
I have always practiced caution when doing weights, thinking better to take it slowly rather than rush and risk injury and this has paid off handsomely. I haven’t hurt myself yet and know when I have reached my limit, I won’t push it too far just in case (after all, I am nearing 41!), but the steady increase in weights is a great boost and rewards the hard work. I think I’m going to keep at it, I want to see just how far I can go; weight lifting really gets into your blood and each week you think, just a little bit more to see if I can do it. I find hip-hop music of all things is the best when doing weights, it sets the mood. Go figure.
Diet hasn’t changed at all, I love my food too much, but the routine seems to take that into account. Keeping a steady rhythm on both treadmill and x-trainer and setting a heart beat of around 123 seems to work for me. The advisable beat for one of my age and weight is 117 but I found that too slow, working up a sweat leaves you with a natural high. Always good after a long day at work.