Tuesday, October 31, 2006

100 things about me

1. I am the eldest of 3 children
2. GJ is the eldest of 3 children
3. We have no sympathy for middle and last kiddies lol
4. My Birthday is the 5th of March, if you follow astrology I am supposed to be a typical Pisces
5. I have labeled my Linen press
6. I colour code my pegs on the clothes line
7. I colour block my wardrobe, and GJ’s
8. I have 70 pairs of shoes
9. I had a beautiful, glamorous, fairytale wedding in 1992
10. It was the first happy occasion my family had had in a while. (we were in the midst of the sad years)
11. All my children were born in October, on the day I chose at the beginning of the pregnancy. I attribute this to the power of positive thinking and good luck.
12. I sometimes would like another child, but I do not want to get up in the night to feed it, so it is a dream only.
13. I love linen, especially white 1000 thread count sheets. Luckily for our finances, I realize that you only need 2 pairs per bed
14. I am 5’7”, 171 cm tall.
15. I have blue eyes and no idea what my hair color is any more. I started to go grey when I was 23 at the start of the sad years.
16. I am a workplace trainer by profession. I am extremely good at it.
17. I won’t be able to call myself 30-something for much longer……
18. Ben was 9lb9oz born after a 3 hour drug free labor, Chelsea was 7lb7oz after a 2 hour drug free labor, and Georgia was a 12 hour + epidural with 2 horrific types of forceps and a nice 7lb 11oz.
19. I have a DVD of my labor of Ben, which Lisa (the girl’s nanny) took for me. I do not show it to people.
20. I have an irrational fear of birds. I cringe when I hear them flying above.
21. I was born in Sydney where I met GJ in 1989
22. I had a nasty car accident in 1987 when a huge Prime Mover truck lost control and crossed over and slammed into my cute white corolla. The compensation money allowed me to do #23
23. I toured Europe and the West coast of America in 1988 with my friend T.
24. On the way home from our overseas adventure we stopped of in Hawaii for 10 days. We did not leave the suburb of Waikiki the entire time.
25. The sad years commenced with the death of my Uncle, then Grandmother, Aunt, Aunt, Brother, Grandfather, Father. All that is left of my entire family is my Mum and Sister; no Aunts, Uncles, Cousins or Grandparents. A family member died on average every 10 months.
26. I had quite a bit of therapy to deal with the above. It worked, I don’t wake GJ anymore every few hours to check that he is breathing and I can cope with Tan Tan and Janny being in car or airplane together( I had a fear that if they were together and something bad happened they would both be gone and I would be alone)
27. My brother, Nicholas James Livingstone M********** was killed in a car accident when he was 18, in 1991.
28. I am so happy that GJ met most of my family and can share the happy memories with me.
29. I have hypothyroidism and take a pill every day for life to keep it under control
30. I can not roll my tongue. GJ and all the kids can.
31. It was a favorite party trick of GJ to get me to try to roll my tongue after a few drinks; I will leave it to you imagination to the sorts of faces I pulled.
32. I love Lavender oil; I spend a lot of time searching for the perfect blend. I inhale a drop on a hankie every night. GJ hates the smell
33. My middle name is Irene. I hated it with a passion when I was young, but I still gave it to Georgia as a middle name.
34. Yellow is my favorite color
35. I often “know” things. If I get a feeling I am usually right.
36. I went to a small private all girls school.
37. I was christened in an Uniting Church. I went to a Presbyterian Church and Sunday school, a Church of England school and married a Catholic. I have taken all the best bits and combined them into what is right for me.
38. I always have chocolate in the house and am disciplined enough to only have 2 squares at a time.
39. I love the Meatloaf album “Bat out of Hell” and was devastated when GJ told me 2 years ago that the title track is NOT about a motor bike accident, but is a metaphor for love.
40. I accept all people on face value. I do not care about race, religion or sexual orientation, a person is a person regardless.
41. I am not at all tolerant on criminal behavior.
42. I do not take or approve of drugs.
43. I have never watched an entire episode of the Simpsons.
44. I wear perfume everyday, I love Issey Miyake - L'Eau D'Issey perfume the most, followed by Romance by Ralph Lauren
45. I use mostly Revlon makeup.
46. When I worked I used Estee Lauder and Ella Bache skin care, now I use Oil of Olay.
47. From my late teens till I was pregnant with Georgia, I was addicted to diet coke. I would consume nearly 2 liters a day. It would make me sick to have to drink the stuff now.
48. I only drink water, soda water, coffee, champagne and heavily diluted apple blackcurrant juice. I drink 4-5 litres of liquid a day.
49. I have a passion for books.
50. I also have a passion for shoes.
51. I lived at home until I became engaged to GJ
52. I always have painted toenail, but almost never paint my finger nails. If they are painted they look so perfect, just like fake ones.
53. My hair and nails grow abnormally fast. I am never worried if I break a nail, as I know that within a fortnight it will have grown.
54. Unfortunately my backside and thighs grow as quickly.
55. I have an exceptional sense of smell.
56. I will not economize on meat, vegetables, toilet paper, washing powder or soap.
57. I am quite happy to wear second hand clothes and shoes.
58. I am not an outdoorsy type of person. I like camping, but need electricity and flushing toilets.
59. I dislike smoking and have no friends that smoke.
60. I have a public toilet phobia
61. I am very germaphobic.
62. I worked at Kodak for 19 years. I started the day after my last higher school exam. It was a Christmas break job until I started university.
63. I love looking at photos, mine as well as other peoples.
64. If we had another child it would have been called Kate Theresa or James Martin.
65. I woke up one morning in the early part of my pregnancy with Georgia and could not bear the taste or smell of coffee and started to drink tea . Last year I woke up one morning and wanted coffee. GJ makes me 2 cups every morning before he gets into the shower; I sit up in bed and sip the 2 cups before starting my day. I have one more cup after breakfast and then switch to water.
66. I fully understand that to loose weight you must consume less energy than you use, yet I still have a few kgs to lose.
67. I have eclectic tastes on TV. I love all the American blockbusters, yet watch no soaps. I loved Buffy the Vampire slayer.
68. I only watch feel good movies that have proper endings.
69. My favorite subject at school was science and maths. I was only average at English
70. I wanted to be a teacher or a doctor. I had the intelligence to pursue medicine; I just lacked the drive and commitment to study for it. I do not regret that I didn’t get a degree.
71. I love vegemite on cold toast. I dislike melted butter.
72. I am GJ’s equal, in my mind and his.
73. I have never has a speeding fine or been in trouble with the police. I am very law abiding.
74. I will always cross the road at lights or a pedestrian crossing.
75. I suffer from the usual female illogical fears.
76. I love to swim, yet hate to get my ears wet. I will rarely put my head under water. Most people think that it is because I don’t want to wet my hair.
77. I am now a morning person
78. My dream car is a Volvo ( and I convinced GJ to get one as his work car this year)
79. I wear PJ’s to bed
80. I love Thai and Indian and most International food
81. I do not eat any offal.
82. I don’t like or cook pork
83. I don’t use a lawn mower anymore.
84. I always like to be in control (of everything!!!!!!!!!!!!)
85. I attract people (acquaintances and complete strangers) that want to tell me their life stories.
86. I am fantastic at directing GJ as he completes tasks
87. I love not working now
88. Most people didn’t think I would be able to give up work. I went from full time career with extensive traveling to being a SAHM.
89. I love junk mail
90. I think that a $20 bottle of champagne tastes as good as a $100 one. I am happy to drink my “cheap swill- under $10”, and save the good stuff for visitors.
91. I dislike all critters, except for Humans, Dogs and Horses. I have an invisible sign on my forehead the attracts critters to our home (eg SNAKES, spiders, bugs, silverfish, lizards, geckos, possums, sheep, koalas, mice, rats)
92. I need at least 8 hours of sleep every night to feel human.
93. I only average about 7 hours of sleep a night.
94. One of my favourite movies is “The Witches of Eastwick”.
95. I blog as a memento of our family life, and as record for future generations.
96. I will never watch horror or gory movies.
97. I plan our family meals in advance. I try to alternate salad and vegetable, meat and chicken. We also have a vegetarian and a leftover night.
98. I am not overly interested in purses or handbags.
99. I am very good at packing for traveling
100. I always measure ingredients exactly when cooking.
101. The only state in Australia I have not been to is Western Australia.
102. I have been to Mt Isa twice, I did not manage to find the good parts
103. I want to have an adventure with the kids while they are young.
104. I have never, ever hand developed a roll of black and white film.
105. I can explain simply and in detail the chemical actions that occur through the different stages of developing colour film.
106. I ran a portrait studio for a few years for Kodak, photographing kids is very hard work.
107. It is good that auto focus lens were invented as I have lost the ability to focus my all old Nikon lens’ precisely
108. I think much, much quicker than I type.
109. I read extremely quickly, I mean super quickly ( very expensive habit)
110. I often read too quickly to catch mistakes in my typing.
111. I mostly blog with Ben on my lap
112. I am a dreadful speller. I always have a dictionary on my desk.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Jakarta negotiations

Negotiations are not going well. All of a sudden there is "not enough money in the budget for a full family package". GJ and the Australian HR manager feel that it is now time for the hard bargaining phase. GJ will walk away from the negotiations if it doesn't go well, it is just as well that I am not doing the negotiations or we would be going and me paying them for the privilege! You would think that they would have worked this all out before they paid all expenses for a family of 5 to fly to Jakarta for a week.
It is all too much for me, I really want to go and just want to know when should I start packing. I am trying to ignore all the stress and confusion. It is not that easy though, I woke up GJ last week with blood curdling (an axe murderer is attacking me type) screams at 1am. I have no idea why I was screaming in my sleep, I have put it done to stress and uncertainty. GJ has asked me not to do it again...LOL
We are still preparing the house as if we are going. GJ painted our en suite yesterday as well as getting a new laundry door. We have to finish painting the deck railing and re-oil the timber. We needed to do all these things anyway. I am still de-cluttering the house. I am going to clean all the baby toys and wash my maternity clothes and give them to Lisa. All toddler toys are going to be washed and given to my friend De ( she runs a home day care business) and I am going to scan all the art work that the kids have made and then get rid of the 5 tonnes of paper!
I have booked my Mums and Sisters airfare for Christmas and are now organising everything.
The kids and I just love Christmas time. This year they are going to get there dolls cradle out and make a Nativity scene ( they want to use some of the chook's straw, I am madly trying to think of a substitute!). They are planing all their decorations and displays already.

Volcano cake for GJ

We had an early celebration for GJ's birthday. GJ will be sitting an exam at uni on Monday night, his actual birthday and will be away for work on Tuesday night.
We made GJ an orange poppy seed cake, with cream cheese orange flavoured icing. When the cake came out of the oven we all noticed that it looked like a volcano, as it rose very steeply in the centre. The girls and I decided to go with this theme....The mountain was orange, the lava was red brown, sultana's were our chunks of rocks and we had some marshmallows as poisonous gases. The kids were in hysterics, they were having so much fun (either that or the fact that they nearly consumed their body weight in icing). We would never win any prizes in cake decorating, but we might win an honourable mention in the originality and colour awards.

We had a great dinner, BBQ and salad. Rob and I had the best though, 2.5kg of fresh prawns ( all peeled, it only took me 1.5 hours....). GJ brought them home as a surprise for us, unfortunately he is allergic to prawns and can't even touch them let alone eat them.

We don't have any photos of GJ cutting the cake as while I was getting the candles the kids ate the clouds and GJ cut the cake......

The girls were so exhausted from swimming and cake making that they fell asleep instantly, they didn't even manage to get into bed properly.

We had the air conditioning on yesterday, the first time this season. It got up to 36c(97f) and only went as low as 21c (70f) overnight. We are in for a loooonnnng hot season.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My posts from Jakarta

Thank you to Jakartass for mentioning me on his site. I have learnt so much from there and found many great links as well. I have also just found this site, Indonesia matters, which I think I am going to enjoy reading the archives of.

Here are the links to my previous posts on our trip to Jakarta.

I am still in shock over my embarrassing tipping debacle, mentioned in the above post.
I hope you enjoy reading my perspective, don't take it all to seriously. I am a fun, fluffy, vapid style of blogger...LOL

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

100 things

I have just realised that I have past 100 posts, which means that I am due to do a 100 things about me post. I have started, I am up to 2........It might take a while though! LOL

Today is Chelsea's Birthday, she has turned 6 years old.
For her special dinner she has requested KFC and an ice cream cake. I will post photos later, or when Blogger lets me ( I still can't get the swarming bugs up)

Today was my kid free day, Ben goes to kindy 1 day a week. My local mall has just opened a huge new extension, when finished it will be the biggest in Queensland. I enjoy wandering around window shopping, it sounds kind of strange but I really like the feeling of solitude I get from being lost in a crowd.

I have decided to stop putting everything on hold in case we move to Jakarta sooner rather than later. I hate the not knowing when it will all happen. I can't start packing or giving everything away, it is like living in limbo.

I am on the Christmas organising schedule now. I love to have everything scheduled and booked, wrapped or what ever by the start of December.
I was getting anxious that I didn't even know where we would be for Christmas. GJ's work will now have to work around me, I am sick of waiting on them! I feel so much better now, there is nothing like a bit of venting about huge international corporations, especially after 2 champagnes( last night, not now).
Today I bought the Christmas cards and I will start on them next week. Once I know what days the family will arrive, I will plan the menu.
( I will have to get last years schedule and menu of the other computer, you will get a good laugh to see all the tiny details the girls and I planned Edit. I have found it and added below)
Mum and I were so surprised to see all the Christmas decorations for sale and that shops have started to put up their decorations, last week. Today I heard Christmas carols playing in one shop!
I usually wait until after Christmas for the sales to by new decorations, but this year I have put on hold a lovely small (this word inserted for GJ's benefit, translate to girl speak for a rough guided to how much I have bought!!!!LOL) selection of decorations. The kids get so much joy from lights, baubles, trees and little knick nacks.
I have to go now it has just hit 5pm- this is witching hour around here-
The chooks need to be put away and baths need to be run while I run around shouting "hurry up, I have asked you 2 times already, stop fighting, put your bags away ETC, ETC, ETC,"

This is a copy of our Christmas day schedule that Georgie did for a school project, the day went almost exactly as planned!

Georgia XXXXXXXX’s Christmas schedule

  • 4.15 Wake up and check that Santa has been
  • 5.30 Wake up Tan Tan and Janny and get dressed
  • 5.45 Coffee for grown ups, cinnamon toast and juice for kids and OPEN PRESENTS!!!
  • 7.00 Play with presents
  • 9.30 Swim time
  • 10.30 Fry up BBQ on deck (Bacon, eggs tomatoes and mushrooms)
  • 11.00 Play with presents and rest for grown ups
  • 2.30 Uncle Robbie arrives
  • 3.00 Swim time
  • 3.30 Drinks and cocktails on deck
  • 4.00 Christmas feast begins. Prawns, oysters and other revolting stuff for adults, chips, ham and custard for kids
  • 7.00 Bed time for Ben, secret night swim for Georgia, Tan Tan and Chelsea
  • 7.30 Bed time for all girls

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why can't the critters leave me alone?

Why do I seem to attract critters? I have mentioned my dislike of any thing other than Humans, Dogs and Horses many, many times.
Yesterday I had the pest controller come on his annual visit to spray the house. For my $369. I am supposed to be cockroach, spider, ant and silver fish free for a year. At least he comes back if the pest do. I am lucky that cockroaches are not a big problem. Unfortunately Darren can not spray for mice, rats or snakes.
Today we had something new, a swarm of bugs landed on my washing and had a love fest on my white sheets! When I tried to get rid of them they tried to play in my hair and clothes, I let them continue on with the sheets.....

I will post photos when blogger lets me

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Beautiful Nieces

A special hello to my gorgeous niece Brooke, who now reads my blog!

The girls can't wait for you to come for a sleep over!!!

To my other gorgeous niece, Sarah, the girls can't wait to come and have a sleep over at your house and wake you up really early!!!

Crocs rule

About 4 months ago I started to see references to these really ugly shoes that were supposed to be supremely comfortable. After a while I looked their web site up and thought I will give them a try-until I saw the price, about AU$55 ( approx $42US corrected- I converted the wrong way originally) and thought no way.
I keep on hearing how good they are and were ready to fork out the money when Target brought in the cheap copies.
They are as good as everyone said! Now I am wondering, if my cheap knock offs are this good, how much better would the real things be?
These clogs actually stay on your feet with out you having to do shrunchie things with your toes and sole. They are very cushioned and feel great 10 hours after you first put them on. If only they weren't so ugly!

A great new book

In my quest to learn everything I need to know about living in Jakarta, I bought this book.
A complete guide to understanding Islam, by Yahiya Emerick

I am only a third of the way through it so far, but I am finding it fascinating! The author does seem to have a slight bias, yet the writing is very factual and interesting. When I have finished I will have to list out the main facts that I have learnt. Islam appears to be a very honourable, peaceful religion that I will enjoy hearing about.

On a completely different wavelength, I have just finished the latest Scarpetta novel from Patricia Cornwell. I love this series and always enjoy catching up with the characters, but was not as satisfied as I usually am.

Party time

I have had a wonderful, busy week. And, as expected, after a break from blogging I do not know where to begin. I am going to throw structure and continuity out the window and write what ever pops into my head.
We had the best party yesterday. Seven of the people present had a birthday in October. The weather was great and just as we finished all the cakes, a big thunder and rain storm came through and forced us inside.
The Birthday people were
  • Georgia 8yrs old
  • Chelsea 6yrs old
  • Benjamin 3yrs old
  • Jeremy 14yrs old
  • Chloe 14 yrs old
  • Abbey 3 yrs old
  • GJ over the hill
There was piles of wrapping paper everywhere and kids rummaging through, all with huge smiles on their faces.

We were wrapping all the kids presents late last Saturday night, in preparation for Ben's Birthday on Sunday the 15th and suddenly we decided that it wouldn't be nice for Chelsea to have to watch the other two get all their presents and have to wait 10 days for hers. So we made the next morning a communal present day! Chelsea was most impressed!!!!! We still do cakes and favourite dinners on the actual birthday, but it was fun to have everyone open their pressies together, it was like having a second Christmas. That is the great benefit of having every ones birthday fall in October!

I took mum to the airport this morning for her flight home, we are having our first quiet day in nearly a month....BLISS.....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

We made it home

We made it home safe and well.
I have my mum, Janny, staying with us this week and I am super busy. Before we left I organized a combined party for everyone's birthday this coming Saturday, a party of 25+ people.......I haven't even started to think about catering!
I have so much in my head that I want to blog about, but no time!
Hopefully I will have time asap

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Georgie gets a birthday cake at last

GJ managed to find a cake for Georgia in Singapore with eight candles. It was her favourite- Chocolate mud cake. It was a surprise, we snuck it in and hid it at the back of the fridge. Georgie thought that GJ was doing the dishes and then the lit cake appeared!
Georgia can't wait until she gets her presents on Sunday, on Benjamins birthday.

We are being picked up at 7.30 am tomorrow morning for the trip home.
Saturday morning will also be an early start as we have to be at the Doctors early for our next round of needles.
Then it is off to the airport again to collect Janny, my mum, for her party month visit from Sydney.

Jakarta security concerns

I am slowly researching security in Jakarta in response to questions of why we would need guards etc. I realized that I only had a perception of why it is necessary, but no hard facts so I have started to scroll through internet while the kids nap. It is scary, one quote
"From 1997-2002, Indonesian has had experienced 90
incidences of terrorist bombs"
Indonesia has had a major change since the riots 1998 and the demise of President Suharto.
Jemaah Islamiyah, the group linked to Al Qaeda is also present and active in Indonesia. The terrorist bombs have been aimed at Western targets. I don't want to write about something so serious, unless I understand it a bit better.
I also don't write about things like this usually, I am a funny and fluffy style of blog.

I am visiting numerous blogs as well to get a feel of the situation as well; more on this when I get my head around it

Leaving Jakarta

I woke up on our last full day in Jakarta with what Australians refer to as "Bali Belly". I must of eaten something that hasn't agreed with me, and my system decided to reject all!
But the show must go on.....
We had our meeting at the New Zealand International school. It was very nice and class sizes were very small. The girls liked the Australian school better. They were a few lovely girls who introduced themselves to Georgia and hoped that she will come next year, as there are more boys than girls at the moment. The fees are much more affordable at this school. We do not know how much the company will contribute towards schooling. If we were to pay for the girls and Ben (part time kindy) it would be about AU$35 000 per year. at the Aust.School; that is alot of money!
We went to a local shopping mall, ITC. We stood out like the proverbial. As my tummy was still a little delicate the smells were too much and we had to leave. It was lunch time and Durian fruit and cooking food was overpowering.
We went to Pondak Indah, the glossy western style mall, as we needed to buy another suitcase.
The girls have had major growth spurts ( and their clothes have shrunk in the hot clothes dryers here) and needed some more things. No clothes, but they did get some more shoes. Walking around in Jakarta and Singapore has been much harsher on the shoes than in Brisbane!
There were no reasonably priced suitcases available so we headed back to the hotel, where I crashed on the bed.....
GJ had to do all the packing, He did a good job, but here we are in Singapore with all the bags on the floor having to rummage around to find things....The girls have asked me to pack next time!
We have managed to get a big bag and 2 carry on bags with wheels in Singapore today. I thought we did alright to come away with only 3 bags for a family of five for 3 weeks.

Any one for a coloured toilet? matching basins also available.

Look at all those motor bikes!

The local hardware store.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jakarta, Monday 8th October 2006

We visited the Australian International School today. It had a lovely atmosphere and we met two other Australian mums with kids the same age as ours. They were friendly and were very happy with the school. The class sizes seemed small and quite multicultural. The school was well resourced with computers and facilities and the kids all seemed happy.
We are off to the New Zealand School tomorrow. We want a school that follows the southern hemisphere calendar; that is the school year starts in February and ends in Nov/Dec. This way the kids will have their summer holiday while we move and will have a smooth transition into the next grade.
After this we took GJ to his office complex and the kids and I headed off to the American Womens Association/Community centre. This centre has all the local expat guides and maps in English. It is manned by volunteers and also sells a range of knick knacks.
We got stuck in a traffic jam. In Brisbane it would have taken me about 10 minutes to drive, I was expecting 35-45 min in Jakarta, but it took us one and a half hours! Of course after the first hour all the kids were all busting to go to the toilet. Georgie is whimpering and I am expecting an accident from her or Ben any second and Chelsea was being a tease by talking toilets and running water. ! We finally get there. I ask the driver if the kids can use the bathroom; at this stage I just thought that the centre was closed, not that we were imposing on a PRIVATE HOUSEHOLD!!!! We find out that the centre moved SEVEN years ago!
We go into an Indonesian bathroom and as the smell is different to what Ben is used to HE THROWS UP ALL OVER THEIR FLOOR, (and Chelsea) I was mortified. By this stage I had realizedd that we were in a stranger's house imposing on them. The ladies were very nice and sweet about it all.

Now, I have something else to be mortified over.........
I am new to tipping; it is just not done in Australia. We have been told that in restaurants a service charge is automatically added but in other instances you can tip. I am still struggling to get my head around the local currency and when I am flustered I forget all the exchange rates. I thought that I should give this lady some money for letting us use her facilities, so I gave her 2000rp. She tried to refuse many times and I insisted.
When we got back to the hotel I ordered room service for the tired cranky vomit crusted children and tipped the deliverer 1000rp. (I did bathe them while we waited. ) He looked at me strangely.
I have realized that I gave the man 14 cents and the lady 28 cents.
I don't know what to be more mortified about, vomit on a nice strangers floor or insulting them with a pitiful gift of money.

Now if GJ was home I could have gone to the mall and consoled myself with a new pair of shoes (joking here....I don't have that many shoes!). But as he won't be back until 6-7 pm, I ordered a half carafe of wine for later and put the littlies to bed. I then went one floor done and had my hair done while Georgia watched cable. Luckily they are quick and just as Georgie rang to say Ben had woken, I was finished.

So it is now late afternoon and every one is happy. I have smooth hair and a glass of wine (champagne is too hard to find) and the 3 kids have colouring in books and Disney playhouse on cable. All is well, for now LOL

Bogor Botanical Gardens

Our new house in Jakarta....
Only joking, this is the front gate at Bogor Botanical Gardens.

The Police/Security were fascinated with the kids and wanted photos with them.

These are more of my dream home........

This was an open room surrounded by all the columns. It would be a beautiful place for a wedding.

This was in the orchid house, it had misting outlets all through and was lovely and cool and lush.

Ben was trying to catch the mist.

The cafe at the gardens had this little setting for kids.

Here is the volcano we saw from the cafe. It is hidden by the smoke and mist and only occasionally we could catch glances off it.

This photo doesn't do this tree any justice. The tree was a mix of light and dark and looked like an oil painting

Bogor photos

Blogger is being naughty again with photos, I will just keep trying.......

This is from the Mexican garden section.

The cafe where we had lunch
Ben in his daggy hat. It is the only one he will wear.
This is the map of the garden.
A family portrait!

This is presidential Palace called Istana Bogor. It was constructed by the Dutch in 1856 as the official residence of the Governor General
These lily pads were about 1 metre across.

Jakarta housing and Bogar

On our “look and see” trip to Jakarta we had a few things to check out…


All ok, we will be able to get everything (except, I haven’t found vegemite yet!)


BIG, Huge homes here…although a housing budget of over $2800 US a month is necessity. The few homes we toured were all big. Most had an ensuite for all bedrooms and a pool, as well as maid quarters for 2-3. Most had marble floors and big windows. We face the choice of a freestanding home with a yard (and having to employ a security guard), or a compound home with a much smaller yard. I felt at ease in a compound; they have homes or duplexes in a compound with manned gates which check all incomers. The compounds usually have playgrounds and mini gyms on site. The homes on the compounds we saw all had their own pools and 4+1 bedrooms. As we have never lived over seas before, most people are recommending a compound estate. Of course these styles of homes are much more expensive.
We will worry about this all later as GJ hasn’t negotiated his contract yet, until then we don’t even know how much we have to spend; or know when we will require a home.
We met a family at the restaurant tonight who have been living in the hotel for 10 months!


We are touring the Australian school tomorrow and the New Zealand school on Tuesday.


GJ is going to the office on Monday afternoon to meet people and have a look around.

Weekend get aways-

Today we went to Bogor. It is about 45min to 1 hour due South of Jakarta, it is in the Parahyangan Highlands. Bogor is 800m above sea level and is slightly cooler than Jakarta. We went to the famous Botanical gardens and saw from a distance the elegant white presidential Palace called Istana Bogor. It was constructed by the Dutch in 1856 as the official residence of the Governor General. We spent nearly 4 hours wandering around these beautiful gardens. We saw a Mexican cactus garden, a fantastic orchard house and lots of lush tropical gardens. We were sitting in the café having a cool drink when we looked out when a small patch of the smoke haze had cleared and we saw a VOLCANO!!!!! (I can’t find its name in any of my books yet)
The park was so quiet, peaceful and lush; it really is a lovely escape from the city.
The drive through Bogor was surreal… the traffic was indescribable and chaotic. I have seen MANY motor bikes with 4-5 family members on it. On a few occasions’ I have seen little babies in slings on their mothers with other siblings and Dad driving the bike. When we pulled into the car park the hawkers spotted us. We were able to ignore them until we got through the gates into the park. Once we left it was a different matter. It was the first time in my life that I was mobbed. Mexico was nothing like this and at the time I thought that it was a huge mob!
GJ and I both had 4-6 men shoving things in our face and every one was shouting and pushing. Georgia was swamped so she grabbed the pram and pushed Ben away with Chelsea following. I didn’t realize at first but hawkers followed them, I turned around and found 4 men shoving things in the kid’s faces, for goodness sake who would think that an eight yr old with a 5 and 2yr old would buy anything! Even me shouting at them to leave the kids alone didn’t stop them! We made a run for it. Luckily are driver saw us and helped get into the car, by this time we were totally surrounded, with beggars as well. The kids and I couldn’t cope so we got in the car and hid. Poor old GJ had to dismantle the pram while having 100’s of things shoved at him.

We did make one little mistake; we bought 15 postcards off one man for what we thought was $1.00. It turns out that we paid $10 for 15 cards and everyone saw what we paid and thought that they could join in the party!

Our driver knew that I needed fake Handbags for my sister Tan Tan (I am the shoe queen and don’t have an interest in bags and purses) and took us to a huge shop in Bogor. GJ choose 2 bags for me as well as a purse and I found a nice bag for Tan Tan. I have been given the address of a shop in Jakarta for more, as Tan Tan wants a LV attaché case and diary. Ben charmed all the shop assistants, he now realizes that everyone wants to wave at him so he sits like a little prince and waves at everyone as we push him around. People want to have their photo taken with Ben, one really nice young married couple played with him for about 30 min and took photos of each other with him. It took me this long to gather necessary supplies (wipes, tissues and sanitizer) and take Chelsea to the toilet.
Everywhere we go people reach out and stroke his arms, one lady picked him up. Luckily I was in a shop and didn’t see as I don’t think I would have been as polite as GJ. Chelsea is also getting her cheeks stoked, but Georgia must be old enough not to warrant as much attention.
The kids absolutely crashed in the car, so we called it a day at about 3.30pm. They are so tired; but as we only have 5 full days to see everything and make such a big decision we are pushing them. We met with the CEO and his wife, of GJ’s company for lunch on Sat. Ben fell asleep in his pram, Chelsea put her head on my lap and slept under the table while Georgia sat like a spaced out zombie. At least they were on their best behavior!

We have experienced a few little frustrations and realize that life in Jakarta would be a mix of minor annoyances and major excitement. If GJ can negotiate a good package, we have decided that it would be a great experience for our family to live here.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A flashy haircut for Ben

We found this hair salon, just for kids in the Pondok Indah mall yesterday. We just had to let Ben have a trim.He got to choose his car, a tv was playing Barney (a kids show) and he got a bottle of bubbble mix to play with. WOW, how cute. It only cost about $3 more than what we pay the local barber at home.

Jakarta, first impressions.


Where do I begin….

The hotel that GJ’s work has put us in is very nice international hotel, slightly faded in the room decorations, but everything else is great. We were so pleasantly surprised to find a basket of fruit and flowers in our room and a package of books from the Indonesian CEO of GJ’s company. Even the kids got some books. The books are expat guides to living in Indonesia. I am a third of the way through already.

Every one keeps asking how shocked I have been since arriving in Jakarta; but I think that I was so well prepared with research that only tiny things have surprised me.
In brief:-

The grass is brown, (just like Brisbane!). The rainy season is due to start soon, but until then the greenery has definitely browned off. I was expecting total lushness, like Singapore.

I was expecting really bad traffic, which is here; but not the total chaos of the driving.
There is absolutely no system to the driving. The horn is used incessantly and cars just go where ever they like. There are also no footpaths, or they are just pits of rubble. We saw a family of four on a motor bike this afternoon. A lot of ladies ride on the back of bikes sitting side saddle. I don’t think that I would ever want to attempt to drive here.

The level of security. So far at the hotel and the major shopping centre, the cars are searched and scanned underneath with mirrors on extendable poles for whatever (I don’t want to think about it).. At the hotel, the security guards (4-5 at the boom gate) actually open all the doors and boot to check contents. We went through a metal detector at the hotel entrance and at the shopping centre and our bags were checked.
The shopping centre is patrolled with lots of guards and I saw them stop young men with back packs to check contents. Our driver keeps all the doors locked as we drive.

One of the main things we wanted to do on this trip is to check that things that we can’t live without are readily available (shoes, shoes, and more shoes, toys, tampons and hair dye!). We got directions for the large shopping mall, Pondok Indah. We were blown away…I think that it is better than my local mall. We don’t get marble floors at Westfield Chermside! LOL. The shops were all very flash and the prices were only slightly cheaper than Australia. I am sure that once we find all the local malls we will come to think of this as expensive. To celebrate finding all our shopping needs met in Jakarta, I got a nice new pair of shoes. The range of fruit, cheese and meats was great.

We have splurged on two things already (hope we don’t turn into spoiled expats before we even get here!!!). After 10 days in the humidity of Singapore, not to mention a few rain storms, my hair was a bit of a frizzy mess!!!!! The hotel has a hair salon and on our first afternoon I got a wash and blow-dry. I am smooth and sleek in the hair department. Our apartment in Singapore had a washer in it, so I continued my usual daily ritual of copious amounts of washing and ironing. Our rooms in Jakarta don’t have laundry facilities. GJ went on a trip to see what coins I would need and found that the attendant would do a wash and fold service…. (3 bags full later and GJ’s shirts ironed) it cost about $30. Well worth it.
The smoke haze is ever present so far in Jakarta. The illegal land clearing by fire is a major problem in Indonesia. This has caused the haze all over Indonesia and surrounding countries. This is what caused the haze in Singapore. We can not see the horizon here. Apparently, when the rainy season starts this will clear up considerably.

The levels of difference between the rich and poor are noticeable as soon as you leave the airport. There is huge multistory apartments being built close to a shanty town as you drive along the freeway into town..
I feel that we have seen next to nothing of the real Jakarta; we have been wrapped in cotton wool, whisked from the airport to the hotel and onto the mall and back in a private car with a driver. The only sights we have seen have been from the cars window. Of course I took photos…
GJ’s colleagues wife has lived in Jakarta for 12 years and still thinks that there is many places she has not seen in Jakarta..
We have an appointment with a real-estate broker tomorrow afternoon and meetings with 2-3 schools next week. We also have to get to the markets to stock up on fake handbags for Tan Tan.

The money is so hard to get a hang of.
$1 = 7000rp
$14.50 = 100 000rp
$50 = 350 000rp
$0.14 = 1000rp
I have had to write out a “cheat sheet” on the back of a business card and keep referring to it in order to work out the cost of things. It is hard to think in thousands all the time, especially when 1 000 000rp is only $145.

This is the view of the pool from our room, GJ and the girls are swimming.

This is the view of the city from our room, you can't actually see the highrises though due to the smoke haze.