Wednesday, January 31, 2007

American Womens Association of Jakarta

We received our new car last night and met our new driver. Mr Fadi is the brother-in-law of the driver we had on our trip last year. He seems very friendly and competent, though he has extremely limited English.

I also got a new cell phone; only my third one ever! I have had my last Nokia for the last 6 years and it still works fine. GJ thought that I should embrace new technology and get a phone that takes photos, movies and has access to the web. Now I just have to figure out how to use the darn thing, I couldn’t even ring GJ today. I have just attempted to set up a bluetooth connection from my phone to no avail. I can show you how to program any piece of million dollar PC base Noritsu equipment and describe in detail the chemical steps that occur in each stage of developing a colour film, but new fancy cell phones are beyond me until I study the manual!

To celebrate all this we stopped at Amigos on the way home last night for a Mexican dinner and a jug of our new favorite, Strawberry Margaritas. BTW, not a drop of champagne has touched my lip's since arriving in Indonesia.

Today after work Ben and I stopped off at the AWA; the American Women’s Association of Jakarta. I signed up for membership (you don't have to American to join) and stocked up on some of the great books they publish about living in Jakarta, geared towards expats. The AWA also has a thrift shop with used books and magazines. I have not had anything other than my laptop and cereal boxes to read for the last 3-4 weeks…… I got 10 glossy magazines for 50 000RP ($7 ); now that is so good I want to celebrate with another pitcher of strawberry margaritas! Imported Australian or US mags are very expensive, as are English language books.

One thing that I can’t find in Jakarta is pre-wash stain remover. I have tried 5 different shops all to no avail. Some one suggested Amway, but I am always so scared that I am going to get stuck listening to hours of spiel instead of just getting what I need.

Ben seems to have inherited my love of washing, only his current fascination is emptying the clothes basket of DIRTY clothes onto the floor and rolling around in it…..

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My new job

I have had a great first two days at my new volunteer job
(I work 4 mornings a week at the school to qualify for a fee reduction).
The school is very small, only 120 kids from nursery to grade 7.
I have spent most of my time in Chelsea's class, the grade 2/3 class.
The ethnic diversity is wonderful in the school. The kids are being exposed to so many different cultures which I feel is so important.
Phonics is an area where a lot of the kids from non English speaking background fall down in.
I helped out at the girls old school with the "Jolly Phonics" program over the last three years and am quite familiar with it.
So I am now the Phonics aide!
I get to do this program with small groups of ESOL kids 4 mornings a week. I think that this program is going to really benefit these children.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Our first weekend in Jakarta

I have had my first Margarita, at 30+++++++++ years old!
We went to a popular Mexican restaurant on Friday night and there was a happy hour on Margaritas‘, strawberry or lime flavor. GJ and I realized that we don’t have to drive home (Mr Amin is kind enough to do it for us) and we ordered a pitcher!
Margaritas match Mexican food PERFECTLY !
GJ and I are just starting to realize the implications of how big a luxury it is to have a driver in Jakarta.

Dinner was wonderful, we met the owner (I think), a lovely lady called Paris. Everyone is so nice and friendly. We had a very early dinner and as we left, the place was really filling up. The restaurant has music and shows on from 7.30 at night.
Georgia wanted to stay and get up and boot-scoot!

We have seen so many amazing sights. I want a small, cheap digital camera to put in my bag for all the amazing things I see.

Unfortunately we saw a horrible thing on Thursday, a child was knocked over by a car. I was so relived to see that the car served at the last moment and the child only bounced off the car and was not seriously hurt. The poor little boy was very upset but alright. Thankfully there was so many people around to help him and the distraught driver. It was horrible watching it all unfold yet being unable to stop it or help.

Another thing I want photos of to put on my blog is the traffic. The traffic is indescribable. The noise is constant with all these different horns. When the traffic comes to a standstill, the motor bikes just get up and drive along the FOOTPATHS!
There is no regards to line marking on the roads and the cars edge up to each other so close. You could shake hands with the person in the next car with out extending your arm. We are in a hire car at the moment and it does not have tinted windows. We are like fish in a bowl, a very interesting sight! Ben thinks it is great fun when the hawkers come up to the window and wave things at us. I look away but Ben waves and starts chattering at them. I have requested dark tinted windows for the company car.

We managed to ask Mr Amin to take us for a drive through the city yesterday. I find all the appropriate Bahasa words in my phrase book and write them in a list and hope the Mr Amin can work out where we want to go.

We drove through two distinct areas of the city. The first area was green and lush with wide roads and beautiful gardens. The buildings were large and grand. We think it was the government area. We saw what we think is the Botanical gardens and the large national monument. We will go back for a walk around in the next few weeks and also go to the near by museum. The road continued and the area changed dramatically. The buildings were much older and grottier. The traffic was much worse and it was crowded with people. The river was very brown and murky. I do not know the names of the places we went as yet. I will have to describe it to an English speaking local to find out and get back to the blog.

Shopping must be an expats main occupation. Our driver automatically assumes we want to go shopping when we get in the car. Before Mr Amin understood we wanted a tour he took us to a place called Electronic City. We had a look anyway…
We have been using Chelsea’s 12” TV as our main family TV since the big accident and the subsequent child induced de-programming of the loan TV. The choice is amazing. The prices are only slightly cheaper than Australia, but I think that there is definitely much more choice. We will have to do a lot of research before we fork out so much money.

We have been doing a bit of shopping in the last week. The kids needed to be fitted out with school bags, shoes etc and GJ need another light weight suit and some business shoes. I have bought NOTHING and not even entered a ladies wear shop. Today we need to get the kids hair cut and then they need an afternoon rest. The events and change of the past week have caught up with them and they are all a bit cranky. GJ has offered to take them back to the hotel and let them rest before having a swim, While I stay at the shops!!! Yippee. I have posted before about how wandering aimless through crowded shops is relaxing for me. I don’t need to spend any money, just looking is fun enough. I just like looking at the variety and different things available in Indonesia.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Washing clothes

I discovered something about my self at Robs house;
I love washing.
This comes in particularly handy when I have three kids and a passion for white linen and towels.

Rob has been introduced to the delight of quality sheets and towels by yours truly. I have mentioned before how Rob is not interested in the choosing, just the using. I get to choose all his furnishings for him (it is a great, fun job spending someone else’s money LOL)

While Rob has high personal grooming standards he is let down in the washing arena. Rob washes when he runs out of clothes and then just chucks everything in his washer for a cycle and then tosses them over a line to drive when he remembers. Clothes that sit in a washer for more than 1-2 hours in Brisbane’s stinkin hot summer smell disgusting. Men don’t seem to notice this…..
I had a great time soaking all his white sheets, mattress protectors, towels etc and getting them up to my fastidious standards. I got so much satisfaction from seeing everything blowing on the line, blindingly white with a lovely fresh smell.

It is amazing how such little things can make me happy.

I have finally met someone else with my particular clothes line habit. My neighbor in Brisbane also colour co-ordinates her pegs. Every row of the clothesline must have the same colour pegs and all similar items must be hung together, with everything smoothed out and hung the right way.
This then follows on to my linen press, you guessed it, it is labeled!
A shelf for each size sheets and a row for fitted and a row for flat sheets all clearly labeled of course.

I have promised to write out and instruction sheet for Rob to follow for washing. Little things like separate your whites and wash with hot water and a spoon full of Napisan, cold wash for blacks etc

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Volvo XC70 LE

GJ wanted this blogged in memory of his car.
We only had this car for 6 months and had to sell it
back to the dealer the day before we left.
We are trying not to dwell on the cost of
doing this.......

It was a great car to drive and very safe!

The girls first day at school

Georgia choose this school bag as Tweety is her cousin Sarah's' favorite.

The school doesn't stock the uniforms, they are made to order for each child.

Photos of our new home in Jakarta

This is our glamorous new home in Jakarta.
It is so bright and inviting.
This is GJ signing the "Letter of Intent" (precursor to the official lease). The stairs are marble, very WOW!

Living area, kitchen is behind bookcase and spare room/dinning room at rear of photo

This is the view of the yard

This will be the toy room and kids study.

The master bedroom, it is huge!

Jakarta,Thursday 25th Jan 2007

So much has been accomplished in such a short time.

We both have phones that work and we have arranged to have the hot water service fixed at home in Brisbane for a fraction of what the Real Estate agent had organized. What bad luck that one of the hot water heaters burst the day the new tenants moved in!

We have also found a house and signed a lease. It was the first house that we looked at and is brand new in a lovely, quite area. The living area is a little small but the rest of the house makes up for it. There is a great pool which the owner is going to fence for us and a flat, large backyard for the kids to play in. The house is smaller than what we had at home, but is still big enough for us. In Jakarta is is standard to pay the rent upfront for the ENTIRE LEASE PERIOD, yes that is correct, three years rent upfront, in advance! You could build a house easily for what we are paying for three years rent. All curtains, improvements and repairs are our responsibility as well. I am crossing my fingers that we will be able to get broadband, the owner and broker kept telling me that the house could receive it, but I am sure that they had no idea what I was talking about.
We consider ourselves very lucky to find this house. We were the first ones to see it so had the first option on it, which was great as other people who also saw it on its first day were prepared to sign up for it. Our budget is considered small for an expat, apparently some of the banks and big multinationals budget for around US$6-8000 per month for rent. We had less than a quarter of this to spend.

The girls started school yesterday and Ben had his first day today, and all are loving it so far.
Chelsea has a lovely lady teacher, Miss K and Georgia has a wonderful male teacher, Mr F.
Ben goes from 8am to 11am five days a week, while the girls go for a full day of 8am to 2.10pm.
Both the girls have made new friends straight away. Chelsea was very excited this morning as she had swimming for sport today. I will start working there next week. Until we are settled I will work 5 days a week during Ben's hours. Eventually I would prefer to work 2 full days, and have the rest of the week free.

I have tried a new tropical fruit yesterday. The hotels buffet has a marvelous selection of fresh fruit and I want to encourage the kids to give everything a go. You should of seen me trying to smile and swallow the most horrendous thing...a piece of "Salak also known as snake fruit. The unpeeled fruit looks like a ball of snake skin and the peeled fruit looks like a large clove of garlic with a black seed in the middle. It was sweet, salty, bitter and sour all at the same time and tingled on my tongue. I was very proud of myself that I didn't heave it all up at the restaurant table.

We are looking forward to being able to cook soon. It is too expensive to eat at the restaurant every night and the apartment has extremely limited facilities to cook with. It is fine for lunches and breakfast, but a portable hotplate and a small microwave isn't much use for family meals.

Jakarta arrival part 2

Jakarta, I think I am going to love living here (most of the time)!

Our first day was a trip to the shops for supplies. I was interested in the shop Kem chick, an expat oriented supermarket I had heard about. There was a great variety, but it was horrendously expensive. Our driver then took us to Pasaraya Grande so we could get a phone; I feel in love with these shops.
We didn’t shop as we were just doing essentials, but boy oh boy do I want to go back. We saw a huge floor of Indonesian handicrafts and traditional items. The girls and I oh’ed and ar’ed over it all while GJ told us we had years in which to shop and to get a move on.
We needed school bags and lunch box etc and had to travel through the shoe departments.
OH MY GOODNESS I have never seen so many shoes. There was a whole floor of just men shoes!
The city of Jakarta sometimes has the same population as the whole of Australia which is why I think there is so much variety.
We have had two visits to GJ’s office to meet everyone. The kids were a huge hit. They have brought forward GJ’s start date to next Monday. The CEO has his wife and the HR manager on hand to organize everything ASAP as they want GJ settled in and ready to work hard.
We have ordered a car, a Nissan Serena which will be ready next week, how quick is that!
We visited the school on Monday for a quick visit, unfortunately Chelsea was overwhelmed and got a little upset. But now that she has met her teacher, finished her homework for the week, and has her new bag, pencil case and lunch box she is happy about her first day, tomorrow (Wed).
Today we had the immigration appointment, my first every fingerprinting. Ben was watched by a hall full of people as he was fingerprinted, it was so cute. I don’t think I have ever had to sign my name so many times (I had to do all the kids as well).
We are off to view homes tomorrow. A, the CEO’s wife has been checking out brokers/real-estate agents and narrowing down the choices to suitable ones only, and in our price range.
We are slowly getting used to the time difference ( -3 hours), the only time it is a problem is when we wake up at the usual time and it is 3am.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A huge fortnight, part one

I just don't know where to start, there is so much to tell.
I will start with the words and add photos later.

  • Last week at our house

This was a blur, it was a chaotic mix of wonderful time with family and friends and fiendish packing. I had a accident with cleaning products and have burnt the skin on my hands and arms. Something must of got into my gloves as I was in a cleaning frenzy. My hands are still red raw with these pox like lesions which burn, sting and itch simultaneously. It looks pretty gross. I learnt allot from the professional packers, its much quicker to pack if you don't think, sort or organise. They are so quick because EVERYTHING is picked up and chucked in a box. There was a few times that I was very tempted to ask the men to pack up the kids for a nice LONG cruise with our container....LOL. Because of my hands I had to ask the cleaner to finish off the house (small silver lining!). I went back just as he was finished and it looked great, so big and fresh. I fell in love with my home all over again, I hope the tenants love it as well and look after it.

  • Week with Rob

I packed a face mask and a hair treatment for our stay at Robs, thinking that it would be 9 days of relaxing on the deck and drinking champagne......It was a whirlwind of fun, mess and good times with lots of champagne. Rob was listing his house for sale, with an open house 4 hours after we left for the airport. He has installed the most glamours hard wood floors with a lovely gloss finish which could be scratched by toys and children....this was a huge stress for Rob and I. He has updated his web site with before and after shots, he has done a wonderful job. Rob is the CEO of a company that does whizz bang high tech computer stuff. He took me in for a laptop lesson with the owner of the company. I think that Rob had a moment of apprehension after I spent a lot of time with the couple that owns his company. Lola and I got on so well. Their two girls played so well with ours and Lola and I had huge chat sessions. We solved all of Robs problems. We have decided that he needs a new car, it is time to dump the baggage that his first wife dumped on him and move on etc etc. All of this was solved over coffee and wine. The girls were so sad to say good by with their new friends. I can see why Rob would be worried, his boss and closest friends ganging up on him! He must be slightly pleased that we are so many miles apart. I can now burn DVDs....I am so sick of the kids scratching expensive DVDs with in hours of buying them. Robs mate' Ken is seeing a lovely lady with two young girls who happens to be a trendy inner city hairdresser. Rob and Ken dragged me over for a make over....It is basically the same but a lot more edgier. I have had lots of new hidden streaks and am supposed to be channelling the "Victoria Beckham" look.

  • The airport

We had the best surprise at the airport.. GJ's two sisters and all the family came to see us off. The kids were in heaven that their cousins came. We all had a lovely loud breakfast before it was time to bid a teary farewell. We had a new person at the check in counter and was confused that we were immigrating to Indonesia, so wouldn't let us check in our cabin baggage. We had 5 cabin bags (luckily on wheels), a pram, a handbag, a back pack, a laptop and three kids to get through immigration and down a narrow isle of the aircraft. I can really understand my blog Buddy's, Ace comment that we would of looked very scary to strangers. We were again fortunate to have exceptionally well behaved kids on the flight (constant supply of lollies and treats works well). We had a two hour stopover at Singapore before the last leg of the journey to Jakarta. By this time we had been on the go for 16 hours...
We got a little uncertain at the airport . We were in one of the many HUGE queues waiting to go through immigration, when a serious guard came up to us and said, "all of you come with me...." It turns out that he was opening a new counter and took us through because of the pram, we must of saved at least 30-40 minutes of queuing.
He got our heart racing again when he told GJ and the kids to go and wait in a corner while I dealt with immigrations. Luckily we weren't up for full body searches etc, he just wanted to make more room as we and all our luggage were taking up too much space. He was being very nice, but his harsh face and barking tone confused us at first. The company forgot to send two cars to the airport to collect us like last time, so the driver and porters had to creatively squeeze all our luggage plus two car seats into the car, then we had to get in. GJ and Georgia shared the front seat, Chelsea, Ben and I shared one seat in the back. We all had to hold the stuff to keep it in place. We finally got to the hotel after an hours drive to find that we did manage to get a non smoking room and that we had a renovated room, which was much nicer than our last visit. We have a three bedroom serviced apartment in a hotel with a few restaurants, gym, pool etc which is very nice.

  • Jakarta

I have run out of time, I will have to continue later. We are loving it so far and really feel relaxed about the move. I can't wait to get it all down.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jakarta, we are here

We have arrived.....with our sanity and all baggage intact.
I have Internet access now, YIPPEE.... The girls and I have been lost with out it for the last 10 days.
Will post more when I have recovered from a LOOONG day.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Removalists are coming!

I might have to disconnect the modem today. I will be lost.
Removalists will be here in 2.5 hours. As it is only just 5 am I don’t mind wasting a few minutes on my blog

We had a great weekend full of packing and friends.

De and the girls came up for the weekend
Rohan and Deb came over for dinner on Sat
We had all the neighbors over for Sunday afternoon drinks on the deck
Ben has a fever and a runny nose…..perfect timing.
We have to fly to Sydney for the day on Friday to get our visas.

Here are the little darlings after an afternoon of swimming and playing. The five of them tried to watch a dvd in my bed, I think that they were snoring within a few minutes.

Poor little sick boy Ben. He had his rest out in the family room with the aircon on as it was stinkin hot yesterday.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Scary photo

All of us will have to cope for up to 3 months with what I can jam into these bags.....

We also will have to work out how we will get all this to the airport, plus a car seat and a pram.
We will also have to work out how we will maneuver through airports with all this, a car seat, a pram and three children.
A Very Scary Photo and thought,
yet strangely very exciting!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

quick, boring update

On Thursday night at 9.15pm J left, 5.5 days after he arrived.
I am still in shock that he was even here!!!!

I have spent the day scrubbing.
For example I was on my knees poking behind toilets with OLD toothbrushes.
I want to know why I am doing this for strangers who will be living in my home, when I don't do it that often for my own family.
I am going to have to reflect on this.

Our departure date has been pushed out, we will now be leaving around the 19th of Jan. We have to all fly to Sydney to get our passports stamped at the Indonesian Embassy.
Our work permits will come through next week.
When we arrive we will have to be fingerprinted,
I have never had that done before!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Moral Quandary

We are now less than 2 weeks away from our big move. It is chaotic here at the moment. The removalists are coming next Tuesday (oh my goodness, only 1 week…) and then we are moving in to Robs bachelor pad until our visas are ready. For Rob’s sake I hope that this only takes a few days.

I have a bit of a funny story, I have been thinking of how to put it in words for the last few days. So let me start at the beginning:-

Brisbane is facing a chronic shortage of tradesmen at the moment. For a variety of reasons (including cyclone Larry) it is almost impossible to get a painter, builder, plumber, electrician without a LONG, LONG wait. We have been putting out feelers for the last few months to get the last of the painting done. My Brother in Law is a painter and so is Lisa’s (the kids former nanny) husband. Both are booked solid for the next six months.
My BIL got a contact details for a new-in-town painter and passed it on to Lisa’s hubby through me. When I found out that J was new to town with a pregnant partner I jumped at the chance to offer J some after hours work. This worked great at first as J is a very professional painter.
Last Saturday I arrived home to find J sitting outside the garage smoking (filthy habit!). He said that he wanted to get an early start on painting the next morning and had bought his sleeping bag for an over night stay. I was flabbergasted, but my manners held me in check and I invited him in and made up a bedroom for him.
As I write this it is Tuesday night and J is still here. Today I washed J’s clothes for him. Hopefully J will finish painting tomorrow and will leave. I am stuck in a no win position, have a live in painter or un-painted walls.
Luckily J is a nice person; BUT I don’t want my kids to be so closely associating with a stranger (especially a smoker) and I am sick of spending 24 hours a day with a stranger in my home. I am being cheerful and fully dressed from 4.30am to 9.30pm. As our en suite is also being painted I don’t even have the sanctuary of locking myself in the bathroom for 5 minutes.
So here I am stuck in a quandary, painting or privacy. My car sold on the weekend so I can’t even escape to the shops. GJ is extremely busy at work at the moment, so it is me and the kids and J for LONG long hours each day.
One more thing to add- Relationship counselor. I am pretty sure that J has broken up with his pregnant partner because of her teenage kids. I know that the right thing to do is to offer support and advice, but I am moving overseas in 2 weeks. I am being torn between doing what I consider to be the right thing and my need to concentrate on our families need.
Luckily I am so physically exhausted every night that I am falling into bed without tossing and turning.
What do you think?