Saturday, October 27, 2007

Redwood central Apartments Lorong 41 Geylang, Singapore

We stayed in a great apartment in Singapore.
The prices for accommodation in Singapore have skyrocketed. The apartments we stayed in last year have since doubled in price. We managed to find a brand new 3 bedroom apartment about 10 minutes out from Orchard room at the great price of Sing$250/night. This is cheap!!!!
If we were to stay at a city hotel we would have to book two room and pay more than double this a night. The unit had a full sized kitchen and laundry, a bonus when traveling with kids.
We were on the eight floor and had a great view. The complex had a gym but no pool which disappointed the kids, but they still managed to get wet allot on the holiday.

There is no web site as yet, we found them through another of the redwood apartment complexes here.

The taxi fair from the apartment to Orchard road was about $4..... so staying outside the main tourist spot was worth the saving.

Geylang is one of Singapore's red light districts, BUT we were down the other end of the suburb. There was also a MRT station one block away.

We would definitely stay here again.

Chelseas 7th Birthday

My middle little darling has turned 7

Note the letter she is holding up...
GJ was to get the bike before her birthday, but the traffic was bad....

(This is the difference between Moms and Dads, moms would still go and get the said present)

Today Chelsea and GJ are out bike shopping

We had our own little party at home, Chelsea chose KFC wraps for dinner.
But as Indonesian KFC is very different to the KFC we have grown up with I cook it here.
It turned out great and everyone got multiple turns of blowing out candles.

So we have got through all the kids birthdays, now it is GJ's turn and then Halloween and Party month will be over.

Jakarta International Airport

We arrived back into Jakarta last Sunday evening, at around 7pm. Last Sunday evening was the last day of the Idul Fitri holidays.
I knew the airport would be always is, but why did the airport operators not also realise this and take steps.
We have arrived enough times now to know the correct procedure.......
Get off the plane and RUN as fast as you can to immigration, as the queue gets bigger by the second.
Bad luck if you have to join the huge queue to get your visa on arrival first!
Immigrations are staffed with stony-faced, slow methodical people. Oh I wish I had a diplomatic passport........they get a special fast non-queue.
So on Sunday, after we beat our way off the second last row of seats in the plane (yes, cheap tickets and always get shunted to the back) we race down to the immigration counter to find this....... By the time we had advanced a little the queue was up the steps and stretching into the arrivals corridor.
We were lucky and got a relativity fast moving line, so we only had to wait for 45 min to get through. This meant we then only had to wait an extra ten minutes for the luggage.
I think the thing that annoyed me the most was that only half the counters were open.

I was a hot, tired, hobbling, cranky lady by the time we got through and then faced the chaos that was the parking lot ( well it wasn't it-was a car dump, just stop your car and leave it where you like) and the men that think that because they lift a bag into your car (with out being asked- actually with being asked not too) and then demand more than the 20 000rp that I had given them.......

So lets summarise
  • Lufthansa air, lucky they were cheap tickets, serviced was poor.
  • Immigrations, I knew the queue would be extra bad, why didn't they
  • Luggage, an hour isn't too long to wait????
  • Thugs who extort money... (and GJ who always lets me handle them...)
  • 30 minutes to be able to actually exit the car park due to jams
  • No water in car for thirsty kids ( not much open at airport)
At least our driver, Mr Yadi was there waiting for us with a big smile on his face and when we got home Sarinah and Samino had also arrived home from their holidays and got everything ready for us.

Now if you think I am being mean to Jakarta airport, don't worry I am equally scathing of Australian international airports, particularly Brisbane.

But the best ever is Singapore airport........It is a jewel in the crown of international airports......I could spend days there.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back.....albeit briefly

Wow, what a week or two!

We arrived back in Jakarta late on Sunday night and I have been in a flurry of business ever since.

I don't think I have answered an email for two weeks...., I think I might have time a week Thursday LOL.

If it is you that is waiting, whoops sorry.

I have heaps of posts in my head and no time to write them.

And photos......I have over 1500 to sort through just for October!

My main focus this week has been integrating all the new students into my already packed schedule as well as taking school photos for the entire junior school.

It is Chelsea's birthday today....(her very own post to follow) so I have also been whipping up a few dozen cup cakes.

Hopefully regular bloggy schedule will resume soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Singapore Night Safari

We went back to the Singapore Zoo Night Safari last night.....woo hoo GREAT NIGHT!!!

It just worked out that it was the first night of the Halloween Horrors, is was magnificent. The park was extensively decorated with Halloween items, all lit very creepily.
All the park staff were dressed up and scattered along dark quiet paths just waiting to get you. Just when a seated mummy remained still for long enough for the kids to think it was fake it got up and moved towards them.........

The tram ride had an extra section which was full of mist and noises as well as monsters jumping out to scare you.....

The whole thing was so well done.

There is no flash photography at all so no photos. This would have to be one of the great attractions in Singapore.
We decided to skip the Zoo this year, we had a really good visit last year and I had the pleasure of growing up 15 minutes from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, so the kids have spent lots of time at really good zoos. plus "It" is too sore for a full day of walking around a zoo.
I would really recommend the Night Safari and Zoo for family visitors to Singapore.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Singapore Science Centre

We had the most AMAZING day at the Singapore Science Centre. We went last year and the kids all wanted to go again this year.
The place is so organized and family friendly, we spent the entire day there.....over 7.5 hours, I still don't think we saw everything.
The centre is very interactive, the kids can touch, move, start and control the exhibits, which just sends them into an euphoric state.
We had six little blonde kids running from stand to stand screaming in joy, they blended in with all the other kids screaming in joy.

The exhibits were all educational, but wrapped up in so much fun!

Visitors tips....
  • Don't go on a Monday, we did and THE PLACE IS CLOSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which drove me crazy, Singapore is a tourist can a major attraction be closed??????????
  • Air Conditioning is very effective, you will be cold
  • Bring swimmer for the kids, the out door water play area is great fun, but the kids will get drenched! There are change rooms and small lockers for rent.

We met up with GJ's dad last night, they have just flown in from their UK holiday. They were SOOOOO tired, so we just did a quick dinner at Hard Rock cafe (my first visit EVER to any Hard Rock Cafe site!) and then home.
We are off to the night safari tonight, Kids are very excited, with a day at Sentosa on Saturday before a morning at Little India on Sunday then flying home on Sunday evening.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bens Singapore birthday party.

We had a little party at our apartment for Ben's Birthday.....he had a great time.

The apartment is really modern, Ben's room has two glass walls overlooking the lounge dinning area. The kids thought it was hilarious to put on a show for us, we thought it was great as the room was soundproof......

I am just pleased that I don't have to clean the glass...

Little India, Singapore

This is the second level of the Tekka markets on Serangoon Road.
Ground floor is the wet markets, ie fresh fish and chicken etc for sale.....very smelly and juicy.
Every cm of space is filled with the most divine, colourful, jeweled saris. It is hot, noisy and AMAZING! We visited last year and regretted at least once a month since that we didn't get the girls a sari.......Georgia is now the proud owner of a beautiful green through to gold jeweled sari. Chelsea is still deciding on a colour............maybe next year.

We wandered through the streets and markets, the kids wanting everything they saw....LOL
Most places were burning incense which made it feel so exotic.
After lunch the two dads took the six kids to a water slide park and my friend and I hit Orchard road.
But we hit a 3.30pm my ankle gave up...I could not walk another step.....I know....

me = shopping Queen
Shopping paradise= Orchard road....
Should of been a bonanza, but I just couldn't do it (GJ and the bank balance are cheering)
"it" is back, swollen and sore...........
So my friend T and I did what any Aussie mom would do...went back to T's apartment to wait for the kids and polished off all the wine in their fridge.............and then all had Indian take away for dinner.

Across the board we ALL had a great day......
I love Singapore.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Security at Jakarta International Airport

I buzzed as I went through the scanner in the boarding lounge at Jakarta International Airport.
They didn't waste time with a hand held devise....I was given a THOROUGH pat down before I could take a breath!
My belt buckle and white stomach were examined and passed..though my heavily bandaged ankle was skipped.

I don't mind...what ever it takes to make the world safe.

Little India, Singapore

Look who has just turned four!

4 year old boys love puddles!
Cheeky Benny Boots!
Ben does not walk anywhere, he runs, bounds, hops, skips or combines them all into fast motion.
I love how this photo shows how his feet don't touch the ground often!

Happy Birthday Benjamin!

We survived the first night of Idul Fitri

We didn't leave Jakarta until Saturday afternoon, so we were able to experience the first night of Idul Fitri in Jakarta.
This is the joyeous time for Muslims to celebrate the end of the fasting month, Ramadan.

It was noisy, really noisy all night.
The mosques were broadcasting ALL NIGHT non stop.
We have one large and 3-4 smaller mosques around our home and all were playing different celebratory music/chants/noise. As loud as the speakers would go.....
I usually like the call to prayer, Arabic chanting.....but at 4am with 3-4 different ones mingling together vibrating through our bedroom I was really pleased that we were booked to leave the next afternoon.
There was loud firecrackers being let off constantly which added to the noise.

So, we have arrived in Singapore and are having a great time.
We had Ben's Singapore party last night.
Unfortunately Blogger is down for photos at the moment, so stay tuned...there are lots coming!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Maggots in Jakarta

I love was my best subject at school (I was Mrs Broughs FAVOURITE).
GJ and I encourage the kids interest in all things...but!
Last year Santa was nice enough to bring a microscope kit for Georgia.
We have had heaps of fun examining the difference between grains of rice, sugar crystals, coffee beans, hairs etc...
Today the stakes were upped.
The kids found a fly with maggots...............and guess what.....they wanted to look.

This was some of the conversation "flying" around our house today:

  • I don't do maggots
  • I birthed your children, you do maggots
  • maggots are baby flies, you do it
and from the kids.....
  • Where have the maggots gone......
We survived, just. All children are now in a dettol bath.

Another learning experience chalked up. The kids had fun.....The parents gagged alot !

PS I didn't do maggots!!!!!! I let GJ have all the fun!

Idul Fitri holidays in Jakarta

Today is the start of the Idul Fitri celebration In Indonesia.

Idul Fitri, or Lebaran, marks the end of Ramadan the Muslim holy month. This is the start of a week long holiday when most of the population go home.

Sarinah and Samino left on Tuesday night for their holiday, it has been so interesting going back to living like an ordinary Australian.

I have mentioned before that in Jakarta we live like semi-royalty, we know it and SO appreciate it.
The girls and I (Ben is trying to) have been cooking, cleaning, washing dishes and clothes... and gasp, making our own beds!

It is amazing what you can become accustom to in a few short months!

It has been sort of nice to have the house to ourselves, you know leave the bathroom with out being fully dressed etc......

We are off to Singapore tomorrow.....We booked this trip at the start of the year before we even had any idea it was Idul Fitri. We are meeting up with GJ's father and partner on the way home from his first ever overseas holiday.
We are also going to meet up with a family that we are close friend with here in Jakarta.
We have a list of so many things we want to do and see.

And of course I will take many photos and blog all about it !!! LOL

Special School Holiday Treats

School holidays is a time of special treats:-

Cinnamon and sugar on toast for breakfast
Disney channel AFTER dinner
PJ's all day
Fairy bread for lunch
Soft drink at dinner time

any many more wonderful things....

One of the most favourite aspects of the holidays has been that the girls haven't had to pack up their Barbie, Bratz and Polly Pocket mini world each day.
Because it is SO MUCH MORE FUN the next day if it is all ready laid out.......or so they tell me.
But today, day 5 was too much.....GJ and I is the great pack up day!!!!!!!
Ben is sleeping and the girls are trudging around like Cinderella with out a fairy godmother.

Edit...look what these two little Angels accomplished in just one hour....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A naughty little angel face.......

I am a little Angel

But if you think for one second that I will play nice you are soooo wrong!

This is Ben sitting on the girls pulling their hair

200+ photos and nothing.........

I need GJ to help and a huge bag of treats for bribery......

Ben will be 4 in four days......

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pumpkins are not root vegetables, nor are they growing here.

Remember back here when I joyfully announced that we were going to be inundated with delicious butternut pumpkins.......

I got it

I kept looking out the window, drooling at the thought of baked pumpkin and creamy soup....
Now I can walk...well hobble.....I went to investigate......
Samino kept nodding when I remark on how good the "pumpkins" look.

Samino doesn't speak much English....

Sarinah finally let me now why the pumpkins aren't fat.....they are not pumpkins!!!!!!

Apparently the pumpkin died ages ago and Samino planted loofahs instead !

Loofahs are great , buy you can't eat them !

The rest of the shots are of the land next door which we cleared. All the plants are growing, the rains should start soon which will give everything a big boost as well.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Amigos Mexican restaurant, Kemang Jakarta

Georgia's birthday dinner (not to be confused with THE PARTY, which will be after the holidays)
The girls started doing gangster rapping poses, I have no idea where they got this from LOL

Dancing Queens.
The girls all got up and did a karaoke version of Abba's dancing queen followed by singing Georgia Happy Birthday.

Unfortunately Georgia did not get up and sing....why you ask??????

Condensed version of a long story......
  • Music teacher is a professional singer.
  • School end of year concert has the entire junior school singing songs.
  • A few kids didn't have "good" enough voices so were asked not to sing, Georgia was one of the three.
  • Georgia spent a week upset sobbing every night until she could tell us the problem
  • GJ was at the school heads office at 7.30am
  • All school personnel shocked and dismayed, situation rectified BUT damage has been done.

Nikon D40X, 18-55 +55-200 lens

The girls and I had another practice session with the new camera.
I love the results.
I always like to do a practice run to see what background works best as well as to see how light is working.
Now I need Ben awake and in the mood to cooperate!

Ramadan traffic in Jakarta

I haven't written much about Jakarta in the last few weeks as it is very chaotic at the moment.

And I like happy good news!

But Friday night was so unbelievable chaotic that it became funny...we have a standing joke in the car that we need a water pistol...and every time a kamikaze bus zooms up the wrong side of the road or some one parks in the middle of the wrong side of the road we can open the window and give them a squirt of water.

A friend here has taken the suggestion one step further and wants foul, really FOUL smelling liquid in a water pistol to squirt all of the inconsiderate smokers. Most people smoke here, where ever they like, when ever they like.

Georgia chose Amigos as where she wanted to go for her birthday. Amigos is in Kemang, a suburb nearly always filled to capacity with traffic.

Friday night it was GRIDLOCKED, as in not moving AT ALL.

We must of left home at exactly the right time as it only took us 30 min to get there. If there was no traffic it would take probably 4 minutes LOL. Our friends live 5 minutes from us but on the other side of a main road and it took them an hour and a half.
At one stage once we cleared one major bottle neck we went to move forward but the left lane was full of cars on the wrong side.
We just started to laugh at this stage.
because of this traffic, the kids and I were at the restaurant for a good hour and a half before any one else arrived, so I did what most would do, ordered my self a frozen strawberry margarita and sprite for the kids and relaxed.

I mentioned last week about how the shopping centers and supermarkets were crowded. This week I had to go back to the supermarket......oh no I nearly lost my calm demeanor. It wasn't just the crowds, everything was out of kilter.
I don't mind admitting it because I once had exactly the same reaction in Australia at A.C. Woolworths (at least there I spoke to the manager, got service and felt good about bitching and moaning).

I was stuck in a position of not knowing what impulse to act out on....
  • Start slamming my trolley into the display next to the registers.
  • Fall to the floor kicking and screaming in a tantrum a two year old would be proud of.
  • Burst in to tears and sob, and sob.
  • Calmly wait, with a smile on my face and then complain bitterly to the world on my blog.
Guess which one I chose....LOL

Guess what I got yesterday....

Click here to find out the answer....
I wasn't even trying with these, I just was getting a feel for the lens.
The girls are already groaning in anticipation about the hours they will have to sit through.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Party month has started

Georgia opening presents this morning.
She has chosen a special place to go for dinner tonight,
I am sure there will be lots of photos to follow.

The first October birthday has arrived.

Georgia turned 9 today.

We have a few days before Ben turns 4, then a few more days until Chelsea turns 7 and a few more days until GJ turns another year older. Ben gets to have his birthday in Singapore this year, Last year it was Georgia's turn.

Dental drama in jakarta.

I thought you might like to sympathize with me.

This is a copy of the email I sent to GJ at the office yesterday about my quiet day at home making cakes for Georgia's birthday

I was picking up Ben at 12 when Chelsea rushed out to me with a hunk of tooth in her hand...she had clean snapped the top of a freshly grown, beautiful ADULT that was supposed to last for ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

An emergency trip to SOS clinic has resulted in a temporary filling/crown. One that will need to be replaced every 2 years or so until she is 15 when she can have a crown...............the Dr doesn't think that it will go black.

We arrive back to school to collect Georgia to find her with a tissue filled mouth, soaked in blood. A big juicy molar came loose.
Home extraction ensured and now the tooth fairy will have to visit our house tonight twice....

So my quite day has been not so quiet.... Ben did not appreciate being left at home while I took Chelsea to the clinic. We saw a nude boy, in hysterics, being forcibly contained as we drove off. Luckily Samino knows that the way to turn him is around is a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD, chocolate milk and junk food (to eat and to mash into furniture and carpets)

Now I have to drag my throbbing ankle into the kitchen and whip up a couple of dozen cup cakes.............................

You can just see the build up of Chelsea's tooth it is on the middle right hand side

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Crowds at Pasaraya Grande Jakarta

We made a HUGE tactical error on Sunday.

We all went to Pasaraya Grande to get the kids new shoes. Pasarya Grande is a huge department store with 9 floors of shops ( 7 floors and 2 basement levels)
We met up with 50% of Jakarta's population inside the department store LOL.
Chelsea showed her displeasure at the EXTREME crowds by throwing up all over the floor, it was all the excuse we needed to rapidly exit the shop.
Many, many people were there buying new outfits for the start of Idul Fitri (13th October 2007).
Think of what the shops are like on the last Saturday before Christmas within a city with 20 million residents!!!

Under no circumstances will we be going to any shops in the next week and a half

Last weekend was pay weekend, I think most people get paid at the end of the month usually in cash. As it is Ramadan, it is double pay month.
Many Indonesians get a bonus months salary for Lebaran and it also customary to give tips to workers and trades men.

To give you an idea of payments, this is what I have done this year:-
  • RT 550 000( RT is like the local council, so like a rates bill, usually 250 000/month)
  • Sampat 160 000( sampat is the garbage collector. Garbage is collected by hand into a oversized wheel barrow and hand wheeled around the neighbour hood, usually 80 000/month)
  • Newspaper delivery 200 000. Newspaper should be 90 000/month delivered but for me it is 145 000, so he only got a 55 000 bonus)
  • Sarinah and Samino.....lets just say it was nearly 5.5 million. This should of been less as it is pro rata BUT they worked extra hard when I was bedridden with the broken ankle and I felt that they deserved it.
  • Security Guards, the security company will pay them the bonus but I need to tip, probably 100 000 each x3.
  • Yadi, the company will pay the driver his bonus.
  • Sarinah, Samino and Yadi all got a box of groceries (eg rice, cooking oil, cordial, dates, biscuits, lollies etc)
  • Guards and RT got a big tin of biscuits and lollies
  • Neighbours staffs kids and Sarinah's granddaughters (all play with our kids) gift bags with age appropriate toys.
The really simplified way I have explained in to the kids is that it is the Muslims version of Christmas with out Jesus.