Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life in Jakarta

It's been 1 month and we love it here....

We decided that we didn't want to stay in the hotel until we move into our house, which should hopefully be in a week’s time. Luckily there was a furbished apartment available, which we moved into on Saturday, 17 May.

I've been shopping up a storm. Who wouldn't love to do that ;), especially in Indonesia. The furniture here is really amazing. All good things come to an end though and now that the orders have been placed for furniture, bedding, kitchenware etc. I have more time on my hands to start thinking about how I'm going to be spending the rest of my time in Jakarta in the months (years) to come. I would imagine that we will still be "settling in" until the end of June but after that it will be back to normal.

The only thing that I definitely wanted to do, was to continue my intermediate German lessons, which I should start in July. Not really sure about anything else at the moment!

I couldn't decide if I wanted to get involved with one of the women's organization like I did for the OWC in Bangalore. There are a lot of different organizations in Jakarta (no South African one, even though there are a lot of South African's here). They of course all welcome other nationalities. ANZA was recommended to me and after I attended a coffee morning on Friday last week and I decided to join ANZA (Australia and New Zealand Association), which I did yesterday.

I met a couple of committee members that were pleased to hear about my OWC experience. All charity organizations rely sole on volunteers and of course another person able to contribute time, skills is always welcomed. I've decided to get involved again after all....only this time I will just be a volunteer and not on the committee. I've agreed to be part of the Charity Ball volunteer team, to help plan the annual ANZA Ball which will take place in September.

In the mean time I have also started a review blog atReview which is just something I've decided could keep me busy and who knows, perhaps lead to something in the consumer journalism/PR field, which is something that I'm looking into and may decide to study. Let's see....

Check it out! atReview

NOTE: This is a blog for the ladies!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Back where we started

We left Bangalore two weeks ago with 3 big suitcases and a couple of smaller bags. 10 minutes from the airport it started raining (it came down in buckets). We haven't seen rain like that the entire time we lived in Bangalore. Marc and I had to smile and joked that India was crying because we were leaving ;-)! Well, it wasn't so funny when we were sitting in the car, waiting for the rain to clear a little, while watching the water rise (like a river around the car).
After we finally managed to get our bags out the car and having fished one out of the water we checked in, and again were reminded about "Incredible India" when we couldn't go through customs as they were trying to dry up the dam in front of the counters. And very appropriately, for one last time we said "TII - This is India" and waved it goodbye!

We arrived in Jakarta late Wednesday night, 30 April. So far so good! Even though we are still in a hotel room we can imagine the next 2 years flying by, just like the past two weeks have.

Dinner at Emily and Shaun's house (SA), Wayne and Charlene (SA), will sadly be leaving Jakarta shortly, when they start their new life in Australia. Will miss you Charl's! Thanks for your kindness and showing me the ropes the past two weeks (and introducing us to your friends ;-)
Marc and I - already very happy here!
Jakarta is quite a change from India. The first week I felt a bit like a fish out of water. It is such a big city (makes Bangalore look like a Town in comparison). It's not like in Bangalore where you can walk from shop to shop down the street (ok, that was a challenge but we did it anyway). Jakarta is just too big and the streets, shops are plenty, but far between and don't forget the heat. I don't think I'll be walking anywhere, besides walking around in a mall. The shopping here is fabulous. You can find anything you can possible need, food and otherwise. Marc and I thought we were in food heaven when we went into one of the big supermarkets. The restaurants are amazing too. We are really spoiled for choice.

The suburb's do remind me a little of India with small streets, vendors selling stuff, small stalls on the side of the road but not so dirty, no men urinating on every corner, the traffic (even though crazy) is not so chaotic and the best part, not so much honking (bliss to the ears). There is lane discipline which makes it a little less stressful.
There are so many of these guys with performing monkey's. They wear masks, ride around on little push bikes. They sure are cute, clever little things but this makes me sad (angry actually) I do think they would prefer swinging around in trees.

As for the city center, it is fantastic. Not that you'll quickly pop down to the city because it can take up to 3 hours there and back (and it's only a couple of Km). It is a bit like Bangkok. Big buildings, shopping centers everywhere.

Marc's office is luckily in the South, where we will also be living which means he won't have a 2 + hour commute. In stead it should take him no more than 20min to get to work in traffic. Kemang, where we will live is a great area and has everything from great restaurants, supermarkets etc. no need to really venture to the city unless you absolutely have to!

I love the mall culture here. You get dropped off in front and when you are ready to leave you go to the car call desk and they call your driver over the PA system and 5 min later your driver pulls up to the doors (like valet parking) and off you go again. There is a very strong security presence in Jakarta. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing though ;-0! Offices, Hotels, Shopping Malls, Town House complexes have security gates. The guards check the boot of the car, open doors and inspects the bottom of the car with a big mirror.

All and all I think we will be very happy here. We'll probably only move into our house at the beginning of June. We will be in the Hotel Kristal, until then. In the mean time I spend my time, shopping around for furniture and other household items which is a lot of fun. As I said, you are really spoiled for choice here. I'm hoping to place an order for furniture next week and hopefully we'll have it delivered when we move into our house. Let's hope it all works out!

One of our biggest challenges so far (the only one actually) is the language barrier. We feel a little lost in translation as not too many people speak English. Luckily Bahasa Indonesian seems to be an easy language to pick up and we are already able to tell our driver to go Left, Right, Straight, stop, ask how long it will take and a couple of other phrases, with the help of a phrase book though. And if all els fails, say it in Afrikaans (Well Dutch) and chances are they'll know what you're trying to say. I knew that there were a lot of Dutch words but didn't actually realise how many. Now that I'm aware of it, I see Dutch words everywhere.

A list of some of the words that are similar:

Administrasi - administration (Dutch administratie)
Arde - ground (Dutch = aarde = earth)
Arbei - strawberry (Dutch =aardbei)
Ban - tire (Dutch = band)
baskom, Waskom - washbasin (Dutch = waskom)
bengkel - workplace (Dutch = winkel: store, originally angle)
Besuk - visiting (Dutch = bezoeken)
Bioskop - cinema (Dutch = bioscoop)
Buncis - green beans (Dutch = boontjes)
Bruder - Roman Catholic friar (Dutch broeder = brother)
Buku - book (Dutch = boek)
Dak - roof (Dutch = dak)
Dasi - necktie (Dutch = das(je))
Ember - bucket (Dutch = emmer)
Engsel - hinges (Dutch = hengsel)
Handuk - towel (Dutch = handdoek)
Hanger - hanger
Kabel - cable (Dutch = Kabel)
Kakus - toilet (Dutch verb kakken/noun kakhuis)
Kamar - room (Dutch = kamer)
Kantor - office (Dutch = kantoor)
Karcis - ticket (Dutch = kaartjes: plural for diminutive of kaart, card or ticket)
Kartu - card (Dutch=kaart)
Kelar - ready, finished (Dutch = klaar)
knalpot (or kenalpot) - exhaust (on a car)
kosen - window frame (Dutch = kozijn)
kulkas - refrigator {Dutch = koelkast)
laci - deskdrawer (Dutch = laatje: diminutive form of la(de))
lampu - lamp
oom / om - uncle (Dutch = oom)
migrasi - migration (Dutch = migratie)
mur/baut - nut/bolt (Dutch = moer/bout)
pabrik - factory (Dutch = fabriek)
pensil - pencil (Dutch penseel (brush)
plafon - ceiling (Dutch = plafond, from French)
potlot - pencil (Dutch = potlood)
rekening - account (Dutch = rekening)
resleting - zipper (Dutch = ritssluiting)
ribewis - driving licence (Dutch = rijbewijs)
sekrup - screw (Dutch = schroef)
sepeda - bicycle (most probably from French velocipede)
sirkulasi - circulation (Dutch circulatie)
slang - water hose
tante - aunt (Dutch = tante, from French)
tas - bag
tegel - floor tile
telat - (too) late (Dutch = te laat)
wastafel - sink
wortel - carrot
zuster, suster - nun, nurse, sister
mantel - coat

I haven't really been taking photos, but I guess it's because this isn't really new to us. It is pretty much like we remembered it from when we were here in 2006 (see old blog posts from May and June'06).

A sign on the toilet seat that I couldn't resist taking a photo of! LOL!

We can't wait to settle so that we can plan our fist trip away. Hopefully at the end of June, or who knows, maybe we'll do a weekend trip sooner when we feel like we have to get out of the city and our small hotel room.

Watch this space for an update on life in Jakarta and hopefully soon amazing travels around Indonesia and South East Asia!