Sunday, November 30, 2008

Counting down 2008

We are fast approaching the end of 2008. And what a whirl wind, "happening" year it’s been. The static blog is not due to a lack of things to write about but rather that it has been a busy month and I’ve been putting off posting, thinking I'll do it tomorrow and well, a month later I’m finally able to sit down and write about the past month and the very exciting month of December around the corner.

Marc has been to Banda Aceh, Sumatra and Balikpapan, Kalimantan on business trips over the past month and will be traveling to Papua this coming week.

Below are a few photographs' narrated by Marc himself:

The best part of my job is that I get to see parts of the world - that most people only see on the Discovery channel.

We all saw the images in the news of the Tsunami, but won does not appreciate the size and the destructive power of this wave. The outlying islands formed a funnel that channeled the wave until it reached five stories high when it hit the coastal city of Banda Aceh. Approximately 160'000 lives were lost in Banda Aceh alone. The above photo is a barge that was deposited on top of three houses and a vehicle by the Tsunami 4km inland!!!It is now used for power generation.

The drive from Banda Aceh to site took 8 hours for 200km the road was completely destroyed by the Tsunami.

The Airport in Cilang - We took the Cessna Caravan back to Banda Aceh a 30 min flight
A beautiful day for a flight up the Aceh coastline. The Tsunami was so powerful that it changed the geography of the coastline.
Coffee Shop on the way to Cilang
Dr Andre and myself enjoying a cupuchino and the view

I got to ride up front with the Pilot - what a cool day at the office

Sunrise in Cilang -Fishing boats leaving for the day
Shorebase in Balikpapan -Kalimantan
Marc and I are looking forward to our 10 day trip to Lombok, Gili and Bali on the 19th of December. I spent the past couple of weeks finding accommodation, researching transportation options around the islands and just when I finally finalized the itinerary and received the last booking confirmation my cousin, Amori told me that she wanted to come and visit us early in December. This meant I had to put my “travel agent” hat back on and plan another 5 day trip to Bali for Amori and I. I know; tough life, isn’t it ;-)!
It also meant that I had only little more than a week to furnish the spare room, buying furniture, bedding etc. I had visions of Amori having to sleep on the floor on a mattress but luckily I managed to find a furniture store in Kemang, able to manufacture a bed in a week. Or so they say, let’s see. The bed and side tables are supposed to be delivered tomorrow and the bedding should be ready for collection. So, if all the ETD’s are met, Amori will be sleeping in her newly decorated room on Tuesday night, 2 December.
I have and exciting 10 days planned for Amori including a shopping trip to Bandung, a trip to the national Museum, a cream bath, spa treatment or two and a night out on the town on Friday and on Sunday, 7 December we leave for Bali.
With the upcoming trips, and other activities happening around Jakarta I will have a lot to blog about soon so watch this space for updates ;-)
For those of you traveling in December, take care and travel safely!

Happy Birthday, Marc!

"A birthday is just the 1st day of another 365-day trip around the sun. I just can’t believe that we have completed yet another trip".

Happy Birthday, Marc!

In the weeks leading to Marc’s 33rd birthday on Friday, 28 November, I needed to come up with a b-day gift idea for the special man in my life. I decided to do a nude painting of myself, well, it’s not really a nude, call it a nude back painting.

Painting has always been a hobby and I have done fabric painting, acrylics on paper over the past 10 years. Stuff that ended up, to my embarrassment on the wall in my mom’s bedroom, some as scatter cushions on a colleague’s sofa and other stuff rolled up in a box somewhere in the garage. I don’t exactly fancy myself an "artist" but I do think I have a creative side that I tend to use from time to time until I sadly box it up for a couple of months (years). This interest flared up in India where I did a couple of water colour paintings. Since we arrived in Jakarta I have been toying with the idea of going for art classes to actually pursue it as a possible full time rather than part time hobby.

I have a South African friend, Emily that is a very talented artist and I asked her to help me with Marc’s b-day project. I wanted to do something a little “bigger”, good enough to actually hang on the wall. So with Em’s guidance and artistic supervision I did my first portrait in acrylics on canvas, which I have to say I am rather pleased with. Not bad for my first attempt!

This project has sparked an even bigger interest in art and I look forward to actually learning and hopefully improve my skills when I enroll in art classes in the New Year.

Em, thanks for all the great tips and tricks and I look forward to you being my unofficial art teacher and I'm sure I'll learn a lot from you in the future

For enquiries about Emily’s work and portrait commissions, contact:

A birthday is not a birthday without presents, cake and b-day celebrations with friends.

Our maid, Siti is so sweet. When I got home on Thursday there was a gift bag for Marc on the kitchen counter. To: Marc Beuthe From: Siti
A gift box with coffee, two little funny stuffed dogs (not to sure about their purpose).
I still need to translate the Bahasa but I think it has something to do with wishing him success.

My friend Jav kindly offered to help me bake a birthday, Marble Cake. Her offer was greatly appreciated as I am seriously a useless baker. So bad that even with Jav by my side; it still flopped. And no, Jav don’t blame yourself…it’s my fault for filling the cake tin to the top. What was I thinking…of course it has to raise and where did I think it was going to go but over the sides, LOL ;-) I clearly wasn’t thinking after the few glasses of Champagne I had at Simon’s b-day lunch.
Not all was lost. We manage to salvage the centre, and though it burnt a bit and sunk in, it still tasted good ;-)
The very tasty but sad looking birthday cake
After the little Cake ceremony, Marc and I went for dinner at our favorite German restaurant in Kemang, Die Stube followed by drinks with some of our friends and Marc’s team at a very trendy resto/bar in Kuninghan, Loewy.
Some of the team members

On Saturday we continued the b-day celebrations at an English pub in Kemang, Eastern Promise where we spent the evening playing darts and pool.
It was a fun evening, that Marc says reminded him of his youth.
Shaun, Emily and Ryan
Marc, Viani, Armid, Shaun and ryan trying their hand at darts
Jav, Emily, Pascale and I were onlookers until we decided to give it ago ourselves
Dianne, me and Janice played darts until early hours of the morning
Dan, Jeff, Ross and Marc
Taking a bajaj home at 4am was definitely something that we haven’t done in ages, and probably won’t be doing again in a hurry.;-) The 4am bit that is...
It was a great night, thanks guys!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Island style - Diving weekend on Papa Theo Island

What better way to experience diving in Indo than on a private island. Yes, that's right...we were fortunate enough to be invited to spend the weekend on Papa Theo, which is one of the Thousand islands (Pulau Seribu). Papa Theo is approx 2km in circumference and has only 5 houses (bungalow's) amidst swaying palm trees. By private I mean, really private, small island in the middle of the ocean "private" was fantastic.

On Saturday, 1 November we left the harbour in Jakarta at around 7am and arrived at Papa Theo at about 8:20am.

Our transport - 7 of us, the skipper and a boat boy
The resident island doggy

Fishing boats on the small Papa Theo beach

We got off the boat and headed to the bungalow. By the time we finished admiring the amazing location and views around the island and commented on how good it was to breath fresh air, the island "porters" arrived with our bags and cooler boxes filled with the weekend's supplies of food and drinks. As there is no restaurant on the island, we were tasked with providing lunch on the Saturday, Paulo and Nadine took care of dinner and Chris spoiled us with breakfast and lunch on the Sunday. Thanks guys...I would go back just for the food, yum!
Our accommodation
Hundreds of swaying palm trees on the island
The view from the veranda
The guys went over to Sepa, which is a short boat ride away, to collect the cylinders for the planned dives on Saturday.
The first dive was what you can call; Diving in style. We kitted up on the jetty and just stepped into the clear blue water. It was a easy dive along the reef, almost on our bungalow's doorstep ;-) We went to about 13m and after 20 minutes we turned around and surfaced at the exact spot, where we started. After lunch, we returned to the jetty to kit up and head out again, this time with Chris's rubber dingy.
The diving couldn't have been any easier or more convenient. We just left our gear on the jetty for two days and when we showed up for the next dive our gear had been rinsed off and full cylinders were ready and waiting for us to just kit up and dive in.

Relaxing in the water in front of the bungalow between dives on Saturday

Okay, now I'm really relaxing; on my lylo in the ocean.

A shower is always great after a dive, especially in a setting like this :-)
On Sunday morning we arrived at the jetty and kitted up for what looked to be yet another day of perfect diving conditions. Kitting up on the boat is the kind of diving that we are used to, minus the bumpy boat ride of course and the added bonus of clear blue water where you can almost see to the bottom of the reef. But, what we didn't bargain on was a water spout (small twister) approaching us on our 1st dive.
After carefully inspecting the mini tornado and deciding whether or not we should be worried, we were very happy when we notice that it started dispersing and we were good to go. Phew, we luckily didn't have to race back to the island to send SOS warnings about a hurricane on it's way.
We returned to the jetty, changed cylinders and headed out for our last dive, which was a wreck about 15min boat ride from Papa Theo.

Underwater photographs taken by Paulo

We went down to approx 30meters and started swimming up, along the side of the massive ship and finally settle at about 16 meters on top where we stayed for approx 20 minutes, just admiring the fish life and colourful coral with fantastic visibility of about 20 meters. I always find wreck dives a bit eery of course but it's amazing and so much fun to see these vessels under water.
Marc in his element, giving us the thumbs up after the dive
We returned to the bungalow, ravenous after two dives. We enjoyed a fantastic spread of Alaskan cold and hot smoked Salmon, cheese and crackers, Sate Ayam (Chicken) and peanut sauce, Kalimantan prawns (spoiled, thanks Chris).
Marc and I volunteered to return the cylinders to the Sepa dive centre so that I could see what it was like.
The beach on Sepa Island
Marc helped the guys off load the used cylinders
Heading back to Papa Theo
By 3pm we were packed up and our stuff was loaded onto the boat for our return to Jakarta.
It is rather depressing, looking at the amazing pics of the island, on the camera and the next thing, you look up and you are staring into the grey, muggy sky and grey, dirty and smelly water at the harbour. What a contrast...
What more could you escape from the city; socialising with friends, spectacular, easy diving, swimming and relaxing in warm, clear blue water and just chilling "island style".
Thank you Chris, (Tamera, we missed you), Paulo and Nadine. We had a fantastic time and we look forward to the next trip.