Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Saying goodbye to the "Armid's"

As we entered our 2nd year in Jakarta we are reminded again of how expat life though very exciting, it sometimes is a little nonconforming. After 3 years of living overseas; learning about new cultures, trying new cuisines, setting up a new home twice (in India and Indonesia) and all the other aspects that go hand in hand with living in a foreign country. There is one thing that has always seemed to make life easier… FRIENDS!

But even that, sadly comes with conditions. I suppose it is the “expat” circle of life. I’ve realised that it is easier being the one leaving than being the one being left behind. In the past 3 years we’ve been lucky. We’ve made and sadly had to say goodbye to a lot of great friends, now scattered all over the world.

Jav and Armid are another couple that we were very sad to see leave recently. Without them the past year in Jakarta wouldn’t have been the same.

There is so much we will miss about these guys, especially the fun Wii evenings at their house and of course Jav’s famous chocolate eclairs and brownies.

We’ve tried to squeeze in as many “nights with the Armid’s" (as we call them).

On Friday, 1 May we had a lovely dinner with a couple of Marc and Armid's colleagues at Eastern Promise, followed by a very entertaining evening at B.A.T.S. at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Oh, Jav...how I will miss our Blue Steel poses.

The very crowded infamous B.A.T.S. night club.

On Saturday, 2 May I arranged a surprise farewell for Jav and Armid. We enjoed a great dinner with close friends at Louwy followed by Karaoke at the FX Mall.

Jo, me and Jav.

The Jakarta Expat Boys.

The Jakarta Expat Boys, getting better at it ;-)

Myself, Jav and Armid doing our rendition of "Push the Button". Not an easy song choice I should add...

On Wednedsay, 13 May we attended Armid's wok farewell at Le Brasserie.
Armid was presented with a farewell cake, compliments of La Brasserie.

Armid (the pandemic specialist) will be missed by all his colleagues. Especially now with the "imminent" Swine Flu pandemic.

Jav and I were the only two roses between all the thorns.

On Thursday, 14 May Jav and Armid stayed with us and we enjoyed our “last supper” together.
Keon, saying his goodbyes to his nanny, Ibu Santi.

Em in front of the PC and Jav trying to squeeze one last item of clothing into the already full suitcase.

On Friday morning, 15 May we said our last sad goodbye to our dear friends.

Jav, Armid and Keon (our little man) “You guys will be missed. A sincere thanks to you both for your friendship and we wish you the best of luck with your new exciting venture in Baltimore. We look forward to hearing all about this new chapter in your lives”.

Wedding in Balikpapan, Kalimantan

We flew Air Asia to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan (The Indonesian side of Borneo) on Saturday, 9 May to attend Harry and Lita’s wedding celebration on the Sunday, 10 May. We were excited to attend our first Indonesian, Muslim wedding.

There is not much to see or do in this industrial mining and oil town, so definitely not a place I would recommend for a weekend getaway. Unless of course you are planning on visiting the Orangutans. It seems there are two places where you could go see the Orangutans:

Samboja Lodge approx. an hours drive from Balikpapan or the Orangutan Survival Centre which is actually closer and this can be arranged through the hotel. The Hotel quoted us USD50 per person for trip incl. lunch, which I'm sure one can arrange for less if you contact the centre directly.

Our plan was to try and visit the Orangutans while we were in Balikpapan but unfortunately the lodge was full and they didn't have any guides available for a day trip. And to visit the other survival centre you have to book a day in advance which meant we missed that boat too; damn. Seeing the Orangutans is still very much on our to do list, so who knows...maybe we'll be back in this one horse town sometime soon.

After checking into the Le Grandeur Hotel, we went for lunch at Jack's Place (also called Jack's or Lyla's), which is apparently popular with expatriates.
The view from our table at Jack's Place. Which I can imagine will be perched on the ocean at high tide.

Saturday night we decided to have a seafood dinner at The Beach Restaurant at the Le Grandeur is a semi-outdoor restaurant in a lovely setting overlooking the ocean.

The view from The Beach Restaurant at the Le Grandeur Hotel.

Since Marc is able to eat crab after many years of a selfish allergy, we wanted to try the pepper crab and I was looking forward to eating yummy Kalimantan prawns (which Marc hasn't been brave enough to try just yet).

Marc enjoying the taste of grab.

It turns out that the view and the music is what one pays for at this restaurant though. We found that the food is heavily overpriced. Even though it is a four star hotel, I'm not sure how they could justify charging such absorbent prices. Especially when we compared it with the seafood we ate on Gili Island, that was half the price and a lot nicer.

On Sunday morning, 10 May I went for a cream bath and a blow dry at the salon, Magnolia Spa across the road from the hotel.

Address:Jl Jend Sudirman Ruko Dusit Arcade Bl L/4
Phone : 0542-744938

I was done just in time for the wedding reception that started at 11am, in the Ballroom at the Le Grandeur Hotel. There were approx. 150+ guests (Family and friends) and it was a happy and very colorful affair.

I got information on Muslim wedding traditions off the internet. And having spoken to people that have attended weddings in Indonesia there are many different accounts of what actually happens at a Muslim wedding. It seems that there are a lot of various wedding traditions that reflect the diversity of the Muslim world.

The happy couple actually had their legal service on the 5th of April. On Saturday, 9 May there was a public wedding party (Walima), held at Lita's family home for approx. 700 guests, which we unfortunately didn't make.

Lita and Harry entering the hall with Lita's mom on her side.

The bride and groom made their entrance, dressed in beautiful gold clothing, decorated with flowers around their necks and on their heads.
They were up on the stage for the duration of the reception (not a drink or a bite to eat). The wedding guests on the other hand had a selection of Indonesian dishes to choose from while listening to an excellent local band performing international covers. In between dishes the guests walked onto the stage to congratulate and to have their pictures taken with the newly weds.

"Congratulations, Lita and harry. We wish you all the love an happiness in the world".
At around 2:30pm we left the wedding reception and decided to check out the market at Kebun Sayur (Pasar impres) where we wondered through the market admiring the beautiful gems, jewellery and other Kalimantan handicraft incl. bead work items, wall hangings, rugs etc.

The Pasar Impres (Kebun Sayur) market.
Colourful beaded Kaltim purses that came in so many different shapes and sizes.
A mobile pet shop.
On our way back to the hotel we went past Magnolia Spa for a 1 hour foot massage. Later, we enjoyed drinks and dinner with Harry and Lita, hearing first hand about all the wedding preparations, and learning more about the Muslim Wedding traditions.

Early Monday morning, 11 May we returned to a very wet Jakarta.
They say when it rains it pours…well, in Jakarta when it rains it more often than not, floods. The streets turn into streams.
Driving home from the airport, Kemang Raya was so badly flooded that our taxi driver kept going "Oh, Oh-Oh-Oh" He kept looking around to see where he could turn as he was clearly not sure if he was going to get through the deep water.

I had visions of us having to get out and swim but luckily we made it home, dry.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Freedom Day Celebration

The South African Embassy in Jakarta hosts a Freedom Day Celebration annually and we had the privilege to attend this years celebration on Wednesday, 29 April. The event, held at The Ritz carlton Hotel in Mega Kuningan was well attended by many of our fellow South Africans as well as other diplomat's from around the world.

I felt a sense of pride when the evening kicked off to the tune of our national anthem "Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika....But, at the same time I felt a sense of embarrassment as I realised that I didn't know all the words to the first two verses of our anthem.

The embassy must have figured that there might be many people, like me, that don't know the words. They obviously wanted to avoid the embarrassment where people end up humming along and rather opted to play an instrumental version instead of letting us sing.

I've actually thought about this a couple of times before, when I hear the anthem. But, I just haven't made the effort; and it's sad! I realised again that it's only two verses that I need to learn "it can't be that difficult". I want to really try and learn and remember the anthem for next time.
Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned this...I hope it is not just me. Am I a terrible South African? I'm wondering; How many of my South African friends can sing the anthem?

So here goes:

South Africa's national anthem
Pulls together two anthems, five languages - and over 47-million people.

Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa la matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa South Afrika-South Afrika.
Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

The isiXhosa and isiZulu of the first stanza, the Sesotho of the second stanza and the Afrikaans of the third stanza translate into English as follows:

Lord, bless Africa
May her spirit rise high up
Hear thou our prayers
Lord bless us.

Lord, bless Africa
Banish wars and strife
Lord, bless our nation
Of South Africa.

Ringing out from our blue heavens
From our deep seas breaking round
Over everlasting mountains
Where the echoing crags resound ...

We enjoyed a fabulous evening with our South African friends, particularly enjoyed drinking South African wine and eating some traditional South Africa food incl. bobotie, boerewors, biltong salad and milk tart.

About Freedom Day: (I did know this ;-)

South African Freedom Day is celebrated on 27 April. It celebrates freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on 27 April, 1994. The '94 elections were the first non-racial national elections where everyone over 18 from any race group was allowed to vote. Previously, under the apartheid regime, non-whites had only limited rights to vote.

Keeping busy with German lessons and Art Classes

It has been a busy couple of weeks since we've returned from South Africa. Since the engagement in December my days have been filled with planning our Big day. My mind space was occupied with something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue....

I knew that I would need a couple of new projects to keep me busy when I returned to Jakarta as Mrs. Beuthe.

I also knew exactly what I wanted to do, I just needed to DO IT...

I got my "A" into "G" and managed to find a new German teacher and have been attending classes twice a week, since mid April.

I didn't want to do a course at one of the institutes. I preferred the idea of having a private tutor and I have been putting it off for the past year, in the hopes that another Anne will come along and that I can get back on the good German track that I was on in Bangalore.

With no disrespect to my new teacher; Anne "you were the best, thank you so much for getting me through my beginner Course. The foundation is there and it's good. All because of you"!

I am sure I will soon start picking the fruits of the new teaching methods of Ibu (Mrs.) Tjan. It will still be a while before I'll be able to do a blog post in German though. But, being able to understand as much as I do, is already an achievement and I believe with practice and LOTS more grammar lessons I'll get better at it. I look forward to when we go on holiday to Germany again and I can use my German for real.

NOTE: Should you be looking for a German or Indonesian teacher, please comment on this post and I will send you Ibu Tjan's contact details.

Since I did Marc's birthday portrait in November, I have also been talking about taking art classes which I have managed to start with and absolutely love....

My art teacher has a studio at home where a couple of us spend 4 hours, once (sometimes twice a week) drawing and painting and where I will hopefully be learning a lot from our master, Jazz.

I have only been for 3 lessons and I am hooked. I really enjoy it, and I can't wait for the next lesson. It is really amazing to see the progress in my work in only a few lessons.

The best of approx. 3 drawings, from my 1st lesson.

The best of approx. 5 drawings, from my 2nd lesson.

The best 2 drawings of approx. 4 drawings, from my 3rd lesson.

NOTE: Should you be interested in art classes in the South of Jakarta, please comment on this post and I will send you Jazz's contact details.