Singapore Weekend

•22 November 2011 • Leave a Comment

We went to Singapore a few weekends ago to see The National play. I only took this short video, but I believe it is enough to make you all wobbly in the knees.

That voice! Swoon. Watch at your own risk.

Back from Europe

•21 September 2011 • 1 Comment

I’ve actually been back for a week now and the trip already feels like a million years ago. Except, I am knee-deep in photos (so.many.photos.) AND jetlag. So much jetlag to keep the trip fresh.

Until I get through the 600-odd photos (mostly of food), I’ll stick these little bits in. Exciting, right?

First, there was London.

And there was an INSANE meal at the Fat Duck.

That little red and white picnic blanket? It’s made from chocolate. This desert was probably the best course. Probably. It’s hard to pick one favourite from fourteen.

Then it was off to Spain. Seville, Granada, Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian, to be exact. Spain was AMAZING. Sunshine and wine and as much ham as you could possibly eat.

If you’re lucky I will one day post photos of some of the ham we ate, but for the time being even the photos turn my stomach a bit. Ugh. At least I have returned to the right country if I want to live pork-free.

Cribs Update

•23 June 2011 • 3 Comments

When I first showed photos of our apartment I complained that it looked a bit too much like a hotel room. Well, six months in I am pleased to report that it feels like home. A really nice home, actually. Our things arrived from Australia, we bought some furniture and we’re done. For now.

This is my study where I spend all of my time. Really, if I am home I am probably in this room. I’ve never had my own study before, it’s very very great.

When I pry my eyes away from the computer, this is what I see. See that limited edition Sloan poster? I LOVE IT.

Words cannot describe how happy I was to be reunited with our sofa. Sofa, I missed you! The provided sofa was awful and uncomfortable and I was happy to see it gone. We had the CD consoles (it’s actually two pieces) made by a locally based French man.

Books! Our books are here! Some seem to be missing, though. That’s the problem when you move a lot, I suppose. So if you have my copies of Tender Is the Night, A Moveable Feast or Wild Sheep Chase, could you let me know?

The outdoor furniture was an inspired buy. The chairs aren’t actually for the outdoors, and they’ll definitely show their wear, but they are so comfortable. It’s such a great nook for reading with a Gin and Tonic in hand.

The table is made from reclaimed teak. I love the look of the wood. This table isn’t really made for outdoor use either, but it’s holding up well.

These three pieces were put here by the movers, but it actually works.

For the bathroom I needed a spot to put the radio. The guy who made the CD consoles also made this little table. His specialty is actually Art-Deco style furniture and so that’s what we went with for this table. It’s far too nice a piece to stick in the corner of a bathroom, but I love it here.

I am pretty pleased with how it all came together. It’s nice to have a space that I am comfortable in, especially when I spend so much time at home.


Shopping Bandung

•16 June 2011 • Leave a Comment

As if last week wasn’t busy enough, we went to Bandung on Sunday night. As a very loose description, it was for Jason’s work. There was a big dinner. I ate a lot of delicious Indonesian food, despite a disasterous attempt to make my own soto ayam.

There was also some karaoke, but we didn’t have to perform. Jason’s colleague did, though! This was very brave for two reasons: 1. the dinner was extremely sober; 2. the other people that sang were GOOD. Like, practice every night, have a private voice coach good.

We were in Bandung for about 20 hours and this included a good few hours in traffic just trying to get around the city. Want to know where Jakartans go on weekends? Bandung. It was ridic.

Why do Jakartans go to Bandung? For the shopping. See, Bandung is the home of factory outlets. Apparently there are around 40 factory outlets across the city, but we only checked out a few. The result? There are some fantastic deals to be had, but you also have to dig through a lot of crap.

There are lots of recognisable brands like GAP, Banana Republic, Abercrombie and Fitch. There are also lots of cheap designer knock-offs. For example, in one of the shops they had an entire table of icky feeling “Burberry” trenchcoats. Luckily it’s not hard to recognise a fake. For example, there was a pile of red and orange patterned polyester blouses with a Chloe label haphazardly stiched in. Why do they do that?

The main positive was that unlike outlet stores in Canada and Australia, the prices here were really really discounted. I didn’t buy much, but I also didn’t spend more than a few dollars on any one item (except for a Betsey Johnson blazer, but even that was only $30).

So friends, if you come visit and you want to get in some cheap shopping, I know just the place!

Chinatown: The Movie

•16 June 2011 • Leave a Comment

One of the things my new camera can do is record video. I’m not used to this feature, so I often forget about it.

Today I was walking through Chinatown and I thought that video might be the best way to capture the craziness around me. The people, the traffic, the sounds (lucky for you, not the smells).

 

It’s not great, but it’s something. I need to keep practicing if I’m ever going to make my documentary.

Hiking in Sentul

•15 June 2011 • 3 Comments

I need to get this out of the way first – I am not a hiker. In fact, I think that the three hikes I took last week were probably the first hikes I had done in maybe five years? Maybe more? It turns out, hiking is a lot like walking. Just with daggier outfits. Sorry hikers, it’s true. However, the chance to get outside of Jakarta was an opportunity I was not about to pass up. Even though it meant a 6:30 am departure the day after our 6 am waterfall hike.

The hike took place about an hour and a half from Jakarta in an area called Sentul. The scenery was incredible. Before this, I had only ever seen photos of rice paddies and these were mostly from Bali. I honestly had no idea that Java was so picturesque. And this was so close to Jakarta! The area that we walked around was a million miles away from the city I currently call home. We’re talking villages without road access. It was eye-opening, to say the least.

Do you remember my last post when I warned you that it would be photo-heavy? This post has many many more photos. The things I saw! Culling would be impossible. Brace yourself.

Our group of three had two guides. They were local to the area and so knowledgeable. Highly recommended. Even if they did lead us across some scary little bridges.

I realise the photo isn’t clear, but this is a homemade hydro plant that the village uses for its power.

The ants use the power lines to get around. Clever ants!

This is coffee beans drying out in the sun. We saw this in a number of the villages we visited.

Rice paddies.

I find the tier system for rice paddies pretty clever. When you see how naturally wet this part of the world is and how conducive this is to growing rice  you realise how ridiculous it is when arid countries decide to grow rice *cough*Australia*cough*.

Cow.

This was a particularly rickety bridge.

I saw two spiders on the hike. Apparently they are not poisonous. As if that makes them any less terrifying!

This was a brand new mosque on the edge of one of the villages. The juxtaposition of this brand new, gleaming building against the rural background was pretty striking.

This is tapioca! You know those little pearls that come in pudding? It comes from cassava root and this is it out drying in the sun.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this vista.

Harvesting. I can’t even describe how labourious this looked. Just keep in mind that it’s about 35 degrees and extremely humid.

Scarecrows.

This is our guide demonstrating that cassava root is edible. Also, see that white marking on his arm? He did that by smacking a leaf against his arm. Seriously, they showed us so much interesting flora.

Man, I love goats.

I love goats so much the guide had me pose with this fellow. They wanted me to hold him, but I didn’t think that was in the best interest of the goat.

We came across these kids right at the end of our hike. We had been walking for approximately three hours in sweltering heat and the river looked incredibly inviting. However, we didn’t think the kids were quite ready to share their water with a group of bules.

I love the modesty of the little guy in the corner. So cute!

And we made it to the end! Not only that, it was enough that I want to go again! I’ll try to take less photos next time, but I make no promises.

The Spa Retreat

•15 June 2011 • 2 Comments

I’ll warn you right now, this is a photo-heavy post. I took part in a photography workshop last weekend and then I went out of town and got to explore photo-worthy landscapes and I got a little trigger happy. It happens. I know you understand.

So last week my neighbour asked me and my friend if we’d like to join her and another neighbour on an overnight getaway to a spa retreat about three hours outside of Jakarta. For a very reasonable fee (approximately $150) we got transfers to and from Jakarta, four meals, two spa treatments and accommodation for the night. The place was described as quaint and rustic, but I was game.

The drive up to the spa was a bit treacherous. It was a steep, windy road and it was rough. The last 25 kilometers took an hour, I’m sure. However, it was completely worth it for the view and the cool mountain hour. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to sit out in the sun (sun! no smog to block its rays!) and breathe the air (air! actual fresh air! not diesel fumes!).

I’m not sure this place has been updated much in the past 25 years since it opened, but I think that’s part of the charm.

These were our rooms (all four in a row):

And this was our view:


There were actually only six guests total the night we were there (us plus an Indonesian couple) so that meant one swimming pool for every three guests! Although no one went swimming anyways.

On the first day we arrived, had lunch, walked down to one waterfall (of four) and then walked back for a stretching and relaxation course (basically yoga in positions you could sleep in – it was amazing).

This was followed by an hour long massage, an hour of spa time (sauna, steam, jacuzzi) and then cocktail hour. However, in the interest of full disclosure I must warn you that for cocktail hour they served… chamomile tea. Yep. A big glass of chamomile tea. Then it was dinner and lights out by about 8:00. I kid you not. Luckily one of the ladies had brought a bottle of wine and I had brought a container of choclate chip cookies. We hung out in the rooms until we were ready for sleep.

The wake-up call on the second day came at 5:45.

This was so we could hike down to a second waterfall by sunrise and go for an early morning swim. Now, as a Canadian I can say, that was some cold effing water. My feet were numb in a matter of minutes. However, the feel of the falls pounding down on my back was incredible. I lost myself for a moment, let go of the rock I was clinging to and scratched my legs to shit. Totally worth it. Also, our guide promised that the fresh water would make me look 10 years younger. You can’t argue with that.


We then walked back to the resort and had breakfast under the watchful eyes of some geese.

It was then time for two hours of aerobics. That’s right. TWO HOURS. OF AEROBICS. After a 6 am hike and swim. The first class was regular aerobics, and the second class was Below the Belt, focussing on core building and strength or something and OHMYGOD, I thought I might never walk again. Luckily this was promptly followed by a pedicure and reflexology session. I then spent the next hour reading in the sun until it was time for lunch and then home.

I so could have stayed another night. If you’re the type of person who is happy to do nothing much then this is the place for you. The aerobics classes might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they were 100% optional. I just like to torture myself.