Jakarta. In Search of a Tree

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Hilarious pedal powered VW riding past the food stalls

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Jelly on a stick covered in sprinkles for breakfast

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Exercise park surrounded by greenery

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Zooming around the park in a golf buggy was so much fun

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A giant komodo statue and Samudra was so happy

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Entering Faunaland

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Feeding the mini donkey

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Giant tortoise in the petting area at Faunaland

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Feeding the birds after the bird show

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Lovely cockatoos, but why don’t they fly away?

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Entering into the Learning Centre, which is a big area of vegetable gardens and some animals for petting

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Two cuties set to explore the gardens in the sunshine

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Gorgeous vibrant colours amongst the gardens

Something that Jakarta would never be accused of or praised for is its love and respect for the environment; you get that feeling every time you walk past a body of water that resembles a junkyard or an oil slick.  You can usually smell it ahead; a mixture of sewage and rotten food rises into your nostrils as a swarm of mosquitoes descends upon your face.  Some days the only trees you see are the giant photos on printed banners covering up roadwork.  I was reading an article about malls in Jakarta in which one mall claimed to be eco-friendly because it had 2 plants…which turned out to be plastic. But you just can’t give up hope that it doesn’t exist, especially when your kids call this city home.  So on the weekends you go searching so you can say to your kids, “See kids, real trees do exist” and “See that green stuff there?  That’s called grass, it’s soft to walk on” as they scream and run away as though you have asked them to walk on lava.

So we ventured off outside of the usual 2 kilometre radius to descend upon “Ecopark” nestled in amongst the fun parks of Ancol.  When you google “things to do in Jakarta with kids” most likely the recommendation will send you to the inside of one of the many malls where you will have to listen to tinny music and be haunted by freaky cartoon characters and tubs of plastic balls for weeks to come.  It was time to get outside. It’s always a risk to take such a journey, even on a Sunday, but during Ramadhan the risk of an abundance of weddings blocking up roadways was not likely.  Sometimes the thought of going further than 2 kilometers in Jakarta is kind of like contemplating the same kind of energy of driving from Melbourne to Sydney (that’s 800kms on a clear highway); should I or shouldn’t I?  What else could I achieve within the 2km radius rather than leaving?  These moments of realisation of how small your world has become can work to  shake you out of the malaise and slap yourself in the face with a resounding, “This is so f-ing depressing, get me out of here”.

Arriving at such a late hour, also known as 9am, is not something recommended by Indonesians.  It was already too panas and most of those inside the park looked like they had done their exercise and were ready to go before the sun started to turn their skin a darker shade.  But for us, what a surprise!  There were trees, there was a body of water, paddle boats, pedal cars and electric boats – c’mon, could it get any better?  There were roadside stalls set up with a variety of betawi treats and sticky coconut rice and some weird jelly treat for the kids with chocolate sprinkles; we didn’t know where to begin.  That was until we spied golf carts for hire – hello world, here we come.  And we were off at 5 kms an hour laughing our butts off at the absurdity.

Our first lap around the venue we sighted a few mini-worlds inside the village; light shows and a strange komodo statue carrying an umbrella – best not to try and work out the meaning sometimes I guess – and as I tooted my horn and tried to overtake a pedal car in the shape of a volkswagon beetle and pink laden nannies grabbing at the wrists of small children missing our calls of “permisi, permisi, coming through” we came upon an animal park and thought we better check it out.

I am always caught between wanting my child to know that animals actually do exist while living in this city but not wanting her to see the horrible conditions that they exist in if they are unlucky enough to have been born or brought to this mad city which barely looks after its human inhabitants.  Dogs in small cages, orangutans in smaller cages, birds boiling in little plastic bags for sale on the side of the road, elephants banging their heads on their small enclosures at the zoo – we have seen it all.  The only animals that roam free are flea ridden, mangy mottled-fur-falling-off cats, three legged abandoned dogs and strangely the most healthy looking animals are the rats that race amongst the open garbage bins spewing out onto the street.  So we drew our breath in, decided to risk it and pay the hefty entrance fee of 50,000 rupiah each (quite a lot more than the 3,500 rupiah to get into Ragunan) and hoped for the best.

Most of this part seemed under construction but the conditions didn’t seem too bad.  They had a small petting section where ancient turtles existed within reaching (and kicking) distance of small children, miniature horses and donkeys baring their giant teeth at us hoping for a carrot, and a range of colourful, exotic birds sitting quietly on their perches waiting to be carried around.  Tash and I looked at each other not daring to think too much about why they sit there so patiently without flying around; what kind of manipulation or torture has been used to tame these beautiful creatures. Blinkers up, change the subject.  There was an amusing birds show where these beautiful birds flew over your head performing tricks.  Trained animals. Blinkers up, change the subject.  We just tried to focus on the well-maintained grounds the design up the venue which felt like you were on an episode of Survivor.

Our final stop, and another entrance ticket, was into the learning farm which housed a large, plastic playground – always a smart way to lure the kids in.  And lured in we were indeed with the obligatory farmer’s hats perched on our heads, ducking and weaving under the hot sun to try and admire the gardens and see some vegetables growing, a random woman playing with a drone, rabbits and snakes and frogs in cages.  Sometimes it is too hot to enjoy nature.  Everyone else seemed to know that except us.  Even the small market in the venue closed at 11am.  We were pushing this nature thing too far.

I don’t know if you would really consider it an Ecopark, though it was as green as it gets in the city. It certainly felt fresh and outdoor-sy, the animals were only mildly tortured, the rubbish was hidden away.  There was corn growing in a field. You don’t see that every day here. We were able to kid ourselves if only for a short morning, that everything was going to be ok.  And as my little daughter tripped over a tree root and face planted a muddy puddle for the first time in her life, I hugged her and said, “This is nature my dear, isn’t it fabulous?”.

Ayo, kita Buk-ber! Let’s break the fast together

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Kaki lima filled with sweet treats

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Checking the street stalls for what is on offer

Having lived here for over 7 years, we have gone through a lot of Ramadhans.  Ramadhan is a time that really shakes up your existence in Jakarta as all of the things that you thought you had a handle on, now do a duck and weave and the city becomes almost incomprehensible again.  The traffic at 3pm turns into a heaving, murderous mass of people with their hands and feet on the accelerator to get home fast before buka puasa (breaking the fast); the curtains are drawn over warungs so you don’t know what is open and available. At times the malls are so empty you feel like you have missed the message that it has gone out of business and your usual supermarket shopping time can find you in a cast of thousands queuing behind people who seem they are shopping for the apocalypse.  Jakarta is not a city that runs on time or efficiency, but now people disappear, everything shuts down at random moments, people even lose interest in pretending to be interested.  I had applied for a BCA credit card 2 months ago and I rang up the bank to check my application and they said, “We are missing two documents but I can’t tell you what they are,” then they hung up.  Brilliant.

It is a time where women talk even more freely about having their periods.  Where your usual beer fridge at the 24 hour mart is covered over or emptied and your favourite bartenders look in fear if you order a cocktail, and possibly serve it in a mug to keep hidden from the Defenders and their big sticks.  A time where people stay up all night until suhur, have a small feast and then sleep as much of the day away as possible so the fasting time seems less.  Where selected members of the community have seemingly been given the task of waking up everyone by banging on gates and doors so that they don’t miss their last chance to eat before sunrise with, “Bangun, suhur!” echoing through the neighbourhoods.

The city takes on whole new rhythms and feels both more peaceful and more chaotic.

This year, I decided that I would try out some fasting – puasa – to see how Ramadhan shifts and to show solidarity with my Muslim family and friends, please note, without any pressure or expectation from either group.  Perhaps this comes from the luxury of not being from here thus not having to follow any cultural edicts, though an Indonesian work colleague of mine who I share a schoolyard duty with cracked open his delicious smelling nasi goreng lunch the other day, as I sat fasting, with the explanation that he didn’t start fasting at the start of Ramadhan so just couldn’t get momentum to start with a shrug of his shoulders.

The first weekend of the fast revealed something important about my life; my life basically revolves around food; planning what to cook, picking up groceries, calling gojek a thousand times to pick up missing items, cooking, eating, cleaning and repeating the cycle.  Or planning what to eat, scrolling through the possibilities of restaurants in the area and deciding whether to go there in person or call a gojek to pick up what I want.  It’s all about the food.  So what to do when food is taken out of the equation (after realising how absurd your life is)?  Gather with family and take it in turns to chase the baby while the rest lay spread out on the floor gasping for breath – or possibly taking instagram selfies (#only5hourstogo #sothirstyrightnow).

The best thing about Ramadhan is the little markets that spring up on the side of the road selling a variety of special Ramadhan foods (see? it’s always about the food). Lontong is my current obsession – rice cooked in banana leaf and filled with fermented tempeh or potato and coming with a special Ramadhan spicy peanut sauce, just delicious.  Plus you can choose from mountains of gorengan (anything fried like tempeh, tahu, banana) and you don’t even need to get off your motorbike to purchase – just pull up in front of one of the many stores, point at what you need and be on your merry way.  There are sweet little cakes like kue putu and bubur susum; both are a mixture of rice flour, coconut milk and palm sugar.  Mixing those 3 ingredients together seems to be the flavours of Ramadhan and then add more sugar and coconut milk on top.  Another variation is adding banana to the mix and have it floating in the sugary soup; you got kolak pisang.  Last night I ate a black rice variation; tape uli – with coconut sticky rice – the flavours were so amazing.

Then, after picking up the purchases and laying them out on the table with a couple of dates (so cheap at this time of year), filling up glasses with coconut water freshly cracked open from another side-of-the-road store, it is time to try and not look at the clock – and fail – and instead check one thousand times a minute.  Never has time moved so slowly.

This time has changed my relationship to the call of the mosque at sunset, now it is the sound of sweet relief, and to take my time slowly sampling the treats in front of me, chewing slowly and savouring the flavours. Hm, not likely.  It is time to shovel a day’s worth of food in my mouth and retract all the benefits of fasting.  This is something I hope to improve over time, we are only halfway, after all.

So, selamat menunaikan Ibadan puasa everyone and don’t forget to keep your eyes out for tasty treats and let us know any food recommendations before we miss out so we can enjoy our buk-ber.

[Note: “Buk-ber is short for “buka puasa bersama” which means breaking fast together.  How good is Bahasa Indonesia for lazy people like me, everything can be shortened. It’s my mission to learn more of these abbreviations.]

Where The Life is At

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This is where life happens…

Jakarta is a city full of collisions; collisions of culture, collisions of classes, collisions of religion, collisions of cars, it’s a wonder that it doesn’t descend into chaos more often.  The city is so multi layered, it can be almost as though you live on a different planet than someone who lives 50 metres from you in your own neighbourhood.  Tucked in just behind the White House sized one family houses can be a maze like kampung area with entire extended families living in a tiny box-like structure.  There are hierarchies within hierarchies that hurt your head (and your soul) if you try and understand them too much.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I left one of my favourite eateries.  Inside it was the wintery climate of an over air-conditioned restaurant, there was the tinkling of the cutlery and the din of quiet conversation, obsequious waiters running to their patrons on the call “mas” or “mbak”.  Step outside and life changes and it changes fast.  From the dusty basement carpark where we had parked our mighty steed (ok, a rusty Scoopy) where the satpams and kitchen staff congregated with people from god knows where to nongkrong and share a cigarette and meal in the darkness, to the dodging and weaving of rubbish collectors and food carts being slogged up the main road with the sound of car horns and masjid announcements.  It’s a dirty, sweaty world out there, and it is alive.

One of the topics at our school was an investigation of poverty and kids in my class who had lived here several years told me they didn’t know there was so much poverty in Jakarta, I thought, “How the hell could you miss it?”.  Actually, it’s easy for them and easy for those who want to shield their eyes from it.  All you need is a big shiny car (and there are many of them in Jakarta – one with money wouldn’t be caught without one and the bigger the better) and a driver.  This way your driver can take you directly to the gate of wherever you want to go whether it is to another friend’s large abode or one of the many shiny and air conditioned malls where you can find a range of eateries.  Many parents are afraid for the safety of their children so they keep them inside their houses, apartments and malls so they never get to see what really is at the heart of this city.  They miss out on all of the life right at their fingertips.

Really it doesn’t take much.  All you need to do is arrive to one of those same shiny malls by motorbike.  The motorbike parking sends a big signal to the riders; “You mostly are just workers here with little money to spend so we ain’t gonna spend any money making this easy for you”. They are overcrowded and dusty and dirty and sometimes you have to walk a maze to get from the carpark to the main building.  On the way through though you can get a glimpse of where the workers of the mall (who could never afford to eat at the places they work, let alone in any of the restaurants inside the mall) get their meals; it could be a tiny hole cut in the concrete where if you stick your head you will see a little shop inside that can serve you a bowl or 2 of indomie or a packet of cigarettes.  Usually surrounding malls there are a whole range of food carts with their patrons in the uniforms of the shops they work at, standing around slurping a bowl of bakso or lontong sayur. If you go in reverse and enter the mall after standing on the streets haggling for a bit of sop buah and enter into the world of consumption of over-priced goods, you feel the lifelessness of the overindulged. It is comfortable, but there is little life there except that can be found from the adrenaline rush from buying something you hope will change your life a little (even if experience tells you it is gonna be more stuff to add to the pile).

Sometimes, as an expat, I know that I am missing out on where the real life is at, cause when I have a taste of it, I know why I am still in Jakarta after all these years.  Malls and big shiny cars can be found anywhere, but the chaos of the streets of Jakarta are unique – it takes the collisions and the chaos and the ridiculous hierarchies alongside the uniqueness of the scrambles of all of this happening side by side.  And it doesn’t feel dangerous, but it does send a little message into my consciousness every day.  Something like, “Hey wake up, you are alive, keep your eyes open and enjoy”.

 

Playparq Kemang

The end of April / beginning of May has to be the best time of the year in Indonesia with so many public holidays almost every week! It means I get to spend lots of time with Samudra, but it also means trying to find ways to have adventures without heading to the mall.  I have been seriously running out of ideas this year and struggling to find new places to explore.  So when my sister mentioned we should try out Playparq Kemang for a change I was definately up for it!

I have passed this place so many times over the past 7 years and was always curious about it but never looked further than the front wall, although I went a couple of years ago to Playparq Bintaro and loved it.  I’ve also been curious as to why no-one ever mentions this as a play date option, but always suggest the nearby Playground Kemang.

We arrived and my first impression that it was a pretty small park and the equipment all looked a little tired and old and I could definately see the appeal of Playground Kemang with it’s grassy area as opposed to this park.  In saying that, we soon settled in and ended up staying over three hours with Samudra having a great time and the only reason we left was that it started to rain.

Samudra was a little hesitant climbing on the equipment at the beginning and was crawling on his hands and knees over the bridges by himself, but in no time, he was running everywhere and going down the big slides which I’ve never seen him do before. My little boy is growing up and getting brave!

Inside there is a little cafe (I didn’t check the menu at all) and an enclosed play area for toddlers.  It was a little dark inside and the equipment again looked a little tired, but Samudra still loved it and had fun making new little friends while climbing, sliding and exploring.

The highlight was the little water play area, splashing around in the sun before the rain decided to suddenly appear.  There is also a small pool area with a water feature mushroom and tipping buckets which was a little slippery but a hit with the kids there.

The park is very compact and could do with some updating, but when you’re a kid none of that really matters… as long as you can run around outdoors, play, climb, explore, splash and use your imagination… it’s always going to be fun.

Jl. Kemang Timur Raya No.72, RT.9/RW.4, Bangka, Mampang Prpt., Kota Jakarta Selatan

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First time climbing the stairs and he was a little apprehensive

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First two times across were on his hands and knees and then there was no stopping him!

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First time I’ve ever seen him go down an enclosed slide

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A bit of “rock” climbing

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Learning to climb the rolling bars

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Kids play equipment

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Taking a break for a ice-cream

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Time to splash!

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Running through the watery archway

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Enjoying the fountains

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Cooling off in the splash area

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Playing with bubbles in the water

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A separate small pool splash area

Green Love A’Fair – Earth Day Celebration

What do you do when it’s been almost 5 months since your last post? Do you continue to procrastinate and let your blog slowly disappear into oblivion, or do you decide to pick up again and start back where you left off? Even if it’s for no other reason than for me to keep a log of what we have been up to for the sake of my own memories. I have honestly felt rather daunted about the task of updating any news.. the year began out so hectic with work that I lost myself and didn’t find I was in a good head space for posting anything. Any spare second I had, I wanted to be as far away from my computer as possible, trying to be present for Samudra, and not thinking about too much else.

After too many hours spent at my desk indoors, I am always longing to be outside, away from the air conditioners and breathing in some fresh air, but sometimes I really struggle to find a good place to escape to. So of course I was incredibly happy to see an announcement for the return of Green Love A’Fair to Como Park Kemang at the end of April. Oh how I have needed this again!

This was the 3rd edition of the market and this time the theme was “Earth Day” and it was absolutely gorgeous as always. This was the biggest turn out I have seen yet and so fun as so many friends turned up throughout the day to come and chill out, drink wine, eat delicious food, listen to smooth tunes and laze about and just enjoy being in the colourful outdoors.

Keep your eyes and ears out as the next event should be after Idul Fitri this year….

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Catching up with gorgeous friends

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Azzam and his new nerf gun

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Perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday in Jakarta

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Laughing cousins

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These two keeping eachother entertained

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Super cute hipster puppy

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Chilled out dogs

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Love the laid back atmosphere

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Besties

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Samudra watching the storytelling

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Nenek & Kakek

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It was so sunny and hot but the kids loved the show

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Storytelling time

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Green Love A’Fair refillable glass bottle. Love this so much

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Ben looking super happy

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Lizard getting loads of attention

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All pets welcome!

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So happy to see Ben climbing a tree – it’s such a rare sight in Jakarta

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Delicious and huge slices of pizza

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2016

What a seriously crazy year this has been.. so many adventures together, lots of travel to fun places and catching up with amazing friends and meeting some awesome new ones. Working long hours and feeling exhausted trying to juggle time between Samudra, domestic chores and time for myself (I still don’t know how to do this!), and now it’s Christmas time again already and almost the end of another year.

Christmas has always been such a magical time… being in Melbourne and celebrating Christmas Eve at a local pub with old school friends or in the super fun living room of my brothers in-laws with lots of friends, walking the streets to look at the Christmas lights and decorations, opening way too many presents left by Santa, feeling sick from indulging in delicious food and wine and the happiness of being around family.

Living in Jakarta, I always look forward to my annual trip home to celebrate.. to have random adventures and see my family, but this year it just wasn’t possible to make it. So I’ve tried to bring the magic of the season to Samudra by taking him to Christmas bazaars, school celebrations, to see the decorations in the malls and to make our annual trip to Plaza Senayan mall to see Santa. I’ve been going to Plaza Senayan since 2009 to sit on Santa’a knee and am so happy it’s the same man every year! It doesn’t really feel like Christmas until we’ve seen him.

Aside from the idea of gifts and celebrating, I’ve been trying to teach Samudra that we need to take care of those less fortunate also. We’ve given food to those that look hungry and money to those that need help and stopped to chat and laugh with people that look lonely. Everyone deserves a little magic in their lives and every little bit helps.

So today, on Christmas Day, I hope you all have the happiest of days wherever in the world you are and however you choose to celebrate. I hope your day and year ahead is filled with love, happiness and good health, that there is lots to smile about and many adventures awaiting you.

From my little family to you.. Merry Christmas and happy holidays xoxox

Samudra and Mumma at NIS Christmas Market Jakarta

A fuzzy one but our only Christmas photo together so far! At NIS Christmas Market. Merry Christmas everyone xox

Decorating Christmas star shaped biscuit

Samudra’s first attempt at decorating Christmas cookies

Green Love A'Fair Cookie Decorating

Second attempt at decorating Christmas cookies at Green Love A’Fair Christmas Bazaar

Infront of or Christmas tree at home. Finally Samudra is taller than it!

Infront of our Christmas tree at home. Finally Samudra is taller than it!

Santa at Plaza Senayan Jakarta

The annual visit to Santa at Plaza Senayan

Santa at Plaza Senayan Jakarta

Being a dinosaur with Santa!

Santa at Plaza Senayan

Samudra and Arlo visiting Santa together

A Perfect Sunday. Green Love A’Fair

Well, a week has already passed since I started writing this post so before more time slips away, let me get back to it because…. Woooooooah…. this was just the perfect way to spend a Sunday… the way I have dreamed about for years… the way I never thought was possible in Jakarta!

The things I really miss the most while living here are clean open spaces, trees, being able to enjoy the outdoors… and grass… yes….GRASS!. Real grass you can stand on and feel between your toes, grass for kids to roll around in and play on… grass to have adventures on and feel the earth beneath. So often we are stuck indoors, in malls, at home.. wherever there is air conditioning to escape the heat.. and it quickly gives me the feeling of cabin fever and I need to escape and be outside. So this event was amazing all round.  It was the first trial run and held in Como Park in Kemang which was absolutely gorgeous.  There were beanbags, rugs on the ground, funky furniture to chill out in and gorgeous floral table arrangements everywhere.  The music was perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, sipping on wine, checking out the bazaar, surrounded by delicious healthy food and laughing.. and watching the kids play outdoors.  It was pet friendly so there were dogs of all shapes and sizes also adding to the fun atmosphere.

Although we missed the morning session of Charity Yoga and Flower crown making, Samudra had fun making pizza to cook in the little brick community oven.  There were lots of activities to keep the kids occupied, like painting bricks, decorating cupcakes and more.  It was only due to the dark clouds that appeared late in the afternoon that we decided it would be best to leave with the kids.  This meant that we missed Mikey Moran’s DJ set which I was really looking forward to… but I will beg if I have to for them to do this again as it was so much fun…. Of course those that created Gojek would be behind yet another brilliant idea that we can’t live in Jakarta without! Next time I’ll suggest some moonlight cinema on the grass also if we can find a way to keep the evening mozzies away.

Keep your eyes and ears open for any future events. WE.LOVED.IT!!!!!! @greenloveafair.jkt

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Arriving to the sweet surprise of the great outdoors!

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Gorgeous floral table settings

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Love the clean, green, open space!

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Playing with his balloon

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These two are so fun together

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Samudra with a gorgeous haunted house sugar cookie…

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Anais taking a break

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I couldn’t keep him away!

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Samudra’s favourite cookies again

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The small brick community oven for baking pizza

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Making mini pizzas

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The area was so beautiful decorated

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Enjoying the tunes and atmosphere

St Patrick’s Society Halloween Party

What a super fun way to start the Halloween celebrations! To be honest, I’ve never celebrated Halloween before in my life but after Samudra has been learning about it at school and seeing decorations out in the malls and supermarkets, he has been so excited to go trick or treating that it made me get into the spirit also.

We met up with a group of our gorgeous friends beforehand and all got dressed up in our costumes together, and the kids started early on eating their ‘treats’ before we packed them squealing into the cars and off we headed to BWA House in Pejaten.

The BWA House looked so gorgeous with all the spooky decorations everywhere, and the kids had such a great time running around together exploring.  There were fun activities in the different rooms for the kids to do and get stamps and collect prizes at the end… like pin the wart on the witches nose, apple dunking, magic show and more.. but what Samudra was most excited about was the big collection of dinosaurs in the toy room!

I loved being able to sit back, enjoy a glass of wine with good friends and watch the chaos around me as the kids ran around laughing and playing and hitting the pinata and almost getting trampled to pick up lollies from the floor!

We were so surprised and happy also to win a gorgeous IKEA kids drawing table and chairs in the raffle.. what an awesome prize and a great way to top off the evening.

Thanks so much to St Patrick’s Society and BWA House for organising such a great party for the kids (& adults!), for the goodie bags and a spooky fun start to Halloween..

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Trick or treat

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Getting ready to party together

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Little Monsters

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Devils ready to party

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The Happy Halloween gang

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BWA Halloween Party

Pumpkin from the carving competition

Pumpkin from the carving competition

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Time for the Magic Show

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So engrossed in watching the show

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My little pumpkin

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Scary phonebox… thanks for the great party!

Staycation in Bogor

Although we have been doing a fair bit of travel lately, it’s always good to get away for the weekend with the three of us to enjoy some time together away from home and the office (which is also located at home!).

We decided at the last minute to take a break and head to Bogor yet again as it’s the easiest option for heading out to some greenery and fresh air to our favourite staycation hotel – Novotel Bogor…. but.. shock horror! When we went to book online the hotel was already completely full.. waaaaah! Well, what can you expect when you try to book late on a Friday night for arrival on the same night but we were still keen to get away.

Every time we have been to Novotel we have watched the construction of a new Ibis Styles Hotel going up and I wondered who on earth would want to stay there when the Novotel is right next door? but as it turns out… we stayed there! It was definately a cheaper option and the rooms were all clean and everything is still brand new and sparkling.  Our room was simple and colourful and the best part? Our window overlooked the trees at Novotel next door! So although we stayed at Ibis, we still walked next door and enjoyed the benefits of staying at Novotel – the kids play room, kids park, Mahoni cocktail bar for drinks with gorgeous friends who we happened to run into that were also enjoy staycations away from Jakarta.

Of course we also headed to Kuntum Nurseries in the morning as is obligatory every time we head to Bogor. I will never tire of the place, as it’s always expanding and changing and all the kids absolutely love feeding the animals and petting them there. They are definately the most well fed animals I have seen in Indonesia and all seem happy where they are.

This trip we also found another great option for kids to exert some energy, and this happened by accident as I wanted to use the bathroom and so we pulled into Lippo Mall Bogor.  As it turns out, there is a fairly new and brightly coloured great indoor playground for kids, Kidzoona.  Of course we had to go in and try it and ended up staying an hour exploring which wasn’t enough for Samudra, but we wanted to get back out to the fresh air.  It was so much fun!

The weekend flew by way too quickly, but at least we got our fill of the outdoors and got to return to Jakarta feeling refreshed and ready to face another week of craziness.

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Walking through the chicken enclosure

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Feeding the sheep

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Carrots for the rabbits

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Attempting to give a calf a bottle

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Hanging out with bapak by the water

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A school excursion arrives to feed the lambs

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So many baby guinea pigs in the huge enclosure

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The kids play areas at Zidzoona – complete with uniforms, cash registers and play money

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Samudra cooking in the kitchen

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Toy vegetable shopping for more cooking

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Games area which also includes kids games on iPads

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Here comes the policeman!

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The most amazing ball section! We had so much fun all playing in here together

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Our room at Ibis Styles Hotel, overlooking Novotel Bogor

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Playing with the buffalo statues at Novotel

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Playground at Novotel

Exploring nature in Bogor

Exploring nature in Bogor

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Look what I found mumma!

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Wanting to eat the plants! Why won’t he eat vegetables instead?

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Examining the trees

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Bunny ears

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We don’t want to go home!

Dufan Dunia Fantasi Ancol

Earlier this year, we decided to have a staycation in Jakarta for the long weekend for a change of scenery from the home office and also for the fact that we love exploring!

We set off in the car not really having any plan of where to go, and randomly ended up staying at Novotel in Mangga Dua as we decided that it may be fun to spend a day visiting Ancol with Samudra, and Novotel was the closest location as all hotels inside the complex were already fully booked.

We were up bright and early the next day and made the short trip across to Ancol and headed straight to Dufan Dunia Fantasi. We arrived to incredibly long queues as half of Jakarta apparently had the same bright idea as us. I had a moment of wishing I could get back into the cool air conditioning in the car before Putra decided we should go inside and buy VIP tickets as there was no line at all.. brilliant! For a very reasonable extra charge you can purchase a VIP ticket, which gives access to a VIP room with air conditioning and couches to take a break and a little play area for toddlers. It also gives you access to the VIP line at all rides and as there were very few people in these lines, if at all any, it meant that we didn’t wait long at all to go on anything we chose, which I was extremely grateful for in the heat as everyone else was queuing for hours.

Unfortunately due to Samudra’s age we weren’t able to go inside many of the themed areas like the Ice Age Arctic Adventure, but we still had a great time walking around. Dunia Fantasi opened in 1985 and most areas look like they haven’t been updated since, and I think that’s what gives the place it’s charm. It looks like an old school theme park with lots of retro looking rides and it seems to be very popular with the locals.

My favourite ride was Istana Boneka (Doll Castle) with Samudra and I loved his enthusiasm pointing at all the (somewhat eerie) dolls as we slowly moved through the tunnel on our little boat for the 15 minute ride. The dolls inside were dressed in traditional costumes from all around the world and the settings were so bright and colourful. I had to laugh as we neared the end and finally we saw the sign for Australia, and there were no dolls at all! After seeing costumes from each country, it appears that Australia has no traditional dress, only a few kangaroos, sheep and a koala!

The boys went out on the paddle boats, we walked through Rumah Miring (the slanted house), rode the carousel, ate ice-creams and explored all the grounds before the heat got too much for us and we decided to leave in search of food.

It’s definately a funny place to visit, maybe more fun for slightly older kids, as there are more rides available for them to go on and they can go inside the Hello Kitty world and Ice Age Adventures areas.

I would recommend going outside of any long weekends if possible to avoid the queues, but otherwise definately purchase yourself a VIP ticket and go exploring!

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Greeted by a green frog

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I love this traditional carousel – Turannga Rangga

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Ice Age statues

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Bianglala ferris wheel

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Samudra’s favourite… dinosaur!

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Kora kora ride

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Hello penguins

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This ride looked like great fun

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Space bird ride

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Help me Samudra!

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Istana Boneka

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The crazy long line for the Istana Boneka boat ride

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Getting ready to go inside the tunnel in the boat

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Dolls in costumes from around the world

Dolls in costumes from around the world inside Istana Boneka

So much colour travelling through the waterways

Dolls in costumes from around the world inside Istana Boneka

Apparently Australia has no traditional dress.. just animals

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Paddle boats

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Riding the carousel