Friday, 20 February 2009

Holidays 2009

It is official, only some booked, xmas will be before Feb finished.

Holidays 2009

March - Long weekend in west Java

April - 1 1/2 weeks in Portland and Melbourne, Australia

May - Long weekend in west Java

June - Very long weekend KL (Malaysia) for C girls interschool sports (still has to make team)

July/Aug - 3 weeks in QLD / 1 week in Vic (skiing) - kids first skiing in Aus

Sep - 1 week in Vietnam (C girl has a friend to visit and this is new country for kids and I)

Oct/Nov - 1 weeks - Phillipines (dependent on Hubs conference (new country for kids and I)

Nov - long weekend - Phuket - C girls football

Dec - 3 weeks in Italy (new country for everyone)

There will be a few other long weekends when we go to various places around Java, but they are usually spur of the moment. Plus we are going to try a few new locations.

A very exciting year planned.

Think this might fit under the category of why I love living here.

Reasons to love or hate

There are many reasons to love or hate living in Jakarta.

First the love - here is a direct copy from a friends blog.

Explanation first - A bajai is a 3 wheeled taxi (like a Thai Tut tut) -high in pollution and rarely used by the expat community (unless really desperate and going a very short distance). Traffic in this area is very slow, usually bumper to bumper and never above 30km/hr.

"So after watching a really, really crappy band we decide to move on. We then had a brain wave to sort out who paid, ..............A competition!!!!!!!

Yes my competitive friend wanted to race Bajai's around the Kemang circuit. Yes that crazy expat thing. Well I had never done it, so, with a belly full of booze, it was "OK your on" sport. Trusting driver organised the suitable racing vehicles, and after a quick lesson on how to drive, change gears, stop and start we were off. I lagged behind mainly due to some "up the wrong side of the road" antics from the competition. But I had my revenge as I roared through the Macca's carpark, dodging the parking attendants and the drive through traffic, to snatch back the lead.I returned to EP to a huge cheer from all and sundry to claim the victor's spoils.

EP's 2009 Bajai Champion.

The competition was stunned on his arrival to see me being hailed the Champion.

And all this for 7 bucks Aussie."

This really sums up the freedom that we as expats have in Jakarta. I just wish I had been there (but our kids don't go to the same school and it was a school function........well it started as a school function).

Now the Hate / dislike.

Our electricity bills have been astronomical for the last 8 months ($800 a month). It was around $500, but in May it jumped up and it didn't matter if we were away for 2 weeks of the month, the bill was always that high. But that's not the complaint.

On arriving home from Canada, our bill for Dec was only $400. That is a bit more like it. The difference - the water pressure pump above our house had been turned off for the entire time (we discovered a week after returning home and having to have showers downstairs to get SOME pressure - not the complaint either).

Then we discovered it had been turned off because it runs 24/7 even though it is supposed to only turn on when someone turns on a tap. So we innocently asked the landlord to get his man to look at it. After hearing nothing I put a note up for our housekeeper to organise the guy to be here this morning to look at it with me (I leave for work before the housekeeper starts - communication via whiteboard is great). My very helpful nanny, on reading the note, informed me that the man had been the day before and the pump runs 24/7 because it is also connected to the security house.

Now - before you say - logical - let me explain. There are 3 houses in our complex. The security is for all 3, we pay extra for this and it is a communal cost, plus this is the first I was hearing about it.

She very knowingly nodded her head - it runs 24 hours a day because there is a FAMILY that live above the security post (in a 3m x 3m room) and they need water for like - WASHING!!! (please pronounce all capital letter words with extra emphasis, like I was an IDIOT).

Oh, so the family of 3 and one security guard use water 24/7 but our family of 5 and 4 staff don't use water all the time (even with 5 bathrooms and a pool)????? Now I understand, thanks, I feel better now.

Well, I text the landlord (that's what we do here, phone calls create language barriers, texting in english means you can understand accents), he then texts back that the pump is only 1.5% of the power bill, fridges run X watts, ac run Y watts, he went with his statistics.

Only, I am much more pathetic in the maths department than he gives me credit. We are meeting on Tuesday to go through it - I will have a spreadsheet on what percentage the water pump uses. We turn off lights (and have energy efficient lights), AC, everything when we are not using them.

Now, what is my complaint you ask- it's that the landlord didn't say - hey, I just got sprung hooking up one of my costs to my tenants, I will replace the pump because it is broken and runs 24/7 before anything else is mentioned about my cost being zero (but still charging us for it). No, he wants to have a dispute that it isn't a big cost (since he's not paying, that's a great way to be I guess).

That pump should have been replaced before my text was even responded to. That's what bugs me - there are no rules here, it's just - do whatever you can get away with (see story of bajai above).

This also means you have to be on your toes ALL the time, which can be wear you out (and sometimes makes you paranoid). So, I love the freedom here, I hate the freedom other people, that's not it. I love the freedom I have, I love that the lessons I learn are not too expensive and that they will help me for further potential rip offs later on.

No, I wouldn't replace any of it for a quite suburban existence in Aus. At least here I know I am alive. I'm not tired from working too hard and having very little life.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Phuket Football

In the middle of November C girl went to Phuket to play football (soccer) with her school - interschool sports. As this was her first overseas trip with the school and her being in only Year 5, I tagged along.

I managed to get the same flights to and from and I kept a watchful eye (from a distance) to make sure she was being supervised - especially in KL airport - where we had a 3 hour stopover. Happy to report they were VERY under control, in fact they were BRILLIANT. Not just the kids (all the kids were great mates and got along great), but also the teachers. They had quizzes for when they were waiting in the gate lounges, they had games they played along the way, plus they gave them a little bit of responsibility, whilst still keeping a really good eye on them.

The kids were staying at the school boarding house in Phuket - I stayed in a nearby hotel in Phuket city (just in case she needed something during the night - you never know).

The next morning I hitched a ride on the back of motorcycle being driven by a Bangkok Mum (about 17 schools were in the competition). I helped direct her and we got there safely.

C girl was in the two team that our school sent. She was in Year 5 and both teams were Under 11 - with the majority of girls in the B team being in Year 4 and the majority of the girls in the A team being in Year 6 (the boys had U9 and U11 teams - so much easier). C girl and her two friends were the only ones from Year 5, so they were allowed to play in both teams - little did the other schools know that those 3 girls happen to be the best players.

The B team lost all 3 games in the first day (against girls that were in Year 6) - but they improved with each game. The A team won all the games in the first day.

The Saturday was the final rounds. The B team lost the first game - but won the 2nd game (C girl kicked 3 goals - as a midfielder) - they came 7th. The A team lost the first (not because they should have, it was just bad luck in the end). The final game was playing to get 3rd or 4th. It was a total nailbiter. Going to penalty time - then onto penalty kicks. Our girls finally came through when C girls best friend ended up as goalie (she hates being goalie but the other goalie had done a heartlidge (did I say that, I meant hurt her hand).

Afterwards I had to take C girl over to a big man, who had called her a dirty pusher (from the sideline) and I had told to stop now when the game was playing (I didn't get man - I just said "stop now". I took her over after the game and told her the BIG man had something to say to her (he was the father of the other girls best player). He apologised - but when I went back to our group - my name had been cemented. Scary Mum. That's my name now.

We ended up being delayed on the sunday in Phuket airport for 6 hours. A long time. I ended up getting to know the other parents pretty well. It ended up fine.

Best surprise - when C girl surprised me with a handbag that she had bought at the airport.

Biggest Find - 7 11 stores in Phuket sell red wine in a can - and it doesn't taste all that bad (wine in Jakarta is very expensive and is sometimes very hard to buy). Handy when you are waiting for a taxi after finishing a hard few hours at a night market.

Best parenting moment - I always insist on a lot of sunscreen and she has to have her hair out of her eyes. When she plays I put the fringe up into a spout (or off to the side) - 2nd day all the girls wanted their hair in a spout. Even on the first day the zinc cream ended up like war paint on all the girls (after they had put sunscreen on of course). What could have easily become a daggy thing you had to do to make your Mum happy ended up being something that was pretty cool. Phew. (just as well - it was going to happen regardless).

They are pretty great kids - all 36 of them.