Thursday, 18 November 2010

The new house

The downside of moving house from one country to another - you realise what is unusual about where you are living and you go on a shopping spree in order to purchase all those cool things that are cheaper here. Why didn't I buy half this stuff years ago?
The packers come on Wednesday. I am going to Bandung tommorrow - (factory outlet clothes shopping) - Yes Jen - I just might see a Herme's bag for you (do you realise one of my bags has a certificate of authenticity - I found it the other day when I was putting it back in it's cover?). Saturday will be spent trying to get all the last minute stuff organised (still waiting for 2 chests of drawers, some metallic prints and some frames).
On Saturday I am also going to go to my favourite shop - Massimo Dutti (Italian), where I can pick up some fashionable winter clothing (think Munch wasn't born last time I bought winter clothes (other than ski clothes). My sister in law has convinced me that Australia is over the top expensive and although there isn't a sale, the prices there are reasonable in comparison (I usually wait for the sale so this green light is a welcome).
This is a room divider - yes, I haven't bothered to untie it. First saw it at least 2 years ago...... bring some metallic energy into our new home (that is vey water and fire).
Got a waterproof cover made up for our new day bed .....

I love the colours. It fits both J and I. Could have used it at least 3 years ago. It's over 2m long and 1m wide. Very comfortable place to lie when kids are in the pool (ok - I've never done that - but I will when it's not 100% humidity okay).

Got some waterproof covers for our rattan outdoor lounge. When we get a new puppy it will hopefully save the lounge from being eaten when teething hits (I said hopefully).

Clock from Ho Chi Minh (that's why it's US Navy) - sorry J - haven't taken it to Roberts yet for the wooden back plate - hopefully will do that on Saturday.

Picked up this clock from Bogor today - what the relationship is to England I don't know. Got it at an antique/light shop today on the side of the road when I was a little sick of my kids whining over who's turn it was on the stupid ipad (what's that - it's my own fault for allowing it - well when traffic varies from 1 - 4 hours and the car with the dvd player is taken off you because your husband has left the company/country -well a bit of backup entertainment never hurt).
I picked up the new curtains today for the house in NSW. J saw it in person the other day and it has the verdict of "all ok". I would have liked a little bit more enthusiasm since we are still to see this house in person and we take ownership of it in less than 2 weeks. Hopefully I haven't mucked up too badly with the curtains - but comes into the "too many choices, I hate being in shops where people are smoking" category.

My big girl is becoming a girly girl all over again. You will notice some beading lying over it. It's to drape along the top, Munch has some beading that is green and pink. Why - I don't know. Just felt like it (I went back a second time for the beading/cushions).

C girl's room is the current spare bedroom (so boring) - so we don't have a feature wall to begin with. Will work out when we get there what colour this room will become. Something with a bit of personality. Feature wall behind where the bed is in this photo - am thinking either bright purple or pink.
These orange curtains will make Munches bedroom - along with either lime green or light blue walls (leaving the feature wall pink obviously).

It has a little personality already - but I can't live with carpet/walls blending into each other.
These curtains will liven up Bear's bedroom - not great I know, but there was nothing really boyish and as I said - I was over it all by then.

We haven't decided on the other walls yet - lime green, yellow or orange for the currently "brown" walls in Bear's bedroom.

These curtains will liven up our dull bedroom. I think the walls are a similar colour to the cushion in the above photo (the downside to never having seen the house in person).
Our furniture is much browner than the current owners - so it needs a bit of brightening. Not too worried about the colour matching ultra close - the curtains aren't really going to be against the wall. If the one in the far corner is, then we will draw it the other way. No big deal. This is a room I won't paint before the furniture arrives. I've never had a room that wasn't blue before. it's going to be a bit weird.
Either way, it's going to be a much brighter house just with us moving in.
But I have packed 5 old workshirts of J in the airfreight - that way we can use the time the house is empty to paint all the kids bedrooms - at the very least (maybe the rumpus room too).
Can't wait to get to this new house and more importantly - see a fully stocked western supermarket - you thought I was going to say something about missing my husband and father of my children didn't you? It's okay -we have max J headroom - you know, the video linked smiling head of their father via gmail chat. The only downside is the four hour time difference.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

What's to miss????

So, we have less than 5 weeks to go. J left 2 weeks ago, the house will be packed up in less than 2 weeks.
It is all coming to an end. We will miss somethings - we will grateful to leave others.
But the experiences we will miss the most (not in order (except the first) ) ....

Really great friends ......

Being able to take a photo like this, which was taken in a normal department store (by one of the people working there ) .....

When your kids are part of a great team (which is part of school) - even when the colour of your football team is what is used to describe you for the next year (yes, red is best).......

When a night out leads to a nightclub at 3am - and you are over 35 ......
When a weekend away with a view of an active volcano is commonplace....

When the resources of your amazing school seems perfectly normal (can't say I haven't always been acutely aware of how lucky my kids are (or us for their behalf)).......

When this is a perfectly normal set up to have in your house for a 5th birthday party ....

When this is a normal hallway (after now buying a house in Aus we realise that not all hallways are 3m wide - but they should be).....

When a holiday to another country is no big deal (Langkawi - Malaysia - Bear's 8th birthday) ....

When your child goes near an active volcano on a camp and it doesn't even get mentioned until you see the photos.....

When this is just another normal night out with ANZA (I would hate to imagine Jakarta without ANZA - you need to be with other people from your own culture at least once a month - it's good therapy)......

Where great friendships are made and exciting adventures are undertaken (Sentosa - Singapore - long weekend in May 2009).....

When a visit to the zoo makes the kids beg to never return - and a photo is sent to an animal rescue program (ok - won't miss the zoo - but still miss these kids)......

When this becomes an acceptable toilet (Barito river - Borneo 2010).
We are still awaiting Mt Merapi to give a big blast - Australia is not reporting anything and the only world media covered was while Obama was coming/here/just leaving. Guess 300,000 people displaced is not really a big news item.
Mr Obama - I would have voted for you if I could have and I love that you are doing your bit to save the world without a care of being voted in for a second term. But your visit to Jakarta caused my normal Wed morning trip to work to be extended from 40 minutes to just over 2 hours - and the last 15 minutes was spent walking 300 m (otherwise it would have been another 1/2 hour) - where I counted 63 motorbikes coming towards me on the footpath (yes - very lucky all were coming towards me and none were coming from behind). Unfortunately I felt it my obligation to pass on my english language - where I had to yell / gesture wildly along the lines of - "this is a footpath - get off you "@****#&LF." Definitely a fine example of showing restraint - you have no idea how much you want to not TRY to push a motorbike rider over. Such satisfaction will never be achieved - but I am sure it would be VERY satisfying.
Don't judge unless you have experienced it - and if you do experience it and don't get fustrated - what is your secret.

Won't be missing the traffic. Still got another 33 days. 10 days of going to work.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

India, Vietnam and Life in Indonesia

The last two months have been very busy. I spent nights in India with my sister in law on a really lovely holiday exploring Delhi and Agra. We travelled by car between the two - and unlike what I thought before going - life in India is not 100% worse than life in Indonesia (for the poor people I am talking). Even the road from Delhi to Agra (4 hour drive = 200km) was not much different than driving around Indonesia (in fact in a lot of places it was a lot better).

So India was a pleasant surprise - yes it helped that we stayed in incredibly fantastic accomodation where everyone spoke very good english and all modern conveniences were there - but we ate locally and managed to not get delhi belly - so all was good.

I know we don't look that happy in this photo - but this was just after we entered - and there were actually tears in our eyes - not just from fighting off other tourists from this spot - but from finally seeing this amazing - muslim, hindu combined burial plot - a place that is so not over rated - it is breathtaking a true engineering masterpiece - so symetrical and clever.

After taking the tour with our guide - we spent an hour just people watching - oh, so much fun.

In September we went to Vietnam - only Ho Chi Minh City (Siagon) and the mekong delta. It was a brilliant holiday. Direct flight from Jakarta and our first flight on Air Asia - really great airlines - mostly on time, clean and easy (you can book and pay online - unlike some others in Indo).

We had a fantastic Tour guide - Sonny - a lovely 25 year old who knows her way around and organised everything. We don't usually do that - but we only had 3 days of tour guide stuff (C girl was going for a sleepover with a friend (the reason we picked Siagon instead of Hanoi) and so we had to squeeze everything in.

We went to the Chi Chi tunnels and the war museum during one of the days. It was a very different experience for the kids to be from the country of the enemy. What I had always heard as the Vietnam war is known there as the American War. The weapons that they made (from used US ammunition) to maime soldiers was amazing and unbelievably imaginative- the tunnels they lived in were fascinating, how they lived there without being spotted etc - we went through a slightly larger tunnel - C girl lasted 10m - then she was screaming hysterically - they did used to put pits in these tunnels with trap doors (and she'd just seen all the types of traps they used to maime - as it was pointed out - to kill a soldier only stops one soldier, injure a soldier and you tie up two soldiers).

Yes it was traumatic - but kids need to see what people are capable of and what war is about (which is why they have been to Dachau concentration camp in Germany 2 1/2 years ago). These are the places they shouldn't forget.

This is the little boat we toured the mekong delta on. Yes, it wasn't a bad way to travel. The kids don't believe me now when I tell them I travel in a dodgy boat for 2 hours up the Barito river with work - they think I mean a boat like this - I wish.

J left last weekend for Australia and started his new job on Monday - which thankfully he likes. We leave in just under 6 weeks (last day of school semester).
C girl has just finished a weekend in Phuket at a football tournament (where they came second) - last night we heard that the flights into Jakarta had been cancelled due to the Merapi volcano ash - just waiting now to find out if they are flying again. She left on Thursday - but she might not be back today after all. She is with teachers from school so they will be well looked after - even if it's in Kaula Lumpur for a few days (This is where Phuket flight goes to before flying to Jakarta - there is a great adventure park there with amazing rides, pools and slides). This is the first sports trip I've missed, but I'm the coach of Bear and Munch's team and we had a football tournament here yesterday (5 games - and we won overall), so I couldn't take them away from that to go to Phuket - plus I couldn't not be there for my team etc. Big decision - but if I was away now and couldn't get back - I'd be freaking out for the two younger ones (plus I've got to go away with work on Tuesday and how unfair would that be on those two???).

Anyway - we are on the countdown now to pack up and leave. Got a list of jobs I still need to do before they pack up the house in 2 1/2 weeks. Trying not to freak out.

J saw our house in person on Friday - he says it's "all ok". What a Man comment. The only extra I got was - 4 walls, a roof, some windows and a few doors.

Just missing the vital ingrediants to make it a happy home - US!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

We're going Home

It will be just over 4 years living in Jakarta when we go home in December to live a mere 45 minutes from where we spent 13 years previously (this was not by design but pure coincidence). Everyone is very excited and the kids are busy designing a "fort/jungle gym" that we will get built in the backyard (can't wait to have a back yard big enough for that)

I'm not sure I can pinpoint the best things about living here the last four years and this is not in order of what I have enjoyed the most:

  1. Not having to fight about who does the washing/cleaning/cooking/mowing/pool cleaning (and having the response - that's my job - I'll do it!!!! - I will never get used to that)
  2. Forming so many great friendships (you meet a lot of kindrid adventurers!)
  3. The kids not needing to go to daycare or before/after school care!
  4. The school embracing International Primary Curriculum (7 habits of highly affective people for kids) and seeing the enthusiasm it brings to learning.
  5. Living in a beautiful complex with the best neighbours you could ever hope for (and being woken by birds in a city of 12 million people).
  6. Being able to go on ANZA scavanger hunts with the kids (how to look really silly in public) which helped us see and experience new things in Jakarta.
  7. Having trustworthy staff who have never stolen anything and you can trust with the kids (that works both ways - my kids are very manipulative).
  8. Being 7 hours closer to Singapore, so closer to everywhere else in the world.
  9. Being able to have 12 weeks a year spent on holidays with my kids.
  10. Being able to work part time and still be able to save something.
  11. Seeing my children grow into global citizens and know their way around international airports, train stations.
  12. Being part of a friendly school community and always feeling at home.
  13. Being able to go on 2 ski trips a year and watching the kids learn and grow to love skiing.
  14. Participating in our very own "amazing race" every xmas for 3 weeks and teaching the kids how to travel without a travel agent or a private car/taxi etc (hoping this pays off when they are 18 and backpacking around the world in their gap year).
  15. Being part of the PTA and helping to organise some pretty amazing events.
  16. Watching my kids learn, embrace and thrive in their various sports (and compete successfully internationally).
  17. Seeing enough of Asia to have my curiousity fulfilled (for a few years anyway).
  18. Being able to see something "amazing and unique" (not always in a good way) on every drive regardless of how short or long (and being able to read my book in the car).
  19. Being able to travel to remote areas with work and see a whole other side to Indonesia.
  20. Finally being able to blow off the "Australian" attitude that the only place in the world is Australia (this is a bit harder as we wake up to Triple M from Melbourne (where J hasn't lived for 20 years).
  21. Going to amazing parties, both children and adults.
  22. Having your child in the most amazing school plays and school activities. I usually cry for the first 10 minutes just for the sheer joy that my child has the opportunity to be part of such an amazing thing.
  23. Being part of two seasons a year football (soccer) tournaments as a coach - can't see that being a possibility in Australia (the playing 8 months a year part).
  24. Being able to go out for dinner without the kids and know that the babysitter isn't costing more than the dinner (or wine in the case of Jakarta).
  25. Factory outlet shopping - being able to buy goose down jackets for USD25 or Nike pants for USD6 - all 5 - 20 minutes from home.
  26. Being able to all go to the cinema with popcorn for less than $30, or being able to go with some friends to the premiere lounge, have an armchair and rug, a couple of G&T, all for less than $15.

Things I won't miss so much:

  1. The traffic during the month of Ramadan (I actually calculate % of trips for the period and cross them off - it is sometimes more than double the normal travel time (which is already quite large).
  2. The polution from vehicles and factories plus the smell of smoke when rubbish is being burnt in the evenings (everything that can be recycled is, but there is remainder that needs to be destroyed - so fire it is (just like Australia until the 1980's).
  3. The daily reminder that the gulf between poor and rich is so massive (100 million people in Indonesia survive on less than $2/day/family, but there are 20 families of billionaires in Indonesia (and they all have kids at our school) - don't know the statistics of millionaires, but it would be in the 1,000's). Being surrounded by incredible wealth in some places, but having a child with a baby beg for food at the traffic light 2km away - it does mess with your head.
  4. The kids being pinched, poked, hair touched and giggled/laughed at when in public places (this is by the adults). It will be nice to just be normal kids/people again.
  5. Having a small backyard and high fences.
  6. Paying USD30 for a A$7 bottle of wine after producing a passport and making a special trip (Dan Murphy, here I come, I may just walk up and down the aisles for hours).
  7. Paying USD70 for a A$10 bottle of wine in a resturant (yeah, it would be easier if I just didn't drink - right?).
  8. Feeling like life is cheap - if a local doesn't have enough to pay for the hospital (upfront) then they are left to die in the car park/sent away - road death toll in Jakarta is >400/month.
  9. The knowledge that I have a rare blood type for asia and the only way of getting a blood transfusion is with the blood bank ringing around the expats with the same blood type (I am on a register) - and hoping someone answers the call before I am dead (B- is not a blood type found in Asia). Stupid me only enquired about the kids blood type (AB+) and if it was easy to have transfused when I was researching moving here (they have the easiest you can get). I can be so dumb (it took me 3 years to discover this).
  10. The lack of personal space when you are in a public area - this is due to the fact that there are so many people, same space - so the amount of personal space reduces - just simple maths, but I won't miss it - especially around escalators.
  11. Going for a walk at lunchtime and coming back streaming with sweat - looking forward to winter, spring and autumn - will be a nice change.
  12. Considering myself lucky that I have crossed the 8 lanes of traffic to get to starbucks and back at lunchtime with the knowledge that I have not been hit by a motorbike or bus travelling on the footpath (not joking - motorbikes, all the time - but you would be amazed how fast you can throw yourself against a fence when there is a bus rumbling along the footpath at 20km/hr towards you (and you've just innocently turned a blind corner on the footpath not expecting to be almost hit by a bus)). And pedestrian crossings are not controlled, so the only way to cross a road is to hope like hell you can avoid the traffic and that you don't get hit by a rogue vehicle travelling where you least expect it.
  13. Unroadworthy buses that stop anywhere (middle of the roundabout, middle of the road, 3m up the road from the last place it stopped) - all owned by people who are making a lot of money and spending zero on maintenance for the last 25 years (ie. black smoke, rust filled - 28 buses are roadworthy out of 15,000 (from Jakarta expat last week)) - and yes, I have travelled in one (but it was for a 40th birthday party, fully decked out with a portable bar (aka esky) and containing armed security guards).
  14. The poverty of so many people and the lack of equality in one of the most resource rich countries in the world.
That is all I can think of - coming here was the best thing we ever did. We really wanted an adventure and we absolutely got that. Every "summer" holiday that we went back to Australia, we would feel like we didn't belong and be itching to get back to Indonesia. Eveyone looked so busy and worn out by the daily dredge - did people really enjoy travelling only 100km to their holiday destination? Would they chose the life they were living if they had the opportunity to do something different? Normally on the way to the airport we would be saying goodbye to everything for another year - quite happy in the fact that we wouldn't be back for another 11 months. Everyone happy to be going home (to the point where they counted down the landing into Jakarta).

On this trip, for the first time, we weren't itching to get out. The blue skies, the fresh air and the job opportunity were invading our thought processes. For the first time since we left, we could actually see ourselves living there again. We visited our old friends who live just outside the town we used to live in - it was like we hadn't left. I must admit that when I drove into my old town, I almost had heart palpitations with blind panic that I was returning to live.

So no, we aren't going back to the same town or to the same life we left. We are going closer to the coast by 45 minutes, to a city 5 times the size. I will be working from home and J will be working 10 minutes to the west, kids will be at school 10 minutes to the east. Skies will be blue, air will be clean and the yard will be big and flat with lots of kids running about getting filthy (because I have heard 100 times from our last trip back to Aus, we are not city kids Mum - we need trees and lots of space to get dirty).
We are seriously looking at this house at the moment (sorry no photo of actual house)
Looking South
Looking North
Looking South East

It will be a nice change for 3 -5 years anyway - then we shall see where we can go then........

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Gold Coast Home

We are leaving the Gold Coast after lunch today after having it as our home base for the last 4 weeks. As J's parents live here it is a great place to have as a base between all our trips to Victoria, NSW, New Zealand and Brisbane. Of the last 4 weeks we have been in Aus, we have spent 15 nights away in four seperate "mini holidays". J was with us for the first 2 weeks when we did most of our mini holidays.

How my in laws put up with us I am not sure - but they don't want us to go (we aren't flying out until Monday morning, but are visiting friends the next two nights). They always show our kids a lot of love and are no stricter than we are, so it all goes pretty well thankfully.

We went to Dreamworld with friends last week and spent a glorious winters day riding on everything (Munch is tall enough for every ride and it was only 15 minutes from home), yesterday we went to the huge Centro Timezone and spent 2 hours on their "$60 for 4 people" deal - (am expecting a medal for Super Mum any day (as I hate the noise in those places). But the absolutely best thing we've done on the coast was on Thursday night when we went to the Outback Spectacular (10 minutes from home). Although we had been last year, they have changed the show so it is a different story.

It now follows the story of the light horsemen and the first world war. Little is heard about the 14% of the males in Australia (this includes all males from 0 - 100) who volunteered to fight in Europe in the first world war and significantly aided in winning the war. The show is aimed at entertainment, but I spent most of the time wiping the tears from my eyes as I have done a lot of research into WWI and WWII and the kids asked their standard 100 questions per hour.

You are given a "outback hat" when you enter and you are served a 3 course dinner (steak, vegies, mashed potato and pavlova for desert), with free flow wine and beer throughout the show. The stadium seats around 1,000 people. We took the grandparents last year, but they didn't want to drive at night so chose not to go this year.

There is one segment near the end of the show where they have 4 children (2 from each "cattle station") chase a pig each in a race for the best station. All 3 kids were pig chasers this year. Last year only the oldest two were asked, this year all 3 were(the oldest had to pretend to come from the other station). Considering it's only 4 kids from the whole audience, the odds on being picked twice are pretty remote. Unfortunately I can't show you a photo as you aren't allowed cameras inside.

I can't comment on value for money, because I used my reward points for the tickets. But the show IS spectacular and if you are ever looking for an Aussie experience, it is definitely worth seeing once - gauranteed entertainment for anyone aged from age 2 - 100.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

NZ Skiing - Mt Hutt

We got back to Aus in mid July and after a birthday party in Victoria and a few days with the grandparents in QLD we headed off to New Zealand for a week. We chose the very uncommercial Methven to stay at this time around - a very small country town 1 hour from Christchurch and 1/2 from the ski field of Mt Hutt (sometimes known as Mt Shut, but not on our holiday - very lucky).
This was the view from the lounge room. We stayed in a really lovely apartment in a place called Brinkley Resort - it has room service and a five star resturant (which we didn't use) - but they also have a kitchen in each apartment, and because we got 3 bedrooms, we also had our own washer/dryer (otherwise the 2 bed apartment shares with the studio apartment). Really good value and really great facilities. Even putt putt, tennis and outdoor spas.

The mandatory family photo. The mountains behind are where the "Lord of the Rings" was filmed.

This is a black run - don't have a photo of the double black diamond run we did (only once), but we did this one a heap of times.

This is me looking like I know what I'm doing (isn't trick photography a great thing).

After a catastrophic jump (late in the day - must remember 7 year olds need hot chocolate at 2:30pm after skiing 5 hours (with a lunch break). Munch did a jump and landed badly - J is last and I'm first - so when we stopped with Bear and C girl right behind me, I could hear her screaming - We don't usually rush over to the kids when they fall down, they need to learn how to get themselves out of jam and get back on their skiis. But J had the skiis off and was calming her and just when she was about to get on the skiis, the patrol came and she happily had them stretcher her down. We went up on the lift to meet up with her, but missed her, so these two made love hearts to make her feel better (Daddy carried her inside to her hot chocolate in 'officer and gentlemen' fashion - she was fine).

Magnificent views on the drive down (hire a 4wd, the 2wd had to use chains every day, 4wd only 1 of the 5 days had to use chains)
Another gorgeous shot.

A beautiful groomed run. Sat and Sun were hugely busy as they were clear sunshine with fresh snow from the day before - full of Christchurch locals - the lifts were busy, but the runs were still okay - not too busy. Only 3 lifts for the whole mountain, which is a bit different, but very organised and efficient.

C girl showing how much powder on the run.

Just finished lunch - ready for more skiing, we missed the Italian food for lunch. Lots of people brought their own lunch up.

From the top of the express 6 lift.

The express 6 hits the top of the mountain in about the middle of the photo. You then traverse along the top to get to this point - really fun traverse - lots of spots where you have to go flat out down to get up the other hill.
The carpark is at the bottom, the base is further under the mountain (you can't see it) - this was our favourite run (this is taken from same spot as the last photo).

Another camera - same spot, different day.

With the mountain mascots.

Just about to start the traverse across to the mountain behind Munch and Bear. Anywhere along the traverse you can drop down and go down the mountain.

This is one of the runs down from the traverse.
We loved Mt Hutt - there is only one green run - so it's not a learners mountain, the locals on the road are unbelievably friendly (2wd cars pull over and let the trail of 4wd pass every now and then, and with a friendly wave no less). Methven has 2 pubs (the brown and blue pubs) that are reasonable for food and there are a couple of take aways and two five star resturants if you prefer. It doesn't have the variety of resturants or shops that Queenstown has, nor does it have the bungy jumping or jet boat rides - they are one offs in my book (they cost a fortune) - Queenstown also has more green runs (learners) and 3 ski fields close by incase it's bad weather in one you have a backup - Methven just has Mt Hutt. There are other things to do there - we could have gone up in a hot air balloon - but because the skiing was so awesome we didn't bother even looking at anything else to do.
Kids want to do terrain park coaching next time, think I will get some lessons so that it isn't so obvious that the kids have surpassed me in skiing. Brilliant holiday - will go back to NZ instead of Aus every time now - 2 out of 2 for NZ, 0 from 1 for Aus - why would we even try Aus again when it costs the same?