Of Friendships and Farewells in Jakarta

Back in Singapore, I was always in my comfort zone. More often than not, friendships were formed from schooling days/work/church and we shared many commonalities when it came to culture, language, age, interests, and so forth. There were various areas of overlap even amongst different circles of friends. (Not that I’m complaining, I absolutely love my friends in Singapore!)

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Ladies in my bible study group – farewell Narelle!

The one thing I love about Jakarta is that friendships are way more diverse and cuts across all continents and age brackets. In my Monday bible study group, we have ladies from America, Australia, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore. The oldest lady is coming on 80 (!!!) and the youngest is yours truly (feels great to be the YOUNGEST in a group for once hehehe).

In my church’s community group, we once counted and there were close to 18 different countries represented, from grandparents to couples with young kids/no kids to singles. Despite the differences, people still share their hearts with one another. Ain’t that just amazing. ūüôā

With that, people around me come and go all the time. Reasons are aplenty — end of Jakarta posting, a better opportunity in another country, relocation for kids’ studies, etc. And goodbyes are always bittersweet; a mix of excitement for what is to come for them and sadness that they’ll no longer be there.

The ladies in my bible study group just bade farewell to Narelle over potluck brunch on Monday. She’s been in Jakarta for a good 9 years and is heading over to Hong Kong next.¬†Narelle has been leading the study all these while, continually challenging us with God’s word in love. I’ve learnt and benefited so much from her sharing. Thank you Narelle for being such a blessing to us, may your life continue to be a light to the world (especially HK)!

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Have so much to look forward this week, till the next update! X

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Good Pork + Beer in Jakarta: POKENBIR

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Pork belly at Pokenbir.

I’ve been sort of under the weather for the early part of this week because my dear husband passed me his potent flu virus (of all things to share with your wife tsk). So I’ve just been sleeping/snoozing/lazing in bed the past few days A LOT. But I’m much better now and even managed to drag myself to pilates class on Friday *big pat on back*.

After working out for an hour, I was craving something sinful, oily and fatty – PORK BELLY to be exact. And¬†Pokenbir‘s (pork and beer) the place to go for anything pork-related!

The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Lippo Kuningan office building, just next to Setiabudi One. It was my second time there for lunch and the place was as crowded as the previous time. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long.

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Full house at Pokenbir during lunch hour.

Pokenbir has a very unassuming interior and reminds me somewhat of a dimly-lit basement bar. But don’t let outer appearances fool you; their food is pretty awesome!

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2pm – half of the lunch crowd gone.

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3pm – completely empty.

They specialize in pork and their dishes have a mix of Indonesian, Asian and Western influences. And the best thing – you can order loads of beer to go with your pork. What a splendid combination!! #PorkBeerHeaven

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Pokenbir’s menu (page 1 of 2).

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Pokenbir’s menu (page 2 of 2).

One must-order dish is their ‘The Pork Belly’ (IDR 95K for small). It comes with a potato side dish of your choice. We chose fries which turned out crisp and nice.

But the real BOMB was the pork belly — they were everything TENDER, JUICY, and CRISPY. Not to mention they came in chunky huge pieces. (Though I must say the skin was too crunchy for my liking, I felt as if my teeth were going to crack anytime!)

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Pokenbir’s pork belly served with chili sauce, sweet soy sauce, and mustard.

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HOW TO RESIST. Nom nom nom.

Pokenbir’s ‘Nasi Campur ala Bali’ (IDR 75K) was pretty good too. It came with various types of pork cooked differently in a single plating. Although it varied slightly from the original version we had in Bali, it was still very flavourful. (Be warned that the chili is SUPER DUPER SPICY!!)

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Pokenbir’s Nasi Campur Bali.

If you happen to be craving noodles instead of rice, you can check out their ‘Pork Noodle with Gravy’ (IDR 50K). They were quite generous with the pork slices in the noodles and the dish felt slightly ‘healthier’ with the vegetables and all.

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Pork noodle with gravy.

If you’re a pork lover (like me), you gotta check this place out! x.

Pokenbir
Lippo Kuningan Building, G Floor
H. R. Rasuna Said, Kuningan

Mid-Autumn Festival in Jakarta: MOONCAKES

I usually equate September with Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s been one of my favourite Chinese Festivals since I was a kiddo. Why?! Because I get to eat MOONCAKES!!! (I absolutely LOVE mooncakes.)

Eating and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of¬†Mid-Autumn Festival because the round shape of mooncakes = completeness and unity of families. Back in Singapore, there’d be huge mooncake fairs (where various vendors come together to sell mooncakes) in shopping malls. Shopping at the Takashimaya mooncake fair is a yearly highlight for me that I’d never miss!

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2015 Takashimaya Mooncake fair (photo credit: majoritymag.com).

Sadly, the¬†Mid-Autumn Festival is not as hyped up here in Jakarta as compared to back home. There are no mooncake fairs around, not even in the big shopping malls. ūüė¶ ūüė¶ ūüė¶

If you want to buy mooncakes, you have to either go all the way out to one of the big name hotels or to a reputable Chinese restaurant.

Last week, I casually told Agent D that I was craving some snowskin mooncakes. To my surprise, he dropped by home during his lunch hour on Thursday in between meetings to deliver this pretty box from Hotel Mulia. He actually remembered, awww.

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Azuki, matcha and custard snowskin mooncakes from Table8 at Mulia Signature.

Snowskin mooncakes are usually eaten cold and remind me of mochi ice cream as both have glutinous rice crusts. SO GOOD. If only they had the original lotus seed paste + salted duck egg yolks inside the snowskin. That would be heaven on earth to me.

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Mooncakes in a bright festive box. Planning to transform it into a makeup box.

Aren’t they pretty?! Couldn’t bear to eat them initially – until Agent D told me that they only have a shelf life of 3 days. :/

For more information on where to buy mooncakes in Jakarta, check out this article: Where to get mooncakes in Jakarta 2016 РHoneycombers.


Since Agent D surprised me with mooncakes, I decided to be a better wife to him by cooking up a new dish on Friday night –¬†heart healthy penne pasta with beef. (Prior to this, I had been cooking the same few dishes every other day. Cooking is just not my thang, sigh.)

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Beef penne pasta.

I’m always cautious about trying new things but I’m glad it turned out okay (phew). And it brought a smile to Agent D’s face. ūüôā

On another note, so happy that coming Monday is a Public Holiday and we are having a long weekend YAY.

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Sexy wink from Freckles.

Have a good weekend! x

Spanish Tapas Gem in Jakarta: ¬ŅPor Qu√© No?

It has been about a year since¬†¬ŅPor Qu√© No? (I shall just use ‘Por Que No’ for the purpose of easy typing) opened her doors to the public. Translated from Spanish into English, the name Por Que No literally means “why not?”. So WHY NOT check this place out!

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Por Que No on a quiet weekday afternoon.

The restaurant has a very quirky yet fun decor; right from the moment you step out of the lift, a giant signboard made from hundreds (perhaps thousands?!) of colour pencils greets you cheerily. Such a warm welcome! ūüôā

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Huge signboard made up of colour pencils.

Located on the topmost floor of¬†De Ritz Building, Por Que No is separated into¬†two areas — an indoor dining room and an outdoor¬†lounge.

The indoor part of the restaurant looks like a greenhouse, with its full-length glass panels all round. Its interior is bathed in vibrant colours Рjazzy wooden chairs, pastel plushy cushions, and flashy wall decorations.

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Lovely ambiance.

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Gazillions of colour pencils glued together to form the feature wall.

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Full length glass panels.

Por Que No is family friendly too with a kids’ corner – there are Lego blocks, books, art materials, and toys to keep your little ones occupied. Children can play at the kids’ corner whilst adults can have good conversations without interruptions (ideally).

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Cute lil’ kids’ corner.

The al fresco area is kind of like a rooftop bar, and I can picture it to be really pretty at night. Not to mention it overlooks a beautiful night view of the city. *romantic*

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Outdoor lounge with rooftop bar.

Por Que No’s main goal is to consistently maintain the authenticity of Spanish tapas (i.e. its unique yet homey taste). The chef and her team take their craft seriously and ensure that all food served on the table sticks to its authentic taste as much as possible.

Because Por Que No is a tapas restaurant, its menu consists mainly of tapas (DUH) –¬†small Spanish savory dishes.¬†These little treasures of Spain were originally made to accompany drinks and to¬†encourage conversation, because people are not so focused on eating an entire meal set before them. How ingenious!

Here are some of the tapas I ordered (not many because I was pretty full at that point):

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Berenjenas Fritas (IDR 40K).

Berenjenas Fritas = fried eggplant chips with honey truffle. Really liked this one. The sweet and savoury coming together – SO GOOD!

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Huevos Rotos (IDR 45K)

Huevos Rotos = broken runny egg topped with sliced potatoes and chorizo. A dish that seems so simple and basic yet tastes amazingly delish. Can’t go wrong with potatoes and eggs, I guess.

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Croquetas de Champi√Īones (IDR 40K).

Croquetas de Champi√Īones = ¬†mushroom croquettes. This one was so-so only, in fact it tasted bland to me. Wouldn’t order it again.

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Biquini (IDR 70).

Biquini = serrano ham, cheese and truffle sandwich. Although there was nothing extraordinary about this dish, it was like comfort food to me. Reminded me of the ham and cheese sandwiches Milma used to pack for my recess back in primary school. The truffle oil was a nice addition.

Oh, and check out their cool toilet sign made up of LEGO blocks.

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LEGO toilet sign.

Since I’ve only tried four plates of tapas at Por Que No, I’ll def be back again to try the other dishes. And I happen to have a random paella craving now. :/

Por Que No
De Ritz Building, 5th floor
Jalan HOS. Cokroaminoto No. 91
Menteng, Jakarta Pusat 10350

Jakarta Must-haves: Air Purifier and Water Filter in Jakarta

I recently just passed my one year mark living in Jakarta. Whoooop TIME FLIES.

Two things that have improved my quality of life greatly in Jakarta are my trusty¬†IQAir air purifier and¬†eSpring water purifier. If you’re looking to buy an air purifier (a must for Jakarta!!) or water filter, this post is intended to present you with some facts/information to help you make an informed choice.

IQAir Air Purifier

Why the need for an air purifier in Jakarta?

Official figures show that the amounts of toxic pollutants in Jakarta air have grown rapidly over the years, in line with the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the roads. The major air pollutants are¬†‚ÄĒ carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, lead and suspended particles with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less (PM10).

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Air pollution in Jakarta. (Photo credit: pollutionpictures.blogspot.com)

These pollutant particles can sneak into people’s nasal passages and lungs, causing a myriad of conditions like asthma, bronchitis, acute lower respiratory infections (particularly in children), allergies, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.

While pollution in Jakarta is still lower compared to cities like Beijing and New Delhi, it is serious enough for the U.S. State Department to put Jakarta on a priority list of American Embassies to be fitted with air purifiers. Air purifiers are capable of capturing a great number of bacterial, viruses, and DNA damaging particulates.

Out of all the air purifiers, why IQAir home air purifier?

When shopping for an air purifier, consider the size of the area it is meant for and what you intend for it to do. Air purifiers can cost from SGD $99 to more than SGD $1500 each.

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IQAir HealthPro¬ģ Series¬†at our home.

In general, most air purifiers can remove dust particles. However, ONLY air purifiers equipped with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can get rid of particles 0.1 to 0.3 microns in size.

We have been using the IQAir¬†HealthPro¬ģ Series¬†(Swiss made) which¬†features HyperHEPA¬†filtration technology for superior airborne particle removal. IQAir’s HyperHEPA filtration is tested and certified to effectively filter harmful ultrafine pollution particles down to 0.003 microns in size (!!!). This is 100 times smaller than what is achieved with ordinary air filtration technology and 10 times smaller than a virus.

Difference between IQAir and other purifiers.

The HealthPro Plus is designed with a 4-stage filtration process that cleans the full spectrum of airborne pollutants through a series of filters:

  1. Micro-Particle Filtration
  2. Granular Activated Carbon Adsorption
  3. Pelletized Chemisorption
  4. HyperHEPA Filtration

You can read up more on the above filters on IQAir’s website. Here are some before and after pictures of one of the filters we recently changed:

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Old filter after one year of usage (left) and brand new filter (right).

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Underside of filters.

In addition, IQAir HealthPro Plus makes use of a 320-degree air exhaust whereby filtered air is evenly distributed in all directions with minimal noise. Most other air purifiers return filtered air into the room through a small outlet that generates annoying drafts.

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320-degree air delivery with IQAir.

Our¬† IQAir HealthPro¬†Plus features six fan speeds, a day/night timer, and a¬†filter-life monitor. The¬†filter-life monitor is especially useful because it¬†forecasts filter replacement based on actual usage (i.e. no. of remaining hours left for a filter) and colour-coded lights tell you when it’s time to change each filter (i.e., green = long way to go; orange = gotta change soon; red = change now!!).

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Control panel and remote control.

One important thing to note is that many of the cheap(er) air purifiers in the market use technology that produces potentially harmful byproducts, such as ozone, ions, chemicals and ultrafine particles. Whereas IQAir uses 100% healthy and safe technology to clean the air.

Even though we never ever open our windows in Jakarta (as long as we are at home, the air-conditioner is switched on), our indoor air quality is still not ideal – hence the need for an air purifier.

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Just look at that THICK layer of I-don’t-know-what. If not for our trusty air purifier, we would have breathed all of that in.

During the SARS outbreak (2003), H1N1 outbreak (2009), and haze crisis in Singapore, I was told that some hospitals in Singapore used IQAir air purifiers to clean the air inside the wards.

Even after our stint in Jakarta, we are planning to bring back our¬†IQAir HealthPro¬†Plus with us back to Singapore. ūüôā

If you need more information about IQAir home air purifiers, visit their website at: http://www.iqair.com/international/home-air-purifiers.


eSpring Water Purifier

Why the need for a water filter/purifier in Jakarta?

Water from the tap is not safe for drinking in Jakarta because the groundwater is severely polluted. According to Yuki Water Treatment, up to 80% of groundwater in Jakarta is polluted with pathogenic disease-causing bacteria, such as e-coli.

Due to the prevalence of water borne diseases, most locals drink bottled water from Aqua or Pristine. Jakarta homes have a large water dispenser that looks something like this:

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Water dispenser in Jakarta homes.

We didn’t like the fact that the water gallon containers are perpetually reused. When ordering a new gallon of water, we would return the empty containers at the same time. These containers would then be re-filled with water and transported to another household. And the cycle repeats itself again and again.

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Gallons of bottled water for use in water dispenser.

Wear and tear from the reuse of these containers can lead to physical breakdown of the plastic, with the possibility of carcinogens leaching into the water. If the containers have cracks or scratches over time (highly likely!), bacteria can harbor in those cracks, posing a health risk.

In addition, some of these containers have been under the hot sun for long periods of time before coming to us (for instance, when used at a ‘warung’ or when transported between places). And heat¬†will certainly increase the rate at which chemicals can migrate from the plastic.

As such, we set out to search for an effective water filter that would provide us with¬†safe, clean, and sustainable drinking water. At the same time, we help Mother Earth by preventing more plastic bottles¬†from becoming waste. ūüôā

Out of all the water filters, why eSpring water filter?

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eSpring water purifier at our home.

Backed up by over 25 years of research, patented technology and sold in at least 40 countries, eSpring water purifier provides clean and better quality water right from the tap.

The eSpring water purifier makes use of a carbon-based UV filtration system to reduce more than 140 potential health-effect contaminants in drinking water. Its UV light technology treats water additionally without the use of chemicals.

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UV light technology.

In addition, its carbon-filter technology filters out impurities while allowing beneficial minerals like calcium, magnesium, and fluoride to pass through.

After replacing the old cartridge with a new one, we would usually let the water run for 5 minutes. The first run of filtered water is usually blackish in colour because of the active carbon. After several minutes, the water becomes colourless and is ready for use.

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Carbon-filter technology (active carbon).

Notably, the eSpring water purifier is the first home water purifier to feature a carbon/UV system that meets NSF International Standards 42, 53, 55, and 401. These standards are recognized worldwide for water quality.

It is certified by NSF for reducing more contaminants than any other carbon-based UV filtration system. Let me show you some pictures!

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Brand new cartridge (left) and used cartridge after 6 weeks (right).

Just look at how brown and dirty the cartridge became!! Not to mention that it smelt badly too. Not a pretty sight. :/

The eSpring water purifier is simple to install and easy to use. Maintenance is also easy with single cartridge replacement about once every 6 weeks (depending on your usage).

Cartridges don’t come cheap though; each cartridge costs about SGD $300 per unit. But what’s $$$ compared to health right. #healthisgold

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eSpring water purifier connected to the tap.

With our¬†eSpring water purifier, we are able to boil and drink water from our tap + wash vegetables/fruits/meats from the tap. We brush our teeth with the filtered water too. ūüôā

For more information on eSpring home water purifier, visit their website at: http://www.amway.com/at-home/eSpring.

PS: Both IQAir and eSpring did not pay me to write the above review. I just wanted to share good stuff with you guys. ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧