Our Lil’ Housing Project

After the very painful defects inspection process which took longer than expected (you can read more about it here: Our New Nest & The Defects Inspection Process), our new home is finally coming together. WHEE.

As we are currently stationed in Jakarta, I had to resort to buying all my lights online and having them shipped to my parents’ home in Singapore. They would then help me pass the lights to my contractor for installation. Along the way, I would take snapshots of how I wanted the house to look and mom would liaise with the contractor on my behalf.

Here are some pictures of what has been done so far. Let me take you on a virtual house tour! 🙂

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Living room.

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Feature wall and TV console just completed today.

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Pendant lights over dining area.

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Birdcage pendant at main doorway entrance.

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Tape lights for the kitchen (so I can spot worms hanging out on my vegetables!!)

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Track lights for the study.

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Master bedroom.

One good thing about being based in Jakarta is that we are able to collect pieces of artworks on our travels around Indonesia. Indonesians are such talented artists, really! More often than not, Agent D has to rein me in whenever I pass by an art shop/chance upon an online art store. :/

And the best thing yet?! Custom-made frames in Jakarta are inexpensive compared to Singapore! (See post on Lovely Custom-made Frames in Jakarta: Setia Jaya Frame & Mirror.)

Here are some art pieces I recently framed for the new home:

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In addition to the paintings, I also lugged back the Scandinavian clock I bought in Jakarta. Agent D was like, “Aiyoh why you bother?!!”

Sigh guys don’t understand. zzz

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Scandinavian clock up on the wall.

As well as the perfect wooden box for my daily caffeine fix. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Isn’t it so pretty!!

Will update again when my curtains are up. Crossing my fingers they’ll look okay on the walls! x

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Cheap Hair Wash and Blow-Dry in Jakarta + First Birthday in Jakarta

Having lived in Jakarta for almost a year now, I’ve come to understand a little bit more about the Indonesian culture and way of life. One of the things I’ve observed — there is a greater emphasis on outward appearance here as compared to my home country. Most Indonesians enjoy dolling/dressing up. And boy do they look good – nothing wrong with that.

For instance, back home, I’d be happy to buy groceries nearby in my oversized high school PE T-shirt, FBT shorts, and flip-flops (whilst crossing my fingers I don’t run into anyone). I tried it once here at the supermarket below my apartment and ended up getting weird frowns/stares. Okay I get the point.

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IBU-fied with my blow-dried hair.

Prior to a wedding dinner/party/reception/date night in Jakarta, it is common to drop by a hair salon to get your hair washed and blow-dried. You can even bring your favourite Hollywood star’s picture and show it to the stylist. Whether you’re going for a curly big look or straight flat look, rest assured he/she will get it done. (I’ve heard that some Indonesian tai-tais never ever wash their own hair, i.e. they visit the salon several times a week.)

So anyway, I decided to treat myself to a hair wash cum blow-dry last Thursday (disclaimer: I don’t do this often) since I had a reception to attend with Agent D and it was my birthday on Friday.

If you’re looking for a value for money hair wash and blow-dry in Jakarta, do check out Johnny Andrean. They have many outlets across Jakarta. I paid IDR 56K excluding tips for my recent hair wash and blow-dry at Johnny Andrean (Mall Ambassador) while most other salons in big malls charge between IDR 100K – IDR 150K.

In the left picture above, I paid IDR 140K to get my hair washed and blow-dried at one of the salons in Plaza Indonesia. In the picture on the right, I paid IDR 56K for the same service. Any difference?!

Well, one thing’s for sure — the more expensive hair salons use better quality shampoo and conditioning. Their seats are more comfortable too. When choosing which salon to visit for a blow-dry, bear in mind that the results also differ depending on the expertise of the stylist. 🙂

Very sadly, Freckles the kitty didn’t quite take a liking to my new va-va voom hair. She was curious at first, wondering why Momma’s hair suddenly became bigger.

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Hmm what are those…???

And then she started attacking my hair, pulling at it with her extended claws and biting down hard on it. Silly Freckles must have thought IT WAS A BALL OF YARN hanging off me. :/ :/ :/

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Spot those claws of hers?!! Time to cut nails!

I was horrified/petrified/startled/aghast and tried to yank her away from my hair but to no avail. She’s growing stronger by the day as compared to 1 month back.

To Freckles the kitty, the yarn was loosening and it was so much fun!

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This is not fun!!!! Get off me!!

Sigh. And so I went to the reception with a lopsided hair-do, straight hair on the left and curls on the right. Thankfully it wasn’t too noticeable, or at least I hope it wasn’t.


My First Birthday in Jakarta was…

A really low-key one this time (not complaining). Spent the day with some Singaporean ladies over a lovely Japanese lunch at Akira Back + fun board games. I deliberately didn’t tell them it was my birthday so it was like any other normal day. 🙂

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Chirashi don at Akira Back was SO GOOD. #fresh

Agent D and I were supposed to go out for a simple dinner that night (we had actually celebrated our anniversary and my birthday together earlier in the week). But then I received an impromptu message from Christian in the afternoon, asking if we were free for dinner that night. Well, WHY NOT of course. 🙂

And so I celebrated my birthday in the company of Agent D and both Christian and Sasha, one of the first few friends I knew before coming to Jakarta.

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Blowing out my cakes from UNION.

Thanks for making time to meet up with us, guys! ❤

And now I’ve officially entered my last year as a twenty-something. *aging woes*

Volunteering in Jakarta Update: Kampung Kids

Can’t believe close to 9 months have gone by since I started volunteering at Kampung kids! I documented my initial thoughts on volunteering in Jakarta here: Volunteering in Jakarta: Kampung Kids | thediplowifey.

Looking back, I’ve learnt so much from the kids. They don’t have much yet are one of the most carefree around. While I teach them how to read and write in English, they’ve taught me so much more beyond the four walls of the classroom. 🙂

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Playing with paints in the classroom.

Of late, apart from teaching the children letters of the English alphabet and key vocabulary words + working on their penmanship, we have started doing art with them (thanks to Dianne who volunteers with me and is a real art genius!).

One art lesson we exposed them to watercolours. Dianne came out with the idea of painting the underside of their hands and putting together all their hand prints to produce a piece of artwork – a signboard for their classroom.

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Cute lil’ palm!

Having never touched paints before (despite them being 5-7 years of age), the children were very precarious about having their palms painted. When we asked for a volunteer, hardly anyone raised their hands.

We started with the daring ones, and slowly the more timid ones also came up to have their palms painted.

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Children with their drawing blocks and signature hand prints (for them to take home).

Here’s a picture of the beautiful art piece, a product of joint effort by all the kids. It’s now hung up in the front of their classroom. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Lovely piece of artwork comprising the children’s hand prints.

Another art lesson, we pre-cut eye masks for the children and had them design their very own masks. (Many of the kids were into superheroes like Batman and Spiderman who wore masks.)

Here are some pictures of the kids in action:

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Luky designing his Batman mask (he’s wearing Batman on his shirt!)

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Hard at work.

One thing I’ve noticed about the kampung children is their willingness to share the little they have (be it crayons, pencils, erasers, etc). Even if they had only 2 pencils in their pencil case, they would happily loan the other to their friend without a pencil. These sweet gestures often brought a smile to my heart.

Here’s one of all our mini superheroes (in their own rights) posing for a picture. Aren’t they just so adorable? ❤ ❤ ❤

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Kampung kids superheroes.

My volunteering at Kampung kids (and my ladies bible study group) is on a hold for the next few weeks because of the mid-year school holidays. Crossing my fingers the children won’t forget all the letters and words we’ve taught them thus far!

Because next week is the Lebaran period in Jakarta, practically everyone I know (friends, Agent D’s colleagues, my driver, my helper, etc etc) is out of Jakarta. I heard it is going to be super duper quiet next week with GOOD TRAFFIC WITHOUT JAMS. Whoooop can’t wait!

[Wikipedia: Lebaran is the popular name for Eid al-Fitr in Indonesia and is one of the major national holidays in the country. Lebaran holiday officially lasts for two days in the Indonesian calendar, but the government usually declares a few days before and after the Lebaran as a bank holiday. Hence many Indonesians take this time to travel out of the country or return to their hometowns.)

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Selamat Lebaran with this Ramadan-themed Starbucks cup!!

Am so looking forward to the slow(er) week ahead.

xxx

TVRI’s Elvis Presley Tribute Concert in Jakarta

Elvis Presley is perhaps one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of 20th century popular culture. Some of his achievements include starring in 33 successful films, selling over 1 billion records, receiving 14 Grammy nominations, winning 3 Grammys, being inducted into multiple music halls of fame, and the list goes on. No wonder his name lives on, even though several decades have passed since his death in 1977.

Last Sunday, Agent D and I were invited to Keep It Country — Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI)’s Elvis Presley tribute show. It was held at Studio 5 in the Senayan area and aired live from 9 p.m.-10.30 p.m. Indonesian time.

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Elvis Presley tribute artists from Indonesia and Singapore.

It was my first time going to a live show in Jakarta and I didn’t know what to expect. When we first arrived, we were introduced to Jimmy PresLee, Singapore’s very own Elvis Presley tribute artist. He told us that he started impersonating Elvis after his retirement 6 years ago, at the young age of 64. WOW. Never too late to follow your dreams huh.

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Us with Mr. Jimmy PresLee.

Things got exciting as the live show commenced. Tantowi Yahya belted out a few Elvis classics as the crowd swayed along. The crowd consisted mainly of late middle-aged adults, all decked out in country outfits for the show’s theme. (I so regret not bringing along my Bali straw hat to blend in!) Elvis was an icon in their growing up years and it was apparent that he continued to hold a special presence in their hearts. ❤

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Tantowi Yahya, most famous for hosting the Indonesian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

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A very enthusiastic crowd!

After that, the stage was given over to Indonesia’s Elvis Presley tribute artist #1. A trained lawyer by profession, he totally wow-ed the crowd with his singing and guitar moves.  He was strumming the guitar really hard with his fingers NOT touching the guitar strings?!. It was hilarious really.

Up next was Indonesia’s Elvis Presley tribute artist #2. This guy was even more comical. I almost fell off my seat watching his performance. The crowd got so excited that a number of them started grooving to the music on the dance floor.

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Dancing spectators.

The last Elvis to perform was Singapore’s Elvis Presley tribute artist. Really can’t tell that Mr. Jimmy Preslee is coming on 70 this year. He was dancing all over the stage with so much energy.

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On stage with Tantowi Yahya and Nourma Yunita.

As the 1.5 hour show drew to a close, all three Elvis Presleys went up on stage and sang together. The fervor in the air was contagious; by now even Agent D and I were on our feet swaying and clapping away.

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Whooooop.

Twas’ a good night spent reminiscing the songs of old and singing along to country tunes. Although the show ended late on a Sunday and Agent D had work the next day, we left Studio 5 somehow feeling more energized than before.

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We-fie with Tantowi Yahya. Thanks for having us!

And I got to know Elvis Presley a whole lot better! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Our New Nest & The Defects Inspection Process

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Our new home.

Hello there! Can’t believe it has been almost 2 weeks since I last posted. I’ve been awfully busy the past couple of days – settling the new house and taking care of Agent D who was sick.

On to more exciting things…we have finally gotten the keys to our apartment back home (!!!). WHEEE. It’s our very first place under both our names which we are paying off (bit by bit of course) on our own. Hence the strong sense of home-ownership. *so proud*

Here are some pictures of the grounds:

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Connecting pool across blocks.

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Pool access right outside the doorstep of ground level units (sadly not for us!).

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Poolside lounge chairs.

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What’s a pool without her jacuzzi.

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Children’s playground with water features.

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Barbecue pits and tennis courts.

However, the joy of collecting our keys was short-lived. Then came the headachy part…the defects inspection (lonnnng) process. Both Agent D and myself do not have a trained eye whatsoever in looking out for defects. Seeing how our fellow neighbours uncovered MANY defects (literally hundreds, some had over 600 defects) on the Facebook group, we decided to engage a professional defects specialist – Ronny from Ark Interior.

That turned out to be the BEST DECISION EVER. For $400, Ronny’s services include 3 rounds of defects inspection: first inspection and filling up of the defects list, joint-inspection with developer, and final inspection to check that the defects have been rectified. Any additional visits required of Ronny are chargeable at $100/trip/hour.

Ronny made use of various equipment and tools to carry out the defects inspection. Here are some pictures of the defects in our home:

There were a total of 170 defects (or 13 pages worth of defects) found in our home. *horror*

Some common defects were uneven plaster and painting, chips and scratches, cracks, hollow tiles, poor fittings and joints, debris in drainage pipes, and the list goes on. According to Ronny, these things are considered ‘defects’ only when they exceed the tolerance level stipulated by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in Singapore.

Our home will undergo defects rectification by the developer over the course of the next one month. Will update again after the final handover!

When I was a young girl, I loved building doll houses and buying miniature furniture to decorate their insides. Now I finally get to do up an ACTUAL house. Whoooop. Can’t wait to buy matchy matchy furniture. 🙂

EXCITED.

Family Day + Watching Movies in Jakarta

Instead of sleeping in on Saturday, Agent D and I went down for Family Day 2016 at his workplace. It was a morning of fun and games (some of which were retardedly cute! I couldn’t stop laughing at Agent D), coupled with entertaining performances and food. The event was a nice platform for me to get to know Agent D’s colleagues better and their spouses too.

I caught sight of a photo booth at the event and my eyes lit up at once. “Pleaaassse can we take a photo?” I asked Agent D. He signed in resignation and allowed me to drag him to the booth. Sadly, Agent D doesn’t quite enjoy taking photos as much as I do (I jump at any opportunity to take photos heh).

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Agent D and I at Family Day 2016.

‘Twas was a sweltering day and I think I got 2 shades darker. :/ (Note to self: HAVE TO pack sunblock in my bag for future outdoor excursions.) In Jakarta, I seldom find myself outdoors; I usually go from mall to mall in a car/ taxi. Even if the mall I want to go to is within walking distance, I usually cab because there are no proper walking pavements/ cars don’t always obey traffic lights which is hazardous/ the air is not too ideal for walking.

Later in the evening, Agent D and I decided to catch Kung Fu Panda 3. It had been some time since we last caught a movie together and I was glad he suggested it.

By the way, movies in Jakarta are REALLLLLY AFFORDABLE. Both weekday and weekend standard tickets are 1/3 the price (!!!) of that in my home country. And the cinemas are really nice and clean as well.

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Standard weekDAY movie ticket costs IDR 30K (about 3 dollars back home).

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Standard weekEND movie ticket costs IDR 50K (about 5 dollars back home).

In Jakarta, it is possible to get a luxurious cinema experience without burning a hole in your pocket. WHOOOOP. Cinema XXI offers Premiere movies which are akin to sitting in first class (versus economy class) in an aeroplane. Here are some of the deluxe features:

  • Exclusivity – Exclusive access to premiere lounge/ restaurants and each theatre only has 20-30 seats.
  • Great service – Personalized concierge experience when purchasing tickets, waiters on stand-by inside the theatre ready to take food or drinks orders.
  • Comfort – Reclining seats with foot rests and blankets (THE BEST PART).

Blitz Megaplex has velvet suites where one can even watch movies on private big BEDS, complete with pillows and blankets. Both Cinema XXI’s premiere tickets and Blitz Megaplex’s velvet suites tickets cost about the SAME PRICE as a standard ticket back home (i.e. they’re really not that expenive). SO…if you’re living in Jakarta/ here for the weekend, you HAVE TO watch a movie at one of these places for the experience.

Anyhow…back to  Kung Fu Panda 3. Both Agent D and I found it better than the previous installment but still not as good as the very first one. It didn’t require any brain power (which was good because we were both brain dead post dinner), and was very good-humoured and colourful. We both had a good laugh watching it and I was glad Agent D was able to relax for a while. 🙂

Today after church service, Agent D and I decided to check out the restaurant at Artotel, a boutique hotel at Thamrin. I’ll blog more about our dining experience there tomorrow!

Blessed Sunday lovelies! ❤ ❤ ❤

PS: I’m so glad Sundays are also my cooking rest days. DONT HAVE TO COOK YAYAYYYYYY.

Explore Jakarta: Kota Tua and Cafe Batavia

This morning, Agent D left home around 5 a.m. for work. I woke up (barely) around 4.20 a.m. to fix him a simple breakfast which he could eat on the way to the airport. My hands and legs seemed to be strangely moving on their own in synchrony while being detached from my brain (which was still in deep slumber).

OK let’s boil water. Hand gets kettle and fills it with water. Finger pushes the boil knob. Legs move to the refrigerator. Hand opens the refrigerator door and gets 2 slices of bread and pops them into the oven. Legs move to the Master Bedroom and arms prepare Agent D’s suit and tie. Bread is ready. Hand butters bread with a knife and layers on a thick spread. 

Come to think of it, I can’t even remember if I spread kaya or blueberry jam onto Agent D’s bread. Hmm or perhaps it was nutella instead :/ My only faint memory was that of saying “bye-bye!” at the doorway and waving Agent D off. My legs must have found their way to the bed because the next thing I knew, the alarm clock was ringing and it was time for me to change to head down to Kampung Kids (Tuesdays are my volunteer days).

So please pardon me if this post isn’t too coherent – I’m still in sleep deprivation mode.


Today I’m going to write about my trip to Kota Tua when my folks visited in February. My dad is a history buff and so I thought he might like exploring the streets of Jakarta’s old town.

According to Mr. Wikipedia, Kota Tua was an important commerce hub in Asia since the 16th century. Thus, it was home to several important historical sites and buildings like the Former Court of Justice (currently the Fine Art and Ceramic Museum), the oldest surviving church in Jakarta (Gereja Sion), the 18th century City Hall (currently the Jakarta History Museum), and so on.

As we got out of the car and stepped onto the streets of Kota Tua, I felt as if I was transported to an earlier era of Jakarta. The entire street was lined with old colonial buildings of Dutch-influenced architecture.

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The entrance where my driver dropped us off.

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Stretch of old colonial buildings.

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A cute little cafe.

We took a short walk down the street and found ourselves at the Central Square. It was BUSTLING there – vendors selling food and souvenirs, street buskers (SO MANY. They were practically 1 cm apart), Indonesian tourists with their selfie sticks, bicycle rental shops, and so on. What a sight really!
One great pity is that many of the colonial relics are decaying. While there have been attempts to preserve and restore some of  the buildings (e.g. the Kota Post Office building has been converted into a contemporary art museum), many are sadly deteriorating and quite a number lie in ruins till this day.
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After preservation works – Post Office building.

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Colonial architecture steadily decaying.

I really hope that most (if not all) of the historical sites can be restored to their former glory SOON. And that one day, Kota Tua will achieve the status of a UNESCO world heritage site. 🙂
To escape from the heat, my parents and I decided to head into Cafe Batavia for some cooling down. Our bodies had probably lost about 3 buckets of water by then (one bucket each) and there was a strong need to re-hydrate. That feeling of stepping into an air-conditioned space with nice soft music playing in the background – SO GOOD.
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Upper level of Cafe Batavia.

Rated #13 out of 6,402 Restaurants in Jakarta on Trip Advisor, Cafe Batavia lives up to its name in terms of ambience. Set in a 200-year-old colonial building, Cafe Batavia is actually the second oldest building in Central Jakarta after the Fatahillah Museum (!!). The cafe’s decor oozes history and gives a glimpse of what life was like in the colonial era. At certain times of the day, the cafe has a live band playing downstairs.
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Wall backdrop consisting of picture frames.

If you have a choice, sit upstairs by a window overlooking the square.  It’s perfect for people watching and looking down on the happenings in Central Square (from the comfort of your seat).

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By the window.

The cafe serves quite a variety of food; from authentic Indonesian food to Chinese food (including dimsum) to Western food. They have an extensive cocktails menu as well. I can’t say much about their food because we only had drinks there (it was tea time).

I’d recommend that you try the traditional drinks (which we did). There are 4 types of drinks made from different herbs and spices and one can have them hot or cold. We ordered three traditional drinks to share amongst ourselves – two of them tasted really nice while the other was…well…an acquired taste. We were such thirsty hippos that when the drinks came, we slurped them up really fast! And FORGOT about taking pictures again. 😦

I’ll be visiting Kota Tua sometime soon to explore their Puppet Museum and Kite Museum. Looking forward!