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. 🙂

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)!

❤ ❤ ❤

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

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When Friends Visit: Elaine Comes to Jakarta for the Weekend

I’ve so much to update here but haven’t had time at all. Last week, I had to settle all the furniture and white goods for our new place back in Singapore (power of online shopping PHEW) + take Elaine around Jakarta because she was visiting over the weekend.

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Welcome to Jakarta, Elaine!!!

T’was so good to see Elaine, who flew 558 miles from Singapore just to spend the weekend with me. Elaine and I go way back to secondary school days – when baggy jeans and hanging belts were in fashion (dang now you know which generation we are from). I’m so thankful for the friendship we share and how we’ve seen each other through the different seasons in life. ❤

So on Elaine’s virgin trip to Jakarta, we did everything possibly touristy and girly together – going for hair spa & hair colour, full-body massage, manicure & pedicure, hunting for good food, watching a cheap(er) movie, playing board games, travelling to Bogor (outside of Jakarta), and of course shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Elaine even came to bible study with me today before heading to the airport.

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First meal together in Jakarta.

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ALIEN INVASION. Nah, just Elaine having her hair coloured.

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Mangga Dua ITC Mall, which left us penniless for the day.

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Binging on GROM gelato just before our massage. #sogood

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Tourists at the lovely Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya Bogor).

Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya Bogor) was really beautiful and well-maintained. We spent half the day walking around and chatting, not to mention chasing Pokémons. The air up there is so much fresher too! [I will blog on our Bogor day trip in a separate post soon.]

Elaine’s trip to Jakarta was timely because Agent D has been super duper busy the past weeks (and still is very busy actually). Thank God for providing good company during times like these. 🙂 🙂 🙂

More pictures of our weekend together:

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Please come again soon Elaine! Freckles and I are already missing you!!

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With the little grump.

Familiarity – God’s Providence

God has always been good in bringing my friends to me, wherever I may be in the world. Perhaps He knows my greatest dislike – being alone. I know many thrive on their alone time, to just recharge and do their own things. Not for me though.

When I was doing my Masters in Oxford, I had friends visiting me every month – all unplanned. I’m not even sure how that happened but somehow, various people came up because they stopped by on their travels, came to U.K. for work/studies, flew up for a wedding over the weekend, came to visit me, travel with me, etc. I didn’t have much time to feel homesick because I was always looking forward to the next one coming up! (Thanks for dropping by Jialing, Serene, Estelle, Min, Chow, Arthur and friends, Ezra, Steph, Frank, Benj, and can’t remember who else!). I remember creating a Facebook album detailing their visits titled “Familiarity in a faraway land”. Those were GOOD TIMES I look back upon fondly.

Now in Jakarta, I can see how God provides again. Jialing comes down almost every month to see her Indonesian banking clients. Adeline comes once every 2-3 months for work and conferences. Pam and Ben stop by whenever their SQ flight does an overnight turn. Juli comes up to visit family. Joellyn comes up to visit family and for a wedding. And not forgetting Ivana, my old secondary school friend who moved back to Jakarta from Canada the same time I arrived in Jakarta.

Of course, God has also brought new friendships into my life here in Jakarta, and I’m ever so thankful for them. ❤

So anyway, Jia swung by Jakarta this week for work and we managed to catch up over dinner and cake.

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Good conversations and good food – I couldn’t be any happier.

Looking forward to seeing you again in July, Jia! ❤ ❤ ❤

On another note, Freckles is coming home with us tomorrow!!!!! *excited*

And I just found out that her birthday is one day before Agent D’s. That makes it all the more special for us.

Restaurant Series: Authentically Indonesian at TeSaTe

Juli’s main intent for her Jakarta visit was to eat AS MUCH (SPICY) Indonesian food as she could. Her motto when it comes to food – the spicier, the better (much to my dismay haha). Her chili threshold has always been high since secondary school days. Not for me though. One tiny drop of spicy sambal in my food and I’ll be downing a jug of water with tears in my eyes. Before I am even halfway through my chili-laden noodles/rice, I’d be full from water. :/

So anyway, we had lunch with a few friends at TeSaTe today – a restaurant serving supposedly good authentic Indonesian cuisine. From my best friend Mr. Google, I found out that TeSaTe is actually a sister brand of Sate Khas Senayan restaurant chain (which has a presence in practically every mall in Jakarta), just that it is a more premium brand. TeSaTe has a few outlets; we went to the one in Menteng.

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A contemporary style restaurant serving Indonesia cuisine.

The restaurant is housed in a huge 3-storey building complete with private dining rooms. The first level was pretty occupied when we arrived. Because we were a group of six + baby stroller, we were directed to the basement instead. Which turned out to be quieter and nicer. 🙂

Sasha (their regular patron) ordered a variety of dishes for us to try and we went along with her choices. Here’s some pictures of the food:

Overall, the food was good and thankfully not too spicy (phew). I particularly liked their lemon grass drink with lime bits – SO REFRESHING for a hot day. Their satay went very well with the sauce too. YUMMM.

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Welcome back to Jakarta: Juli, chub chub Joesph, Lewis.

Joseph the fatty was sucha good baby. He slept through the entire lunch despite our loud banter, laughter, and giggles.

Some pictures from our lunch 🙂

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Can’t wait to tuck in!

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“I think my fist is yummier than the chicken there.”

On the way back in the car, I saw an interesting sight of two men playing chess at the bus stop. They were so deep into their game that the booming motorcycles and cars passing by did not seem to bother them one bit. Pretty intense.

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Enjoying a game of chess at the bus stop.

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett

They must have been happy; they had something to do.

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Ending lunch with a girly shot.


TeSate Restaurant
Jalan Dr Samratulangi No. 39
Menteng, Central Jakarta

When Good Friends Visit

Today my favouritest friend Juli landed in Jakarta for a 3-day visit. She came with her hubs Lewis and the newest addition to their family, chub chub Joseph. It’s been 3 months since I last saw baby Joseph and OHH how he’s grown into a mini sumo/fatty, complete with biceps, triceps and fat folds. *so cute*

This picture was taken at baby Joseph’s first month party.

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And these pictures were taken just today. Aww look at those juicy thighs and cheeks. 🙂 🙂 🙂

He’s only 4 months old but he’s heavier than a BIGGGG watermelon and HUGEEE coconut and ENORMOUS papaya combined together. Ok you get the drift.

I tried carrying him for a while and my arms started aching after like 1 minute. He’ll probably be my only form of arm toning exercise this week.

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Hello there fatty!

Maybe it’s because he’s juli’s baby and I’m biased but I think he’s one of the CUTEST around. He has two to-die-for dimples but they’re hidden beneath his chub chub cheeks.

We were trying to take a decent photo with baby Joseph looking at the camera but it was so hard. He kept looking at the ground below as if there were gold coins or something. :/ With much perseverance and cooing, we finally managed to! YAY.

Dear baby Joseph, I hope you’ll grow up one day to be a man after God’s own heart. ❤

Baby Joseph aside, I was really happy to see his momma Juli. Almost seemed surreal having my good friend in town. And it’s really nice how I can just be myself with old friends.

Always thankful when friends visit Jakarta.

M.I.S.S.I.N.G HOME

YAY for long weekends. Wish there could be more of them. As I wait for Agent D to come back, I’m wondering what everyone is doing back home. Dinner meetups and get-togethers (which I’m missing out on) perhaps? Suddenly, I miss my family and friends. I miss familiarity.

Feelings of homesickness are a weird thing. They hit when you least expect it. I can be window shopping on my own in the mall and in the midst of the crowd BANG I miss home. Or when I’m stuck in traffic (which happens to be really common here in Jakarta!) and BANG I miss my country.

SO…I’m going to upload some photos of my friends and family here. Just because flipping through them makes me happy. (And also because I’m clearing my phone to make room for more space.)

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And I’m so thankful for the few I’ve managed to spend time with in Jakarta, when away from home.

Looking through the pictures makes me excited for my upcoming trip back home. It’s been awhile since I last caught up with everyone. *can’t wait*

Happy Easter everyone and happppppppy long weekend!

And thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for us. Let us not forget the significance of Good Friday.

xxx

Of Buffets and Spas in Jakarta: Hotel Mulia The Cafe & Martha Tilaar

I’ve been kept busy by friends visiting from my home country (3 friends on different days in the span of one week!). Perhaps God knows life in Jakarta can get lonely at times and He somehow orchestrates circumstances to bring close friends to me (through their work). Being with old friends gives me the feeling of a home away from home, something I can’t quite explain in words. And I’m so thankful for them.

Jialing came last Wednesday to meet her clients and I brought her out for a massage and a traditional Indonesian dinner. On that same weekend, Adeline stayed at our place to spend time with me before meeting company clients on Monday. We ate A LOT, did hair spa, foot reflexology, pedicure, and facial together. And just 2 days ago on Wednesday, Pam flew in for work as well! We spent the entire day enjoying a sumptuous buffet and 2 hours of body spa. As one can see, although there’s quite a bit to do in Jakarta, FOOD and SPAS/ MASSAGES always top the list for visitors here (actually even for me as a “local” heh).

Today, I’m going to write more about my buffet experience at The Cafe @Hotel Mulia and spa experience at Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa, a household name in Jakarta. I’ve long heard that the various buffet options (there are a number of restaurants serving buffet there) at Hotel Mulia are VERY GOOD but have not got down to trying any of them yet. These days, buffets are reserved only for special occasions due to slowing metabolism rates. *21st century concerns* Sigh, gone are the days of eating till you feel like puking but yet  feeling so satisfied because you got your money’s worth.

From Mr.google, I found out that The Cafe @Hotel Mulia is ranked #1 out of 6,401 Restaurants in Jakarta and given a rating of 4.8 / 5 on Zomato. Woah not bad at all. After reading that, I got quite excited about having their lunch buffet! Eat good food first, can always lose weight later right? Rightttt.

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Interior of The Cafe @Hotel Mulia. (main area)

The lunch buffet costs about IDR 360k/pax without drinks. It is housed in a very spacey and pretty area with lush greenery outside their full-length windows. I liked how they drew the curtains so that sunlight could stream in. Service was top-notch, as with most other well-known restaurants in Jakarta.

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Happy diners – Pam, Ivana, and myself.

The entire cafe is divided into two separate sections – “real” food and dessert. Some guests might forget about/ miss the dessert section because it’s at another end of the cafe, on the far left side of the entrance. The decor for the dessert section is more whimsical, which I adored. I made a mental note to leave 30% of my tummy space for desserts later.

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A fragment of the main buffet section.

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You can pick and choose the ingredients for your gado-gado.

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Seating area at the dessert section.

The buffet spread was REALLY WIDE, one of the widest I’ve seen around. The food selection was international with various live stations — Indonesian cuisine and desserts, Japanese cuisine,  Indian cuisine, Korean cuisine, Western cuisine, Chinese cuisine including dim-sum, and the list goes on. We were spoilt for choice. 🙂

Here are some pictures (not all) of the food I ate:

By the time it was time for desserts, I think I was already 90% (and not 70%) full. So much for mental resolutions. Blame it on the good food. I took some pictures of the pretty dessert section for your viewing but they didn’t turn out too well on my iphone camera (sorry!).

I have a very sweet tooth by nature i.e. I’m the sort of person that can have 2 rich, fudgy cake slices for lunch and nothing else. Given two options – savoury or sweet – I would always choose the sweet one without any hesitation. Hence, desserts are usually my most anticipated part of any buffet! I have a soft spot for them.

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Desserts shared amongst the 3 of us.

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Dessert we-fie.

Sadly, the desserts didn’t quite match up to their looks and our expectations. They were not bad, but they weren’t fantastic. The ice-cream erred on the airy side. The various shot-glass desserts were fluffy and quite plain tasting while the macaroons were a tad too soft (I prefer them slightly crispy) and sweet. The grape mille-feuille was not bad though and the Indonesian kueh was good. That said, I would still return to The Cafe for their main food.

After lunch, we headed to Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa. Pam, Ivana, and myself  chose the “Peach Delima Body Treatment” because it smelt SO GOOOOD compared to the other products. Martha Tilaar has a whole range of body treatments with different fancy names but they’re essentially the same thing — with different products (e.g., peach, ginger, herbs, etc).

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Martha Tilaar Center at Kuningan.

I prefer going to the Martha Tilaar Center at Kuningan because it’s the original outlet and is very well maintained. Although Martha Tilaar has many outlets all over Jakarta and Indonesia, many are actually franchises and the quality of service differs.

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Before spa – Ivana with her lemongrass drink.

A choice of cold/hot lemon grass drink or hot ginger tea is offered before and after spa. I find the cold lemon grass particularly refreshing. Oh and in case you were wondering, all Martha Tilaar body treatments are done in a private room.

My “Peach Delima Body Treatment” started off with a (peachy) body scrub. After washing off the scrub, I had a full body steam in one of these things below:

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The circular opening is for your head.

The (peachy) steaming lasted for about 10 minutes. I could fill my entire body perspiring inside. The therapist then got me to lie down on the spa-bed face down and and massaged me with peach-scented oil. She began with long, sweeping strokes followed by muscle kneading and rolling, where my muscles were worked on (like kneading dough). 

Over the past 7 months in Jakarta, I’ve visited quite a number of massage parlours. All of them use different massage techniques, some rougher than others (e.g., shiatsu massage, thai massage, etc). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Martha Tilaar adopts more of a swedish massage style – which I prefer. After the massage, I felt so soft all over as if I was wrapped in a cloud.

The body massage lasted for about 45 minutes. Thereafter, my therapist applied a nice-smelling peach mask over my whole body. While waiting for the mask to set, she filled up my bathtub with warm MILK (or something that looks like milk and smells nice). THE CREAM BATH was my favourite part of the spa experience!! After a soothing massage, it was simply heaven on earth soaking in the warm milk. One word – shiok.

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If not for the fact that my therapist had to go home, I would have stayed in the tub the whole day! Soon, my therapist knocked on the door and told me to wash up (with peach bath soap). She gave me some peach moisturizer to apply on my body.

All in all, our “Peach Delima Body Treatment” lasted for 2 hours. The three of us smelt so peachy sweet after that and we all went home and had a good night’s sleep.

Here’s the bill payment for your reference. I got 20% discount off the total bill because I’m a Martha Tilaar member (just spend more than IDR 1 juta within a month and you can qualify for membership). Have fun! 🙂

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Our bill payment at Martha Tilaar.