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.

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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 Demonstrations and Protests in Jakarta

So I was supposed to meet Cindee and Helena for some gold hunting today. Cindee wanted to custom make a gold bracelet for her daughter-in-law and Helena had a good contact. I wanted to tag along to just look-see.

Halfway through our journey, my driver was forced to turn back home because the road we were heading towards was closed.

Whyyyyy?

Because of demonstrations and protests. Apparently, thousands of angry cabbies took to the streets to protest against app-based transportation services such as Uber, GrabCar and Go-Jek.  They felt that their incomes had been adversely affected since the arrival of these ride-hailing apps.

 The result?

Major traffic disruptions, closure of big roads, huge jams, and violence. Sigh.

Really hope this passes soon and life can return back to normal.

If you’re interested:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/03/22/taxi-protest-causes-traffic-chaos-indonesian-capital.html

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/03/indonesia-jakarta-shut-taxi-driver-protest-apps-uber-160322071146744.html

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/protests-in-jakarta-over-app-based-transport-services-such-as-uber-grabcar-and-go-jek

Sightings in Jakarta and Food Thoughts

I always felt that time flew by especially fast when I was teaching back in my home country.

Oh dear it is week 6! The children’s exams are next weeeeek?!! NOOooooooooo.

Like whaaaat it is the 9th week of term already and next week is the holidays?!

I never expected to feel this way in Jakarta though. And I’m surprised I actually do. (Before coming to Jakarta, I had this vague image of myself sitting in a rocking chair and twiddling my thumb all day long whilst waiting for Agent D to come back home.)

I guess keeping myself busy and filling my schedule with routines (Monday bible study, Tuesday volunteering at Kampung Kids, Thursday cell group, weekly brunch meetups, etc) really helps. 🙂 So anyway…it has been 4 weeks since I started volunteering at Kampung Kids again with Dianne. We’re getting to know the kids better and I always look forward to seeing the little ones every Tuesday!

Just this Tuesday, we saw a really cute mobile kerupuk/ keropok store on a motorbike outside the kampung’s entrance. The kerupuk/ keropok packets were stacked really high and we were amused by the sight of it! Just as I took out my phone to snap a picture, my driver (who is usually very serious and seldom smiles) ran in front of the bike and struck a pose, pretending to be the kerupuk/ keropok man. I told him his clothes were too nice for a “penjual” (seller) and we laughed. It was nice seeing the lighter side of him beneath his tough and stout exterior.

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The past 2 nights, I have’t been cooking dinner (which is REALLY RARE and yes, VERY AWESOME). As I mentioned in my earlier post, we usually eat in for weekday nights. Agent D had dinner appointments and I went along with him (I jump at every chance to take a break from my kitchen hehe).

On Tuesday, we had dinner at Cassis Kitchen – a restaurant I’ve always wanted to try. Prices were pretty steep for Jakarta standards (my roasted black cod was  IDR 255K!) but the ambience was lovely and the service was really good! Throughout our time there, we kept getting free items that were on the house to try. As we were with Agent D’s friends, I resisted whipping out my camera to take pictures of the place and food. :/

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The only picture that I got – huge candy floss that was on the house. *tooth decay*

Today, Agent D’s friends suggested to have dinner at AMKC Atelier – coincidentally another place I’ve been wanting to try ever since my banana friend, Sasha (B1) told me about it. AMKC is the brainchild of Adhika Maxi and Karen Carlotta, the husband and wife team behind UNION. The food was okayish good but the desserts were SO GOOOOOOD.

We shared the Choco Banana Rum and the Martabak cake – both were fantastic. The choco banana rum tasted like the good ol’ lana cake; the chocolate was very moist and rich (I like!!) and the banana-rum combination perfected it. Strangely, the martabak cake tasted like…the real martabak complete with chocolate, cheese and peanuts. It was a cake like no other, sweet and salty coming together.

SADLY, I didn’t manage to take photos again. I’ll def be dropping by AMKC Atelier to have another go with their cakes. I’m not done with them yettttt.

Good night, world. xx

Restaurant Series: Enjoying Food in an Art Sanctuary

I first read about ARTOTEL (Thamrin) from a magazine and thought it was a pretty cool concept —  an art-inspired boutique hotel featuring original works of ART by emerging local artists. What a great platform for Indonesian artists to showcase their art (mainly contemporary) to both locals and tourists! There and then, I made a mental note to visit the hotel sometime soon.

Sometime soon came in the form of yesterday afternoon when Agent D and I decided to check out RoCA Restaurant housed inside ARTOTEL for lunch.

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Exterior of ARTOTEL.

Our driver doesn’t work on weekends so we cabbed there from church. Once our taxi turned into Jl. Sunda (a small road), we spotted it at once. In fact, it’s actually quite impossible to miss. The exterior is wayyyy too eye-catching. Because RoCA Restaurant is located within the hotel, it is open 24 hours. Awesommme. Now you know where to GO-JEK your supper from should you feel hunger pangs at 12 a.m. (ESPECIALLY applicable to us because Agent D ALWAYS gets hungry close to midnight).

This same scenario plays out time after time. He’ll flash me his most pitiful face and say in a really sweet voice, “Dearieee, I’m H-U-N-G-R-Y.” And then with the sweetest smile, he’ll go on to ask, “Pleasssse can you cook me something. Anything simple, hot and soupy maybe.” Not agggaaain. (In case your were wondering, this happens very frequently. Something like EVERY OTHER NIGHT.) Despite my immense inertia every time it happens, I’ll usually find myself rummaging through the fridge, cutting some veggies, and cooking him a pot of noodles (when actually I really just want to continue chilling in bed / lounging on my sofa at that unearthly hour). :/

The pictures below show last Friday night’s situation when Agent D started getting hungry 15 minutes to midnight. I’m not quite sure how Agent D manages NOT to put on weight (he gets hungry despite eating 3 BIG BOWLS of rice for dinner) + fall asleep with a full stomach.

OOPS sorry for sidetracking. Back to RoCA Restaurant…As I was saying, the lobby of ARTOTEL is not very big and you’ll see the restaurant once you step in.

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“This world is but a canvas to our imagination”.

The restaurant’s design is quirky and loud. The entire place oozes with artsy-fartsy vibes and the colours give off a very happy feeling. I LOVE the cement walls, which reminds me of my bedroom back home.

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RoCA’s longish interior.

I really liked that the smoking area was separated from the main area by glass doors (most restaurants in Jakarta have their smoking areas within the same four walls as the non-smoking areas).

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Outdoor smoking area is behind the glass.

The seats were comfortable and with the full-length glass, sunlight was able to stream in and brighten the entire atmosphere. It seemed like a nice place to just read a book or work on the laptop. More pictures of the ceiling painted in loud funky colours:

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Before eating. Mandatory table photo.

We were so eager to tuck into our food that we forgot to check whether the photo turned out okay. And my eyes were closed. *sobs*

Both Agent D and I ordered a pasta each and a sandwich to share. I ordered the “Prawn Spaghetti Aglio Olio” (IDR 87K) which was pretty good (I guess it’s actually hard to go wrong with aglio olio). The combination of olives and tomatoes added a different but nice flavour to the aglio olio. I personally do not really like olives and was glad the taste of olives wasn’t too overpowering.

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Prawn Spaghetti Aglio Olio.

Agent D ordered the “Chicken Spaghetti Basil Pesto” (IDR 79K) which was not bad too. They were quite generous with the chicken chunks and the pesto sauce was not too salty.

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Chicken Spaghetti Basil Pesto.

The “Grilled Chicken Panini” (IDR 85K) came with french fries and salad on the side. We specifically told the waiter not to over-grill our bread (we don’t like it crispy and black!) and it came nice and soft. The sauce inside the panini was a little on the spicy side but overall no complains!

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We felt that their portions were smaller than usual. But then again, it could have been because we were both feeling particularly hungry that afternoon. 🙂

I particularly liked their “Iced Lychee Green Tea” (IDR 35K) because it was at just the RIGHT level of sweetness (without adding the syrup given) – not tasteless or overly sweet as most iced teas are. Oh, and you can choose between green or black tea. Simply refreshing on a hot afternoon day.

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Iced Lychee Green Tea.

I’m thinking of booking a staycation at ARTOTEL on one of the upcoming long weekends (their room rates are cheaper than the branded hotels). Will write about it if I ever do!

RoCA Restaurant
ARTOTEL Thamrin
Jl. Sunda No.3, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat,
Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10350.

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.