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!)

img_00401

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)!

‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

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

Advertisements

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!

Image result for mooncake fair singapore

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.

img_99681

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.

img_99701

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.)

img_99881

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.

img_99601

Sexy wink from Freckles.

Have a good weekend! x

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).

Hasil gambar untuk air pollution jakarta

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.

IMG_9906[1]

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:

IMG_9710[1]

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

IMG_9709[1]

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.

IMG_9917[1]

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!!).

IMG_9907[1]

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.

IMG_9711[1]

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:

Hasil gambar untuk water dispenser jakarta

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.

Displaying IMG_9930.JPG

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?

IMG_9782[1]

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.

IMG_9781[1]

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.

IMG_9784[1]

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!

IMG_9779[1]

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

IMG_9783[1]

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. ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

Singapore National Day Reception in Jakarta at the Shangri-La

Not only are we (Singapore) close neighbours with Indonesia, but our birthdays are also close together. Yesterday, 17th August, Indonesia celebrated her independence of 71 years. Happpppy Birthday Indonesia!!! ¬†Here’s wishing you many years of prosperity ahead! ‚̧

IMG_9573[1]

At Singapore’s 51st birthday party in Jakarta (oops I was holding the thumbs-up sign the wrong way).

One week earlier, Singapore celebrated her 51st birthday on 9th August. Here in Jakarta, the Singapore National Day Reception was held on 10th August at Shangri-La.

IMG_9509[1]

Invitation to the reception.

IMG_9544[1]

Singapore National Day Reception at Shangri-La.

One night before the big day…

I accompanied Agent D to Shangri-La to see how things were going along. Although we reached the hotel close to midnight, the entire ballroom and foyer area was bustling with activity!

IMG_9496[1]

Setting up the Singapore food street in the foyer area.

IMG_9500[1]

WOAH.

IMG_9507[1]

Testing out the proportion of the photo booth.

The day of the reception itself…

It seemed like magic had happened overnight; the events and decor company did a great job in transforming the ballroom into a lil’ Singapore city.

Here are some pretty pictures of the entire place without any crowd.

IMG_9510[1]

Singapore night skyline as the main backdrop (check out the individually lighted units of the Marina Bay Sands!).

Food is a unifying cultural thread amongst Singaporeans and is pivotal to our national identity. As such, it seemed only natural for the main theme of the reception to be ‘food’.

Singaporean cuisine is diverse and greatly influenced by the cuisines of various ethnic groups, for example, Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Peranakan. At the national day reception, there were live stations featuring food from the above four groups. I almost felt like I was back in Singapore!

Guests were starting to slowly file in around 6.30 p.m. My friends and I decided to take some pictures at the photo booth before it got too crowded.

IMG_9698[1]

SHIOK LAH.

IMG_9566[1]

Celebrating Singapore’s independence with this bunch of weirdos. ūüôā

Here are some pictures of the ‘Lau Pa Sat¬†food centre’, which consisted of Singapore food vendors based in Jakarta.

IMG_9520[1]

Earlier in the day at 11 a.m.

IMG_9554[1]

Teeming with people at 7.30 p.m.

Among the food vendors present were¬†Founder Bak Kut Teh,¬†Island Creamery,¬†Bee Cheng Hiang,¬†Twelve Cupcakes,¬†Ya Kun Kaya Toast, Klaud’s Singapore Soya Delight, and¬†Gryphon Tea Company.¬†Food samples (in generous portions) were given out for guests to try. #SupportSingaporeBrandNames

There was even a Singapore Airlines booth. In celebration of Singapore’s 51st birthday, guests were given a special discount promo code. YAY for cheaper air tickets . I like.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was feeling 50% full after sampling all the food in the foyer area. Mental note to self Рbetter reserve some tummy space for the main hotel food.

There was such a wide spread of food. Sadly, I didn’t get to try everything because my stomach had only that much space left. I couldn’t risk my black dress bursting at its seams.

IMG_9555[1]

Dessert table.

IMG_9557[1]

At the Chinatown section. Spot the glorious roast meat?!!

IMG_9559[1]

At the Peranakan section.

I stopped taking pictures thereafter because fooood >>> pictures.

Ended off the night with this bowl of laksa and a cuppa Gryphon tea. Both were pretty good stuff!

IMG_9562[1]

Cravings satisfied.

I left the place a happy girl. ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā

A big thank you to everyone who came to celebrate Singapore’s 51st birthday with us. ¬†See you again next year!!! #loveSG

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.

IMG_9665[1]

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.

IMG_9581[1]

First meal together in Jakarta.

IMG_9588[1]

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

IMG_9608[1]

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

IMG_9614[1]

Binging on GROM gelato just before our massage. #sogood

IMG_9669[1]

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. ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā

More pictures of our weekend together:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

IMG_9582[1]

With the little grump.

Good Vet in Jakarta for Canines and Felines: My Vets

A few days back, I brought Freckles for her first vaccination at My Vets clinic. This was her second visit to the vet within a month; her first visit was the day we got her, where she was dewormed.

She was too small at that time and wasn’t fit to be vaccinated.¬†Since then, Freckles has gained close to 500g – weighing in at 1.2kg now. She’s growing too fast for my liking. I want my little cantik to stay tiny longer. ūüė¶ ūüė¶ ūüė¶

From the moment I put her into her pet taxi, Freckles the smartie pants seemed to know what was coming. She CRIED and SHIVERED and WHINED non-stop in the car on the way to the vet. Think about being stuck with a whiny kitten in bad Jakarta macet traffic – not very fun at all. :/

IMG_9224[1]

A very displeased Freckles. Aww look at that face!

The vets at¬†My Vets¬†clinic speak good English which was helpful for me (can’t count on my substandard Bahasa Indonesian). Dr. Osye, the first vet Freckles saw was not around, so we ended up seeing another vet. Both were equally reassuring and I felt comfortable with them.

I asked the vet to help me trim Freckles’ nails and she happily obliged without charging me extra. Freckles was not happy at having her nails trimmed and screamed at the top of her lungs (I’ve never heard her scream so loud before). Such a small feisty kitty!

IMG_9225[1]

Barring all her teeth: cut my nails if you dare!

She wriggled with all her might and the vet had no choice but to call in another person to help pin Freckles down for her vaccination.

1 vet + 2 big men holding down a tiny 11-weeks-old kitten was quite a funny sight.

IMG_9227[1]

Ouch.

Her next vaccination will be in one month’s time. Crossing my fingers she’ll be better adjusted then.

In case you were wondering, the total bill came up to IDR 225K (inclusive of consultation, cutting of nails, and vaccination). Very reasonable indeed! ūüôā

My Vets
Jalan Kemang Selatan 8 No. 7A
Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta
Phone no:  +62 21 7668241

PS: My Vets at Kemang has two separate clinics side by side each other – one for canines and one for felines.


I’m currently back in Singapore and have been busy running around trying to settle the renovation for the new apartment, catching up with friends, running errands, etc.

IT IS SO GOOD TO BE BACK! (though I’m missing Agent D a tiny weeny bit)

Will update on my days in sunny (actually rainy these days) Singapore soon! ‚̧

A Moment to Remember: Fourteenth of July Bastille Day in Jakarta

My heart is saddened by the news of the Nice terror attack on France’s¬†Bastille Day (aka French National Day on 14th of July). The aftermath of the attack is heartbreaking – at least¬†84 people were killed, including children and teenagers and a¬†total of 303 people were taken to hospital.

What was supposed to be a joyous celebration ended up in tears and pain. The attack hits close to home because on that very same day (14th July 2016), Agent D and I were celebrating the French National Day with the people of France in Jakarta.

IMG_9051

French Ambassador to Jakarta and Indonesian Ministers.

During the reception, ¬†I had a chance to chat with some French people about life in Jakarta, what they were doing here in Jakarta, etc. One of the guys I met was a pastry chef who had just opened a¬†p√Ętisserie in Jakarta. He very kindly invited Agent D and I to drop by his bakery someday.

As I think about the terror attack on France and its impact on the people, my French friends’ faces flash in my mind and I can almost picture the pain their eyes. My deepest condolences goes out to the nation of France who is mourning right now.¬†May the love of those around you help you through the days ahead. You are in our prayers.

I don’t want to remember 14th of July as a day of sorrow (as intended by the terrorists). I choose to remember 14th of July as a celebration of the unity of the French people.¬†I read online that a common greeting for the day is “Vive le 14 juillet” — “LONG LIVE the 14th of July”!!!

IMG_8992

At the French National Day reception in Jakarta Рice sculpture of the Bastille.

The French are really generous hosts. On top of the mains and live stations at the French National Day reception in Jakarta, the cheese selection was one of the widest I’d ever seen. There was free flow of red/white wine and champagne too.

IMG_8994

Glorious spread of cheese paired with bread and grapes.

IMG_8996

Its been a while since I had good cheese (since UK days).

And of course, not forgetting French pastries to end the night.

IMG_8997

There’s always space for sweets.

Happy¬†fourteenth of July, France. I’m confident that you and your people will emerge from this incident even stronger than before, even more united as one.

Thank you for having us at your Jakarta National Day celebrations! xx

IMG_9050

Against the lovely Eiffel Tower.