Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in Jakarta, Part II

Laurie and Sean invited us to a great Thanksgiving party at their house this past Saturday- an excellent party all around!

Good food (with the exception of my apple pies, perhaps), good drinks, good conversation:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Indonesia!

Happy Thanksgiving from Jakarta!  It doesn't feel very Thanksgiving-y here since it's like 92 degrees out, but we're making the best of it.  Luckily for me and Tim, we got invited to not one, but TWO Thanksgiving dinners here in Jakarta! 

First, Ben and Erin invited us to join them (and their cat crew) on Thanksgiving day for a traditional turkey dinner.  The turkey was delicious, and made in the world's tiniest oven (see below), and all the sides were also great.... plus Erin introduced me to my new favorite old-school Thanksgiving dish

Next up: a sure-to-be-awesome potluck Thanksgiving at Sean and Laurie's on Saturday! 
Fat turkey in a little oven!

Let us out!  We want turkey!

Pre-dinner drinking.


Our gracious hosts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Soccer Mayhem!

In what felt like an episode of "Don't Tell My Mother," we had some crazy adventures this past week that I probably shouldn't tell my mother about... but here I am, telling my mother:

As part of the 2011 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held here in Jakarta, we went to 2 soccer games at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.  The games were between notorious rivals, the national U-23 teams for Indonesia and Malaysia. The photos don't really do justice in showing pure craziness that ensued at the games, but they do show how sweaty we got!

The first game was a qualifying match in the first round of play, and was actually a non-event in a sense because Indonesia had already qualified to move on (Malaysia was hoping to do the same).  Indonesia only played their B-team to rest up their players for the next round of games... and yet the game was totally packed with super-excited Indonesia fans, all decked out in red and white, cheering (clap-clap clap-clap-clap-clap, IN-DO-NE-SIA!), waving flags and blowing horns (as well as occasionally booing the Malaysian team).

The game was totally sold out in advance, but we walked over to the stadium anyway to see if we might be able to scalp some tickets nearby.  After doing almost a full lap around the stadium, weaving through hundreds of people with the same idea, we finally found a guy (with a mullet, incidentally) who offered to get us in, for a fee, of course. No tickets, just a promise to get us in.  We basically followed him up to a gate that was closed, guarded by police, and surrounded by tons of people trying to shove their way in... he squeezed his way in, said something to one of the guards, and then gestured for us to follow him.  We pushed and shoved our way through the crowd and the policemen grabbed us and squeezed us through the fence.  Then we paid the mullet guy through the fence (ah, commerce...!) and went on our merry way.  We found some seats and sat through the hottest, smokiest, craziest game I had ever been to to date, but we all had a good time.  Ultimately Indonesia lost the game 1-0, which was a bummer, but both teams advanced to the next round in the tournament, so we had another chance to see them play.

Random fun/interesting facts from the game: 
  • The "concessions" in the stadium consisted of bottled waters and a large cardboard box full of fried chicken. 
  • The game clock was analog.
  • Other fans thought it was really hilarious that we were at the game, so they yelled out "Hey! Bule!!" (translation: "Hey! Whitey!!") and occasionally took our photo.
  • Fans set off road flares inside the stadium when Indonesia scores.  Safe.  Really safe.

Hard to get a sense from the photo, but the streets were so packed with motorbikes, people, flags, vendors and traffic heading to the game... you could barely walk.
Enthused by our first successful soccer outing (and since Tim hadn't been able to join us for the first game since he was in Nepal), we decided to head to the SEA Games final match, also between Indonesia and Malaysia, also in Jakarta.  We had a feeling that this game would be crazier than the last since it was the final, so we left plenty of transit time and time to find tickets, but in reality we had no idea just how much crazier this game would be than the last.  If we'd know the extent of the pre-game ticket rioting that had happened earlier in the day, we probably wouldn't have gone to the game, but we didn't hear about it until the next day. 

Anyway, our evening unfolded in a similar manner to the previous soccer outing evening, except with about twice as many people squeezing into the same space and twice as much time for us to find someone with tickets to sell.  
A pit-stop during our ticket hunt outside the stadium
 Even once we had found someone with tickets to sell (in the "VIP" section of the stadium), the prices were exorbitant.  It was until just a minute or two before the game started that some of the sellers got nervous and decided to lower their prices...  this time, with actual tickets (well, we hoped they were actual tickets and not fakes) in hand, we squeezed up to a gate (where a bunch of other people, ticket holders and otherwise, were pressed) and were finally let (i.e. shoved/pulled) in past the security, sweaty and relieved.

After having been man-handled, we were excited to make it just inside the first gate due to our "VIP" tickets.
However, we weren't quite there yet.  We walked up the stairs to the tunnel that leads to the inside of the stadium, squished inside the gate, and then were stopped short by a mass of people pushing and trying to squeeze into the stands to get a view of the field.  We got really claustrophobic (a little panicked, actually), so we left and went down to the next gate, where the crowd was only just slightly less crazy.  After standing there for several minutes getting frustrated because we were unable to see anything or get anywhere, we noticed that it was slightly more spacious above the tunnel, but we had no way of getting around the corner and up there, unless we climbed up the side, over the railing.  I was not interested in climbing, but suddenly some dudes (including some of the police, I think) were pulling us up and Tim and Ben were lifting us from below... all 4 of us ultimately scrambled up the wall and some stairs to the area above the tunnel, where there was about 2 square feet of standing space that we squished into, just to the side of the stadium's media area.  We watched the whole game standing in this space (although some particularly generous guys offered Erin their VIP seat), sweating (and thus dehydrating ourselves), cheering and high-fiving the other fans around us.  We also spent a little bit of time worrying about whether Tim's choice of shirt color (orange) was going to cause us trouble at any point at the game or on the way home, because it was close to Malaysia's gold.
Squished together but finally able to breathe a little.
Doesn't quite capture how packed and sweaty it was... and yet people around us were wearing winter hats, jackets and sweaters.   Really?

At the end of the tightly matched and roughly played game, the score was tied 1-1 and the match went into overtime.  Neither team scored in the overtime and the game went into shoot-outs to decide the winner of the tournament.  Sadly, Indonesia ended up losing the shoot-outs by 1 goal...

Significantly more sad than Indonesia's loss in the soccer match, although we made it home safely at the end of the game, many fans did not fare as well as we did... there were 2 deaths and several injuries to fans at the game due to crowding and trampling. I feel really lucky that we made it out fine, but really upset that not everybody did, especially because the chaos and dangerous conditions at the game could have been prevented if there had been better planning on the part of the organizers. 

Monday, November 21, 2011


Tim went to Nepal for a conference last week (we'll have a post soon with some of his photos), but I was still chillin' in Jakarta, so Ben and Erin kindly invited me to join them for a hike in the foothills outside of the city, near Sentul City.

The area where we hiked is part of a park of some sort (they actually held the mountain biking portion of the SEA Games right near where we hiked), yet we were the only hikers there. Lots of people mountain biking and a few on dirt bikes, but no other hikers. We definitely got funny looks and "where the heck are you going?" from the locals. Ben and Erin said the best response to that question is "jalan-jalan," which is basically "we're just wandering."

The scenery was nice: lots of small mountains, agricultural land (we saw lemongrass, rice, coffee and cassava, among other things), a little bit o' jungle, some pine forest. 
So sweaty!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sights and Sounds

Here's what Linc and I see and hear when we step outside onto the balcony at our current apartment during the call to prayer.  

Very pretty sound... occasionally interrupted by the buzz of a motorbike or the burp of a bajaj.

Yes, this is exactly how I see it.  Like the hazy glow of a dream sequence in a daytime soap opera... my glasses fog up in the humidity as soon as I step outside, as does the camera lens.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lincoln's Update

Hey ladies... I know you haven't heard from me in a while and you're probably suffering for it, so I thought I'd send you some photos to let you know what I've been up to.  I've been very busy.

I've moved on from the cat hotel, although I miss the hospitality and the friends I made.  Now I'm at a temporary apartment, where I spend my time thusly:

Keeping a close eye on Meg.

Finding the most comfortable chair in the place and using it frequently.

Staring out the window.

Cataloging the contents of Meg and Tim's air shipment to ensure it all arrived safely.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bali: Miscellaneous Quirks and Assorted Shenanigans

Here is a series of quirky Balinese sitings as well as some of our shenanigans while on Bali.
Each afternoon at about 5 pm, I'd look around the backyard of the villa and notice that I had been surrounded by these croaking guys.
Monday was a work-from-home day.  It was pouring.
Workin' hard for the money, so you'd better treat them right.
Tim, working less hard for the money.
Just because Tim's 32 doesn't mean he doesn't keep up with trends on the internets.
All of them.
Tea party leisure dive?
Keep your wax to yourself:   Bali is the spa capital of Indonesia.  We were surrounded by ads and people shilling for massages, pedicures, and every spa treatment you can imagine, as well as some you wish you had never heard of, including the third treatment up on the left... ear candle??!!??!!  No thanks.  Tidak.
The traffic in Bali is literally nothing compared to that of Jakarta.  Any yet the motorbike loaded up with god-knows-what is common to both locales.  This guy, with his portable restaurant on his bike, is a pretty tame example.  On my first night in Jakarta, on the way home from the airport, I saw a guy with at least 30 throw pillows strapped onto his motorbike.  Indonesian seatbelt?
Absolut Petrol:  While there are plenty of traditional gas stations on Bali, most of the petrol is distributed to motorbikers via these rustic roadside stands where the gas is typically stored in Absolut vodka bottles.  They just stick the funnel in your bike and dump it in for the equivalent of about $3.  I don't know if my former colleagues at OTAQ would approve...
Speaking of motorbikes... we rented 3 of them for our jaunts around Seminyak. Erin and Ben usually ride together, but I was hesitant to ride with Tim based on our experience canoeing, which involved several near-capsizing moments.  I don't know about Tim, but I had never set foot (or butt) on a 2-wheeled motorized vehicle before.  And it showed. Within about 2 seconds of getting on my bike, I accidentally got a little, umm, zoomy, while the cab in front of me simultaneously and inexplicably stopped short.  My bike tapped his bumper and an international incident almost ensued.
But all was well in the end and we zoomed on.  I also tried sharing a motorbike with Tim and it went fine.  He drove very well.  I don't think that bike will ever recover from the 400 lbs of white person that it carried around, however.
Remember how I told you there were random (well, random to me, but probably very strategic to others) shrines and offerings everywhere in Bali?  I wasn't kidding.  This one was on a busy corner in shopping area.
The offerings were everywhere- in front of every shop, house and shrine.  Little woven palm baskets filled with flowers, leaves, incense, rice, and occasionally other things like cigarettes, candy bars, crackers...
Even in front of our pool!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bali: Pura Tanah Lot

On our last day in Bali, Tim and I decided to take a short trip to see a Tanah Lot Temple, a temple built on a large rock formation just offshore.  Apparently it's only accessible during certain times of the day, literally when the tides are right, since there is no bridge connecting it to the main island of Bali.  People wade across to the temple when the tide is lower, as you can see from the photos.

Apparently, it's most beautiful at sunset, but our schedule only allowed for us to check it out at midday.  It was plenty beautiful for me.  

Here are the photos from our trip out to Pura Tanah Lot from Seminyak:
Rice paddies out the car window on the way to the temple.
Rice paddies galore.
The entrance to the Pura Tanah Lot area.  Also, Tim's butt.
We stumbled upong a procession of folks bringing large offerings to the temple.

This guy was ushering the procession through while simultaneously singing over the loudspeaker.
Tim, posing for the paparazzi outside of the temple grounds.
The beginning of the tidal area.

The temple!

Another angle, showing people who had just waded over.  Notice the offerings on the ground in the lower left corner.  These were everywhere.

Cool looking statue.  Wearing a sarong.  Not unusual here.

View of the temple from another cliff top.

Two cliffs down- another temple.

Tim ponders the meaning of life.

Bali: The Beach

When we went to Bali earlier this week, we stayed in Seminyak, a beach town with lots of restaurants, shops and spas.  

The beach was pretty nice- super warm water, small waves perfect for beginner surfers, lots of beachfront restaurants with fresh seafood and freshly squeezed juices, and most importantly for me and Tim, umbrellas for rent to stay out of the sun.

The view from my lounge chair.
View to the right.

Tim and Ben riding giants

Bungee jumping by the beach... apparently someone jumps off while attached to a motorbike on occasion?

Tim, tired after a couple hours of riding the waves.