Sunday, March 24, 2013

Candlelit Lunch

For some reason, the power has been failing recently in our neighborhood on a regular (daily) basis...  just for a few minutes at a time, usually, but enough to wreak a bit of havoc.  At our apartment and Tim's office the generator typically kicks in pretty quickly so things are not too disrupted, but other places are not as lucky. 

I met Tim at a Japanese ramen joint for lunch this week and the power went out while we were eating.  Candles came out, so we were treated to a candlelit lunch...  Tim said "Don't say I never treat you to a romantic meal."    

It was somewhat romantic until Jakarta's stifling heat seeped into the normally air-conditioned restaurant and we started sweating profusely!

Generally, though, we have it pretty easy regarding power here in Jakarta.  Other cities have more regular and long lasting power outages... Tim said that in Yangon there were daily power issues and in Kathmandu there was only power for about half the day.  I heard there was an issue with the power at the Super Bowl, too, so I can't complain too much.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Masuk Angin

Since I moved to Indonesia, I have been intrigued and bewildered by something I have heard about and seen glimpses of throughout the country: masuk angin Masuk angin, meaning, roughly, "enter wind," is an ailment of which seemingly all Indonesians are afraid.   The closest thing we have in the western world is probably "catching a cold," but the symptoms for masuk angin differ from and are broader than a cold, including indigestion, nausea, heartburn, gas, bloating, achey feeling, dizziness, sluggishness, dry throat, among many others:


Masuk angin is said to afflict you when wind or air gets into your body via various sources... an open car or bus window, a fan blowing directly on you, sitting in the line of fire from the AC unit, riding your motorbike without wearing a heavy leather or winter jacket (sometimes worn backwards for extra protection), drinking cold water (?), aaaand my favorite, being a closed room when someone else has keluar angin ("exit wind," or, as you and I know it, farts).
Masuk angin is the source of endless fascination for other expats/westerners/bules, too, some curious about both the ailment and the various remedies, some mocking, some reluctant converts, admitting that perhaps the idea does hold water...  however you feel about it, it is pretty interesting and has provided the foundation for an entire industry of remedies in Indonesia, including these ubiquitous drugstore treatments that I snapped photos of at my grocery store, including Tolak Angin ("reject wind") and masuk angin syrup (for reducing masuk angin in kids), as well as curing beverages and jamu (herbal drinks sold by street hawkers):

In addition to the drugstore remedies, there are folk remedies for masuk angin.  One of the main folk remedies for masuk angin is an oiled (well, lubricated with an ointment such as Tiger Balm) coin massage called kerokan, which is popular in many Asian cultures.  I don't have photos of kerokan, but I have seen it several times here in Jakarta, usually just on the side of the street outside of a warung during some downtime... one guy with his shirt lifted so the other can drag the coin across his back repeatedly.  Here's a video of the coin massage in action, and some photos of the resulting red marks that appear on the massage recipient's back.  Apparently you know the kerokan is working to expel the wind from your body when you start burping and farting during the process, so you'd better be on good terms with your masseuse.

Researching this ailment has led me down a rabbit hole of wind or air related worries across the world, including a worry similar to masuk angin (although much more extreme), that plagues many Koreans: fan death. Fan death is said to occur when a fan is left on at night in an enclosed space, killing all of those sleeping in the room.  Apparently the fear of fan death is so great that all electric fans sold in Korea feature an automatic shut-off after a certain number of minutes.  Tim tells me that when he was in Armenia, he was regularly chastised for opening a bus window, no matter how hot or stifling the bus interior, because of concern over something similar to masuk angin.

Other ailments in Indonesia that also intrigue me include panas dalam ("hot inside"), which is surprisingly not equivalent to a fever, and tidak enak badan, (unwell body) which is a catch-all ailment equivalent to "not feeling good."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Martial Arts Mania


In keeping with the "cute kids participating in group activities in public parks" theme, here are some photos that Tim took this Sunday of a group of kids doing some sort of martial arts in the Senayan Sports Complex park (where we tried our hand at archery and watched some soccer).

Sunday seems to be the day that Jakartans do outdoorsy activities (see Car Free Day, Taman Suropati Chamber, et. al.).  Sundays are when people are out and about, playing sports and hanging out outside of the air conditioned malls much more than any other day of the week.  I like it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Taman Suropati Sundays

This weekend, after a spin around Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin during Jakarta's Car Free Day, Tim and I took a detour to Taman Suropati, a pretty little urban park in Menteng (former childhood neighborhood of little Barry Obama).


We had heard from folks around town and from ye olde internets that there was a really cool weekly event at the park: an informal orchestra session and free music lessons.

After waiting around a bit, we saw people of all ages carrying instruments begin to trickle into the park and join the bikers, families and pigeons already milling about.   After some tuning, warm-up, and a morning drink, things got rolling with a group lesson for the violinists:

You can read more about the Taman Suropati chamber at "We Love Jakarta," but, in short, Ages, with the help of several others, provide weekly lessons to students of all ages, teaching basic music skills and also traditional keroncong music of Indonesia.  Pretty cool!

It was pretty fun to see all of the kids playing together...  The music session is definitely a family event, with people bringing picnics to the park or ordering bowls of noodles and iced coffees from nearby hawkers while they listened to the music.

After we watched the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star warm-up for a little while, the kids split from the main group and formed into smaller groups for lessons according to ability level.  At that point Tim and I decided to roll out, but I would definitely return to Taman Suropati to relax and listen to the music again in the future!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Jar of Lizards

Tim was in Hanoi last week for work and was looking for some late night eats near his hotel... he ended up at Chim Sao restaurant:

After perusing the menu, he decided to steer clear of the "ethnic minorities sausages" as well as the dog meat and pigeon specialties and went with some tasty caramelized pork and a sour pork hotpot soup, along with the local beer.


While enjoying his meal, he looked to his right and saw, wait... what? 


Yes, jars full of lizard skeletons floating in indeterminate liquid, probably liquor.  Mmmm.

Lost Footage: Tim Goes to Nepal

Tim just discovered these forgotten photos on his camera from his work trip to Nepal back in November of 2011.  He was laid up with intestinal issues for much of the trip (don't eat the lettuce!), but was able to get out and about in Kathmandu a bit.  Here are some of the highlights...

First, he checked out the Boudhanath stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal and a UNESCO Heritage site, built in the 14th century.  The stupa is shaped like a giant mandala, has Buddha's eyes painted on all four sides, and is topped by a pyramid composed of the 13 steps to enlightenment. 

You're supposed to walk clockwise around the stupa, as these people below are doing.  The are around the stupa has become home to a large, bustling Tibetan population since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet.  Tibetans walk around the stupa a certain number of times and spin each prayer wheel (imbedded in the outer walls of the stupa) clockwise a specified number of times based on numerology:

Tibetan pilgrims express devotion through a ritual of repetitive prostration, particularly at or leading up to holy sites:

The prayer flags draped up the sides of the stupa are meant to send mantras, prayers, goodwill and compassion outwards on the wind.  These flags are mainly used in the Himalayas and actually pre-date Buddhism in Tibet:  

Tim also hit up Durbar Square, which houses a whole lot of ancients temples, palaces, courtyards and statues.  The details are a little hazy for Tim, maybe because it was so long ago, maybe because he may have had giardia:

These brightly dressed fellows are actually construction workers working on the old royal palace:

Cool palace door:

Ganesha statue covered in red powder and garlands of flowers:

Tim wandered through Thamel area, which is the jumping off point for many trekkers and is also a bustling market full of knickknacks, hiking gear... pretty much anything a tourist could want (including some cool jewelry that Tim got me):

Tim had an epic journey back from Nepal to Jakarta, spending approximately 20 hours in the Kathmandu airport due to the notoriously foggy/polluted air, which doesn't allow planes to land or take off.  He also says the inversion layer contributed to him not being able to see the mountains surrounding the city the whole time he was there, except for when he saw them out the window of the plane on the way in.  Even then he had to contend with an unwashed and, thus, stinky backpacker/trekker guy leaning over him to take photos out the plane window. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Channeling Katniss

Tim and I joined our friend, Gladys, this weekend for an archery trial session in the park near our house, Senayan Sports Complex (where, you may remember, we attended a very exciting soccer game).

On the way in (which took us an hour because we got a little lost... oops!) we passed this big statue of Rama brandishing his bow, which I thought was quite apropos:

Our instructor started off the session by asking us why we were interested in archery.  We gave stock answers:  it's fun to try something new, yada yada.  In reality, we were quite excited to channel our inner Katniss a bit (or maybe Geena Davis?).  And if I were being quite truthful, I would say that my interest in archery stems from both a fear of the zombie apocalypse and a bit of a crush on Daryl (although I guess technically he uses a crossbow).

The tool of the trade... wooden beginner bows (not as fancy as Tony's giant, badass compound bow): 

Tim and his quiver:

Gladys goes first (and gets a talking to since apparently we weren't supposed to take photos during the first trial session): 

Tim nocks an arrow:

Pretty fun!  None of us were particularly awesome, but neither were any of us terrible.  Tim probably wins for most bullseyes.  I think we'll try to go back for some additional lessons... why not?