30 November 2008

Ready To Go

I spend the whole Sunday packing. The third time this year. I'm getting so good at it that I am considering a business in packing.

Once the boxes reach my new temporary residence, I don't think I will unpack them. Except for those which are really necessary, the rest will remain untouched.

This is in anticipation of another move come February or March next year. See, my life revolves around moving from one place to another. I'm a nomad, remember?

This time around, I catalogue what goes in where. I numbered each box and know exactly what goes in them. My best friend says I'm crazy. Well, Josh, trying to recall where the green pitcher is and rummaging through all 28 boxes isn't exactly fun.

Yes. This time around there are 28 boxes. 13 more than in August. Not because I accumulated more stuff within the span of 4 months. It's just that I have more of those cardboard boxes at my disposal. My target is to make it a "clean move" - if there is such a term.

No loose items such as plastic bags or small boxes. Everything, if their size permits, goes in the large cardboard boxes. The uniform, standard, cardboard boxes. Then the whole moving process will look, "pretty".

I know. I'm mad.


In the midst of packing :
After :

27 November 2008

Free Baths, Anyone?

I had one of those days when I felt like screaming. Instead, all I could muster was just an insincere laugh.

You see, I went through the Lease Agreement for my serviced apartment. The agreement laid out all charges which a tenant has to bear :
  • Telephone
  • Electricity
  • Laundry
  • Mineral Water
  • Cooking Gas

The list was pretty normal. You pay for what you use or consume. Fair enough.

But then I noticed that water charges was missing. I flipped to the next page. And it read-

Water Supply - Water supply costs Rp300,000/month and will be invoiced monthly with additional 5% administration charge.

Rp300,000 is equivalent to RM88. I asked the serviced apartment's marketing executive why weren't they charging based on consumption.

"Udah management tetapkan begitu Pak". When you couldn't give an intelligent answer, do the next best thing - blame it on others. She would excel being a Malaysian cabinet minister.

"Mahal ya. Di rumah saya di Kuala Lumpur Rp300,000 bisa buat bayar bill air bagi tempoh empat bulan. Ada 5 orang dan setiap orang mandi paling kurang 2 kali sehari." Ok.. Didn't know how that blurted out from me but I needed something to point out that their water charges was exorbitant for a single person's consumption.

"Wahhh.. murah ya." And she giggled. Couldn't care less about the issue at hand.

And that was when I gave up on getting a decent answer and gave out an insincere laugh. You know the kind of laugh you give when someone just told you a stinking joke.

Since I'd be paying Rp315,000 (plus the 5% admin charge) for water every month, you bet I'd soak myself in the bathtub every other day. I'd force my guests to try the bathtub too.

My showers would be 10 minutes longer. Guests are encouraged to take a bath before leaving. Or soon after they arrive. Or both. I don't care. Bring your own shower gel. Hehe.

If I can have it my way, I'd purchase a long rubber hose and supply free water to the roadside stalls just outside the serviced apartment.

Or maybe I should get one of those jet spray thingy and start a roadside car wash business. Maybe that could cover not only my water bills but also my electricity and telephone charges.

25 November 2008

Obama's Visit to Jakarta

The Indonesian daily,Kompas, today front-paged the news on the phone call received by SBY from US president elect, Barack Husein Obama.

The call lasted about 5 minutes. It may seem short. But receiving a call from someone who will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America, every minute is priceless.

SBY invited Obama to visit Jakarta after the APEC summit in Singapore next year.

During the short conversation, Obama told SBY how he misses among other things, nasi goreng (fried rice) and bakso (meatball).

I can imagine, SBY summoning the presidential chef to cook up the best nasi goreng and bakso for the distinguished guest should he be able to make that visit next year.

Now, no prize for guessing what'll be on the menu for the state banquet:

  • Nasi Goreng USA,

and on the side, of course,

  • Baksobama

Temporary Accommodation


HQ have approved my temporary accommodation. I was quite apprehensive when submitting the list of serviced apartments which I had painstakingly searched via the internet. I was worried my CFO would jump upon seeing the rates.

Well, she didn't. She sent an SMS at 10 pm on the same day asking me to proceed with the cheapest on the list.

You know what? Sometimes I feel like I'm in the U.S of A. All serviced apartments quoted me in USD. Although I did speak to them in good Bahasa Indonesia. When asked for the rupiah rates, they simply convert them based on current exchange rate.

I seriously think that some Indonesians "worship" USD a bit too much. For instance, I was at a PC fair the other day. Most laptops were sold in USD. Have you seen the travel agency ads for overseas tour packages? They're in USD. My two previous accommodations were charged in USD.

It's as if they have no confidence in their own currency.

Did you know that rupiah depreciated almost 35% against the USD since September? Whereas, currencies of some ASEAN neighbours fell between 3%-9% during the same period. Ehmmmm........

Anyway, remember my utter frustration with Air Asia? I finally got to speak to their customer care personnel. She said the plane which was scheduled for the morning flight had some technical problems and had to be repaired. That's why morning flight passengers that day had to be moved to the afternoon flight.

I never bought her explanation. I remember telling PB that I suspect Air Asia deliberately cancelled the morning flight that day because too few seats were sold which had made that particular morning's flight to Jogja unprofitable.

And this morning, I checked Air Asia website and clicked the flight schedule for Jkt-Jogja route. Surprise! Surprise! The morning flight is no longer there!!

I reckon I was a victim of Air Asia's trial period. At the time, the Jkt-Jogja route was newly introduced. So, after initially offering the morning flights to only find out from the bookings that they're not profitable, Air Asia decided to scrap the morning flight and fly only once daily to Jogja from Jkt. And during the whole trial process, I believe they've screwed up a lot of people.

My boss said this morning that Air Asia X has started selling the KL-London tickets.... I'd say let them screw up others first before I decide to purchase that ticket.

To my dear university mates - thinking of having a reunion at Albert Road's Bombay Express? Goshhh!! ... how I miss their Chicken Tika Massala.

24 November 2008

VIP Gym and Atmostfear

Last Sunday I was feeling a bit rajin than usual. Actually, I wanted to be away from home as long as possible because my housemate's family are here on holiday.

So, I thought, why not check out the new VIP Celebrity Fitness gym at FX Lifestyle X'nter (how to pronounce this ??? And what on earth is X'nter?). FX is the latest addition to the many malls in Jakarta. Offering much of the same things.

Except for Atmostfear. More on that later.

Firstly the VIP gym. The things the VIP outlet has that others don't - a salon in the men's locker (I guess they have one in the ladies section as well). Digital keylock system for the lockers. Exclusive showers with marble tiled walls. Fancy seating areas.

Errr... that's it. For them, it's enough to be given the VIP tag.

When I was there, the instructors (about 7 of them) were all sitting comfortably in the lounge area - chatting and having a jolly good time as though they're at Starbucks. None seemed to be interested to walk around and be of any assistance to the members.

I saw one lady who was struggling with the touch-screen panel on the treadmill. She looked around for assistance but no staff was near enough for her to wave to.

They're all at their own "Starbucks", remember? Makan gaji buta sungguh deme ni.

Well, the gym was nothing to shout about. I was expecting state-of-the-art equipment. Only the treadmills are better than other outlets. Other equipment are basically the same.

A total disappointmet. For something being labelled as VIP has to offer.

Anyway, the main attraction at FX is a tube slide called Atmostfear. For Rp50,000 (Rp75,000 on weekends), you can slide from the 7th floor all the way down to the 1st floor in roughly 12 seconds.

It's just like the giant waterslides at water theme parks only that this one is err... dry and indoors.

PB, the whole gang should try this in January. Make sure all are paired in the same coloured attire as you'd be given a free ticket each pair.

The area before one takes that "plunge"

19 November 2008

Kampung Daun

If you're in Bandung, you definitely wouldn't want to miss this kampung.

Kampung Daun is located in the hills north of Bandung city. On a smooth traffic day, it takes about 45 minutes to reach there from the city centre. Kampung Daun is actually a restaurant set in natural surroundings. Instead of the ordinary dining tables and chairs, here, you'd find gazebos/huts with low tables and cushions.

From the huts, you can gaze out to view the cascading waterfalls, the small stream and lush trees around the area. Simply an amazing experience.

I was there recently with my mother and grand aunt. It was drizzling and made the air a whole lot cooler than normal.

We ordered soto Madura, Betawi and Soto Ayam. I know, sooooo tak adventerous kan?

We were there almost 90 minutes. Well, the gazebo was so comfortable that we just sat and enjoyed the fresh air and cool breeze.

Then we headed to the souvenir shop to find the teapot similar to that used by Kampung Daun to serve their tea in. There's also a nursery. My mother bought two pots of garden plants which is now in our small front garden in KL. She managed to hide those plants in her suitcase. In May, it was orchids.

Anyway, Kampung Daun is surely a place not to be missed. If you're there on weekends, it is better to call ahead and make a reservation. A good place to relax those feet after a whole day of F.O hopping.

14 November 2008

Third Move

I'm now officially a nomad.

Kintamani to Pondok Indah to Bellezza to somewhere not known yet.

This will be the third time I'm moving - this year alone. 3 years in Jakarta and four residences. Great huh? Yeahhh... if I have only two suitcases of stuff with me.

At the last count, I had 15 boxes of personal belongings accumulated over the past three years. Tu belum masuk one 3-seater sofa, two single seater sofa, side tables, cabinet, table lamps, rugs and other stuff whichI categorise as needed-junks-which-must-not-be-left-behind.

Tomorrow I'll be on a apartment finding mission. Since my remaining stay in Indonesia is less than 2 quarters, I have no choice but to narrow down my next residence to serviced apartments. They offer short-term stay rental. FYI, private properties with a lease period of less than one year is almost impossible to find.

I have to vacate my current residence because the guy replacing my housemate would be bringing his family (wife & four children) to Jakarta - unlike my housemate who opted not to bring his family when he was assigned to Jakarta 3 years ago.

You see, since I am single, the onus is on me to move out from the huge apartment (which btw is owned by the company I work for).

Kalo the top management in KL ikut nasihat aku extend rental rumah kat Pondok Indah tu dulu, idak le aku kena pindah lagi. Sekarang sapa yang susah. Ada deme yang susah? Idak... aku jugak yang susah.

Now, not only I have to move, the company would have to incur higher rental cost compared with that of the Pondok Indah house. Serviced apartments don't come cheap in Jakarta, you know.

The irony is, the reason I was asked to move out from the house in Pondok Indah and occupy the company's apartment at Bellezza was - to save cost. Banyak le kome punya save cost measure. See what happens now?

Doa-doakan le aku dapat cari yang murah (kalo mahal kang tak approve pulak) and dekat and also banjir-free (since musim hujan pun dah sampai).

13 November 2008

Ole-ole Bandung

Whenever I take my guests to Bandung, I would never fail to stop by at one of the shops selling local snacks along Jalan Cihampelas.

I always favour Bandung's sale pisang (pisang salai goreng or smoked banana fritter). They taste better than those sold in Jakarta.

Odjolali is one of the better snack shops. Their sale pisang is fresh and crisp. Once you enter Odjolali, you'd be amazed at the variety of snacks available. From dodol garut to kerupuk kulit. There's even freshly made pecel.

These snacks make perfect gifts to be given away to friends. Tak payah susah2 pikior nak beli key chain, fridge magnet, atopun bookmarks. Tabur je makanan ni kat opis. Berkerumun le deme datang nanti.

12 November 2008

Paintings - Bandung

My grand aunt who was recently here for a holiday told me that she wanted to get a few paintings. Coincidentally, a week earlier, my housemate had brought his guests to a place south of Bandung and they bought ten rolls of paintings.

So, last Saturday, I told Yanto (my housemate's driver) to take us to the exact same place. We left Jakarta at 7.00 am and two and a half hours later, we arrived at a village south of Bandung city.

The first stop was at the same shop where Yanto had taken my housemate's guests a week before. My grand aunt was looking for paintings of paddy fields and flowers.

"Udah gak ada ibuk. Minggu lalu udah di beli semua sama tamu dari Malaysia ."

Ok. I think I knew who the "culprit" was.

So, off we went to another shop nearby. The shopkeeper was nowhere to be seen. We wandered around the shop. Not many paintings on display. Certainly none which my grand aunt was looking for.

Suddenly a middle-aged man literally sprung out of nowhere. Well actually, he was lying behind a desk.

We told him the types of paintings we wanted.

"Ada banyak. Di rumah saya ada banyak. Yang pemandangan sawah padi. Yang bunga. Ada banyak di rumah. Ayo kita ke sana aja ya?"

"Jauh gak?" I asked.

"Gak. Di depan itu aja" while pointing to a narrow road nearby.

"Boleh jalan kaki?" I asked.

To which he did not reply and he positioned himself next to the front door of the car. Well, ok. I took that for a no.

Bad feeling number 1 - tadi kata tak jauh, tapi kena naik kereta.

So he sat himself in the front seat of our car navigating Yanto to his house. 5 minutes driving through the narrow road, he asked Yanto to stop.

And I thought we had stopped right in front of his house. But no. We had to walk further into the narrow lanes between the houses.

We finally reached his house. We were greeted by a 30-something lady who we thought was the old man's wife. Then came out a 30-something man.

"Ini suami saya. Dia pelukis" said the lady.

"Terus ini rumah siapa? Bukan rumah bapak?" I asked the old man.

"Bukan, rumah saya di depan sono." he said while pointing to somewhere.

Bad feeling number 2 - kata nak gi rumah dia. Tapi di bawaknya ke rumah orang lain.

So we told the younger man we wanted paintings of paddy fields and flowers. He said he has many of those paintings and immediately excused himself and went off on a motorbike.

Baffled, I asked the wife. She said the husband went to the "bengkel" to get the paintings.

Bad feeling number 3 - tadi kata ada banyak kat rumah. Kalo ada banyak kat bengkel, baik pergi bengkel je tadi.

To cut the story short, after waiting for almost 10 minutes, the husband came back with only 5 rolls of paintings. Ini le yang dia kata banyak tadi. Apa lagi, instantly my blood went upstairs but managed to calm myself down. Didn't want to make a scene. Afterall, we were in their territory.

We excused ourselves. Truly disappointed and felt cheated. I had a feeling that the guy didn't have a bengkel. The 10 minutes he was gone I suspect he went scouting for those paintings from nearby shops.

So, Yanto took us to another shop, by the main road. It was there that my grand aunt found what she was looking for. Eventually she bought 5 rolls of paintings at very, very, very low price.

In Malaysia, you wouldn't be able to get the paintings at the price offered by the shops here. Once you frame them, I assure you the paintings would look like really expensive work of art.

11 November 2008

Mangga Gedong Gincu

Just like in Bahasa Indonesia, mango is called mangga in Bahasa Malaysia. It is also popularly called mempelam in some states in Malaysia.

In the east coast state of Kelantan it is pronounced as pelae. So, when someone offers you pelae in Kelantan and not knowing what in the world a pelae is, my advice is don't turn to your trusted English-Malay dictionary. You'll find "bananas" instead.

Anyway, I took the pic above in a minimart nearby my residence. Though this variety of mango has a very odd name, they're deliciously sweet. However, they are smaller compared to the other varieties. The price is a lot cheaper if you get them in hypermarts.

Still on mangoes, the next time you're in Jakarta, do try the mango juice. They're really thick and sweet (unlike the diluted version you'd normally get at "gerai makan Siam" in KL).

But, I have to admit though, nothing beats the taste of a glass of Indonesian jus alpukat.

10 November 2008

UNESCO's World Heritage Sites - Entrance Fees

Above are some of the World Heritage Sites and their respective entrance fees. The Renminbi conversion to USD is based on the exchange rate on 10/11/2008.

I will blog about the humiliating experience I had at Borobudur.

04 November 2008

Jalan Sabang

Jalan Sabang is located in central Jakarta. For easier guidance, it is the road behind Hotel Sari Pan Pacific Jakarta.

Jalan Sabang is famous for its restaurants and hawker stalls. The hawker stalls would only operate at night. They would occupy the wide footpaths along the entire stretch of the road.

At night, stalls, benches and tables would fill this footpath.

However, if you happen to pass by during daytime, there are plenty of restaurants you can choose from.

Personally, I've not tried the hawker stalls yet. I've dined at Natrabu and Garuda. Both are Padang restaurants.

Garuda Restaurant

When it comes to food, I'm not quite the adventurous type. I'm nowhere near Anthony Bourdain. Therefore I'm unable to recommend what's the best dish you must try at Jalan Sabang.

If you happen to be in Jakarta and yet to set foot here, do include Jalan Sabang in your itinerary. A word of advice - come at night. It's merrier.

03 November 2008

Jakarta - Jogja on Air Asia

As I'm typing this, I'm listening to the voice messages on Air Asia's customer care line. I've been trying to speak to a living person on their line for almost 30 minutes now.

"All our sales agents are busy. We'll be with you shortly."

"Sorry to keep you waiting. All our sales agents are still busy. We'll be with you as soon as possible."

"Sorry to keep you waiting. All our sales agents are still busy due to overwhelming response from our sales promotion. We'll be with you as soon as possible."

You know what I think? All BS. Especially the part where they say "We'll be with you as soon as possible".

Oohh.. and also the part where they claim the lines are busy due to overwhelming response from their promotions. Sure or not? More like angry people (like yours truly) calling - trying to get a decent explanation on flight cancellation and delays.

I've just put down the phone. Blogging about Air Asia takes some of my frustration and anger away.

So let's continue, shall we?

Have I told you that I bought 3 Air Asia return tickets to Jogja?

My mother is here for a 10-day holiday. She's here with my grand auntie. Since none of us have been to Jogja before, I suggested that we fly over to Jogja for a 3-day visit.

So, last Friday, for the outgoing flight - I booked the first flight at 6.00am. Estimated time of arrival - 7.00 am.

I deliberately booked the morning flight so that we would have one full day to explore the city on the first day. Then the 2nd day we could go to Borobudur. And the 3rd day we could just relax before taking the 4.30pm flight back to Jakarta.

But now, no thanks to Air Asia - my supposedly 2 full days in Jogja has been reduced to only one day. I received an SMS yesterday informing that my flight has been cancelled and moved to the 3.05pm flight.

I will not stop in my quest to get a decent and logical explanation from Air Asia.

They do this (delays and re-scheduling flights) frequently. Most of my friends who came to Jakarta on Air Asia were affected by flight delays. Don't believe what they say on their website about their high punctuality rate. This, my friends, is another big BS.

You see, flight delay is an alien term in Air Asia. They call them "re-timing". Lets say a flight scheduled to depart at 4.00 pm is delayed to 8.00pm. To Air Asia, this is not a delay but a re-timed flight.

So when the re-timed flight departs exactly at 8.00pm, Air Asia is, voila! - on time!. Hence the high punctuality rate as they claim on their website.

True, like what PB said. They should do a re-branding exercise. From Air Asia to Air A-sialan.

The new tag line?