Adventures living as expats.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yogyakarta and Durian

Last weekend our good pal Tane and his family came for a visit from Hong Kong. Since Jakarta isn't much of a tourist hotspot, we headed to Yogyakarta for some relaxing and sightseeing. First on our agenda was a visit to Borobudur, a Buddhist temple built in the 9th century and the most visited tourist sight in Indonesia. The intricate stone detail was impressive and little Anaiyah (Tane's 1 year old daughter) was such a trooper even in the searing heat.

View from the top, it felt like 120 degrees
Anaiyah carried the umbrella for most of the day

Next on the itinerary was Prambanan, a Hindu temple built in the same century as Borubudor. Wikipedia lists it as the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, but Jeff and I both thought it seemed smaller than Besakih in Bali.

When we returned to Jakarta, Yan and Tane surprised us on their last night by picking up a huge durian to share.

Bigger than Jeff's head!

We'd both been wanting to try it, but were too chicken to take the leap on our own. After seeing Yan dig in with uncontained excitement, I took a bite with huge expectations. I can't even begin to describe the taste - it was flat out the worst thing I've ever eaten. The pictures pretty sum up my opinion of the king of fruits. Even a shot of whiskey afterwards couldn't kill the obnoxious taste invading my mouth, nose, and throat.

Jeff managed a bit better and was able to keep down about 4 bites after being encouraged by Tane's insistence that durian is a superfood with amazing health benefits.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Street food in Singapore

Jeff and I had 3 goals for our Singapore trip - finalize Jessie's work Visa, tour Tiger Brewery, and most importantly enjoy as much street food as possible. Our first mission was not easy and due to delays on the Jakarta end, we had to reschedule our flights 3 times. I thought the DMV was a pain, but after dealing with the Jakarta Immigration office I have a new appreciation for the efficiency government offices in the States. In the end it took 14 days to get a single signed and stamped piece of paper that I was promised could be done in 1 day. The bright side is we had no choice but to extend our stay in Singapore until I could legally get back into Indonesia. We were forced to indulge in a few more meals of delicious and diverse hawker food and wander around the city enjoying the clean air and garbage free sidewalks.

The brewery tour turned out to be almost as challenging as the visa since these two tourists completely underestimated the time required to take public transportation across the city. After 2 trains, 1 power-walk in the seering heat, 1 iPhone malfunction induced tantrum, and 2 taxis, we arrived only 30 minutes late for our tour. Jeff was relieved to learn this wouldn't affect the 45 minute free flow Tiger beer that was the main selling point for him.

We were left with plenty of time to explore the many hawker stands in Singapore. Because these complexes have running water, centralized dish cleaning, and high turnover, they are the 5 star street food of Asia. Our first stop was Chinatown Complex which was literally across the street from our hotel. We sampled some shrimp dumpling soup and found the beer cart which instantly became one of Jeff's highlights despite my whining about the hefty price tag - $11 for a single bottle of Oregon beer, what?!?

Night market just outside of Chinatown Complex
Chinese New Year decorations
Year of The Snake
There were several stands selling all kinds of cured meat, including duck heads

We tried the Hainanese chicken rice stand made famous by Anthony Bourdain at Maxwell's Complex. We ate here a lot since it was so close to our hotel and tried curry rice, several soups, and bao buns.

Deciding what to eat was the hardest part

The next day we ventured to Glutton's Bay complex which has a beautiful view of Marina bay and was definitely the ritziest of our tour with prices to match.

Merlion and view of Marina Bay Sands

After a pleasant walk along the waterfront, we reached Lau Pa Sat which had a huge variety of cuisines to choose from, and due to location it was very popular among the working professionals in the area. We settled on chicken satay, chicken pho, Vietnamese stir fried veggies, and Tiger beer.

Sate hawker

Our final stop was the Little India complex called Tekka where we stuffed ourselves with curry, dahl, biryani, and chapati. This was definitely my favorite meal, and we both waddled out a few pounds heavier. We enjoyed Little India so much and will be back on our next trip!

Jeff got the hang of eating without utensils
Flowers in Little India
Colorful street in Little India
Other highlights included the Orchid Garden and market tour