Adventures living as expats.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tangerang with Heritage Explorers

Its too easy to settle into a routine and before you know it your weeks consist of work, chores, and familiar restaurants.  Jakarta and the surrounding areas are full of interesting cultural experiences, but I can only name a few - sunda kelapa fishing boats, traditional markets, and chinatown.  Wanting to change this, I signed up for the Heritage Explorers group.  Our first excursion was to Tangerang, a Jakarta suburb that Jeff commutes to at least 3 times a week for work.

We started out with a $1 becak (bicycle taxi) ride around the downtown area for some sightseeing.  I must be twice the size of most passengers because I had to really crouch to squeeze in.

After a short presentation, we went to a festival celebrating the upcoming dragon boat races.  The boats were very elaborately decorate, but weren't racing until the following weekend.  My competitive side wanted to join the races until an image of falling into the river came to mind.

There was a ceremony with singing, incense, drumming, praying, and best of all egg balancing.  I was skeptical at first, but it was actually pretty easy to get the eggs balanced on end.  Hopefully this will bring another year of good luck for Jeff and I in Asia.

Our final stop was the Buddhist temple in Chinatown which was built in 1805 and honors the deities for  mercy, courage, and prosperity.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pulau Macan Birthday Party

One of Jeff's top selling points when talking up our move to Jakarta was the close proximity to the Thousand Islands.  It took a year for us to get there, but it was worth the wait!  We took a 90 minute boat ride from the stinking Jakarta pier and found ourselves on a pristine little island surrounded by clean air, clear blue water, and coral for snorkeling.  We joined a 30th birthday celebration for our friend Bede and were endlessly entertained by the antics of 16 fellow deviants.
Pulling up to Pulau Macan (Tiger Island)
To cool off, we all immediately jumped into the ocean and snorkeled around enjoying the views.

Jeff has earned quite the reputation in Beersby and never misses an opportunity to up his game.  This weekend was classed up with wine bottles since there was only canned beer on the island - aren't we sophisticated.
The staff on the island were very entertained by our group
Serious game, look at the concentration
After checking into our huts, we all opted to take a nap to recover from the previous night's libations where friends from all over the globe surprised Bede by strolling into a restaurant in Jakarta.
Can't beat this view
For sunset we cracked open the champagne and toasted to another "dirty 30" birthday as the sun went down.

Just before dinner we witnessed the most incredible, intense lightning storm.  We sat on the dock cheering and yelling as the bolts raced across the sky over the ocean.  We capped off the evening with dinner, carrot cake, and college drinking games to prove just how young we still are.

The next morning Jeff and I explored the neighboring islands on paddle boards, savoring the last few hours or the trip before heading back to Jakarta.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kuala Lumpur...finally

When we first arrived in Jakarta about almost a year ago, Jeff and I booked a smokin' deal on flights to Kuala Lumpur.  We couldn't resist round trip Air Asia flights for under $50 each.  We counted down the months for ages and finally departed a few weeks ago.  After getting sneers and looks of disgust from Indonesians in regards to Malaysia, we wondered what the heck is the big deal?   Well after a little digging we find out that the rivalry stems from Batik (traditional formal wear) and the Pendet Dance (traditional Balinese dance).  Apparently Malaysia is trying to capitalize on Indonesian culture by claiming these traditions as their own.  Maybe in retaliation Jakarta can steal a few infrastructure ideas from KL such as public transportation, sidewalks, clean waterways, lack of garbage, and sanitary street food.  Rivalry aside, we loved Malaysia and hope to return to Penang for a future weekend trip.

We're often cooped up indoors in Jakarta so the theme of this vacation was wandering around and exploring.  We even fell into the ultimate tourist trap - a double decker bus ride to whisk us to all the important sites.

Istana Negara - The National Palace
Sri Mahamariammam Temple - Oldest Hindue temple in KL
Petronas Twin Towers
To put it mildly, we were crazy for the food in Malaysia.  We couldn't get enough of the local curry houses which serve around a dozen different curries buffet style.  You can get rice, chapati, or dosi and pile the curries on top.  We would fill our plates beyond capacity and somehow still only pay around $5 total.
Might not look like much, but some of the best Indian food ever!
Yes I ate it all and had to waddle around for the next hour
We stayed in Chinatown which had a shortage of Western style breakfast, so we did our best to embrace Chinese food for breakfast.  It took a few bites to get over the feeling that we were eating dinner at 9AM, but the flavors won us over in the end.

The highlight of the trip for Jeff was our adventurous trip to Taps Beer Bar.  It involved wandering around for several hours of trying to find it, but it was well worth it.  The bar would fit perfectly in downtown Portland and the selection of beers made Jeff giddy with excitement as he sipped his IPA and Saison beer.

On our last night we took it up a notch and headed to Sky Bar to take in the legendary views of the Twin Towers.  Jeff managed to sweet talk the manager into the best seat in the house when we arrived.  It was a perfect ending to our long awaited trip!