September 30, 2007

What's your phobia?

Everyone has fears. Fear is a reaction to danger that involves the mind and body, but it is a natural part of our life. We all experience fear slightly differently and with more or less intensity. Most of the things that make us afraid are usually things we have to deal with in our lives. For example some people fear of heights, dogs, roaches, or insects, but there are also fears that seem pretty much like a worry, or something you feel generally uneasy about.

I have to admit I have fear of crossing the street (agyrophobia). I've been hit by a motorcycle a few years ago when I wanted to cross the busy street in front of the bank, but thanked God I only sustained a minor injury. Crossing the streets in Jakarta can be a real challenge and a life-risking adventure. In many places there are no pedestrian crossing zones on the streets, there hardly exist pedestrian roads, hence, cars, taxis, motorbikes, bajaj and people cram the streets all fighting for access to pass. Waiting for cars to stop for you will take a long time, if not forever, and no one stops for you. I hate it when I have to cross the street, it is like trying to cross the Formula 1 track race, it's nerve wrecking.

I know I cannot let myself be intimidated with this fear and I have to face it one way or the other. In Jakarta you don't wait for a break in the traffic--you just go--and hope you are still alive when you reach the other side. The first time I crossed the busy street here I was bulging with adrenaline, but now I was a real rebel. The secret is just step into traffic and wave your hand, the drivers will adjust to you although some can be a little wild. Don't get hesitate because hesitation gets you hit and traffic flows around you, always look both ways, even on one-way streets. When crossing busier streets find others who are also crossing and follow them when they head out into traffic. Otherwise, you could be left standing on the corner forever. Drivers in Jakarta tend to keep driving unless the pedestrian steps out in front of the car to show that they plan on crossing the street.

September 28, 2007

Telur Balado

Who can say no to hot and spicy foods?? In general Indonesian foods can be described as hot and spicy. Telor Balado is boiled eggs cooked in chilis, shallots, tomatoes, garlic, and shrimp paste.

Telur Balado (Spicy boiled eggs)

6 Boiled eggs, remove the skin
8 Fresh red peppers (you can remove the seeds if you want to)
5 Shallots
4 Cloves garlic
1 Tomato --> grated with cheese grater and set aside
½ ts shrimp paste
Salt and sugar to taste
Cooking oil

Pound/grind the peppers, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste finely. Heat wok, kuali or pan, add oil, and fry ground ingredients until fragrant for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and sugar. Add the boiled eggs, cook for another 3 minutes. Served with hot steamed rice.

September 27, 2007

My way? Busway ...

Traffic is one of the major problem in Jakarta. Staying in the city you'll meet this condition almost every day especially during the peak hours. The traffic in Jakarta can be very frustrating. Just so much predictable and unpredictable stuff happens on the road it's extremely exhausting and stressful for a lot of people.To alleviate the city’s notoriously bad traffic, starting in 2004 Jakarta developed a mass transit system called the TransJakarta Busway. These buses occupy a dedicated lane which was taken from a portion of the existing road. Great news for the buses because they have a virtually jam free road, but bad news for the motorists since what's left of the road is taken away. The buses are clean, safe and air conditioned, though often full. Stations have doors that are opened only when buses come, the buses have LCD displays and recorded announcements of the next stations. There are staff inside every station and every bus making sure things work smoothly. The ticket costs a flat Rp. 3,500 (US 40 cents) far or near. It's fairly cheap for commuters who are traveling long distance.

However, the Busway is not without its downsides. If you're changing buses, particularly at the interchange station, prepare to do battle with hordes of large crowds waiting for the connecting buses, the bustling and pushing getting on and off. Everybody intent on boarding the first available bus passing by as the buses go past can only take a few passangers at each stop and you're left waiting for the next one to turn up. And getting to the bus itself is also a bit an ordeal because the Trans Jakarta use high level platforms with high floor buses, leaving most commuters the tiring task of long walking to the bus stop linked by over head bridges. Obviously it's a hundred times less stressful taking Busway than being in traffic and even better than that, it's cheap! And if you want a good workout? ... take the busway! ;;)

*first photo on the above right courtesy of skyscrapers forum

September 26, 2007


Last Sunday afternoon I craved a salad with lots of veggies. The weather was scorching hot outside, I was so lazy to go anywhere and I still had many fresh veggies on the refrigerator, so I decided to make "karedok". Karedok is basically a raw vegetable salad consists of kacang panjang (green long beans), cucumber, bean sprouts, cabbage, kemangi leaf and round eggplant. This was not only highly nutritious dishes and good for my endo diet, it was easier on the wallet too.

What makes "karedok" stand out is the peanut dressing with quite a strong aroma of kencur and garlic. Kencur is a ginger-like root that has a unique and champor flavor and often used in Indonesian traditional medicine to relieve cough and cold. Kencur must be washed and scraped off its skin before using. Because I was so lazy to make the dressing from scratch, I used the ready to use peanut paste and adding only the kencur, garlic, red hot chilies, a bit of fresh lime juice and a bit coconut sugar to taste. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon side dish.

September 23, 2007

Suneo is sick

For animals lover like me, pets are no less a part of the family than a child is and it rips your heart out when something bad happen to them. It's especially hard when they can't vocalize their discomfort to you. Over the weekend, Suneo became sick, beginning on Saturday morning, he threw up every hour or so, had a diarhea, a fever and dehydration. Obviously concerned, I took Suneo into the Vet on Saturday afternoon. There the Vet evaluated him and told me that it's probably one of two things: he has a simple stomach bug or he might contract panleukopenia (feline distemper)

From what I've found on the net, FP is a virus. Not much anyone can do but provide supportive care, antibiotics for secondary infections, and hydration. As we all know, viruses have to run their course but (sadly) when it comes to survival, it's the survival of the fittest. Suneo is an indoor cat, I don't know where he picked it up (the virus) ... perhaps from his parents or any other cats when he's a stray??? His mother might have been in contact with other infested (roaming) cats and so transferred it unfortunately. The Vet injected Suneo with IV fluid & vitamin, gave him some antibiotics and told me to keep an eye on him.

The good news is today he's getting back to his old self although he is losing some weight. He's alert and playful and meows again. He still has no appetite or desire to eat (and he used to eat like a pig ... hehehe) but had slowly take a bite of his dry food and a sip of water. I'm taking that as a good sign. So I hope he will continue on a good path and health is headed his way.

September 20, 2007


The majority of women will experience the discomfort of menstrual cramps at some stage in their lives. The symptoms can include cramps, bloating, mood swings, and many more. They can range from being extremely mild and almost unnoticeable to being practically debilitating while a woman has her period. For me "this time of the month" is always a nightmare, I can hardly do anything. My period was not heavy but the pain was like somebody sticking my lower abdomen with a needle, it was a very sharp, stabbing pain, lasting anywhere from 2 to 7 days prior to, during, and after the period. The worst part is the first two days which gradually became mild twinges as the days go by.

I have tried to change my diet by consuming more veggies and fruits, I give up red meats, cut my coffee intake, cut my dairy intake but this does not help reduce the pains much. If needed I take medications that only ease my pain for a few hours. I thought after my surgery I would feel better, well ...I don't. I am just having to cope with the pain. Endometriosis not only causes pain and discomfort but it is mentally torturing too. I would never wish this on any one. But I feel that more needs to be done to help endo sufferers.

Would I stop my periods if I could? My answer is definite YES! But I dont want to go thru another surgery or taking anymore hormonal treatment. I love being a woman, feeling sexy, and knowing that I am a part of the cycle of life, but aren't we all deserve relief from excessive pain and suffering?

September 19, 2007

Lunch yesterday

Many people do not like bok choy because of the bitterness taste toward its stems but I like them. Sometimes I like to combine them with broccoli, carrots or the chinese cabbage in my stir fry cooking or simply bok choy stir fried. Yum!bok choy stir fried in a garlic and oyster sauce.
Udang Balado (prawns in spicy chilli sauce).

As per Belle's request, here is the recipe for Udang Balado :
* 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 lbs fresh large prawns, peeled with tails intact
* Cooking oil
* 10 red chilies
* 5 shallots
* 1 medium tomato --> grated with cheese grater (so they want be too watery)
* lime leaves / bay leaves
* 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
* salt to taste

Instruction :
-To make the seasoning, put the red chilies and shallots in a food processor and process until you have a paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
-Rub the lime juice and salt onto the prawns. Set aside for 15 minutes, then drain the prawns and pat dry with paper towels.
-Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until very hot . Deep-fry the prawns, a handful at a time, until they turn pink (just cooked) about 1 minute each. Remove and drain on paper towels.
-Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or skillet wer medium heat. Stir-fry the paste until fragrant for approx 4-5 minutes, then add the lime leaves and the bay leaves. Add the deep fried prawns and mix until well blended, do not overcook them. Taste the sauce and add salt and sugar to your liking. Remove and serve immediately with steamed rice.

notes : Belle, if you dont have time to make the seasoning from scratch, please look for Bumbu Munik Indonesian instant seasoning at the oriental store there and get the Bumbu Sambal Udang ( Hot and Spicy Shrimps).

September 17, 2007

Circumstantial inconveniences

Do you consider yourself to be a patient person? If so, are you always patient or does the particular situation make a difference? I guess I am a mixed bag, I have the patience for children and animals but I am really impatient when it comes to being sick, I don’t like being confined and restricted from my normal activities, I don't like waiting for the teller at the bank, I get agitated when being caught in traffic congestion. However, when it comes to circumstantial inconveniences such as dealing with government bureaucracy, I recognise the phrase "holding on" ... that is because
there is no point in fretting about something I have no control I won't.

Earlier this week, I have just got my SKCK / Surat Keterangan Catatan Kepolisian (Police Certificate) as part of the PR visa requirements to Canada. It was quite an ordeal getting this paper because individuals can only request a police check through the police service in the territory where their ID are being issued. If you think you can take one or two hours off from work, run into the police station, and get the paperworks done in one day, you're wrong! That won't happen in this country. Time required can take up 2-3 days if your KTP/Kartu Tanda Penduduk (Indonesia Identity Card) is from Jakarta, it will take longer if the ID is from the province like mine.

Before describing it, though, in Indonesia all citizens must carry an identity card (KTP) to apply for a job, to apply for a passport, driving license, withdraw money from a bank, or obtain official documents from state institutions or perform a multitude of other tasks. It is issued by the subdistrict head but must bear the signature of the district head . People aged between 17 and 60 years are required to have a valid KTP always. Applying for a KTP, which in theory should be simple and free of charge, has become a moneymaker for officials at the neighborhood and subdistrict levels. Many officials have gone out of their way to complicate procedures for issuing IDs, in order to squeeze even more money out of applicants. There is no specific fee how much you have to pay, but a small tip will help expedite the process.

Now, back to the process of getting the SKCK (Police Report), I'll spare you the details.

1 # First off, I needed the letter from the Head of Neighborhood to get the signatures from the sub-discrict head and the district head to obtain the SKCK. In order to get this, I had to submit copy of ID, family card, passport photograph 3x4cm & 4x6cm @1 pce each and then head to the Polsek (sector police), get the paper in 10 minutes and paid some administration fee.

2 # Next stop, I took the signed and stamped certificate from the Polsek (sector police) to the Polres (the resort police), along with copy of ID, family card, 3 passport photographs each size 3x4cm & 4x6cm. In Polres I had to fill out some forms about physical appearances (facial shape, hair color, blood type) and some other silly questions such as where were you when the communism revolution in Indonesia happened? were you belong to political organization etc? , got my finger prints taken and within one hour I got the SKCK from the Polres and the little card with information about my height, weight, hair color, hair type and my fingers print formula. I paid some money for the finger print and the SKCK letter. As usual, no receipt!

3 # From Polres, I headed to Polda Bandung (Bandung Regional Police Headquarter), brought along the same docs (copy ID, family card, and passport photograhps), and the SKCK from the Polres. In this office I had to fill out some forms which are pretty similar with the ones from Polres but without physical description. I also told them that I needed to obtain SKCK in English from Mabes Polri (National Police Headquarter) in Jakarta. Just like in Polres, I also paid some money here.

4 # In Mabes Polri (National Police Headquarter) in Jakarta, I only needed to submit the original SKCK from Polda Bandung, copy of passport, KTP (Identity Card), family card, birth certificate and 3 passport photographs 4x6cm. No more forms to fill out but there's no same day service or you bring in today and pick it up the next day. Interestingly enough, in Mabes Polri, the service is free of charge!

Morale of the story - red tape is frustrating and it is the same everywhere.

September 11, 2007

Around my neighborhood

There are a few interesting things going on that I intend to write for my blog entry but my brain is too tired to write a real post ... so, today I post some photos from my walking around one Sunday morning. I hope I don't bore you all too much with these photos.

September 8, 2007

Rujak anyone?

Sometimes I eat the same things over and over because that's just what I'm into at the moment. My preference when I go eating out is food / comfort food that has a lot of vegetable, vegetable and vegetable. I believe it is good for certain people and it sure feel healthy although it’s hard to eat healthy food if it’s not available or unappetising. One of my favorite comfort food is "rujak" .. a unique sweet, spicy, sour taste pungent salad with a mixture of things. Basically it is a salad dish contains fruits or veggies with the dressing made from coconut sugar (gula merah), chilli, terasi (dark shrimp paste), and ground roasted peanuts. Back in the old days, rujak is served on banana leaves plates. Oh yes, one more thing ... I'd never tried to make rujak at home because they just don't taste the same.

As for the traditional dessert, I love "es cincau" ... which is shaved ice, coconut milk, red syrup and green jelly made from extract leaves. Next to that is "es teler" ... shaved ice, with sliced of avocado, jackfruit, sweet fermented cassava, young coconut and red jelly bean. And last but not least, Teh Botol, the bottled sweetened jasmine tea that every Indonesian simply cannot live without. This sophisticated desserts is a refreshing treat in our tropical heat. Enjoy!

September 7, 2007

A few snapshots of Jakarta

Do you know any songs that are inspired by name of the places? Yes, there are a few I know pretty well such as "Siapa Suruh Datang Jakarta, Surabaya oh Surabaya, Halo-halo Bandung, and Yogyakarta. The only one that isn't a real song or I should say it's more of a cynical thing is Siapa suruh datang Jakarta or literally translated as "who asked you to go to Jakarta?". The song tells about the people from the rural villages who came to Jakarta because they see it as a land of opportunity. For example, a scavenger in Jakarta might have a steady income rather than living as a farmer back in their kampung simply because they can earn more. Jakarta is truly the centre of everything for Indonesia.

When I first moved to Jakarta in 1994, Jakarta was not exactly a big city like today but rather it looked like a grown kampungs (villages) connected one to another. Those kampungs have now disappeared and transformed into the high-rise buildings, big shopping malls, five-star hotels, modern cafes and fine dining establishments. All signs of a developing city. Jakarta today is a city of great contrasts between the rich and poor, it is densely populated, it is not cheap, it's polluted and the traffic is crazy. But it is also a modern city with decent facilities, great food, plenty of entertainment venues and very friendly people. Like it or hate it, I truly love Jakarta. And despite its many flaws and shortcomings, I can see myself living in this city previously called Batavia.

September 4, 2007

7 months later

Today is the 7 months anniversary of the passing of my beloved dog, Fatso. In case you missed it, here's what I wrote about all that a couple of months ago. Even now, it's hard to believe he has left this earth, or whatever it is that happens to dogs when they die. I will NEVER get over the absence of his in my life. He can never be replaced even though there is a cat in my live that is helping me deal with his loss. Well Fatso never liked cats, in fact he loved to chase them - what dogs don't?? ...He was territorial (a defense mechanism from his days as a stray), and he barked at larger dogs. However, he was also extremely loyal, could walk down busy streets off lead and stopped when asked to, and he was easy to be around. He never bit anyone, nor did he ever show the least bit of aggression unless he felt threatened (he once started a fight with a big dog in the neighborhood that made me screamed and threw slipper to his opponent, I think my voice scared off his enemy ...LOL!). He was the perfect dog and I loved him with my whole heart. Thank you Fatso, you were the best friend a person could ever ask for. Below is a poem I found from the net in memory of Fatso :

In My Heart

I thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.
I think of you in silence. I often speak your name.
Now all I have is memories, and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake, with which I’ll never part.
God has you in his keeping.
I have you in my heart.