My "Too Cute"s

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jakarta - Day 2

We were supposed to stay in Jakarta for 2 nights and leave for Bandung on Day 3. After the first expensive dining experience, as well as being stuck in a jam on the way back, we decided that we should be spending more time in Bandung. So, the next day, hubby made some arrangements and we thought to leave Jakarta right after checking out. In the meantime, we decided to do some Jakarta sightseeing. We got into a Blue Bird cab and made our way to Mangga Dua. We were supposed to take the overhead bridge to cross over to the market there but somehow we stumbled onto the Low Yat of Jakarta. There were floors and floors of electronic gadgets, and computers. My husband was astounded that there were so many shops selling Thinkpads, which was so difficult for him to get in Malaysia. I can't remember which model exactly he was thinking of getting. He was feeling a twinge of regret as he'd just bought himself a HP laptop at the recent Pikom fair in KL. When we finally crossed to the other side, where they were selling clothes and stuff, we discovered that the Mangga Dua Plaza was much more interesting. I wanted to get a Canon Ixus 80IS and we found 2 shops that could sell it for just below RM900. However since we were coming back to Jakarta as our flight back was from Jakarta, I decided not to get it yet. And who knows, the Canon might be cheaper in Bandung? To this day, I still regret not buying it in Jakarta. In Bandung, the cheapest price of the Canon was Rp75K more expensive, which amounted to RM952 inclusive of the 3% for credit card. For that price, I was just getting the camera without the casing, and a 4 gig memory card.

Anyway, it turned out that the cabby couldn't make it at the check out time and was arriving at 6 p.m. Do you know their 6 p.m. is really dark already and their 7 p.m. looks more like Malaysian 9 p.m.? So we decided to go to Tanah Baru, is it called? (It's Tanah Abang lah, sorry)I'm not so sure coz we ended up not going, thanks to the taxi driver who recommended we go to Melawai instead and it turned out he brought us to a huge mall (Pasaraya Grande) with really high-end but exquisite looking batik (the kind you wished someone got you coz you're too cheap to buy it yourself). I'm talking about millions of rups for a piece of kebaya material.
What I can say about the some of the batik clothes and dresses in that mall is that they don't look like batik or kain sarong anymore. The clothes look designers' and some are really chic looking and you can see the ladies of Jakarta wearing batik as casual and daily wear.
So, did I buy batik? Nope, instead I bought a car shaped cake tin for RM13 on one of the floors. Haha who would have thought I'd come out of a major batik store with a cake tin? Zul bought himself some biskut bangkit.
We were kinda irritated with the cab driver who assumed he knew what we were looking for. And too chatty too, he was. Ohh, we were glad to be rid of him when we arrived at that Melawai place. He told us it was easy to get a cab back and we waited for a good five to ten minutes before we decided to venture out to the main road to get a cab. We really needed to get back to the hotel coz the driver taking us to Bandung was almost there. Finally, a cabbie came and what a dirty fellow he was. Zul noticed him rolling up a piece of 10K rups and digging his ear with it. And guess what? Since the fare was Rp40K, and we only had a 50K piece, the Rp10k that he'd used to dig his ear was the change we got from him! Aaaaaaahhhhhhh. Thank God Zul caught him in the act. Now, I am suspicious of any notes I receive.

Going to Bandung

At that time we didn't know the existence of X-Trans (pix of X-Trans vans below), so what we did was pay Rp600K for a Kijang and another Rp310K for toll, petrol and the driver to take us there. Since we left at peak hours, we were lucky that our driver knew what roads to take and what roads to avoid. I really salute Jakarta drivers because it's really stressful to drive on their roads.

Jakarta Roads
First of all, you have to put up with traffic jams. Next, you have to put up with traffic jam vendors (see pix below, guy's selling feather dusters) who set up shop on road dividers or just walk around with their wares, which could range from mineral water, to newspapers and magazines (locally called koran) and wood carvings of horses! I must say that I admire their resourcefulness and willingness to work. Better selling stuff like this than being a robber or pickpocket. At least this is halal work.

Another interesting thing you could see on the roads are people putting up their index finger like they're trying to hitch a ride. And they are! For a sum, apparently, if there are three in a car, there's no need to pay toll. So you pay these willing passengers a small sum to avoid paying a bigger sum. There are also many traffic police on the road to ensure that everybody is driving in the right lanes. Apparently, there's a special one lane road for a certain number of people in a vehicle, if I am not mistaken, it's for 3 people. There are also bus lanes for buses.

Anyway, what I noticed is that Indonesian drivers are very cool. They zip in and out of lanes, and surprisingly they don't get angry even when an accident nearly happened. We didn't see any of the taxi drivers display any mannerisms of road bullies. There were no cabbies yelling strings of expletives like some do here in Malaysia. I was once in a cab to PJ whose driver kept saying "Niamah this and niamah that". On Jakarta roads, I guess it's because everyone is doing it and there's no point calling the kettle black, and getting mad about it. Methinks Jakarta drivers could set up an international driving school coz if you can drive there, you can drive anywhere. I swear the traffic is positively scary.


The journey to Bandung was thankfully uneventful, thanks to our knowledgable driver. The only major traffic jam we encountered was at the R&R of all places. Zul thinks we were fleeced coz we paid quite an exhorbitant price for a Nasi Bebek (bebek actually means duck, haha, thought it meant goat, hahahaha) and a plate of rice with one fried fish and some vegetables. Zul said he'd eaten so much more before with his Indonesian colleague and had paid less. I guess the moment we opened our mouth to order we were screwed.

So a word of advice would be to eat at an eatery that has all the price stated on the wall or something so that it's not up to the shop seller to charge you.

We arrived in Bandung around 10 p.m. One half hour to get to the toll out of Jakarta, half hour or so at the R&R, and two hours on the highway to Bandung. It was really dark, and we fell asleep during the drive there but we found out later that the bridge to Bandung is kinda the highest. (Just look at the pix below. Read more on

We stayed at Kedaton Hotel (below is a pix of the hotel from the outside and below it is how the room looks - they only had twin sharing). For about Rp488K on weekdays and Rp512K on weekends, you get breakfast and free internet access. They also come get you from the airport and send you to the airport for free! And it's a walking distance to Pasar Baru (last pix) where you can get kain batik, kebaya material, balakon (is this the right spelling? You know the songkok like thingy that's made from batik jawa or sarong) and kain sembahyang, sarong, etc. It opens from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I'll be putting more on Bandung in my next post.

This is Pasar Baru. As you can see, packed with people.

Haha here's a better view of the sea of people in Pasar Baru.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Air Asia's ONE MILLION FREE SEATS! Go have a holiday if you haven't already.

It's that time of the year again and Air Asia is offering A MILLION FREE SEATS! Go people, go travel! It's true, everyone can fly; so fly! I myself have just got back from a well deserved holiday in Bandung. Okay, I didn't fly that far and I actually flew MAS (which by the way, is having its own MERDEKA SALE) to Jakarta and went to Bandung from there; but I swear, it's the MOST restful and relaxed holiday I've had in 3 years. I left work behind completely, and my adorable kids too. :(

It was just my hubby and me. Jakarta is really too crowded to bring 2 restless kids and a baby. I mean every time I looked out my hotel room, I see cars on the road stuck in one traffic jam or another. So imagine, taking the kids out in a cab and being stuck in there (shudder). Even the thought of it is scary. See photos below: (Photos aren't that clear but that's what the roads look like outside our hotel room on the 8th floor-Ibis Slipi Hotel - and it's not even peak hour! The topmost one was taken at 10 a.m. the next day and the one below was taken the day we arrived, some time in the evening around 6 p.m.)

Anyway, hubby says we can actually bring the kids to Bandung after experiencing Bandung ourselves. Initially, it was my parents who went first in the May school holidays this year and they went on about how beautiful it was and that the trip was too wasn't was shopping galore. Dad had bought himself a leather jacket, a batik shirt, had custom made jeans...heck, I'd be smiling too! Mom said men had more choices and having gone there myself, I see her point. There were loads of stuff for women but they just didn't appeal to my sense of style, or lack of style. Haha! And I suppose, hers as well. :) Well, hubby told Mom if she came across surfer shorts, he'd like one. Mom found them alright and bought 3! Billabongs for a mere Rp 109 000 each. That's like 30 something our money. The ones in the stores costs triple and quad that. Crazy! The funny thing was my folks didn't even know the brand they'd bought was so expensive here. We were super impressed and that was how it started. You see, before that, I didn't even think of going to Bandung. Didn't really understand what all the hype was about. So now we know....
Anyway, Mom didn't think it was a good idea to bring kids coz crossing the roads in Bandung was scary for her. "So much traffic," she said. Then again, Mom hates crossing any road. That's why we didn't bring Inez and Mika.

We left for Jakarta on 14 August 2008 on a 13:55 flight. It was a Thursday. It's like a 2 hour trip and I can't for life remember the time we got there. Zul made me wait at KFC while he changed some money for Rupiahs, basically for food and transportation. Apparently, it's cheaper to exchange over there. However, don't make our mistake of taking money directly from the ATM using your ATM card. We didn't have enough cash, we didn't see any money changers around, so ATM, it was. I think, you get charged some processing fees or commission on both sides: our bank and their bank. (This was in Bandung, at Pasar Baru. They don't accept cards at Pasar Baru - see pix below - it's the tall pink building).

Anyway, after he got some cash, he came to get me and we walked towards the taxi area, and he warned me not to act touristsy and even to not talk to him. What!? Apparently, he wanted us to look as unapproachable as possible. If we looked like tourists, cabbies would be all over us and it'd be difficult to shake them off. I was like, "How hard could it be? Just say 'No.'" So he actually challenged me to walk a yard or two with my bag so that I could prove my point. So, okay, it's true that the cabbies were like vultures but they didn't come in droves. Some can be persistent (like one cabbie at our hotel) but it was quite easy to say 'No'. Zul said that's because I wasn't trying to get a cab. (We already got ourselves a BLUE BIRD. Please remember this name coz apparently, this is the most trustworthy cab company to use. We have tried another company in Bandung but we got fleeced by Rp15 - 20K coz the driver told us his taxi meter was broken. So take BLUE BIRDs coz they charge according to taxi meters.) Here's how to recognise one. You can see the words BLUE BIRD GROUP on the windscreen as can be seen in the pix below:
There are BLUE BIRDs (that are not allowed to go outside the area, e.g Jakarta BLUE BIRDs aren't allowed to travel outside Jakarta coz that'd be like they'd be infringing on the other area BLUE BIRDs. Do correct me if I'm wrong.), SILVER BIRDs can travel anywhere and everywhere from town to town and BIG BIRDs are basically big blue vans. The BLUE BIRD is usually a Toyota Vios. Cool huh?So anyway, you can see that people who are in know will take BLUE BIRD coz people were queueing for BLUE BIRDs. From the airport, it was about an hour ride to the hotel. It's not near any shopping area, so you need to get a cab to go to Senayang Plaza. If you think KLCC and Pavillion is unaffordable. Just go to Senayang Mall and you'll see brands like Jimmy Choo, and Hermes, and Just Cavalli, just to name a few. We just went there for dinner there at its food court. Rp57K just for a plate of rice, a piece of meat, one fried sambal brinjal, a piece of fried tofu and a corn cucur. Perhaps it's because we bought the rice from Sari Ratu, which I heard is kinda pricey over in KL too. A soto is about Rp26K and I can't remember how much the kebab cost. We were famished in an expensive place.
Also, don't be surprised to see, is it army dudes or police guys, basically men in uniform checking out the cars for bombs. I was like Whoa, BOMBS! That's scary. I did try to take a picture of them doing a vehicle check but it didn't turn out so well. I think I'll stop here first and post more stuff later. There's just so much to write about.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nearly a year old....

I can't believe just how fast time flies. Next month Hana will be 1 year old. She barely looks her age. She's so tiny but people tell me as long as she's healthy, it's okay. That's the thing. She hasn't been healthy. My kids have been passing each other the flu bug, the cough bug, the fever bug, and what have you, it's crazy! We've been to the doctor's almost every week. Thank God, not this week. Finally, the kids are getting better and Hana was put on some appetite booster which works only when she takes it. Duh, of course! She's also on Appeton for infants. She went from 6.2kg to 6 kg to 5.8kg when she was sick. At that time Nuha, who's also staying with us was a whopping 8.5 kg. The last time we checked she's back to 6.2 kg. That was last week. Nuha also went up - to 9 kg. A friend told me to get one of the Enfa milk and she seems to like it. Sigh, what expensive taste my baby has. :)
Anyway, here's a pix of the two girls taken when we went out shopping yesterday. Hana doesn't look that tiny here though. She's just lighter.

Don't they just look adorable? They've just got up from a very short nap!