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Entries in Indonesia Blog (15)



"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013"

Stella: She spent almost the entire weekend running off, exploring the "crunchry side" with her friend.

Stella and I are back from a much-needed respite in country where we spent a three-day weekend with some of the very best people in Jakarta. It's amazing what some fresh air and dirty feet can do for the soul. I'm feeling clarity and direction like I haven't in months, and am determined to make regular trips outside of the big city.


When I'm on vacation I like to pretend that I'm an oligarch. 

Are you getting tired of hearing me talk about adventures in dragging my two-year-old around Indonesia? 

I'm kind of tired, but I think that's because I just spent the last two weeks dragging my two-year-old around Indonesia. 

After our time in North Sulawesi, we spent four days in Bali engaging in what is, quite possibly, the most obnoxious form of tourism. We checked into our super fancy luxury resort (I KNOW, I can't believe they let us in either, but it was free, so) and we didn't leave the hotel property until we checked out. Nearly every waking moment was spent in the pool and / or ocean. Stella learned to swim* and I learned to surf. Which, ps, is the greatest. It's been a life long dream of mine, something that I told myself that I'd do when we moved to Japan ( but instead I got knocked up.) 

*where swimming = wearing a life jacket, and floating independently for 10 seconds, slightly panicked, but not clinging to me for deal life.

We ate pizza pool-side, got nice and golden, and lazed around pretending to be fabulous Russian oligarchs.

But alas, the illusion was shattered by several scatological incidents and an unexpected night swim.

I'll leave the former to your imagination, but as for the latter, here's the deal: While we were enjoying a glass of wine (water for the two-year-old) in the super fabulous club lounge, a certain little person dove head first into the adject fish pond which, as it turns out, happens to be home to one rather substantial monitor lizard. This necessitated a second panicked leap into the pond as I dove in after Stella. I hoisted Stella out before the lizard got wind of our visit to his habitat, and we stood in the middle of the lounge, sopping wet, hearts racing, and totally beyond embarrassed.

I took some solace in the fact that a grown woman managed the same maneuver two nights later and concluded that the whole thing was a result of poor lighting and not an error in parental judgment.

Or something.



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An Incomplete List of The Ways In Which I'm an Unfit Parent in Indonesia:

Well, we've finally clawed our way out of that great cave of suffering otherwise known as the Epic Nine Day Fever And Resultant Absence From School and OMG YOU'RE DRIVING ME BONKERS PLEASE STOP WHINING AND TOUCHING ALL THE THINGS. Hooray! Stella's well again! And can go to school! (Just in time for me to get sick, and then discover, at a suspiciously empty looking school-drop off point that, in fact, it's Easter Break. Ummm, duh.)

I play fairly fast and easy with The Gods of Childhood Illness, laughing in the face of germs, dropped toys, and shared drink. You know, it's prison rules in here. I've watched as my blatant disregard for trifectic dangers of cold, wind, and wet hair have been the cause of much anxiety amongst  Indonesian friends and childcare professionals; they side-eye my insouciance and declare it cause of my child's illness. 
And because I'm the ornery type, and can not abide by rules which do not correspond with my world view, I kind of take pleasure in snubbing conventional wisdom.
And so, without further ado, I'd like to present an Incomplete List of The Ways In Which I'm an Unfit Parent in Indonesia:
Upon waking up, I remove my daughter's diaper and wipe her down with a baby wipe. Two if I'm feeling particularly fastidious. Which is ridiculous because everyone knows that she actually requires at least a bum bath, and better yet a proper morning shower with a good thick lather of soap bubbles. 
I do not insist on multiple hand washings during the day, and am lucky if my kid wipes her hands prior to consuming a meal.
  • I did not bathe my child before bed. 
  • I did bathe my child before bed, but did not allow her hair to dry completely. 
  • I allowed my child outside without a sweater, at complete mercy of the equatorial breezes and warm summer temperatures. Neglectfulness, thy name is ME!
  • I let my daughter get rained on. The next day she got a fever. Causality therefore established, and parenting accreditation revoked. 
  • In order to soothe a sore throat and encourage consumption of calories, I allowed my sick girl to eat ice cream and drink cold milk. Both of which are known evils and cause untold episodes of childhood morbidity. 
  • Despite a slight fever, I let my kid splash in a pool. In 32 / 90 degree heat, thereby tempting both fate and further compilations of the illness already brought about by poor parenting choices and exposure to cold / wind / rain.

I dunno. I'm not inclined to buy into the notion that cold / wetness / wind causes illness, the fact that on two sererate occasions my kid got rained on and then got sick (fever, and then higher fever + ear infection) might have me re-evaluating my position on the matter. And so might this, the face of a sick and totaly pissed two-year-old.

My fault. Sorry kid.


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Carita, West Java, A trip with my pops, and a surprising cure for toddlers who just will not nap.

As you may recall, my dad, the gluten-free hiker, came to visit us here in Indo. You may also recall that I was terrifically excited about this fact (and not just because he came laden with a suitcase full of American retail goodness.) For, along with my dad comes adventure! And you all know I'm a sucker for a treacherous bus ride to some far-flung corner of the jungle. Having my dad around gave me just another excuse to pack up my kid and hit the road.

Off we went to Carita, on the West cost of Java.

I will admit that I did not go easy on my poor ol' pops. Less than 18 hours after hitting the Southern Hemisphere, I had him standing in rush-hour traffic, hailing down a long-distance bus for a several-hours-long journey wedged into the middle seat of a sardine can vehicle piloted by a driver who may or may not have had a death wish, but certainly had very little knowledge of road safety for somone responsible for the lives of several dozen people. 

PS, my father is a heavy vehicle safety expert. So. 

Still, we all made it to Carita at this unreasonably charming Airbnb where we were welcomed with fresh coconuts, sea breezes, and ummmm, hi. the Strait of Sumatra. 

Can we talk for a moment about the food at Rumah Joglo? Because Pak Hadi and his family, who look after Rumah Joglo, cooked us some of the most delicious, meals I've had since coming to Indonesia. Let's just say that if you haven't had urap packed up in banana leaves and brown paper and eaten on the side of a volcano, you just really don't know anything about epicurean pleasure. 

Anyway, Carita. Adorable. A quiet little seaside town with a charming harbour, hiking trails, surfing, and views to Mt. Krakatau. You know. No biggie. (TOTAL BIGGIE.)

 One morning we decided, hey, it's a great day for a walk in the jungle. So we set off with Pak Hadi as our guide for short jaunt through the forest. Shod in wholly inappropriate footwear, with a small bottle of water between four people, and nothing but a wayward box of rasins and a snake fruit or to to sustain us, we were all, yeah, we'll be to the top of this waterfall in no time. 

Right. Ten kilometers, one salandang nap, and several blisters later, we had returned from our epic trek through the jungle. And, BTW, I mean jungle. 

Like, if you have never carried your toddler on your hip while fording waterfalls, spotting monkeys, avoiding TWELVE INCH CENTIPEDES and navigating narrow cliff-side paths, you know nothing of jungle adventure. Or stupidity and ill-preparedness. 

Regardless, it was amazing. My kid was a trooper. And I was sure glad that our superstar nanny / friend came along and helped me carry my daughter for a bit. 

Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering what tumeric looks like goriwng in the wild, well, here you go.

(WHAT??? Tumeric plants? I just can't even!!)

And then on the way back, a monsoon rainstorm opened above us, unleashing more rain than I ever knew could call from the heavens, and capping off our accidental adventure in the best possible way. Can I also just stop here to say, once again, my kid is a total lionheart, because there was not one tear nor even one whinge, despite the fact that we ended an epic trek drenched to our very core, and it was two hours past lunch time.  

One of the main draws of Carita is it's proximity to Mt. Krakatau, an allegedly dormant volcano that blew it's lid in 1883 in one of the most totally major eruptions in history. So of course we had to go visit. Despite the fact that it lies 40 km out in the middle of the ocean, and it's rainy season, and 10 foot waves, and well, let's just bring the two-year-old along, shall we???


So, if you've never found yourself covered in toddler vomit, immobilized on a 25 foot boat in the blinding sun by a child who is so seasick that she barfed down your front four times and then passed out for two solid hours which, if you know anything about my child, is basically a miracle, because to her, sleep = no., well, then my friends, you know nothing of unbelievable sunburns that peal for weeks. And weeks. And, PS, sunscreen works a lot better when you remember to pack it.

Related: the Jakarta pollution is good for one thing: blocking those asshole UV rays. 

Still, I'd do it all again. Because look at this. Just LOOK!


So, we landed on Krakatau, recovered our land legs, ate an amazing lunch, and then frolicked on the beach. Let's just stop for a moment to talk about rolling waves, secluded, unoccupied beaches, sand so black and so fine it's like walking on espresso grinds, volcanic rock, and real life pumice stones that float. FLOAT in water. The two hours we spent here were probably the greatest two hours of my child's life, and they totally made up for all that vomit.

We hopped back into our boat for a spot of snorkeling on a real coral reef. Have you ever done that? Because, um, whoa. I'm pretty sure I saw Nemo. Also, why did no one ever tell me that you salt water is so buoyant that you don't even have to move your body to stay afloat??! Could there be anything more relaxing than floating above an undersea universe? The answer is no, PS.

This vacation may or may not have also included more massages than are really necessary to induce total relaxation, more tempeh than is reasonable for one human to consume (hi, that's me), and a sighting of a suspected monitor lizard. 

Anyway, Carita. Go. Stay at Rumah Joglo. Eat urap. Bring sunscreen. And gravol. Visit Krakatau. Go by way of Merak, and NOT via Labuhan as Lonely Planet advises, and escape the jungle of Jakarta streets for the actual jungle. Totally. Go. Now. Do it. You won't be sorry.


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"a portrait of my child once a week, every week in 2013."

Stella: Sound asleep in the jungle.

Okay, I may be cheating a bit with this one. I mean I did not actually take the picture. I handed my camera off to my dad, who silently snapped while my girl slept. But. Still. I feel justified. Totally justified in using this image. This was one of my favourite moments of our recent trip. A walk up to a waterfall turned into a real, proper, 10 KM hike up a mountain and through a jungle. It also happened to correspond in with nap time, and so my girl feel asleep in her salenang. I lagged behind the group, looked down at the curve of my girl's cheek and thought for a moment that I could see right back in time to quiet solitude of infancy. 

I would also like to point out that the jungle did wonderful things to my girl's already remarkable hair.

And, further, this little person is a champion. A real champion. I dragged her all over the place and she offered only minimal whining, general congeniality, and patience for days.


Baturaden, Central Java

Remember that time I took a long train journey with my two-year-old and her nanny / my friend and it was about the most exciting thing to happen in my little life in, ummmmm, forever? Yeah. So, you'll have to excuse me while I relive this trip, because it was a total big deal.

When we last left off, our little traveling band had just experienced some amazing jungley-waterfall-hot-spring fun in Guci and Tegal

We woke up on our second morning, hot and kind of tired from a restless night's sleep in a sub-awesome (read windowless + gecko-poop-ful) hotel room. I decided that we should hit the road again. So, out came the Lonely Planetand AH HA!!, we would head to Porwokato via train, and then to Baturaden from there by taxi.

So we packed up our bags, hopped into a becak (a bicycle taxi) and took off for the train station arriving just in time to catch our train. Or so we thought....

Turns out we bought tickets to the wrong city. Ummmm. Yeah. So, back to the ticket counter for a refund. Consoling a wee little girl who was so upset that she would not, in fact, get to ride a choo-choo that day, and back into a pair of becaks (we had seen the sweat on the guy's brow as he peddled us all on the trip to the station), and headed out to a random road-side to flag down a bus that would take us to Porwokato.

 This little lady is staring longingly at the choo-choo tracks. 

Ta! DA!  Travel adventure here we come!

I can tell you that the bus we took was just all shades of sketchy: a driver who thought stopping for passenger while they embarked was optional, but, hey, he would slow down as they jumped on; dudes hanging out smoking everywhere, but at least the door wouldn't close so there was lots of ventilation; also holes in the ground (see above re. ventilation); a rain storm (wheeeee open door). Still, the scenery was amazing, the cost was low (less than 5 dollars for the three of us!) and it got us where we wanted to go.  

Sketchiest bus in the history of busses.


We arrived in Powokato mid-afternoon and then headed up the mountain to the hill station of Baturaden. And after a long, hot, smokey and sometimes rainy journey, Baturaden was just the ticket. Peaceful, a solid 5 or 7 degrees cooler, so lush and green, it was heaven. For about 12 hours the only sound we heard was the rush of a mountain stream and a the occasional gecko call. 

We stayed at Hotel Rosenda (great location, fairly comfortable, but breakfast is kind of terrible in low season. Good value if you don't mind geckos, and okay, the biggest cockroach I've ever seen, but it's the tropics, so...) But the best part? Our view! Look! This is what we saw when we first arrived!


And it only got better in the morning. Hey, tropical paradise. I like you.


 There was some pool swimming, some nature viewing, and general kid-friendly fun. 

Oh, and like one of the best meals I've even had in Indonesia at Pringsewu, complete with a private gazebo strung with Chinese lantern. And a playground. And geckos. I can't rave enough about this place. For about $20 we ate like kings, enjoying the freshest, most delicious Indonesian food (they're super into healthy, organic, local produce and all round general yummyness.) Best? It was a five minute walk from our hotel. We ate there both nights we stayed in Baturaden and wish we could go back. 

 As we got up the next morning to explore, we didn't really have much of a plan. But we stumbled across a hot spring park, which, actually we didn't get to see much of, because there were more exciting things like a gorup of school children on a field trip! Horary! Kids! So, basically we just played the morning away, walked around the park, fed fishies, and had a swim in a pool of questionable cleanliness.  





I understand there's lots more to do in Baturaden, but I guess we'll have to go back when Mr. Chef can join us. This was a lovely little place. A perfect getaway from the hot crazy that is Jakarta. I think we may end up back here. 

For previous peeks into our trip to Central Java see these:

Project Life: Week Two

Tegal + Guci 

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Man Down

 Let's begin with some parenthesis, shall we? (The title of this post also happens to be the title of my child's third favourite song {which, of course, is is not allowed to watch on youtube, because I have to draw the line somewhere, right} [number one and number two are Gangnam Style and Twinkle, Twinkle, respectively] and I totally think that it's appropriate for a two-and-a-half-year-old to dig a track about second degree murder and the resultant desire to flee).

 With that out of the way, MAN DOWN! Some sort of flu-like virus has stuck us down one by one. So it's been a week of sickies, which cabin fever aside, has been NBD. I don't mind watching Mary Poppins on loop, taking naps with a baby on my chest, or finding an excuse to drink a hot toddy.

 In the interest of full disclosure and my commitment to not perpetuate the bloggy convention of glossing over the un-pretty things in life, it should be noted that I had to literally wrestle my sick, feverish, and over-tired baby to sleep on this day. After 45 minutes of  a tiny screaming, crying, hitting person wiping snot all over my sweater, I finally managed a little dozing too.


What I'm super not into, however, is laryngitis. Which I have. Right now. 


It's one thing to not be able to effectively communicate with adults, I mean I can text my husband from across the table. No bigs.

But when you are dealing with small humans and need to shout DO NOT POUR THAT SOUP ON THE TABLE when you're in the middle of dinner at a restaurant  in a five-star hotel and you're child is obviously going through the motions to make that spectacle happen, well, let's just say a stern yet barely audible whisper is really quite ineffective in conveying parental authority. 


So, I guess what I'm saying is man down. It's a free-for-all over here. Send help. And honey. Also lemons. (PS, did you know that three lemons will set you back 10 bucks in Indonesia?? Ouch.)

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Okay, I know this is kind of cheating, but I don't have time to write something new, and I still want to play along, so linking with Mel for her Motherhood Mondays series. And you should too.