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Entries in Travel (7)


Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay {Travel Files}

I think we find the perfect little Jakarta mini-break destination. This little organic farm and homestay serves up some of the freshest, most delicious, innovative food you'll find in all of Indonesia. (Can I just say that pesto made with basil, parsley and coconut cream was a life changing bite of goodness?)

Lodges Ekologica at Portibi Farms: Tops in the Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay situation. 

Stella and I headed out of the city with a group of friends and a gaggle of kiddos. 

We slept in beautiful cabins, paragons of Indo-hipster design esthetic. There were three-year-olds dancing to records, little boys eagerly feeding logs into a fire that roasted our sate, a nocturnal visit from a civet, vegetable harvests, and constant sequels of children running in the grass, barefoot and gleefully dirty. If you know anything about Jakarta, you know that this is basically the perfect antidote to our lovely, crazy city.

Stella was basically as happy as happy can be, reveling in the freedom offered by life in the "crunchry side". With vast tracts of grass, fresh air, and a partner in crime, my big little girl suddenly became this independent, self-reliant human person. 

For more prefect and artful images of this epic weekend, see my talented friend's website. PS, she books family shoots. So if you're local, get in touch.



Oh, and yes, my child DID wear the same dress for three days straight. I had to peel the thing off of her once we got back into the city. But I guess that's a sign of love? Dress c/o Matilda Jane.


If you Go:


  • Honestly, I couldn't think of a better mini-gateway from Jakarta than Portibi Farms This Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay offers good food, great hospitality, and lovely, lovely, fresh air.


  • All meals are included in the room rate. Which is good news, because there's not much around except trees, and nature. But I couldn't imagine wanting to eat anywhere else, frankly.


  • Like most places in Indonesia, it can get surprisingly noisy at night. Particularly if you're here on a Friday evening, the mosques in the village below are quite persistent in their reminders to pray. Bring ear plugs.


  • Expect a back to nature experience. There will be bugs. And okay, the occasional civet cat. But no bigs. Just bring some mosquito spray. 


  • While kid-friendly, (there's a little play structure / climbing frame for kids to run themselves ragged on, and the owners are more than gracious and accommodating of little ones) small people with terrible risk assessment skills (read: the under three set) will need to be closely supervised. There are balconies without railings, and the occasional steep drop-off.



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Um, hi. I'm blogging from a tropical island. 

Can't talk. Too much tropical island adventure. 



We've been spending the past 5 days on, what is perhaps, the most idyllic island in the Indo Pacific. There's not much to do here but explore, swim, build sand castles, and take afternoon naps. Oh, and learn to SCUBA dive, explore some of the most pristine coal reefs in the world, swim with green turtles and spot reef sharks, which, wut??! 

Anyway, just so you don't feel too bad about not being here too, I'll confess that it's been raining for a few days, the internet is molasses, and a certain two-year-old has been being quite two. However! Tropical island! Lifetime dream accomplished!

Now, on to the jungle where we'll hang out with some monkeys for a few days. 


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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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And we're OFF!


Stella and I (almost) all packed up and about to set off on our adventure through the wilds of Central Java. To say that I'm beyond excited is an understatement. That my kid is so frackin' stoked to finally get to ride a REAL train is a fact. Like gravity.

That we're both glum about leaving Mr. Chef behind is....true. 

Still. Five months in this amazing country, and it's time for us to get out and see something. So. Off we go!

Things may be quiet around here, but you can follow my goings on via Instagram. I'm @expatriababy. 


Gypsy Dreams

We've been in Jakarta for just over two months (wait, WHAT?!?!) and although we're barely settled, (PS, our stuff is STILL not here), we've slipped into an easy routine: Mumma-Stella Mondays, School, Pizza Fridays. I'm aching to get out and explore these islands. Let me taste something so spicy and fragrant my my mouth burns and delights in the same instant. Let me see something so beautiful it makes me soar. Let me watch the light fall, angle by angle, until golden turns to grey. Let me see a sunset, rolling hills, rice paddies, waves.

I'm thinking that the first place we'll visit will be Central Java. It's easy, a short drive away, but adventureous enough to satisfy my gypsy heart.

I'm dreaming of landscapes like this:


And this:


And this:


I want to find myself in a place like this, and wonder, is this my heart's home? Could I stay here forever? Do you think there's any land for sale over there, left of the ridge, under the banana tree?


I want to see this:


To eat this:



To do this:


To go here:


But first we have to get our shipment out of customs. We have to find places for pots and pans, organize the closet, and unpack our volume of the Lonely Planet Indonesia that I so intelligently packed with our shipment. 

So, until that day were I'm free to roam, come join me in my gypsy dreams.