Yes, we’ve arrived in Jakarta! (Looking Back At My First Post)

The Prelude

In the past week we have travelled over 17,442 miles. We’ve both laughed and we’ve cried. There has been a divorce and a marriage proposal, all in the same morning.  We’ve drunk ‘probably the most expensive lager in the world’ in the middle of the night in Dubai, and imbibed overpriced wine everywhere else. Between us we have met some extraordinary people, seen abject poverty and unbelievable wealth. A lot of books have been read, and we’ve seen a lot of movies and eaten too much ( amongst which ‘chicken satay’ of dubious origin, possibly canine?)  As a result of this, I would like to thank my sphincter muscle for not letting me down whilst waiting at the baggage carousel at Gatwick yesterday morning (wearing just a sundress , no knickers and open-toed sandals, there was no room for camouflage) and for holding it’s grip and getting me to the toilet JUST in the nick of time Thanks also to the hotel bathroom in Bangkok for giving me extreme body-dysmorphia after catching sight of myself naked ; a veritable kaleidoscope of mirrors guaranteed to make sure that ones bodily imperfections are forever burnt onto the retina and a sure way to make even the most temperate head straight for the mini-bar to drown ones sorrows. We are now back home after the most incredible week and reunited with our 2 dachshunds who, I may hasten to add, have quite a lot of explaining to do regarding certain things/stains/smells that were not here when we left.

Main Text

Yes, we’ve arrived in Jakarta, Java Island, Indonesia! This extraordinary part of the world is home to millions of people, plants and animals amongst which is our hairy ginger cousin The Orang-utan, Krakatoa – The Worlds most bad tempered volcano, 17.5 thousand islands, The One-horned Javan Rhinoceros, Butterflies larger than the palm of your hand, Cannibals and Head hunters, (n.b NOT the kind who offer you a fantastic new career opportunity) Fabulous Birds of Paradise, Komodo Dragons, Over 2,500 types of orchid, Banyan trees, 1,000’s of miles of the best surfing beaches ever, Chicken Satay and now, Mr and Mrs Nevin or Pak Pete and Ibu Lottie.

Ped’s a Dragon I’m a Rabbit

After 3 long months of anticipation, preparation, planning and packing, and then sad farewells to our children and friends, we started the long flight last Friday and after a 4 hour stopover in Dubai, and then the last 8 hour leg to Jakarta, we finally stepped off the plane late Saturday afternoon to a blasting 36 degrees of heat, a tortuously slow immigration and a further painful hour spent waiting at the baggage carousel before taking a taxi to our new apartment.

The Welcoming Committee which was made up of several cockroaches, were there to greet us but scurried off in all directions as we threw our bags and cases onto the floor and walked into what will be our home for the next few years. Desperate for a pee I found the bathroom but when I turned on the taps to wash my hands, black stinking gunk trickled out. I tried the shower, the same story and in the kitchen too. Added to this an open latrine in the boiling and airless ‘Domestic quarters’ was giving off the most vile stench of shit so that by this stage I was beginning to feel  pretty merde myself. Rapidly becoming despondent at the realities* of our new home, and with jet lag kicking in, I also noted that there were no cups, no kettle, no saucepans, in fact not even the barest of bare essentials in what had been described to us as a ‘fully furnished’ apartment. I tried the gas but just a faint, snake-like hiss didn’t bode well either and indeed on closer examination the gauge on the bottle confirmed my worst suspicions. Pedro and I who were by now totally exhausted, looked at each other and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Our first long awaited evening in Jakarta, in our new home, was starting to look just a tad unpromising. ( *next blog will be dealing with indigenous Jakartans realities, not spoilt Princess Yellowhair’s)

View of Jakarta from our balcony

But Pedro and I have a way, and the best way aside from ‘stiff upper lips’ and all that, is to be positive. Now the trick to feeling ‘Positive’ quickly is (from our experience) the consumption of copious amounts of any alcohol you can lay your hands on. So, on that dark, humid tropical evening we ventured out into the unknown streets and as luck would have it there was a ‘K’ store just around the corner. The fact that for the duration of the 3-minute walk to get there we risked life and limb, is another story entirely. (Next blog)

All Mod Con’s

Now four days down the line, and our domestic hiccups are s-l-o-w-l-y (patience is a true virtue here) but surely being ironed out and gradually we are getting used to our new routine and life – I suspect that the process of orientation will take many months, maybe years. Every day there are new challenges and frustrations to be dealt with along with the emotional highs and lows that inevitably come with stepping right out of ones comfort zone and parking oneself in a totally alien culture and environment on the other side of the world.

Bintang Bintang Biscuit Barrel
Oooh Err madam

As we are essentially camping right now due to the lack of kitchen utensils etc, it does give us the perfect excuse to sample the delights of the Padang kitchen down the road (handily located next to K stores for beer and fags) I think its pretty fair to say that Pedro and I have made quite an impression on the staff there. For some reason as soon as we walk in the door of this unsophisticated Eaterie, mass hysteria ensues and there is much giggling and pointing from the chefs particularly at me, YellowHair. (In fact I get stared and pointed at just about everywhere I go as I am the only yellow haired person for miles around – it’s slightly unnerving especially if you don’t court celebritydom)

Quadraphenia 2

The food at Pandang Kitchen is delicious and ridiculously cheap. You start with a heap of rice which is placed in the middle of a banana leaf and then the fun begins– you choose what you like from various pans of meat, fish and vegetables, curries, fritters, eggs and sauces, pickles and chillies, pointing and asking questions which in all honesty are totally futile as nobody understands us, and we don’t understand a word of Bahasa Indonesian so it’s kind of pot luck/Russian Roulette because the one thing I do know, absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that dog is pretty common fayre (according to my trusty Lonely Planet guide) and can easily be mistaken for chicken, especially in a stew type dish. Take last night for example;  Pedro had to go out to a business dinner so I was left to my own devices in the flat. After an hour or so and several Bintangs down the line, I decided to brave the rainstorm and run the gauntlet of 1,000’s of mopeds, cars and buses and head out to Pandang Kitchen to collect some supper. The usual giggles, pointing and banter, which I naturally took all in good humour – and after much pointing and futile questions, my shiny green banana leaf was soon stuffed with treats and then wrapped neatly and efficiently into a parcel with newspaper for insulation and tied up with a rubber band for the journey back home to the flat.

K Cera

Now Folks,  the thing is that I was pretty sure that I had only ordered vegetable dishes, but somewhere along the evenings culinary line- up something distinctly ‘Fishy’ had found it’s way into my takeaway. Try if you can possibly bear to, to imagine what your Granny’s ancient very dirty crusty knickers might taste like if they were quickly boiled then hung out to dry in the hot sun? Whatever it was that I was eating was quite extraordinary and in a sort of perverted way, weirdly quite nice – I know! It sounds totally disgusting but at least it wasn’t dog. (well I fucking hope not)


44 thoughts on “Yes, we’ve arrived in Jakarta! (Looking Back At My First Post)

  1. This obscene and unseemly behaviour should not be allowed on WordPress. Great blog Lottie. We hope to taste the delights of the Crustyknickerbocker in all its glory. All sounds very intriguing and challenging for you both especially in the janitorial department. Nice to know you have the Indonesian Bargain Booze on your doorstep. Very well written Lottie. The following adjectives might be useful in future posts: belligerent; tempestuous; dendrophilous; porcine; simian; batrachian; vulpine; itchy; scrawny; teeny-tiny.


    1. Thank you Mr Horl. I’ve been pouring over my thesaurus and you are the winner with dendrophilous…..!

      Thanks for your comments – much appreciated and I’m glad you’re enjoying reading about Crustyknickerbockers and the Glorious Jakarta


  2. Bloomin heck Lottie, not sure I could cope, not sure at all.

    Was the loo thingy in your bathroom a stoop-and-poop, a french style convienience with jacking points or are you expected to sit/hovver over it?

    Will do “worm” research and get back to you with advice, but yes you are going to lose weight either because of the worms or the lack of eating through sheer fear.

    However, my friend survived 2 years in mumbai with a toddler and baby, so I guess there are ways to stay sane and healthy.


    1. Thanks Bernadette

      You would cope beautifully here, I know you would!
      Thanks for your comments, and thanks for reading my blog.
      It is really appreciated. Hope you enjoy the rest………


  3. Dog?! And that surely wasnt some high class vagina douching machine? And yet there among the madness is the laptop with facebook on it – loving the adventure beautiful girl – and dont ever forget that wonderful song – accentuate the positive – eliminate the negative – latch on to the affirmative and don’t mess with mr in between ( or worms, dog eating and dirty vag’s’- your own or your granny’s’ ) as they say in ireland – no better woman! Xxxxx


    1. Ah, ’tis kind of you to say so Ms Courtney. Yes, the high class douche is a common feature here in Jakarta and I shall be devoting a full blog to it soon. Watch this space! XXX


    1. This was my first ever blog post! It seems like ages ago since I wrote it!
      Those early days in Jakarta were a real eye opener for us both. I think we’ve both come a long way since then!!

      Thanks Anton, you keep rockin’ too.


  4. love this one. All sounds familiar to me. Born Indonesian, grew up indonesian but i can see things from other perspective as i grew older and knowing a bit more. interesting..


    1. Thank you Lia 🙂

      Moving to Indonesia is a HUGE change from having lived in the west. I love it here and feel very happy though I miss my family and friends like mad of course! According to family legend I do have some Indonesian blood in me and I’d really like to think that it is true. It’s now almost 6 months since I wrote that first post, and I can’t believe now, just a few months down the line, how much we have both acheived, learnt and discovered since we have been here. We both feel very blessed to have this opportunity to be here in this extraordinary country.

      Thank you for your lovely comment and for stopping by, I really appreciate it. Lottie


      1. I totally understand how you feel.. it’s a beautiful country but can be very overwhelming also sometimes. There are even things that you simply can not comprehend. It’s nothing bad… it’s just different. Some people couldn’t even survive 2 months hehehe.. if you love it here already within 6 months. you’re doing great. I grew up in Bandung, I forget the chaos of big cities sometimes. Keep posting 🙂 I love your writing.


  5. I love Nasi Padang, Soto Ayam, Mie Ayam Bangka, Nasi Uduk, Bakwan and of course the chilli paste Sambal Terasi!

    If you yet haven’t discovered it, you could order a pizza from Pepe Nero’s if its nearby, (Pondok Indah) and a you could add a bottle of Bali-bottled drinkable Shiraz at only 150,000 Rp. They’ll deliver. 🙂


    1. Bali bottled drinkable shiraz at 150,000 sounds like it could be a winner, Thanks for that tip off!! Yes, I love Soto Ayam too, it’s definitely one of my favourite Indonesian dishes. Having said that, fresh grilled fish on the beach in Bali is difficult to beat too! I was a huge fan of Bakso until I spent all night on the loo and had such bad stomach cramps that I almost felt like I was in third stage labour – probably too much info there!


      1. I am sorry to hear of it. It’s a common affliction for those who dare venture into warungs. I take my risks, with eyes wide open (for any unexpected crawling additions to the dishes). Ah grilled fish is good, too. One popular clean place for seafood in Jakarta is Bandar Jakarta, a seafood restaurant. For decent bakso, I would not recommend streetside cooking. Es Teler has decent bakso, mie ayam, and their deserts are worht a try.


  6. I can’t understand why you want to leave for Spain. This sounds like Paradise. If you’re a cockroach. On balance maybe España is a better prospect.


    1. Lorijo, I need to explain. I’ve always called Pete, Pedro. However, for the sake of my blog (and a little distance perhaps?) he acquired the alias of ‘Irishman’ just to simplify matters x


  7. So strange to read this post as newcomers and read your posts as ‘Oldcomers’ just before you leave for Espana. ( Sorry, I can’t get the squiggle where it belongs or anywhere else. Being unable to manage my squiggles has become a way of life). I guarantee that nothing in Spain will faze you now and family are much more within reach as is an understandable language so you know if pooch is on the menu.
    I’m looking forward to the first Spanish Blog as soon as you settle.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


    1. David, I’m longing to know how to do the squiggle too! and the upside down exclamation marks – maybe you have to hold the laptop upside down and press twice to achive those? I’m sure I’ll work it out somehow 🙂
      Yes, as long as I learn the language, I’m hoping that Spain will be a walk in the park. My only concerns are how we make some income and survive. That will be our greatest challenge. Huge Hugs right back at ya! XXX


  8. Good grief. What an account of all that happned to you and Pete. Lord have mercy. You have got some grit lady. I think that now you can weather any situation. Surely Spain will be as easy as playing “spin the bottle” and the conditions surely will not be as bad as adjusting to Jakarta.

    Hope all is going good with the shipping part. Just a few weeks left and you can shout,
    “we’re out of here”!

    ~yvonne xxx


    1. Oh the shipping nightmare continues but at last I’ve got some quotes which make it affordable. A couple of weeks ago, I was seriously thinking of just chucking everything over the balcony, or burning it. One of the earlier quotes was for $9,000 – our stuff is worth a fraction of that – you can imagine what my response was! Outrage and fury and a few choice words. I’m packing up the house in Bali today, it will be very sad to leave here at the end of this week, it’s been a joy to have such a wonderful place to escape to at weekends and for our children and friends to come and stay. However, I’m hoping that they will all love our new house in Andalucia. I hope Pete loves it too! Remember he still hasn’t seen it…….:D

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are lovely, Sarah. Thank you. I sincerely hope that you don’t break your hip, that seems like an excruciatingly painful way to have to read my blog. One of my girlfriends says she reads it when she has an attack of insomnia – I’m not sure whether to take that as a compliment or not? 😀


  9. I can barely control my blorkin’ reflexes after reading the “Welcome to your new home” section. While you spent your last two years in paradise I would have been holed up in the local penitentiary for whackin’ the rental agent. Holy crapoly, you got what it takes lady!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to tell you Steve, we were so pissed with the agents. It was a seriously depressing and gag-worthy situation that we found ourselves in that first evening. We complained like hell but nothing ever got done about it and we were stuck there for a year as the rent had been paid by Pete’s employers upfront. The neighbours toilet from their bathroom above ours used to drip down onto our heads when we were sat on ours – and the kitchen cupboards were so rotten that that I couldn’t use them. Only the stove top worked, not the oven and it was constantly infested with cockroaches. We moved to a different apartment 7 floors above and it has been a joy living there. The owner had obviously spent some money on it and had it refurbished so we got lucky for our last year 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I just read the first two paragraphs to my Hubs. He loves you as much as I do now. So funny, and so real, and so wonderful! So jealous too. We only get one life, thank you for letting me live mine through yours. The days get boring here in Kentucky! xx


    1. April, you still have plenty of time for adventures! Remember I had 5 kids and was pretty much tied to a kitchen sink and changing mat for years – I had moments of wondering whether I would ever get out of the house, never mind travel! It passes so quick, enjoy what you have for now and I promise, those travel dreams of yours will come true 🙂


  11. I read your post with nostalgia! The beginning of our life in Jakarta was really hard for me, but I soon learned to love my life in Jakarta. Now I am in India, though, I appreciate the hardship I went through because Indonesia totally prepared me to live in India. Patience is virtue here as well. I love your sense of humor!


    1. Kaho, I am very jealous of you living in India. It’s somewhere that I’ve always wanted to go. Jakarta is a tough place to live but I too have enjoyed my time here. It’s funny to think that in less than 3 weeks I shall be living in Spain – another set of adventures! hey, maybe I can find a Spanish coleslaw recipe to share with you?! xx


      1. Wow, Spain!! Score for you!! You must be so excited and that’s close to your home, isn’t it? Yes, India is fascinating. I love it here despite some challenges. I would love it if you could share some good coleslaw recipes from Spain! Good luck with your move. I just went through unpacking and settling in and I was reminded how difficult it can be. Then it passes and I forget. Safe travels and enjoy the rest of your time in Big Durian!


      2. Of course I shall send you some, Kaho. I’ve bookmarked your ‘slaw recipe and will let you know of any coleslaw gems that I come across – promise! It will be funny leaving here but I’m ready to go now – I’m looking forward to be able to go on long walks again, something that I’ve missed a lot. I imagine that you had the same problems when you where here. Nice to be in touch with you and have a lovely Sunday. Funnily enough, we are going out to an Indian restaurant for lunch…I’ll think of you having the real deal! xx


      3. Love nice walks. I walk here to go shopping sometimes. It’s nice although I have to be careful not to be run over by rickshaws and cars. Shame we didn’t meet up in Jakarta. Enjoy your lunch on Sunday! Stay in touch!


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