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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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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On expats, adjustment, and carseats.


This weekend I got chewed out by an Indonesian mother.

Granted I kind of deserved a stern talking-to because I did go in full blaze, when a more measured approach would have been adequate. 

You see, I have a way of being ornery when confronted with certain triggers (namely rich people with superiority complexes and rules that I deem totally inane). This particular situation had both. In spades. And, PS, if you didn't already know this about me, when my principles get trodden upon and I feel that justice has been silted, well, watchit. (See aforementioned orneriness.) 

Anyway, she left, shouting at me, "You live here. Adapt. Just adapt. Adapt, okay? Adapt." And that phrase has jammed itself into my brain. 

Because you see, I like to think of myself as a "good" expat, the kind that sees locals on equal footing, the kind that doesn't abuse humans, the kind that isn't super into endless discussions of Us v. Them.


That call, Adapt. Adapt. Adapt. Well, it stung, as it was intended to, I think. And the sting comes from my insecurity, my own questioning of how far I need to adapt, and how firmly I must cling on to my native norms. 


Let's take, for example, notions of safety, about which I've written previously in both the Japanese and Indonesian contexts.


We tend to infer a great deal about someone's parental fitness by the way in which they comply to standard safety practices. North American babies spend the better part of their childhoods strapped into some form of vehicular restraining device. My own daughter drove from Northern Ontario to Southern Michigan in a super-safe infant seat, and screamed all the way. Better she scream, purple-faced and angry, than risk the small chance of a car accident. An unrestrained baby, well, that's a marker of total immorality and parental neglect. Just look a the price Britney Spears paid.


Here in Indonesia, few babies are put in car seats. Partly because cars are beyond the means of most, but also partly because here babies are held, not left sitting restrained in a seat. A  purple-faced crying baby cruelly left tied down when he just wants to  be held, well, that's tantamount  to child abuse. 


We North Americans (well, a certain breed of us anyway) banish all forms of BPA, toxic chemicals, pesticides, and screen-time brain-rot. Here, not so. 

Here hands are washed vigorously, sick littles are set to the doctor at the first sign of a sneeze, and my choice to let my child ride out her illness unmediated is seen as a dubious one.


There are ways in which I absolutely have adapted to life in Indonesia. I'm okay with my kid eating white rice, and street food. I carry my toddler in a salandang. I let strangers pick her up, and pinch her cheek. I've adjusted my time clock and my child's schedule to keep pace with daily calls to prayer. I've left *some* of my aggressiveness (picked up in China, BTW, another adaptation, another country) in favour of a friendly smile, because pushiness gets you nowhere here.

 Lunch on leaves. Total adaptation. 


Strangers man-handling my kid. Adapted. Yeah.

Appearing in public like this = failure to adapt.

But there are other ways in which I have not adapted. I won't go around acting like we live in a caste system. I'm not following the convention of my social station and engaging a car and driver. I walk places. I take busses and taxis. I still eat Western food, most of the time. I wear shorts. I go places without my hair done. I still think like a Westerner. 

I still get really angry when the rich and privileged go around acting like are better then everyone. 


So, I'm just not sure, how far do I need to adapt here to be a "good" expat? Do I really need to adapt to practices and situations against which my values scream NOOOOOOOO! NOT GOOD!! Do I just silently stew, or do I say something (with a little more artfulness than I exhibited this weekend.) How far can you bend and adapt but still maintain your sense of self, your culture, your values?  I'm not sure. 


Do you have any insight here?

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This post was kindly sponsored by 21st Century Insurance. Thanks, guys! I really dig your community activism and social media outreach. 


Speaking of safety, here's a cool thing, 21st Century Insurance is running a contest to promote child safety while driving and they are giving away free car seats to creative people that can redesign the Baby on Board sign. The grand prize winner even gets $10,000 for a nursery redesign. You can find the contest here.


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Tegal and Guci, Central Java

Well, now that I've got my sleepytime rant out of the way, let's talk again about gallivanting around the jungle. (And by jungle, I mean a sort of forested area that is totally jungley if you're a clueless bule like me.) 

first stop: tegal.

Our first stop on our wild and crazy adventure was to Tegal, a smallish, rather unremarkable city on the North coast of Java. 

Our main motivation for visiting here, besides my inclination to visit a city whose merits are discussed in exactly zero travel guides, was to see Stella's nanny's family. And thus, the first thing we did after a night in a windowless room was to hop on a minibus (60 cents for the three of us!) and drive to the outskirts of the city. From there, we went by pony-cart, past farmers tending rice, until we arrived at the road leading to the village. We walked the last few hundred meters. Which was kind of a thing, apparently, as indicated by the number of shocked stares and comments by disapproving neighbours.


indonesian pony cart

Let me tell you, my kid loved it in the village. She's been asking to return ever since. There was nothing super extraordinary, it was just village life, pure and true. Barefoot kids running around; people wandering into the shop next door; chickens scratching in the dirt; neighbours passing by with a wave or a piece of news.

indonesian village

We hung out, chatted, sat in the open doorway, waved at the neighbour kids also sitting in their doorway, and watched the world go by. Presently, a straw mat was unfurled on the living room floor, and we sat around eating noodles and fried rice, which pretty much blew my kid's mind because OMG noodles are the best thing ever. And rice is the second best thing.

mei goring


next stop: guci hot springs. 

guci hot springs

We all piled into a van and off we went, up to the hills, past terraced fields. Newly planted rice gave way to cabbage and strawberries as our ears began to pop with altitude. 

drive to guci hot springs

 We then found ourselves amidst the chaos of a hot spring free-for-all / market / public bath.  (Protip: When swimming in Indonesia, it's quite normal to go in fully clothed, something I was not prepared for. I packed up my modest one-piece suit, a concession to more conservative values, but didn't dare don my outlandish swimming getup, as I totally felt too naked. And if you're under 10, you swim in underwear and undershirts. So the moral of this story is: bring a change of clothes. Now you know.)

Here's what Guci looked like:

Guci hot springs 

Guci hot springs

guci hot springs indonesia

At Guci there's two options for taking the waters (let's just pretend we're Victorian fancypants people, shall we?). You can jump in with the masses and bathe in the natural springs for free, or you can soak in a barely occupied spring-fed pool of questionable cleanliness (both adult and baby sized) for about 50 cents. 

Also, while the buoyant water was lovely and relaxing, and apparently imbued with special restorative powers, my kid, the little penguin that she is, was not impressed with a pool that was hot like a bath. "Me no need baff," she decreed. Alright then!

A little further up the hill past the bedlam of the market, was an amazing jungle waterfall. We hiked up to the top and discovered rubber trees. Like, holy moley, real, live rubber trees. Wut? I thought those only existed in vaguely foggy stories of exploitative colonial days gone by. 


waterfall indonesia

rubber tree


rubber tree with sap

Tegal is full of bright, colourful buildings, bustling markets, aggressive taxi drivers and void of tourists the hustle that is common in Jakarta. While charming, I wouldn't recommend it as a destination in and of itself, but as a stopover between Jakarta and Surabaya, it's lovely. Particularly if you intend to head up to the mountains and visit the hot springs at Guci. The drive up to Guci is breathtaking, the air so clear and refreshing. I declareit a wonderful little hidden gem. 

If you head up Guci way, bring shorts and a tee-shirt to swim in, a change of clothing, and perhaps a sweater. It can get a little chilly up there. And most importantly, make sure you go up to the mountain waterfall. There are two: one that feeds the hot spring bath, but the one that's further up the hill, that's the one you want. You'll have to pay a small entry fee (like a dollar or something.) If you're lucky, no one will be there, and you'll have the most amazing views all to yourself. See? Like this:

jungle view indonesia


Hey, if you've voted for my blog in the past few days, thanks. We've made it to the second page of the directory. Which is totally a big deal in my little world. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And to a special twitter friend who votes twice a day, your gesture of kindness kind of totally made my day after a pretty horrific tantrum-filled 24 hours. So.

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Project Life: Week Two: Central Java

Well, this was a week. The kind of week where you want to take pictures of everything. Where you want to live every moment, and not forget a thing, not even the gecko sleepover, or the largest cockroach you've ever seen.

The second week of 2013, and we're already adventuring. Stella and I traveled together with Stella's nanny into Central Java, by train, bus, bicycle rickshaw, and pony cart. Not taxis, because they were out of a bit of price gouging (double! tipple Jakarta prices!!) and I mean, who would even consider a taxi when you could go by pony cart????

So here we are, our trip through Central Java. Expect follow-up posts about specific places we went, sights we visited, food we ate, and the lizards / snakes / spiders that we didn't scream (too loudly) about when we spotted them in the grass.

Central Java Train


>>>train view<<<
Train travel in Indonesia

 <<<boarding the train in jakarta>>>backpack awaiting departure>>>thrilled to be on a bike-rickshaw>>>

Traveling in Indonesia

 <<<<super sketch buss<<<with a door that didn't close>>>train station>>>mini bus>>>  


Pony Cart in Central Java

>>>pony cart<<<<

Village in Central Java

>>>village life<<<

Waterfall at Guci Central Java

>>>jungle waterfalls<<<

Guci Central Java 

>>>hot springs>>>


>>>more juggle waterfalls<<<

 >>>hiking. hugging.<<<

fields central java

>>>roadside view<<<

Indonesia Food

>>>food served on leaves<<<

 >>>pool fun<<<

>>>the best kind of restaurant. random. beautiful. private. gorgeous, fresh food.<<<

 >>>but according to my child, the best restaurant have a playground behind your table.<<<

>>>frolicking amidst ancient ruins<<< 

>>>photographs with an uncooperative toddler<<<

>>> Ancient wonder<<<

>>>night sky, as seen from the front of a bicycle-rickshaw<<<


Well, that's what we were up to last week. While I'm certainly enjoying staying (safe and dry) at home, I'm also itching to get out on the road again.

Remember I'm participating in a great group giveaway right now. Just a few more days to enter. Winner takes all. It's kind of a big deal. So, basically what I'm saying is enter. Please? 


Jakarta is flooded. 

Stella and I are safe and dry, up above it all, with a fully stocked pantry, and a closet full of dry clothes.

Together with Stella's nanny, we pressed our faces to the window, looking down upon Bundaran H.I., Jakarta's major traffic circle, and it's under water. People wading through knee-deep, murky brown, pushing stalled motor-bikes, trying to find safe passage from here to there. 

We had just spent the previous week traveling, aboard trains that pass through slums, homes pieced together out of blue tarpaulin and cardboard. We were talking about the gravity of the situation, the thousands of people whose homes are flooded, who have no dry clothes, whose stocks of food have all been ruined. And it is primarily those people, the ones who live beside the train tracks, or in poorly serviced neighbourhoods who suffer.

Stella's nanny remarked, "Its so different you know, for rich people." I nodded my head in agreement. This is a topic we revisit frequently. I like to set myself apart from "The Rich", disdainful of their heavy egos and empty souls, and repulsed by their inclination to abuse humans who are not so rich.

"It's the poor people who suffer. You just press your nose to the glass and look down."

That killed me. She didn't mean to, but knife in heart.

She's right, though. It's not fair. It is so different, and I hate it. It feels really awful. I'm rich. I'm lucky. I'm dry. And that's not fair.


Phew! What a week! (Or rahter five days? Was it really only five days? I was just cursing through my photos {which, PS, turned out to be all rather meh, as landscape photography with a 50 mm lens is basically highly sub-optimal} and I was like, wait how can that have been only yesterday, it feels like half a lifetime ago???)

Here we are, three traveling bandits, discovering the great joy that comes from combining a two-year-old with an unguarded historical ruin and a camera remote. Seriously. Does it get any better than this???

So we're back, and we ticked most of the adventure boxes: last minute plans and a mad rush to the train station; a madcap ride through the jungle on a bus that can only be classified as extraordinarily sketchy, piloted by a driver whose perception of risk caused me, on more than one occasion, to contemplate the end of my life; geckos and dinosaur bugs aplenty; street food that made me offer devotions to the diarrhea gods, but was also kind of sublime; green green green vistas that would not let me close my eyes, note even for a moment for fear I miss a heard of sheep or the span of a bridge or the arc of a bundle of rice seedlings as it sails through the air; random (good natured) kidnappings of my child; sleepless nights; kindness and joy, the likes of which I'll not soon forget.

Anyway, we're back. We're exhausted. But also (at least I speak for my self here) reinvigorated, energized, and totally charmed by this amazing country. I'm already dreaming up our next trip. Really. I've had a taste of adventure, and now, please look away while I gorge myself on wanderlust, and also stand by for roughly a billion (poor quality) images of our trip and tales of roaming hither and tither through Central Java with a two-year-old in tow. 


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. 

the year that was.

The year in review. Including selfies. Perhaps the most sybaritic piece of blogger trickery imaginable. But. Twelve months ago, at just about this same time, I dove headfirst into the changeover of year. So eager to begin again, I didn't stop to consider what had come before, or what the coming year wanted of me. So. Headfirst with a plan but not much clarity. I didn't achieve many of my professional goals in 2012. A few pieces of writing published, one or two of which I'm particularly proud, but not on the order of what I had expected of myself. And amidst this certain degree of floundering, I don't want to forget to remember what a beautiful year it really was. Now, if you'll excuse me, here comes a picture-laden romp through my memory. Okay. Go.
Read More

New Year's Eve: Act One

I like New Year's Eve. I like it a lot. I'd almost go so far as to say that I'd take it over Christmas. It's the anticipation, excitement, freshness of the day. It's the celebratory way in which we bid a fond farewell to extra-special year, or perhaps a gleeful "sayonara sucker" to a year that we'd rather forget.

I've found that the best way to enjoy this last day of the year is to make no plans, to have no expectations, and just wait for the night to unfold.

Mr. Chef was working, as is the lot of those in hospitality, so my girl and I, we just went where the wind carriedus, and we had one of the best nights in aeons. 

One of the busiest roads in Jakarta was closed from late afternoon until well into the night. Streets that are usually gridlocked and honking were now gridlocked and honking, but of a different sort. People, packed into so tightly there was no possibility of movement, blowing horns, lighting fireworks, and shouting greetings well into the night. And everyone was so happy, despite the drizzle.

In place of cars and busses were food stalls, fiery woks and glowing charcoal.

Things deep fried and delicious. 

Steamed peanuts and steamed corn.

We met this little girl, dancing her heart out in the central fountain. Scores of people were blowing bubbles, plastic cups of dish detergent and pipe cleaner wands sold for a few cents turned the air to magic.

Stella got in on the action. And was thrilled.

I only pass my kid off to random strangers on special occasions. 

And here, she's amazed to be set free to wander through the streets and dart in and out of crowds without hindrance from her mother. 

All of this was only the pre-party. Rain started coming down heavier by 7 PM, so my girl and I took refuge inside. 

More adventures to come!

While not exactly wordless, per se, this post is word lite. And so, I'm pretty sure that justifies linking for Wordless Wednesday at The Paper Mama, Parenting BY Dummies, + Seven Clown Circus

Up and Down the Coast On Very Little Sleep

With the Christmas season fast approaching, talk of holidays and beaches and voyages afar is the currency of the expat wife. Where are you going for the holidays, everyone asks? 


Well, nowhere, because my husband is working. 


But alas, my nomadic heart is growing weary of standing still. In a country this amazing, this diverse, I'll not let an opportunity to explore pass me by. Stella has a few weeks off school. So, off we go!



So, after Christmas, Stella and I are heading out on an adventure. We'll be traveling up the coast to Central Java. We'll go by train because in my imagination I'm still a 22 year-old backpacker. And also because my kid is a die heard trainspotter. 


Looks safe, no?


Our itinerary is a work in progress (where the "work" has not actually taken place yet), but I'm thinking of heading to wards Tegal, exploring some beaches, and perhaps the hot springs of Guci, before perhaps moving on to the highlands of the Dieng Plateau, and back to Jakarta via Bandung. 



You may think that such an adventurous journey might be slightly daunting with a two-year-old as a travel companion (though the two-year-old in question is actually quite the champion voyager), and yeah, I am a bit nervous about the upcoming trip, but not for the reasons that you'd suspect.


I'm not worried about traveling by train. Not Missed connections. Not dragging a toddler through unfamiliar train stations in strange cities. Five hours and toilets of questionable functionality don't deter me. Nor does dengue. Or malaria. Or bird flu (don't worry, Mr. Chef, Tegal is famous for lamb sate. No joke.) I'm sure that there will be moments of stress, times when one (or both) of us will be in tears. But these moments will pass quickly. Tears can be dried. Most travel problems can righted with a bit of time and some creativity. 


What I am worried about is sleep. 


My kid needs to sleep in a bed. Her bed. Not mine. At specific hours of the day and night. Quietly. In darkness. Just so. And if you disturb her pattern, miss her bedtime by even five minutes, watch out. No one will be sleeping. Like ever. (PS remember that one time when she stayed awake for 36 hours straight???).


Typically she needs a baby containment device like this one in order to get any sort of decent sleep. And that wouldn't be a problem were we staying in a fancy hotel. But we're not. Remember, I'm a 22-year-old backpacker and I want ADVENTURE!! (and cheap lodging).


I anticipate that in the absence of a hotel provided crib, we'll be doing some bed-sharing, which is something that we both love (in theory). But it doesn't actually work. There's very little sleep when se share a bed. Rather a whole lot of PLAY! Hide! Hold hands! Talk! (Not sleep. Ever.)


The last time we went on a holiday that required bed-sharing a certain little person would refuse to sleep before about 10 PM and then be up and ready for the beach sometime before the crack of dawn. Oy. 


Also, our resident baby whisperer (Mr. Chef) will not be along for the ride. (tears!)


(I know this is a problem that can be solved by shopping online for baby products. Do they make baby ear plugs? I know there are portable baby black out blinds. So. Maybe that's a good investment.)


So, yeah. I'm a bit nervous about this trip. I'm apprehensive of sleep deprivation, extreme crankiness, and exhaustion headaches. I'd take a missed train connection over 5 sleepless nights. Any day.


Apropos of nothing (except for sleep, I guess) is this not the coolest product ever???


PS, if you have any Central Java travel tips (sleep related or otherwise) I'd love to hear them!


This post was sponsored by Baby Luvre. All content, opinions, and overuse of parenthesis are mine, and mine alone.




I have legs and can walk places and also take the bus. #NABLOPOMO

I get a fair few scandalized glances wherever I leave the hotel on foot. Like, WHAT?? A Caucasian who walks places! That will not do!!

But I do. I walk places, because I have two legs that work, and a body that needs excercise, and eyes that like to see things, and impatience for sitting in gridlocked traffic when walking is actually less nauseating and much faster.

So I walk. Or take taxis. Or the bus. Because it's faster. Because it's more interesting. Because I like it.

Occasionally people ask me why I don't have a car, not in a curious, 'hey, what's up with not having a car' kind of way, but more in a 'GASP! You don't have a car and driver, you poor pauper! However on Earth do you survive.'

Anyway, today I sunk to a new low: I drove home from the wet market (OMG YOU WENT TO THE WET MARKET AND DIDN'T DIE OF TYPHOID say all of the expat princesses, but that's another story for another post, one that involves decapitated {defootitated?} cow hoofs piled up like logs ready to be scraped of their fur and put into a pot for lunch. Real life, people. Real life.)

I really wanted to drive up to the hotel lobby like this. But alas, I have my husband's professional reputation to protect.

So I'm a closet non-princess. 

Next up: Motercycle taxis. 



Car Free Day in Jakarta {travel files}

Sometimes, when you live in Indonesia, you kind of just have to throw your expectations up into the air, and watch them shatter into a million pieces, as they get shot all to hell like scores of clay presumptuous pigeons.

The only thing you can reasonably do, at moments like this, is to delight in the fact that you're blowing all to hell your suppositions, plans, and assumptions, and just get out to see what you can see.

Basically, what I'm saying is if you get woken up well before dawn even breaks, by a pounding baseline and thousands of revelers outside your window, occasionally the only sensible course of action is to throw on some clothes, run a toothbrush across your teeth, and then go outside to see what in the WHAT is going on.


And then you'll discover a raging party, a concert, a demonstration in favour of One Indonesia, and against discrimination. Which I guess is okay, I mean, discrimination is bad. So I guess, it's cool that your reveling and base thumping work me at 4:30 AM. I can get behind that. Even if I'm up and outside on a Sunday, so early that Starbucks is not even open yet and there is no coffee to be had even though we live in a place called Java. OHHHHH the injustice of irony.

This, friends, is Car Free day in Jakarta. And it's pretty rad.

You might also discover literally thousands of people clapping, singing, hollering, and dancing. (Let me reiterate, it's 7:20 AM), And these people will move aside and make way for you and your massive stroller because, it's cool, you're a mum with a kid, and you need to get by, and sure, we'll part the crowd on your behalf like seas in the desert or some other similarly impressive biblical simile, NBD.



You might also see a million bikes where typically there are a million billion cars. Cars which are usually not moving, but honking really loudly nonetheless, because. You know. 

Perhaps you'll also see a clown dressed in batik riding a bike that is LITERALLY two stories tall. Twice. Because, why not?

Or a dude who is using considerable force to remove a boa constrictor which has wrapped itself, with great determination, around his neck. 

Perhaps you'll come across another dude who's arms are red with welts from some fangy orange snake who keeps sinking his super sharp snake teeth into into the above mentioned dude's forearm.

You might ask the snake dude what he's doing and he might tell you that he's promoting awareness of Indonesian Hedgehogs, and you won't second guess anything about that statement, even though he's holding two carnivorous snakes, because you just saw a two-story bike being ridden by a clown, so clearly snakes + hedgehogs = a very happy match.

You might also catch sight of a bunch of tame Sunda flying lemurs running around Jakarta's busiest roads.

And you might even get to hold one of these Sunda gliders all by yourself and practically explode with glee while your own child cowers in terror somewhere in the middle of the street because small animals WAH NIGHTMARE while strangers caress her pale and strange bule skin but you don't care because ZOMG TINY ANIMALS IN YOUR HAND.


So, basically what I'm saying is for the first time in the history of everything, I'm now motivated to get up and out of the house before 7:30 am on a Sunday, because OMG YOU GUYS all of the above mentioned shenanigans totally happened and WTF I just don't even understand but that's fine because I got to hold a flying lemur. And this takes place every week! Car Free Day in Jakarta. Get into it.

The end.

Well, not quite the end. Basically, Car Free Day in Jakarta happens every Sunday on Jalan Sudirman, running from Senayan to Monas. If you're in Jakarta, don't miss it. Got it? Sunday Mornings. Things usually get going around 6 Am and continue till about 11. Jalan Sudirman. See you there.