Monday, May 28, 2012 0 comments

First Weekend: Lady Gaga Look Alike Contest and More!

On Saturday, I went out for some Chinese which was tasty and afterward, went with my roommate to the club known as "Immigrant". It didn't really have a club feel as it was more like a lounge, the music super old (but good) and the drinks at NYC prices (now that's just crazy). Anyway, it was enjoyable but I don't think I will be coming back here. The upside was that the location had a great view of the city which was appreciated. Hopefully, I will be able to try out some other neat nightlife while I am here.

View of the city from top of "Immigrant" (blackberry vr)
On Sunday, I went with my roommate to EX which is connected to Plaza Indonesia. It has more entertainment related activities along with food. We happened to be there on the day that there was a Lady Gaga look alike contest which was interesting. It seemed to me like there were more young boys dressed in drag than there were girls and I found this amusing. Overall, very enjoyable to watch the Indonesians rock out to Lady Gaga songs. I am sure they will be unhappy when they find out that Lady Gaga cancelled her concert here. Aside from the contest, we also went bowling with others from the embassy and some of their friends. I was very bad at bowling but enjoyed it nonetheless. Something important to note is that I am feeling better health-wise and no longer have trouble breathing! I guess I will stay on this treatment until I go back home to the States.

 Gaga's" Little 'Indonesian' Monsters
Today, since it was a long weekend I decided to go shopping with one of the girls who I work with. We also had lunch with two other co-workers of ours at Sushi Tei. It was really fun to grab food from the conveyor belt not always sure of what one was picking. I think I may have done this once in the States, but if I did, it must have been a long time ago because I don't remember doing it. Overall, a fun first weekend in Jakarta! Can't wait for next weekend when I will be flying to Yogyakarta for the wedding of one of my friends and fellow Seeple, Gerri!

At Sushi Tei with Friends

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 0 comments


I have to quote NPOV wiki when describing my current impression of Jakarta because it describes it so nicely.

"Quite frankly, Jakarta is not an attractive city: a sweltering, steaming, heaving mass of people packed into a vast urban sprawl, the contrast between the obscene wealth of Indonesia's elite and the appalling poverty of the urban poor is incredible, with tinted-window BMWs turning left at the Gucci shop into muddy lanes full of begging street children and corrugated iron shacks. The city's traffic is in perpetual gridlock, its polluted air is matched only by the smells of burning garbage and open sewers, and safety is a concern especially at night. There are few sights to speak of and most visitors transit as quickly as possible."

I hope to see an improvement on this impression of this city in the coming weeks and as I near the end of my stay. If I am lucky, I may be able to join a trip on Saturday to see a bead-maker in the southern part of the city.

At least my job is demanding but interesting and this is helping me to keep a positive outlook. This trip is helping me to grow not just professionally, but as a person as well. It is definitely challenging me to push myself past my preconceived limitations.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 0 comments

Second Day at the Embassy: I’m Already on a Medical Treatment

Sunday night was one for the books. I seriously felt like I was dying. Yes, after walking for 20 minutes outside I was having an asthma attack and no, I am not sure how I made it until Monday morning. I seriously think my roommate Daniel saved my life. I thought I was going to faint and if it weren’t for his stoic nature and encouraging words I don’t know what would have happened. The pollution here really IS that bad. Hell, the sky is a constant grey! I am glad that if I was going to be here it was with the government. As soon as it was Monday morning I made my way to the health unit and was given an emergency inhaler and a steroids treatment along with some allergy meds. Today, I am still recovering and wearing a face mask whenever I go outside but definitely doing A LOT better.  To those reading this, if you have EVER suffered from asthma, think twice before you come to Jakarta, especially if you aren’t here with the government. You may not have access to adequate health facilities if you get sick. While in Jakarta the only walking I’ll be doing from now on is in the malls. Next time I bid on a post, I will consider the air quality as my top priority. I can deal with not having clean or running water or a possible political uprising but having trouble breathing is not one of them.
On a brighter note, the Embassy is fantastic. I am actually taking over someone’s JOB. Can’t go into the details of why, but while we wait on the replacement, who isn’t coming until the end of the summer, I am taking over. I work with a team of three Indonesians and they see me as their boss. This is really weird for me but kind of cool. They are also super sweet. They ordered me an air filter for our office and it’s coming tomorrow, yay! I also start language classes at the embassy next week so that I can be a better ninja (aka Indonesian look alike) since people talking to me in Indonesian and me not being able to respond is starting to get to me. The work that I am doing may seem boring to some people but I am enjoying it. It’s a lot of internal and logistical work – that’s all I can say. I am glad that I am hitting the ground running – in my case, jogging, because otherwise I’d be focusing on my sensitive but stable health condition and it would definitely not help my morale while here. I’m actually looking forward to going to Viet Nam at the end of my stay here - being able to get fresh air in Can Tho and to ride a bicycle sounds nice right now. Actually, there is a long weekend coming up and I am thinking of taking a train to anywhere outside Jakarta. I am desperate to be as far away from the smog as possible!
Lastly, I was supposed to have people install internet in our apt today and I was notified that they “overbooked us” and couldn’t come today. I don’t know when they are coming, so I will do my best to go to the internet café to update when I can. I also don’t have a working cell phone yet.  Hopefully, things will be settled by Friday and I’ll be more accessible then.
Well, “Welcome to Jakarta!”
Sunday, May 20, 2012 0 comments

First Day Fully Awake in Indonesia

My room, which was formally the study
Selamat Siang!
I came in yesterday at around 1:30pm Indonesia time. I met my boss Matilda at the airport. My initial impression of her is that she is super cool but will also demand good work, which is fine by me because that is what I am here to do! She is originally from Texas. Daniel the 2nd intern was also on the same flight and I actually met him in Hong Kong while waiting for our flight to Jakarta. He goes to the University of Texas for graduate school. His bahasa Indonesian is really good. He lived in Indonesia for 5 years as a young child. In the coming weeks there will be 2 more interns joining us. Later that night, we were invited to eat dinner with Daniel’s boss Michael and his wife Anna (she is Filipina). It was a really nice restaurant and my meal was equivalent to 5 dollars and I had leftovers to take home for lunch! It’s such a pleasant thing to eat out so cheaply.

Today, Michael and Anna picked us up around 10am to go shopping for essentials. Daniel and I split the bill and we got a good amount of stuff for about 60 dollars each.  Also, Daniel and I have agreed to cook at least twice a week. Let’s see how that goes! By the way, I blend here very nicely! No one has asked me where I am from. So far, I of course have had people come up to me and just talk to me in Indonesian. And I of course look like a deer caught in headlights every time. Therefore, I’ve started to learn basic phrases and have had Daniel’s help with this. I’ve memorized greetings and how to say ‘I can’t speak Indonesian’ along with, ‘can you speak English?’ I was also able to find out more about the Management section’s culture and it seems so far that I have chosen the right “cone” for me. 

My colleague Daniel
They are the least formally dressed because they work mainly with FSNs and locals. They don’t normally meet with higher ranking officials and I am totally okay with this. Guess I won’t be using my suits very much. I am so glad I packed dresses too because apparently that is what most of the female employees in that section wear. Besides Matilda, I will be the only American in the housing section, the rest are Indonesian nationals. Also, I am the Housing Coordinator! Therefore, I will be helping FSO’s who come here for post with their living arrangements. I also asked about July 4th celebrations and what the embassy normally does. Apparently, the Management section bears the brunt of the July 4th celebration but I am okay with this too. There is a planning committee and I heard that those who deal with the food and beverages get to do food tasting at various caterers – I’ll see if I can join! Hee-hee

So excited to start my first day at the embassy tomorrow!
Sampai nanti,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 0 comments

1.5 Weeks Till Indonesia

Done with my first year at Columbia SIPA! One more year and I'll have that sweet masters degree.
I can't wait for excited!!!
I hope I can hit up Bali, Yogyakarta,Singapore and Vietnam!
Life is awesome right now. All my hard work is paying off.
*does happy dance*