We didn’t actually drink a Singapore Sling (a drink I envision to be similar to a Long Island Ice Tea), but Joel and I did go to Singapore together on our long trip back to the US. We’d each been many times on our own, as it’s the closest place to renew your visa when you’re living in Indonesia. But because we had moved on different dates (him first and me following a few months later) our visa schedules weren’t in sync and we always took these trips alone. It was fun to explore the city together, show one another our favorite spots and finally visit the place we’d been saving for our couple’s trip- the Buddhist hell museum at Haw Par Villa.
The only downside of our trip was the rain at Gardens by the Bay, another spot I’d put off visiting until Joel and I were together. We weren’t able to walk the paths suspended between the giant tree structures due to the risk of lightening and the rain made it so muggy it was almost unbearable. I’d love to try that visit again another time preferably with cooler weather, but Singapore doesn’t experience cool weather all that often.
All in all it was a wonderful trip to finally be able to finally take with my husband after so many solo Singapore visits. Going out for wine and cheese alone isn’t quite as enticing as going with your sweetie. We’re headed back to Indonesia next week on a business trip where we’ve scheduled zero time for vacation dawdling. But our goal is to build this business that allows us to travel back to Indonesia often so hopefully we’ll be planning Singaporean vacations for many years to come.
Our trip to Kuala Lumpur was less than two months ago, but it feels like a world away. It was Joel and my first visit to Malaysia and we weren’t quite sure what to expect. We anticipated a mix of high end Singapore with some of the grittiness of Jakarta. We were pleasantly surprised to find a city that has managed to cultivate a polished, multicultural identity while staying affordable and easy to navigate.
We did a fair amount of cliche touristy activities, but zipping through town on the double decker tour bus was downright delightful. I highly recommend the National Textile Museum and of course their gift shop full of batiks and traditional woven goods. We braved the heat to stroll through Little India taking in the colorful storefronts and fragrant Indian cafes. I bought some cheap samosas from the street vendor as an afterthought, but they ended up being one of my favorite treats. We had a number of other delightful meals at Pavilion Mall including fantastic shrimp dumplings at one of the Chinese eateries and a super spicy laksa soup at Simple Life. We were so excited to find great vegetarian food that we ended up at Simple Life more than once.
KL exceeded our expectations with it’s food and design, cleanliness and affordability. I think we were a bit sad that it had taken us so long to get there (it would have been a very easy and affordable weekend getaway from Semarang) and disappointed that we couldn’t explore a bit deeper. Like Jakarta, it’s a city with so many hidden gems if you just take the time to look. We hope for more KL visits in our future with lots of time to explore all nooks and crannies in depth, not just from atop a double decker bus.
Initially my idea for this post was to make a top ten list of my favorite images of Indonesia, however that soon proved to be impossible. Scrolling through two years of blog posts there were too many memories and snapshots of unforgettable destinations for me to narrow it down to a mere ten. So my top ten became a compilation of pretty much any image that I was fond of starting with our fantastic honeymoon in Kuta and Ubud. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed compiling them.
Truth be told, I can’t wait to get back to the Pacific Northwest- three weeks and counting! The weather, the water and my beautiful, little doggy will welcome me back just in time for a glorious summer. Living in a foreign country has been enlightening and also had its share of challenges. But after almost two years, it’s started to feel like home and there are aspects of life in Indonesia that I’ll be missing once we’re back in Washington. Here are a couple at the top of my list.
As I mentioned before, our days in Central Java are dwindling, so we’ve got lots of odds and ends to tie up before leaving Indonesia to head back to Washington. One item on our to do list has been furniture. While prepping to move here, I downsized in a big way and most of my furniture went to Craigslist (coincidentally that’s where most of it came from in the first place). So when we go back, we’re returning to clothes, shoes and a bunch of still-in-storage wedding gifts, but no bed, sofa or dining table and chairs. Being the diehard thrifter that I am, Joel and I have been doing some browsing to see if should make some of those big ticket furniture purchases here. The teak and mahogany furniture market is huge here and the prices are insanely reasonable (like reasonable enough to make up for the fact that we’d be shipping it across the world).
The pictures above are all from our trip to Jepara, the furniture capital of Central Java. We spent a long weekend there in April browsing furniture shops, meeting teak craftsmen and taking a little time to lounge by the pool.
So, so many photos from our week with my mother-in-law, Kirsten. It certainly means we packed a ton of activities into our six busy days in Jogja. The mother-son scooter was a sight to see. With Joel driving his mom and me scooting solo, we wound through busy city streets to see the palace and Water Castle, then through rural villages to climb ancient temples. At the temples we were photographed by local tourists like we were more exciting attractions than the colossal feats of engineering that produced five story lava rock towers covered in Hindu and Buddhist gods. Another morning we drove south down rice paddy lined streets to the Indian ocean where Joel and I had previously never explored in our half dozen trips to Jogja.
Kirsten and I also embarked on a tour of the traditional market with a guide who schooled us on the ingredients and formulas of making jamu. Jamu is a traditional beverage made from roots and barks that is said to cure ailments large and small. We listened wearily to tales of jamu being prescribed to heal broken bones. The tour concluded with a massage by a blind masseur that was interesting to say the least. It was certainly a memorable and educational day.
With our days in Indonesia soon coming to a close, I’m glad to be taking home so many amazing memories. This trip was one to remember.
We don’t get a lot of visitors from home seeing as how the travel time is about 20+ hours with a $900+ price tag. But Joel’s mom Kirsten braved the crappy plane food, jet lag and exorbitant expense to come and spend our week long spring break with us and we’re so glad she did!
It was an exhilarating, action-packed week that started in the colossal, congested capital of Jakarta. We met up there for a short weekend before traveling on to Yogyakarta. Having only one full day to sightsee in Jakarta, we compiled a list of top picks sure to impress Kirsten. Unfortunately, Cafe Batavia turned out to be closed (despite the listed hours on their website) so we headed south to Cayenne Home in Kemang for breakfast and to kick off our day of shopping. From there we drove in circles to find Pak Denny, the iron maker featured on the blog A Journey Bespoke, then hit the two biggest, fanciest malls we could find. Finally we capped off the night with an amazing and intimate dinner at 1953 Restaurant Indonesien (that I completely failed to capture). But don’t worry, I outdid myself with the photo taking once we got to Jogja. Those pictures coming up next…