March update

PTX Studio in Semarang, Indonesia

KL-Joel

PTX Studio in Semarang, Indonesia

Speckled-Eggs

PTX Studio in Semarang, Indonesia

PTX Studio in Semarang, Indonesia

IMG_2159

PTX Studio in Semarang, Indonesia

PTX Studio in Semarang, Indonesia

bday-chinese

March. ¬† It started with a few travel-less weeks of keeping out heads down. ¬†Our March goal was to focus on some new projects and save a little money. ¬†For me that’s involved lots of crafting and photography. ¬†Instead of traveling we’ve taken small excursions around Semarang, mostly brunch and trips to different markets so I can gather mysterious insect bites and¬†props like quail eggs for styling photos. ¬† Last weekend was my birthday, so we splurged on a stay-cation at a local hotel. ¬†It was a perfect night of Chinese food, watching cable in a oversized, comfy bed and opening some lovingly selected gifts.

The biggest reason for our month of weekends at home was to save for a longer, fancier holiday. ¬†Tomorrow we’re flying to Jakarta to meet Joel’s mom! ¬†We’ll stay there two nights, hopefully getting her acquainted to the time zone, then we’re headed to… Jogja of course. ¬†Last time his mom visited Indonesia, they had plans to visit Jogja, but a volcano eruption closed the airport ruining their plans. ¬†So next week we’ll busily shuttle her around our favorite little city to see all the sights she missed.

my birthday wish list: water

Disclaimer: I know stories of tummy trouble might¬†be too much information for some folks, but if you can stay with me for a minute, I promise I’m going somewhere. ¬†I posted in January¬†about being sick yet again, but was starting to feel like I was on the mend. ¬†How wrong I was! ¬† My stomach issues were up and down for a week, so I finally headed to the hospital and checked in like it was my own personal Holiday Inn. ¬†After two hospital stays last year for dysentery and gastritis, now I tend to err on the side of caution with stomach trouble. ¬†Luckily, this was another bout of gastritis. ¬†Dysentery would have meant three more days in the hospital for treatment. ¬†No fun! ¬†But dysentery does have that retro, Oregon Trail video game vibe to it, am I right? ¬†(That might be too obscure a reference if you didn’t grow up in the US in the 80’s.) Continue reading my birthday wish list: water

The early bird gets the pork at Gang Baru

Gang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurin

You’ve got to get up early to get the good pork! ¬†So said my friend Annie while we were having drinks on Friday evening. ¬†Pork¬†has become something that’s pretty hard¬†to come by in my life. ¬†With a vegetarian fianc√©, I rarely cook meat in our home and living in a Muslim country, pork isn’t something that’s on every menu in town. ¬†Our friend Annie is Chinese and owns a catering company; with pork ribs on her menu for the week, she said she’d have to get to the market early¬†Sunday morning to¬†fight the crowds for the best cuts of meat. ¬†This was definitely something I wanted to see.

Gang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurin

I scooted over to her house at 5:45 in the morning, which was actually my first time taking our new scooter out solo. ¬† Even¬†arriving at the market at 7:00, we had to go to three different stalls to get Annie’s preferred cuts of meat in the amount she needed. ¬†The alley was jam packed, stalls lining both sides and shoppers bustling through trying to navigate the uneven pavement that’s moist with dirty, fishy water. ¬†Baskets full of fish, tables of chicken cutlets, chops of pork and beef and even¬†a tray of skinned frog bodies, it’s¬†a meat lovers dream and all being butchered on site. ¬†I can’t help but think of all the chefs I know who would lose their minds after seeing the sanitary conditions, but alas, that’s how things are done here. ¬†Turn your fish bucket upside down and you’ve got a table for scaling! ¬† Set a cutting board on the ground next to a pile of trash you have an acceptable place to separate those pork ribs. ¬†Nothing is refrigerated and no one seems to mind. ¬† I imagine these markets¬†have been operating the same way for hundreds of years, so why change what works?

Gang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurinGang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurinGang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurin

Not just a meat market, there are vendors with fruits, vegetables and plenty of spices. ¬† With produce displayed on large round baskets set on top of buckets and crates, it’s the kind of rustic scene that Whole Foods stores in the US try to replicate to look authentic, but comes off as kitchy. ¬† They say necessity is the mother of invention, so yesterday’s laundry basket is today’s colorful display of bean sprouts and limes.

Gang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurinGang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurin

Periodically you’ll get tapped on the shoulder by a woman with a basket strapped to her back who wants to carry your groceries for a small fee. ¬†This woman stuck with me for a while talking my ear off in Bahasa Indonesia and ignoring my claim that I didn’t understand her. ¬†(“I don’t understand” was one of the first phrases I mastered in Indonesia.) ¬†I did manage to gather that she is 75 years old and she’s a pretty good little dancer.

Gang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurinGang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurin

After making lots of friends and getting our fill of produce, we stopped in to a Chinese market to check out their dry goods and sauces. ¬†Sauces threw me for a loop when I moved here because¬†ketchup means soy sauce, soy sauce looks like maple syrup and¬†on more than one occasion¬†Joel has dumped a ramekin of what he thought was soy sauce onto his rice only to find it was straight fish sauce. ¬†It took some time, but now I can remember that it’s ‘sauce tomato’ that I want with my french fries.

Gang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurin

With my spoils from the market,¬†I made an amazing pork ramen and delicious shrimp and veggie spring rolls. ¬† I got Joel to try a spring roll, despite the shrimp, but he wouldn’t try a single spoonful of ramen which was fine with me. ¬†Sometimes eating separate meals works out well. ¬†I get a chance to spice up my mostly vegetarian diet with a little meat and Joel gets to order take out from Pizza Hut without me complaining. ¬†It’s the little things that make it work, eh?

Gang Baru Market, Semarang, Indonesia photo by Amanda McLaurin