Breakfast of champions 

There’s a humble little stall that operates out of a small coffee shop nearby home that’s really a treat on cheat days. Selling the Indian fried flat bread called “roti canai” accompanied by a dhal curry with a dollop of spicy sambal, this hawker is usually assisted by either his wife or his son. Not what you would want to eat frequently because of the ghee (clarified butter) that’s used in the preparation that’s makes it sinfully tasty and smells so good. 

The oily dough is pressed flat and flipped a couple of times to spread it out thin and then folded into a square which is then pan fried till crispy and golden. Eaten with an accompaniment of a dhal curry, it guarantees a hearty and filling breakfast that lasts well till lunch time.

Here’s where the guy is located. 


Stews on a cold night

It’s been raining the past couple of nights and the wife was in the mood for some loach soup or 추어탕 (chuo tang). There’s this Korean soup restaurant near my office which serves really good loach soup called Seorak Chuotang, located along Jl Senopati, South Jakarta. The place was packed with Korean salary men having their weekly dinner and drink session with the boss and even for lunch this place is normally packed with Korean office employees and I’d be hard pressed to identify any local clientele.

I opted for something more substantial as the cold and wet night demanded something heavier/hearty. Went for the 해장국 (HaeJang Guk) or hangover soup instead and it was simply a thing of beauty. There’s nothing quite like a bubbling pot of spicy stew with beef and dried mustard greens topped with spring onions.


HaeJang Guk which costs Rp90,000 or USD6.70

Polished off 1.5 bowls of rice with the soup. Not exactly diet friendly food.

Sometimes I hate flying

Between the weekly flights, the mad rush among frequent fliers to board first, checking in online early enough to avoid the dreaded middle seat, I’ve developed quite a list of things that make me dread Mondays and Fridays when it’s time to head to the airport.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been getting very familiar with Air Asia (less so after QZ8501), Garuda, CGK and SIN. Flying is truly an experience of observing what can be the best and also the worst in human behaviour in economy/coach/cattle class.

MIDDLE SEAT. Right on top of my list of pet peeves is being assigned the middle seat in a flight. Now I know someone has to sit there but frequent fliers will avoid it like a plague. Being sandwiched in between 2 other passengers is bad enough but when it escalates into a war contest for the arm rests, this is truly a special kind of hell. If you are familiar with Garuda’s A330-200 you will know that the middle seat offers only half of the space available for your legs as compared to the window seat due to the placement of the life vest container under the front seat. It should not be that difficult to be nice and allow the person in the middle seat the benefit of arm rests. Early check-in normally solves this issue, but if not (especially when it’s a full flight and you’re flying alone) abuse that platinum frequent flier/skyteam priority status at the check in counter and be extra friendly to the counter staff.

MULTIPLE AND/OR LARGE CARRY-ON BAGS. There’s a reason why frequent fliers are always rearing to board first. With airlines fitting in more seats on planes and often charging for checked luggage, the overhead luggage bin space is in high demand. Many airlines are still being too lenient when enforcing the carry on luggage limits and on every flight I’ve been on there will be passengers boarding at the end that will find that they have to check their baggage in simply because there’s no more space in the overhead bins. With airlines warning that no valuables should be checked in, you’re basically up shit creek should anything happen to your carry on that had to be checked in. Garuda has this habit of storing blankets in the overhead bins, thus further reducing the available space for passengers – something I find really annoying. Unless you have priority boarding, the best solution would be to opt for a seat at the rear of the plane since passengers sitting there will almost always be boarded first.

SEAT KICKER/SCREEN PUNCHER. A problem that as prevalent in a plane as it is in a cinema. More often than not it is a kid that doesn’t know better but if the parent is sitting beside him/her, you would expect them to intervene and tell their kid not to kick the seat in front. Being a kid does not give them a free pass to jack hammer the crap out of the front seat. The adults tend to be the ones jabbing at the touch screens/monitors with such intensity and ferocity that you’d think they were trying to finger punch their way out of a coffin buried under 6-feet of earth ala Kill Bill.


I can only imagine the situation getting worse with airlines continuing to find ways of fitting in more and more seats in their never ending quest to improve margins, all at the expense of passenger comfort (hopefully not safety).


Winter travels around WA

So the family and I decided that we should explore a bit of Western Australia in July and see how winter is like over there. I have to say the primary motivator seems to be the winter bit as it’s blistering hot over in Johor and Jakarta. Only having about a week’s holiday due to the Idul Fitri celebrations in Indonesia and not wanting to spend too much time copped up in a flying metal tube, Perth and Margaret River presented an easy choice.

Flight on Qantas was uneventful except for the rather distressing long queue for the toilet (problems with the single aisle aircraft). Temperature hovered between a minimum of 6ºC and maximum of 15ºC which was absolutely brilliant. QF71 arrived in Perth almost midnight and after being greeted by friends who have migrated there, we were taken to our first base in Perth, the Duxton Hotel. This was a familiar choice as I had stayed here previously when I was in town for a court hearing. It’s an older hotel but they’ve kept the room updated and the location is fantastic.

Started the next morning with an unhealthy but oh so rewarding big breakfast. The family had healthier selections though.

Explored King’s Park to walk off the heavy breakfast and to breathe in all that morning air.

After that it was off to Fremantle to walk the Freo Market, which only opens from Friday to Sunday. Definitely worth a visit just to enjoy the buzz.

What’s next after all that walking? That’s right…more food! Tucked into Freo’s seafood offering at Kailis Fish Market Cafe while watching sea gulls battle for leftover chips.


The next day we collected our rental Toyota Camry from Hertz in Perth to start our road trip down south to Margaret River. While the rental company did try to get us to pay for all sorts of extras, it wasn’t too bad (had read some really nasty comments by customers on the Hertz website itself). Did get suckered into paying for the benefit of not returning the car with a full tank of petrol and did make the return drive a wee bit more stressful as we were trying to return the car on empty to really squeeze value out of that benefit).

Driving in Western Australia is pretty relaxing and with Waze/Google Maps it was actually fun to look up interesting food/pit stops along the way. Broke the journey with a quick stopover at Bunbury and an overnight at Busselton. Stayed at Amaroo Motel which I think offers rather good value. The place is literally a highway motel with the most basic of accommodations. The room was clean and beds comfy and it’s walking distance to quite a number of restaurants so it was definitely a good and cheap choice.

Went to the main attraction in town which was the Busselton Jetty.


Busselton Jetty

Weather was amazing for a walk and certainly helped achieve the daily 10,000 steps goal.

The other amazing thing that we couldn’t miss was going to get a fresh loaf of bread from the Yallingup Woodfired Bakery which was located in the middle of this wooded village area that had loads of kangaroos hopping about and across roads (almost hit one that shot across the road). The experience of ripping into a fresh loaf right out of the oven and munching down the soft and dense bread is just out of this world. Lots of rosemary bushes around the bakery that can be picked and if you have the foresight of bringing along some olive oil … bliss.


Yallingup Woodfires Bakery

After that, there’s no better way to end the day by enjoying the sunset at the Canal Rocks.


Canal Rocks


Onwards to Margaret River next.

Weird weather

The weather in Jakarta had been awfully strange. Out of season storms do however bring respite to the hot, hot day.


View from the office

Commuting between Nusajaya and Singapore

For the entire month of November and probably the better part of December I join the ranks of tens of thousands of people who live in Johor but work in Singapore in the daily ritual crossing the Malaysian-Singapore border. This was something that I also went through last year while waiting for my Indonesian work permit to be sorted out.

The journey starts with a bus journey from Bukit Indah to the Malaysian immigration checkpoint where everyone will make a mad dash to be the first through immigration and thus be at the front of the queue for the bus across the bridge linking the two countries. This rush is necessary as one could end up standing in the bus in excess of an hour when the bridge is congested with vehicular traffic. Once at the Singapore checkpoint, it’s another mad dash across immigration and customs. This is where the casual traveller will look on in envy at those possessing the Singaporean eIAC pass which enables the use of the immigration auto gates whilst they are stuck in what could potentially be a very long queue at the manual counters. Once through, another mad dash ensues for the bus to bring the commuter to Jurong East where the journey continues on Singapore’s MRT trains.

While Japan’s subways are famous for how they have pushers to shove commuters into trains, Singapore’s MRT trains can get pretty claustrophobic during rush hour and it’s not uncommon to have to wait for 2 or 3 trains before being able to get on.


Morning rush hour on the MRT

The journey repeats itself backwards in the evening when it’s time to call it a day and head back home across the border.

It’s amazing what people can endure in the never ending quest to make a living and put food on the table. Much respect to these people and may their daily commute be uneventful and pleasant.