This is a series of interviews of fabulous people who live, breathe and thrive in Jakarta. We will feature expats and Indonesians who call the Big Durian home in hopes to give all of you a glimpse of what life is all about in Jakarta. I would love to have different perspectives on our Fabulous Jakartan Friday (FJF) so if you would like to be featured, leave me a comment or shoot me an email and I would be so excited to hear all about YOUR Jakarta!
Fabulous Jakartan: Anne, the Intrepid and Kind American Mom
Anne is an amazing woman. Not only is she a great dresser, amazing mom and avid sports fan, she has devoted a lot of her free time to different charities. Due to her teaching background, her heart is particularly inclined to helping schools in need. She is giving back to Indonesia by supporting a new Preschool that provides education to the children of Timorese refugees in Kupang, Nusa Tenggara, Timor Province, Indonesia. It is my honor to introduce you to Anne.
Tell me more, tell me more
1. First, tell us a little bit about you. What’s your background? Where did you grow up? How long have you been living in Jakarta for? What does your family look like?
I’m a Southern Girl! I grew up in Louisiana. I am the baby of the family growing up with two older brothers. They taught me the love of all things SPORTS, especially football. I love cooking good ol’ Southern foods such as Sausage Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice, and Jambalaya. My parents moved overseas with Chevron Oil Company when I was seventeen. While spending time in Lagos, Nigeria with my parents, I met this amazingly cute U.S. Embassy Marine Guard, Tim. We kept in touch when I returned to the states to finish college. We made it through the, “long distance relationship” thing and married as soon as I graduated from college. We have moved from Chicago to California (insert two kids =)) to Virginia and arrived in Jakarta in September 2011. As far as for what we look like…….BULE! We are a blonde and red headed Irish family using lots of sunscreen living here. I think we are all quite nice looking if I must say so myself. =)
2. Is Indonesia your first post abroad? What’s the hardest thing about being an expat in Indonesia? What did you struggle with the most?
Yes, this is our first post. The hardest thing was the unknown. The fear of change. You can read all the books you want to before moving. The transition for our children, Erin (now 13) and Michael (now 7) was top priority. I needed to know they could handle this. Of course, they did! For me, the hardest thing was…..which I was shocked by, was giving up my job. I have been a teacher for 16 years. When we arrived, Tim went to work at the US Embassy, Erin went to middle school, Michael went to first grade, and I……just didn’t know what to do with my time. Learning to live a new life after 16 years took a little time. Making friends here is important. Friendships have been what helped me through the down days.
Living in Jakarta
1. What three adjectives would describe Jakarta the best?
Busy, Fun, and Smiley…..can I use that one? Everywhere you go in Jakarta, people smile! This is a smiley place!
2. What’s your biggest Jakarta Love and Jakarta Hate?
Jakarta LOVE = There is always something to do here. Call a friend and go and see……….A museum, a new restaurant, a new home interior boutique, a traditional market, amusement parks for the kids, and great furniture stores to name a few things. Look around……there are many adventures to be had!
Jakarta HATE = Do I have to say it??? The traffic!! We have learned to keep iPads, books, snacks, and movies in the car.
3. How do you find the sweetness beneath the Prickly Surface of the Big Durian? What activities or things keep you happy and thriving in Jakarta?
Cut away that surface by getting out and about. Don’t sit and think about what your family “back home” is doing. Get a book about Jakarta, open it to a page, and just do it. Go, See, DO! I like to get in the car and drive to Kemang Timur and stop at the first store that has something really cute outside or in the window. My driver now knows when I scream, STOP! It’s only because something interesting has just been spotted.
4. For a first time visitor coming to Jakarta, what would you recommend they try out that is uniquely Jakartan?
There are so many things that I still have yet to do. I’m not sure that I would be best to say something truly Jakartan. I enjoyed MONAS, but not for the building itself, but for the cultural experience of meeting people and walking around the grounds. Oh, take a ride in a Bajaj. Yea, the blue ones are nice, but the orange ones are quite the adventure. Make sure you negotiate your fare. It’s fun!
5. If someone was to move to Jakarta shortly, what would be your biggest piece of advice for them?
For someone soon moving to Jakarta, I would have to tell them to come with an open mind and accept your new life here as an adventure. Things are going to break, air conditioners are going to leak, you will get some creepy stomach thing that makes you hug your toilet, and you will get caught in the rain. You will live. You will laugh. Try new things, eat new foods, and try to learn Bahasa Indonesian. J Mau ke mana? Jalan, Jalan!
6. What’s the one thing you wish you had brought or brought more of?
Of all the questions and this one is the one that really makes me think. Should I have brought more patience?? HaHa. Should I have brought more baby pictures of Erin and Michael to fill our walls?? I left so many in storage because I just wasn’t sure about bring them in our shipment. They are growing so fast. I miss seeing their baby pics. Then I figured it out……I literally laughed out loud. I would have brought more American COAT HANGERS. Ha, that’s it. Coat Hangers. The wire ones here leave Tim’s Polo shirts with marks on the shoulders. Then they are too big for Michael’s shirts. So, there it is……..Coat Hangers. Oh, what a crazy life I lead.
1. What have been your biggest challenge raising kids in Jakarta?
My children are school age, so they immediately jumped into new classrooms and afterschool activities. The challenge is getting my children to realize that they are from an American family where we all have responsibilities and chores. I want my children to pick up behind themselves and help with clearing the table. Our pembantu insists that she should do it for them. Their friends have nannies and pembantus that do for them, so trying to instill some values and accountability can get tough. We had to work out an agreement with our pembantu. So far, so good.
2. How do you feel raising a family is different here than in your home country?
I think my answer for 1 and 2 are one in the same. For me, it’s different here because for the first time since becoming a mother, I don’t have to work. I get to be home when my kids come home from school. It’s fantastic!!!
3. What’s your favorite activity to do with your kids while in Jakarta?
I love doing anything and everything with my kids. One of our favorites was going to the Textile Musuem(next door is the Batik workshop) and making our very own Batik. We were able to choose a picture, trace it on to a white fabric, using the canting for waxing, and then chose a color dye for the batik. They have to hang to try, so be patient. It’s a fun workshop for the kids and they can also make more than one. Remember, younger kids may need help with the hot wax. The Indonesians there always seem willing to help.
4. What are your favorite places and things in Jakarta for You
Clothing Stores: Sogo, Metro, Debenhams, and
Cultural Outing: Cafe Batavia in Fatahillah Square & Jakarta History Museum
Date Night: Skye Bar or Bluegrass, and a Premiere movie at XXI
Girl’s Night Out: Dharmawangsa, Skye Bar, and a Premiere movie at XXI
Traveling in Indonesia
1. If you could only visit one place in Indonesia while in Jakarta what would it be?
I would have to say that I would return to Gili Trawanagan. It is the most tranquil place I have ever been. Every restaurant had excellent food, cold Bintang, and a beautiful view of crystal clear water.
2. What is the best advise to anyone traveling with kids in Indonesia?
Relax, kids are resilient. Introduce them to a new culture and watch them soak it all in.
3. Bali or Lombok?
4. Yogyakarta or Jungle Trekking in Sulawesi or Krakatau?
Don’t know yet. We are traveling to Yogyakarta in March. Cannot wait to be able to answer this question.
Let’s move on to the food section,
1. What’s your favorite restaurant in Jakarta?
I love Bluegrass!
2. What food do you miss the most from back home?
OK, I am going to be absolutely honest here……I miss, Taco Bell. I also miss the fried alligator from Okra’s in downtown Manassas, VA. Oh wait, one more! I miss yellow squash like my Mom makes it, and Texas style barbequed brisket. Hmmm…..maybe it’s time to go home. J
3. You are from the USA, what’s your favorite American restaurant in Jakarta?
Any special recommendations? To be honest, I like trying new Asian or European restaurants. So, if I have to choose one…..the new T.G.I. Fridays at Lippo Mall is good if you are missing that type of food.
4. What is the one Indonesian dish that everyone should try?
Oh, easy one. Mie Goreng! We love it.
5. Could you share a short and sweet recipe for an authentic American dish that is easy to make with ingredients found in Jakarta.
My daughter misses Pumpkin Bars. She says they make her feel like she is home. They really make the house smell yummy! If you cannot get canned pumpkin, it can be made with real pumpkin. (If you have to, but I have always found canned on the shelves in most stores.)
Gooey Pumpkin Bars
- Cake: 1 Yellow Cake Mix
- 1 Egg
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- Filling: 1 package cream cheese
- 15 ounces pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 16 ounces of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 F. or 175 C.
- Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.
- Add eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake mixture and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
- Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.
- Serve with fresh whipped cream.
Thank you very much for joining us in Stumble Abroad today, just one more request:
Describe what life in Jakarta is like in one sentence.
If I may, I would like to use this……it fits our lives in Jakarta. This is on a canvas just before you enter our kitchen door from our garage.