{Fabulous Jakartan Friday} Cindy, the Bustling Singaporean Working Mom

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:  Cindy, the Bustling Singaporean Working Mom

I first met Cindy almost a year ago when I enrolled Joshua and Evan in Kindyroo. Ever since then I have learned so much from her and her expertise on early child development. If you ask Evan, he will tell you that Cindy’s son, Styl,  is “my fiend” (friend). If you ask me, I will tell you Cindy is an outstanding teacher and a great friend that will always greet you with a smile and will open her heart to new people (little and big). She’s a wonderful mom to her three year old son Styl and has a super optimistic outlook that should be adopted by many of us honorary Jakartans. It is my pleasure to introduce Cindy to you.

Cindy and her son Styl

Cindy and her son Styl

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 was ‘manufactured and nurtured’ in Singapore. I am also a mother to a very active and expressive 3.5yrs old boy, whom I love to bits! I am an early childhood educator specializing in the neurological growth of a child and also a partner/teacher of ‘I CAN READ, Menteng, Jakarta’.   I have been living in Jakarta for almost 3 years now.  I grew up in a big family in Singapore, so big that it can almost qualify to be a community. However, here in Jakarta, I have a cozy family of 3 and still counting (hopefully ;P).  hahaha….

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?

Indonesia is not my first post abroad. I was working in the States and Shanghai before. I guess the hardest thing being an expat was the language initially. The ridiculous traffic and the pollution is what I struggle with the most  living in Jakarta…

Living in Jakarta

1.    What three adjectives would describe Jakarta the best?

Congested, Busy, Exuberant

2.    What’s your biggest Jakarta Love and Jakarta Hate?

I love the fact that all sorts of helps from nannies to drivers are made affordable here. Oh and also not forgetting the mega affordable massages too!  I can’t stand the horrendous traffic!

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?

The weekly massage at the comfort of my own home and the quality time spent with my family is my sanity antidote! Going to work and being amongst children and seeing them grow and progress never fails to bring smiles to my heart.

4.    For a first time visitor coming to Jakarta, what would you recommend they try out that is uniquely Jakartan? A specific food, activity, or place?

Definitely the ‘car free day’ on Sunday! They close up the whole stretch of Thamrin road (main street in downtown Jakarta) from 5am to 1pm and pedestrians and cyclist literally ‘own’ the road! 😉

Cindy and Styl on Car-Free Sunday

Cindy and Styl on Car-Free Sunday

Fun times on Car-Free Sunday

Fun times on Car-Free Sunday

Style's got the moves!

Style’s got the moves!

Styl playing with his daddy on Car-Free Sunday

Styl playing with his daddy on Car-Free Sunday

5.    If someone was to move to Jakarta shortly, what would be your biggest piece of advice for them?

Come with an open heart and simply just embrace the city for what it is, whether good or bad. Oh and bring along a first aid box of your preferred medications. Though medicines can be easily bought over the counter but they are often of different brands and dosage.

6. What’s the one thing you wish you had brought or brought more of?

Nothing really… Furthermore, Singapore is just 1.5 hr flight away!

Jakarta Mama

1. What have been your biggest challenge raising a kid in Jakarta?

I work full-time and am also a full-time mum. I am going against the norms of having a full-time helper. Thanks to the flexibility of my job and the ideal work environment for making it possible. Though it gets tough at times but I find it all worthwhile.

2. How do you feel raising a family is different here than in your home country?

Over here in Jakarta, besides distraction from work and social life, my focus is on my little family. However, if it’s in Singapore, I would have to spread my love and attention to my familiessssss and friendssss.

3. You are an education specialist, how are things similar or different in the schools and extracurricular activities here and in Singapore?

I would say there are as many extracurricular activities and schools here in Jakarta as compare to Singapore. It’s a known fact that Singapore has their educational standard bar set high. Therefore I guess it voices down to ‘how do I find a good school in Jakarta’ versus ‘how do I find a school that does not have a waiting list in Singapore’.=)

4. What extracurricular activities do you recommend for people with young kids in Jakarta?

Art and crafts lesson at Global art or Lego school at Mikrobots in Senayan City.

5. What’s your favorite activity to do with your boy while in Jakarta?

I don’t really have a preference as he is really a joy to be with! J But if I really have to choose, I would say it’s right at the comfort of my own home during bedtime story telling. We would go on and on with our impromptu ‘make-a –story’ that it would sometimes past the supposed bedtime!

6. What are your favorite places and things in Jakarta for Kids

  1. Playground:  Taman Mini. Its far but worth it!
  2. Classes: English enrichment and Phonics class at I CAN READ! Hahaha…
  3. Clothing Stores: No preference really… I buy most of his clothings in Singapore or off the web.
  4. Toy Stores: Toys Kingdom, ELC and this whole sale toys store in Chinatown.
  5. Snacks: Chat time bubble tea in Grand Indonesia!!!
Yum, Bubble Tea!

Yum, Bubble Tea!

Family Movie Time

Family Movie Time

Cindy and Styl at a buddhist temple in Jakarta

Cindy and Styl at a Buddhist temple in Jakarta

7. What are your favorite places and things in Jakarta for You

  1. Clothing Stores: My shopping mode usually turns on when I am in Singapore!
  2. Restaurant: Bornga Korean Restaurant in Senopati
  3. Cultural Outing: Don’t have much idea about that but I well aware of the culinary cultural outing! Hahaha..
  4. Girl’s Night Out: It’s hard for me to say coz we always make it a point to try a new place every time we go out.

Traveling in Indonesia

1. If you could only visit one place in Indonesia while in Jakarta what would it be?.

Mangga Dua! Its like a commercial shopping mall that has almost anything you need except it’s a lot less glamorous and a lot more crowded.

2. What is the best advise to anyone traveling with kids in Indonesia?

Prep your essential medications and prep it well. Do not forget the thermometer!

3. Bali or Lombok?

Depending if you want to chill and absolutely enjoy being within the tranquility of the resort and do some snorkeling or diving, then I would say Lombok. However, if you are looking for an activity packed out trip, then Bali would be a better choice. My son loves the Waterbom (water play park) there! He went there two days in a row!

Let’s move on to the food section,

1. What’s your favorite restaurant in Jakarta?

Little Sheep Steamboat and Bornga Korean Restaurant. Can’t help it… I have an asian stomach…

2. What food do you miss the most from back home?

All the hawker food in general! The hainannese chicken rice and minced pork and mushroom noodle is a must eat every time I go back.

3. You are from Singapore, Are there any good Singaporean restaurants in Jakarta?

There is one restaurant called Ginger Li, located in Kemang. Though its not a Singaporean restaurants but they do serve many Singapore delicacies and the taste sends me on a journey back home! Their Hainan chicken rice, stir-fry wagyu beef kwetiau and Laksa is a must try!

4. What is the one Indonesian dish that everyone should try?

I would say everyone should try the padang padang here. Stepping into a padang padang restaurant is not only a palate adventure but the way the food is being served is definitely an eye opener!

5. Could you share a short and sweet recipe for an authentic Singaporean dish that is easy to make with ingredients found in Jakarta.

Claypot Fragrant Braised Eggplant 

4 shallots
2 pcs coriander root, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp hot spicy bean sauce
300 grm minced meat
1 tbsp taucheo (fermented soya beans)
Half tomato, chopped
1 thumb-size salted fish, fried till crispy and minced
3 purple eggplants, rinsed and cut into pieces
1/3 cup, stock or water
1. In a clay pot, heat 2 or 3 thsp oil, sauté shallots, then coriander root and garlic till golden.
2. Add hot spicy bean sauce and fry quickly for a few mins till fragrant
3. Add minced meat, taucheo, chopped tomato and minced salted fish, stirring frequently.
4. Add eggplant and stir fry.
5. Add stock and simmer for 20 mins.
6. Garnish with coriander and serve bubbling hot in clay pot.

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.

Life in Jakarta sets my senses and emotions wild!

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