Special Six: A walk around Invercargill

I unexpectedly had to spend around 6 hours in Invercargill during my April trip to New Zealand because the morning ferry service to Stewart island had got cancelled the day I visited the city. I had to wait for the evening ferry at 5pm and my connecting coach from Invercargill to Bluff would only pick me at 4pm, though I had requested them I would prefer to be dropped in Bluff that morning as I thought I would enjoy exploring the tiny seaport, while waiting for the ferry.

Given the unexpected time I was given in Invercargill, decided to take a walk around the city and I enjoyed the below six highlights of my walk. Starting from the I-site bus stop, where I had been dropped off by the coach from Te Anau, I made my way around the city.

(1) Water tower

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The water tower had been built in the early 20th century by the council, even though the local community had not wanted the tower on the green belt of the city. To appease the community, the 300,000 litre steel tank was disguised with an outer brick tower.

(2) Civic Theater

One of the landmarks of the city, the early 19th century building was originally the town hall. It was renovated and converted to a theatre complex in 2005.
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(3) Brunch at Zookeeper’s café

Having read positive reviews about this café, I decided to have some brunch here. The pancakes with grilled bananas was served with some vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. I also tried my first boysenberry juice at this café. From that point, I always ordered boysenberry juice the entire time I was in the south island.
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The staff at the café were friendly and one of them suggested I visit the Demolition village, an hour’s walk away from the café. Given that I do have problems walking long distances, I had to pass the option of visiting the interesting theme village, cited as one of the key places to visit in the city on the map of the city.

(4) St Mary’s Basilica

The beautiful church was designed by architect, Francis Petre, and opened in 1905.

IMG_4061Places of worship evoke different responses from me – the ones I have enjoyed simply exude an air of peace, that I simply feel content to be in the place. Others bedazzle me with their grandeur, but do not evoke spiritual feelings. Yet others put me off with their coldness. There are a few though that evoke unexpected strong emotional responses from me. Sitting inside this church, I was moved and while I don’t wish to dwell on that experience in this post, I wanted to mention that because of it, this church is one of my special six highlights of Invercargill.

(5) Victorian Railway hotel

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The hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Invercargill, that is continuing to be used for its original purpose.

(6) Queen’s Park

Back on Gala street after my circular walk around the city, I decided to rest my tired feet at Queen’s Park and enjoying the beautiful trees around me and a book.

IMG_4066 There was quite a number of families around the park as there was some kind of race taking  place with children and adults finishing their race at a café inside the park. For me, the park is the best part of Invercargill city and while I did not explore all aspects of the huge park, it was enough that I enjoyed the parts I visited very much.

Which of the above six have you visited or would want to visit, on your trip to Invercargill?

“Untold

Special Six: Taste of Cochin

At the start of this year, during my weekend getaway to Cochin, I spent a lot of time around cafes in Fort Kochi mainly to get away from the heat of the Cochin day. Of course, I also tried out some local specialties when doing so. Here are my special six tastes of my first visit to Cochin:

(1) Cold cardamom coffee at Loafer’s corner:

The cosy corner café on Princess street was a place I enjoyed going back to, a couple of times. Their cold cardamom coffee was especially lovely for the hot and humid weather.

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(2) Fish mango curry at Oceanos:

On my first day at Fort Kochi, after arriving there in the morning, checking into Fort Bungalow and then exploring the fort museum, I was very hungry and decided to have a proper Kerala lunch at nearby Oceanos, which had great reviews for its seafood. I tried out their fish mango curry, which was delicious.
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(3) Unnakaya at Farmer’s cafe

After walking around for a couple of hours exploring the cute little shops lining the old streets of Fort Kochi, I stopped at the Farmer’s café on Ridsdale road. I had marked this organic café as a place to visit, but since I had stuffed myself at lunch with the fish mango curry, I settled for a snack called unnakaya, which was fried steamed bananas filled with coconut. I had thought it would taste more like pisang goreng (the Indonesian fried banana snack) but I guess steaming the banana before frying it changed its flavor.

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The café is my favourite in Fort Kochi and I wished I had time to revisit the café again.

(4) Cold coffee at Mocha art cafe

While exploring Mattancherry with two people from my bed and breakfast place, we decided to take a break and have something cooling. Since I had marked this café as a place mentioned for its good coffee, I suggested we stop by Mocha art café, and have some cold coffee.
IMG_3744The café is a lovely place, opposite the Jewish synagogue, with an art gallery and a little area for people to enjoy a drink or some food.

(5) Chai at Passage Malabar

With all the coffee I had been drinking that weekend, I decided to switch to some tea after my early morning walk around Fort Kochi beach area. I had actually wanted to go back to Farmer’s café for some breakfast, but it was not yet open at 7am so I decided to stop by next door Passage Malabar for a tea break before returning to my guesthouse for some breakfast. I enjoyed the masala chai in the leafy courtyard of the restaurant.
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(6) Ela ada at Cochin airport

Having checked out of my hotel early on my last day in Cochin, without breakfast, I decided to get a bite to eat at the airport while waiting to board my flight. A little outlet called the L’il Tiffin attracted me and I saw that it had lots of traditional breakfast food and something that I had wanted to try but not found in Fort Kochi. Ela ada is a steamed rice flour parcel in banana leaf, filled with a sweet coconut mixture. Anything steamed in banana leaves always has a special flavor and this one had it too.
IMG_4612Fort Kochi is dotted with lots of interesting cafes and the above are just some that I visited and enjoyed during my weekend getaway to the city.

What is the Keralan food that you would want to try, during your visit to Kerala?

 

Special Six: Bay of Islands trip

RES_ea137e0a-6237-4f3b-9198-41566bd0534eSELRES_ea137e0a-6237-4f3b-9198-41566bd0534eDuring my April trip to New Zealand, I took a 3 day tour from Auckland to the Bay of Islands, with Stray tour. I am not much of a group tour person but since I needed to travel to the Hokianga, and there was only one public transport service which only ran twice a week from Keri Keri and this was the only tour that I came across that went to the area, I decided to take it.

In addition to the optional skydiving experience with Skydive Bay of Islands on the first afternoon, the special six highlights of my Stray tour with Muesli, our tour guide and driver, and 6 other travelers, were the following:

(1) Visiting McKinney Kauri

Our first stop on the tour was to see the McKinney – a beautiful kauri tree. The guide mentioned that the kauri tree and the spiritual significance it holds for Maoris had inspired James Cameron in Avatar. I also learnt of kauri dieback, the disease that was killing a lot of the kauri trees and other native species.

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(2) A glass of wine at the oldest running bar in New Zealand

If in Paihia, one has to take the ferry across to Russell Island for a visit to the Duke of Marlborough for a glass of wine. The pub, established in 1840, is the oldest running licensed hotel and bar in the country. The website of the hotel has an outline of its interesting history from its infamous start to its current owners and their vision.

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Stray tour includes a ticket to Russell island in their package, though the return ticket needs to be purchased separately directly on the ferry.

(3) Cruise around the bay of islands

The Stray tour package had partnered with another tour operator, to include a 3 hour cruise around the bay, with the captain pointing out islands with an interesting story or marine life. I was out in the bow area, for most of it, scanning the sea for signs of dolphins. Two dolphins did finally take pity on us and showed up to greet us and play alongside the boat a little.

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Can you spot the two seals lounging on the rocky outcrop?

After we passed the bird rock, where the seals were lounging, another lovely landscape greeted us. A pretty lighthouse, though I don’t think I would want to live in that little cottage down that slope from the lighthouse, very much isolated from the rest of the islands. I did see someone fishing by the rocks below, probably someone living in that cottage.
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There was a sense of excitement and anticipation building within the boat once we passed this and it was all for the final highlight of the cruise – the hole in the rock.

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The highlight about the rock was not the rock in itself, but that the captain maneuvered the boat through the rock.

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Emerging from the rock

(4) Picnic lunch at Waitangi

Following the cruise, our little group was quite tired. Our guide asked us to pick up a picnic lunch from town, which we could have at Waitangi. I had wanted to visit the Waitangi treaty ground the previous afternoon but I had missed it as I had chosen to go skydiving. Therefore, I welcomed the opportunity of at least having a quiet lunch overlooking the bay, with the treaty ground behind us.
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It was interesting to hear our guide’s story about the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and how two language versions of a treaty led to land being taken away from the native population and the start of colonization.

(5) Walking around Opononi

On the way back to Auckland from Hokianga, we first stopped at Opononi for a sandboarding activity included in our package. I was not interested in trying it out and instead was more interested in this tiny village called Opononi, which had been named after a dolphin.

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So, after the rest of the group took off on the little boat with their instructor to the sandboarding area, I went for a little walk around the tiny village.

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Opo had been a little friendly dolphin, who had been coming into the bay area and playing with children. The dolphin became very popular across the country that families brought children from around the country to meet the dolphin. When the friendly dolphin passed away, it was laid to rest here and the village named after Opo, the dolphin.

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(6) Visiting Tane Mahuta

After the rest of the group finished their sandboarding adventure and returned to Opononi, we continued our journey. Our guide then made a brief stop for us to visit Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest. While the exact age of this majestic kauri tree is not known, it is thought to be over 2000 years old.
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The rest of my group had actually gone on an optional cultural activity the night before, where they were treated to a Maori cultural experience in the forest visiting Tane Mahuta and listening to local folklore and rituals. While I had skipped the night visit to the forest in favour of catching up with my friend, I was glad that I had the opportunity for this brief visit into the forest to meet this majestic tree considered the giver of life in the Maori culture.

There were a few more places we stopped at during the three days, but the above six are my special six of the experiences I had with the Stray tour. It was also lovely that this Stray tour group was small and Muesli knew the right balance between giving us the space and narrating anecdotes during the drive. So, it is sometimes nice to mix up independent traveling with mini tours with tour groups, provided the tour operator and group you are with are pleasant.

Have you been to the Bay of Islands area? What was your highlight? If not, are you thinking of traveling there?

“Untold

 

 

A meetup in Hokianga

I guess I wouldn’t have visited Hokianga on my first and long planned visit to New Zealand, had my friend, Rangi, not moved there and insisted that I visit her, at her farm. Simply because I had never heard of it before. However, after my friend’s insistence on the beauty of the place and its historical significance and not to mention, I was keen on seeing my friend after 6 years, I looked it up and indeed was hooked.

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The catch was that there was only one public transport to the area – the Hokianga link from Keri Keri to Hokianga, on tuesdays and sundays. Which meant that should I travel there on a tuesday, I would have to be there till sunday. It would have been fine had I longer time in NZ but with only two weeks of leave and my travel mostly focused on south island, I did not have the luxury of spending half that time in the Hokianga.

I finally found a 3 day Stray tour package from Auckland, that went to Paihia (where I had my skydiving experience) and then onto the Hokianga, for a night. However, the tour group was leaving the Hokianga early in the morning and my friend’s farm was a couple of hours further north involving travel by ferry that was not regular. Since we didn’t want to risk missing my return transport to Auckland, Rangi decided to come over and meet me at the hotel I was staying in with the group.

We decided to have a mini outing and she wanted me to see one of her favourite spots in the Hokianga, an overlook which was a beautiful scenic point.

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While we caught up on what had been happening in our lives since we were in Hawai’i, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery before us and especially the setting sun. There were only a few other people, who were there with their cameras and tripods, filming the view.

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Rangi mentioned that the significance of the place was that the first Maori, Kupe, is said to have sailed through this entrance and settled in the area. After settling his family in this region, he is said to have sailed back to their land of origin to bring more of their relatives but never returned. As he sailed away, the folklore continues that he set up guardians at the entrance of the bar mouth to protect his family.

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After watching the sunset, we walked back to the parking lot passing the manuka trees, from which the famous (and expensive) manuka honey is produced.

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Over a lovely dinner of fresh salmon, caught that day, Rangi told me about the tiny house she and her partner were building from scratch and which was aimed at leaving a minimal footprint on the environment. I had seen her posts on facebook, as their house project took shape during the past several months and it was lovely to hear her talk about why they were doing what they were doing and how their respective families pitched in the labour to help them build their house.

All too soon, our brief meetup had to wrap up as Rangi had to rush back to catch the last ferry of the evening.

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I would certainly recommend travelers to the north of Auckland, especially Paihia or Keri Keri, to take some time to travel into the deep west and explore the Hokianga and other less explored places as the tiny glimpse I had of the Hokianga was lovely.

“Untold

Special Six: Overnight in Puncak

My friend, who was meeting up with me in Jakarta for the weekend, wanted to head out of the city on an overnight trip. I was not keen to travel far so suggested Puncak or Bandung. We settled on Puncak, after seeing the paragliding activities on offer.

These are our special six experiences in Puncak:

(1) Insane traffic from Jakarta to Puncak and back

Even though we read about complaints regarding the terrible traffic on the road to Puncak, during weekends, we decided to head there thinking that an hour added couldn’t matter much. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

Jakarta to Puncak 3.JPGAfter an hour or so, on our drive from Jakarta to Puncak, our car stopped due to traffic just after we passed a toll booth. Stretching ahead was this long queue of vehicles that seemed to go all the way to Puncak.  Since the traffic did not seem to be moving, the driver checked with the traffic police who  said that the road to Puncak was closed for 5 hours, as the highway had been made one way in the opposite direction. We decided then to turn around, as we were fortunate that we were just near an exit point, and decided to go to Bogor, which was close by and explore the place before continuing our journey on to Puncak in the afternoon. Once we reached Bogor, the driver said he could drive us straight to Puncak but through interior routes that would take a longer time. We were fine with it as anything would beat waiting in traffic for 5 hours.

I am not sure that I see the logic in making a highway one way for that many hours, especially on a weekend, when the traffic is heavy in the direction of Puncak from Jakarta. Anyway, our drive through Bogor and the interior roads took us through little settlements and villages, which was a much better view than the highway route. I was intrigued by the impromptu traffic policing by local residents, through the areas we passed through. There would be community members at key junctions, turn off points, pointing out the direction to turn and in some areas, there were even road blocks set up and which would be lifted only when the driver gave a few coins to one of the people by the block. In one way, it was a bit of a community service since people would otherwise get lost in the maze of the settlements and it would take time to keep inquiring about the direction each time. This was a streamlined approach, which generated a little income (around 1000 – 2000 IDR, roughly USD 0.07 – 0.15 per vehicle that passed through) for the people doing this voluntarily.

We reached our hotel in Puncak around noon, well before the time that the traffic block would have been lifted.

(2) Staying at Puncak Pass Resort

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After checking in and walking around the resort a little to check out the place and its views, we decided to have some lunch at the restaurant.

The rooms were comfortable, with great views of the valley.

(3) Yellow and pink mini vans – the local public transport

After finding out that the local public transport was the yellow and pink mini vans, we decided to use that, whenever we needed to get anywhere in Puncak. In the beginning, it was difficult to flag down a van and there were no prescribed stops. I told Aiying that we needed to confidently stop the vehicle, like some of the locals I had seen. Which meant, basically stepping on to the road bravely and holding out your hand firmly instead of hesitantly. It became a running joke between us whether we were being confident enough to stop a van.

Once, the hotel staff helped us flag down a white van, which they said was also public transport. It was more packed than the yellow mini vans. And, I had to sit with two other passengers in the front seat and wondering if the door might open during one of the turns along the hill road.

(4) Walking around Gunung Mas Tea Plantation 

We reached Gunung Mas, without any event, and walked down the road to the ticket booth and paid the entrance ticket of IDR 15,500 per person. There was a tea center just after the ticket booth, but there was hardly anyone there. There were some people seated outside, asking us if we wanted to take a motorbike to tour the plantation or a horse ride. We rejected both and walked along the road towards the tea factory and office. We passed little cottages, that one could probably book if they wanted to stay at the plantations.

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At the office, when we asked about any recommended walking paths, they gave us a map for a 4 km and a 9km walk. They also said that it would be better if we came in the morning, as the walking guides would be there. We decided to go ahead and go along the path, till we got tired. It was a bit of a warm afternoon and we were quite thirsty so decided to have some iced tea at the little café, infront of the office, before continuing our walk. I tried out the lychee iced tea, which was a bit too sweet for me.

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After the tea, we continued along the route marked in the map and passed through a tiny street of colourfully painted houses. We stopped to chat with one of the women, who was painting her house. We were only able to gather from the brief conversation that she was painting a batik motif on her house walls.

GM20.JPGI wanted to know whether they worked in the tea plantations, plucking tea, or whether they were more senior staff at the plantation. Since I only remembered a few words of Bahasa Indonesia, a language I was fluent in when I was a child, and the people we spoke to didn’t understand English, I wasn’t able to learn more about this.

GM17.JPGAfter walking down to the end of the street, and not seeing a path to continue, we realized we might have taken the wrong turn along the walk, and turned back.

(5) Offroad adventure at Gunung Mas:

We saw a four wheel drive with an adventure board pass us, and we stopped it to ask the driver about the offroad adventure. He took us to the starting point of the tour, so that we could discuss with the people in charge. They quoted an inflated amount of around 300,000 rupiah per person. We tried to bargain it down to 300,000 rupiah for two persons, instead of one. They refused and we walked back to the office to check out any tours they organized. They had a banner at the front, advertising offroad tours, camping and paragliding activities, and when we asked about the cost of the offroad tour, the senior person at the office replied 100,000 rupiah per person. We asked to take the tour and they said they would drop us off at the starting point of the tour. We found ourselves being brought back to the people, who had quoted 300,000 rupiah per person. They tried to fudge it off, saying that it was the ATV tour that was 100,000 and not the offroad tour. However, the senior officer from the office was put on the phone and after his conversation, they agreed to take us on the offroad tour at 300,000 rupiah for two persons.  GM14.JPGGM12.JPGGM8.JPGGM4.JPG

The offroad tour was the best part of the visit to the tea plantation. And, it was a lovely way of seeing the tea plantation, especially when standing at the top.

(6) View point at the paragliding site (and paragliding, if you are lucky)

The next morning, I woke up to see darkening skies outside and I realized that we might not be able to go paragliding on this visit.

View from hotel 2.JPGWe decided to go for breakfast and then see whether or not the weather would improve, by the time we finished.

Ahila and Aiying 2.JPGSince the skies had cleared by the time we finished breakfast, we decided to go to the paragliding site.  Aiying had also checked with the operator and he had replied that we should contact his colleague, once we arrived at the site.

Taking the yellow van, we went to the site. Once we climbed up the hill, we saw that there were others there taking in the view and photos.

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The view of Puncak, from the top of the hill, was worth the climb up. We were however disappointed when told that there would be no paragliding activity that day and there had been none for the past three days, since the wind was too strong. Aiying was upset because the activity operator had not mentioned this, as we probably would not have even visited Puncak if we had been told that there had been no paragliding activity for some days and the likelihood that the situation would be the same during that weekend.

Anyway, overall, I had a lovely time in Puncak, experiencing these special six with a friend.

 

Special Six: Taste of Indonesia

During my brief weekend visit to Jakarta and Puncak in November, I tried out a lot of delicious Indonesian food. Here are some of the six special treats I enjoyed, which I would recommend to anyone visiting the city.

(1) Martabak Manis

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There was a Martabak Boss outlet, just across the hotel I stayed at in Jakarta, and my first evening, I went there for a snack. From the variety of martabak manis available, I chose the Original Martak boss, with chocolate, peanuts and cheese. As I mentioned eating in and not take out, I expected to be served a slice of the steamed cake. However, this huge platter was what I was served. The slice I tried out at the outlet was delicious and warm. The rest of the cake, I had it packed and my friend and I tried to finish some of it, during the rest of our trip.

(2) Bubur Ayam

A quintessential breakfast porridge in Indonesia, this is a rice porridge cooked in chicken broth and served with strips of chicken, peanuts and other delicious topping. I enjoyed both times I had this for breakfast during my visit.

(3) Mie Rebus

I tried this noodle dish in Puncak and it touched the spot on a cool afternoon. The noodles is served in a gravy like broth, and topped with greens and crispy shallot.

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(4) Bakmi Special

Having lived in Jakarta during my childhood years, soup noodles was a key part of our food habits. I tried to find a noodle soup that came close to the taste I used to love in my childhood and came across a close fit at Bakmi GM, with their Bakmi chicken special and hot chilli sauce.

Bakmi(5) Nasi Goreng

This was another childhood favourite food of mine. However, I didn’t quite come across the taste I used to enjoy back then, though I tried at a few places. Though it was good, it always seemed to lack something… sometimes, it was because it was less spicy and sometime, it was because something seemed to be missing in the combination.

Nasi Goreng 2.JPG(6) A Padang feast

When my Indonesian friend, Dewi, invited me out for dinner and said she would take me out to try some delicious Indonesian cuisine, I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed with a feast. At the restaurant which served Padang cuisine, as soon as we sat down, the staff brought out an array of around 20 dishes and a bowl of rice. Dewi explained that while we were served the entire array of dishes cooked that evening, we could pick and choose the dishes we wanted to eat. I decided to follow her choice and ended up trying out pop chicken, petai beans (stinky beans) with chilli, cassava leaves and tender jackfruit curry.

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And, of course, I had cups of great Indonesian coffee throughout my stay.

What’s your favourite Indonesian food?

Oregon Girl Around the World

Jakarta – revisiting my childhood places

Indonesia was the first country I visited, outside of Sri Lanka, and it was at the age of four. So, with all the new sights and tastes that my four year old self absorbed with delight, and continued to absorb for the next four years that we were there, I have such nostalgic memories of Jakarta.

It was where I started kindergarten.

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It was where I moved on proudly to Grade I, delighted that I was joining my siblings at the school proper.

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It was also the time that I discovered that I loved to dance and enjoyed music. While I didn’t pursue either beyond my childhood, it meant a lot to me then.10I remember this particular dance that I participated in, not only because I have a photo to remind me of the instance, but because it was something that I pleaded so much to be a part of, and I don’t think I have ever pleaded for anything that much ever since. It was some international children’s cultural event, hosted by Indonesian authorities, and the embassies had been invited to participate with a cultural performance from their countries. I remember that the embassy had requested a Kandyan dance troupe, visiting Indonesia at that time, to train a group of Sri Lankan children (ages 10 – 15 years) for a traditional dance performance. Unfortunately, I wasn’t within the selected age group but I wanted to be so much a part of it, that I kept making my requests so much so that my mother and the other mothers, who were organizing the dance and costumes gave in (probably because I was being too much of a pain) and created a special and independent role for me in the group dance, that would allow me to dance while not disturbing the group dance dynamics of the older children.

2This photo was at the opening ceremony of the event, where all the children from all the countries were on stage and then we had to give the flowers to the people seated in the front rows. As much as I loved being a part of the dance group, this basically was my first and last major public dance performance.

When I finally left Jakarta after completing Grade III, I promised myself that I would one day return to the country of my childhood.

9However, decades passed and I was not able to make the trip back. Until last weekend. It was an impromptu visit, prompted by three factors – a friend who had been inviting me to go on a trip with her, the direct flights introduced by Sri Lankan Airlines to Jakarta and the convenience of free entry visa on arrival.

While my main interest was in revisiting places of my childhood to see if there still remained some semblance to the past, I also wanted to spend some time with my friends. So, I chose to do the visits to childhood haunts on my own.

Hiring the reliable Blue Bird taxi on two separate occasions, I had a lovely drive and fortunately, on both these occasions, I escaped the traffic that Jakarta is now so famous for.

Jalan Cik Ditiro, the road where we lived, still existed though it seemed more tree lined than it was before. Also, the houses all seemed to have put up high walls and security systems, as opposed to the low walls of the 80s. I did locate the number of our house and did ring the bell, hoping that it was the same owners. Lia, the daughter of our former landlady, was a friend of mine and I remember my first pet was actually Lia’s pet – Derry, a cute puppy, which she was generous enough to share with me. No-one answered the bell and I decided to go on to my next place.

Cik Ditiro 1I next went to my first school, Gandhi Memorial International School. I learnt that the main school had shifted to a new location but that the primary school was still at its old location at Pasar Baru. After asking for permission, I was allowed to visit the auditorium and different floors, but not the classrooms as there was an examination going on.

The auditorium looked the same, except that the writings on the wall had been removed as had the fans. It was also nice to see my Grade III classroom.

Corridor Grade 3.jpgOne of my memories of my primary school are the special days that the school celebrated: Gandhi Jayanthi (October 2), Children’s Day (November 14) and Teacher’s Day. Especially teacher’s day used to be interesting with the senior students taking over teacher’s roles and coming to our classes to take lessons.

After the visit to GMIS, I went over to the Sri Lankan embassy. There too, despite the embassy being at the same premises, the immediate change observed was the high walls and the huge security gates.

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The interior looked similar, with the little grass lawn with the flag, where the independence day ceremonies used to be held. The main hall, where the gatherings used to be held, had been decorated differently but the same oil lamp still took center stage in the hall.

In the evening, I went for a drive around the city, and especially asked to drive by Monas, the national monument which had a park, where we used to go in the evenings during weekends.

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As it was raining, I decided not to go into the park area without an umbrella. Since several people, including the taxi driver, suggested I should visit the old part of the city – Kota Tua, and I did not remember ever having visited it in my childhood, I decided to go there as well. On the evening I visited, there had been some concert or public gathering that had just finished in the old square, so there was still quite a crowd. I didn’t linger there but I could imagine it being a lovely square to explore in the morning, without the crowds.

Kota Tua 2.JPGBesides these few places that made up a large part of my childhood memories, Jakarta in 2017 has changed a lot from the 80s. Now, a bustling city with highways packed with private vehicles, high rise buildings and shopping malls crowding out the city, it is no more the city that I remember and recognize but it was still lovely to revisit and see the changes that have been wrought there. And, remembering my childhood and the child I was back then.