Another Extra Special Summer!

posted by jodiemellor June 5, 2019 0 comments

Well this is becoming a bit of a trend… let’s go back to the start of 2018 when we made another big life decision.

We had been living back in Perth for about 5 months – settled in our house, back into life in Australia when Pete was given the opportunity to work back in Jakarta. The job was in a different field to what he normally worked in, and although he had a little experience in the sector, he was essentially going in blind. We decided that before we move our entire lives again, he would work FIFO for a while to make sure it was going to pan out.

So in January 2018, Pete started his new job. He was gone for a few weeks at a time, which was hard, but we had done plenty of this before so we qdjusted quite quickly. Lachie had actually got into a good routine and happily put himself to bed and I generally didn’t hear from him until the next morning. We kept busy with exercise, spending time with family and friends and team sport. I must say, we were really enjoying being back in Australia.

Pete and I knew from the start that we wanted to have kids close together and with Lachie having turned 1, we decided now was the time. It proves a little difficult when you’re living in different cities and with this in mind, in March we decided Lachie and I would go up and join Pete in Jakarta.

So we started the wheels in motion and started to pack up our lives again. Lachie and I ventured up to look for a place to live in April. We had previously loved in an apartment and a townhouse and decided this time we wanted a house. We needed the room for lachie to be able to run around. We looked at about 15 houses in 2 days and finally found one we liked.

A date had been set for June for us to join Pete full time. I got stuck into organizing the move. Packing the house, arranging to send a container to Jakarta etc.

As I mentioned, the main reason we decided to move back up was so we could get serious about trying for another baby – so imagine our surprise when only 2 weeks after sealing the deal on the house in Jakarta, we discover I’m pregnant!

Around came June and after driving the Gibb River Road with some friends, we headed to Jakarta. We settled back in fairly quickly. It was much easier this time as we had friends here, we knew where to get things and the general way of life. We did definitely miss the green grass, clean air and our best friends. It helped that Perth was in the middle of an awful winter – I hate the cold!

I did find that there were so many new faces which was both hopeful and overwhelming. Our best friends up here had scheduled to move back to Australia not long after we arrived so I was hopeful of forming some new friendships. The great thing about the friends we already had was that we were friends before the kids came along, so we genuinely liked each others company. Since moving back, the most common way of meeting people for me was through Lachie. This is nice, and seems easy, but in reality was almost harder than before. There were plenty of mum’s around, but there were so many that I just didn’t have anything in common with. I also found that because I was leaving in November for a few months (going back to Perth to deliver) that I was reluctant to jump into anything. Around Christmas there is usually a huge outgoing (and incoming) with expats, and I had in my head that any relationships I forged before I went may have been in vain. We did end up finding a gorgeous little group of friends though, who are planning to be here for a little while yet.

Before I knew it, November had arrived and it was time to head back to Perth. We decided after the little complication we have with Lachie when he was born, it was safer to be in Australia. So we bunked down at Pete’s parents again. Lachie absolutely loved it. He got to spend so much time with Noni and Papi and also got to see his cousins every other day. They have a really special bond which is absolutely amazing. They are a bit older (8,7 and 5) but they all get along so well. I was a little worried for the new addition as they would be just that bit younger that the age gap was too big however just after we got back we got the incredible news that Pete’s younger sister is also having a baby – due July 2019.

My parents came across in time for Christmas and were planning to stay until just after the baby was born in early/mid January. It was great to be able to spend so much time with them. Lachie had changed so much since they last saw him which was only in October.

So we waited. And waited. And waited. I was on high alert again this time around as Pete wasn’t flying in until 7th (due date is 9th!)  Surely we weren’t going down the same track as with Lachie. My due date came and went. Nothing. We booked an induction date a few days after I my due date had passed. That happened to be the same day Pete was scheduled to go back to Jakarta. We both went to bed every night hoping it would happen.. It didn’t.

Thursday 17th rolled around and baby was still tucked up tight. Despite my best efforts to get it moving. We headed off to the hospital for a 7am induction. I had felt really calm and relaxed in the lead up however when we were driving in that morning, it suddenly hit me. I all of a sudden felt like I was 10 years old on the start line for a 200m final. My legs went numb and butterflies filled my stomach. The female brain forgets the pain – until it doesn’t!

Once we arrived, I changed into my beautiful blue gown and gracefully laid on the bed, legs up. My waters were broken at 8am. Now we wait. I had to stay hooked up to the machines for a little whole as the baby’s heart rate spiked for about an hour. When it finally dropped, I could get up and move around. Wimbeldon was on TV – but no one interesting was playing. Throwback Thursday was playing on Nova which was entertaining. I paced around and bounced on the gym ball hoping to get things moving. I really wanted to avoid needing any oxytocin this time around. Pete was busy with work calls, and changing his flight from that afternoon ?

Nothing much was happening at around midday. Little tightening’s here and there but nothing regular or overly painful. I started to prepare for the oxytocin. My doctor came in and wasn’t in any hurry, so we left it a little longer. Luckily, by 2pm things had stared to really kick into gear. Contractions were regular and while they were painful, I wasn’t considered in ‘active’ labour yet.

By 3pm I couldn’t talk through my contractions and the excitement (mainly from the midwives!) was building. I was starting to feel like I was close. I asked my midwife to check my progress at about 3.30pm – 7cm. We were close. Pete asked her to call the doctor as I progressed really quickly from this stage with Lachie. She handed us the call button in case there were any dramas and left to phone my doctor. I rolled over to get through the next contraction. My midwife (who by the way was awesome!) had just picked up the phone when I told Pete to press the call button. ‘What?” ‘Why?” he said. I needed to push…immediately.

Pete pressed the button and people ran from everywhere. From this stage on I was in complete survival mode. There were people talking to me but all I could concentrate on was getting this baby out. My doctor couldn’t be contacted (controversial..) but likely wouldn’t have made it anyway so a passing doctor popped in.  She had no idea of where I was up to but just instructed me to push if I need to. A few pushes later, my beautiful baby was in my arms. A total ‘active’ labour time of 50 mins. I had the baby in my arms and the midwife asked me what we had. Pete and I were pretty sure we were having another boy (my pregnancy was very similar and just had that feeling). It was a complete shock to see a vagina! I had to repeat it to Pete as we couldn’t believe it. We both held our breath while she was checked over, but soon got the all clear and was placed back on my chest. This was something I didn’t get to experience with Lachie but was so special.

My doctor arrived shortly after I had delivered. I had a small complication with a hemorrhage, but they were able to control it after about an hour without any further intervention luckily. They did have to massage my uterus to help it contract and this was up there with the most painful part of the whole birth!

While they were ‘fixing me up’ we were running though our shortlist of names for a girl. We had chosen the boys name but still only had a shortlist of girls. We decided she was an Abigail or Abby. I wanted to keep part of my name and so she became Abigail Elyse Mellor – born 17/01/2019 at 3.50pm

Both my parents and Pete’s parents got to come in and meet Abby that afternoon before we headed up to the ward. Pete headed home to take care of lachie for the night, so it was just the 2 of us. Abby had taken really well to feeding which was great as it helped with my recovery too.

Lachie came in the next morning to meet his baby sister. He instantly loved her. My heart could have exploded when I saw them together for the first time.

We were discharged a few days later (I was lapping up my stay as it was as close to a holiday as I was going to get for a while!) and dropped Pete at the airport that afternoon. Nothing like jumping in the deep end! I was really lucky to have Pete’s parents though. Thank goodness Abby turned out to be a very chilled and ‘easy’ baby. She fed and slept.

We stayed in Perth until Abby had her 6 week needles. Once they were done, we headed back to Jakarta. I was really enjoying the amazing Perth weather and the help (and company of course) from Pete’s parents, but I was really keen to get back into our own routine and back into our own place.

So here we are now. 12 weeks into our life as a family of 4. Everything has been going fairly well (touch wood!). Abby started sleeping for 8 hours at a time from about 5 weeks and doesn’t wake until 6-6.30am …something I’m sure Lachie has never done! Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still up at 5am with him ☹  


Gibb River Road

posted by jodiemellor July 30, 2018 0 comments

You know when you make plans with friends that sound so great. A night out without the kids, family BBQ’s, grand holidays… but they rarely come to fruition… well somehow we have a way of making the grand holidays happen…








posted by jodiemellor September 21, 2017 0 comments

HOLIDAYS!!! Real holidays!!

We have spent the last 2 weeks in sunny, warm North Queensland. Townsville to be exact. My hometown. The place where it all began for Pete and I. My family are still here and I love coming back to see them. Some of my best friends are here too, all grown up now.

It has been awesome and has now got us really thinking that we would like to move back here for a few years. Still a sleepy town but it is definitely growing. Lots of places to dine out and an ever-changing skyline. There have been some tough times up here lately with lots of businesses closing down, the dam at less than 15% and the highest youth unemployment in QLD, however the locals are a resilient bunch and there are some big jobs coming up that should help get things back on track. A big wet next summer would be awesome!

With Idul Fitri in Indonesia (the big Muslim holiday), Pete has had some (forced) down time. He has still been working a few hours each day but we have been out doing things each day and it has really felt like a proper holiday.

We have been loving our Castle Hill walks most mornings. Lachie hitches a ride in the pram or in the Baby Bjorn. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to lug him up there! Castle Hill is only a few metres short of being classified as a mountain. It stands tall in the centre of Townsville and is easily the town’s most iconic feature. Hundreds of people run the 3km windy road, or one of the many ‘goat’ tracks each day. We usually go for breakfast or at least a coffee afterwards. We have tried a few new places this trip. One of the best is Jam Corner in Palmer St. AH-Mazing! (Jonathon Thurston joined* us for breakky one morning as well!) It also happens to be the old MoMo’s restaurant. The place Pete took me for our first date. It has been 10.5 years since we had been there. Wow! Time flies!

*By joined I possibly mean he was at the same restaurant at the same time J

My Dad celebrated his 60th Birthday in June and we timed our trip so we would be in town for his party. What a great night. It was at a local golf club and there was about 50 people there, many of whom I had not seen for years. I know Dad had a great night also.

We got up to Crystal Creek for lunch and a swim, and a mandatory stop at Frosty Mango on the way home. We made it to Cactus Jacks for dinner and frozen margaritas and Pete even went to a Cowboys home game. We have had a great time and can’t wait to come back again really soon.

Back to rain and 4 degrees tomorrow!!

EXPAT life

The Return Home

posted by jodiemellor July 1, 2017 0 comments

Sunday night home alone. Baby is in bed after a very trying day (cold, teeth, leap and me generally ignoring him at brunch… 🙂 and a few Sailor Jerry’s deep….no wonder I’m in the mood for writing.

We made the decision earlier this week to move home at the end of June. Pete’s contract is up and he is not in the right place to re-sign. I am absolutely elated! I cannot wait to get home and set up our home again! I have never set up a room for Lachie as our future has never been set in stone. There are so many things I am looking forward to. Home, fresh produce, affordable/drinkable wine (and those who know me know it takes a lot for me to turn down wine), our dog, family and friends, hockey, clean air, driving, trashy T.V. (that’s in English!)… The list goes on and on. This time in 5 weeks we will be back in Australia! J J

So. Tell me. Why is there now part of me that isn’t ready??

Now that we have decided, yes, time to go home, there is part of me that screams NO, Not Yet! There are many great things about our expat life that I am not ready to let go yet. We have not travelled to all the places we said we would before going home, I currently don’t wash, iron or clean, and I have a wonderful group of friends that are in the same boat as me, an expat Mum looking for a chat.

Of all the things I love about being home, there are also many things that discourage me about going back. Most of all, the remnants of our life before we left. It was so great…and we can never go back. Every time I am in Perth I become profoundly sad that I will never have that life back. In particular my job. I genuinely loved my job. There are many reasons I will never go back to it but it never seems to get easier. I guess as my babies grow I will become more involved with their activities that I will forget what my life before them was like. I am so grateful that I don’t have to work and I get to spend my time bringing up my child/ren, but I feel like there is something more I should be doing.

I cannot wait to spend so much more time with my friends than I ever did before. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Such a true statement. In my last few years in Perth, I became a homebody, preferring a nice red on the couch watching MTV Classics on a Friday night. Don’t get me wrong – this would still be my ultimate Friday night (after watching the Cowboys win) but I would have my friends over to enjoy it with me. There is a certain loneliness that comes with moving to another country. You can chat on the phone, via text or throw yourself into social media, but it is never the same. I have however, discovered who my true friends are after this stint away. There are people who have always taken the time out to write a message or dial my number, or tag me in a meme on facebook, just to let me know they are thinking of me. Thank you. You really have no idea the effect you have had on me.

The year before we moved (or had any idea we would move) I had decided I was done playing division 1 hockey in Perth. I was no longer interested in training in the cold and wet at midnight (ok, anytime from 7-9pm), twice a week. I had lost heart. I loved playing but I was burnt out. However, after being forced to rest for a year (being out of the country and pregnant!) I now have that desire back. I spent a few weeks in Perth recently and with the prospect of us moving back post July, I wanted to have some games under my belt so I could finish out the year if we did go home. I started in 3’s as I really didn’t want anyone to lose their spot just so I could play. It’s not fair that others train hard every week, for me to just jump in. In all fairness, I didn’t think I was up to anything higher this year. For the last 8 years my division 1 team has struggled for depth and I would have easily walked back into the team. This year however, we have an awesome team led by a phenomenal coach and there just wasn’t a place for a has-been mumma. I loved playing with the 3’s ladies. I can definitely see myself playing in this team long term. One training a week and a lovely bunch of girls. Only because of ease did I find myself at 1’s/2’s training. Pete wasn’t in town and either were his parents so I found myself without a babysitter. One of my good friends that normally plays 1’s was injured though and offered to watch Lachie while I trained. Perfect. By sheer default, the next few games saw the top team short of regular players. After a week of training, I got the call-up. It was the Friday night blockbuster. To say I was nervous would be a gross understatement. I was starting on the sideline thank goodness. I had a few minutes to get myself in the game. As soon as I stepped on that field though, I knew I was where I wanted to be. I felt fearless and for the first time in long time, I felt like I belonged. I scored 2 out of 3 goals and we secured the win 3-1. I was on top of the world. I cannot wait to go back to full-time training and find my place in one of the teams to finish out the season…hopefully with a finals berth.

This time away has really shown me what true friendships are and given me the time to truly appreciate them. While there are some friendships that I believed would have lasted a lifetime and some that I wish still would have, there are some that have flourished. There will always be those that don’t need maintenance. The ones that would go to the ends of the Earth for me after no contact for months. The ones that know all my faults and stuff ups and still call me their friend. The ones that have never met my baby boy but still ask for updates and photos and when they tell me they can’t wait to meet him, they are genuine. To these friends, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Please don’t change. I love our relationship and though I wish we could spend more time together, I know our love is unconditional.

The friendships that are convenient. These aren’t so bad and I think are a necessity. Whether it be another childs’ mum at the park, or the lady at the local dress store that invites you in for a wine after the doors close, there is always a reason for this relationship. It may be that you need someone to understand that you just aren’t up to the task of putting your baby down in their cot to sleep as its easier to go for a walk and for them to fall asleep in the pram – for the 4th time that day, or someone to have a mindless conversation with about the names their nieces and nephews call them by, over a wine, or 4, just so you don’t have to go home to an empty house.

The friendships that are by default. These are some of my favourite. Friends of my husband, their partners, mothers group, relatives that are more like friends. These ones are always fun because there is generally a common ground to converse about. More often than not, the mischief my husband gets up to. It’s generally an entertaining story the day after…or week after, but never at the time. Luckily for us, a lot of our ‘default’ friends have had babies recently, so we are all in the same boat. Late lunch/early dinner and home by 6pm! In this category are also my expat friends. We are all in the same boat and without friends, we would all be very lonely here. The difference with my group of friends is, we actually really do enjoy each other’s company. I will really miss them when we go. I have no doubt there will be an annual catch up somewhere in the world every year.

The allrounder. My best friends. The ones that fit into all categories. The ones that The ones that call, or don’t ;). The ones that answer the phone to me with an insult. The ones that send me no holes barred (pardon the pun ;)) sms’s of their night before. The ones that tell me to pull my head in when I need it. The ones that have a permanent slot blocked out in their calendar to catch up with me (generally Friday from 3.30pm). The ones that tell me their darkest secrets and trust me wholly to keep it just that, their secret. And the ones I tell mine to. These friends are found in all sorts of places. Some you are forced to hang out with from a very young age and you can never shake each other. Others you gravitate to during your teens and let’s face it, anyone that is willing to hang around after that awkward stage should be given a medal. There are those that you do dumb shit with as a young adult. Those that you cross paths with, only for those paths to then run parallel. Those family members that you love like your own blood or actually are your own blood and you choose them to be your friend. And those that you genuinely didn’t see coming. A random night on the town that turned into you using ridiculous words like ’Bae’.

The older I get, the fewer people I have that fit into each category. But those that are still there are the backbone of life.




posted by jodiemellor June 16, 2017 0 comments

Pete had a work trip to a site in Jepara. Now that it is decided that we are leaving to go back to Australia, I feel like we haven’t done as much travel as we would have liked to, so Lachie and I headed along.

To get to Jepara, you must fly to Semarang. Only a 45 minute flight from Jakarta. We took the early flight again. I still shudder when I have to wake my sleeping baby!!  We flew Garuda so left from the new airport terminal. There weren’t a great deal of people around so it made checking in easy.

We landed in Semarang and headed to the Crown hotel to meet some of Pete’s colleagues. The hotel is beautiful. We had a buffet breakfast while we waited for our car and driver to arrive and take us to Jepara.

A 2.5hr car trip sounds horrible but just like everywhere else we have travelled in Indonesia, there is always so much to see.

Lucky for me Lachie slept nearly all the way meaning I could take in the sights and even catch some shut eye myself.

Beautiful mosques, funky art and incredible wood furniture lined the main road the whole way from Semarang to Japara. Big rivers lined with banana trees, rices padis and cane sugar reminded us we weren’t in the big smoke.

When we arrived in Jepara, I was pleasantly surprised at the accommodation. We stayed at the Gecho Inn Country. Owned by a Dutch family, the rooms were spacious with king size beds. There was a big pool and the wooden furniture around was a great finish.

There wasn’t much to do at all in Jepara. Lachie and I went for a short walk around to see if we could find some of the wooden furniture Jepara was famous for. We didn’t come across any, just a few local kids that loved using their limited English to communicate with me.

We headed to a beach club for dinner one night. I wish I had known about it earlier in our trip as it would have been a great place to hang out for the day. Spa facilities, a pool and great food. A jetty leads out to an over water bar with restaurant seating along the way. There is a huge love heart at the end of the jetty which is perfect for photos – it even illuminates at night!


Borobudur and Yogyakarta

posted by jodiemellor May 18, 2017 0 comments

I start every blog the same. You’d think i’d learn by now. DO SOME RESEARCH BEFORE TRAVELLING!!

I got a whole heap of information from other friends that had travelled to Borobodur so I thought I was well equipped.

Pete’s parents had made the trip to Jakarta and we decided that Borobudur would be a great place to go with them.

We opted to stay a few minutes out of town at the D’Omah Hotel. It had been recommended by a friend who had stayed there and we were extremely happy with it. The boutique hotel was set in a gorgeous little village. The rooms were comfy and we had a room right next to the pool. The restaurant overlooked rice fields and we were lucky enough to see harvesting and planting while we were there.

We didn’t have a great deal of spare time as we were only there for a long weekend. We arrived late on the Friday so we went for a walk around the local village. The people (as always) were so lovely and accommodating. We had a swim and a Bintang then to the restaurant for dinner.

I had done a little bit of research about photographing the temple and I got a couple of good photos but…. there are thousands of people at the sunrise viewing! I mean thousands! It’s almost impossible to get a photograph without anyone else in it! And nobody is courteous of others! I was so stressed out by the time the sun had risen because I was so worried about getting a good shot and nothing was turning out how I’d planned. Upon reflection, the photos I got were great for my level of experience. I guess I was just expecting to get that amaxing shot that you see in magazines.

We were talked into getting a tour guide to show us around once the sun was up. This isn’t something we would normally do but seeing as though we had guests, we obliged this time. We were pleasantly surprised on this occasion. Sonny was a big indonesian man and boy was he good at his job. Not only did he keep us entertained with amazing stories of the inscriptions in the wall, he was also hilarious, honest and a great photgrapher. On more than one occasion, he encouraged me to take photos of angles I never would have thought of, and even got me in front of the camera for some fun shots!

Once I took a step back and stopped trying to get that amazing photo and started living in the moment and creating memories that will hopefully last me a long time, did I realised how breathtaking Borobudur really is. Built by hand, there are so many stories carved into the walls. So much history. Stories of men and women, children and animals. Before Facebook and Instagram when the world lived on tales of gods and mystical creatures. It is wonderful to imagine a world where all of this existed. It’s a place where tales of great triumph or unimaginable heartache will be written in the walls for hundreds of thousands of years to come. A place that will hopefully be protected and remain unchanged for generations to come.

Once we had a good look around with Sonny, we headed toward the exit. Before we left Sonny asked if we wanted any souveiers at all. We all said no so he told us, no matter how much the people in the next section offer you, just ignore them and keep walking. We didn’t really take him to seriously until we got to the bottom. There were only about 10 vendors but they heckled us hard! It was about a 30m walk through the area and boy was it full on!

Once at the bottom there was coffee, tea and morning tea provided. The others had a coffee and we hit the road for the trek home. On the way home we asked our driver to take us to any other spots he thought we might enjoy. It is common practice for drivers to take you to places that pay them a commission. Tea houses, temples etc. We made a stop at one more temple and directly across the road was a coffee house. Luwak coffee is very popluar in Indonesia. Luwak coffee is somewhat of a ‘treat’ here in Australia, with some cups worth $50. A Luwak is a possum/cat type of animal. Luwak coffee beans are made from the faeces of this animal. Yep. Possum poo coffee. I don’t drink coffee so I can’t attest to its taste, but by all accounts it was nice.


Jatiluhur Dam

posted by jodiemellor April 12, 2017 0 comments

In Australia there are approximately 10 Public Holidays each year. In Indonesia in 2017, there are 23 recognised holidays. In addition, there have been 2 extra holidays declared due to the election. We decided to take advantage of the quiet roads on the last holiday and headed out to the Jatiluhur Dam. It’s 150kms East of Jakarta. Not far when there is no traffic.

After our last mis-adventure with Uber when we headed to Krakatoa, I convinced Pete to pre-book an Uber the night before. Our job was accepted and we naively thought the driver would have checked where the job was!  It wasn’t until he turned up that he discovered where we were going. He agreed to hang around with the meter running all day and bring us home so we were all happy.

We got going at 8.30am and the journey only took us 1.5 hours – how nice for there to be zero traffic! There isn’t much to see on the trip there as it’s a toll road – a terrible one too. There are rice fields right beside the road though which is interesting.

As we were just following google maps to get to our destination, we ended up driving to the bottom of the dam wall which isn’t accessible to the public. We headed back up the road and asked a security guard where we could access the dam. He directed us back the another entrance and as we turned the corner we saw millions of cars. Another security guard directed us past saying it was full. Oh no. Had we driven all this way only to be turned away? As we kept driving though we came across more parking areas with dam access. We picked a car park that looked good and told the driver we would be a few hours. He pulled up a seat with some local and happily sat chatting for the time we were there. It still amazes me how well strangers in Indonesia get along. They are a very social bunch. Pete’s work driver is always chatting to other drivers while he waits.

As we got out of the car we noticed a few mats laid out in the shade by the dam edge. As we got closer, a gentleman asked if we would like to sit. The rental cost for the mat for the entire day was Rp15,000, approximately $1.50. Lachie needed to be fed so we agreed and sat in the shade overlooking the dam. Most of the locals brought their own food with them but we ordered some chicken and rice from the same man that hired us the mat. Pete had a fresh coconut and we sat for a while in the shade people watching. While we were sitting there another man approached us with a large bag on his back. He was selling knives. Not steak knives. More like ninja knives! I usually tell people like this that I’m not interested and they ;eave me alone…Pete couldn’t help himself. He genuinely just wanted to have a look and had no intention of purchasing anything. There were all kinds of knives in his bag. Pete carefully inspected each one and passed comment on what he thought they would be useful for, looking to me for agreement. “This one would be handy on the boat”. “This one would be a great diving knife”. I just smiled and nodded my head (ok I probably rolled my eyes a few times also). Then the question came that changed everything. This is exactly when I knew we would be going home with a new knife… “How much is this one?”. When the response came, Pete looked to me for approval (I’ve trained him well) and to check we actually had enough cash to buy one. We are now the proud owners of a knife that’ll “be handy for so many things!” 🙂

After we ate we asked around to find a boat to take us for a trip on the dam. We were shown to an old motor boat and were then taken on a private tour. On the dam is a whole aquaculture community and we got lots of hello Mr’s and waves from the shadows of the small bungalows as we passed. At the other end of the dam is the turbine and a floating restaurant. This is the section we were getting waved on from earlier in the day. There were plenty of people spilling out from the restaurant and onto the sloping grassy areas surrounding the dam. It looked pretty but we were so glad we ended up where we did as it felt more local – the experience we were looking for.

We headed back to the mainland, the whole boat ride taking about 20 minutes, where we found our Uber driver and started our trek home. The return trip took a little longer due to roadworks but still shorter than some trips home from work for Pete. 🙂

There isn’t a great deal to to at the dam but it’s a nice day out and close enough for a day trip. Another day that we didn’t waste 🙂


The first 3 months

posted by jodiemellor March 25, 2017 0 comments

I can’t believe 3 months has gone already! I’m a little sad about just how fast he is growing up! Call me crazy but I miss the newborn stage. In saying that though, he is really starting to become fun now. He is interacting with us which is so rewarding.

The first month. I have to admit, we have a pretty easy going baby. He was sleeping 2-3 hours at a time and just woke to feed before going straight back to sleep. Having Pete around for the first month was nice. I think he felt a bit useless though as I am breastfeeding and Lachie was sleeping so much, there was not much Pete could do. Cuddles were aplenty though.

We had our first Christmas together. It was the driest Christmas I have had in many, many years. Remind me to time that better for the next baby… 🙂 We spent the day at Pete’s parents, which was where we were staying, so that was easy for us. Lots of presents, eating, drinking (for some) and a swim to finish things off.

Between Christmas and the New Year the 3 of us headed to a friends winery in Ferguson Valley for a night. We had a delicious lunch and were so lucky to be taken through the cellar and able to taste every wine! I could not pick my favourite. They are all amazing and I can’t wait for our first shipment to arrive! 🙂

We said goodbye to Pete early in the New Year when he headed back up to Jakarta.

Things I learnt in the first 4 weeks…

  1. There is a limit to how much even the best nappies will hold
  2. A newborn can surpass that limit very quickly and unexpectedly
  3. Car seats should be easier to clean (see points above..)
  4. Newborns love to nap…usually on you and very rarely in their bassinet
  5. Strangers suddenly become your long lost friend and coo over your baby
  6. Strangers think its ok to touch my sleeping baby
  7. Strangers are oddly very interested in our method of feeding and birth story
  8. There is no love like the love you have for your baby

The second month. I was on my own now. Actually that’s exaggerating. I had my mother-in-law (MIL) and father-in-law there to help whenever I needed. I didn’t cook a meal or clean up and I’m not sure I did a load of washing either. I did manage to master showering with the baby on the floor though. I may have also taken to co-sleeping a little more often than when Pete was there. It was just. so. easy! Lachie didn’t seem to mind either 🙂 It was one of the many things I swore I’d never know, before I was a parent and judging everyone else was so easy.

January in our family is full of birthdays. 4 in 10 days. We celebrate each year with a get together and lots of prawns! This year was no different. It was a scorching day this year, over 40 degrees. It was uncomfortable for the adults but the kids got the water slide out and had a great time.

We had doctors appointments, first birthday parties, more introductions and finished the month off with immunisations…ouch.

I got the all clear to get back to training with no restrictions….yes! I had been walking most days and had snuck in a few runs with the pram but I was craving that hard training. I joined in with my old hockey teams’ pre-season running. I was lucky that my MIL minded Lachie so I could partake. It was great! I was surprised that I hadn’t lost too much fitness. I didn’t put on too much weight while I pregnant but my body was (and still is) so foreign to me. I had lumps and bumps in places I didn’t know you could get them. I felt terrible. Getting into some hard training made me start to feel normal again.

The third month. We headed back up to Jakarta when Lachie was 9 weeks old. We moved into a new place when we came back. A townhouse in the expat neighbourhood. We can walk around the streets with the pram and my friends live in the same area. It does take Pete about an hour to get to and from work now though…7kms away! I was looking forward to being in our own place and getting into a routine. We had lots of trips planned for the first few weeks back in Jakarta so it was broken up a little.

The flight to Jakarta was uneventful…mostly. Lachie slept the whole way. We did end up landing in Palembang (Sumatra) though as there was a thunder storm in Jakarta. We refuelled and waited about an hour or so then made our way back. We finally crawled into bed at 3am.

Our first week flew by. We set up the house and got to know our new neighbourhood. We flew to Singapore that weekend. Pete had to work so we tagged along. From Singapore, Lachie and I went to Bali to meet up with my brother. He hadn’t met Lachie before so it was really lovely. Pete joined us there for the weekend.

The following weekend we were back in Singapore to play hockey. I hadn’t picked up a stick in almost a year. I couldn’t wait! It was a grass tournament but the quality is pretty decent. Last year the heat was almost unbearable. This year it rained all day on the Saturday and was bearably hot on the Sunday. It felt great playing again but made me sad that I am missing another season back in Perth.

Since that weekend we have been laying low in Jakarta. Its nice to relax for a while.

We are going to Makassar (Sulawesi) this week and Singapore again next week. Lachie has been to 3 countries and taken 6 flights already! He has his own frequent flyer account too 🙂

Lachie hasn’t hit any major development milestones yet however I dare say rolling over is only days away. He loves to chat and giggle and loves the ladies, making them melt with his dimples. He hates napping for any longer than 30 minutes during the day but is pretty good at night, usually only waking once or twice.

He has gone from a relatively average 3.5kg at birth to a whopping 6.8kgs but he is exclusively breastfed so I’m not concerned at this stage. Plus, up here I’d rather he be a little more robust.

As he only sleeps for 30 minutes during the day, its hard to find time to workout. He joins me for a workout most afternoons. I manage to get a run on the treadmill while he sleeps then he plays and giggles at me while I do circuit work. I’m back down to pre-pregnancy weight but definitely have some toning to do! As I mentioned before my body is still so foreign to me. It’s hard not to put the pressure on to bounce back almost immediately. I was lucky that I only put on about 10kgs while I was pregnant. I had dropped almost 10kgs when I first moved to Jakarta so while I know it is important to gain weight while pregnant, it was hard watching the scales creep up.

I am loving watching Lachie grow and learn and I am definitely loving my new job 🙂



posted by jodiemellor March 20, 2017 0 comments

Makassar is the capital of South Sulawesi. It was established in the 14th century and by the 16th century was a the main trading centre in Eastern Indonesia, trading largely in spices.

The island of Sulawesi is renowned as being one of the most scenic islands of Indonesia and is the gateway to many other remote islands in Eastern Indonesia such as Raja Ampat.

Pete had some work meetings to attend so we took the opportunity to tag along.

We had a 5.20am flight and even though we were only travelling domestically, you can never predict traffic or the crowd at the airport. We were up at 2.30am and in an Uber at 3am. I tried to pick up the sleeping baby as carefully as possible so he would stay asleep, however as soon as my hands touched him, those big brown eyes sprung open. Luckily he sat quietly in the car and fell back asleep along the way.

We flew out from the brand new terminal which is dedicated to Garuda Airlines. It was a lovely change from the other terminals. There were no crowds, plenty of food and drink options (even at 4am) and everything was fresh and new.

Were headed through security and onto our departure gate. Once we were called to board I prepared myself for the ensuing bus trip to our plane which was no doubt parked back at Terminal 1. I was very pleasantly surprised when we walked straight down the airbridge and onto the plane. A nice change for Jakarta.

Lachie went back to sleep just as we were preparing to take off. He is awake for longer periods of time now so I was hoping he would stay alseep for as long as possible to minimise the time I would need to keep him quiet. He ended up sleeping for about an hour which left another hour or so before we landed. He takes a great interest in the tv at the moment so that kept him entertained for a while.

Turns out Makassar is quite a busy airport. We did 3 laps of a holding pattern before we finally landed. The city and its surrounds are beautiful. Clear blue skies and lots of small islands with coral reefs that were easy to see from the plane. The airport itself was bustling, like most other domestic airports in Indonesia. It was well set out though which was a nice surprise.

We had a hotel transfer so we didn’t have to haggle for a taxi. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the hotel, the Aston. It is a lovely 4 star hotel that overlooks both the city and the ocean. We checked into our room then head out for some sightseeing.

We headed off on to Fort Rotterdam which was only a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

Originally settled by the Portugese, it was early in the 17th century that the Dutch arrived with the intention of gaining control over the spice trade. Their first move was to conquer Fort Makassar which they did in 1667 and rebuilt and renamed Fort Rotterdam.

We signed in and paid a donation fee to enter. As we walked through the front gate we had a local man approach us and in fairly good english offered to ‘show us around’. We declined as it was very hot and we just wanted to have a look around at our own pace. As it turns out we only spent about 30 minutes looking around the entire site. Most of the information was in Bahasa Indonesia and to be honest, there was very little that took our interest. We may have been better off paying for the guide to get a more detailed tour.

As we left, a man approached us and made general conversation with us. He told us as that we should visit the fish markets and the harbour where the traditional Bugis boats come in. He explained that it was the right time to go to the fish markets as the morning catch would be arriving back and offered to take us in his Becak. Both Pete and I thought he was having us on but decided it was something we wanted to do anyway and the price he offered to take us was reasonable. So Pete took Lachie and jumped in with our new friend, while I went with his son. It was quite an experience travelling in the Becak. I give it to the riders, it was hot and we aren’t light people!

15 minutes later we arrived at the fish markets. Wow! I’m so glad we decided to come along. There was a boat that had just arrived back so we went to see what they caught. It’s amazing how many beautiful fish are in the surrounding waters. They had a successful morning and were proud to show off their catch. We walked through the markets and saw all kinds of fish, stingray and squid. Most of the locals were more interested in the ‘bule baby’ and kept touching him!

We jumped back into our rides and headed a few more minutes up the road to the harbour. There were plenty of Bugis boats, most of which were already loaded with flour ready to go. After a quick look around here we headed back to the hotel. The streets of Makassar are so lively. We turned heads the whole way back and had hundreds of greetings by the time we arrived.

The hotel has a sky lounge which we headed up to for drinks and dinner. The view was incredible. It overlooked the port and we had clear skies to witness the sunset. The steak dinner was quite good and the dessert was amazing! We retired early (like we have much of a choice these days ;)) ready for the following day.

The next day started earlier than I would have liked (thanks Lachie). We headed to the restaurant for our included breakfast which was average at best. Plenty of options but most things were cold or tasted ‘old’. After breakfast Pete headed off to a few meetings and Lachie and I headed up to the pool which is on level 19. An indoor pool, spa and sauna with great views. The pool was a little cold  for Lachie but we had a quick dip then headed back down to get ready for our day trip. Pete had to do a reconnaissance about 100kms south of Makassar and so we all jumped in a car at lunchtime. Like most other places in Indonesia, the roads were busy and the average speed is 60km/hr. 100kms took us almost 3 hours.

Along the way, on the side of the road there are mats laid out covered with rice which is left to dry in the sun. I have seen this in many places throughout Indonesia but its always a site to see. The other thing that caught my eye on this trip was the colours. From yellows and greens to purples and reds – houses, fences and mosques were all kinds of colours.

With Lachie in arms or strapped to my chest (yes it’s legal, no we don’t have a car seat here (no regular driver) and yes it is dangerous, no we don’t have any other options) and the rocking motion of the car, he slept for most of the trip down which was great. We managed to locate the 3 sites easily and after a few photos at each, we were back on the road to Makassar. It was late afternoon and seeing as though we had been told about a nice seafood restaurant on the way home, we decided to stop and have an early dinner. The restaurant is set on the beachfront so we sat outside to enjoy the view. We fumbled our way through ordering using the little bit of Indonesian I know and after a short wait dinner arrived. I had the chicken nasi goreng and Pete had sweet and sour chicken and calamari. We both had a fresh lime juice. The food was absolutely delicious. So fresh and the flavours were incredible. One of these days I’ll rebel and try something a little ‘exotic’.

We arrived home about 9pm and headed straight to bed. The following morning Pete had some more meetings so Lachie and I had a quiet morning in the hotel. Breakfast was no better…

I really enjoyed Makassar and would really like to go back and spend more time there and on the surrounding islands.



An extra special Perth summer

posted by jodiemellor March 20, 2017 0 comments

Summer in Perth. Some would argue it’s the best place in Australia to spend Summer and I’d be hard pressed to disagree.

This year was possibly the best summer I’ve spent in Perth…for one very special reason, plus I was on holidays/unemployed so I had plenty of time to enjoy my days and didn’t have to worry about getting great weather only on weekends.

Most mornings started with a walk along the river and finishing up at my new favourite cafe for breakfast or a salted caramel frappe. I am continually surprised and impressed at the quality of breakfasts in Australia these days….or maybe I am comparing it to Jakarta?? :/ I had to slow these walks down and cut the distance in the first few weeks I was back as I didn’t want the baby to arrive early. My husband was only flying in a few days before the due date and I didn’t want any early surprises.

In the first few weeks back I got to help my sister-in-law prepare for her wedding which was in early November. I was lucky enough to be asked to be one of her bridesmaids. It was a glorious day down in Fremantle and we had an exceptional time. I managed to wobble along, 36 weeks pregnant, in my high heels for the photos before switching into something a little more dance friendly and my mother-in-law was clever enough to alter the bridesmaid dress so it fit my rapidly growing tummy which was a bonus!

Getting ready for the wedding – 36 weeks pregnant


I also got to spend an incredible amount of time with my in-laws which was really special. My nieces and nephew were absolutely thrilled about the idea of a new baby cousin, their first. Many hours were spent talking to ‘baby’ and giving my tummy an endless amount of kisses. We spent lots of time in the pool and it was really amazing to watch their confidence grow each time they got in.

My anchor system

The baby was due December 5th. My Husband was booked to fly in on December 1st. To say I was nervous about him missing the action was an understatement. There are only 3 direct flights from Jakarta each week. If he couldn’t get one if those he would have to go via Bali or Singapore making the shortest route about 12 hours. :/ I considered a few times asking him to come home early…lucky I didn’t..

Before he flew in I cut down my morning walks from 5 or 6 kilometres to only 2 or 3. I abstained from spicy food and resisted the urge to ‘nest’, all in the hope that the baby would hold on.

December 1st rolled around and I half expected my waters to break at the airport once I finally relaxed. They didn’t. My husband and I spent the weekend eating out and generally enjoying our time together before it was no longer just the two of us.

December 5th – due date! We had an obstetrician appointment this day. He booked us in for an induction at the end of the week but expected to see us before that. Excitement was through the roof. Pete went out each morning cray fishing (trying to get that last bit of freedom in?) and I upped the kilometres of my walks again. I walked roughly 35 kilometres in the 3 days before the baby arrived hoping it would get things moving. It wasn’t budging. Each night I would go to bed hoping that I’d be woken by a gush of water…just like in the movies… 🙂

December 9th arrived. D-day. It’s such a strange feeling waking up knowing you’ll have a baby that day. There aren’t many pleasant surprises in life these days but in a lot of cases, your baby’s birthday is one. I was awake before my early alarm. I had everything set out ready to go. I jumped in the shower and took a last glimpse of my big belly. I wasn’t scared or nervous, just extremely excited. I had some breakfast, we took some last minute photos and we were in the car.

Last photo before heading to the hospital

The growing belly

At the hospital, we were shown to our room. The most daunting part of the hospital is the birthing ward. Sitting behind big automatic doors that have bright lights and big caution signs, its a part of the hospital you only generally see when the action starts. I put my bag down and a young girl walked in and introduced herself as our nurse. She was lovely, however, she was younger than me and had only been on the ward a short time. This is when the nerves started to creep in. I’m not sure why it bothered me so much. She did everything right and I was totally comfortable with her. I guess I just expected an older nurse with a little more experience? It suddenly daunted on me that the next chapter was completely on me. I had to get this baby out safely.

The doctor came in around 7.45am and broke my waters. An interesting experience in itself. For those of you wondering, yes it happened just like in the movies! And now the waiting game. I was lucky enough that there was a cricket game on that day. I happily sat and watched the T.V. for the next few hours while I experienced what I thought were contractions. They were mild but increasing slowly. I smugly thought to myself “This is easy”, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about”. The nurse could see the ‘contractions’ on the monitor and kept telling me I was doing a good job. Pftt. I’ll have 10 babies at this rate I thought.

‘Happy as Larry…”

A few hours later the head nurse came in to check how far along I was. I laid back in the bed still happy as Larry…. 1cm. WHAT?! 3 hours and only 1 cm? You mean things haven’t even started yet?! I spent the next hour madly pacing the halls of the birth ward. Still nothing.

My nurse finished up her shift and a new nurse and student came on to look after me. This nurse was older than me and had been working as a midwife for about 20 years. The student that was with her was also older than me and a mum to 5. I felt much more confident now. I felt like they could talk me through the next stage with their knowledge and experience.

At 2.30pm my obstetrician came back to see me. He took a look and decided that I needed Oxytocin to get things moving. I was hoping things would get moving by themselves but considering it had been 6 hours, I probably needed some help. In went the drip (still one of the worst parts of labour if you ask me!) and again sat back and waited. It was a good game of cricket so I was distracted.

The birth ward is surprisingly quiet. I expected there to be screaming women and crying babies. It was mid-afternoon that we heard the first baby. It was really special to know there had been a healthy baby born and gave me goosebumps to think I would have my own little bundle in my arms soon.

About an hour or so later and I got my first ‘ooh’ moment. I wouldn’t say it was painful, but it was definitely intense. I was still chatting away to the nurses and Pete at this stage, and was still quietly confident that I would breeze through this.

Fast forward another hour or so… wowee!! How quickly things can change. My contractions were close together and getting more and more painful. I could no longer hold a conversation during a contraction and the rests in between weren’t very long. I hadn’t had any pain relief at this stage and was determined to go as far as I could without any. Not too long after that however, I was cursing my husband and telling him if there was a next time, book me in and cut it out. This was horrific. How and why do women have more than one baby? I needed something to get me through. Cue the gas. I’m not convinced that there was much pain relief in the gas but it was a welcome distraction during contractions. Surely we were almost ready to go right??

Watching the cricket

There was still an element of excitement as we didn’t know our baby’s gender. At the very start I had a feeling it was a girl. I had many people stop me in the street in Jakarta and tell me I was having a boy though.

I asked the nurses 100 times to check if I was ready and they kept telling me, “you’ll know when it’s time”. Because I had the drip in, I was hooked up to a monitor to check the baby wasn’t distressed. This made it extremely annoying going to the toilet…and I of course needed to go a lot…a problem I have in life – pregnant or not.

At about 6.30pm I kept telling the nurse that I really needed to go to the toilet during contractions. She kept saying it was just the baby pressing down and I was ok. I begged her to check me again. Well hello…9cms! We were ready to go. Off the nurse went to call the doctor.

What felt like a lifetime went by. Where was the doctor? This baby was coming! The doctor arrived and took a look as I was getting another contraction. Surprised by my progress and still putting his gloves on, “push!” he said. After a couple of pushes and a great deal of encouragement from my ‘team’, the nurse told me she could see the baby’s head. I’m not sure why but I was desperate to know if it had hair or not. Her lack of response indicated that there wasn’t a full head of luscious hair on my baby. Hardly surprising as I didn’t have hair until I was almost 2!

A few more minutes of pushing and before I knew it my baby was on my chest. My little miracle was here. Pete was so amazed by the whole experience that he had to be prompted twice by the doctor to check the gender. It’s a boy! Plenty of happy tears followed and I was oblivious to the rest of the business that was taking place at the other end of the bed. After a minute or so holding my new baby boy, my obstetrician calmly advised the nurses to call the pediatrician. Something wasn’t right with the baby. I heard his request and my heart sank. The baby was a bit grey for the doctors liking. Within a flash my piece of perfection was taken back from me. Pete had been busy snapping photos and it was at this stage he realised there was a problem. I asked him to go over and be with the baby and stay with him no matter what.

The pediatrician was there within seconds and after taking a look at the baby, told us he needed to be taken to the nursery. The nurse, student nurse, my husband and the pediatrician all hurried with the baby down to the nursery. The room suddenly went from being filled with people to just my obstetrician and me. It was deafeningly silent. I struck up general conversation while he cleaned me up, trying to suppress the dread that had filled my body.  I couldn’t reach my phone so I had no idea what was going on. What was wrong with my baby? Was he ok?

A few minutes later the nurse came back and said he is doing ok but he was on a ventilator as he was having some difficulty breathing. I got up to shower and had something to eat but still had no word on how he was doing half an hour later. My father-in-law and sister-in-law came into my room to keep me company until I could go to the nursery. They didn’t know anything either. Pete had called his mum to join him in the nursery. The family had gathered in anticipation for the new arrival as Pete had been giving a running commentary during the day on our family group chat. I can only imagine what entered their heads when the phone call came that the baby had been taken straight to the nursery.

About an hour after he’d been born, I made my way down to the nursery. I wasn’t prepared for how I would see my new, perfect bundle. There were cords everywhere. In his hand, up his nose, on his feet and a cap on his head which had more cords attached. I wasn’t allowed to hold him. I wasn’t allowed to feed him. All I could do was gently touch him. He looked so scared and vulnerable. He was crying and there was nothing I could do to comfort him. A feeling I’d have no idea would be so powerful and distressing until it was my own baby. I couldn’t bare it. As it turns out he had a Pneumothorax – an air sac on his lung which can lead to a collapsed lung. He would need to be monitored to see if he could clear it himself or whether they would need to drain it.

After spending some time with him, we left him in very capable hands in the SJOG nursery and headed up to the ward via our family who were still in the waiting room. I had imagined this a lot differently. I didn’t expect to be going to the ward without my baby.

The following morning we headed down to the nursery. He looked a lot better than the night before. The nurses said he had a good night and was feeding well. We saw the pediatrician later in the day who gave us an update. He was on antibiotics and would need to stay in the nursery for at least 48hrs, depending on the outcome of the airsac.

I got my first cuddle and feed on the Sunday afternoon. 2 days after he was first put on my chest. I felt lucky because my husband still hadn’t had a cuddle. He took to breastfeeding straight away which was a relief. He had managed to clear the air sac himself which was great news. As soon as he finished his antibiotics he could join us in our room. That would turn out to be the Tuesday afternoon. Finally, we got to have our baby with us and embark on our journey of firsts. First cuddles, first nappy changes, first introductions. Finally, we had the baby we were expecting. We are very lucky though. After spending a few days in the nursery and seeing other babies that were in a much more precarious position than ours, we are blessed to have a healthy baby to take home.

Daddys first cuddle

We spent the next few days introducing him to the world. My parents flew in from QLD to meet their first grandchild and friends and family came to visit. Finally, 5 days after our baby made his entrance into the world, we were going home. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as we drove out of the hospital driveway.

Meeting his big sister

Lachlan Peter Kingston Mellor – 7pd 9oz. 7.20pm Friday 9th December 2016

EXPAT life

Jakarta – The transition into Expat life

posted by jodiemellor September 24, 2016 0 comments

This time 12 months ago, I was getting ready to board my flight to Jakarta. My husband had already been in Jakarta for 3 months and it was now time for me to make the move.

A life in a new place is a scary thought. I have already done it once in my life, relocating from sunny, warm North Queensland in my early 20’s to follow my now husband back to his hometown of Perth. I’m still not sure to this day whether he invited me to go with him or if I just clung on to him! Lucky for me, Perth is absolutely gorgeous. I found it a little hard at the start. I didn’t know anyone but my husbands friends. I had to start a new job. I had to find my way into a new hockey team. I had to navigate my way around an unfamiliar city. Before too long however, I found my groove. We purchased a quaint little villa in a beautiful suburb, I loved the hockey team I joined (I didn’t have much choice with this one as it was the team the rest of the family played for – but I wouldn’t have it any other way) and we had a new family member – our puppy Jassy.

Before I knew it, we’d been in Perth for 8 years! I loved it. Admittedly the weather got a bit colder than I preferred but nothing I couldn’t handle (especially with a few extra kg’s over those winter months!). My husband was making his way up the chain in his career when an opportunity presented itself to run the office in Jakarta. A no-brainer really. It was a big leap for his career and with the instability in the workforce in Australia at the time, a guaranteed job was a positive. Hubby had been flying to and from Singapore multiple times a week in the 12 months leading up to this opportunity which was taking its toll also.

The downside of this opportunity was that he started straight away. We decided he would head to Jakarta and I would finish the hockey season and pack up our house before heading up a few months later. I headed up for a reconnaissance trip a few weeks after Pete came up. We found an apartment to move into and got a feel for the place. It’s hard to get an idea of a location over only a few days but it looked ok.

Pete struggled through the first few months by himself, keeping busy with work and trying to make new contacts. Until you’re in this position you really can’t understand the loneliness that comes with business travel. Pete has always done lots of travel with his job and people often comment on how lucky he is to be able to do so. What they don’t understand is that while he is off seeing places of the world (usually from the inside of a hotel room or conference room), his loved ones are back home with friends and family, enjoying celebrations, weddings, milestones etc that he misses out on. Even I was oblivious on how hard it was for him up here by himself. I was still living a normal life in the comfort of my own home, with my own things and a structured life. Only when I moved did I truly understand.

I boarded my flight and proceeded to silently cry myself to sleep. I was open to the idea of relocating but now that it was actually happening, I wasn’t sure.

The first few weeks started off ok. For me, it felt like a holiday. We had a trip back to Perth planned for a few weeks time to attend a friends wedding so I spent the first few weeks setting up the apartment and getting to know my surroundings.

Before long however, things really hit me. I was desperately trying to live my old life. I missed my home. I missed my dog. I missed my friends, and I missed my job. Some days I wouldn’t get out of bed for most of the day. I’d be crying when Pete left for work and still going when he came home.I’m sure this was harder for him than me. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know how to help and I didn’t know how to help myself either.

It got to the point where Pete would write me a diary of things to do for the week. Simple things like going downstairs to the gym, meeting him for lunch and massages. He’d call me during the day or pop home to visit me to check I was going ok. He was already struggling himself to find his feet in a foreign country and trying to learn new skills for his new role,  yet he made me his number one priority. Still, I couldn’t pull myself out of this rut.

Pete surprised me by booking me on a photography tour through Bali and Borneo. I had never done anything with photography but seeing as though I am always taking photos, he thought I might like it. He also bought me an amazing top of the range SLR camera to learn with. I had a great time and took a real interest in photography following the tour so I guess his idea worked

Over the following months I still really struggled. Our time being broken up by trips to Perth and Queensland and Christmas made it a little easier to get through. Post Christmas we didn’t have any trips back to Australia planned however another expat based here told me that I might find it easier to do a big stint here without going home. I had been told by plenty of people that it will take 6-12 months to find my feet. 6-12 months!? I couldn’t see past the end of the day let alone look ahead 6-12 months.

In late January I finally got myself to ANZA House (Australia & New Zealand Association) for a Friday coffee morning. ANZA is an organisation that helps connect expats. They have all kinds of activities that you can take part in. Every Friday they have a coffee morning where you can drop by and meet others. The morning I went was very daunting. There was a huge room full of people. They were all happily chatting with each other and I suddenly felt extremely insecure. I didn’t know one person and I didn’t know where to start. I am normally a very outgoing, very chatty person and would usually find my way into conversation with someone without issue. Not this day. I sat on one of the chairs by myself for a while and when nobody had struck up conversation about 15 minutes later I decided this scene wasn’t for me. I hastily made my way back towards the front door. Just before I left I noticed a poster for a party the next day celebrating Australia Day. I made note of the details and headed home. Once I was home, my world fell apart again. I was really counting on meeting some new friends seeing as though I still didn’t have any. But I had failed. I spent the rest of the day in tears again. I was so embarrassed about having to tell Pete about my day. He had been encouraging me to try and go to ANZA for weeks as he had heard it was a good way to meet people as well, and I had to tell him I’d failed miserably.

It was about this time I really started to analyse my life and what I could do to keep busy. What was I good at? What could I do with my days? I can’t really get a job here because of Visa requirements, so what else can I do? This has been a real eye opener for me. I’m a people person. I usually interact well with others face-to-face and it has become quite apparent that I really don’t have any other skills. I had honestly never noticed before. I hadn’t needed to. I was so caught up in a job that I absolutely loved and thought I was good at. Looking back now, I realise that is not the case. In actual fact I hid behind my personality (and to be honest, my relationship to one of the directors – my father-in-law) which got me through. For me, this is probably the hardest part. I spent 9 years at a job, completely unaware that I wasn’t there because I was the best person for the job, but because of who I was related to. I did have people tell me during my time there but I always managed to convince myself otherwise. It’s so embarrassing for me that for all this time I thought I was good at what I did, but wasn’t.

I am now so lost. I don’t know what I am good at in life. I sit and listen to my husband on a work call -he is extremely good at what he does. He is so passionate about his work and it makes me so sad that I don’t have anything in life like it. Sure, I take photos, write a story on places we have travelled to, have got really good at wasting time on the internet and I am up to date with most tv series’ but that is the extent of my skills.

Everything I’ve have known for the last decade of my life isn’t as it seemed. I spent all day at my job then after work a few times a week I would spend at hockey, which is my other love. I had worked my way up to the leadership group in my club team and played for the state team for a few years. Most of my closest friends are my hockey girls. I lived and breathed hockey during winter. My life was organised around hockey. We didn’t travel on weekends and Tuesdays and Thursday were reserved for training. Then it all stopped. 23 years straight I played for before taking this year off. They have a hockey team up here but the Ladies don’t play very often so I used to join with the Men. I stopped that when I fell pregnant. I have come to believe it was a blessing being up here for the season as I would have gone mad being in Perth and having to watch each week. A positive for Jakarta!

I digress. The turning point?

I told Pete the afternoon of the ANZA trip about the party the following day. He told me he would come with me and see if we could meet a few people. We turned up on the Saturday to a house with plenty of people in the back yard. We made our way through the crowd to the bar. We ordered our drinks and looked around for an opening in a conversation. Nothing really jumped at us so we chatted together for a while. After a little while a few people noticed we were new faces and popped over to say hello and find out our story. During this time, we both noticed a guy wearing a NQ Cowboys jersey. We got his attention later and found out he was from Townsville. He introduced us to his wife and we spent most of the rest of the afternoon chatting to them. My glass hadn’t been empty most of the day and it was definitely time to head home. We swapped phone numbers with a few people and headed home.

I arranged to head back to the Friday morning coffee the following week as I knew a few of the ladies I met over the weekend would be there. They were. We chatted. I met some more new people and I now go most weeks. 12 months on and I have started volunteering at the front desk at ANZA and have some really great friends there. There are a few ladies having babies around the same time as me too which will be great.

Pete and I have done more travel in the past 12 months than we have in the whole 10 years we have been together and some of those places we would never have travelled to if we weren’t living in Indonesia. We have also spent more time together in general than in the past 5 years, which has been great.

I have started to learn the Indonesian language which has proved quite useful and has given me purpose and structure for a few weeks at a time while taking classes. It makes general living just a little easier as well. Pete has learnt the basics too which is great for him and he can now direct drivers to some of his favourite places.

I still struggle when we go home for a visit as I feel really lost. I’m not sure what to do with myself and find myself wondering how I got it all so wrong. I wonder what I would ever do for work if we moved back there. We have a house that we intend to demolish and rebuild one day so maybe that will give me something to concentrate on. I forget that in just a few short weeks I’ll have someone much more important to concentrate my time on. Maybe that’s the job I am meant to do in life? Be a mum. Hopefully be a good mum…

So 12 months in… I no longer ball my eyes out each time I board a plane back up here. I enjoy my daily routine even if the whole gym thing is getting harder and harder. I enjoy our one bedroom ‘studio’ that we moved into a few months ago, even though there is no kitchen and the computer hums all night, it makes me get out each day. I enjoy the outside temperature being constantly higher than 30 degrees. I enjoy getting out of Jakarta every few weeks to a new (or familiar) place. I enjoy having my husband home for dinner most nights. I have enjoyed being able to let my tired, bloated and growing body to rest whenever I need to. I enjoy my new friends.

There are so many people that have made this year possible and to be honest, bearable. The new people we have met, our families (even though our dog now loves her Aunty and Uncle more than us!) and our friends back home. Those people hopefully know who you are. Sometimes just a text message can make our day go from bad to good. Sometimes it’s hard for us to remember that your lives go on without us around. They don’t stop like ours do without you.

Would I jump at the chance to move home? Of course. Do I miss the open green parks and fresh air? Yes. Do I miss my best friends and family even though they are just a call away? More than I can tell you.

Would I put my insecurities and luxuries ahead of my Husband having a successful and fulfilling career? Absolutely not. The one thing I have learnt this year is that when you find something you’re good at, stick to it. If you enjoy it, even better!


The Siam Hotel

posted by jodiemellor September 2, 2016 0 comments
We have just spent 3 amazing days in Bangkok at the incredible Siam Hotel.
Set on the riverbank of the Chao Phraya river in the historical Dusit region, this boutique hotel is head and shoulders above the rest.
With a total of only 39 suites on the 3 acre property, every detail of your stay is tended to by your very own butler. We stayed in one of the Siam Suites. An 80sqm room divided into a sitting room, bedroom, study and bathroom. We absolutely loved the layout of this suite.
Each of the suites is individually styled and themed and no two rooms are the same. Historical art and decor compliment throughout the entire property having been collected by The Siam’s creative director Krissada Sukosol Clapp over 10 years.
The lap pool sits right on the edge of the Chao Phraya river. Complimentary pool towels, cold water, sunscreen and cold face washers are provided leaving you to relax while taking in the river life – which is aplenty.
Cocktails and canapes on the pier deck at sunset are a must before dining on home-cooked Thai cuisine at the Chon Thai Restaurant or heading into the city on the shuttle boat.
The hotels’ private boat provides a complimentary shuttle service to a number of stops along the river saving you having to fight the famous Bangkok traffic. This was one of the real highlights of our stay. Being able to see Bangkok from the river is a truly authentic experience.
The grounds of The Siam are immaculately kept and absolutely stunning to photograph. There is so much history here, you could spend hours just wandering.
If the hustle and bustle of city life isn’t for you, you can opt for one of the activities offered in-house at The Siam.
The Siam Cooking School offers an unforgettable cooking experience, Join the chef at the local market to collect fresh ingredients before heading back to The Siam to cook and eat a three-course meal.
Muay Thai Lessons offer the opportunity to learn the basics of this historical Thai combat training by a professional trainer in the purpose built ring. If you are already familiar with this training, let one o the trainers push you to your limits. Cross-fit and personal training is also available on request.
The Opium Spa by Sodashi in 2015 was voted # 1 in City Spas by Conde Nast Traveller’s and offers a huge range of services. Choose from a signature massage or facial or opt for an all day, or multi-day spa package.
Yoga classes are offered in many different forms and can be tailored to your needs.
Movie Theatre offers new release movies in the comfort of the hotel.
Sunday Brunch is served from 12pm – 4pm every Sunday and offers an a-la-carte menu with dishes cooked by Executive Chef Damri Muksombat. An idyllic setting and great way to end the weekend.
If you are up for an adventure into this wonderful city, your butler will be happy to help you arrange your itinerary. A sunset or dinner cruise along the river, or a night out in chinatown will take you to the heart of Bangkok.
During the day, be sure to check out the Chatuchak Market (weekends only). With over 5000 stalls ranging from food and clothing to pets and antiques, there is certainly something here for everyone.
This hotel itself is incredible but the staff at The Siam go above and beyond to ensure your stay is nothing but amazing.
Each night your bed is turned down and soothing music plays throughout your suite – making a gorgeous touch when soaking in the deep bath tub!
Once you have decided on your plans for the day/night, your butler will provide maps and information on the locations you have chosen to go – complete with a card detailing the location and directions back to the hotel in Thai to get you home safely.
The complimentary shuttle boat was great. Not only was it a great way to see the city, it saved us countless hours fighting the traffic.

A truly breathtaking hotel with an abundance of history showcased throughout the entire property, The Siam has set the standard for luxury accommodation. Thank you to the staff for their hospitality, we can’t wait to come back.


Jakarta Walking Tour

posted by jodiemellor August 24, 2016 0 comments

We started of at the Sunda Kelapa Harbour in Ancol, North Jakarta. Docked up along the 1.5km stretch of harbourside, were hundreds of boats awaiting departure or in line to be loaded with concrete destined for Sumatra.

We were invited onto one of the boats that was almost ready for its 3 day trip to Sumatra – a vast improvement from the month long trip of old. We crossed the thin walking plank – we balanced across it but were amazed to see the locals loading concrete onto the boats – sometimes loaded up with 3 or 4 bags – via the plank also. We were shown the sleeping quarters, kitchen and toilet areas shared by the many employees and I’m sure they are happy the trip doesn’t take too long!

After a look around the boat, we boarded a taxi boat and took a short trip into the main harbour. When we disembarked, we were on the other side of the river, in a local kampu

ng – the oldest in Jakarta. The residents were more than happy for us to pass through and the children were absolutely delightful. They squealed with excitement when we asked if we could take photos, and were delighted when they saw themselves on the screen.

We passed through a local school where we disrupted the 2 classes as the children ran out to say hello and again pose for photos. The school gets some funding from the local Australian and New Zealand Association and we got to see their latest project which was to fix up the rooftop so the children can play ball sports.

We continued on through the small village and back across

the river through an area which has been recently cleared by local government who are trying to restore the harbour back to what it used to be. Unfortunately this has meant hundreds, if not thousands of people have lost their homes. Some have chosen to remain here however and have set up make shift housing.

We made a quick stop at the maritime museum which has some interesting artifacts and information about the harbour, and then jumped into bajajs back to the markets in Old Town. The markets were full of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, turtles and textiles. It was bustling with locals stocking up for their daily cook up. I will be heading back for another look at this market as we didn’t spend much time here.

One last trip in a mikrolet to the lunch destination and our day was done. There is lots to see that you wouldn’t normally be confident in accessing without a local guide. I would definitely recommend a tour around this area of Jakarta.


Palau Ayer

posted by jodiemellor August 20, 2016 0 comments

Another weekend, another getaway.

This time we have opted for the over water bungalows at Palau Ayer. This is the closest island to Jakarta so we only had a 25 minute boat ride to get there – great! Or so we thought….

We arrived in no time and first impressions were good. There are approximately 30 over water bungalows along with on land rooms and ‘hotel’. With our previous 2 trips to other islands we arrived before 10am and had to wait until 2pm to check in. When we arrived at Palau Ayer at 9am we headed straight to reception who were only too happy to check us into our room.

The room was a one bedroom studio type room which had a separate lounge room and bathroom (with toiletries). There was also a tv and mini bar. We were impressed with the standard and cleanliness of the room. The best feature had to be the balcony. It was completely shaded and cool enough to sit on at all times of the day. Unfortunately our view was straight back to Jakarta and true to form even though it was only ~25kms away, we could barely see it through the pollution.

It’s easy to see why this island is a popular one with locals and tourists alike as there is plenty to do. There is a good range of play equipment for children, a basketball court, volleyball court, table tennis, billiards tables, 1km walking track, karaoke and a swimming pool – complete with kids’ water slide.

Unfortunately as this island is located so close to Jakarta, the ocean is completely filthy and I wouldn’t recommend swimming in it at all – well at least for some (see photo). It’s quite a shock to see so much rubbish in the ocean in one place. It still blows my mind that children in schools here aren’t educated on the effects of littering and it is not uncommon to see people discarding any rubbish they have onto the street. I would imagine if a tenth of the emphasis was placed on not littering here, as we do in Australia, there would be a dramatic improvement….

We went over to the pool for a quick swim and something to eat. We had paid for the weekend package which includes accommodation, 3 meals (lunch and dinner Saturday and Breakfast Sunday) and transport. It wasn’t quite lunchtime so we ordered from the restaurant menu. Pete had nasi goreng and I just stuck with some fresh fruit. Both were great, and super cheap.

After a swim we headed back to our room and spent a few hours on our balcony. There isn’t any internet where we were but we both managed to get some offline work out of the way.

We headed back to the restaurant for lunch which was served as a buffet style. Unfortunately there wasn’t much I liked there so I just stuck to plain white rice.

We went back for the mandatory afternoon snooze for a few hours (getting as many of these in before the baby arrives!) and when I woke before Pete I took the advantage to get in some exercise. I walked the 1km circuit 3 times before Pete woke up and I headed back to the room.

We went for another scope of the island and managed to find an area that had good mobile reception. We grabbed an ice-cream each and sat in the shade getting our social media fix and watching the footy score – well I did, while Pete read a book – yes, you read that correctly, Pete was reading.

After some quiet time we headed back to the balcony for a few more hours until just before the sunset we made our way to the West side of the island. We saw the sun disappear behind the thick layer of pollution on the horizon then headed back to get dinner.

Unfortunately dinner was more of the same as lunch. Again, I just had rice. There was a local band playing for us who were quite entertaining.

After dinner we headed back to the balcony once again. We had taken a bottle of wine to the island with us so I poured us each a glass (or in my case, a mouthful!) and we sat chatting. I noticed there were mozzies inside so I reached over and closed the door.

A few hours later we decided it was bedtime. I collected the wine bottle and glasses and went to head inside. The door was locked. We had joked about this earlier in the day when the door unexpectedly slammed shut on us so Pete thought I was playing around. He tried the door. Definitely locked. Oh no. Ok. Don’t panic. This has to happen often right? There must be another way. We tried to force our way in through the door but it wasn’t opening! We came up with all sorts of crazy ideas. Swim to the jetty, climb over the roof to the jetty or shimmy around the outside of the room. None of these were actually possible (except the swimming and neither of us were very keen).

Like normal, Pete was rather lacking in the clothing department. If he was to go into the water, he would have been completely bare by the time he got out. He wouldn’t let me get into the sea urchin filled water to scale back up the barnacle covered jetty to go off in search of help either. We knew our neighbours weren’t home yet so we decided to wait a while until they arrived. I was confident I knew enough Bahasa to tell them we were locked out. Pete has his phone with him but only had 10% battery and the reception was terrible. The only number we managed to google was the main office in Jakarta! After about 1 hour, the lady from next door arrived home with her young son. As soon as we saw her we started yelling as loud as we could. I got out what I needed to in Bahasa but we frightened her so much she just hurried inside, locked the door and pulled the curtains shut. That was not supposed to happen! With no other options, Pete started yelling like a mad man. Help!! Unsurprisingly, nobody came to our aid. He continued this for a few minutes, until the next door neighbours door opened again. The poor lady was so terrified (probably thinking we are crazy/drunk bules) that she had packed her son up and was heading back to the mainland. I shouted to her that we were locked out and needed help but she put her head down and hurried away. Low and behold, 2 minutes later, security arrive on the jetty! I did manage to say in Bahasa that we are locked out and he giggled and went off to fetch the master key. 1.5 hours after we first discovered we were locked out, we were back inside! Quite an adventure. I was impressed by the ideas we each came up with to get us out of there and I wonder what it would have taken for us to try. The bottle of red wine kept Pete busy but quite possibly could have given him the extra encouragement he needed to do something crazy – lucky we were rescued!

We managed to sleep in and when we woke headed over for breakfast. Breakfast was much better than the previous two meals but still not great. After breakfast we headed to the pool again. The rest of the day was spent lounging around the pool and shady grassy areas until our boat home left at 2pm.

Another (relatively) relaxing and quiet weekend gone and ready for another hectic week in Jakarta.



posted by jodiemellor July 25, 2016 0 comments

Well, like most of our previous trips, I didn’t research this destination at all! There was a work conference for my husband and for $60AUD return; I thought it was a great opportunity to explore for the day.

We were up at the crack of dawn – actually, before that. We were so early we even beat the Morning Prayer call from the mosque next door. An upside of this is that an airport run at this time of day only takes 40 minutes. We were on the road 45 minutes before our flight closed. Should be good timing I thought. It was then that my husband tells me he has to drop by the office to pick up some materials he needs for his conference! I should have questioned why he was ready to so early as it was out of character ? A quick stop to pick up his things and we were back on the road with 25 minutes until our flight cutoff…

Usually when the driver is overtaking like a mad man, travelling at 100kms/hr and weaving in and out of traffic, I would ask him to slow down. Not this day. I put my seatbelt on and closed my eyes pretending not to hear the honking from other drivers at our erratic driving.

We made the airport with a few minutes to spare so we casually headed through security expecting at 4.45am there would be hardly anyone else around. How wrong we were! As we entered the terminal, there were hundreds of people. Each counter, of which there were about 12, had at least 20 people lined up. I had a quick scout around looking for an airline representative that may be waiting to usher latecomers to a check-in counter. Nobody. My eyes darted around looking for the information counter. Bingo! But it had a huge line up too! Pete and I looked at each other and shruged, conceding defeat. We pick a line and decide to wait it out, we would get the next flight out if required. After standing in line for a few minutes, Pete swears he heard the word Palembang come over the ‘loud’ speaker. There are constant announcements which are mostly in Indonesian and are barely audible, but, he heard it. We turn and see a few people exit their line and hurry to a counter. We follow suit and 2 minutes later we have our boarding passes and are on our way to our gate.

By the time we pass security, our plane has already been boarding for 5 minutes so we hurry to the gate on our boarding pass (B3). As we reach that gate, I see our flight isn’t on the notice board. An announcement informs us that our gate has now changed to B1. We turn back and head for B1 and see our flight is listed on this gate. We line up ready to board and I notice that nobody else in our line has the same destination on their ticket. I casually ask the attendant at the information desk if this flight is for Palembang. He looked quite concerned and said no while holding his hand out for my ticket. He pointed to the big black writing under ‘gate’ that said B3. I’m sure he was thinking I was a dumb westerner as it clearly states the correct gate on my ticket! So we turned back and headed back to gate B3. We were ushered along with a few other stragglers onto the bus that was waiting to take us to the plane. It’s quite common in Jakarta to catch a bus to your plane. We checked in at terminal 1, got on a bus and travelled about 2 kilometres back to terminal 3 where our plane was parked!?

We take our seats – it is at this point we realise we aren’t seated together – take a deep breath and relax in ready for the hour long flight. A lot of excitement for one morning. I glance at my watch – it’s only 5.20am.

Wedged between 2 burly blokes for the 45 minute flight, I surprisingly manage to get a few minutes of shut eye. We touch down and again I am impressed by the airport. All airports in Indonesia seem to be much better than all 3 of Jakartas terminals!

We only had carry on luggage so without the usual painfully long wait for our bags, we headed for the taxi queue. This experience always makes me anxious as we generally have to barter the price and still get ripped off. This time however we were pleasantly surprised that the taxi had a working meter. We soon found out though that the prices are exorbitant when compared to Jakarta prices – nothing compared to Australia!

The roads in South Sumatra aren’t any better than those ones in the North. Travelling at an average of 40kms/hour on relatively traffic free roads, we arrived at the conference about 30 minutes later.

There was a few minutes to spare before my husband headed off, so I decided I might do some research into what I would do for the day.  After a quick look on TripAdvisor I decided on a few places to try. There are a surprising number of tourist attractions in Palembang which is ideal considering I had 10 hours to fill.

At the top of my list though was breakfast. There aren’t many breakfast options at 8am and I’m not big on street food, but I did notice right next door was a Jco store (local donut chain). I went all out and ordered the ‘big breakfast’ – iced chocolate, complete with cream, and a glazed donut. Breakfast of champions ?

After scoffing down my delicious breakfast, it was time to get on the road. As luck would have it, a taxi drove past just as I walked out. I would soon find out this was the most easily accessed transport of the day!

My first stop was Pasar Cinde. A local market with everything from fruits & vegetables, fresh meat and seafood to clothing and plumbing supplies. This market was fantastic and a truly local experience. It wasn’t overly busy which made it easier to get some photos, which mind you, everyone was only too happy to pose for! In fact, I had people yelling “photo, photo mister”, in one instance while shoving a live, squirming eel in front of me!

I expected a little bit of attention at this market being a foreigner, and the huge camera around my neck didn’t help, however the attention I received throughout the entire town during the day was completely unexpected. Unlike Jakarta, ‘Bules’ (a word Indonesians use for foreigners) in Palembang are quite uncommon. People stopped what they were doing to say hello, or ask for a photo and in one instance a gentleman saw me walking down the street, disappeared down an alley and reappeared with his young son. He pointed me out to his son who was extremely shy and hid away from me! It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. With that being said, I was never afraid or in any danger. Indonesians are renowned for being extremely lovely and friendly people. They were just amazed at this ‘other-worldly’ creature in their environment. Frankly, I’m surprised I don’t get the same attention back home ?

The next place on my list was Monpera. Only a 1.5km walk from where I was, I set off on foot. Of the 200 odd people I passed on my way, approximately 198 said hello to me as I walked past.

In December 1946 Palembang came under attack from the Netherlands. 5 days and 5 nights of fighting ended with a great part of the city being destroyed. Monpera is a monument erected to commemorate this occasion and was completed in 1988. The monument is 17 Metres in height, has 8 floors and 45 sectors. These figures represent the date of proclamation of Independence in Indonesia – 17 August 1945

Right behind Monpera is the Museum Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II. I’m not normally one for museums, but with a whole day to fill I decided why not. I’m glad I did as I learnt quite a lot about the history and customs of Palembang. There was a guided tour that cost just $2AUD and the tour guide spoke in quite good English which was fantastic.

The museum is right next to the Ampera Bridge. A mechanical bridge that was planned during the reign of Indonesias first president. Funded by the Japanese war reparations, the bridge opened in 1965. It was only operated a few times and by 1970 could no longer be opened. The reason stated is that the time taken to fully open was 30 minutes and was deemed to cause unacceptable delays.  By this time, silting in the river had made it impossible for large ships to pass anyway, therefore there was no reason to open the bridge. It is supposedly quite a pretty site to visit at night but left a lot to be desired during the day. I took a few snaps and was on my way.

I spotted a few cafes beside the bridge and decided to stop and have a drink. I was only sitting for a few mintues when I heard giggling behind me. I knew without even looking that it had something to do with me. I turned around and there were 3 young ladies looking at me. I said hello and one got the courage to ask me for a photo. When I said yes, all 3 came over and spent the next few mintues taking photos in as many different stances and poses as they could with me.

Another 2kms down the road and another 2000 “hello misters” and I arrived at Kambang Iwak. This is a very popular place that locals go to exercise. Indonesia isn’t known for its smooth walkways and pedestrian friendly roads, so this is a safe, shaded place they can come. In the centre of the ~500m track is a small lake. As well as the running/walking path there is various gym equipment scattered around. There is also a childrens play area. Being 11am on a weekday, I was the only person there, however I can imagine this being extremely busy in the early morning or evening and weekends.

I did 2 laps, mainly because I was keeping an eye out for a taxi to hail down. After I still hadn’t seen one at the end of my 2nd lap, I decided to walk in the direction of my next destination, assuming one would pass shortly. 1km further down the road, still nothing! I came to a mini-market so I popped in for some water, oreos and a quick air-conditioning break. I then had the great idea to order a taxi using my smart phone app. I was at a recognisable location and if I needed to I could pass my phone to the friendly cashier to direct the driver to me. I opened my app, which for some reason had logged me out. Of course, I couldn’t remember my password and after trying every possible combination I thought it could be, I reset it. I waited for the verification code to be sms’d to my phone. Nothing. Resend code? Yes. Waiting, waiting. Still nothing!! 5 resend verification codes later and still nothing! Argh! I’m tired, I’m hot and I’m hungry! I had a quick look at my map and could see a big shopping centre not too far away. I decide to change my plans. I pull on my big girl panties and start walking again!

25 minutes later I walked in to the glorious air-conditioned shopping centre. Another thing that I had failed to come across all morning was a toilet and at 5 months pregnant, that was my first priority. Always an experience in Indonesia, I was pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness, toilet paper and a locking door!

Next stop. Food! A few levels up I found a place called Nanny K’s. Offering a mix of western and local food and buzzing with other lunchgoers, I decided this would be a safe option.

I ordered lunch and pulled out my notebook to make some notes. There was familiar music playing in English which always puts a smile on my face and I learnt during this lunch break that Elsa has indeed infiltrated every corner of this earth. The familiar ‘frozen’ tune came on and a little Indonesian girl, all of about 4 years old, started singing “Let it Go” at the top of her lungs, complete with the best dance moves she could muster while sitting. She knew all of the words and sang them as if nobody was watching. It reminded me of just how innocent and careless children can be.

After lunch I walked a little further down the road to another shopping centre which was targeted more at the locals. I was looking for a foot massage for my poor tired feet! I had only done one lap constantly looking at my shoulder for a growing head (which would explain the pointing and staring) when my husband called to say he had finished. As it would have it I had ended up right back near the convention centre so I headed up to join him.

There were a few other things which I would have liked to get to, particularly the Al-Qur’an Al-Akbar, if I had have been able to get the transport, but as soon as I sat down I was done.

We spent a few hours in the hotel lobby chatting before being invited to dinner by some of Petes new found work contacts. We headed to one of the citys most renowned restaurants, River Side, which is an old wooden boat moored near the Ampera Bridge. The bridge is much prettier at night! We were late getting to dinner so we didn’t have much time as we had a flight to catch. Dinner had already been ordered for the table and was ready almost as soon as we arrived. We scoffed it down and apologised for having to rush off when we were offered a lift by our hosts. Knowing the dramas trying to find a taxi earlier in the day we gratefully accepted but like most things in Indonesia, there was no hurry to go…

We managed to get on the road eventually and when our driver realised he only had 25 minutes to get us the 40 minute trip, he got moving! Again, we had albeit resigned to the fact we would miss the flight – the last one out of Palembang for the night. We arrived at the airport 10 minutes after our flight check-in closed. The driver waited while we went to check if we could still get on the flight, which indicates he thought we had missed it too! The front doors of the airport were locked…we knocked and someone came running over to let us in. We rushed through security, both of us beeping but nobody dared to stop us. We sprinted over to the only check-in counter, threw our ID at the airline staff at the desk and although out of breath, managed to say Jakarta – like there were any other flights waiting!! He promptly printed our boarding passes and told us to run to gate 3. We waved to our driver as we ran past the door, up the elevator, through more beeping security stops and to the gate. They ushered us onto the almost empty plane and into our seats. 4.5 minutes from drop off to seated ready for take-off. A new record for us!

I was exhausted and had just closed my eyes when my phone received a few messages. My taxi application verification codes arrived!




posted by jodiemellor May 7, 2016 0 comments

We had read little bit online about the best way to get there, however, as most wives know, their husbands know best.?

We didn’t make any bookings as Pete said it would be easier to get an Uber the morning of. We woke up early as it was a 3 hour drive and being the first day of a long weekend we knew we had to get moving. We successfully booked an Uber – I must admit I was surprised that anyone would agree to this job – but had to pay a little extra for the driver to drive back. The trip was going smoothly with minimal traffic for about an hour. After that, we ran into the traffic! The total trip ended up taking 6.5 hours! The total distance travelled…150kms.

We travelled to Carita Beach. This is one of 2 places suggested online to find a speed boat to take us to Krakatau. Unfortunately, as we arrived much later than expected, we had to stay the night at Carita Beach and head to Krakatau the following day. Luckily, in our travels, we managed to find a gentleman that hired his boat out for private tours. We arranged to meet him at 8am the following day and set off in search of a room to stay the night.

Carita Beach we found out, is an extremely popular place with the locals, and being a 4 day long weekend, things weren’t looking good for us. Finally, at the 4th hotel we tried, there was one room left. There weren’t any restaurants in the near vicinity that we could find so we headed back to our hotel restaurant for dinner. The menu was simple and we both went for a nasi goreng which was lovely.

The following day we were up early and headed down to the small harbour to meet the boat. It was a gorgeous day, the sky was blue and the water flat.

We headed off right on 8am and it took 2 hours to arrive at Krakatau. We did a quick circle around the volcano in the boat then disembarked onto the beach. Our guide paid our entrance fee (which was included in our total price) and we headed up the mountain. The vast difference in the types of soil was incredibly interesting and made for some great photos. It was a hot but relatively easy walk to the visitors peak. You can no longer access the very top of the volcano for safety reasons, the the lookout view was breathtaking.

We were able to spend as long as we wanted up the top, wandering around and checking out the different types of rocks and getting all kinds of photos. Our guide explained the story of Krakatau and told us his recount of the most recent eruption in 2014.

We headed back down and were served lunch under the shady trees right on the beach. There were a few other tourists also visiting on the same day but I did expect more.

After lunch we headed to the base of the original Krakatau volcano for some snorkelling. This was my favourite part. The water was clean and clear and there were quite a lot of colourful fish. We spent about an hour here before we started to head back to Carita Beach.

We managed to organise a driver to take us back to Jakarta via the boat tour guide, which was handy as we really had no idea how we were going to get home! The trip back didn’t take quite as long, only 5 hours.

This trip is something to cross of the list but next time we would definitely allow more time and head to some of the neighbouring islands for a night or 2.


Villa Phinisi – Seminyak, Bali

posted by jodiemellor April 23, 2016 0 comments

Tucked away in the back streets of Seminyak, is Villa Phinisi. I booked this villa for my 30th birthday as you have the option of 1-5 bedrooms. The villa comes as a complete unit, with a pool and completely private entertaining and grassed area, no matter how many rooms are utilised.

The pool is definitely the highlight of this villa. A beach style entry was perfect to float in to keep cool while still catching some sun, while the glass wall at the other end connects the pool to the living area. This kept us busy for hours as we took hundreds of underwater photos!

Inside the villa there are remnants of a Phinisi boat and various Balinese artifacts which compliment the villa beautifully. Each room is air conditioned and has its own bathroom and toilet, making it perfect for many groups to holiday comfortably together.

We spent 4 nights at the villa and couldn’t have been happier. The staff were extremely helpful. We organised a day trip to Ubud, airport transfers and lunch runs!

We arranged breakfast for two of the mornings and a dinner one night. These were all at an extra cost but were extremely well priced and the food was delicious.


Mt Bromo

posted by jodiemellor March 24, 2016 0 comments

Living in Jakarta, your options for the weekend usually consist of beers, shopping, brunch, dining out, sport, more beers, finding your favourite Australian sport on a satellite channel (at the local pub…so more beers!) and sleep. Sounds great right? It is, however my weekdays consist of all of the above as well so as often as possible we take the opportunity to get out of the city on a weekend.  For Easter in Jakarta, Good Friday is a recongised Public Holiday, so we thought, we will head to trusty Bali….Every other Jakartan and Australian had the same idea and prices for flights and accommodation were through the roof! Considering we have been to Bali more times than we care to mention, we thought it would be a great opportunity to go to one of the other amazing places in Indonesia.

Not wanting to spend a fortune and restricted with time, we wanted somewhere fairly close and inexpensive. I have recently joined the world of photography and my husband is always looking for locations that give me a chance to practice my new hobby. With this in mind, he suggested Mt Bromo in East Java. I had a quick google but considering it was already the Tuesday before Easter, we didn’t have much time to research.

I jumped on and booked us a flight each (half the price of the Bali tickets) and went about searching for some accommodation and in fact how to get to Mt Bromo as there is no airport. We decided to fly into Malang as there seemed to be a bit to do in the city itself.

We flew to Malang Thursday morning. The plane flew in over fields and fields of rice. The airport is tiny! There is 1 baggage claim conveyor belt. It is 10m long and at the end just has a metal bin. Once your bag gets to the end it simply stops. This would be fine if the plane was only carrying 20 people. In our case there were approximately 180 people waiting for their bags.  Needless to say it was an interesting experience.

Once we pushed our way through the crowd to retrieve our luggage we set off in search of a taxi. There seems to be a different procedure to getting a taxi at each Indonesian airport and this was certainly no different. Aware of scammers at airports that rip you off by claiming to get you a ’cheap taxi’ we were reluctant to line up at the window which said “Taxsi Stand’. After having a quick search around we found this was in fact the only way to get a taxi (not to mention, the locals were lined up too so that should have been a giveaway).  When we got to the counter they asked where we were going and after I mentioned our hotel name, the lady requested Rp 75.000. She then radioed through and 30 seconds later a taxi pulled up right in front of us.

While I was hastily trawling through Tripadvisor to plan the trip, Hotel Tugu came up both as a place to stay and also to visit. It was reasonably well priced (~$144 AUD via so I book us in for the 1 night.

My first impression was WOW! This hotel clearly has a lot of history and that is so beautifully captured in the design and fit out. We were greeted at the front desk by a gentleman with exceptionally good English….although his accent changed from British to American and back again which gave my hubby and I a good giggle. Our bags were briskly taken to our room while we sipped on the best fresh orange juice I can recall ever having!

When we finished our drink, we were shown to our room. I have learnt, in Indonesia, no matter how many stars a hotel has or the amount of positive comments on multiple holiday websites it has, there is usually some disappointment. Not here. With a stainless steel bathtub, king size (comfy) bed and wooden floorboards, the room was well above expectation.

We hadn’t had any lunch so we headed down to find some food. The weather had taken a turn so we couldn’t go far and decided on one of the hotel restaurants – Melati Pavilion. I ordered a steak sandwich and my husband ordered a local Indonesian dish. No complaints but hard to compare as I am Australian and personally believe we do the best steak sangas in the world! My hubby has to duck off to do some work so I took advantage of the incredible thunderstorm passing over top and ordered a chocolate lava dessert and a glass of wine.  I was now in holiday mode!

After the storm passed, we headed down the road (ab
out a 400m walk) to the bird and flower markets. They were both within an hour of closing time and the rain was still sprinkling so they were fairly quiet. There were lots of colourful flowers and birds, but I was a little disappointed at the condition of some of the more exotic birds. The owls in particular looked quite distressed. At the same stall however, the gentleman was bottle feeding an injured bird so I don’t doubt that the majority are cared for. There were also rabbits, flying squirrels, turtles and millions of other birds. The local vendors are very friendly and their English isn’t too bad. They didn’t mind me practicing my average Bahasa on them either!

We strolled back through the hotel which really has a lot of history throughout. Definitely worth a wander through the back of the restaurant and into the Bam Lam Wine Shop and bar. The Wine Shop offers a generous range of wines and cigars and is worth a drink just to take in the ambiance.

After a bottle of delicious wine in our hotel room, we ventured out in search of a local restaurant or street food for dinner. We were directed by the hotel staff to a restaurant about 10 minutes’ walk away but on the way we stumbled upon a local place that looked like it had some character. We were shown to an outdoor table right by the bar and promptly ordered our Bintangs. Being the only westerners in the restaurant, we didn’t have much hope for them to be ice cold, but low and behold, not only was the beer cold, they served it in cold beer glasses! We like this place already. Shortly after we ordered our food (Indonesian food only) the local band started up. The first song they played was in Indonesian and while it was nice to listen to, it isn’t the same when you’re not singing along. After a bit more of a warm up though, I hear a familiar tune… Shania Twain, and the band did a great job (as far as I can tell because as my hubby can attribute to, I am completely tone deaf!) A few more English songs followed and we really enjoyed the night here. After settling the bill (and breaking the bank at $20 AUD) we headed off home.

When we arrived back at the hotel, our bed had been turned down and our room ready for us to drop into bed. There was even a cute little poem printed on brown paper and rolled up into a scroll wishing us sweet dreams. A lovely touch to this incredible hotel.

We woke the next day and headed down to the restaurant for breakfast. As well as the cereals and fresh fruits available on the table, a full breakfast menu was available and included in the price of the room. The hubby went for the cooked breaky and I had the ‘healthy’ option. Both were really nice. We took a walk across the road to the National Monument and took some photos. It was a nice spot to sit on the grass and soak up some sunshine.

Mid-morning we headed off with a driver we had organised through the hotel to take us up to Mt Bromo. This was the most expensive part of the entire trip, but as I mentioned we didn’t research very well, and the research I did, I honestly didn’t find overly helpful. The package was for an early morning (1am) departure from the hotel to make it to Bromo for sunrise (2hr drive), a day full of sightseeing and then return to the hotel by dinner time. We only required the one way but unfortunately had to pay for the entire package (Rp 1.7Mil – each!) If we did this again, we would contact the driver we had from here on in. Agus. He was great. Good English and good price.  After a fairly uninteresting 2 hour drive we stopped at a house halfway up the mountain where we swapped into a short wheel base Toyota FJ (my hubby was in heaven as I have banished his long wheel
base to his parents’ farm in the hopes it might not start again ;)). After swapping vehicles, we continued up the hill for some photos. The cloud had come in and it was quite low so there wasn’t much opportunity for photos. The last stop for the day was the Mt Bromo crater itself. To access this you have to drive across the sand desert. Cars have to park about 800m away from the base and there is the opportunity to walk or to go by horseback for a small cost (Rp 75.000 each). It was quite amusing to see a number of horses
with their handlers chasing our car to get our business. We did opt for the horse as we weren’t dressed for the trek. Next time we would walk.

Once we were at the base of the crater, we just had to walk a few stairs to the top….all 200 of them! And they went straight up. Now, I consider myself fairly fit but I was huffing and puffing by the time we reached the top.  The smell at the top caught me a little off-guard. The Sulphur smell was extremely strong and I really struggled to breathe. But the view was really cool. There were plumes of white smoke every 20 seconds or so that would filter up and allow me to get a semi-decent photo before the next plume.

Once we made our way back down the stairs and back to the vehicle, the thunder had started. So we jumped in and started heading back to our accommodation. We stayed at Istana Petani Homestay. Again, the lack of time didn’t allow for much research and to be honest, I found a lot of mixed reviews of all of the accommodation available, making it hard to make a decision. I h
ad enquired at another few hotels but they didn’t have any rooms available (it was a long weekend). The rooms at Istana Petani was ok. The price was cheap (Rp 35.000) and the bed seemed clean w
hich for me is massively important! The bathroom was clean..ish. There was quite an extensive menu in the room however when we arrived at the restaurant for dinner there was only two options. Fried Rice or Fried Noodles. We shared one of each and both were quite
tasty. We retired early as we had a 3am start. From about 2am, all I could hear were other Toyota FJ’s passing (there are about 800 in the area we were told) and other people who had an earlier start than us moving around and slamming doors. But alas, 3am rolled around and it was time to head off. We had a smooth, albeit windy road for about 40 minutes when all of a sudden, we hit traffic! Even our driver hadn’t expected it to be so busy. Lucky for us Agus knew the backstreets. When I say streets I really mean paths. W
e were weaving between cabbage and chives but after about 5 minutes popped out where we were supposed to! A 20 minute uphill walk was ahead of us and with the daylight looming we made our way
up as hastily as we could. Horses are also available here but we were better equipped this time. We made it to the top and as I was about to get the tripod and camera setup, Agus told us we were going to climb up a little higher, and climb we did. I needed both hands and all my strength to pull myself up to the hill ledge he perched us on. We were however only one of two couples in that section so we had a great, uninterrupted view.

We spent the next 2 hours snapping photos of the ever changing light – the view was beautiful!

Once we were satisfied that one of the 700 odd photos would be salvageable, we headed back to our accommodation for breakfast. We opted to skip breakfast and snuck in a quick nap before we got picked up for our trip back to Malang. We organised our trip back to Malang through our driver Agus. He charged Rp 60.000 for the both of us!

We hadn’t organised any accommodation for the night so I again jumped online and found a relatively cheap hotel (rp 600.000). The Kartika Graha Hotel. This was the type of hotel I mentioned earlier… high expectations…low reality. Again the bed was clean and the bathroom tolerable so all in all I can’t complain. The pool looked too dirty to swim in and the food was below average, especially for the price.

We were within walking distance to Jalan Ijen which is a road full of huge Dutch architecture houses. The thing we loved about Malang is the open parks and greenery. Living in Jakarta this is a real rarity! After reading some reviews online, we decided to have dinner at the Amsterdam Café. I’m not sure if it was the lower expectations (after my earlier disappointment at the hotel) but we were happy with the 2 pizzas we shared, or maybe it was the ice cold Bintang J. The staff were lovely and the restaurant was clean.

Early Sunday morning we took advantage of the car free day on the main roads near us, going for a stroll. We came across some markets back near Jalan Ijen which seemed to be mainly food and drink stalls. There were a lot of locals and a little bit of entertainment. Probably not worth a trip out to see especially but a nice find no less.

We headed home Sunday afternoon. While Mt Bromo was truly a sight to see, I was glad to be home in my own bed and clean bathroom!

List of accommodation and services

Tugu Hotel Malang – Thursday Night Accommodation

Melati Restaurant, Hotel Tugu – Thursday Lunch & Friday Breakfast

Rumah Makan Kertanegara – Thursday Night Dinner

Istana Petani Homestay – Friday Night Accommodation and Dinner

Kartika Graha Hotel – Saturday night accommodation and Sunday Breakfast

Amsterdam Café – Saturday Night Dinner

Mt Bromo Driver – Agus Tugio +62 85231216941


Bukit Lawang – Sumatra

posted by jodiemellor February 28, 2016 0 comments

We flew from Singapore to Medan. The flight was quite short and had us arriving in the morning where we were greeted at the arrivals terminal by the driver organized by our hotel. I quickly stocked up on some seaweed flavor chips (we’re not spoilt for options here!) and we were on our way. The distance from Medan to Bukit Lawang is about 90kms, however because of the state of the roads, the trip took nearly 5 hours!

We stopped up in a dead end street where 2 scooters pulled up and loaded our luggage on. We were informed we had a 20 minute walk ahead of us to reach our accommodation – we didn’t mind at this stage as it gave us a chance to stretch our legs. The walk ended up being an easy stroll and was a great introduction to our home for the next 5 days.

We arrived at the Sumatra EcoTravel Cottages and were very impressed. There were 6 gorgeous bamboo style rooms overlooking the Bahorok River. We had one of the upstairs front facing rooms. I could have just stayed in the lodge for the week and been satisfied.

We were invited downstairs for a welcome drink and a briefing about the following days’ orangutan hike. Afterwards we ventured off in search of some dinner. We did this trip in February (2016) which is the wet season and evidently, the low season. That being said, all of the local restaurants were open with some having live music every night. We chose a small ‘resto’ on the river and each had mie goreng with a Bintang. Simple, but fresh and delicious!

Tuesday morning we had a 9am start for our 2 day jungle trek**. There were 2 other couples in our group. We set off back in the same direction we had walked in the day before, crossed a rickety suspension bridge that my husband had passed comment on the day before to the effect of ‘you won’t get me on that’ and headed into the jungle.

On the way into the Gunung Leuser National Park there were people collecting a white dripping substance from the trees. We found out that these are in fact rubber trees and the liquid gets used for many things; adhesives, cement and insulating to name a few. The bark of the tree is sliced and the sap trickles down into a homemade tray ready for collection later.

A few minutes later, only a few hundred metres into the National Park, we came across our first orangutan, aptly named Jodie, with her infant son. They were very playful, much to the delight of our group. We made sure to maintain a safe distance however I did manage to snap a few good photos.

After about 5 minutes of mad photo snapping, we continued on into the jungle. The walk was flat and fairly shaded at this point only pausing occasionally to investigate the crackling of in the trees above or in the rainforest in front. Some of the crackling turned out to be some silver face gibbons so high in the canopy that I couldn’t even get a decent photo with my long range lens.

Along the trail we walked – the further we went, the steeper it got but before we knew it, it was morning tea time. We stopped in a shady area and were offered some delicious fresh fruit. After some bananas, passionfruit and jeruk (small orange) we were refuelled. We would soon be glad we caught a rest when we did! From this point, the walk not only got steep and slippery, but also very hot. Even though we were protected by the rainforest, it was hot!

We spotted another orangutan way off in the distance and snapped a few photos before continuing on.

Our next orangutan encounter was the infamous Mena. All of the guides and rangers had been speaking about Mena – their second wife was how they referred to her. We found out they were calling her their second wife as she has left her mark on them….literally. Mena is a biter and many of the guides proudly showed us their scars.

We approached with caution and she seemed quite undisturbed by our presence. We found a safe spot once we all passed and decided to get a few photos. Mena decided that she wasn’t feeling photogenic on this particular day however and made a bee-line straight for our group. We high-tailed it as fast as we could while our support team lured her the other way with some of our fresh fruit. We had escaped!

The next hour or so of trekking was by far the most physically challenging for me. At some points I was using both arms to pull myself up a completely vertical wall all while trying not to break the camera which was dangling around my neck. We did rest often though so don’t think you have to be super fit to complete this trek. We ascended one of the harder sections and stopped at the top for a quick rest. We had been sitting no more than 30 seconds when out of nowhere our support guide starting yelling to get packed up and move. Mena had followed us! She obviously wanted to make sure none of the photos we’d taken would be posted to facebook! So up we got and continued on.

After we were sure Mena had given up, we stopped for lunch. The Eco Lodge had prepared nasi goreng for lunch. It was delicious and perfect to replenish our energy before the afternoon session. Pete even managed a quick nap – as he does everywhere we go!

We came across one more orangutan before we reached camp. This girl had a beautiful nature and sat quietly while we made our way past.

The afternoon trek was mostly downhill, but in some instances, just as steep as the way we had come up hours earlier – vertical drop! We didn’t have any casualties just a few muddy bums! We were exhausted but with the promise of camp ‘just ahead’, we kept going. The sound of the running river got louder and louder and at about 3pm, we arrived.

We were shown our shared ‘tents’ and jungle toilets, then quickly changed into our bathers and headed straight into the cool river. There were bottles of Bintang, however, with no power they weren’t chilled. No problem. A few minutes in the river and they were cold enough to drink.

Just as we finished our swim, the heavens opened up. For those of you who have ever experienced heavy rain in the tropics, its indescribable. It absolutely poured with rain for well over an hour. We took the opportunity to have a rest and were definitely grateful that we kept pushing to make it to camp before it hit. There were other groups that trudged in during the downpour who were completely drenched – bags and all!

Once the rain passed, dinner was served. There was a delicious spread of meat, veggies and rice. All of the supplies are walked from the village upstream by one of the cooks or a local villager that gets paid for their services. After dinner our host showed us some cards tricks. He was pretty good and kept us entertained for an hour or so which is when we decided it was bedtime. We were knackered.

We slept surprisingly well considering we shared our ‘room’ with 4 strangers and potentially a great array of wildlife. The bedding was only yoga mat, however we each had a mosquito net which was a life saver.

Once morning arrived we slept in a little before making our way outside for breakfast. As soon as the food came out, so did the macaques! Also known as the cheeky monkey, there would have been around 100 macaques in our camp. They didn’t approach us but if you left your food unattended for even one second, it was gone!

After breakfast, we took a short walk upstream to ave a swim in the waterfall. The waterfall was lovely and relaxing however just as we were getting packed up to head back to camp we spotted so

me local ‘crocodiles’. Well, the guides tried their hardest to convince us they were crocodiles, and some of the German tourists around were almost convinced…until my husband spoke in his most bogan, aussie accent stating ‘that’s not a crocodile mate, that’s a lizard’. Two monitor lizards basked in the sun near us then tried their luck for scraps near our camp.

Back at camp we had some more lovely fruit while our guides packed our belongings onto the river tubes ready for our departure. No, we didn’t have to trek back the same way we came, we rafted back!

We jumped into our tubes and headed down the river. So much fun! We had 3 large tubes tied together with my husband and I in the middle and a guide at both the front and the back to keep us stable. Our gear had been put in waterproof bags and was also strapped onto the tubes. It was a nice 30 minute t
rip down the river
with us yahooing our way across the rapids every few minutes, and we were disembarked at our lodge. A well-earned early night in a very comfortable bed ensued.

On Thursday morning we set off after breakfast on another long drive to see the elephants. Again only travelling about 100kms took us 3.5 hours . The top speed was about 20kms/hour and although we travelled on the road the entire way, the package was advertised as an off road adventure!

We arrived just in time for lunch, which was ready as soon as we sat down. We ate at a gorgeous little retreat on the river and again the home-made food was delicious.

After lunch we made our way down to the riverbank and across another riketey (and probably quite unsafe) bridge for our elephant ride**. I have to admit, we were worried about this part of our trip. We have done the elephant rides in Bali and absolutely hated the way the elephants were treated. This most certainly isn’t the case at this facility.

As the elephants rounded the corner towards us, my concern turned to excitement. We mounted the only male in the pack. His name was Theo. He was beautiful. So well-mannered, and smart! They are incredible animals. As we were going through the muddy rainforest I dropped my camera lens which landed straight in a mud puddle. I didn’t even have time to tell the handler what had happened, just managed to utter a sound when, Theo spotted it in the mud. Without stopping he swung his trunk down, picked up the cover and offered it back to me! I just looked at my husband – whose jaw was also in his lap – with sheer amazement!

We kept trekking through the rainforest for a few more minutes until we came to a clearing where Theo’s handler jumped off and grabbed my camera to take some shots of us ‘commandeering’ the elephant. Once he had some photos of us, he jumped back on Theo and we headed into the water. At this point we found out just how cheeky Theo was. He picked up some water in his trunk and proceeded to shower the elephant in front…and her occupants.

The ride then came to an end and after the elephants had a toilet break, it was swim and bath time. This was my favourite part. The elephants clearly loved having a swim and showed us some great tricks they had learnt. Once they had a bit of a play, we got to give them a scrub. It was so incredible to be able to interact so closely with such amazing animals.

Once they were finished bath time, it was dinner time. This was a great opportunity for some fun photos. We got up close and personal to feed them bananas and cane sugar.

I really could not get enough of these majestic animals. I ended up with close to 800 photos of the day!

**I do not condone taking animals from their natural habitat to be entertainment for humans. In both cases above (elephants and oranguta ns) all animals have been rescued from poachers or from the destruction of their natural habitat and given a loving home. In both cases all animals are treated with love and care and money raised from the visiting tourists goes back into giving these beautiful animals a home

We woke on our last morning to another beautiful day. We didn’t have to leave until after lunch so we had plenty of time to explore. On our way down the river earlier in the week, we saw a great big timber structure on the river bank. It was about 4kms back upstream, but Pete had an idea…

As I was packing the last of our belongings into our suitcase, Pete disappeared , not unusual when I am packing ? When he returned he was wearing a look I know all too well. A look of excitement. I walked out the front door to find 2 tyre tubes – the same as the ones we used to float down the river in on Tuesday. Pete wanted to walk back up the river to the timber structure we had seen, then raft back down.

Now I am definitely not a risk taker. In fact, I am happy to admit I am a complete wuss, however I agreed to go for a walk and assess the situation as we went.

So off we went. An idyllic walk up the river (with a tyre tube) was actually exactly what I felt like after spending much of the previous 2 days cramped up in a car.

We walked and walked and each time we passed some ‘rapids’, I looked at Pete with pleading eyes. He kept convincing me to go just a little further. At about the 2km mark I had silently decided to go all the way to the timber structure…however I would then walk back down while Pete went via the river.

We finally arrived to find the structure we saw was in fact a retreat. We ordered a Bintang each and sat enjoying the view. Once we finished our beers, I informed Pete of my plan. He pleaded and begged and promised me that it was completely safe to go by tube (even though we were warned by numerous locals on the way up that it wasn’t a good idea).

I begrudgingly made my way down to the river, throwing nasty looks back to Pete the whole way down. When we we got to the river, I saw that there was another couple (and their guides) making their final preparations to head back to civilization (just as we had done earlier in the week), I convinced Pete to wait until they left so we could follow their lead.

I cannot explain my emotions at this point. My heart was thumping in my chest and stomach, there were tears and I was shaking like crazy! I was genuinely terrified. I told Pete in no uncertain terms what I thought of him in that exact moment. He reassured me that I would be fine and to try and enjoy myself. In I hopped and we were on our way.

About 100m in came the first rapid. I held my breath and dug my fingers deeper into the ropes around the tyre. I looked back at Pete and throw daggers with my eyes. He smiled and waved….

I made it! I was so angry that he was making me do this! Hang on. That was kind of fun…

A nice scenic float before the next rapids. These ones are the biggest ones on our trip back. I figured if I survive these ones I should be ok. Just before I enter them, the swirling water turns my tyre around. My back is now facing downstream and I am looking backwards at Pete again. He must be able to see the sheer terror on my face at this stage because he calmly called out “you’ll be fine”.

What do you know? I did survive, and for the 2nd time. This is actually quite fun! Don’t think for a second I gave Pete even the slightest hint that I was enjoying myself though ? The rest of the way down, I got into a bit of a groove and may have even smiled once or twice. I did come off once but luckily it was in ankle deep water and I was able to catch my tyre and jump straight back in.

Once we reached the bottom and were safely back on dry land. I aplogised to Pete for all the nasty threats and name calling and thanked him for the encouragement. I even admitted that I enjoyed it ?

All that worrying had given me an appetite so we set off in search for one last meal. We came across a cute little local kitchen. We both ordered curry, which was made fresh to order. The chef told me him and his staff saw me stack it on the rapids which they could see from their balcony and then they proceeded to have a laugh at my expense!

It was time to make the long journey back to the Medan airport. Our week had flown by and was definitely a trip to remember, We would go back in a heartbeat.


Palau Macan – Tiger Island

posted by jodiemellor February 20, 2016 0 comments

We need a break from the city….and we are desperate for some FRESH air!

Pete has been googling which islands are the best to do a weekend trip to from Jakarta and with the Thousand Islands on our doorstep, you’d think there would be plenty of choice right…wrong! Unfortunately what is even less lacking than the abundance of inhabited islands suitable for visitors, is the information online on which islands are best to visit.

One island there is quite a bit of information on is Tiger Island – it even has its own website! ( With only a handful of open air wooden huts on a seemingly quiet island, this was exactly what we needed for a quick and fresh weekend getaway. Unfortunately after booking the 2 person hut on their website – which was surprisingly easy – I had to follow them up 2 days later as I hadn’t had confirmation of my booking. They then told me their online booking system isn’t working yet…so after a few emails back and forth, our weekend was booked.

The weekend was unexpectedly expensive. It cost us ~$440 for 2 days and 1 night. This price did include the 2 hour speed boat ride to and from the island, the accommodation and all meals (1 dinner, 1 breakfast and 2 lunches). Sounds like a bargain right? Well considering the hut we stayed in – which while it was exactly what we were after – was made only of wood, the meals while nice, were cooked camp style in bulk for the 30 odd people on the island and the fact they couldn’t have possibly fitted one more person into the boat, I thought it was overpriced.

We had to wait a few weeks later than expected for this trip as there wasn’t any accommodation available for about 3 weeks in advance. So once the day came we were really looking forward to heading out. Being February, the weather had been a little temperamental in the week prior so when we woke to a glorious blue sky we were wrapped.

A quick* 30 minute trip (only early on a Saturday morning – known to take up to 3 hours!) and we arrive at the Ancol Marina. There were millions of locals and tourists alike trying to seek out some clear water and fresh air for the weekend, but we managed to find our pier without too much fuss. The boat departs right on schedule – which is a rarity for Indonesia – and we are on our way. 2 hours and 3 islands later, we arrive at Tiger Island. First impressions are great. For once, the website photos actually resemble the actual place!

We hop off the boat and are greeted by the weekend caretaker who address us to tell us about how the island works. The entire island is ecofriendly. All the water they use is from a rain water catchment. All showers are cold, the toilet is a ‘rainforest’ toilet (yet actually really quite cool), solar power is used and most meals are vegetarian and organic with a lot of the vegetables grown on the island.

They served lunch up and after a quick bite we are shown to our ‘room’. Pete was chuffed and before we put our bags down he was analysing how he could build one in our backyard once we get back to Australia…for those of you that know Pete, you will understand my concern about this. I mean where on earth would it fit? Beside the homemade spit rotisserie or on top of the custom made Perth-Kalgoorlie pipeline outdoor setting perhaps?? Once I managed to regain his attention we settled in for a relaxing afternoon.

We jumped in for a swim and a snorkel right off our front doorstep in the clear water! This didn’t last long though as it was low tide and I was petrified of meeting a local stingray or sea urchin that we had been warned about earlier in the day. As it was, we didn’t see either but turns out that shouldn’t be the only local I could encounter…!

So back onto our deck for a spot of sunbathing, teamed with an ice cold Bintang of course!

After an afternoon kip, we hopped up to watch the sunset from our deck, and it didn’t disappoint!

Once the sun is down, its dinner time! We head back to the common area and plate up. We grab another Bintang and find a place to sit. After most people have eaten they make their way back to their huts to settle in for the night. We met some lovely Americans who also live in Jakarta and after swapping stories and tips we decided to head back to bed too.

Not 20 minutes after we were settled in for the night, the rain started….then the lightning and wind. This continued for hours, but was quite nice as it cooled the hut down and was lovely to listen to while we were sleeping.

We slept in, which was a pleasant surprise, then headed off to have some breakfast.

After breakfast we decided to swim/snorkel to the sister island which is about 100m away. At low tide you can walk across the sandbar to the island or use one of the kayaks they have available (all included in the price). The water is surprisingly clear and there are a few nice looking corals around. There are thousands and thousands of sea urchins but luckily the tide is high enough that we can glide over them. The sister island isn’t inhabited but has lovely white sand and was a nice place to spend the morning.

Once we had some lunch it was time to pack up and head back. The boat ride back was pretty rough and there was not one spare spot left by the time we picked up the last passengers.

We would definitely head back to this island. The price was a little expensive but you can’t put a price on fresh air and a relaxing weekend getaway with your hubby (and no technology! J)