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I had a great, but short, visit to San Francisco and LA in February. The main purpose of my visit was to clear out my storage unit in Oakland. Yanti & I had moved all the rest of my stuff from my old house there when we last visited SF about two years ago. It was a 5' by 5' unit in Alameda and it was full!!
Prior to my arrival to Oakland, I had advertised for two items I thought I could sell. One was an oak 4-drawer file cabinet and the other was my beautiful Zenith floor model radio (circa 1940). I was lucky enough to sell them both :-) Then I just had to rent a truck and load it up and drive down to LA to my wonderful sister Kathy's house to hold a series of garage sales.
So I was very busy during the day but had the evenings to see my friends. I was lucky to be able to stay at Chris & Ben's great house in Upper Rockridge for most of the time and at Jim & Kelly's for a few days. Thanks to you all!! I also got to see Dave's new place in Marin county. WOW. It was incredible. He has worked so hard and invested wisely in real estate and now has reaped some benefits by having a great new house!!
So, after five days of working and playing, I drove down to my sister Kathy's. They have an incredible house and pool and a 2 car garage. I unloaded all my stuff in their garage and spent three days organizing it all. I had run some ads in the local papers for the garage sales and so had a busy and successful three days of garage sales. I was able to get rid of everything!!!!!! Boy, some people sure got some great deals, I'll tell you. I was motivated to move it out!!!!!
So after only 10 days, I was back to Bali!!!!! I left a few boxes at Kathy's and will bring them back to Bali whenever I visit.
Well, this year Yanti & I celebrated our FIFTH Wedding Anniversary! It seems like a much shorter time that that. One reason is we've been so busy these fine years - several stays in Shanghai, China, once with the kids; living in Jakarta; Yanti visiting Calif. several times; Yanti going to college; and all the other wonderful things we've shared.
So for our anniversary, we decided to visit a place in Java, near Jakarta, we had not been to - Bandung. Why? Well Yanti wanted to shop and I wanted to see some tea plantations and the old Dutch buildings. Plus, it is supposed to be cooler there (it's up in the mountains) and has less traffic than Jakarta.
We've been using AirAsia recently for flights and it's great. Cheap and convenient. Flights between Bali and Jakarta are about US$150 round trip. For getting to Bandung from Jakarta we decided to use a shuttle. There are several shuttle companies all with different advantages and disadvantages. We chose X-Trans. It was about US$28 for us both round trip. It's main advantage is that it leaves every hour!! ALSO, it can pick you up at the airport, so it makes it very easy to fly into Jakarta and then go directly to Bandung!
The van was clean, roomy, and the diver nice. The trip took about two and a half hours. The ride reminded me of the US. We were on a freeway!!! It was only 2-3 lanes on each side, but it was a freeway, just like we have in the states. Along the way were gas stations containing KFCs, Starbucks, Pizza Huts, and Burger Kings - just like the states. The drive was nice and it was interesting to see the country-side outside Jakarta. Lot's of small cities; suburbs; small shopping centers; and lots of vegetable patches. Plus, it was the first time I had seen FORESTS since leaving California. Actual forests! Pine and other trees because Bandung is pretty high. It was beautiful to see it all.
Of course I had done my research on where to stay and found a great hotel Kedaton. It was very centrally located, near shopping, transportation, and some beautiful Dutch architecture. Our room was nice and roomy. The TV got many premium stations including HBO!!
From our hotel we spent 2 days shopping. Bandung is famous for 'factory outlets' and it has plenty of them, all the famous brands. We visited one area and I saw many things I wanted at about 30 cents on the dollar!!! Yanti, who is a much better shopper that I am, thought they were too expensive. We had heard about a great shopping mall called Pasar Baru (New Mall) and went there. WOW. It reminded me of some of Shanghai's best shopping. It was about 6 stories tall and PACKED! I was about one foot taller than than the average shopper there so I got a lot of attention walking around. Particularly when I found a neat looking 'muslim' hat to hear. THEN I really got the stares :-) We spent about 3 hours there and Yanti got lots of great stuff for herself and for the kids. We decided to go back again sometime. For food, we found there were some great local places with famous foods there including: "Brownies Kukus Amanda" - steamed brownies with melted chocolate inside - Mmmmm; and "Martabak" - sweet martabak is a thick pancake stuffed with chocolate/cheese/bananas/sugar - WOW. We did try the brownies and even brought some back with us. But for dinner we ended up getting Mexican food. We went to Amigos, which is a chain here in Indonesia - not as good as Calif. Mexican food, that Yanti fell in love with, but pretty darn good.
When we got back to get on the shuttle we were on "Jean's Street". So Yanti got in a little more shopping. The funny thing about this area is the HUGE statues that attracts attention. From cartoon characters to the Terminator! The jeans, t-shirts, and tennies were very cheap and the selection was huge!!!
On our return to Jakarta we got to see all the tea fields and could understand why Holland had such a huge presence in Bandung. Tea was one of the major reasons Holland 'colonized' Indonesia so many years ago. The fields were beautiful but it was interesting to notice that tea bushes look much different than anything else. They are low bushes but even from the freeway you could tell they were tea because you could see how there was room for pickers to move between the bushes. Very interesting to see.
We had our Anniversary dinner at Tony Roma's in Jakarta. Wow. They have a wonderful meal for two which was (almost) more that we could eat. It included ribs, fried shrimp, huge baked potatoes with all the trimmings, a half a BBQd chicken and more. I LOVE fired onion rings and order them when ever I see them on the menu and Tony Roma's was no different. Hard Rock is still Yanti & my favorite place for Onion Rings but Tony Roma's were pretty darn good.
So after only 5 days it was time for our return to Bali and see the kids faces as they got to try on all their new clothes. Fun!!
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