Saturday, February 14, 2015

Kota, sweet kota (city)

Orange trees at every shop door for New Years
Friday, February 13
We sleep in before a final walk to Chinatown to find the cute baby-boy backpack that I spotted the first day. We don't find the shop but log a 5-mile walk down the alleys, in and out of stores, and through every vendor stall. (We put 23 miles on our soles in 3 days in Singapore. Feels good.)

One of our regular stops in Chinatown is Erich's Wursthaus und Backstubbe, run by an Austrian expat. Dozens of Chinese senior citizens visit in the square nearby. My Bockwurst is good; W enjoys his meatloaf sandwich. And we speak a bit of German, a relief to know so many words when we're so often stumped by Indonesian.

At 1:30 W looks at his watch and notes that if we don't make tracks, the airplane may leave without us. We hurry back to the hotel for our luggage, grab a cab, and hang out at Changi Airport until we fly home from Singapore.

It's an event-less flight on Air Asia. The attendants are especially friendly and we suspect the mechanics are doing extra-careful checks since the accident. (It's likely safer to fly now than before.) In Bandung, we stand in line for a few minutes for our Visa on arrival, good for 30 days. When we return we'll pick up the regular visa again. Money drains like water into airport taxes, flights, hotels, and meals for these trips. We mostly eat at hawker stalls (at a fraction of Spore restaurant prices) but how grateful we are for faithful friends and supporters.

Meatloaf at Erich's Austrian cafe in Chinatown.
IMAGINE that. (It's actually pretty good.)
The air feels cold in Bandung at 8pm (75oF). The taxi drivers outside the station refuse to meter their fare, asking a flat rate of $12. (Meter is about $3.50.) Passengers with luggage are somewhat hostage to them but we walk half a kilometer to the main road in the dark. There, another cab driver offers us a ride for $4. Yup, better. We hop in.

The driver gives us Bahasa Indonesia lessons all the way home. We converse about family, weather, the city, the food, and education. W and I are shocked by how much we understand and how many words we can speak. W is much better than I am. But I'm happy with the number of things I can comprehend. And we're glad to be among Indonesians, so hospitable and friendly to strangers.

How nice to pull up to the house and walk in the door. A big pile of termite frass has accumulated on the rug under the main beam in the living room. It won't be long before we leave that behind. The house smells musty and moldy with the repairs going on in the back wing.

Singapore, a city under constant construction
Saturday: a forgettable Valentine's Day
We're studying and eating by 8am. Next week, W and I preach together on Nebuchadnezzar, so we're reading all the Old Testament passages that mention him.

Our helper Ibu A is back today for the first time since her mother died last weekend. She says her eyes overflow with tears unexpectedly. I can't imagine.

W and I walk to the new house next door. Our earnest money has been received. We begin to measure the rooms. We check the conditions of cabinets and rooms. (Most of our current kitchen cabinets are being destroyed by termites, so we store most dishes in the living room hutch.)

Only a bare minimum of furniture remains and it's very much used. The sofa and chair leathers are clean but badly cracked. We are a bit overwhelmed when thinking of buying furniture. It's not in the normal budget. We need desks, a dining table (looking for 2 meter round) and dining chairs. Some porch furniture? The family took nearly everything from this crammed house to their new place (1/3 the size.) Wish they'd left more. We'll outfit it bit by bit.

Considering another kitchen
Dr W comes over with her handyman, who went to construction trade school. (We don't know what that means here.) Before we move in, he'll paint out the ancient leaks on a few ceilings (from a water valve failure 10 years ago, acc to the landlady). We need a door upstairs to the laundry room, or dirty clothes and linens get carried downstairs through the kitchen and back up a circular stair. The water pump in the middle of the kitchen counter will be moved over to the side. He taps the roof and walls. Sound, he says, but make sure you spray regularly for bugs. I look at the ants climbing the trees and coming down along the balcony. "They have two weeks to move or die," I think to myself.

All of a sudden W looks at me and says, "Happy Valentine's Day!" Oh yes. That's right. It's Feb. 14. I guess our heads are wrapped around other things. We got some needed items in Singapore and I found a few purses on Arab Street. (About time, after 6 months with 2 purses and a few tote bags.) I feel blessed, as though we already celebrated.

Upstairs, bare and ready to go
When we get back home, Ibu A assumes we've eaten because we were gone so long and I hadn't mentioned cooking. She's made enough noodles for her and her husband. She looks at me anxiously but I tell her not to fuss. I boil spinach noodles and frozen mixed vegetables with a bouillon cube, drain it, and grate cheddar cheese on top. Lunch in 5 minutes. Not the most exciting meal today, I admit.

She and I walk to the new house. I show her the helper's room and point out my expectations of cleaning while we're in Seattle = scrub the first floor from top to bottom. The upstairs is pretty clean. Of course throwing bleach on the grout in the bathrooms will help upstairs and down!

The bread I mixed this morning goes in the oven. Two loaves, one for Ibu A's family and one for us. W's running errands downtown, putting more pulsa (minutes) on our data plan and getting passport pictures taken.

Outside, Dr A's handyman is putting sheet metal on the back wing. Trimmings and dirt fall off the roof into the guppy-filled pond. I drag the pond clean and put a scrap piece of plastic over. The sun's out, it may rain tonight (rainy season), and we're glad to be in Bandung, even on temporary visas.

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