Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Saigon Mango


One of the beautiful seasonal fruits..

Nice for after meal, and really great for the kids' afternoon snack ..

The usual size of the fruit is a little bigger than a folded fist, which would be quite comfortable to hold while peeling the skin and cutting the flesh into small pieces. However, this one variety that we have at home, turned out so much bigger than usual..

It must have been about 8-10 years ago, when Mum and Dad went to Australia, to visit my sister, and brought home a few Australian mangoes. They gave some to Mother and Father, who then planted the stone (seed) in the front yard.

Last year, the tree had fruits for the first time, but the fruit didn't survive.. The few that fell, in the size of half my fist, tasted pretty good (for a half-ripe fruit), so we were hoping that the fruits would turn out better this year..

To our excitement, this year, the tree have many fruits, and.. they are BIG!

Mother had an invitation to come to a fruit farm on Sunday, so she brought some pictures of the mango and the tree, to ask the staff there, the exact variety of the mango and how to care for it.

Well, this is the information that Mother received from the farm staff..

This type of mango is called 'SAIGON MANGO' .. It is a native fruit of Kalimantan (Borneo), which was brought to Vietnam and then researched and scientifically grown there.. From there, it must have been brought to Australia, where it was, again, grown there.. that was why I knew it (the first time) as 'Australian Mango'...

This mango can grow to 1.5kg .. For comparison, regular mangoes vary from 300-350grams each (2-3 fruits in a 1kg package). The colour of the fruit gradually becomes paler as it comes nearer to harvest time. When they are ready for harvest, the stem connected to the fruit will turn reddish.

This picture was taken last week (23 October 2012)

Last week, we put plastic bags (the 2kg ones), to cover the mangoes. This morning, we had to take the plastic bags off, because the mangoes did not fit in them anymore..

The branch, had to be supported by a wooden stick, because it was bending lower and lower, closer to the ground. A few days ago, another wooden stick had to be added for the extra support.. 

The mangoes were covered in plastic bags

At the moment, the fruits on our tree look like they weigh about 1kg each, and the stems are looking orange-ish brown.. So, we are hoping they will be ripe soon and ready for harvest..

I remember that when I was in Australia, I was not a big fan of Australian mango, but still, I can't wait to try the ones the grow on our tree.. They look soooo tempting.. (Mother is starting to wonder, how can we peel the skin, when the fruit is much bigger than our palm..) .. Well, we'll have to see what happens when that happens.. ;-)

I am not a great photographer, so, please excuse me for the pictures that are meant to be representing the size of the growing mango fruits.. I hope they can still show how big they have grown in only a few days..

The picture on the left was taken on Friday, the 2nd of November .. The middle picture was taken on Sunday, the 4th of November .. The picture on the right was taken this morning, Tuesday, the 6th of November 2012.

Many thanks to Capo (Feyzhel), for his willingness to pose with the mango.. :-D .. He is now 14 months old.. ;-)

I really hope that the mangoes will turn out well and that the tree will have more fruits in the coming years.. :-)

See you at harvest time!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Gunung Mas Spring (Mata Air Gunung Mas)

Last minute trips are usually the best ones! At least, for my family, they are.. :-D

My husband and I both love nature and open space to have a refreshing family time. However, we have slightly different ideas on the type of 'nice' camping for the family..

I grew up a girl guide, so, anyone can guess that I love sleeping in a tent, somewhere in the forest, up on the mountain..

While my husband, enjoyed a nice holiday, close enough to nature to enjoy it, and close enough to necessities, to ensure comfort..

Both of us believe that there are always a midway for us, the question is.. Where???

It happens that, one of my husband's good friends from high school married a guy who used to be a boy scout. They are pretty much the opposite of us. The husband loved outdoor activities -he even loves the things that I don't dare try, such as paragliding-. While the wife (my husband's friend from high school), is pretty much like my husband.. Well, friends are bound to be alike.. :-D

So far, we have gone on vacation trips together, and our kids get along well together, so, we try to get together every once in a while. The funny thing is, every time we try to make a well-planned trip, weeks ahead.. The trip just doesn't come true..

On the other hand, every time we made a plan in the spirit of the moment, about three days ahead of the planned departure.. just like that, the trip comes true! So far, we have gone to Anyer (a beach about four hours away from Jakarta), Ciwidey (strawberry plantation near Bandung, about 3 hours away from Jakarta), and several night outs around Jakarta..

To cut the story short..

On Thursday, my husband told me that we were going to the mountainside with his friend's family.

My husband only said that it was at the peak of the mountain. Not a well-known place, but our friends' kids always have a good time there. So, I was looking forward to it!

We left home a little bit after 7.00 in the morning, in the hope to beat the traffic. We rounded up at the rest area just outside the inner city toll road, before entering the outer city toll road. We bought snacks and other little things there, then we headed to the mountainside.

Yess.. Some fresh air.. Away from the city!!

The kids were full from big breakfast at home, and they were calm and happy in the car. Ariq kept asking "Can we open the window for cool breeze yet?"

My husband and I kept saying, "Not yet! It's still the toll road."

There were slow traffic at several places, but nothing significant. We arrived at the spring at around 10.30.

The surprise was, the place was very crowded! Apparently, a group of school students were using the place for their study tour. The spring staff told us that the group were checking out around noon, so, we could go for a walk around the tea plantation, or go to the higher ground for paragliding watching.

We chose to watch the paragliding practice.

The air was calm with no rough wind, so, people could have a nice time gliding. The gliders were going round and round in the air, higher and higher as the warm air took them up. Some of them went past each other, as if they were sailing in the ocean.. It was a very relaxing sight. I'm sure the people who were gliding were feeling very relaxed too..

The boys were excited too see the gliders take off and started flying, but more than that, they were just too happy to be in an open space.. Well, I was feeling very happy and free to be in an open space..

After watching a few gliders take off, suddenly, Kyra was watching the next glider with a very intense look in her eyes. I saw her nodding a few times, while saying to herself, "Bisa! (can do).. Bisa!"  Then, she started counting, "1.. 2.. 3.. Terbang (fly)."

We were grinning for a second, then we shouted and ran, as we realised what she was doing next. She was running towards the edge of the cliff, to imitate the glider!!

Our friend (the husband), saw Kyra running past him, and caught her. Following that, my husband who had caught up, picked Kyra up and swung her around above his head, "There.. you are flying..!"

Kyra was excited and laughing happily. Of course she didn't realise, that paragliding needs a parachute.. She thought that she could just jump off the cliff and fly around in midair..

The good thing was, we were not standing too close to the edge. At first, we backed away from the cliff, because the boys got carried away watching the gliders and a couple of times, they didn't realise that they were in the gliders' way during take off.

We just didn't think that it was Kyra, who would actually run to the cliff to 'practice' paragliding..

We had a good time watching the paragliding practice, and we also took some nice pictures around the area.. ;-)

At around 11.30, everyone started to feel hungry. There was a little snack shop nearby, selling instant noodle and drinks. So, we sat down there and had something to eat before the 'real' lunch. We were planning to have rice and fried fish for lunch at the spring.

The little snack shop had a low wall, so we were sitting on a bench, leaning on a wall/table, and watching the scenery at the same time.. It felt like having a picnic!

After snack, we headed back to the spring, right when the school students were checking out. Then, the spring was quiet.. A few families were still there, but much less busy than the morning.

We ordered lunch, and while waiting, Ariq, Aza and Kyra went swimming in the spring. While our friends's kids stayed at the cottage with their mum and me.

My husband called me to have a look at the kids, and I took several nice pictures of them..

I didn't prepare swimming equipment for the kids, as I didn't think that we would be staying the whole day.. My bad.. :-D .. I still brought a couple of change clothes for each of them though, so, problem is solved!

The water flow of the spring was quite hard. There were four pools, forming a row. The first and the last ones are the fish ponds. The ponds are so clear and the fishes are very big and beautiful. When I was looking at them, one of them looked back at me, and the others were swimming around, close to me..

The middle pools are the swimming pools, with a bridge separating the two pools. These ones are where people swim and play. Despite the fact that these two pools are positioned in the middle of two fish ponds, there is no fishy smell at all. The water flows heavily from the first fish pond, passing the two swimming pools, to the last pond, and out to the gutter, which was also very clean and clear.. It was just a beautiful sight, watching clean and clear water runs that fast..

When I went back to the cottage, our lunch was already there. Freshly cooked rice, fried fish, freshly picked vegetables and freshly ground traditional chilli sauce (sambal terasi). One bite of the fried fish, dipped in the chilli sauce, and I couldn't stop eating.. It had been too long since we had a traditional meal, in the mountainside.. It reminded me of Ciamis, my mother's village in the West Java..

Not long after, the kids came back. They had showers, changed into clean-dry clothes, and then lunch..

Along with the kids, my husband also came back from the spring. He was all wet, when he was not planning to go into the water!

It turned out that there was a little child (about Kyra's age), who wandered away from his parents, and went swimming by himself. The spring pool was quite deep for children that age, so the child was drowning.. and my husband jumped into the water to get him..

My husband completely forgot that he had his Blackberry in his jeans pocket and his Ipad in his sling bag. Fortunately, the sling bag was waterproof, so the Ipad was safe.. The Blackberry was a different story, though.. It was soaking wet!! He couldn't use it for the rest of the trip..

I'm just glad that Ariq is always ready to accompany Kyra.. including taking her around the spring pool on his float.. :-)

Anyway.. After lunch, the kids went to the paragliding landing area, to watch the gliders make their landing.

Our friend (the husband) was practicing grounding. He is in the paragliding club and he goes there, with his family, to practice every Sunday. When the other kids went back to the cottage, Ariq stayed with our friend until the end of practice.

When they came back, the kids played around the cottage, while the adults were packing up to go home. -well, the adults minus my husband-.. because he was turned into a carrousel pony by the kids.. :-D

Suddenly it started raining very hard, and Kyra quietly walked to the balcony.. As expected, she was quietly enjoying the rain..

Then, Aza said that he was hungry. So, we decided to let the kids have early dinner before we head home.

We left the spring at 5.30. It was really good that the kids had their dinner. Not long after we left the spring, Ariq and Aza were already fast asleep in the car. Kyra followed them to the dreamland about an hour after. Traffic was slow, and we arrived home at 08.45

We came home tired and sleepy, but still, it was another great outdoor weekend for us..

Can't wait for another one.. ;-)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Last Minute School Holiday..

Holiday can be quite unexpected, but I am the kind a person who would take a leap to make a holiday a worthy and well-deserved one.. ;-)

On the last day of school, Ariq caught the chicken pox. It was quite understandable as a few of his classmates caught it during the semester, especially during the exam period.

Ariq was fine within a week, but then, Aza and Kyra caught the chicken pox from Ariq, so we had to stay home longer.. We ended up staying at home for three weeks, out of the four weeks school holiday..

Bored? Of course.. Sad? Of course not! .. We just made a pledge to make the final week of the holiday worth the whole four weeks! How? Well.. this is how we do it!

School holiday started on the 13th of June, and will end on the 16th of July. On Wednesday, the 4th of June, all the chicken pox scars on Aza had disappeared. I quickly decided that our holiday just started!

The Saturday before that, Ariq had accidentally broke my Acer Tab LCD screen, when a piece of wood he was carrying hit the poor tab that was laying on the floor, while being played by Aza and a friend's daughter.. Ariq insisted to have the LCD replaced using his saving. So, when the ordered LCD arrived and the service centre staff called me, we needed to go to the service centre right away. There was a long line up for the LCD, and if we didn't claim one within the week, the service centre had to give it to another customer.

I took the opportunity to take the boys on a modest city tour the next day (Thursday, the 5th of July).. We took public transport, all the way from our home to the Acer Service Centre. We had to change transportation three times.

From the local public transports, which are called 'angkot', short for 'angkutan kota' (city transportation)

To a medium bus, a particular one called 'Metro Mini'

Then, to a 'Trans Jakarta' bus. This is a big express bus, which runs on a separate lane on the streets, so that it doesn't get caught in traffic. This bus is also called the 'Busway'.

On the trip to the Acer Service Centre, Ariq felt tired and uncomfortable during the first half of the trip. I could understand it, because he had been staying indoor for three weeks. However, as the trip went further, the boys started to enjoy the trip better, and we had a great time!

Ariq and Aza were having the best time during the trip back, when several street musicians (pengamen) went on and off the Metromini we were on. Some of the street musicians were actually pretty good, and Ariq admired one of them who had a pretty coarse voice which sounded like two people singing duet.. :-)

At the bus terminal, we saw a poster of the Mummy Exhibition which was going on around the bus terminal. Since it was already 5.30 p.m. and we were still about 2 hours away from home (by public transport), we decided to visit the Mummy Exhibition on Saturday.

The next day (Friday, the 6th of July), my nephew, Irfan -who is the same age with Aza-, called my mobile phone. He caught the chicken pox at the same time with Aza and Kyra. So, he just got better too, and he wanted to have a holiday together with Ariq and Aza. I agreed to meet him at the mall near my parents' home.

I quickly asked Ariq and Aza to get ready, and, we headed to 'Pondok Indah Mall', where we were supposed to meet Irfan and my parents to play in 'Fun World' and have dinner together.

As can be expected, the three boys were having the time of their life! Especially because they haven't been out for more than a couple of weeks! Not as much 'raw' adventure as the day before, but, it was just as much fun for them, and I just love watching them having fun together.. ;-)

The next day (Saturday, 7th July), we decided to stay at home and rest. My husband suggested to go to the Mummy Exhibition on Sunday, instead of Saturday> I agreed, believing that the boys would need the rest after two busy days..

On Sunday, we went to 'Blok M Square' to visit the Mummy Exhibition.

The Exhibition was pretty good, especially for Primary School Children. There were guides dressing up like the Pharaoh's guards who explained to visitors the highlights of the exhibition. There were five areas of the Mummy Exhibition.

The first was the modern mummification process documentary. The film was about a group of researchers, trying to recreate the mummification process on a donated corpse. The researchers were not using the highly sophisticated lab or equipment, instead they were using a room and equipment that are similar to those at the time the real mummies were mummified. They were also using the same mummification technique that the ancient Egyptians used. They wanted to prove that the ancient writing of the mummification process was accurate and could be done in the modern time with the same result.

The second area was where a few statues of ancient Egyptian gods and pharaohs were displayed. The guide corrected visitors about the most common wrong perception that people make:

1. Pharaoh (Fir'aun) is not a name of a King, but a title equivalent to King.
2. There are not only one or two pharaohs. There are at least a total of 40 pharaohs in the ancient Egypt, because that is the number of pharaoh mummies that have been found in pyramids or ancient sites in Egypt.
3. King Tut was not the pharaoh that ruled Egypt in prophet Musa's time. The pharaoh ruling Egypt in prophet Musa's time was Ramses II and Ramses III, who were the descendants of the King Tut's wife, after King Tut's death. King Tut was the youngest and shortest ruling pharaoh, as he was crowned at the age of 9 and died at the age of 19. He was married when he died but he didn't have any children.

After the display area, we came to the main area, which was where the modern mummy was displayed. The mummy was placed in a large glass box. Dried flowers were sprinkled on the top part of the glass box.

I asked the guide if the mummy was the one being mummified in the presentation film. The guide said that it was very possible. There were several corpses donated for the mummification research, and those mummies were the ones allowed to travel overseas for exhibition/education purposes. The real pharaoh mummies are now resting in museums and they are not allowed to travel to maintain their condition.

Another lady asked the guide why the mummy was covered in linen cloth. Why not just let them stay open so people can see the skin that was mummified. The guide said that the condition of each mummy is different. Some of them are perfect, but some others aren't. The ones that are in perfect condition can be displayed without the linen cloth wrap, but the ones that are not perfect must be kept wrapped, to avoid further damages. These damages could be caused during the mummification process, or by injuries or deformities during the pharaoh's life time.

Another visitor asked if the mummy has an odor. The guide said that mummy is basically a corpse, so it does have a smell. It can also break. That is why, besides the linen cloth wrapping, the lighting and temperature in the room where the mummy is stored or displayed must be maintained and closely monitored.

When all of the questions had been asked and answered, we were taken to the next area, where we had to walk through a labyrinth to reach the exit door. The labyrinth had many turns and dead ends. At any hidden corner, a mummy could be hiding, waiting to jump at us. Sometimes, the mummy also jumped and scared us from above the labyrinth wall.. One mummy was walking right behind us, making Aza grinning all the way through the labyrinth.

Aza, my 5-year-old, loves everything about the ancient Egypt. Being able to 'interact' with a 'live' mummy just made his day... If the exhibition area was shaped like a pyramid, Aza probably wouldn't want to go home.. :-D

The fifth and last area was the mini photo studio, where we could have our picture taken with a prepared background. After a few shots, the photographer team finally had one that they considered good for printing.

This is the one the photographer team printed for us

This is the one the photographer team thinks was not good for printing

Ariq and Aza asked if they could come back before the exhibition ended. I hope we can go there one more time before it ends on the 17th.

Monday, again, was a rest day. My husband went to work and Kyra's nanny was having a day off. So, we were just having an easy day.

Tuesday, was a different story, though..

Last week, a mother of Ariq's friend at school was organising a camp for kids between 9 and 16 years old. Ariq was supposed to go on the camp. However, since the quota for the camp was not met, and a member of the committee had a road accident, the camp was cancelled.

My husband and I were originally planning to stay around the camp area the whole day Tuesday, because it was going to be Ariq's first camp. Therefore, my husband requested two days off work. Tuesday to come to the camp, and Wednesday to pick Ariq up.

When the camp was cancelled, my husband and I decided to go to the camp area anyway. We thought it would be fun. Especially my cousin and a mother of Aza's school friend, recommended the place. We went there, and it was just amazing! A great adventure for the whole family and we came home with a decision that we had to make a 'part two' trip there, and next time, we might stay overnight there, either in the cottage or in a tent in the camp area.. ;-)

The place is called Kebun Wisata Pasir Mukti and with a good traffic, it is only about one hour drive from either Jakarta or Cinere/Limo.

The entrance fee and individual activities in park was very reasonable, which was between Rp 10.000,- and Rp 15.000,- , while other activities can be pre-arranged in groups, such as paintball skirmish, outbound, etc.

As it was a Tuesday, the park was quiet. We almost had it to ourselves!

As usual .. Aza had lots of fun with his 'friends' ..

Nice little lamb.. Can I be your friend?

(1)Can I sit on your back? .. (2)Whoops .. (3)Sorry! Didn't mean to startle you .. (4)Go ahead, eat! .. (5)Yes, we're friends

Hi, there..

Let's pretend that we're swimming together.. 

Kyra is finding out new things..

Paddy field path is a nice place for a picture

That little bird is pretty.. like me..

Sometimes, there's nothing in the cage

Dad is cool

Mum is mine

Big brothers are fun

(1)I'm cool .. (2)I'm sweet .. (3)I'm cute


I'm afraid of the buffalo who is having a mud bath!

Last but not least.. Ariq is doing his 'big-brother' thing..

See, Kyra.. Baby lambs don't bite..

Don't worry, I'll get you across safely..

I won't let you fall..

Pull your jeans up.. See my pants are dry..

And.. we were all having a great time..

That's our Last Minute School Holiday.. I'm sure now that the timing can be pushed to the last minute, but the fun, the great holiday, should not be pushed to anything less than great.. ;-)

I hope all of you had a great school holiday.. :)

Monday, 14 May 2012

A Little Italian Taste for Our Garden

About two (or three) months ago, Sinta told me that she brought some seeds from Italy, which she had been storing in her kitchen cupboard. They were the seeds of her favourite vegies and herbs.

Having a little baby certainly took most of her time. She is still struggling with daily chores, let alone trying to do any gardening -been there, done that-.. :-)

While in my case, after watching my chillies grew and enjoying the harvest.. I became addicted to growing things in the garden.. Here are some photos of my chillies, obviously, I'm not the only one who enjoys the chilli harvest.. ;-)

A couple of mating crickets in my Habaneros (Cabe Gendot) tree.

Leftover Habaneros.. left by crickets for me.. :-P

The Long Chilli harvest has been claimed.. not by me..

I'm so happy knowing that my hands can actually grow things, which I used to think was impossible. Plants used to die in my hands, but, watching Mother and my husband work in the garden somehow has sparked a motivation to try.. and it works well!

I prepared the soil for the seeds. I laid the soil on the ground for a few days, then I mixed it with natural compost and let it cool down under the shade for a few days again. Then I took a little bit of each seed and place it in small pots. I watered the pots twice daily and.. Wow! Within a week, little leaves have sprung out..

It has been almost two months, since the time when I sow the seeds. Now, the plants are ready for first harvest.

Rucola Da Orto (Kemangi Itali)



The last thing I need to find for these plants now are RECIPES.. ;-)

So far, Sinta only told me that Rucola is nice to put in sandwiches, while Basilico and Prezzemolo are usually used as herbs in cooking.

I have tried having Rucola with my breakfast sandwich and it was beautiful. This morning, I tried having it with my rice.. It was also nice..

I can't wait to use Basilico and Prezzemolo in my spaghetti bolognese.. I hope I can make it some time this week.. ;-)

If any of you have any recipe suggestions for me, using these three ingredients, please let me know. I am really excited to try..

I am also growing Zucchino (Italian Zucchini) and Pomodoro (Italian Tomato). They take longer to harvest, though, so, I have to come back to you for the result..

When I sow the seeds for the first time, I only used a small portion of the pack. I am growing some more in an open space. This time, I'm growing more Rucola and local Spinach. I'm hoping to harvest in a month time.

Chilli trees are very fragile. They can't stay too dry/hot nor too wet/cold. I'm looking for more habanero seeds to grow and this time, I hope I can also successfully keep some seeds for future sowing..

Don't forget to have your vegetable every day and have a nice day, Everyone.. :-)

-14 May 2012-