Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Packing for home

Can you believe it? I finish my first stint here in Jakarta on Friday. Time has absolutely flown by. I have  rarely had the chance to revisit a favourite spot (like those great antique markets or Bogor's botanic gardens) despite the best of intentions. Thank heavens, I get to do it all again in a few months' time.

Still, many would say the best is yet to come, as I head to Bali on Tuesday, albeit for a conference. I have a whole day to myself after it finishes, and I'm sure there will be lots to share. Then, on Sunday, I am heading to Jogyakarta in Central Java. Everyone who has been there tells me that it is just wonderful and the cultural heart of Java, so I am really excited.

In the meantime, there is lots to do here (apart from writing conference papers!). I have started to pack because it will be a mad flurry getting back for just Saturday night and then heading off again the next day. I will stay on at the airport when I fly back from Jogya on Wednesday as my return flight to Australia leaves later that night. Luckily, I can store some of my stuff with my friend Adri and collect it in August on my return.

So, on my breaks from writing over the weekend, I have been packing. I am taking home the 'souvenirs' I have gathered up to now, so there is more room for new additions next visit. I think I have been fairly restrained (for me), but then a few things I really loved were way too expensive or too big and/or challenging to contemplate, for this visit anyway. And I saw another absolutely brilliant blue and white antique umbrella stand that wasn't that expensive, but I recalled the fate of my last (non-antique) one. It stood in pride of place just inside the front door until, in the usual frantic melee of setting out for the morning walk with the dogs, someone's lead looped the hook of an umbrella. Imagine if history repeated itself with a beautiful antique version that would be a nightmare to get home. I think it is just not meant to be!

Far safer to think of plants. Of course, I can't actually take anything from here home with me, but there are some great plants I have spotted that I definitely think could be worth a try in my Brisbane garden. The only problem with these beauties that I am sharing today is that I don't know their names. Any ideas?

This is Number One on my list. If I can track this down, I think I have the perfect spot. My dwarf poinciana  Caesalpinia pulcherrima recently expired, and I made arrangements to have it cut down and removed while I am away.

I can't even think of another small tropical tree with blue flowers. I am sure from the flowers that this is a member of of the genus Solanum. I knew there were annuals and perennials, but Wiki tells me the genus includes small trees, and here's the proof.  I'd love to find out the name and try my luck with this beauty.

Postscript: I'm home and reunited with my trusty "Tropical Garden Plants" by  William Warren, and  I now know that this is Solanum macranthum (S. wrightii), known as the Potato Tree.  I'm still thinking I could have a spot for this in the garden.

Here it is in situ behind the clipped shrubs.

Great fig-like leaves and round fruit.

I don't think I have a spot for this tall shrub with tubular orange flowers, but I would love to know what it's called.

This is another small tree with a lovely golden flower. It is really widely used in street plantings throughout Jakarta. The yellow flowers (sorry they're out of focus) remind me a little of the marmalade bush Streptosolen jamesonii, which I know as browallia in Brisbane, but coincidentally is also a member of Solanum family.

Below is the only half-decent photo that I managed to snap inside an exclusive precinct near me before I was given my marching orders by over-zealous (clearly non-gardening) staff.

I have seen a lot of the pale pink flower in the foreground and, more frequently, the blue version, which is a little further back in the centre of the garden bed, but I had no idea what it was. Thanks to lotus leaf at garden tropics, I now know that it a ruellia. It seems it can be very invasive, but it is so pretty and is everywhere here in Jakarta.

Finally on the floral front for now, and growing in the same garden bed along with coleus, was this pretty little cream and yellow flower. Any suggestions what it could be? (Thanks to Bernie from My Dry Tropics Garden, I now know this is Tunera sublata)

So, here are some of my tangible reminders of my first visit to Jakarta: those brilliant table runners that I picked up at the antique markets. A single one also looks brilliant across the bed.

I picked up this handsome carved wooden couple at Pasaraya department store, which has two whole floors dedicated to batik and handicrafts. I have had them on display since I got them on one of the runners, on top of the sideboard.

Also at Pasaraya, I fell in love with these packets of batik table napkins. I thought the blue and white ones would make great easy-to-pack gifts to take back with me. I love them so much that I ducked back on Saturday and picked up a couple of different designs.

Finally, these were my latest addition. Until now, I haven't had much pink in the house, but my lounge room sofa is being recovered in a very vibrant stripe while I am here. I thought these little Indian vases would pick up the colour and look pretty as table centrepieces on the new dining table. Most unfortunately, the bag they were in rolled off the chair I had put them on within about 5 minutes of my return home, and two now sport tiny chips. Ah well, they had a slightly rustic finish to begin with, which is now accentuated.  Perhaps there is a message here for my dreams of expensive antique purchases!

Monday, 21 May 2012

A little night music

Earlier this month, I received a charming invitation from Galuh, one of the support staff here in Jakarta, to attend a performance by the Dedy Lutan Dance Company. Both Galuh's parents are involved with the company, which was established in 1990.

The performance was in two parts: a traditional dance from west Sumbawa, followed by a more contemporary interpretation of traditional dance. It was a wonderful evening, and I felt very privileged to meet Galuh's parent, as well as the company's choreographer.

Traditional musicians

Immediately after the performance, the company went on a short tour of Vietnam, performing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vinh Long, Dong Nai and Pinh Buch. I really hope that they make it out to Australia. It would be lovely to see Galuh and her family when I am back in my 'normal' life, and I know many of my friends would enjoy the evening and be as impressed as we were by the standard of the dancing.

Only a short time after that performance, I got the chance to see a little more traditional dance, albeit in a more touristy venue. 

'Lara Djonggrang' is Lonely Planet's tip for restaurants in central Jakarta. Sadly my photos don't do it justice, but it is fun, colourful, and filled with an eclectic collection of art and handicrafts from all over Indonesia, and beyond.

Follow that man - he has our cocktails!

A new addition to my 'objects of desire' list.  There were 5 or 6 or these magnificent lanterns hanging from a venerable banyan tree that formed a canopy over the outside dance performance.  They were huge - about 3 ft high - so I foresee significant problems, once again, sneaking one through as hand luggage.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Secret Garden

With only a couple of weeks remaining of this visit to Jakarta, I thought I would pick up the pace a little and  visit some different parts of the City. Yesterday, I started with a visit to a lovely interiors store 'Temple Trees', which stocks fabrics by Sri Lanka's wonderful Barbara Sansoni of 'Barefoot' fame, and then headed on to have lunch in upmarket Kemang in South Jakarta.

From the moment I caught a glimpse of the entrance to the restaurant 'Payon' (Jl Kemang Raya 17), I knew I had made a great choice. Not only was there a water feature on the step, the entrance itself was swathed in one of my very favourite tropical plants, the Rangoon Creeper Quisqualis indica.


This is the double form. The fragrant blooms are the palest of pink when they open, darkening to red as they age.

The main building and restaurant proper is open-sided with bamboo wind chimes to catch the breeze. The figures in this carving are shadow puppet characters from the wayang, Java's famed puppet theatre.

It is completely surrounded by a 'moat' complete with goldfish.

Potted lotus

There is another pavilion directly opposite it, and several to the sides that are used for different functions. The centre pathway is bordered by shallow channels on each side and frangipanis (plumeria).

The channels are planted out with a lovely selection of waterlilies with variety of colour, leaf size and some variegated. (Yes, I know I am a bit obsessed!)

Almost every frangipani is covered in ephiphytes and bedecked with orchids. While I was admiring them, the very gracious owner came out to talk to me and tell me about her collection. She gave me a bit of a tip for my sole Vanda orchid, telling me that they really enjoyed getting a breeze. They are usually planted in open slatted timber containers. You can see one just slightly lower and to the right of centre in the photo below. Hers didn't seem to have any potting mixture in them at all, so I will definitely think about repotting mine on my return. The big difference is that the air is nearly always moist here, whereas things really dry out in Brisbane during our winter months.

One of the things I reflected on after my visit was how interested and happy to chat this lady had been, and I couldn't help but contrast it with a very recent episode.

There is a very big skyscraper on lovely grounds near me (Sapoerna Strategic centre). I asked one of the guards last week if I could go in and photograph the gardens, but no sooner had I entered and started to look closely at the garden beds, when I was unceremoniously asked (clearly by someone more important) not to take photos and, essentially, to move on. I guess the big difference between gardeners and commercial enterprises is that a true gardener always wants to share, whether it is a handful of seeds, advice, or just the beauty of their garden. A commercial landscaping project can be beautiful, but, if it isn't loved and shared, it has no soul.

Payon's garden is clearly loved.


Another Vanda. My new-found friend explained this is close to the original colour of the orchid in the wild.

Sorry , not too sure what kind of orchid this is, but I love it.

Another Vanda

And finally, in case you were wondering, lunch was great too. I had fish marinated in coconut milk, spices, and chilli; steamed rice; a side of steamed Asian greens, bean sprouts, and winged beans with coconut and chilli, and a glass of tamarind juice. I will definitely be back to 'Payon'.


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