Selamat Hari Natal and Selamat Tahun Baru

That’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, two bahasa phrases I’ve had lots of chances to practice in the past week.

I’m still planning to go back and write about the final days of my Thailand trip, but as I stay in Jakarta more and more alternative activities crop up to keep me away from blogging.  It will have to happen this week, though, because soon I’ll off traveling again (precise itinerary undecided) and my backlog of unwritten blogs will grow even longer.

It was hard being away from family during Christmas.  Prior to this year, I was 25 of 26 for Christmases celebrated at home with family, my only lapse occurring during my year in China.  Our family has lots of great traditions that have developed over the years, and though I wasn’t exactly moping around on my last Christmas away from home, I definitely prefer to stay home for the holidays.  This year I took a more moderate approach to Christmas from afar, skipping snow but also avoiding dog stew.

It’s not family, but there is a really excellent community of people in Jakarta I was lucky enough to share Christmas with.  We kicked things off with a Christmas Eve potluck dinner, when my taste buds told me I was in for a Christmas to remember.  As anyone reading this is likely to know, I appreciate a good meal.  Considering all the great food I’ve eaten before, I was flabbergasted to find that in attendance at this potluck were perhaps the best stuffing, turkey, and macaroni and cheese – this year’s Christmas wild card – of my life.  Oh, and the excellent people who cooked these and other great dishes were also at dinner.

No photos from dinner, but here is the equally glorious Christmas morning brunch, before and after:


Family, the traditions are alive in Jakarta: Coffee cake and sausage muffins.

...and After

End round 1.

After brunch, we basically sat around all day and kept eating.  A highlight for me was being introduced to a board/card game called 7 Wonders.  If you don’t know it, think Settlers of Catan, sort of. It was really fun even though I kept losing all day, and now that I’ve finally won a game (as of New Year’s day) I can confirm that winning is even better.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – here are a few more Christmas photos.

Indonesian Santa

In Indonesia Santa is green, wears pajamas, and brings cinnamon rolls. Plus, he's a Red Sox fan and looks pretty good in spandex.

White Elephant Gifts

No tree this year, but the gifts were solid.


I dusted off the flashes and took some neighborly Christmas pet photos.

Late Christmas day, I realized that there is one and only one real advantage to having Christmas away from home: you get to have TWO Christmases instead of one!  At 1am Jakarta time, I Skyped in to open stockings and presents with the family back home.  Not as good as being there in the room in person, but a giant step up from missing it completely.  After this year, I’ll give myself a score 25.5/26 Christmases at home.

New Year’s was great as well.  More people, more fireworks, less gifts, but other than that not so different from Christmas.  Here are a few photos, but if you happen to like fireworks a lot (like me) you can see more in my Flickr photos.

Red firework over Tugu Tani

Fireworks over Tugu Tani (the statue).

Family watching fireworks on motorbike

Look mom, no helmet!

Couple on motorbike admiring fireworks


Guard duty

People basically parked their motorbikes on 3 lanes of a 4 lane road to watch the fireworks. One lane was open to let a few vehicles through.


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