Jakarta, Indonesia Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia 02/26/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Buenos Aires, San Salvador, Casablanca, Quito.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Connections to the U.S. are pretty tough and long. If you live on the West Coast, you'll fly via Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, or Hong Kong. Those on the East Coast will typically go via the Pacific, but can fly via Doha, Dubai, or Amsterdam too. It takes about 24-30 hours door-to-door depending on the destination. Most flights arrive and depart in the middle of the night.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2.5 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We have a stand-alone home in Kemang. While smaller than housing in some other cities, it is large enough for our family of six. Jakarta has a good mix of apartments and homes. The most important factor for housing is commute time to work and school. For example, those with high school kids attending JIS-PIE will not want to live in Menteng. Kebayoran Baru is a good middle area for most expats. Pondok Indah has larger homes and is near JIS-PIE.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can buy pretty much anything locally. We were really surprised by the quantity and quality of things. Jakarta has many large grocery chains: Grand Lucky, Hero, Kem Chicks, Ranch Market, Carrefour, etc. Local fruits and vegetables are cheap and plentiful. We've been very happy with meats overall too. Cheese is the one exception - it's much more expensive than in the US. If you have good connections, you can join with other families to purchase wholesale. We import from a New Zealand company at about 1/2 the price of local stores.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

While you'll pay more for imported items, and they aren't always available, there's nothing we haven't been able to find. For example, you can get Cheez Balls, Raisin Bran, Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, and Cherry Dr. Pepper (in addition to more normal items). Just like any other place, bring any super specific brands you can't live without. But seriously, they have pretty much everything you can imagine.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

GoJek offers convenient online delivery via motorcycle for thousands of restaurants. Jakarta has a surprisingly vibrant restaurant scene with lots of good Thai, Japanese, BBQ, Korean, French, and Italian joints at all price points. Just don't eat street food, which is not typically prepared hygienically.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We found a python in the basement of my office once. :) Jakarta has all the pests: mosquitos, rats, flying ants, etc. Houses and apartments have well-sealed windows and doors, eliminating most of those risks.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via Diplomatic Post Office at the U.S. embassy (sorry other expat families). DPO mail arrives really quickly, 7-10 days typically. While possible to receive items through FedEx, DHL, and the Indonesian Postal System, you have to pay customs duties. Most expats just load up suitcases when coming back and forth from their home countries.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Widely available and very inexpensive. Maids, cooks, nannies, and drivers are the most common. Minimum salary is currently 3.600.000 IDR per month, or about $270 USD. However, most expats pay above that amount, especially if the help have good experience and English skills. In addition to base salary, domestic help get a 13th month bonus for Ramadan, a 14th month bonus for health insurance, and a 15th month bonus per year worked upon separation.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most apartment complexes have free gyms on-site. Lots of local gyms are available at about $50 USD per month per person.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes and yes. Although, ATMs have relatively small cash limits (1,500,000 or 2,000,000 per transaction). I highly recommend opening a local bank account for ease of making purchases and transfers.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, Protestant, Latter Day Saints (Mormon).

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is very helpful having at least basic Indonesian. English is not very widespoken, but you can manage with Google Translate and gestures. Indonesian is a pretty simple language and there are lots of good language programs to help you learn.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. Sidewalks are non-existent and very few buildings are handicapped accessible.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses no. Bluebird and Silverbird taxis are fantastic. Jakarta has the best taxi service of any city we have ever visited. Download the Bluebird app to schedule rides in advance (the drivers always show up early). Drivers always use meters. Just make sure to have small bills.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You definitely need a right-hand drive car. Get something smaller, which is easier to use on narrow roads. We have a Toyota Kijang Innova, which has been perfect.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is great with very high speeds. We have First Media, 32MB download package with cable TV for about $60 USD per month. http://www.firstmedia.com/get/basic/packages#x1-combo-4k. Very fast installation. Get a DVR with your cable box. Service can drop unexpectedly so have backup options in place. We also have a Home Bolt, which provides 30 GB of internet per month for about $20 USD per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Dirt-cheap access. Bring your phone from home (make sure it's GSM unlocked) and get a pre-paid plan. We load small amounts per month, probably $15 USD for 2 GB data and calling.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, lots of good pet services are around. Imported pets need a brief quarantine. Work with a pet importer to handle all the paperwork. Yes, that's expensive, but it's better than trying to navigate dozens of offices by yourself.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

It's tough finding work on the local economy. Most spouses work from home, pursue volunteer opportunities, complete online degrees, or do other activities. Some jobs are available at embassies and local schools.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons. Indonesia has lots of refugees from Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries. Several schools and other organizations help these folks.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Men: slacks, shirt, and tie. Batik on Fridays. Women: knee length skirts, modest shirts covering shoulders. No burkas or hijabs needed. For formal weddings women will want fancier dresses, which are available locally. Tank tops, spaghetti straps, midriff cutoffs, and super short skirts would be frowned upon.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

While there is petty crime, it's not targeted against expats. We feel very safe and have never had any challenges.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Health care is terrible. Anyone with significant problems gets medically evacuated to Singapore. There are a few decent clinics like SOS, which can handle minor issues like stitches and simple fractures. Dental care is decent, but not great. As a crowded, dirty, tropic city, Jakarta has all kinds of diseases. Be careful where you eat, clean your fruits and vegetables, and you should be okay.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

During the dry season it can get moderately bad, but certainly much better than New Delhi or Beijing. The U.S. embassy publishes live air quality levels.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Peanuts are used in lots of dishes.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

The heavy traffic can create a sense of isolation.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's pretty hot all year long, but better than we expected. It's a few degrees cooler than Singapore and Bangkok, which makes a difference. Rainy season is October - April, and it rains most days for about 1-2 hours. Some areas experience flooding.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our kids attend JIS-PIE, which is amazing, JIS-PEL (an elementary school) has a good reputation. The Australian, British, Netherlands, New Zealand schools have good reputations too. There are other options like ACG and Ghandi. Our youngest went to a local preschool, Bambino, which was amazing. Lots of great options. The excellent local schools has probably been our favorite thing of living in Jakarta. Students come from every corner of the globe - it's the most diverse of anywhere we have ever lived.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

JIS has a child psychologist, speech pathologist, and several other specialists. They can accommodate moderate special needs (dyslexia, ADHD, etc.). The Australian school has a good reputation for moderate - severe disabilities.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, great options abound. Bambino, Tutor Time, New Zealand, etc. We looked at nine different places before selecting our preferred choice.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, there are tons of options both through school and local facilities.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Quite large and diverse. High.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

The American Club in South Jakarta is a good meeting place. Schools, churches, and work provide other connections.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Jakarta works for all types of people. Indonesians love families and little kids. Don't be surprised if people want to touch children's blond hair or take photos with you. Young English students might also ask to interview you for homework assignments.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Indonesia is a Muslim country, and homosexuality is not allowed. While there is a discrete LGBT scene, it's coming under additional fire.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Indonesians have had historical bias against those of Chinese heritage. As a patriarchal society, women are less involved in public affairs. That said, there are many women in politics and private business. Definitely not like Saudi Arabia, for example.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

It has Indonesia is such a vibrant and diverse place that you could easily spend a lifetime exploring different areas. Learning about people, culture, food, religion, wildlife, marine life, and natural wonders greatly enriched our experience of living in Jakarta for three years.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

While some talk negatively about Jakarta in this regard, there are lots of things to do.



Ancol - is a large entertainment area with a collection of different activities: *Seaworld aquarium (surprisingly impressive, with a great moving walkway/tunnel and several unique fish), waterpark, Ecopark, beach (although swimming is not recommended because of pollution), cable car ride, jet skies, ropes course, paintball, hotels, restaurants, and the boats going to the Thousand Islands. It’s about 25,000 IDR per person to get into the area then more for the various activities. Galeri Nasional Indonesia - http://galeri-nasional.or.id/. A decent art gallery located near the U.S. Embassy with permanent and rotating exhibits. Open Tuesday - Sunday, 9am - 4pm (closed on Mondays and National Holidays).



*Houbii - a great indoor trampoline park in Pondok Indah. In addition to lots of bounce areas, it has a huge slide, ball pit, and dodgeball arena. Register and pay online before coming to save time.



Jakarta Aquarium - opened in March 2017 and is housed inside Central Park Mall, the Neo SOHO part to be precise. While not huge, it’s the perfect size for a one to two hour visit. Make reservations for the live penguin dining room, which fills up on the weekend. http://www.jakarta-aquarium.com.



*KidZania - a giant indoor play area located in Pacific Place Mall with lots of mock stations: food processing, chiropractor, hospital, bakery, fire station, etc. Kids earn and spend money doing different jobs. They divide into two shifts 0900-1400 and 1500-2000. You pay to enter one of them, and they kick you out once the time concludes. Costs vary depending on the day, but start at 50,000 for toddlers, 150,000 for kids, and 100,000 for adults.



Museum Layang-layang - our kids enjoyed seeing this kite museum in southern Jakarta.



*National Museum - very close to the U.S. Embassy, it showcases a wide range of artifacts from throughout Indonesia. Plan on two hours for your visit.



Old Town - you can fill one or two days exploring Kota Gede, or the Old Town area of Jakarta. We enjoyed seeing the *Wayang Museum, BNI Museum, and Cafe Batavia.



*Taman Mini - http://www.tamanmini.com/english/. This massive area showcases different regions from around Indonesia, and provides a good opportunity to get a feel for different Indonesian cultures. They have several museums, zoos (including a particularly good aviary, planetarium, giant train yard with 50+ locomotives), and a waterpark. You could easily spend two or three days exploring the various areas.



Rangunan Zoo - Located in southern Jakarta, this large zoo has animals from all over the country. The animals are pretty spread out, which makes it feel more natural. It’s a popular place to run or go biking. The Primate Center in the center of the park is definitely worth seeing and had several species we have not seen elsewhere.



Textile Museum - http://museumtekstiljakarta.com/. Shows lots of interesting batik, ikat, and other unique Indonesian fabrics. They have a small workshop in the back where you can try making things too.



http://www.littlestepsasia.com/jakarta/articles/play/best-water-parks-jakarta. Jakarta has three primary waterparks:

Waterbom - http://www.waterbom-jakarta.com/web2014/ is the best waterpark in Jakarta. It’s located in Ancol and has a wide range of slides and options. Definitely look online to find promotions or other discounts before going (you can typically get 50% off).



Pondok Indah Water ("The wave") - attached to the Pondok Indah Mall, is the smallest of the three, but provides a good relief from the heat. It has a wave pool, lazy river, a couple of kiddy pools, and a few larger slides.



Snowbay - is inside Taman Mini. We haven’t visited this one yet, but often seen lots of people there on the weekend.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Absolutely. Indonesia has tons of handicrafts. Alun Alun: features high-end (although pricey) Indonesian products, from housewares to clothes to jewelry. This is where to go for good quality gifts. Located inside Grand Indonesia Mall.



Consigna on Mampang Raya: is an inexpensive camping gear store. Eiger is another camping store you’ll see scattered throughout town.



Fabric stores - Mayestic has a large seven story building with store after store of different clothing items. There are other buildings in the area, including one called, Toko Maju which has every kind of button you can imagine. Tana Abang is another area with lots of fabric stores. Tamrin City is a great place for batik, although you start to go cross eyed after seeing literally hundreds of options.



Jl. Kemang Timur: has furniture store after furniture store. You can find some beautiful teak wood items or even show a photo/drawing of what you want and they can custom build items.



Jl. Surabaya: A street of antique stores in Menteng, near Executive Menteng Apartments. Be prepared for high prices; you must bargain hard. You can find just about everything: carved garuda statues, chandeliers, record albums, etc. It’s a great place to stroll for casual looking or serious shopping, and good for visitors.



Sarinah Dept. Store: has tons of souvenirs, inexpensive batik, and other items for sale. Go to the top floor to see most vendors.



Wendy Gallery: They sell mid-century modern, art deco, Mission, and other styles, but not much carved, traditional Indonesian pieces. The city of Tangerang Selatan is filled with furniture stores. Expect dark, dusty stores packed with furniture stacked 2-3 pieces high. Go during the day and bring a flashlight, because lighting is terrible. If you bargain, you will be rewarded with amazing pieces at prices that would make a West Elm salesman weep. Wendy Gallery, Jalan Pahlawan 51, Gintung Rempoa Ciputat Timur, Tangerang Selatan; crasser76@yahoo.com; POC: Pak Maswir, 0821-1098-0233 or 021-743-0014.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Amazing schools, affordable household help, the ability to save, good dining and restaurants, lots of interesting travel opportunities.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

People are friendly, the culture is incredibly diverse and rich, and you can buy pretty much anything you need. The biggest negatives: traffic, poor medical care, tropical diseases, bureaucratic processes

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, to deal with horrible, horrible traffic.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Indonesia Etc.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Jakarta is a polarizing place. It has some great positives and some big negatives. Make sure you have a good understanding of what conditions are like to best set expectations. Your choice in where to live and go to school will really determine your happiness to a great extent. Make sure to travel outside town every 6-8 weeks to stay recharged.

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Jakarta, Indonesia 06/01/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First time living as an expat for an extended period of time.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

DC. Trip is brutally long. Expect around 24 hours from the time you leave to the airport until the time you arrive at your new home.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2013-2015

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are more expensive for imported items.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Jakarta has all the fast food chains. Dining out is cheap.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitos are more than just a nuisance. They carry dengue fever so be careful.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap. Seems to be widely available.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You don't need it but it can really help sometimes.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis only. Stick with Bluebird, Silverbird, or Express. I don't know anyone that takes buses. Trains to other cities in Indonesia are OK. Jakarta is currently in the process of building a subway system but it's anyone's guess as to when it will be completed

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes they do.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Seems to be opportunities to volunteer with local children etc.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Batik shirts help you stay cool and are still considered formal wear.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Lots of Gastro-intestinal issues, food poisoning. Dengue is a concern.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

very unhealthy. Indonesians smoke everywhere including indoors. Sinus issues exacerbated.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid everyday of the year.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Varies.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Movies, the mall, going out to eat, swimming, getting massages.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There is a very active nightlife scene in Jakarta. Bars, Restaurants, nightclubs. Men will have no problem dating locally, not sure about women. There is an active internations (expat organization) scene that hosts events and a decent expat community. Not a bad place for singles.

Couples will enjoy going out to restaurants and taking excursions outside of the city. Lots of other expat families as well.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Friendly people. Great beaches. Relatively cheap restaurants/shopping/massages. Easy access to other Southeast Asian destinations

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

You can take a train to Bogor and see the botanical gardens which are not really that special but are a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta. A weekend trip to Singapore is really easy. Flying to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, other Southeast Asian destinations. Thousand Islands are only a 1-2 hour boat ride from Jakarta if you want a mini beach vacation. Bali is always an option as are other island options.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Batik shirts, wood-craft.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Jakarta has lots of nice restaurants, lots of nightlife. Indonesians are friendly. You can travel pretty easily to other Southeast Asian countries (if you can deal with the traffic on the way to the airport.)

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How hard it is to spend time outdoors in Jakarta. Lack of sidewalks, lack of green space, horrendous traffic.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably not. It was ok but I have no desire to go back to Jakarta. Too crowded, horrendous traffic, and air quality was not good. It did serve as a good point to explore other parts of the region though.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes, expectations of clean, fresh air.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, E-reader so you have something to do while you're sitting in traffic.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Jalanan

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Jakarta, Indonesia 01/22/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No- I lived in Japan, Canada, Ireland, England, but it was my first experience in this country.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

At the time our home base was Washington, DC. It is an awful trip with small children. 8 hours to Korea and then 12 hours to DC or 14 hours to Hong Kong and then another 5+ to Jakarta. The best way we found to connect was to fly to Narita and have a long layover- like 6 hours and use the hotel in the airport. We slept for two hours, had a shower and then did the remaining flight. That was the easiest journey we had.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I lived there from summer 2011 until summer 2013.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government post.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are many places to live. Menteng is the closest to the Embassy but is a built up area where the only thing to do really is to go to the mall. So not ideal for kids. Plus you really don't want to try to go anywhere in the afternoon. Really it's only an option for single people in my opinion. Galuh is right across the street from JIS where most kids go to school in Pattimura. The housing is nice and large with communal play areas, but there is no pool. But it is not far from the American club which you can join and use for the pool and tennis courts.

The American club- I think this can be hard to get into, but this housing is attached to the American club so people can use the restaurant, pool, playground, child facilities etc, all the time. The houses are large and American. They were using a place called Taman Purih Oasis which despite the bug challenges was terrific. Pool was sometimes not maintained but overall a great place for families and kids could ride their bikes around.

Further south in Kemang was large housing, but the commute was awful. On a normal day to Menteng, it takes maybe 20 minutes, to Galuh, maybe 30 and to the American club area, 40 or so, and to Kemang about 55 to an hour. But when it's rainy season- 2 -3 hours to the American club area- keeping in mind that it is a distance of about 6 miles or so...Kemang would be way too far for the commuting spouse I think and Menteng not good for the families- so Galuh or around the American club is better for playdates, volunteering at school...

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

It's a pain as you have to shop at two or three stores to get everything you need- fresh and cheaply- but the good thing is your helper and driver can do this for you. You can get everything you need locally or from the small Commissary or online.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

WINE!!!! There is some at the Commissary but after two years you get bored! Cereal, it's about US$15 for a box of cereal in the local economy- maple syrup-shampoo and conditioner.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's delivers! Many restaurants but you have to be very careful - do not to eat salad, raw fruit, smoothies, or sushi or you risk parasites and intestinal disorders- these are very uncomfortable and hard to get rid of and require very strong and awful medicines. I had two different ones the first year until I only ate salad at home washed with bottled water (not organic! My friend got a liver fluke from eating organic veg in Jakarta) and when I ate out ate everything cooked only- then I was fine. And any meats- burgers- well done.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

The insect problem- so we had every possible size and color of ant and it was important to be super vigilant about cleaning- nothing sweet or sticky for the kids outside of the dining room- no juice anywhere but there- the ants could get in the butter dish and break through a sealed tupperware - items often had to be stored in the freezer to keep the ants out. Mosquitoes were a nightmare- along with the toxic spray they use to kill them, which I'm sure is very poisonous to us also. We had a large rat in the house once also. I was over the mosquitoes and ants for sure by the time we left.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the Embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very cheap if you get someone without English- less than US$200 a month. If they speak English anywhere from US$200-$350 a month for full time.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes- reasonably priced I found. And very nice.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I used only cash when out but ATMS were not a problem.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

No idea.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need enough to direct a taxi driver and to shop. More if you want to barter.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. I think it would be challenging.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis- only blue Bird or Silver Bird. Very affordable. Even the Silver Bird- high end taxis. The buses are super cheap but I wouldn't feel comfortable riding on it as a woman.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Cars are tough- it takes forever for them to arrive, but if you buy one new it takes forever to get it ready to go it seems. Not fast. If you can buy from someone already there it's good, but ask around about the person first in your office as some people unloaded cars on unwitting buyers.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes- not expensive.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Definitely need one. Everything happens by texting.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No, there is no reciprocal trade agreement for working visas so none of the trailing spouses worked that I knew except at the Embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty! And many excellent organizations. Go to an AWA American Women's Association meeting or ANZA meeting and you will get connected.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual. It's so hot. But ladies dress up often when going out. I usually covered up more when going out in public- partially because of the sun and partially for modesty.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Theft. A friend had her purse stolen from the seat beside her while having lunch in a posh mall. Household help often steal and most are not remorseful about it. I knew of many cases of staff lying about family members being sick or dying in order to get money. But I never felt threatened personally.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

If you have any major health issues don't come here. You have to fly to Singapore for anything major.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is awful. My husband developed asthma while living there. It is worse downtown near the U.S. Embassy than further south, but pretty much it's a dirty city.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Food allergies sufferers should avoid this post and anyone with severe asthma or mold allergies.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Sunny and dry in the summer- hot, rainy and hot in the "winter." Very humid in the winter. Sun protection is a must at all times.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

JIS is an exceptionally good school. Kids have excellent instruction and are given a lot of freedom and responsibility (for example getting themselves to and from class at recess and after lunch) and JIS educators and administrators are constantly training up on the latest teaching standards and techniques. Everyone is passionate about education. The parents are very hands-on involved which makes events and the school very fun. My son didn't have any problems with bullying, but one irritation was that the kids were allowed to use computers during recess to play minecraft and other games so if they had the chance they would do that instead of playing outside.

Bambino preschool was so amazing. The teachers were real partners and I was very satisfied- I was amazed at what my pre-schooler learned.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes- Bambino was one. It was not that cheap-about $1000 for 8 weeks? So US$4,000 per year and it was from 8:30-11:30 or 12 only. But very good.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large expat community- very social and fun. Easy to meet people.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Going for chocolate martinis at the Dharmawangsa, pool parties, brunch at a swanky hotel. Kids play area- nannies watch the kids while moms shop...!

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think for single men definitely. Single women might find it hard. Couples it's nice- lots of spas and nice restaurants and easy jumping off point for travel. For families based on the schools yes. Commuting can be hard on the working spouse.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think maybe.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I experienced.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

We made some of the best friends of our lives. The closeness of the community, the ability to have impromptu gatherings poolside, the schools- Bambino preschool and JIS were both fabulous along with the parents at these schools. Easy and cheap to fly to Bali, Singapore- closer to get to Australia and New Zealand. We saw and experienced things that we would never anywhere else- monitor lizard at the door, skink in the pool, going to the Thousand islands and seeing massive monitor lizards, snorkeling and seeing moray eels in Bali, a man selling live Octopus on the beach which we bought and released but not until after it tried to escape across the deck- the friendliness of the people despite the poverty, the indoor play places in the malls for kids, the kung fu instructor who taught the kids...the American club..

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

I gave a list to CLO of my Kung Fu instructor who came to the house and was amazing, my hairdresser/pedicure lady who were lovely, there was a foot massage person who came to the house, a great swimming instructor who taught my then two year old to swim in one lesson (underwater), a great tennis instructor...the gems of Jakarta are the people. Most of the "tourist" places- historical from the Dutch, are filled with trash, plastic water bottles and sewage. Even on the Thousand Islands, debris is washing up on the beach. But despite that it is worth visiting them.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Framing- great frame shops- cheap and good quality- furniture- paintings from Bali- batiks.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

I disagree with other comments that there is a lot to do in Jakarta, I guess because I am an outdoors person who likes to be active outside in nature. The best advantages are: inexpensive hired help (although that comes with its own challenges), year-round swimming, inexpensive tennis lessons, and a vibrant and close expat community (because there isn't much to do we all get together!), excellent cheap spas, and an ability to go to all the nicest hotels for drinks or dining (although avoid raw foods even at the nicest places since the staff also don't always wash their hands before handling food)

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10. Can you save money?

Depends on how much you need to get out.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

To get involved right off the bat. Volunteer at the school or if you don't have kids elsewhere, get involved in an association, take up tennis, find a spa you like, find ladies to go to Bali with- you need to be involved and make friends and get out of Jakarta frequently and then you will love it. If you don't get out and get involved, you will be miserable.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, I would. Although at times it was hard, it was such a great overall experience and my kids talk about wanting to go back all the time.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes- expectations of things happening efficiently and promptly or on time- frustration in traffic.

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4. But don't forget your:

SUNSCREEN and a wide brimmed hat. Flip flops. Bathing suits- get lots as you will wear them out.

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Jakarta, Indonesia 01/10/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA. There are frequent flights through various Asian and Middle Eastern hubs. It's a very long journey!

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is affiliated with the United Nations and lived in Jakarta for three years, a fifth expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Jakarta has many gorgeous homes with small yards. We lived in a complex with a shared play area for kids that resulted in a wonderful sense of community. As neighbours, we were quite social. However, we were an anomaly of a community in that sense. Living in Jakarta means a commute to work and school and dealing with horrible worsening traffic. Getting on the road early to avoid the worst of the traffic jams. Being able to accomplish a limited amount of errands daily because of the traffic.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can pretty much find what ever you want. Imported items are expensive, of course. Whether you think it is cheap or expensive really depends on where you are coming from and what you are buying!

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Surprisingly, vaseline was almost impossible to find! Vitamins are available, but really expensive.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are many restaurants at all price levels. You can enjoy a good quality meal in a restaurant for an average family for about USD 60-75 (without alcohol, which shoots the bill up considerably.) All of the fast-food chains are here, and they deliver to your house! Almost all restaurants in your neighbourhood will have some kind of delivery menu.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes can be a problem. Dengue fever is problematic, which luckily none of us ever got.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

When I sent anything abroad, I used the registered mail from the postal system. It was affordable and always arrived.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

You need good domestic help to navigate the chaos of Jakarta. Increasingly I noticed that quality help was asking for a minimum of IDR 3 million monthly. Overtime is expected to be paid and has different rates for holidays and Sundays compared to weekdays. Jakarta has quite a high cost of living. I would advise paying the driver a lump sum that includes over time. With my first driver, I noticed he often stayed stuck in traffic, rather than trying to take small roads to avoid the traffic. I believe he did this to increase his over time pay!

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

All over the place.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use your credit card and ATM everywhere. You can also pay a lot of bills (electricity, cable, phone bill, mobile phone units, etc) using your ATM card!

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable TV costs about $70 month. There are 2 English newspapers.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

The more you know, the easier your life is. You definitely need to learn basic phrases, numbers and taxi directions.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It is not physical-disability friendly at all, despite its modernity!

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are everywhere in Jakarta and quite affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Indonesia doesn't allow the import of cars. You have to buy in-country. Service garages are everywhere, but I would advise using an authorized dealer for the make of car you have.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet connection was good and is part of the cable tv cost.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Network is good. Calls are reasonably priced.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Dependent spouses often struggle over the long term as it is really tough to work. The spouses are dealing with the day-to-day hassles of running errands in the traffic and it does get exhausting.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

For such a large city, it is really very safe. Take the normal precautions. Hold on to your purse in public places. Be careful using BB or I-Pad while walking on the street. Sometimes your househelp taking some items is a challenge. However, break-ins and car thefts are not so common.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

On the surface, the medical care appears good. However, when you dig below the surface, there are many challenges. It is important to search for a doctor you respect and trust. Ask colleagues, neighbours and other expats whom they use and trust.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Jakarta is a congested city with lots of noise pollution and air pollution.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, hotter and unbearably hot! Heavy rain in the rainy season that often causes flooding in Jakarta which causes unimaginable traffic jams.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are many options: BIS, JIS, ACG, NZIS, AIS and a whole lot more. BIS is quite far out, however, accessible by the toll road, and once you reach the toll road, you can reach BIS with relative ease. I was very happy with the quality of education at BIS. Also, the kids had some self awareness issues about themselves and their relationships with others.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ACG, NZIS and AIS are ''all inclusive'' schools, meaning they accept all students. I would advise you to take care about full disclosure at the schools that are not ''all inclusive.'' JIS is narrow in its acceptance of children and can be pretty rude to parents and children with learning challenges. JIS sometimes accepts children with special learning needs under provision, and there have been a number of cases where, after half year, the parents are told the child is now being ''de-mitted'' and that the school cannot meet the learning needs. If your child has a learning disability, it is best to place the child elsewhere to spare the child much emotional distress from the JIS teachers and administration. For families of children with learning challenges, the perception is that the child is not welcome at JIS.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are many English-speaking nursery schools. They are a bit expensive, but you do feel that you are getting good value for the cost.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

English programs through the schools.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Jakarta is a city of 12 million. The expat community is diverse.

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2. Morale among expats:

Jakarta is a place you either really love or you appreciate and respect it! It can be a daunting city and challenging.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Tons to suit your lifestyle. The barrier is the traffic.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is pretty much good for everyone! The real limitations to enjoying yourself are the cost and the traffic. However, there is plenty for everyone and a diversity of options.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Jakarta and Indonesians are quite tolerant.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling around the country -- Bali in particular. Learning about Islam. Being in SE Asia and experiencing the energy of the rapid pace.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are really too many to list and it depends on your interests. Many lovely islands to travel to. Bali is fantastic. Javana Spa outside Jakarta in the mountains is a little-known gem. Lots of child-friendly things to do in the city. There are places to go outside Jakarta that are a 4-hour drive or so away.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Travel. There are lots of lovely bits of art.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Jakarta offers many forms of entertainment for all ages--young and old. Finding out about it can be challenging at first until networks are established. There are many modern shopping malls with movie theatres. Also many outlet stores and trading centre malls with fabulous prices. Jakarta has many restaurants, indoor and outdoor play areas for children, an ice-skating rink, bowling alley, and Kidszania. Wonderful opportunities for kids. Indonesia is a beautiful country with many wonderful places to visit.

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11. Can you save money?

Difficult. The cost of living is quite high. Also, if you want to enjoy what Jakarta has to offer, it will cost money.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely - -it was a fabulous experience. Southeast Asia and Indonesia are on the rise. It was a fabulous experience to live there. Really the major downfall is the horrendous traffic in Jakarta.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience for the traffic. Patience for language issues. Patience for the chaos. Some kind of portable hobby you can do in the car while stuck in the traffic!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Jakarta, Indonesia 06/08/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I have lived overseas before, but this is my first full assignment (2 year tour) with the Department of State.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

California/Washington DC - a full day of travel (or two days, depending on what direction you're going in).

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3. How long have you lived here?

11 months so far.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government - U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

U.S. Embassy housing is split mostly between apartments in the heart of the city and houses for families closer to the school. For people living in houses in South Jakarta, the commute can be well over an hour each way (I've heard). I live in an apartment close to the embassy and my own commute averages about 15 minutes in the morning and about 30 minutes going home.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

We can get almost anything here, assuming it is in season. Indonesia has cheap plentiful spices, and tons of tropical fruit that is readily available. Wine is expensive -- we get it at the commissary for a more reasonable price.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Herbal tea. It costs US$8/box here. Cereal is also expensive, but I have switched to oatmeal.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You can pretty much find anything you want in this department -- almost -- and at all ranges. There is dirt cheap street food (eat at your own risk -- it may be impossible to live here without getting sick!) up to very high end.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Not sure about organic foods. We rinse our veggies in bleach anyways. That's what the mail is for. I don't think anyone in a restaurant would understand "gluten free." My vegetarian friend has often ordered the vegetable dish on a menu only to discover that it is sprinkled with pieces of chicken. That said, a lot of Indonesian food is vegetarian -- they use a lot of tofu. And there are a ton of restaurants with vegetarian and even vegan options.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Make sure you get your vaccinations before coming and take anti-malarials if you travel outside of Java and Bali. Dengue fever can be a problem -- make sure you use bug spray!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO/APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We have a wonderful housekeeper who was easy for us to acquire. We are a couple with no kids, she works M-F 9-5, and we pay her about US $200/month --- which is fairly average, if a bit high.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The apartment we live in has a gym, a pool, and tennis courts. Most of the apartments do. I don't think the housing compounds do, though (though I haven't seen all of the housing). This is not really a city where one can run outside.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are OK for very high-end places. Otherwise, it is a cash economy. I use the cashier at the embassy. I don't use ATMS except when I am outside of Jakarta.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are, but I'm not affiliated, so it is hard to know. We have friends who go to English-language church services.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

I get news on my Ipad. TV is marginal; there are a few English stations. We can get the BBC and CNN on our TV. Your US TV will not work here unless it is dual-system.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I received seven months of language training before coming, and it definitely helps. You'd want to at least have taxi vocabulary.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Hmm. Hard to say. Jakarta is not pedestrian friendly, all of us must drive to get anywhere anyways. A lot of places have elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

We are only supposed to use taxis. They are pretty cheap.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We don't have a car and have been just fine using taxis. People with kids have cars with a driver.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available and pretty fast. We pay $30/month for a faster connection in our apartment. (We were getting it free, but it was slow).

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

This is the country of cell phones and BlackBerries! They are readily available and cheap and the service is pretty good. I use an embassy-issued blackberry.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes - though I think some people were able to pay a premium to reduce the quarantine time.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really. Indonesia won't grant visas to spouses of U.S. diplomats to work on the local economy (last I heard).

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Suits and batik shirts (long sleeve).

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is a growing level of intolerance of minority cultures and religions, but the perceived threat of terrorism feels pretty low -- it is there, but just as likely as any other big city. Otherwise, petty crime can be a concern -- like any big city.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is marginal to poor. The embassy has a medical unit, and anyone with anything serious is medevac'd to Singapore. Don't count on an ambulance to help you out. Make sure you have your vaccinations.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Poor and unhealthy in Jakarta. Better if you get out of the city.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There is a dry season and a wet season: meaning that it is either hot and dry, or hot and rainy.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Not applicable to me and my husband, though I'm aware that JIS (Jakarta International School), where most embassy kids go, is pretty good.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

I'm not an expert on this, but some of my colleagues have mentioned going to their kids' soccer games, ice skating performances, etc. It seems there are quite a few activities for kids.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Medium. Pretty sizeable expat and business community.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed. Some people love it, some hate it. Jakarta takes a while to get to know and to find your niche. The traffic can get old, so can the lack of outdoor space (no parks, no sidewalks).

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

It really depends. I think there is something for everyone, like any big city -- families, clubbers, church-goers, the like. It is very popular to go to a buffet brunch on the weekends.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes for all, though I think the experience will be very different. Great for couples and singles in terms of the travel opportunities, I'm not sure in terms of the social life or the dating scene (like many parts of the world, might be tougher for women). Socially, the embassy is clique-y and divided geographically by where people live -- largely due to traffic.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It is okay. I'm not an expert on it, but I think the scene does exist. Indonesia does have some hardliners, but that does not necessarily reflect the majority view. LGBT expats may feel they need to keep their relationship more discreet in some circles. However, our DCM (second to the Ambassador) was very open about his male partner and brought him along to formal events, etc. It depends on the audience; in most cases in Jakarta there wouldn't be a problem.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

In the vast majority of cases, no. However, there is a worrying increase of intolerance here -- or, rather, a situation where a small minority of radicals are allowed to exert undue influence over society -- sometimes violently -- with impunity. There have been cases of minority religious groups beaten and even killed, with no justice served, and of churches not getting their licenses, etc.



There are some female professionals in Jakarta, less so than in the United States, and outside of Jakarta women's roles can become more traditional. At parties I am often mistakenly taken to be a diplomat's wife instead of a diplomat in my own right, but once I set the record straight I can be just as effective and taken seriously.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel! Bali -- yes it is a cliche, but Bali is the easiest to get to from Jakarta and has the infrastructure that some other parts of Indonesia lacks. If you like to scuba dive, you have found your paradise. Most Indonesians are extremely warm and welcoming people and genuinely want you to enjoy their country.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Jakarta is a city of malls. I'm not a mall person, but unfortunately that is the main thing to do here. There are some great brunch places, furniture shopping to be done in Kemang, the old city to explore, and some museums. When we can, we leave Jakarta -- because in order to appreciate Indonesia, it is necessary to get out of the city.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Tons! Furniture, "wayang kulit," batiks, other interesting artifacts.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The culture -- Indonesia has several fascinating cultures...and wonderful travel opportunities. Services are cheap. It's never cold (although perhaps sometimes overly air conditioned).

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, unless you want to see the country. Then you will need to shell out on flights.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. I think so. So far, on balance, it has been a good experience so far.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

wool coats, scarves, and hats, and walking shoes (except for the mall).

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3. But don't forget your:

patience, sense of adventure, camera.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?


(it is a series of interviews of people living in Jakarta compiled by the Jakarta Globe - you can get it on kindle)

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Year of Living Dangerously
-- totally outdated, but does provide some background/history

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Jakarta can be tough, but Indonesia is a beautiful country with wonderful people. It can be frustrating at times to live here, but I have grown to care about the country and hope that it continues to develop. Indonesians are non-confrontational and tend to avoid conflict/making tough decisions, or will tell you what they think you want to hear. Make sure to take the extra moment to travel to the less-visited city, as the off-the-beaten path experiences are the ones which have made me appreciate this country the most.

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Jakarta, Indonesia 01/04/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, asia, north america, middle east.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

east coast usa, 28 hours, via seoul.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Corporate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

best is apartment tower, houses difficult and expensive to maintain for expats on 3-5 year terms.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Twice U.S. costs for same imported items. Local goods are much cheaper, if available. Breakfast cereal is all imported and costs $5/small box.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

if you are a typical western size, then bring clothes to fit.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Indonesians love to eat. There are all choices of restaurants, but stay away from street food, it's preserved with formaldehyde, and you will get hepatitis. You will also even get food poisoning eating at 5-star hotels. That has happened twice to me in three years.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

You can find ii, I guess, but the big risk to all eaters is food poisoning.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

mosquitoes and dengue fever even in jakarta.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Local mail is totally unreliable. Have a relative overseas put together a package and mail it to your office by courier once per month.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Good and cheap: $100-200/mo to include some English ability. If you have a car you must have a driver.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

most apartments have nice pools and gyms, gold's gym is here too.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I get cash from ATMs using my U.S. bank card without problems. I use credit cards in 5-star hotels, but nowhere else. You can open local bank accounts with a local id card.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes for Roman Catholics and Protestants, but not for Jews.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Jakarta Globe, post, local edition of Singapore Straits Times, $1/day.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is best to know taxi Indonesian, although staff in banks, stores, and hotels all have a surprisingly good level of English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

life with disabilities would be horrid.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Blue bird, Silver horse, Express and Silver bird taxis are best bets. Stay off buses and trains, they are unsafe, dirty and home to pickpockets.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Dont import one, it will sit for months on the docks until a palm is greased. Locally-made Toyotas are best, but about 20% more costly than U.S. models. Check the Toyota Indonesia website for info and diplomatic prices. In addition, driving is not for the faint of heart, roads are horribly congested. I used taxis exclusively until I got a company car/driver.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, I pay $100/mo for cable, international tv, fast internet and unreliable landline at my apartment.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They are easy and cheap to get here. For $100 you can get a basic model, local sim card and some minutes that you can reload easily for $10/2 months.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

More formal that one expects in a tropical location. Long-sleeve shirt, with ties in embassies, but batik can suffice: short sleeve in day, long sleeve at night.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

terrorism:hotel and church bombings, made more unsettling by how genuinely nice most indonesian people are.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Indonesia is an incubator for just about every communicable disease. You will be sick a lot during your first two years here. 20% of your staff or family will be sick all the time. Individual physicians and dentists can be good, but for most serious work it is best to go to Singapore. All tap water is contaminated.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

fair to poor.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

hot and dry:apr to nov; less hot and less dry (but not cold and rainy):dec to mar.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

no kids in school here, but jis is typical high powered american pattern, intl school that is not user friendly at times.other choices abound:british, aussie, nz, local with ib curriculums, that may be less expensive/pretentious and more user friendly.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

none at jis.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

yes, thru most of the western oriented intl schools.expat teenagers probably recreate in the bars and nightclubs too.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends on how often you can escape Jakarta. Once per month to Singapore kept me sane.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

can be quiet. Much indonesian entertaining is at a very wealthy, high level to which most expats and diplomats below ambassador level have no access.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

yes, although horrid traffic and lots of illnesses makes it hard to enjoy Jakarta at times. Single western men should have no problem meeting local women, but the latter's expectation of being take care of and attachment to living in indonesia, make long-term relationships that include the prospect of life outside of indonesia difficult. Single expat women must have a tough time.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Probably ok, but you must be very discreet due to religious and social conservatism.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Outspoken non-muslims face trouble, tho on the surface all is calm. Ethnic Chinese face pogroms every 25 years or so. There is freedom of worship for all but non-mainstream muslim sects and jews.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Near jakarta?not much. Bali is overrated and expensive. There are better, cheaper beaches in Malaysia, and you will be in a functioning place. Singapore is a 90-minute flight away.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

batik, handicrafts.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

no particular advantages aside from living in a tropical southeast asian country.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Perhaps, but I would lower my expectations. Social relationships are difficult if you become serious; domestic travel (except to Bali) is not worthwhile, difficult to arrange and very expensive Even Bali's beaches are polluted. Having spent 20 years in asia, this isn't quite it. It's very similar to india, with the same level of inefficiency, lack of public services, and corruption.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

winter clothes, except a sweater for movie theaters or airplane flights. Also your driving license, it's a recipe for stress.

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3. But don't forget your:

patience, toiletries, sunscreen, vitamins, and otc medicines, which are expensive here.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"My year of Living Dangerously" captures some of the history.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

A bigger and more imminent threat than terrorism is the almost total lack of decent public services and functioning social safety net. God forbid you get caught in shopping center or high rise fire, or have a heart attack. Road traffic is horribly congested.

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Jakarta, Indonesia 07/31/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this was my fifth expat experience, all in Asia.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC. It is approximaely 36-40 hours. There are several ways to go, though I've gone DC-Tokyo-Jakarta, Jakarta-Singapore-Tokyo-DC, Jakarta-Hong Kong-London-DC, andDC-Atlanta-Seoul-Singapore-Jakarta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2006-2009

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

It is a combination of apartments, houses, and townhouses. It is mostly apartments in central Jakarta, which had commutes of 15-30 minutes the embassy. Since the schools are in South Jakarta, people with children usually live in houses and townhouses in that area to minimize the time their kids spend in the horrible traffic. As a result, the parent(s) have 45-75 minute commutes to the embassy. All these commutes can be longer during the rainy season.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If you are especially fond of a particular brand of something, you might want to pack a few of those. However, you can find just about anything in the stores, though for a long time, we had trouble finding vanilla for cooking. They products may not be of a familiar brand, but often they were. Local chains such as Hero carry a mixture of western-style and Asian foods. When we arrived in 2006, imported food stores such as Food Hall and Ranch Market carried an impressive array of US, British, and Australian and other non-Indonesian brands. Then, starting in late 2008/early 2009, the imported products began disappearing from the shelves. The public explanation was about insufficient Indonesian-language labeling on the products, though there was some speculation in the media that some sort of unrelated dispute was behind the disappearance. If I recall correctly, the situation began to improve during the summer of 2009. If I were packing for Jakarta today and had space in my shipment, I'd bring afew things that I did not find good versions locally of(such as foil, paper towels, and storage bags) or that I think I'd have trouble finding, or trouble finding at reasonable prices (some spices, items for Mexican food).That said, the Commissary carried some of these items, and we could order things over the internet.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Not much-only a few household items that I had trouble finding locally as well as a few comfort foods.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

As for fast food, McDonalds, KFC, A&W, Burger King, Krispy Kreme, and others are around. We did not go very often, but I think a meal and a drink ran about $3. There are also such chains as Chili's, Outback Steakouse, and so forth. While there are only a handful of Tex-Mex places, you can find just about any cuisine in Jakarta at very reasonable prices. And, of course, there are also many good Indonesian restaurants

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

The Medical Unit frequently reminded people to make sure not to have pools of standing water around because they can be breeding grounds for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

By DPO.It would take 5-10 for items to/from the US, depending on the destination/origin.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Inexpensive. People had full-time maid/cooks for $150-$200/month plus annual bonus. Nannies typically received a little more than maids. Many people shared maids if they did not need someone full-time. The CLO annually surveyed the embassy community and published a report on household help salaries. When people left post, they usually tried to place their household help in the homes of incoming staff, so it was rather easy to find help. Also, the embassy held seminars on safe food handling for people's household staff a couple of times a year.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most apartment buildings have gyms. There are also several chains (Golds, and I think, Fitness First) in Jakarta. The American Club has a gym, tennis courts, and a pool, which people in South Jakarta tend to enjoy. For runners, there is the Jakarta Free Spirit group and several Hash House Harriers kennels.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

The RSO warned us to be very careful when using credit cards and ATMs because of theft/fraud problems. So, we generally used cash. We did use credit cards at major hotels and a few other places, but that was the exception. Some embassy friends had problems with people getting their hands on their credit card numbers and ATM card numbers despite being very careful.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Various denominations advertised English-language church services in the local English newspapers.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The Jakarta Post and the Jakarta Globe. Personally, I liked the Globe better than the Post because it seemed to have a more neutral viewpoint, better features, and more international news. Others thought the Post had better coverage of Indonesian politics. There is also English-language cable televisions with CNN, BBC, Fox, Discovery Channel, Hallmark Channel, etc. I don't remember exactly how much it was. Bundled with our internet service, I think it was about $60-$80/month.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I was surprised at how much English was around in places like restaurants and the fancier malls. However, it is not spoken everywhere by everyone. So,for taking taxis, traveling, asking directions, and getting to know people better, I'd recommend making an effort to learn at least some Indonesian.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be hard to get around unless you rely entirely on a car. (If in a wheelchair, you'd probably have to bring your own lift-equipped van.) Many streets do not have sidewalks, and where there are sidewalks, they may be very narrow, uneven with missing pavement/bricks, and gaping holes. Curbs can be very high. Most new malls have elevators and escalators, though.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

We relied on taxis. Firms such as Blue Bird, Silver Bird, and Express tended to be safe, though occasionally we had some harrowing, roundabout or otherwise unpleasant rides. They are very affordable. When we went to visit friends in South Jakarta, we'd be in the car for 30-40 minutes and only pay the equivalent of $6-8.I did not take any buses. I took trains to some other cities on Java. They were affordable, but I'm not sure how safe they were.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We did not have a car. Things like one-way streets and other traffic regulations were often seen more as suggestions than rules, and like grains of sand filling up crevices, motorcycles will take up every inch of space between cars. Instead, we relied on the very affordable taxi firms such as Blue Bird, Silver Bird, and Express. (FYI, the CLO in Jakarta had a brochure with Indonesianphrases useful for taking taxies.)However, many other people did bring or buy cars and hire drivers. SUVs such as the Toyota Kijang were very popular, possibly because of regular rainy season flooding.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but I don't remember how much.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are various inexpensive pay-as-you-go options. Get a phone, pop in a SIM card with a local carrier, buy a scratch-off card, and you're set.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Up to 14 days, though most people got their pets after a shorter period of quarantine.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Vets make housecalls, which was great. When we traveled, our maid or neighbors cared for our cats.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I don't know about expats in general. As for people affiliated with the embassy, I think it is limited to teaching or working for international organizations. That is because despite efforts by the US, Indonesia is not interested in a bilateral work agreement or bilateral work arrangement with the US. There are

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Work tended to be more formal, though adjusted for the warm weather. A lot of people wear batik on Fridays.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

People were friendly to Americans, even if they did not agree with our policies. It could have been easy to get lulled into thinking there was no terrorist threat, when in general, RSO advises you to be alert and pay attention to your surroundings. (I don't want to scare anyone. That doesn't mean you can't be alert while also having a good time while out and about.)We almost got through our tour without any terrorist issues, but then the Marriott bombing happened shortly before we left in 2009. That rattled people. As for crime, the buses, which we were advised not to take, are supposedly filled with pickpockets. I suspect there is some petty theft and other crimes of opportunity. However, I think we in the embassy community were largely insulated from that. We briefly shared a maid with some other people, and she stole items from all of us. We knew people whose home was broken into. Overall, though, the embassy community did not seem to be that affected by crime. We were more concerned with poor building codes. There were a few stores and malls that we avoided because we were concerned about the lack of exits in case of an emergency.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Jakarta is very polluted. Not only is the air filled with traffic exhaust, people and factories are burning all sorts of stuff. I remember getting a slew of shots before heading to Jakarta. However, amidst the theoretical potential for bird flu, encephalitis, and other diseases, dengue fever is what people tend to be most concerned about. A few people at the embassy got it while we were there. More common are cases of respiratory or gastrointestinal illnesses. Fortunately, the embassy has a good medical unit, and basic tests can be done locally. More complicated medical issues require medevac-ing to Singapore.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality in Jakarta is very unhealthy. I think people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses are advised not come here. I knew of many people at the embassy when we were there who repeatedly came down with(usually minor) respiratory illnesses of some sort.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and dry or hot and wet. The rainy season at the beginning of the year can bring downpours, which the canals, polluted with trash, cannot always handle, leading to flooding. (During one rainy season, reportedly 20% of the city was under some amount of standing water.) I remember that when we were there, the "antique street" near where we lived had kids swimming in a few feet of water while our street was ok. I also heard stories of afternooncommutes that normally took an 45-minutes to an hour taking 5-6 hours, though those were extreme cases.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

We did not have children in school, but people seemed very pleased with the Jakarta International school. It's a very nice campus, and there seemed to be a broad range of courses and extra-curricular courses offered. A few families had their children in the British or Australian schools, too.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I'm not sure. If someone has a special needs child, I'd suggest inquiring ahead of time not only with JIS, but also with the British International School and the Australian International School, too.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

People had nannies for very reasonable prices. Some are willing to live in, if you have the room. There are few preschools, but I don't have first-hand knowledge of them.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large. Many US oil companies have staff in Indonesia. There are also other Western and Asian expat communities.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varied. Some people loved it; others were less enamored of it. Either way, I think people acknowledged it wasn't bad for a hardship post.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are a variety of ways to socialize: restaurants, day trips, home parties, events at the American Club, overnight trips, CLO events, etc.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think families enjoyed it because of the good schools, affordable household help, good travel opportunities, and the many things to do in Jakarta. As a couple, we liked the many travel opportunities, learning about Indonesia's diverse cultures, the affordable restaurants and movies, etc. I think singles enjoy it for the aforementioned reasons,although dating wise, single men seemed to enjoy it more than single women. I saw a lot of single American men dating (and sometimes marrying) Indonesian women. The single women I knew weren't as happy in that respect.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

This is a hard one to answer. On a day-to-day basis, there seemed to be a "live and let live" attitude, and people seemed to get along. However, for years, radical groups (asmall minority of Indonesians) such as the Islamic Defenders front has bullied and physically attacked non-Muslims as well as other Muslims they deemed insufficiently pious or not true Muslims. The ethnically ChineseIndonesians are seemed to be envied and sometimes intensely disliked. Various inter-ethnic tensions made some parts of Indonesia effectively off-limits to us. Since 2000, there have been attacks on Christian churches, and there have been recent reports of neighborhood protests when groups try to establish churches. Foreigners ("bule") are themselves the object of various misconceptions, some good, some annoying, but mostly innocuous. When we were there, there were some op-ed articles demonizing Israel and Jews in general. (Reporting on the Middle East tended to very one-sided.)The few Indonesian Jews I knew seemed to keep a very low profile. The Hindu Balinese and other non- Muslim groups have also considered such things as the so-called "anti-pornography bill" as assaults on their culture. Yet.... people seemed to get along, so again, I find this a hard question to answer.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Seeing orangutans in the wild in Kalimantan, learning to scuba dive and then diving in such wonderful places as Tulamben, Bunaken, and elsewhere.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are many inexpensive movie theaters, though the two chains tend to have similar offerings. The Indonesian Heritage Society offers a variety of activities, including lectures, trips, and day tours. There are many inexpensive restaurants. Jakarta is great for shopping. The mountain resort of Puncak is a great place to escape the heat of Jakarta. It is a 90-minute drive away, but it can take several hours because of traffic if you go at the wrong time of day. Cirebon and Bandung are short train rides away for weekend getaways, while Bali, Yogyakarta and elsewhere are short flights away.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Solid teak or mahogany furniture, batik, jewelry, home furnishings, and more. You'll hear about good places through the grapevine. CLO also has some shop brochures.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Indonesia is a beautiful country, and if you are willing to be adventurous, there is so much tosee. There are many different interesting, cultures, fabulous wildlife, great scuba diving, and wonderful crafts. Jakarta is also a great launching point for traveling to other parts of Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, because I had some amazing experiences that I would not have had otherwise and met some great people.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

winter coats.

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3. But don't forget your:

swim wear, scuba equipment, sense of adventure, patience, and ability to roll with the punches.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Jakarrta inside Out provides an A-Z exploration of interesting aspects of life in Jakarta. While a magazine, not a book, Time Out Jakarta is good for finding out what's going on in town. For Indonesia in general, there is A History of Modern Indoensia, Kerry Collisson's series of novels that take place in Indonesia, and Richard Lloyd Parry's In the Time of Madness on Indonesia in the late 1990s. Also, the CLO had a list of websites on Indonesia.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Year of Living Dangerously is the only movie I know of that features Jakarta (in the 1960s). I don't think it is available in Indonesia, so you'd have to watch it before arrival. Eat, Pray, Love provides a glimpse of Bali. I'd also suggest checking out the Globe Trekker series and seeing what clips the Travel Channel has about Indonesia. I think they have a couple episodes on Indonesia.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Jakarta, Indonesia 07/06/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I have been an expat in Germany, Kathmandu, Dhaka, Quetta, Islamabad, Riyadh.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home? Anywhere USA--but Jakarta is the Southern Hemisphere so there is no quick way home. With the Fly America Act it can take 22 to 36 hours in each direction. If you are not on a US carrier, the fastest way is through Manila (cheap)or Thai (not cheap) from BKK to LAX to the West Coast. To the East Coast Qatar and Emirates fly to DC, Houston, and JFK. These are great flights, very inexpensive.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Attached to the US Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Houses are big and apartments are grand--unless you are with the embassy, then apartments are grand and houses can be small but in communities. If you live in a giant house in the South part of Jakarta you can expect to commute to the north taking 1 to 1.5 hours each way. From Central Jakarta to the Embassy might take 30-55 minutes each way. Traffic is dense here but it moves.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

American products are available here but you will pay, a lot! Also, there is imported cheese and fruit. This is why you get COLA. There are some things that I bring in--a specialty coffee, panty hose, one type of salad dressing, cereal (the cereal because it is rare and expensive!)...but other things are here like Reduced Fat Peanut Butter. There are fabulous, fabulous upscale grocery stores here. You get all manner of fish, poultry and meat. What you do not get are a variety of frozen goods...

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

A trampoline--it would be nice to have one in the yard and a basketball hoop. (The embassy just purchased new furniture--so I do not even miss my bed!)

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Yes! There is MacDonalds and Burger King but KFC rules this country. However, we never eat fast food here--there are too many great restaurants. Some are cheap but others that cater to the rich or in the malls can be almost US prices.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Yes, there is some but I don't really pay attention. There is a freakish array of soy milk products.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There are mosquitoes but they are not obnoxious. You will not get malaria but dengue in like an urban legend--always on the fringe but never someone you know well.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the DPO. It can be really fast.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Help is plentiful but not as cheap as in other parts of South East Asia. I have a maid who comes six days a week and cooks about 50% of the dinners, she earns about $200 per month, the driver works five days and earns the same and the gardener/guard works six days, twelve hours a day and earns may $160.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there are fantastic gym and pool facilities. Most of the communities and apartments have their own facilities. The American Club is open to non-embassy members and to members from other countries.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are everywhere and are efficient. We cash checks at the embassy for cash and restrict our use of credit cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, Catholic, Protestant. LDS. You name it, it is here.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We get the Int. Herald Trib delivered to the house every morning for $30 a month (in color! same day delivery!) Cable TV is necessary: StarWorld, Nat Geo, HBO, StarMovies, DIVA, a zillion US, UK and Aus news channels and a bizarre mix of English language channels that always seem to be showing crime shows. Throw this in with the internet and I think it is $75 per month.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Maybe "right," "Left" and "Straight" for taxi directions when you first get here. Otherwise, I live my life in English, which is totally pathetic because Bahasa is so easy.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

YES! Even the embassy is not compliant to the ADA. If you are in a wheelchair or on crutches everyday will be a challenge for you here.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Blue Bird and Silver Bird are the recommended taxis and they are plentiful and Blue Bird is cheap to the point that some people do not have cars. I would avoid the bus and there is no subway/sky train system.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You can drive anything in the city. However, if you have an SUV you will have a better time in the rain and if you try to sell it when you leave. I purchased an old SUV for a few thousand dollars and suspect I will sell it for the same amount when I leave. No carjackings but do lock your doors.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

See above. It is fast enough to watch videos most of the time.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring one in with you for each of your kids and have your staff buy the local SIM card and pre-pay. You can pick up a lovely phone in BKK for next to nothing.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, you go through Groovey Pets--and they tell you what paper work to do and they pick your pet up at the airport. The quarantine is supposed to be two weeks but it never really lasts that long. Our pets were rather spontaneously delivered eight days after we arrived. They called to say, "We are bringing the pets" and I said, "Can I go buy cat litter first?" Voila, the pets were here within two hours.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes--they are good, cheap and can do house calls.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No, I don't think so.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

This is a mix. It is warm so some people wear batik or capris/sandals; however, it is Chinese Influenced Asia--so some people dress to the nines.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

People talk about the bombing of the Marriott because it is at the edge of living memory in the ex-pat community. People are cautious.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Yes. Get your shots, wear your seatbelt and pray. The health services available here are more nascent than those in Singapore and Bangkok. The embassy has a big clinic on the embassy but also at the American Club, there is also a couple of very good SOS clinics that cater to the wealthy Indonesians and ex-pats. Anything major and you will be on a plane to Singapore--which is an 1.5 hr flight.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

They say it is bad, the air quality, but it is so much better than so many other places. I would go with "moderate."

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Perfect. Everyday is the same. It rains a little everyday during months with an 'R' in them. You sort of lose track of time because you are never cold and you never notice the seasons changing. It is like Shangri-la.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

JIS has a tremendous international reputation. The facilities are unbelievable...like a college campus for the high school. Also, the course offerings subject and specialty wise are diverse and they offer AP and IB and a regular programme for regular kids. The two elementary schools are warm and supportive. There is a plethora of activities, sports, volunteer services in which children can and do partake. Once you are here, you will not want to take your child away from JIS. However, read below about special needs kids...

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

OK, JIS may not accept your special needs child. If you have a child with special needs, write to the admissions counselor before deciding to come here if you want all your kids to go to JIS. However, JIS is not your only option in Jakarta. There is BIS (the British Int. School), the Australian Int. School and a New Zealand Int. School and many others. Jakarta is a big town. JIS is work toward meeting the needs of a diverse group of learners--but don't count on it. The Australian Int. School has a great reputation for working with special needs children.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

I know that there is frustration with pre-schools. There are several but there are waiting lists for the good ones. Some people form groups and then send their ayahs (pembantus) with the child.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

TONS! Everything is here football, baseball, running, swimming, soccer, rugby, track & field. There are programmes through the schools and programmes through the community.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very LARGE

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2. Morale among expats:

Very high. You rarely meet someone who hates it here. People like it and generally want to stay longer. The biggest complaint is about the traffic and about being so far from family in the US.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

As busy as you want to be. You can entertain in or you can meet people out.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes for all. There is a lot to do for everyone.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I have observed.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

This is hard. I think scuba diving trips, camping, boat trips, although having lived in South Asia forever, I just like going to English language cinema or buying Western clothes at the mall or eating in a really great restaurant.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Shopping, travelling to other islands, exploring different ancient temples, trekking, cycling, golf, tennis,

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Batik (which I am really not into); gorgeous furniture, local musical instruments--like a standing gong or a gamelon. In country travel.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather is perfect everyday. Think of Jakarta as the love child of Bangkok and Hawaii. Posh malls, great shopping, fantastic in-country vacations to beaches or jungles, your kids will learn to scuba dive, domestic help is plentiful, there are great restaurants and the ex-pat community is big enough to find people you like or big enough that you can escape unnoticed, if you wish.

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11. Can you save money?

Easily--but if you are feeding four or five teenagers and travelling all the time you might not save as much as your wish.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes! It is like heaven. Gorgeous flora and fauna, good shopping, great weather. Layers of Asian culture to explore.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

WINTER CLOTHES! Unless you think you will be going to the US during the winter.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, hat, and swimsuit. Scuba gear and hiking shoes. Small safe for the house.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Jakarta, Indonesia 12/29/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

London, UK; Nairobi, Kenya; Seoul, Korea

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

The shortest trip to Washington, DC, from Jakarta using American carriers is a little over 22 hours, if you can get the best timing through Seoul or Tokyo. 26 or more hours is common, if more stops are added.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years, 2007-2010

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. government (Department of State)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most ex-pats live in very nice housing, but commutes from the south, near to the schools can be horrid, as much as 1.5-2 hours each way, worse during the rainy season. Centrally located housing makes for easier commutes, but only if you don't have children in the international schools.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries and household supplies are mostly available, though imported items can be as much as 5-10 times the cost they would be in the U.S. (e.g., pet food, American convenience food)

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I shipped items regularly to post through the Embassy mail, but I would have shipped pet food and cat litter in my household effects if I'd realized the price.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All fast food is available, as are a range of restaurants from cheap to really expensive. Eating really cheap food will make you ill. Food borne disease is quite common.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

These things are all available, on and off, but prices can be very high and you should always stock up on something you need if you see it. I often ordered from the U.S. due to cost.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes carry dengue, though most ex-pats don't get dengue badly, since it requires multiple exposures for serious illness. When you are sick with dengue, however, it is awful.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the U.S. Embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is readily available and cheap.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gyms are readily available in fancy apartments, hotels, and malls. Some are ridiculously expensive, though others offer discounts to diplomats.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Fraud happens. We tended to stick with banking at the Embassy and credit cards only in the nicer hotels. We had no problems. Others did.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

News is certainly available in English. Cable TV is expensive, but probably about the same as a big city in the U.S.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much, actually.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be hard, though it is easy to hire people to help you, there is no easy access for wheelchairs or any other accommodations.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are great, and not very expensive. The train is more rustic than many ex-pats would desire, and there are frequent accidents. Very few ex-pats take buses. The local city buses are crowded, dirty, and unsafely maintained. I do want to say that crime is really low.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

There are no carjackings in Jakarta that I ever heard of, but many people do buy cars with higher clearance because of the flooding. Parts and service are readily available for vehicles that are sold in Indonesia, but it would be difficult to get parts or service for a car not sold in Indonesia. That said, it's relatively easy to find a car in Jakarta for ex-pats.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High-speed internet access is available, though not as reliable as in the U.S., and nothing like Korea, for instance. It is expensive, but probably just a little more or the same as a big city in the U.S.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local cell phone service works well with rechargeable SIM card. Phones are not cheap, but they're not expensive.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, and it was not the most pleasant experience.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Indonesian vets are around the same skill level as a vet tech in the U.S.Kennels are available and okay, though your household staff can be excellent at keeping your pets (our housekeeper loved our pets).Some people have good experiences with the quarantine -- we did not.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I don't think so. Wages are low, so you'd be much better off if you came in with a job. The U.S. Embassy hires spouses, but there aren't enough interesting jobs for everyone.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

A wide range. Most people dress fairly conservatively, but you see women in next to nothing at the malls, and the heat does mean that batik rather than a suit is the norm for an evening party.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Security is much better than the press would have you believe. That said, there was a targeted attack on two luxury hotels with ex-pats in July 2009 that was very serious.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Indonesia is rife with diseases, actually. I've never met anyone who wasn't sick at some point with a parasitic intestinal infection, and we noticed that appendicitis was more common (the parasites?). H1N1 is around. Some get dengue. Colds are more common because of the pollution. People's asthma acts up. Medical care is not great. Anything major requires a medivac to Singapore.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Crazy bad. Much worse if sitting in the notorious traffic breathing the fumes through the car vents. Unavoidable.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid all the time. Crazy bad flooding during rainy season (making traffic much worse).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

People use their household staff for daycare. I've not seen preschools.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large, mostly Australian.

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2. Morale among expats:

Okay

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Easy enough. This always seems to me to be up to you. There are enough ex-pats, there are nice Indonesians, there's enough food and wine/booze (though expensive), there are places to go, you can certainly entertain and have a good social life.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There are many attractions in Jakarta's many, many malls for families, singles, and couples. There is little in the way of cultural events, but there are restaurants, bars, movies, bowling, swimming, and more, available throughout Jakarta. Often, these are more expensive than they would be in the U.S.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Jakarta is generally much more passively tolerant than many other cities towards homosexuality. Even my very open friends have had no problems.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not for an expat.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling in the country. Friends. Traveling out of the country.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Indonesia is a beautiful country with easily accessible scenery, especially beaches. It is easy to get from Jakarta to the southeast Asian region, including Australia and New Zealand.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Furniture, batik, other local crafts. There are some beautiful things.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Visiting other countries in the area. Beach vacations in country. Yogyakarta. Nice and easy to get to know people. Household staff is reliable and inexpensive. Local culture is available, but easier to access in Yogyakarta. Orangutans.

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11. Can you save money?

Yeah, but it is easy to spend on imported items, restaurants, and vacations.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. Honestly, we had a good time.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

winter clothes, bicycles

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Jakarta, Indonesia 11/08/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Lagos, Sofia, Limassol & Tripoli

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

UK to Jakarta - 17 hrs FLYING time; add on another 3-4 hrs for transfers etc. Economy is not for the fainthearted!!!

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3. How long have you lived here?

2009/2010 (18 months)

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

British Foreign & Commonwealth Office

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is generally very good for expats. Massive highrise apartment blocks with all modern amenities and/or large villas with pools & servants' quarters. All expats are well cocooned from the poverty,filth & squalor which abounds beyond these smart dwellings.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Plenty of good, large and well laid out supermarkets. Local food/products are cheap; imported can be extremely expensive. Pork is available. Alcohol is extremely expensive, both in liquor stores and hotels/restaurants.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Insect repellent, decent Tea, bacon, sausages, casual clothing in natural fibres.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Masses of restaurants from the very top to the very bottom of the price range but you sample the lower price end at your peril!

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

All available, at a price.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes carry Dengue Fever (NOT pleasant!)

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the Embassy Diplomatic Bag system.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Readily available and cheap but keep an eye on your personal belongings!

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there is one in every shopping mall but they are generally more expensive than in Europe and very loud!

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Keep a local bank account and monitor the balance. Use a debit card at the readily available ATMs with this local account. AVOID using your credit cards in all but the most reputable hotels.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All Denominations catered for.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

All available but much more expensive than UK.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not necessary at all.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Jakarta is a city designed for vehicles, NOT pedestrians. One is collected, and deposited, by one's Driver, at doorways. Only the poverty stricken locals walk anywhere.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Expats generally avoid local trains/buses but the taxis are cheap and readily available.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Large range of vehicles to buy locally and a large Diplomatic discount is available. Buy something high off the ground as flooding is a major and very frequent problem in Jakarta due to the over-building.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but more expensive than UK.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cell phones generally work well with the local providers. More expensive than UK.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, two weeks. Diplomats also. The Clinic is next to the airport and very good; clean and well run. You can visit your pet every day.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good care for incoming animals, from dealing with the clearance of animal from customs, through to transport to the Quarantine Clinic and home delivery. Plenty of pet shops with wide variety of animal foods and general needs. One good kennelling facility outside the city.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Salaries for locally employed staff are extremely low and most expatriate spouses do not go out to work.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Indonesian men dress as western expatriate men for the office. The local women often dress most inappropriately in their desperate attempts to secure a Western partner. Despite this being a 'Muslim' country, half naked prostitues openly display their 'wares' for sale on the streets of Menteng.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

General awareness has increased significantly since the bombings of 2009.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Most expats suffer an almost constant bombardment of diarrhoea and other related illnesses. A very good place to lose weight!Aside from the most minor complaints, medical care is sought in Singapore. The British Embassy does not allow any invasive medical treatment in Jakarta.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Amongst the worst in the world.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Suffocating. Very hot all year round with 100% humidity. Monsoon rain for most of the year.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Both the British International School and the Jakarta International School (US Curriculum) have very good reputations and excellent facilities; the only problem facing many families is the struggle to get to them through the legendary traffic jams!

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

No pre-school daycare. Families employ servants for child care and most live in.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

At the international schools, yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge; mostly Australian.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good I think. The oil company folk are extremely well paid and can cope better with the high cost of living. The less affluent Diplomatic community find it difficult to save money in Jakarta. Many spouses enjoy the very indolent lifestyle but outdoor/exercise loving types can find the city very claustrophobic.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

St George Society, St Pat's Society, British Womens' Association, ANZAC etc all abound. Plenty going on socially. Entertaining is done behind closed doors in the airconditioning for the most part due to the suffocating humidity.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for singles; lots of pubs/clubs/restaurants/gyms/cinemas/modern shopping malls/bowling alleys/cheap taxis etc. Notoriously bad for marriages due to the relentness pursuit of Western expatriate men by the local women desperate for a one way ticket to a better life elsewhere.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Homosexual friends have enjoyed this tolerant city without fear of any kind of discrimination.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The plane out!

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

You have to get out of the city to do anything interesting or fun and that is a feat in itself!Most people just jump on a plane in search of fresh air and clean surroundings. Good scuba diving out in the 1000 Islands and surrounding areas.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lovely local furniture and wooden artifacts but they are always ready to rip off the western expats so beware!Bargain RUTHLESSLY!

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Travel to more attractive parts of SE Asia

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11. Can you save money?

Not easy. Jakarta is a very expensive city to live in, especially if you are a party animal.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No, 18 months in that filthy, noisy, smelly, overcrowded, gridlocked and heavily polluted city is quite enough for me!Not sorry I had the experience; just don't want to repeat it!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes & bicycles.

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3. But don't forget your:

Insect repellent!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Single and unaccompanied men LOVE Jakarta!

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Jakarta, Indonesia 07/13/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Have lived in Buenos Aires previously.

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2. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Have lived in Buenos Aires previously.

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3. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

30 hours, with a connection in Hong Kong.

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4. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

30 hours, with a connection in Hong Kong.

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5. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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6. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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7. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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8. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most expats live in upscale apartments in Central Jakarta or houses in South Jakarta. Commute time from Central Jakarta was only 15 minutes. Traffic is not too bad before 8am.

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2. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most expats live in upscale apartments in Central Jakarta or houses in South Jakarta. Commute time from Central Jakarta was only 15 minutes. Traffic is not too bad before 8am.

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3. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Indonesian-produced groceries are just as accessible as in the U.S--but cost probably 30% less. Imported goods may cost more than in the U.S.

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4. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Indonesian-produced groceries are just as accessible as in the U.S--but cost probably 30% less. Imported goods may cost more than in the U.S.

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5. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Storage racks and bins. Dryfit, polyester t-shirts to endure the heat. Large shoes (as sizes above size 10 U.S. can be nearly impossible to find).

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6. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Storage racks and bins. Dryfit, polyester t-shirts to endure the heat. Large shoes (as sizes above size 10 U.S. can be nearly impossible to find).

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7. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Jakarta is a foodie's mecca. Over 30 types of cuisine are found--and that is only counting the food types indigenous to Indonesia! Dinner costs between $5-$15 per person. Jakarta has to be one of the most affordable places to eat well in the world.

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8. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Jakarta is a foodie's mecca. Over 30 types of cuisine are found--and that is only counting the food types indigenous to Indonesia! Dinner costs between $5-$15 per person. Jakarta has to be one of the most affordable places to eat well in the world.

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9. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

I hear there are malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitoes. However, I had no insect problems in two years and cannot remember being bitten by anything.

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10. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

I hear there are malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitoes. However, I had no insect problems in two years and cannot remember being bitten by anything.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Private mail service.

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2. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Private mail service.

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3. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Plentiful, reliable, and costing around $100/month for a live-out maid.

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4. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Plentiful, reliable, and costing around $100/month for a live-out maid.

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5. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. There are three world-class gym chains that have spread throughout Jakarta:Gold's Gym, Fitness First, and Celebrity Fitness. It only costs approximately $50/month and is a great deal. Gyms are social places too, with social advantages to joining.

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6. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. There are three world-class gym chains that have spread throughout Jakarta:Gold's Gym, Fitness First, and Celebrity Fitness. It only costs approximately $50/month and is a great deal. Gyms are social places too, with social advantages to joining.

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7. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

In two years, I have experienced no problems whatsoever with credit cards. ATMs are plentiful. Make sure to know the phone numbers of your banks, since foreign banks sometimes mistakenly block your card access out of (mistaken) fear it is being stolen and being used in Indonesia.

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8. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

In two years, I have experienced no problems whatsoever with credit cards. ATMs are plentiful. Make sure to know the phone numbers of your banks, since foreign banks sometimes mistakenly block your card access out of (mistaken) fear it is being stolen and being used in Indonesia.

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9. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Services are available for all Christian denominations. I'm unaware of any English-language services for Islamic/Buddhist/Jewish/Hindu services.

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10. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Services are available for all Christian denominations. I'm unaware of any English-language services for Islamic/Buddhist/Jewish/Hindu services.

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11. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Jakarta Globe and Jakarta Post newspapers cost about $0.75/day and are of good enough quality.

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12. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Jakarta Globe and Jakarta Post newspapers cost about $0.75/day and are of good enough quality.

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13. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much is needed to survive. However, the more Bahasa you speak, the richer your experience will be. Indonesians are grateful and delighted by foreigners making even the most basic efforts to speak their languages. Efforts to speak regional languages (Sundanese, Javanese, Padang) are met with some of the biggest smiles I've ever seen.

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14. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much is needed to survive. However, the more Bahasa you speak, the richer your experience will be. Indonesians are grateful and delighted by foreigners making even the most basic efforts to speak their languages. Efforts to speak regional languages (Sundanese, Javanese, Padang) are met with some of the biggest smiles I've ever seen.

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15. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Many difficulties. Sidewalks are an endangered species in Jakarta.

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16. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Many difficulties. Sidewalks are an endangered species in Jakarta.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Jakarta taxis from Blue Bird company are among the most reliable--and inexpensive--in the world. Local trains are slow and usually crowded. However, train trips to other parts of Java (Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta) can make for a cool train adventure...that you only probably want to take once! Local buses leave much to be desired.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Jakarta taxis from Blue Bird company are among the most reliable--and inexpensive--in the world. Local trains are slow and usually crowded. However, train trips to other parts of Java (Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta) can make for a cool train adventure...that you only probably want to take once! Local buses leave much to be desired.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Roads on Java are smooth enough for any car. Bring a good radio/cd player since you'll be stuck in traffic plenty!

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4. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Roads on Java are smooth enough for any car. Bring a good radio/cd player since you'll be stuck in traffic plenty!

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It is available though reliability and speed are issues.

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2. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It is available though reliability and speed are issues.

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3. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Telkomsel has the most reliable coverage. Get your thumbs ready for sms-happy Indonesians!

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4. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Telkomsel has the most reliable coverage. Get your thumbs ready for sms-happy Indonesians!

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

See above.

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2. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

See above.

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3. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Really, if you are letting the quality of pet care determine your move to another city, you should get a life.

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4. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Really, if you are letting the quality of pet care determine your move to another city, you should get a life.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, especially in the NGO fields.

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2. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, especially in the NGO fields.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

More casual than other cities. Batik fabric is often worn, especially on Fridays.

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4. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

More casual than other cities. Batik fabric is often worn, especially on Fridays.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Jakarta is much safer than one would imagine listening to the international media. I felt safe walking around any part of the city at any time of day. For the most part, criminals do not target foreigners as in other countries. I feel safer in Jakarta than I do in Washington, DC or Amsterdam.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Jakarta is much safer than one would imagine listening to the international media. I felt safe walking around any part of the city at any time of day. For the most part, criminals do not target foreigners as in other countries. I feel safer in Jakarta than I do in Washington, DC or Amsterdam.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Quality of medical care? How to write this in a diplomatic way?

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Quality of medical care? How to write this in a diplomatic way?

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5. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Jakarta's air quality cannot be considered healthy. The lungs tend to burn after going for a run outside. Smog is visible some days.

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6. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Jakarta's air quality cannot be considered healthy. The lungs tend to burn after going for a run outside. Smog is visible some days.

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7. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are three seasons in Jakarta: Hot, Hotter, and Hottest. The temperature never drops below 78 degrees. That said, the temperature becomes bearable and is noticeably not as warm as Singapore or India.

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8. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are three seasons in Jakarta: Hot, Hotter, and Hottest. The temperature never drops below 78 degrees. That said, the temperature becomes bearable and is noticeably not as warm as Singapore or India.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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3. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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4. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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5. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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6. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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7. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Probably few, apart from international schools. There is very little public space for sports.

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8. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Probably few, apart from international schools. There is very little public space for sports.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Compared to other cities of Jakarta's size, it is small. Expat community tends to congregate near Kemang neighborhood and the international schools. One can spend days in certain areas of Jakarta and never see any expats.

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2. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Compared to other cities of Jakarta's size, it is small. Expat community tends to congregate near Kemang neighborhood and the international schools. One can spend days in certain areas of Jakarta and never see any expats.

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3. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you ask! For those expats who are flexible, culturally sensitive, patient, and speak some Bahasa, Jakarta can be a very rewarding, comfortable place to live. For those expats who expect the conveniences of their home countries, and don't endeavor to make bridges with Indonesians, they tend to spend too much time complaining.

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4. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you ask! For those expats who are flexible, culturally sensitive, patient, and speak some Bahasa, Jakarta can be a very rewarding, comfortable place to live. For those expats who expect the conveniences of their home countries, and don't endeavor to make bridges with Indonesians, they tend to spend too much time complaining.

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5. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

If you search for it, you can find it in Jakarta. There are some good dance clubs available--Dragonfly, Blowfish, Immigrant. Jakarta's nightlife is unique given one cannot find it concentrated in one area (except for Kemang); one often is taking taxis around to the different clubs/bars. Music festivals and international DJ parties keep the variety high enough. Expats often throw fun parties too.

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6. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

If you search for it, you can find it in Jakarta. There are some good dance clubs available--Dragonfly, Blowfish, Immigrant. Jakarta's nightlife is unique given one cannot find it concentrated in one area (except for Kemang); one often is taking taxis around to the different clubs/bars. Music festivals and international DJ parties keep the variety high enough. Expats often throw fun parties too.

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7. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There are few public spaces for families to spend time together, aside from the malls. Single men tend to enjoy Jakarta more than single women. Couples seem to like the great variety of restaurants, nightspots, and vacation destinations within Indonesia.

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8. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There are few public spaces for families to spend time together, aside from the malls. Single men tend to enjoy Jakarta more than single women. Couples seem to like the great variety of restaurants, nightspots, and vacation destinations within Indonesia.

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9. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

From a heterosexual point of view, Jakarta is a neutral place when it comes to homosexuality.

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10. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

From a heterosexual point of view, Jakarta is a neutral place when it comes to homosexuality.

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11. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Indonesians are usually tolerant people.

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12. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Indonesians are usually tolerant people.

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13. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Making friends with Indonesians. Seeing the smiles of Indonesians while speaking their language. Vacationing on the islands of Sulawesi, Sumba, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Bangka, Belitung, Bali, Flores, Halmahera Utara, Ternate. Trying the rich smorgasboard of ethnic cuisines. Seeing the vibrant street culture in Jakarta. Watching the Indonesian democracy progress.

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14. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Making friends with Indonesians. Seeing the smiles of Indonesians while speaking their language. Vacationing on the islands of Sulawesi, Sumba, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Bangka, Belitung, Bali, Flores, Halmahera Utara, Ternate. Trying the rich smorgasboard of ethnic cuisines. Seeing the vibrant street culture in Jakarta. Watching the Indonesian democracy progress.

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15. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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16. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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17. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Woodcarvings, batik fabric, rattan furniture.

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18. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Woodcarvings, batik fabric, rattan furniture.

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19. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Diversity of cultures, luxurious lifestyle, close vacation destinations, friendly people, hospitable people, lack of arrogance.

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20. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Diversity of cultures, luxurious lifestyle, close vacation destinations, friendly people, hospitable people, lack of arrogance.

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21. Can you save money?

Easily, especially if you don't travel and eat out.

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22. Can you save money?

Easily, especially if you don't travel and eat out.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, as long as my housing was close to my workplace. Commute times can make or break your stay in Jakarta.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, as long as my housing was close to my workplace. Commute times can make or break your stay in Jakarta.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Rudeness. Loud voice. Impatience. Expressiveness. Winter clothes.

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4. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Rudeness. Loud voice. Impatience. Expressiveness. Winter clothes.

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5. But don't forget your:

Smile. Gratefulness. Ability to say "sorry." Ability to make your points in subtle ways. Weekend travel bag. Sense of adventure. Bahasa dictionary.

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6. But don't forget your:

Smile. Gratefulness. Ability to say "sorry." Ability to make your points in subtle ways. Weekend travel bag. Sense of adventure. Bahasa dictionary.

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7. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Indonesian Idioms and Expressions: Colloquial Indonesian at Work (by Christopher Torchia and Lely Djuhari), Any Book by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Jakarta Inside Out (by Daniel Ziv), Making Out in Indonesian (Tuttle Publishing), Culture Shock! Jakarta (by Terry Collins and Derek Bacon).

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8. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Any film made by Indonesian filmmaker Nia Dinata.

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9. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Indonesian Idioms and Expressions: Colloquial Indonesian at Work (by Christopher Torchia and Lely Djuhari), Any Book by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Jakarta Inside Out (by Daniel Ziv), Making Out in Indonesian (Tuttle Publishing), Culture Shock! Jakarta (by Terry Collins and Derek Bacon).

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10. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Any film made by Indonesian filmmaker Nia Dinata.

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11. Do you have any other comments?

Jakarta is an underrated place. It has its many charms. Those willing to endure its urban issues will be rewarded!

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12. Do you have any other comments?

Jakarta is an underrated place. It has its many charms. Those willing to endure its urban issues will be rewarded!

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Jakarta, Indonesia 03/31/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is my 4th expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

SFO-Hong Kong- Jakarta always seems the shortest to me.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work at the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Usually townhomes for families with children in the south; apartments closer in for singles/couples.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive if shopping at the many grocery stores catering to the expat/upper income market (Sogo, Ranch, Hero/Kemang). Cheaper if you stick to Carrefour, Hero/local, etc. Good quality produce is sometimes hard to find. I understand there is an organic fruit and vegetable co-op you can join run through a charity, but I have never tried it.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Shoes, if you are above a U.S. women's size 7 or a U.S. Men's size 9. Everything else is available.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Most everything is available and they deliver. No decent Tex-Mex though, but it is a small price to pay. Jakarta has restaurants of every variety and budget.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Be careful when using your credit card as card theft is quite common. Learn to love your bank's fraud prevention staff.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Most Christian denominations, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh services are available.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some very basic.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left-side, technically. Driving is an art and requires an almost zen state of mind. If you've driven in Bombay or Istanbul, relax, Jakarta is fine. Otherwise, get a driver or limit your driving to non-rush hour periods.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Local trains are not convenient or recommended for commuting. The Red and Blue air con commuter busses are nice if you commute from the center to Kemang. Taxis are safe and affordable, as long as you choose the right one. In general I stick to Blue Bird group, Gamya and Dian (in that order). Do not get into a cab if you feel unsafe or if the cab driver refuses to use the meter. If you are somewhere out of the way, call the silver bird dispatcher. They will speak some english and will order you a cab or direct you to the nearest Blue Bird Group stand. Always know generally where you are/ your route. I do not feel unsafe taking taxis in Jakarta as long as it is the right copany. These are taxi rules I follow in any developing country.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Small SUV is best, especially if you plan to drive out of Jakarta. Most people hire a driver.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one. Cell phones are cheap and plentiful. A second hand phone from any kiosk in the mall will do if you do not receive one through work.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype, though I have access to an IVG line.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

More informal that the U.S./Europe. Visit one of Jakarta's many textile bazaars and get a batik shirt made. Long sleeve batik shirts are considered formal wear for men.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Pretty unhealthy, especially during the dry season with the haze.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes, be aware of your surroundings, know where you are going. Take transportation you trust. That being said, I have never felt unsafe in Jakarta.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dengue fever is a very real health concern and all precautions should be taken during prime Dengue season. Always pay attention to any bites, fevers, other health issues. At times, local medical care is not adequate for what Westerners would consider moderate health concerns. Embassy medical personnel try their best, but sometimes your only recourse is a quick trip to Singapore. Be aware of what you eat and always carry anti-bacterial wipes (better than just an anti bacterial liquid).

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

hot: hot and dry and hot and wet/humid.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

JIS is highly regarded and recommended.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Massive. Oil and Gas expats, Banking expats, Missionaries, NGOs, scholars, diplomats, your more adventurous backpackers, etc. Everyone is here!

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2. Morale among expats:

It really depends on the person and the day. Jakarta is a fascinating place to live, but it can also be frustrating. The endless traffic, the inequality, the utter lack of green space, monsoon season, the non-confrontational culture, lack of efficiency, going to yet another over-air- conditioned mall...again, etc. will wear you down.

My pathway to sanity is to get out of town. Take a cheap jetstar flight to Singapore and reacquaint yourself with standing in line, orderly traffic and rules (many many rules). Travel in Indonesia to Bali, the hills of Bukkit Tinggi, go see Orangutans in Kalimantan or snorkel/dive in Bunaken, Sulawesi. Use the larger travel agencies in Jakarta's malls to plan your trips.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

People entertain both in their homes and out at Jakarta's many restaurants/clubs. In general, if you want an active social life, you can have it. If you want to be left alone, that is OK too.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is what you make of it, though single men seem to do well.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There is definitely a gay scene, though not as open as in the States/Europe.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, as with most of Asia, lighter skin is prized. For those easily identified as foreigners, catcalls on the street may be uncomfortable, but I never found it to be aggressive (compared to other countries). Indonesia does have pockets of religious violence, but rarely in Jakarta.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Shop! There are tons of interesting shopping locals, handicrafts, pewter, rugs, etc. Bargain whenever possible. If you love golf, welcome to paradise. Play tennis with the gang at one of Jakarta's athletic clubs; join hash; hit one of Jakarta's hot restos (there's a new one every week); hit the jazz, r&b, punk scene; try your luck at the climbing wall at the mall; go toart, music, etc events sponsored by the many Embassies in Jakarta; love the Jakarta film festival. Spend a Saturday afternoon at the Jakarta museum-skimpy on the explanations, but the objects are amazing- take a Jakarta Heritage Society tour or guide and don't forget to check out the Treasure room. Travel all over Indonesia. Join Java Lava, the volcano hikers. Gather a group of friends and rent a sailboat.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Woodcraft, textiles, furniture, silver, opals, travel, diving lessons, golf lessons, beach resorts.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't succumb to all the local handicrafts, furniture, trips out of Indonesia.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I may not leave.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Coat, skis, hat.

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3. But don't forget your:

Fins, snorkel, several bathing suits.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Year of Living Dangerously (the book, not the movie which was shot in the Philippines). Anything by Pramoedya Ananta Toer; Eat, Pray, Love.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Year of Living Dangerously (the book, not the movie which was shot in the Philippines). Anything by Pramoedya Ananta Toer; Eat, Pray, Love.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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