Sunday, November 15, 2015

Moments in the city

We love the city of Bandung.
and walking the surrounding hills
The flowers - stunning

The people who brave traffic
The wedding banners
And most of all, the people ...

Friday, July 3, 2015

Home base at last

We love our new place. We like having people over, including the friends and occasional NGO workers who claim bedrooms upstairs.

Our helpers speak Indonesian to us so we can grasp the language more completely. (Thanks for your patience!)

A cozy gathering space
Interesting nooks and crannies

A welcoming porch

And a picnic-friendly yard
What's not to love?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Moving on and moving in

We've lived in our house for 6 months. We celebrated our first Indonesian Christmas and New Years Day here. And we've had a lot of company in and out of our doors.

Now we've asked the leasing agent if he can get the money back for the remaining lease. We rented a big place but have been able to live only in a portion. The house still leaks and bugs continue to eat away kitchen cabinets and support beams. The landlord sent a handyman over last week to put sheet metal roofing over the worst leaks in one wing. That should minimize the floods; we've pushed pools out of the back hall during every tropical downpour.

The building inspectors said this place will not last: the roof must be completely rebuilt. Repairs are temporary. We paid someone to rebuild the back porch roof, ceiling, and gutters when they were overflowing and falling down. We are not willing to pay to redo the entire roof! especially since we didn't realize when we signed that we'd be paying a premium amount of rent.

Rain spills over the ruined roofs
The lease agreement holds the landlord responsible for major repairs. By law, he must extend the lease by the amount of time the home has not been habitable. We've had to take the cabinet doors off in the kitchen (mold and termites) and cover our suitcases, Christmas items, and other storage with tarps in the leaking garage, keeping the termite frass off as best as possible. After 6 months, at least half of the house is still not habitable. But the lasting agent says it's unlikely that the landlord will fulfill the contract.

Backyard blues: stepping around building supplies
and construction litter for 6 months
Therefore, at the end of the month, we're moving to a house that is structurally sound. The same inspectors looked at the new place and said it was safe. It needs painting, lights replaced, and showers installed at open faucets. We're tired after fixing the current place up - and don't look forward to doing it again. But it's time to find a home we can live in for a few years.

Beautiful Bandung!
We have fallen in love with Bandung and its people. In particular, we respect and enjoy our neighbors so we are thrilled to be staying in the same neighborhood.

What do you love about your city?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ants, termites, and lizards

BEFORE: Swept clean, our first look at the house
= safe and empty
"Ants, termites, and lizards are normal," say expats living in Bandung. "It's you against them. All the time."

Underneath the basic civilizing of spaces, we've been working our way through the house, clearing out the inhabitants and their debris. They had free run of the place since it was unoccupied for nearly a year. In early October, after we'd been here nearly 2 months, the landlord hired a handyman to banish the termites to one side and a wing of the house. The man clambered up to the ceilings and sprayed and replaced the half-eaten panels and plants. Then the landlord took a pause from paying the daily labor fee to the worker ($8.50). The ceilings on the back porch and in one wing, already peeling, continued to warp and shed wood as the rainy season started. The rooms flooded and bugs and detritus began to rain in with the water. We spent a month sending photos and pleas without getting a response from the landlord.

AFTER: a lot more inhabitants sharing our Christmas
than we first thought!
After a week, we were swatting 5-10 flying termites while reading in bed at night. They had begun to migrate back into the "fixed" parts of the house. We started to pay the handyman to fix what was coming apart. Of course, we are keeping track of materials and his salary. We'll deduct that from next year's lease payment since it is making the house initially habitable. (Maintenance is up to the tenant.) We've reclaimed another bedroom and the back porch. A few more rooms and the garage are still uninhabitable for storage or human guests. Onward ho.

The fight for turf goes on.

The ants come in at least 3 sizes. The tiny ones sneak up on the dining table and kitchen counters. One night they infested my computer. As I typed, they would wander between the keys onto my fingers. We spot movement and stoop to check: ah, there's another one or four. Squish. The middle size are similar to those at home. They're industrious, building little mounds anywhere they're allowed to gather. They show up in cabinets, under plants, and along the walls. Squish. The big ones venture in less often, but they fill their mouths and go home to tell their friends about us unless we step on them. Squish.

Inside the ceiling panels last week:
some hard workers found and rousted
An ant swarm invaded the house a month after we moved in. Thousands of ants streamed through the cracks around the window, running up the walls and drapes and across the floors, carrying egg cases from their nest to a new territory. My husband vacuumed them, sprayed them, and swept them up. They've regenerated to a remarkable degree.

We prefer non-poisons so we spread food-grade diatomaceous earth along the walls to dry up the ants, the termites, and the cockroaches. White powder lines the counters, too. But still they bypass and eat and track through the place.

We've seen a lot of baby wall lizards since we screened the open windows. Hopefully they don't find enough food to keep expanding their numbers. I catch and kill or release them when I can.

"They are your friends, eating mosquitos and flies," we're told. Ok, but methinks a dozen in the house is plenty.

...and falling onto the floor below,
the results of their labors
Outside, a barking gecko rouses himself at dusk. He clicks and chirps his way through the yard. "Count yourself lucky that he doesn't live in the house," say our Indonesian friends. "If you scare him and he bites, you have to wait an hour or more for his jaw to relax and let go of your hand." Whaaat? Oh well. Stay outside, buddy.

There's dengue fever up the hill. So we've added a mosquito net around the bed for nighttime protection. Bonus: the net also keeps lizard poop from falling into the bed as they scuttle overhead.

It sounds awful, doesn't it. But it's part of daily life in the tropics. It's mostly more bearable than we thought. Once the initial extermination is complete, we'll hire a company to maintain the place.

We haven't met the snakes we're told live in the neighborhood. When we do, we'll let you know.

We have a decided preference for our human neighbors, who are helpful, kind, and friendly. We love Bandung!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rainy season begins

Rainy day transport
North American and European winters are cold. The water falls from the sky in shivery drops that soak the skin or icy tears that pile up in white drifts. Some people really like the change of seasons.

I'm not one of them. I spent my childhood in Winnipeg where minus 35-40oF/C is not uncommon in January or February. I've had about as much snow, ice, and freezing temperatures as I can stand.

So I'm happy to be in Bandung where wet season means similar temperatures all year around even when the rain pours down in torrents once or twice a day. If you get soaked, you don't feel like you've landed in the refrigerator.

Rain-dancing with a squeegee
We have rain inside the house as well as outside. We're trying to contact our landlord who is mysteriously not taking calls. During the downpours, water sheets down the walls and drips from the ceiling in several rooms. My husband bought a long-handled 2-foot-wide floor squeegee so he can move the inches of water from the tiles through the door to outside. Obviously several rooms are not habitable.

But we weren't able to live in those rooms anyways. Not only is there rain inside, but there are migrating termites (that look like flying ants) as well as white larvae inside several ceilings. Several kitchen doors had to be removed (smell and destruction) and the cutlery drawer falls off its glides when we open it. The covered porch is losing its eaves, crumbling down under the rain and termites, so we haven't been able to sit there either.

We were pleased when the landlord hired someone to fix things. About halfway through the house, he said that was enough. Too much money? We are paying a generous rent a year in advance. So we are back to slapping to death the flying termites migrating back to the refinished part of the house. It needs a whole-house extermination company.

Beautiful people: a grandma and
granddaughter on the angkot
That said, we like the place and signed a 2-year lease. Therefore we'll be fixing it up. The repair bill will come off next year's lease payment. Sadly, it's going to cost the landlord much more than he could have fixed it for. We will, according to our contract, add rental time equal to the the amount of house we can't yet use, and it's been 3 months. We'll likely be charged more for ceiling replacement and extermination services as bul├ęs (European-style foreigners). Might not be the smartest way for the landlord to save money ... but that's what he's choosing for himself. Sigh.

Anyhow, the rain is warm, the people in Bandung are friendly, and the food is wonderful. We've met so many new friends. We love the city and are happy to be here.

Got a Bandung story to share? We'd love to hear it.