Monday, 24 January 2011

The One That Got Away

It's time to fill in the rest of the story and close the book on this tale.

As I said in yesterday's post, the police believed it was an inside job and other expats have said that 9 out of 10 times it is a disgruntled employee. That said, the only person of interest was our bone-idle houseboy, Latif, who worked for us for the first two months we had the house. We asked him to leave when we got a maid in December and he disappeared from our lives. Or so we thought.

Because it turns out that when we were away in Lombok he let himself into the house but thankfully Yuni was there. It is likely that he planned to burgle us then and there but blessed Yuni stopped him. It's a shame that she didn't think to tell us when we got back so we could have done something about the locks.

Now jump forward to last week when we had water supply problems and we asked our landlord for help. Our friend Latif arrived to give surly instructions to Yuni about what taps to turn to get the reserve tank flowing. A couple of days later he was back because we still didn't have enough pressure to run the shower or fill the bath, and he grudgingly told us that the pump (which previously he'd said only pumps water to from the lower reserve to the upper tank) actually pressurises the system. What a star you are Latif.

And now the final chapter:

We had a visit from our land lord's local agent, Maureen, today we told us that Latif had caught a plane to Jakarta yesterday. The police had been tipped off by his brother but for reasons unknown to us they were not able to apprehend him. They must have talked to him at some point because we were told he would be back in 2 weeks. Yeah right Latif, you're home and dry now mate. So our property and the perpetrator have done a flit. We've given up on getting any of it back.

This has left us with a very nasty taste in our mouths. The quicker we get out of here the better. We are thinking about finding a house in a secure compound and living like the rest of the expat population, but on my wage I'd have to spend 100% of my monthly earnings just to achieve a roof over our heads. So if anyone wants to do a quick whip round...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Thieving Indo Bastards

This post's title belays the fact that we almost had a wonderful day yesterday. It all started out so well; Oscar had his breakfast and watched some telly while Rae and I had a much deserved lie-in, then we all went out to Jos and Lisbeth's where the ladies spent the afternoon making six curry dishes while the men folk went out for walks and to watch a friendly football match down at one of the expat compounds, and then afterward returned to eat a fabulous meal composed of two chicken dishes, two beef, Bombay potatoes and dhal. After which Lisbeth produced cheesecake cupcakes, which we washed down with freshly ground coffee, for dessert.

However when we returned home at about 8pm the day went pear-shaped. Rae immediately noticed that the garage door, which she knew she had double locked, was open. When we went through the house she saw that the sliding side door was open and the lock was hanging on screws. I noticed that the window next to it was slightly open and the wooden window frame was ragged.

Inside Rae realised both our laptops were missing, so while I looked through the rest of the house she went straight to the bedroom. All the drawers in our wardrobe were pulled out and her side table door was open. That's when she knew all her jewellry (including all the Tiffany rings necklaces, bracelets, and earrings - plus her engagement ring - were gone).

I got her calmed down and went down to see Duncan, an Australian who lived round the corner. Though only a passing acquaintance he'd offered on our first meeting several months ago to help out whenever we him. He and his wife (an Indonesian as luck would have it) very graciously came up to the house, called security and briefed them while the police arrived. Within 30 minutes we had 4 compound security and 8 police (including the forensics guy from CSI Balikpapan) who very professionally went through the house. Photos were taken and prints were dusted for. Their eyebrows were raised when they saw that the Wii, media player and DVD player - all of which were mere feet from the perp's point of entry - were still there, and that none of the cash and travellers cheques (several thousand dollars worth), passports and credit cards hadn't been touched. Their immediate assumption was it was an inside job and the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for and where it was all kept.

The police already had a suspect in mind - someone Rae and I knew from when we first moved in. I won't name the little shit until he has been apprehended and a confession extracted. Indonesian interrogation techniques tend to leave more than just bruises, so I'm sure the culprits will get banged up pretty soon.

At around 10pm they asked me to come down to the police station to make a formal report, so Rae called Jos and Lisbeth to keep her company while Duncan and I went down to the local cop shop. As we were filling out the necessary paperwork (by which I mean Duncan - who speaks very good Indonesian - translated my comments) a detective went back to the house and re-interviewed Rae. His conclusion was that the thieves had a key, let themselves in, took what they wanted and then forced the sliding door, window and garage door to make it look like forced entry.

It was 1:30am when Duncan and I got back from the police station. He took me back to the house and we all sat down and had a beer to settle our nerves. Jos and Lisbeth had done a marvelous job of keeping Rae together, and I gratefully thanked them for their care. Duncan got my heartfelt thanks too for helping me through what would have been an absolutely awful experience had he not been there.

We are still tired and shaken up, but the outpouring of care we've had from the expat community has been amazing. We always knew that expats stick together like limpets on rocks but it's only when you are faced with something like this you realise how much we all care and look out for one another.

So to all of you who has called today to check if we are OK, and to everyone who is undoubtedly learning about our robbery on the bula grapevine - thank you for your kindness in this incredibly emotional experience.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Last week I was made Grand Master of the Family Hash. I know I haven't mentioned hashing before so for those of you who are oblivious to this quintessentially expat activity I refer you to Wikipedia. Our courses are only 3km long and generally laid out with children in mind. The family hash is attended by a handful of Indonesians, some Chinese and a growing number of expats families who take turns to bring a picnic for the kiddies to enjoy at the end of the race.

As the grand master I conduct the "circle" at the end of the run, and come up with ways to get people to down a cup of water/Sprite/beer in order to ridicule them.

The main event of the circle is to give runners their hash names which they earn after 10 runs. This Tuesday just gone Rachel and Oscar were given their names by popular vote. They are supposed to reflect something about their nature, a bit like a traditional American Indian's name, but most often they are just silly and for fun. Oscar was given "Double Fizzy" because we entice him with two Sprites (which he calls "fizzy") at the end of the run to encourage him to walk the entire course, and Rachel got "Miss Fizz" because she is the mummy of Double Fizzy and it sounds a bit like misfit. Despite being the Grand Master I have not done 10 runs yet and have to attend 2 more family hashes to get mine.

Wine Time

Wine is hard to come by in Balikpapan, and at $20 to $20 a bottle it's hard to justify but once and a while someone treats themselves. Luckily for Rachel and I we had dinner with a family last night who wanted to share a bottle of Jacob's Creek with us. Unfortunately they didn't have a corkscrew but I remembered a Youtube video that demonstrated an interesting technique. With very little persuasion our hosts decided to try it out - you can see the successful results in the video above. Noice!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Who's In Wangaratta?

Ever since I slipped a cookie into the code on this blog I've been getting stats on my visitors. By and large I can figure out who is visiting me from their location. It's not incredibly specific though; for instance hits from Peterborough are friends and family in St Ives, Huntingdon and Godmanchester and the ones from Amsterdam are my work colleagues checking up on what I'm posting. But for the life of me I cannot figure out who is reading my blog in the region of Wangaratta, Australia. Whoever it is visited eight times between December 21st and 31st but hasn't been back since. So if you do come back and read this post please let me know who you are because I'm intrigued. And a Happy New Year to you too.

UPDATE: apparently it's ProudtobeAussie from the PomsInOz forums. Mystery solved.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Not The Only Blogger

It turns out that Rae and I aren't the only people blogging about Balikpapan, because just today I found this blog - A View From Indonesia - announcing that a family from Canada will be coming out here in April. And they've got a daughter the same age as Oscar too boot.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Lombok Over

Lombok was lovely. We were dead lazy and stayed at the hotel, except for one foray to the capital (15 mins away) for a McDs which wasn't very nice. So plenty of pool time and some major tannage.

The beaches were nice, but our pool was 3ft from the sand so we just stayed in the pool. Besides, the sea was quite rough so the water was full of stirred up sand. I don't know about you but I like to see where I am putting my feet (especially after I've read a warning about sea urchins) and I didn't have any shoes so none of us went further than ankle depth. Water was amazingly warm though.

But there were some sand fleas, which bit Oscar and Rae. Oscar got a little confused when he tried to say "Mummy is a bit itchy" and it came out "Mummy bitchy". Bless!

Apart from Oscar opening his pressies Christmas came and went without much recognition. He was more devoted to his birthday. "3 December, 3 December, on December 26 I be 3" he kept telling people - he's still saying it now even though we keep telling him he's already 3 ("yes daddy, I be 3 December"). But he had a lovely time opening his Thomas the Tank Engine train sets at breakfast and for several hours afterward. He got his last present (a bicycle) a couple of days ago and peddles around the house on it.

New Year defo came and went without any recognition. We got some invites out but we were knackered from the trip so went to bed. We expected it to be very noisy but by 00:10 it was all over.