Visited Amber

Another uniquely-themed restaurant has just opened in South of Jakarta. Amber is located at No. 61 Jalan Senopati Raya and has a different atmosphere that many other restaurants in that area.  Now that there area so many restaurants in town competition is getting serious. Restauranteurs have to be creative and innovative, as people coming to restaurants look for both great food and a good atmosphere.  And, with Jakarta’s traffic many people would rather spend time in a nice restaurant rather than face heavy traffic going home in rush hours.

Jo (from ajourneybespoke; http://www.ajourneybespoke.com) and I became curious when we saw the lovely facade of the building, so we popped in for a lunch at Amber. As soon as we opened the door a friendly staff member greeted us and asked whether we would like to go for a main course or only dessert. The first floor turned out to be their desert lounge – definitely heaven for those with a sweet tooth. The lounge is designed in a french style with elegant and softly coloured furniture. There are so many varieties of beautiful cakes, truffles and macaroons, and specialty teas too.  A perfect place for afternoon tea with your girl-friends. The second floor is called the library room.  The books on the shelves, wooden floors and comfy chairs really make this place look and feel like a small library.  Although the books were acquired for display, I’m sure no one would mind if you wanted to read or look through one.  I recall a restaurant in Sydney I visited that had a library – there you could read and purchase what was displayed.  The third floor is a music lounge – actually located on the roof – but I think that it is only open at night, perhaps because during the day it would be too hot up there.  But definitely a great place for a private party.

After we finished lunch we went downstairs for dessert. Actually we could have asked the staff to bring up our dessert but we preferred to go down and experience sitting at the dessert lounge. It had a very different atmosphere to the library.  We chose to have macaroons; cream cheese (blue) and curry (brown). Curry macaroon may not sound too tempting, especially for those not too keen on curry – but you really must try one. The exotic flavour (masala) will give a little bit of kick to your tongue but I’m sure you’ll find this macaroon rather special and just as unique as Amber itself.

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Back to Bali

Whether we are away for a few days, a few weeks or a few months, at the end of a holiday we often feel that it just was not long enough. It’s true that time passes so quickly when you are having fun. I thought that with a week off and nothing to do but relax, I would have more than enough time to write for my blog.  In fact, the days passed before I had even started one story!  But don’t get me wrong, of course it was a blessing to have quality time with my family and to be able to discover some new places.  Here are some places that contributed to us having such a full holiday.

The Villa Prana in Seminyak is simply beautiful. Open space, a beautiful garden and the minimalist design of this place made it seem like a hidden treasure. Although the villas are new, they are in kept in excellent condition and the grounds are very well maintained. I strongly recommend this place to those who want to stay in Seminyak area. It’s in a good location being within walking distance to the better boutiques and restaurants. The friendly staff and the excellent service made our stay so enjoyable. The Prana Spa is really something that you must experience when you stay – as a villa guest we received a 50% discount.  I spent my “me time” having a great three hour treatment. It was one of the best spa sessions I have ever had, and it only cost $56. The Balinese lady who attended to me, Ibu Sudiani, is excellent therapist.   If you like yoga, they offers a yoga package too.

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Karma Kandara beach. Located in Uluwatu area, this place is only a 45 minute drive from Seminyak. The view from the cliff top there is stunning – quite breathtaking.  You can enjoy this beautiful panoramic view while having lunch at the Al Mare restaurant. If you would like to go to the beach there is a charge of roughly $25  (two hundreds and fifty thousand rupiah) but that includes umbrella rental, use of beach towels and a substantial part-payment for your meal. The prices at the beach side restaurant are reasonable. 

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Another heat place for lunch was Sisterfield in Seminyak. I really loved the simplicity of this place and the food is great.  Friends had recommended Sisterfield for breakfast or brunch. The service is very good and the staff are well-trained, friendly and knowledgeable. Definitely this place became an immediate family favourite eating place.© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography

I found the Feather and Find Boutique quite accidentally. The boutique is actually located next to Sisterfield. It is owned by a Swiss lady who has been living in Bali for many years. I liked everything in this shop, especially the dress collection as all were elegantly simple and well made. The collectable trinkets there are all one-of-a-kind.

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Casadina Kitchen and Bakery

Finding a nice place to relax with a good coffee and croissant during the weekend is not always that easy.  But recently I found a great spot: Casadina Kitchen and Bakery.  It’s located in the Kuningan area, South Jakarta. I really love the simplicity and casual air of the place. Seems that the owner, who’s also a chef, knows how to make a place just as comfortable for a family hangout as it is for anyone who wants to relax alone. Whether you go for brunch, coffee, dinner or an afternoon tea (and I have been there for all those reasons!) I think this place should be on your list of options.
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Amsterdam in our mind

Happy New Year 2015!

So many unforgetable moments in 2014.  And, we had also so many special events to celebrate in Decembers including fifteen years of marriage and our daughter’s fourteen birthday.  So why not celebrate those events and go to a place we had never been to?  We choose to visit Amsterdam before flying on to the UK to spend Christmas with family. When we arrived at Schiphol airport at 6.30 in the morning it was dark, wet and cold. It brought back the memories of my first winter in US (quite some years ago).  A truly nice feeling, though. We stayed at Ambassade hotel which is located in Herengracht and has a stunning view of one of Amsterdam’s canals.  In 2010 the canals joined UNESCO’s world heritage listing. The hotel is located at the city centre and is walking distance to many museums, restaurants and shopping areas. I think the Ambassade hotel was the perfect hotel for us as we were doing what most tourist do: walking and sightseeing.  Visits to the Anne Frank and Van Gogh museums were on our “must do” list for the trip. To me, both were really worth a visit as each was truly captivating. During a wet day we took a canal tour around the city. It was a great week and although it was winter Amsterdam still looked charming and stunning. I’d love to come back and exploring the city some more. My little wish for this year is that three of us will be able to continue to travel and to see how beautiful the world is.

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The colours of Sri Lanka

These are my favourite photographs from our trip to Sri Lanka. The private walking tour we took in Colombo introduced us to some highlights from a local’s perspective. With a knowledgeable private guide we learned about the city’s architectural history. The company offered half-day or full-day tours, each going at your preferred pace. Although we could not avoid a little hectic traffic, especially on the way to the market, we saw so many interesting things and got to feel the city’s dynamic pulse. I personally like to visit locals’ preferred shops when I travel and I like to know what things are usually sold in local markets. Its always fun to watch the activity in the markets. The colours and the textures of the vegetables and fruits are not just great to photograph but getting to know them adds to my knowledge about the varieties of the local foods available  Visiting Colombo’s historical building was really interesting too, especially the old Grand Oriental hotel building that has been open since World War II and is still quite well maintained.  I never thought that taking a walking tour could be such a great way to get to know so much about a city.

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The memorable journey in Willpattu, Sri Lanka

I must say, our first holiday trip to Sri Lanka was quite an adventurous journey. It was unforgettable. Especially when we spent three days camping with Leopard Safaris in Willpattu National Park. Willpattu is located in the Northwest of Sri Lanka and borders the Indian Ocean in the west. It is Sri Lanka’s largest National park and is now open to public after years of being closed during the war. It took about 4 hours drive to reach there from Nogombo, the area near Colombo where we stayed for a few days before going to the Park. Frankly speaking, I never anticipated that our planned camping at Willpattu would be the best camping we had ever experienced. So many things to talked about with this place!  I don’t know where to start. But let me begin by describing our tent. As this was a holiday,  comfort was our priority: our tent was big and its queen-size comfortable bed provided us with a great place to rest. Although there was no air conditioning, the breeze carried a welcome chill every night. I had thought that there would be plenty of mosquitos at the camp site but there were none at all.

We called this “glamping” (glamour camping) as the staff  from Leopard Safaris were always on standby if we needed assistance. It was the things that we will never forget that made this holiday great: the food was so amazing. The chef cooked delicious meal every day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Sri Lankan curry and Lamb chops that I had for dinner were so good. Although we had no electricity and no internet  we found ourselves enjoying nature’s beauty –  it made me appreciate what life is really all about. One morning when I decided not to join the safari crew to the jungle, I stayed at the campsite to enjoy my peaceful morning with a cup of Sri Lankan tea that the staff brought, I listened the humming birds and smell the fresh morning dew. It was so relaxing. Fantastic.

During the days we spent our time driving through the jungle searching for animals and birds. I expected to see many leopards but unfortunately the only one I saw was sleeping after finishing his meal. Although I wanted to photograph him while awake, we left him while he was still sleeping.  We saw plenty of beautiful Sri Lankan birds – so colourful and gorgeous. Definitely all the great memories will bring us back to Sri Lanka again one day. We thank the Leopard Safari team, especially Pila, who made  our  journey so memorable and delighted. Please check their website http://www.leopardsafaris.com.

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Beautiful Minangkabau

Traveling to Sumatra was something I had been really looking forward to. I think for those who never been to Sumatra, visiting Bukittinggi (in West Sumatra) should be on your list. I went with a group of five friends from Jakarta. It was just a four day visit but truly a nice journey. As I love spicy food I was so looking forward to tasting the real flavours of Padang food such as beef rendang (beef curry) and Satay Padang.  I knew it would not be too different from the taste if bought in Jakarta, but I wanted to taste the real thing. We were so lucky that one of our friends in the group is from Bukittinggi.  She guided us to some great places. Particularly when visiting new places I find it a true pleasure to explore the place and do unique things. Beside tasting the food, visiting a traditional market was a must for me, and my thanks to Rino who took me around the market. In fact there were so many kind of products sold there I even managed to get a photograph of a dried eel – Rino also told me how to cook them to make crunchy and spicy. Sounds delicious !

Our journey begin as soon as we arrived at Padang airport. Our tour guide drove us straight to Bukittinggi.  It took three hours. We finally made it to our first stop the Lembah Anai (Anai waterfall).  It was OK – nothing really special though.  I don’t know why this place is so popular with tourists. We did not stay there too long.

We visited Pusat Dokumentasi and Informasi Kebudayaan Minangkabau (Centre for Documentation and Cultural information of Minangkabau). That was quite interesting too. It is a stunning building the shape of rumah gadang (sharp peaks at both ends of the roof).  The inside is more like a library with open space and so many old black and white photographs displayed everywhere. After we listened to a short history of the Rumah Gadang the guide took us to a dressing room – this was the fun part. We had the opportunity to wear a beautiful Minang bridal costume, including the tall head ornaments.  The guide told us the ornament we had on were only imitations and that the originals that were worn by the bride in a Minang wedding weighed an additional five kg.  Wow! Anyway I can tell you we had so much fun in dressing room – six little girls playing dress up!

The Hills hotel (www.thehillsbukittinggi.com; Jl. Laras Dt Bandaro, Bukittingi, Sumatera Barat 26115, Indonesia
+62 752 35000) that we stayed at during in Bukittinggi is just walking distance to the famous Bukittinggi icon Jam Gadang and Pasar atas (a traditional market located upstair where they sell handcrafts and fabrics and a market below where they sell fresh veggies and fruits). Jam Gadang in the evening looked more charming than during the day. They have a night market every Saturday and that gave the place a more “happening” feeling with locals around  as it is likely the products they sell are only for local consume not for tourist.

The last day of our trip we went to Lembah Harau (Harau Valley) and Danau Maninjau (Lake Maninjau) before heading back to Padang.  However, for me the highlight of this trip was when we visited Istana Baso Pagaruyung (Pagaruyung Palace) that was beyond my expectation. It’s real beautiful. Pagaruyung Palace is the istana of the former Pagaruyung Kingdom, located in Tanjung Emas subdistrict near Batusangkar town, Tanah Datar Regency, West Sumatra, Indonesia. The exterior and interior palace are stunning and well kept. Never seen anything like it before. The inside palace is exeptionally well maintained. I loved those colours and the sparkly fabric in every piece of  drapery. This palace used to lived in by a king and queen with their big family (the history of this palace please check Istana Baso Pagaruyung).

Lembah Anai (Anai Waterfall)

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Pusat Dokumentasi dan Informasi Kebudayaan Minangkabau (Centre for Documentation and Cultural information of Minangkabau) in Padang Panjang.

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Istana Baso Pagaruyung (Pagaruyung Palace, West Sumatra)

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Jam Gadang at night, Bukittinggi West Sumatra
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Bali … Again.

It is a while since these photographs were taken. But I have had no time to write. Fortunately, my passion for photography never fails me – i just need to find time to record my thoughts. I take photographs every single day wether with my camera or my iPhone. I do enjoy capturing small things that catch my attention. I like the phrase by Bill Bryson;  “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”  It’s so true. Although we visit here relatively often,  every visit reveals  something different and we always look forward to returning for that reason.

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Friendship reunion

My friend and her daughter decided to spend two weeks in Indonesia during the winter break in Australia.  So we planned to have a mother & daughters getaway. Since this was her first visit to Indonesia and there was only limited time we decided to explore places that did not require long travel times.  We visited both Yogyakarta and Bali.

My return to the Borobudur temple was not only to show my guests this wonderful site but also to introduce my daughter to the magnificent structures that form the world’s largest Buddhist temple –  one of the masterpieces among the Wonders of the World.  Part of my goal was that this trip would expose Camille to more of her Indonesia culture and heritage knowledge (half of her life has been spent overseas).  When we reached the temple it brought back memories of my first trip there when I was only fourteen. I went with my family plus my eyang kakung (grand father).  He told me the story behind the temples construction. It was amazing story, that i know have shared with my daughter.

Another highlight from this trip was an outdoor buffet dinner facing the magnificent Prambanan temples and watching a Ramayana dance performance. The dancers were in beautiful traditional costumes, and the story was easy to follow – an exquisite performance. Highly recommended. During our last day in Yogya our driver took us around Jalan Prawiro Taman, the area where the palace is located. We saw many VW cars decorated with colourful neon lights – quite a surprise.  It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that there. I never knew that so much was happening in Yogya nowadays. After Yogyakarta we flew to Bali and stayed a few days in a villa in Seminyak. Bali was our last destination before heading back to Jakarta, so we would just stretched out a bit and relaxed. My friend joined yoga class every morning while I swam and enjoyed the start of my lazy day with a breakfast prepared by the vila staff – what a delight!.

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Phuket, Thailand

Returning to Phuket was a dream come true. I remember the first time we visited Phuket – ten years ago – it was wonderful. My daughter and I were so excited to be returning. Not so much had changed, the beach was still clean and beautiful – the markets, however, were more crowded. We were joined by two friends from the UK on this trip.  The moms would have ‘our time’ while the two kids had fun together.  This getaway was not at all planned.  Everything we did just depended on how we felt that day.  Some days we simply stayed on the beach all day, swimming like fishes and relaxing on the pool deck at the resort.

The view from our hotel room was simply stunning – we looked out over Patong beach.  The two things that my daughter wished for from this trip were to go to Phi Phi island to swim and to take an elephant ride. Both were so easy to arrange.  We made all our bookings directly from the hotel.  It  only took an hour from Royal Phuket Marina to Phi Phi Island by speedboat – and cost about 2,500 Bath/person, including speedboat, tour guide, lunch, and snorkelling equipment. They also stopped at Pileh Cove and Bamboo Island. The views were simply gorgeous, especially Phi Phi Island.  Needless-to-say, the kids just jumped into water right away. It was crystal clear with a stunning aquamarine colour. I can’t described how beautiful and relaxing the place was. Last but not least, we took a trip to Kata Island for an elephant ride.  It was really enjoyable.  Although it wasn’t my first elephant ride, i was still quite scared.

The hotel we stayed at, Amari Coral Beach Resort, was a totally relaxing place to be. Not just great food but the staff were so professional and friendly. We will definitely return to this hotel.  If you stay there don’t miss the Wednesday night seafood buffet – first class.

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2mad Gallery and Eatery, Kemang

Recently I took some photographs for 2mad Gallery and Eatery in Jakarta. I was trilled when Maggie, the owner, contacted me. As one of their clients I do not just adore their stuff but I agree with Maggie that we should support local designers to be competitive and creative. If we don’t, who will? Maggie’s place   accommodates  Indonesian designers who display and sell their products in the gallery. The gallery is located on the second floor, above the cafe.  So while you are waiting for your meal you can go upstair to check it out. Most of the pieces are one of a kind. They also sell custom made furniture, home ware and paintings. So when you see things there probably its never seen anywhere else.

The restaurant concept is very casual and cozy. As soon as you enter the cafe you will see the picture of New York’s Madison Avenue hanging on the wall. This cafe reminds Maggie of New York where she spent a few years studying. This little cafe is located at 46F Broadway, Kemang South of Jakarta. It is easy to find as they are on Jalan Benda Raya – just look for the yellow door. Whether you come for cocktails after office hours or brunch on Sunday morning this place is always great. If you would like to know details about this place you can check their website 2madison.com. BTW, they also sell furniture online and from experience, I can assure you that delivery is always on time.

2Madison Outlet, Jl. Benda Raya No. 46F unit B, Kemang, Jakarta Selatan. Phone : (+62-21) 788 334 80/ 788 393 82 (or wa 087 886 461 788)

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Cooking Class

SieMatic collaborated with Petty Elliott to present an interactive cooking class recently. Petty demonstrated how to make a simple yet healthy meal quickly. The recipes were from her cook book (salad, main course and dessert all wonderfully presented). Here’s the menu; Beetroot Carpaccio with Griddled Chicken and Feta Cheese salad; for the main course, Tagliatelle with Padang Pesto and pan fried Barramundi, this is Italian twisted with Indonesian style pesto “sambal hijau”  (green chillies) and; a dessert of Strawberry Semifreddo. All delicious and surprisingly easy to make.  My favourite was the dessert, it was delicious. I really enjoyed it.  Here is a little  story about Petty Elliott: she’s an Indonesian who found her passion in cooking and has spent years in the UK where she participated in the BBC’s Master Chef competition in 2001. She recently published her first book, “Papaya Flower”, on Manadonese Cuisine and is a contributor to Miele Guide, a restaurant guide for Asia and to the Now Jakarta magazine.

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Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang is a medium sized city with a beautiful white sand beach. It took only 1 hour to fly from Hanoi to Da Nang. Da Nang is a completely different from both  Hanoi and Ho chi Min. The city is more laid back, less traffic and more compact.  We stayed in Hyatt Regency Da Nang Spa and Resort for a few days. It is a brand new hotel – I was told by the staff there that it had been operating for less than 3 years. The room we had was so furnished in a minimalist way but it was simply gorgeous. We had a sea view room, so every morning when the sunrise hit the balcony it was really beautiful. As Da Nang was our final destination we decided to just relax at the hotel. But I did spend one day trip with a personal tour guide visiting Hoi An, the ancient town, and My’son (read-Mei Shen) Sanctuary, located 70km south west of Da Nang. My’son sanctuary was an imperial city during the Cham dynasty, between 4th and 12th centuries. the day trip around Hoi An was really facsinating (so many things to see), but I do think Hoi An at night is definitely a must-do thing. The town is transformed and comes alive.  All the shops and restaurants and the night market are illuminated by vendors selling beautiful handcrafted lanterns. Here are the photographs from Da Nang!   We definitely will return.

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So long … Ha Long!

The trip to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam was unforgetable. We really had a great time from the day we arrived until the end of our tour. We stayed a few days on a boat with only 21 cabins, the Pelican. The boat’s staff provided us with breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also had scheduled activities for us day and night. During the day we kayaked (not me, but my husband and daughter did), rode bikes, swam in the sea, and visited small islands. In the evening we had cooking classes while enjoying cocktails.   The views were absolutely stunning. Words can not describe how beautiful it was. For me the highlight of the trip was a day tour to a small island where we cycled through many small villages and met the local communities.

At the cooking classes they taught us how to make Vietnam dishes and it seemed that everybody participated –  except me, as  I was too busy with my camera. I must admit this holiday was quite different from our usual vacation and certainly something that we will not forget.  In fact, no TV and no internet on the boat for few days was a blessing, even our teenage daughter, who really depends on the internet, appreciated that.  So long, Ha Long!   Until next time.

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Halooo … Hanoi !!!

Recently we visited Vietnam and spent more than a week exploring Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Danang. It was an amazing trip, especially when we stayed on a boat for a few days in Ha Long Bay. The scenery was simply gorgeous. So breathtaking!  The city of Hanoi is quite something, with the activities in the markets day and night. But believe me, the traffic there is worse than Jakarta. The motorbikes seem to come from every direction – absolute chaos, quite unpleasant for  any pedestrians. Other than that, I really liked the city, there is so much happening. It’s so dynamic. After Hanoi, we flew to Danang, and I visited My’So’n Sanctuary, located about 70km (43 miles) south west of Danang. My’So’n Sanctuary is a large complex of religious relics, the temples and towers there connect to each other and all have complicated red brick designs. It was so mesmerising – and a good thing I hired a personal tour guide to tell me about the history of each temple. Visiting the ancient town of Hoi An was also interesting with wonderful old houses, temples, and pagodas, and the shop lined streets (I wrote detail about Hoi Ann and Danang in different page). At night, with so many beautiful lanterns hanging everywhere the town really came alive. Beautiful. Hoi An is listed as a world cultural heritage site by Unesco. I have also added some photographs the interior of the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi.

HANOI


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Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi, Vietnam

15 Ngô Quyền, Hoan Kiem District, Hà Nội, Vietnam

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A Portrait of her

I first met Chelsea Islan at an exhibition of Estu Susanto’s work. Frankly, my first impressions were that she was a smart and very friendly person with a fabulous complexion that I really wanted to photograph!  We talked about her acting and her latest movie, Street Society (already showing at Indonesian’s cinemas). She also shared with me her thoughts of what’s new in Jakarta; much appreciated, as I have only been back in Jakarta a few months. Then a few weeks later we bumped into each other again in Starbucks and we made an arrangement for a photo shoot at my studio.

During our session she was simply great and provided some really stimulating ideas. I loved her look and her expression. Here are some of the images, I tried to created a vintage look which I then edited with soft colours.  With her modelling skills and talents I have no doubt that Chelsea’s presence in the Indonesian film industry will be a long one. Thank you for my make up artist friend, Jasmine who helped me during the session.

MUA Jasmine J Kaligis

Model Chelsea Islan

Photograph Nita Strudwick Photography

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The Ylabel Summer Collection 2014

I’m happy to share these photographs that I took of the 2014 Ylabel Summer Collection. It was a fun shoot and an unforgettable experience. First, I had not been back to Anyer and Carita for years. The last time was when we had a family holiday in Anyer when I was thirteen. Second, this was my first shoot with my daughter modelling professionally. It was kind of awkward working together for the first time but in the end I was delighted that the shoot went so well and Yaviz Basalamah, the designer, was so pleased with the results.  This is the first year he has launched a woman’s wear collection. Here’s the shots! (check the collection at http://www.the-Ylabel.blogspot.com or see the collection at Alun-Alun Indonesia, Grand Indonesia, Jakarta).

Summer Soul 2014 Collection, The Ylabel

Creative director : Yaviz Basalamah

Photographer : Nita Strudwick

MUA : Susanti Tedja

Fashion Stylist : Dinta Jakile

Model : Camille Strudwick and Jacques Blade

The Y Label Summer Soul 2014 01 The Y Label Summer Soul 2014 02 The Y Label Summer Soul 2014 04 The Y Label Summer Soul 2014 05 The Y Label Summer Soul 2014 09

Glamour look

Oh gosh, I feel bad that I have been neglecting my blog for weeks. I guess it is not right for me to say that I was too busy to keep my blog up to date. I should have managed my time better and put more effort into uploading my latest work. Anyway, I’m sorry and here is some of my recent work – some glamour shots that I worked with Santi Sutedja (a make up artist) and Yunidithia (the beautiful model).

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Mother and daughters

It was nice seeing Wendi again, I can’t remember when we last met. Probably it was a few years ago in DC when we had a farewell dinner party for her when she and her family moved to Arizona.  When I knew that she would be in Jakarta visiting her family we met again and Wendi asked me to photograph her family.  I was excited to meet her parents too!  I still remember the first time I photographed her five years ago when she was pregnant with her second child.  We did a maternity shoot during some of my most hectic packing days as we prepared to move to Australia. Now, we’ve met again, and look at these two gorgeous kids.  They are growing up so quickly! The youngest is already four. Time has swept by so quickly.  I hope that I don’t have to wait another four or five years to see them again.

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Semai Buku Nusantara

I worked together with Anne Luntungan for Dompet Dhuafa’s project to provide some images to be used for a promotion called “Semai Buku Nusantara”. The program targets people with surplus reading books, asking that they donate them for the most disadvantaged schools across Indonesia. School books are easily available in urban and semi urban areas but are much more difficult to get hold of in the poor, rural and remote areas.  Although the program already reaches 20 of Indonesia’s provinces, there are still many kids who could benefit from this program. For more detail please check website: http://makmalpendidikan.net/id/program/gerakan-semai-buku-nusantara or http://www.dompetdhuafa.org/2012/08/06/dompet-dhuafa-luncurkan-gerakan-semai-buku-nusantara.

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Notes about batik

Batik is an ancient craft dating back at least 2,000 years. There is archaeological evidence of it in Egypt, Persia, India, China and Japan. It is believe that the first batik cloths in Indonesian derived from migrant influences in the 7th – 8th century AD. Especially in Java, a simple processing method called paster batik was developed. A starch paste resist was applied with stick and brushes to coarse cotton cloth or wooden fibres, resulting in material called “kain sambut”. The paste was made from cooked rice flour or fine crushed peanut mixed with lime. During the 12th-14th century, under the Majapahit empire, batik was developed with more sophistication, using beeswax mixed with resin to replace the rice flour paste. By the 14th century, the canting (pron “chun-thing”) came into common use. This is a light and thin copper tube mounted on a bamboo handle. The tube is dipped constantly into the hot wax to be applied with more precision and delicacy and allowing a serious of dots and lines to be applied. The term batik, which is thought to arise from the Indonesian word “bertitik”, (having dots), now became the normal terminology for the process.

Batik came to be worn not only as a sarong skirt, but also to cover the upper body, especially for women’s clothing. The traditional “selendang” (shawl or stole) was developed, and apart from its decorative purpose, was often used from many carrying purposes. At the same time, a long-sleeved batik bloused, known as kebaya, became the normal costume for Javanese women. The kebaya ranges in length from mid-hip to knee-lenght. Early kebayas showed a Chinese influence and had a high Chinese collar. Later European influence let to the addition of lace and other embroidered materials. (this article was taken from “Notes about Batik”, by Isti Monfries).

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Sydney I am in love

Welcome to Sydney the most populous city in Australia.  Its no surprised that this city was ranked 7th most economically important city and among the top 10 most liveable cities in the world. While New York or Paris are great tourist destinations, in my opinion Sydney is the better family holiday destination.  My 12 year old daughter is always excited about visiting Sydney which is only a three and a half hour drive from Canberra – and I can’t recall exactly how many times we have made the trip.

Each visit means an opportunity to relax and to take as many photos as I can , wherever I go. I enjoy having  a flexible schedule and just spending quality time with my family, especially with my daughter.  So I don’t mind if she wants to visit the Aquarium (yet again) or the Zoo – these are always on her “must do’ list.  However, this last trip, we skipped the Zoo.  As Sydney has so much to offer we often wander around jsust experiencing the different atmosphere in each part of the city.  We also took a ferry to visit our friend in Mosman.

When my husband was occupied at his company workshop, my daughter and I just explored the city. The Rocks area which a place full of unique spots and galleries is great for those that love the arts. The  Contemporary Art Museum is a must see.  A great variety of restaurants too. I am Indonesian and I was pleased to find excellent Indonesian restaurants there too (oh, heaven!). This city will always be in our hearts and I don’t doubt we’ll be back again soon.

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The Rocks

The Rocks

The Rocks

The Rocks

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Tiger costume

Tiger costume

Circular quay#Opera House

Circular quay#Opera House

Sailing

Sailing

Mosman

Mosman

Martin Place# Pitt Street

                                                                                                                                                                                             Martin Place# Pitt Street

Exterior design

Exterior design

Sydney Aquarium

Sydney Aquarium

Sydney Aquarium
Sydney Aquarium

Sydney Aquarium

Sydney Aquarium

Sydney Aquarium

Sydney Aquarium

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Portrait of the beauty

This is what happen when a bunch of photographers and some models met. Not only was it a great opportunity for collaboration but and it turned out a great opportunity for all to create some great photographs. It’s always exciting to meet new people with the same interest, to share ideas and to test creativity.  By the end of the session I felt really lucky to have had the opportunity to photograph these incredible models.  It was great to be surrounded by so many beautiful and caring people.   Here are a few of my favourite images from the session.

IMG_0482-1© Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography © Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography© Nita Strudwick Photography

Hidden treasure in Victoria

Here we are again, Melbourne … Both the beautiful city and the nearby panoramic costal views always makes me want to return.  My best friend and I recently took our daughters on a road trip to Apollo Bay. We hired a car and drove along the coast, visited some wineries and stopped in small towns along the Great Ocean Road. We stayed in Apollo Bay for a couple of nights at Chris’s Beacon Point Villa. The trip was a great experience. It was my first time to drive along the coast with its winding roads. At one point, close to midnight with the sea on the road side (which we couldn’t see but could certainly hear) I was quite anxious as we did not know the area well (and had no GPS signal at all!).  I had to slow down when we saw a Koala crossing carrying her baby on the back, very cute!  Too bad it was far too dark to take a photo – I wouldn’t have  dared to stop anyway. We had a wonderful week together.  Not only did I get to  spend quality time with my best friend but our daughters renewed their friendship too. Here are the photos I took during our road trip.

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Happy birthday sweetheart!!!!

My daughter …

There is a magic about you.  Every year I watch you grow,

you become so confident, regardless of the situation you’re in.

You are a loyal friend who believes that true friends are forever.

You are a person that its always fun to be with.  I love your company.

My daughter …

Today is your birthday, nothing is impossible unless you believe it is.

Remember life is not a race, it’s a journey.

People always compete over grades, sports and popularity, but in the end,  always believing in yourself is the biggest and hardest accomplishment.

My daughter …

You are my pride and joy.  It’s such a pleasure to watch you grow,

even though you are sometimes give us hard a time with your stubbornness

But I know this is just part of your growing up.

My daughter …

Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go; be what you want to be, because you have only one life and, most often, just one chance to do all the things you want to do.

Happy birthday sweetheart !!!!

(December 22, 2012)

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Partner in crime

I could not hide my excitement when I met Ira and Rena for this glamour shoot. Especially when I met Ira – it was like meeting an old friend as we both so interested in fashion. As you may know, Ira is a well known Indonesian model.  I still remember her face being on the cover of a teenage magazine (MODE). I was also surprised with Rena as she had lots of ideas for shots.  Although she is not a model, her expressions really did indicate that she has that talent. Here’s the photographs…..
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Under the sea

Our holiday destination this time was Cairns. These photos were taken when we snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef. For me this was my second try at snorkelling.  My first experience was in Hawaii.  It was great!  Well, to be honest I am a bit scared of seeing what happens under the sea, I am scared that I might see a shark or some other unexpected thing.  But sometimes (most of the time, I guess) there is no choice – as I have a teenage girl who seems to be scarred of nothing. So when she asked me to snorkel with her, I had to go. Then I thought positively about it and that motivated me to move out of my comfort zone. I took all these underwater photos using my new underwater camera, a Canon Power Shot D20. I am quite happy with this new camera. I bought it the day before I snorkelled and used it in the automatic mode. So far, the result are OK. I even took a short movie down there too.


The women in their colourful dresses

Good friends are influenced by each others’  background and where each came from.  Friendship comes when we share interests and have common values. Like these four ladies: their friendship began when their husbands, who are all military attaches posted in Canberra, but now as two of them are returning home they took the opportunity to spend time together and celebrate their friendship. I am sure that one day they’ll see each other again.

What makes life real simple

Something a little personal from me today. Like many photographers, I sometimes struggle to find the time to take photos of my family – especially with my daughter’s weekend activities and my busy husband’s travel schedule. The only real chance I have is when we go on holiday, but that doesn’t happen too often.  But today we took our dog for walk, she was off the leash and ran everywhere.  She looked like the happiest dog in the world.  I know that a bright sunny day is not great for taking photos, but who cares. It was just a relaxing Saturday morning and I finally had few great shots of my family and a wonderfully refreshing walk.


Glam shots

I just started to collaborate with a make up artist, Jessica Peris, on a series of beauty shots for her portfolio. I must admit that as a photographer who loves fashion it’s always challenging when you have to create the concept and the shots that you really want especially when working with different lighting, different models and make up . Sometimes it is difficult to get what I have in my mind into the perfect shot. But thankfully it seems that Jess understands me well, here Jess and I tried to create different glam looks. I am so pleased with the make up she did for these shots.  Natural yet glamourous. Check out some of her work at http://www.jessicaperis.com.

Eloise

Oh dear … the weather in Canberra has been so unpredictable recently.  Over the summer this year we seem to have seen less sun. Heavy rain and thunder storms seem to be the order of the day and a few weeks ago we woke up and it was freezing cold!  Where has summer gone?  From the first day of summer we had already put out our garden furniture so that we could have breakfast or dinner outside, but so far it has not happened as the weather has been to cool or it has been raining.  But  we were lucky yesterday, we still had the time to finish these outdoor shots before a heavy rain fell (some of the photos here were taken with the dark clouds as background). I am so glad that we made the shoot though, even if it was a short session. Here the photos of Eloise Willis that I took yesterday.

Christmas lunch

This was the second year our family was invited to Christmas lunch at the De Schutters’s home.  Just like last year Ayu, the hostess, surprised us by creating something really special.  This year she prepared Spanish dishes and served a refreshing sangria (unfortunately that was finished before I took these photos).  The day was so special as friends have become “family” over the years and we all really enjoy celebrating together.  Aren’t the holidays the best time for sharing with your nearest and dearest? Merry Christmas everyone.

Three little fellows

When I look at these photographs, they changed my mind about Ballet which I had thought of as appealing mostly to girls.  Toby has corrected that!   I love the way he posed in these photographs. And, as you can see Grace also looks adorable.  At the end of the shoot, I took a few shots when the three little fellows were playing and dancing (my daughter was there too) .  They had a good time together.  Here are a few of the photos I took.

Sweet little girl

Dear Alana,

When I saw those beautiful eyes and your cute smile I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera and taking a few shots. You are very funny and also you are a good friend for Camille. I know you like singing and acting like drama queen (that was what your mom told me).  I guess all girls your age are like that!  And perhaps why you get on so well with Camille. Anyway, here’s a shot of that beautiful smile that I really love.

New coffee shop in Jakarta

Good news for coffee drinkers: perhaps this place should be one of your new destinations. Trafique opened eight months ago and is located in an unusual place (and by that I mean that it is not in a mall or shopping area). It is in fact located at Jalan Hang Tuah Raya, a plain white building and has no sign, only a yellow door – that convinced me that perhaps this place could be quite special. The interior is unique. Its simple, clean and very tastefully decorated. It’s open plan approach is complemented by a high ceiling that adds charm and elegance. I just fell in love right away – and that was before I tried the coffee. I found myself contemplating what I would do if this place were mine: would I make the coffee counter as my open kitchen so that I can entertain my guests while cooking. Cool, I thought – well, places like this always fill me with ideas.

It has really surprised me that there are now so many coffee shops around Jakarta. They are no longer just a meeting place or a place to do a little work on your laptop. The coffee shop has become part of the Jakarta lifestyle for many. No doubt this must be part of the stimulation for coffee shop owners to create a unique places like this one to attract new customers. And, so many offer barista classes or classes to educate coffee enthusiasts: so you not only drink your coffee but know something about what you are drinking!

As most people know, coffee beans of different types and from different places have very different flavours. From one coffee vendor I learnt how to recognise good quality coffee by its taste and that the darker coffee bean does not guarantee quality or taste. I am not a coffee person, I only drink it occasionally, but my husband is. He prefers to buy beans and to grind them himself each time he wants coffee. I do, however, love the smell of fresh made coffee as it is poured into a cup. Sensational. My first experience with Gayo Coffee in Pasar Santa is one reason I would like to know more about coffee. I am learning to like creamy coffee but am steering away from coffee that is too bitter. Gayo Coffee is becoming my favourite.

If you are curious about the Trafique coffee shop, check this out.

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Jl Hang Tuah Raya No. 9, Kebayoran Baru

Jakarta Selatan

Visited Chinatown, Jakarta

I hope it is not too late to wish Gong Xi Fa Cha for those who celebrate Chinese New year. Some weeks ago, when friends from a journey bespoke (www.ajourneybespoke.com), Liz and Jo asked for some ideas to visit a “pasar” (traditional market) for their blog, I suggested a visit to Chinatown in Glodok, West Jakarta. Particularly as the coming week was when the Chinese there were busy preparing for the New Year. I guess it is not only my western friends who wonder what things were sold for the “preparations” beside vegetables and fruits, I too wanted to know what the atmosphere would be in Glodok. I had imagined that the pasar would be dominated by all things red. The traffic en route was OK, although it still took over an hour from Kuningan, South Jakarta to Pancoran, Glodok, West Jakarta. The place exactly as I had imagined. Red lanterns were hung everywhere, and they looked beautiful. Many vendors were selling red ornaments for house decorations.

Here’s the story of the red colour and Lunar New Year. According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One day a villager decided to take revenge on the Nian.  A god visited him and told him to put red paper on his house and to place firecrackers everywhere. The villagers then learnt that the Nian was afraid of the colour red. When the New Year was about to arrive, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. They also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.   From then on, Nian never came to the village again.

Isn’t that interesting story? I truly enjoyed my first visit to Chinatown in Jakarta with my friends. We were delighted to see what was happening before the Lunar New Year. We were like bunch of kids in a candy store. We discovered so many thing that we had never seen before. What a trip we had.  As usual, I am sharing the photographs I took during my visit.

Gong Xi Fa Cha!!!

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From up there

After a few days traveling around Sri Lanka by car between Colombo and Trincomallee in the North East, it was time to take a different way back to Colombo.  We flew back  with Sri Lankan air taxi. The small seaplane was like a giant dragonfly. It only accommodated seven passengers  and a pilot and co-pilot. It took an hour and a half to fly from Batticlao to Colombo. The view from above was simply gorgeous. I was speechless. Truly, this flying experience gave us such an unforgettable experience. I found it very funny during our departure to see that while we were waiting for the plane to arrive many local people gathered to watch us, we even had kids waving at us as if we were a movie stars!

The last hotel we stayed at in Colombo, the Wallawwa boutique hotel, is a charming hotel. The simplicity and natural touches in the interior made the place so welcoming and cozy. The Z Spa is a must to try after a long day trip. I felt so energised after my spa experience. The food and the service at this hotel were really fantastic.  Very highly recommended.   There is no doubt,  we will come back and stay at this hotel again.

Last but not least, we have to commend RedDot Tours.  They did such an amazing job.  Our vacation arrangements were excellent: great hotels, excellent driver, comfortable minivan and everything ran so smoothly. They really made everything so much easy as it was so well organised. Well done RedDot.

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