An Indonesian mall

The Avava Mall is about two blocks from my apartment, in the middle of the Indonesian population. It is where I had a “cream bath massage” two weeks ago and where I almost rented an apartment. The cream bath, incidentally, is a cream treatment and massage of your head – about $4.50. The mall is definitely for locals, as I was the only expat in sight. The pictures here are of a department store within the mall. Prices are much better here than in places where the expats shop. Wonder why.

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Bought this vegetable at the fresh market. not sure what it is but added it to a beef soup. Tasted like a turnip. The other picture is of pak choy and spinach (I think), with garlic, before cooking.



I tried, at least

This whole thing about adapting to the culture, the food, the this and that, can only go so far at times. Take for instance today’s attempt at making fish head soup. The name itself has frightened me away from trying it so far, but the dish does seem to be popular here. One time I even went for dinner at a place that specializes in various kinds of fish head soup. Sadly, at the time, they were sold out.

The local fresh market has a nice selection of fresh fish, including red snapper, tuna, and an assortment of other fishes, even rays. One time I bought a whole tuna and had it cut up, including the head. They slice the head down the middle, between the eyes. I thought I would freeze it and try to make some fish head soup. My next fish purchase was a whole red snapper, again with the head. Today, I decided to defrost the two beastly heads and cook some soup.

It’s a fairly simple recipe: boil the heads, discard all pieces, add vegetables, salt, cook some more. The smell was atrocious. (I don’t get to use that word too often, sorry.) It was awful. I was afraid the neighbors would complain.

Considering all the ingredients I had devoted to this dish, I wanted to give it a chance. So I tried of spoonful of the broth.

My next thought was “Where do I throw this out!”

I salvaged the potatoes and a white carrot-like tuber I bought today, although they are soaked in the awful fish liquid so I may end up throwing them out, as well. The pot with the soup and greens was carried down three flights and dumped in the trash area. The apartment smells much better now.

I’m going with a more Western-traditional grilled pork, baked potato, and cuke and tomato salad.

Life in Nagoya


A trip to the fresh market

Every Sunday now I seem to be going to the fresh market, which is about a block from my apartment. This is where I get my fresh vegetables, fish, pork, fruit and chicken. Today, I bring you a typical purchase. Clockwise from top left: I usually get some sort of greens, even though I’m not sure what I’m buying. Whatever the greens are, they all tend to taste great (here I think I have some spinach and pak choy). Not sure what the white, carrot-looking item is, but it should be tasty. The potatoes here are OK but not Idaho quality. The prawns sell for about $8 a kilo, or less than $4 a pound (there’s a kilo here, good for five meals). Bottom right are two pieces of pork, with fat that I hope to replicate bacon with; Western-style bacon is very hard to find here and very expensive ($15 a pound in Singapore). A few Roma tomatoes, a couple of cucumbers, onions and green peppers rounds out my purchase today. The vegetables cost about $5.50 total.

Hati gets comfortable

Cats have a way of finding the strangest places to sleep. My apartment has about 12 feet of windows overlooking the street below, with a false wall built about 18 inches from the main wall of the building. This false wall is actually a poster for Lusy’s Pub downstairs that covers the whole side of the building. Louvers on the false wall allow me to let light and breeze in, or close it off. There is about a 4 1/2-foot drop to the floor from the window. Hati has discovered this corner where he sleeps during the day. He is able to claw his way back inside whenever he’s ready.

Hati was raised at Smiling Hill as an indoor/outdoor cat and his acclimation to inside living has been a bit hard for him. He’s used to finding playmates or things to do outside and now he mostly just can roam the hallways of the building unless I go down three flights to let him out. I try to do this every day, but usually I don’t have to go back down to let him in – he has learned to wait for other tenants to open the door downstairs and let him in.

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The seedy side of my apartment

While I’m basically pretty satisfied with my living conditions (and certainly with the rent of less than $200 a month), the scene outside is not very pretty. The entrance is in the back alley, with an open trash pit about 50 feet away. The trash often is burning, or there will be people sifting through it looking for anything to resell. And, of course, at night it is filled with rats. Running alongside the trash pit and up through town is the local “river,” a concrete culvert that carries runoff and trash. It is nasty. In the photos, the buildings are the backs of small restaurants, probably set up by squatters. I’m sure much of their trash is just dumped into the culvert.

The building photos show a black open space on the second floor, which is a new apartment the owner is constructing. Above that is a working area next to my apartment on the third floor. The four units to the right also are part of the building.


On a recent trip to Smiling Hill to pick up my mail, I happened to have my camera. Goodies waitress Lilis was swimming, so of course I took a photo. The ladies tend to dress a little conservative when swimming here – often fully clothed.