Monday, July 31, 2006

Golf Was A Zoo Today

I played golf today at Emeralda, but we were only able to get in 15 holes as it seemed the entire Korean population was out on the course. I don't think Koreans actually work in Indonesia as they are always out on the golf course. Very frustrating waiting after each hole....oh well....I will never play on a Monday afternoon there again. What a zoo.

I am off to Singapore tomorrow, so probably won't update the blog until I get back on Thursday night. But we will see....I may just check into an internet place and make a posting...this blog stuff is addictive.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kayla Poses Again

Sri, Tika's niece, needed an ID photo for her resume as she is hunting for a job in Jakarta. She wanted a blue background, so instead of using photoshop, we just grabbed a blue sheet to use as a back drop. Kayla thought it was so cool, she wanted to pose for an ID photo too. The photos above are from her photo shoot. What a ham.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sleep-in Day

Tika felt left out of the blog photos, so I posted one of her in Santorini.

We didn't do much today, but sleep-in...which was very nice. I think we needed the sleep. The big news, I guess, is that we got a new toilet for the mast bedroom. Our last one was running all the time which caused our water pump to die. So, a new pump and toilet. Real exciting stuff.

Dad and I were able to video chat, well, you can leave the chat part out. We could see eachother, anyway. We text chatted while viewing eachother typing messages. Kayla loved it, and Dad, Mei Mei and she exchanged faces over the e-lines accross the world. Pretty cool.

I will be leaving for Singapore on Tuesday to have my colon looked at again...just a routine check. I will return on Thursday. Golf on Monday.

I have had a string of email conversations with the couple that runs the hotel in Kamari, Santorini. I am going to send them my photos, and they may hang them on their walls...that would be pretty cool, huh? They are good people.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rather be in THAT Chair

Well, today marked the second day of my new running schedule. I met my friend Butch at the track today at 5:00pm to torture myself. I also ran on Wednesday. I played golf on Thursday, so it was good enough of an excuse to not run. That's what I need to do, play golf EVERY day so that I don't have to run. I need to lose this small pudge that has developed over the last few years, and enhanced after being filled with Gyros and Solero Ice Creams the past 10 or so days. I also had a triple scoop banana split the other about guilt. So now that I have started, it should be hard for me to quit...I think....I hope, anyway.

The other big news is that Dad and I finally, sort-of, made a video connection today. I was able to see him, and he was able to see me, but we were not able to see eachother at the same time. For some reason, iChat doesn't work with my ADSL provider, so we tried Yahoo Messenger that we both downloaded. It kept crashing on Dad's side, however...and you have to pay for voice. We are back to the drawing board, but at least I finally have a connection that has enough bandwidth to video chat....we will figure it out, and will try again in the morning (my morning).

Our prayers all go out for Uncle Dave. The hospital is not a fun place.....get out of there as fast as you can. Just dream of the chair pictured above.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Letter to Qatar Airways

I couldn't sleep last night because I kept thinking of what I was going to say to Qatar Airways about our lousy treatment. I just emailed the following letter...

Dear Sirs;

I flew your airline for the first time on the 14th of July. I was very impressed with the flight attendants. They were very professional, courteous, and always smiling. The food served on each flight was probably some of the best I have had on an airplane. I am a pilot myself, and in my opinion, all the landings made were some of the smoothest I have ever experienced with an airline. After a long flight from Jakarta to Doha via Singapore, the good feelings I had of your airline came to an abrupt end.

We arrived in Doha in good spirits, and with our CONFIRMED RESERVATIONS, we proceeded to the transfer desk to receive our boarding pass to Athens, Greece. After a long wait at the desk, we were told that Qatar Airways had overbooked our flight to Athens. The agent at the desk said that is was of no fault of our own, and that the airline was responsible.

We were then given no other choice but to take another flight to LONDON delaying our arrival time in Athens by more than EIGHT HOURS. Instead of a three hour flight to Athens, we crossed Europe TWICE to get to Athens, not to mention a long wait in the London Heathrow Airport Terminal waiting for our connecting flight. We were seated in the very back row of the airplane next to the toilets when there were several empty seats in Business Class.

Because we arrived in Athens very late, our hotel we had previously booked had cancelled our reservations. We had to walk the streets of Athens after midnight looking for another Hotel. Because we arrived late in Athens, we were unable to make boat reservations for our trip to Santorini. We had a hotel booked for the 16th of July, and had no option but to fly to Santorini to make our reservation time or we would have lost those reservations as well. The additional flight cost us more money than we had planned on spending to get to Santorini. My wife, traveling out of Indonesia for her first time, became so stressed, that she wanted to cancel our vacation and return to Indonesia. In short, because of your airline's mistake, our short and much needed vacation, began a nightmare.

I have traveled all over the world on hundreds of planes, and I have NEVER heard of passengers being bumped from a flight without compensation. For an airline that is ranked the SIXTH best in the world (according to your magazine), and striving to be one of the best airlines in the world, how can you possibly treat your customers this way?? At a MINIMUM, we should have been offered Business Class seats to London as compensation for Qatar Airway's mistake. I have never been so angry in my life for the way we were treated. I was in shock, and still am in shock over the events that passed.

I plan on sharing this letter as a "Letter to the Editor" with every major newspaper around the world along with every website I can find concerning travel. I will wait, however, until I hear a response from Qatar Airways.


Scott Graham
Jakarta, Indonesia
Z3S26F (reservation change)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Greece Photos

Ok,It took awhile to figure out how to do a slide show, like Dad does, with, but I figured it out...and then how to provide the link on this blog...took some time as well. But all is well in the web world now, and hopefully, you can click on the link below to view my photos.
Greece Photos

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Home Again

Well, we made it home. It was a long trip. We arrived at the Athens airport at 7:30 in the morning, and had to hang out all day there until our flight at 6:00. We had fun watching people, reading books, and grabbing food all day. Time passed quickly. I wish I could say the same about time on the airplane. It felt like forever. A 4 hour flight to Doha, an hour wait, and then a 10 hour trip to Singapore, a two hour wait, and then the final hour and a half to Jakarta, immigration, and then the hour drive home.

We were of course very happy to see Kayla, and she was so excited to see us. I have spent the last few hours sorting through the hundreds of photos I took, and will post a few tomorrow. I am off to bed for a much needed good night of sleep.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Well, I just finished my 27th Chicken Pita Gyro, and a cucumber, tomato, olive salad....and a Solero Ice Cream. I am hooked. I have to have my Gyro, salad, and Solero EVERY DAY....sometimes a few a day. Tika misses her Indo food, and if she sees one more tomato, she said she will throw it at me. Cultural differences keep life interesting.

As I sit here writing this blog, I can look out onto the beach and see hundreds of stranded whales....oh wait, those are people. Well, a nice sight to scan over while sitting at a computer. It is sunny, cool with a breeze, and the water is blue as can be....but cold too. I tempted to swim once while here but nearly froze to death. I don't know how all those whales, I mean people, can take it...I guess it is all the blubber.

We are headed back to Athens tomorrow morning, and then wait all day at the airport for our 6:00 flight back to Jakarta. I look forward to my talk and nasty letter I plan to write to Qatar Airways for really screwing up our flight at the start of our trip. I am going to get SOMETHING from them in compensation or else....or else....I don't know.

I am looking forward to getting back and do what Dad just did....go through hundreds of photos and toss most, and post a few. More later.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lazy Day

Well, we managed to eat lunch, but that is about it for today. I didn't think it was humanly possible to lie around this much, but we have it mastered. We have to return the rental car tomorrow, so this afternoon is our last chance to drive around somewhere, so we might be up for that later for sunset.

One more day, and then back to the polluted skies of Jakarta. Of course, as I sit and write this blog, a teenage kid is on his fourth cigarette next to me giving me a massive head, so many people smoke around here....I don't understand and never will.

The weather is absoultely gorgeous. Temps in the 70's, clear blue skies, and a nice constant breeze. I could never tire of weather like this....all is missing is a golf course. Speaking of golf, I think I MAY be able to watch some of the British Open. However, I don't think Greeks watch much golf...I got a strange look when asking about whether it was on TV or not. There is a bar down the street that has a satellite dish. I will ask there if they can get the game on TV.

I will wait to update the blog until I get home....I will then post some photos as well.

See ya.....oh yea, welcome back Mom and Dad...I will now check your it updated??

Friday, July 21, 2006


The vacation is going well. It had a rocky start, but once we checked into the hotel, Villas Vallais perched on top of the caldera 300 meters above the sea, things smoothed out nicely. You wouldn't believe the! We spend our days sleeping until 10:00, going for a short hike, and then eating lunch....some greek food. Then we drive around a bit, then watch the sunset, and then eat dinner. It is what vacation is all about.

I have taken a ton of photos, of course, but can't find an internet place with photoshop CS2 to convert my NEF I will have to wait till I get home to post any photos.

Anyway, we are now at the beach. The town is Kamari, and there is a black sand beach with huge cliffs...very nice, but the water is way too cold for us used to the warm waters of Indonesia. We are going to attempt some swimming today. We are staying at the Acqua Vatos Hotel which is run by a wonderful couple. They really make you feel at home here, and the rooms are very clean and nicely designed with a different theme in each room. Eventhough they are totally booked, they said they would do their best to get us an extra night. Great service.

News from home is kept current thanks to cell phone technology. Tika is able to SMS daily, ok we can keep track on how Kayla is doing....which is fine.


Sunday, July 16, 2006


Our first day of travel was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, day. We left Jakarta at midnight, and arrived in Singapore at around 2:00 in the morning. That was ok. When we got on the plane (The awful Qatar Airways flight), we thought they would turn out the lights and let us sleep. But noooooo, they thought we wanted dinner. Who wants to eat at 3:00 in the morning? So with the stupid carts going up and down the isle, and flight attendants waking me up to ask me if I wanted anything, the trip was already aggravating. When we finally arrived in Doha, Qatar, seven hours later, we proceeded to the transfer desk to get our boarding passes to Athens.

The lady told us at the desk that she had very bad news for us. They had overbooked the flight to Athens, so we were going to be bumped, and flown to London instead. We would arrive in Athens at around midnight instead of our regularly scheduled time of 2:30 in the afternoon. I was in total anger, and wanted to strangle the woman. Why were WE being bumped. She even admitted that we had done nothing wrong and had confirmed was all THEIR fault..."OK, So YOU have the problem, why do WE have to be the victoms??" No argument was heard. We were handed our new tickets without explanation....and NO COMPENSATION!!! I am still angry as hell. What airline bumps passengers off a flight without compensation?? To make matters worse, we were seated in the back of the plane next to the restrooms. It was a 6 hour flight to London, and then another 4 hours to Athens after waiting 2 hours in London for the connecting flight. You would think, at a minimum, we would be given business class seats as some kind of compensation.

My plan was to arrive in Athens at 2:30, check in to the hotel I had already booked, go see the Acropolis (sp?), and then buy ferry tickets to Santorini. Well, since we arrive in Athens at midnight, our hotel room was already taken. We then had to find a new hotel....stress....then finally got to sleep at around 2:00 am, with no ferry ticket.

We woke up this morning, and went down to the port to buy ferry tickets. All sold out....go figure. So we bought two airplane tickets instead. OK, not bad. We then ate lunch at McDonalds, and are now here at the internet place to update the blog. We are going to go see the Acropolis, and then catch our flight at 6:00 to Santorini. Hopefully things will run much smoother from here on out. It has been a stressful start.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Passage to Greece

The Taxi will be here in a few minutes to take us to the airport. We have an overnight flight to Athens....which is nice in a way as we can sleep on the plane and hopefully arrive feeling rested. I will try my best to keep the blog updated while in Greece, but not sure about photos....we'll see.

See you in 10 days.....

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Taman Mini

A nice day today. We started at the Greek Embassy, and got the visa for Tika. That put us in a good mood.

Since it was Riska's last day with us (she leaves tomorrow), we took the entire gang (our family plus our extended "helping family" plus nieces) to Taman Mini. Taman Mini is an Indonesian theme park with museums, a bird park, an aquarium, reptiles, orchid gardens, etc. It was built during the Soeharto days by Soeharto's wife. Mid-week is the time to visit as there were only a few people around...weekends turns the place into a mob scene.....with all staring at the only "Bule" (white guy) around. I didn't get too many "hey misters" along with the snickers and stares today, and that was nice. There seems to be nothing funnier than a bald white guy walking around Indonesia.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thanks to Rich

I was checking out some of the portfolios of other NAPP members, and came accross some really nice ones. The nice thing about NAPP members is that they are always willing to help out others and pass along tips. I saw some nice photos by Rich Ash and Gale Gettinger, and particularly liked the way they framed their photos. So, I emailed them to ask them how they did it. Rich wrote back with detailed instructions. Wasn't that nice? I used his technique on the photo above.

We went to the Greek Embassy today, and Tika's visa will be ready we are all set for out trip to Greece. I made all hotel reservations on-line. What did we ever do without the internet just a few years ago??

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Who Needs Toys

Who needs to buy toys when kids have more fun with things around the house. Kayla amused herself for hours with the laundry basket.

There is a powerful gas smell in "The Frog", so we are going to try to get that fixed today. I also need to make the long drive to the embassy today to get my mail. Not much else going on....

Monday, July 10, 2006

Kayla's Cousins

Kayla has enjoyed having her older Indonesian cousins come for a visit. Sri (right) and Riska have had a good time shopping, eating, watching TV, and hanging out with Tika and Kayla. They are really nice girls, and it is a pleasure to have them here.....except for all the giggling....

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mom and Dad's Trip

We all got a nice long email from Mom today from Alaska. They seem to be having a great trip. I am very jealous, and wish I were there intsead of stuck in this big, polluted city of Jakarta. On the brighter side of things, our plans for Greece are coming, we will be out of here soon too.

Another lazy day. We all stayed up last night to watch Germany and Portugal battle it out at 2:00 in the morning. I will need a nap later to catch up on sleep. We will get up again at 2:00 am to watch France and Italy. Sure am glad I don't have to work on Monday.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

NAPP Editor's Choice Award

A couple of days ago, I submitted 24 photos into my personal portfolio page in the member's section of the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) website. I logged on today, and found that one of my photos (the one above) was chosen as an "Editor's Choice". That is very exciting for me as now thousands will possibly check out my portfolio of photos. I have provided a link on this page if you want to check out my portfolio.

In other news, Tika's nieces arrived yesterday from Central Java. They are very excited to be here, and we took them to the mall and movies last night. Jakarta for them is like someone from a farm in Iowa vistiting New York City. It is fun to watch them enjoy all their new experiences.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Kayla Discovers Make-up

Eventually it happens. Your little girl discovers Mommy's make-up bag, and tries it out. She has watched Mommy put her make-up on every morning. Why doesn't it look the same? I am hoping she will pick up a golf club, and give it a try. She has years to perfect her skills...but it looks as if make-up skills have priority.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wish I Were Diving

One of those days where I wish I were underwater instead of stuck behind this computer. It is a busy day at summer school today. Tomorrow is the last day, so lots of work to bring things to a closure today. It is really hot too. What would we do without air conditioning...I feel for the guys outside of my classroom working construction....gotta be hot.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mission Accomplished

We made it back to the Greek Embassy. Of course, as with any embassy, we didn't have all we needed even though I triple checked with the website that listed all documents needed before we left. But we were able to turn in what we had, and can return later with the rest of the stuff. Arggggh!! I think embassies were made to test one's ability to hold back the urge of jumping the counter and strangling someone.

Anyway, we had to change our departure date as the EARLIEST they can get the visa is EIGHT days. Now why, in the world we live in today, does it take EIGHT days?? Does some old Greek guy have to paddle a boat to Indonesia??

We now have ADSL at home. I am ready to try out video chat...anyone there want to give it a try with me? I think the entire family is on vacation except me.

Val and Catherine, if you are reading this, can you send me a photo of your new daughter, and the name you chose?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Greek Embassy

The photo above has nothing to do with today's blog, but it is tough to NOT post a cute photo of Kayla...

Trying to find a small office in Jakarta is a stressful endeavor. We spotted the Greek Embassy on the map, and headed off all in a good mood. Good thing we started in a good mood as there was a steady rise in blood pressure, sweat, and bad words as the drive progressed. The Embassy, according to the map, was right after the Menara Building on the left side of a VERY busy road. If you missed it, it would have taken a minimum of 30 minutes to turn around, return in the opposite direction, and then turn around again to get back to where you were going.....not fun in Jakarta traffic.

So, we turned into the parking lot of a large building where we THOUGHT the embassy was. The thought was, well, if it is the wrong building, no problem...we just get back onto the road. Ha haaa haa...bad mistake. It was the wrong building, but getting out of the parking lot turned into a trip in itself. The parking lot was jammed packed with cars all parked on top of eachother with enough room for maybe a sheet of paper to fit between cars. With our monster car, the Everest, it was a work of magic to get out of that parking lot...but we did it.

Back on the main road. We asked for directions...some guy standing by his motorcylce. He had no idea what we were talking about but pointed in the opposite direction. Wrong. I told my driver he was confused, and not to listen to him. I pleaded to keep heading in the direction we were going. Then the Menara building was spotted. "There....there it is, the Menara building....there....stop!!", I screamed. No, we passed it. Arrrrggggh!! "OK, let's keep our problem, turn here, and maybe we can get back without having to turn around", I said. Well, the turn we made took us on a long journey on a very narrow road through a local village (Kampung)...winding around to who knows where?

After 40 minutes of driving around, we some how mysteriously found our way back to the main road. I spotted the building, and told my driver that Tika and I would get out where we were and walk to the building. So we did. Tika in her high heels. Scotty sweating and not happy. Then we spotted the Greek Embassy sign. Ah, a nice thing to see. Smiles returned to our faces. Trudge through the security, ask directions, take the elevator up to the 12th floor, ask directions again, and finally get to the embassy door. LARGE SIGN that says....Consulate Hours: TUESDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 1:00. It was MONDAY at 4:30....and that folks, is life in Jakarta.

So we will try again today. At least we know where it is now.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Street Bazar

Our neighorhood street magically changed to a street bazar Sunday morning. Of course, the girls just HAD to go shopping. I went along for the walk and a chance to take photos. It was hot and crowded...not my idea of a good time.

In other news, we have reservations to visit Greece...that is, if we can get a tourist visa for Tika in time. More to follow on that...

Kayla posing with her new sunglasses....she kept saying, "Hey Man..."