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Archive for July, 2010

How the vacation went

Other than fabric shopping, I also did these in Indonesia

Family time..a ton of it. It was like catching up for Christmas, New Year, and Chinese New Year that I haven’t spent with them. The three of us, my brother, sister and myself, do not live in the same city. It’s always a challenge to get everybody together at the same time. It’s a miracle that we did it this time. I love spending time with them especially with my three little nephews and niece

Attending my best friend’s wedding in Phalosa resort, Seminyak in Bali. It was such a beautiful wedding overlooking Indian Ocean. Bali has become one of the most popular spots for destination wedding.

Visiting the ancient more-than-thousand-year-old Buddhist Temple, Borobudur, in Central Java. This site is definitely under-rated compared to the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Nearby, there’s another ancient Hindu temple called Prambanan. During full month, you can watch Ramayana Ballet performance. A lot of people are surprised that Javanese culture is very much like Indian culture. In fact, the Indian merchant helped spread Hinduism and Buddhism long before Indonesia is a muslim country. Like our Indian friends, we also love the Ramayana tale of Rama and Sinta (sort of like Romeo and Juliet)

Spending a lovely time with our adopted baby, the orangutan in Safari Park, Cisarua West Java.

And of course knitting since it is so portable. While watching my three little nephews and niece played, I finished Rosa. Well, almost done, I just have the ruffle to go.

I am halfway done with Rusted Roots. Remember how I was telling you that I was going to knit Bazan? Well, I was so busy at work a few days before I left and didn’t have a chance to get the right yarn. Instead, I bought Rusted Roots pattern online and used yarn from my stash.

And that my friend, is what I called vacation :)

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Since I brought back almost half a suitcase worth of fabrics, how about a little shopping guide. All I can say about fabric shopping in Indonesia is OMG, it is so cheap and the quality is awesome. I was in six different cities and shop in four of them. Let’s begin with Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

Fabric shops in Jakarta can be found in any traditional and wholesale market as well mall. This is because getting a custom tailoring is still a common practice. My mom, who was once a seamstress, even has some tailors that she’s been going to. The most popular fabric shop in big malls is Alta Moda with branches in Jakarta and Medan. Although it is relatively more expensive, it has some pluses:  fabrics are neatly organized and the shops are air-conditioned (a must in a hot tropical country)

Because I was looking for a bargains, I preferred shopping in wholesale centers. I went to Tanah Abang, which is largest textile districts in Southeast Asia according to Wikipedia. Tanah Abang literally means brother’s soil. The section that i went to is air-conditioned and at least six-story high. It was my first time, so I just browsed as many stores as my eyes permitted and pretty much followed Lia around. You will easily find all sort of cotton fabrics, batik, songket (another ethnic fabric), chiffon, cotton-silk, silk, shantung etc. I found quite a bit of Japanese cotton fabrics, they are soft and have some sheen. I suspect these are remnants of exported inventory. Price ranged from $2 to $4/meter.

The other market that I went to is Pasar Baru. It is the oldest markets in Jakarta and it’s been around since the Dutch colonial time (1820). Sadly, this market doesn’t have that many fabric shops but I still managed to spot some cotton fabrics.

These are the cotton fabrics that I bought in Tanah Abang and Pasar Baru

I am crazy about floral prints now, can’t you tell?

The red tree fabric on the right is my absolute favorite. Lia even bought 5 meters of the same fabric

These are cotton-silk, which I think is hard to find in the US.

Next stop is Batam, an island city across the strait from Singapore. I was visiting my sister and she took me to her favorite shop in town but I don’t remember the name. To my surprise, that shop carried cute Japanese fabric at $2.5/meter. The owner was puzzled because I got so excited at the stuffs that have not been selling well. I can tell because the bolts are big and dusty :)

The stupid thing is I didn’t buy a lot (was awesome) because that was only my first day of vacation and I intended to pace myself. Little did I know that no other shops in Indonesia carry this kind of fabric. However, I would not make a special trip to Batam just for this. But if you happen to be in Singapore and want to do something different in the vicinity, it is only an hour away by ferry.

Enough said about contemporary fabrics. How about some traditional Indonesian fabrics? There are so many different kind of traditional fabrics in Indonesia due to its diversity. I purchased some Batik in Jogjakarta and Ikat in Bali. I love Batik because of the vibrant colors and design. There are so many different batik. Batik from West Java tends to be more contemporary with bright colors, while Batik from central Java (Jogja in this case) is more conservative and mostly in brown color. I visited Batik Plentong and Rumah Batik.

Batik Plentong

Jl Tirtodipuran 48, Jogjakarta

This store is known to carry high-end stuffs. A shawl can cost up to $300. I went there because it had a batik making demo, which was a lot of fun to watch and made me appreciate this piece of art.

Since Batik Plentong was not affordable, I headed to Batik Rumah. It carries a wide selection of quality batik at affordable price.

Batik Rumah

Jl. Nogosari Kidul No. 2
Ngasem 55132
Yogyakarta – INDONESIA
Telp. (0274) 415641 atau 380695
email: batikrumah@yahoo.com

These are my purchases

These are pre-cut fabrics (2 meter each) and I paid $70 for all of them.

Other batik that I bought from Amesh and some shops in Tanah Abang

If you are into Ikat fabric, Bali is one of the places to go. I got my Ikat from Pasar Sukawati nearby Ubud. It is a traditional market selling trinkets and a little bit of fabrics. Make sure you bargain to at least 50% of the list price. Speaking about Ubud, this is where most American tourists hang out, made popular by Eat, Love, Pray (can’t wait for the movie). I also bought another Ikat from one random stall in Nusa Penida beach front.

It costs about $5/meter

I also had a 12-hour layover in Hong Kong which I carefully planned to maximize the short stay there. After getting off the airport express in Kowloon, we took a short lunch and immediately hit Sham Shui Po, the famous textile district in Hong Kong. I basically used the guide from Chubby Hobby and stayed within Ki Lung Street, Tai Nan Street, Yu Chau and Nam Cheong street. Alas, the weather was so hot that day, I didn’t feel like walking around hunting for fabric. . I lasted only one hour and bought only a few meters of lace. This is what the district look like

I then headed to Causeway Bay to hunt for Japanese fabric. Per Siow Chin’s suggestion, I immediately hit the Tailor and Alteration shop on Hennesy Road.

Tailor and Alteration Needlework Club

475 Hennessy Road

Kin Tak Fung Commercial Building

Take Causeway Bay MTR Exit B

The shop is more like a warehouse, it carried Japanese fabrics on three different walls but only a few cartoon fabrics. It is not cheap at about HKD 120 to 160/meter or up to $20 USD. The shop is also filled with aisles of yarn (some American, Brit and Italian yarn) and stacks of books. It is impossible to walk without tripping over some merchandise. If it were not for the high price, I would have bought something.

Cute Japanese fabric, to my surprise, is not that common in Hong Kong. The other two stores that may carry such fabrics are:

Cotton House

G/F 3 Li Yuen Street West

Central MTR exit C

Paris Cotton Singlets (what a name)

13 Pak Sha Rd

Causeway Bay MTR exit F

My best friend also showered me with a lot of fabrics to make up for the lack of time to explore the textile district in Medan, the city where I attended high school.

I also brought home some of my sister’s fabrics. They are Georgette and perfect for sewing skirts.

With that, I am putting myself on a fabric-diet again :) Also, time to catch up on the 1000+ blog posts on my google reader. Have a great weekend !

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