City of traffic
Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
86Trip End Jul 27, 2011
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A cockroach crawling over the table welcomes me at the airport when I sit down at a café to look up some phone numbers. I arranged to stay with a CouchSurfer, David. To get there I first take a bus for over 1 hour. Most of the ride I slept, because I barely did in my last night in Singapore: People walking in and out of my dorm all night, going to bed hungry because I was too lazy to leave the hostel, and getting up for an early flight all didn’t work so well for my night peace. Every time I open my eyes, the bus is standing in a traffic jam
David lives on top of a supermarket, one empty room, save for a sink, a fridge, a TV, a computer, a carpet on the floor to sleep on, no chairs. Another (locked) room that is his bedroom. A local bathroom (mandi) with squat toilet, no flush, no garbage can, no toilet paper, cold water only. Check out the video to see it. I imagine this is a typical middle class Indonesian place? I am in slight shock. Not sure if it is because of the strain of not sleeping, the hike to get here or hunger. I’d be lying to say that I am comfortable with this. Guess when I thought I can rough it, I didn’t know what I was talking about. There is no WIFI (which I knew). When I get on the computer, I can’t figure out how to get the internet working. Now I really want to cry. Jakarta is where I am to re-unite with Manu after over a month apart and where Vera will join us from Toronto for a couple of weeks. I know I can be ok with this once I get over the initial gulp. But I am worried about Vera since I never traveled with her. And I am worried about Manu getting internet access to work. The Starbucks that supposedly is across the street is much farther than I thought. Last but not least I must admit that I am worried about not having WIFI myself. Feeling withdrawal symptoms already.
All I want is to get away from Jakarta as soon as possible
Nice chat with David when he returns from work. He goes for a nap while I head out to grab a bite. He wakes from his nap at 1am at which point we both aren't going to hit he bar scene any more, not on a weekday anyways (not that that detail matters much to me).
The next day, Manu arrives after an even longer trek during rush hour, tracing my steps to David. We go out to meet some of Dave’s other CS friends at a beer garden. It’s a huge community here. Everyone is super friendly, open-minded and interesting. Then on my 3rd day in Jakarta, after getting our WIFI fill of course, we rely on the usual way of getting around reliably in SEA. Ask and ask and ask and just allow yourself to be shoved around until you get to your destination. It always works. In Jakarta this took over two hours to get to the backpacker area, Jalal Jaksa, where we try to find a cheap hotel to welcome Vera to. We check out some of the dumpiest places I have ever seen
Vera thought she was at the wrong hotel when she got to it after her 28 hour journey. I don’t know where she takes the energy from, but we end up with a late/early night out, eating street food and hanging at another beer garden with David and his CS friend Ravi.
Jakarta itself is nothing to write home about. As expected and despite my appreciation for cities, I don’t find anything intriguing here. It takes forever to get anywhere, which can spoil the most amazing place for me. You know my boundaries in Toronto: The lake to the South, Bloor street to the North, Parliament to the East and Dufferin to the West. If I can’t bike it, I am not going. Spoiled downtown brat, can’t help it!
Hanging with the local CS scene is awesome though
Vera and I undertake a day trip to the Bogor/Puncak Highlands that is supposed to be doable in a half day. I don’t know how locals manage that, but it took us a full day of commuting on diverse vehicles to spend no more than 2 hours of sightseeing. Pretty nevertheless and the trip itself is an adventure if you’re up for it.
An evening of beers and dancing at the live Reggae place next to another hotel we moved to, results in one unnamed person dozing away for the majority of our trip to Yogyakarta, our next destination. I am excited to get out of this city but sad to part with the company of Dave and Co.