Travel Journal

Jakarta

(Friday 2 October 2009) by Jon Paul & Sarah
We ended up leaving Yogyakarta via another night bus on September 14th that would take us straight into Jakarta by the next morning. We were hoping to be there in time to catch a ferry/passenger ship that we really knew nothing about except from what I had read about on various travel blogs. I knew that it left every four days or so, but beyond that, we didn't know much...

The night on the bus was uneventful, save for the constant bodily readjustment while trying to find a comfortable position to sleep. We arrived in Jakarta early morning on the 15th and immediately caught a city bus into the heart of the port area, Tanjung Priok. We began asking around about the ferry and what we knew of it, only to find out that we had basically just missed it and that the next one wouldn't be until Friday the 18th. This was a minor setback since we were hoping to make it to Singapore a bit earlier and everyone had filled our heads with the horrors of Jakarta... so basically we thought we were going to be hunkered down while terrorists stalked our hotel and favorite food stands...

So that is what we set out to do... we found a nice hotel down one of the side streets, all the while laughing at how friendly people were as we walked. Our own conversation was constantly interrupted by a barrage of "how are you?!?" or "hello my friend!" It was as if these were the only phrases that continued to resonate from their brief english lessons in primary school and they were delighted to try them out on the only white people available within a 25 mile radius (which definitely appeared to be the case as we saw no others during our entire time there).

From our hotel, there were a myriad of food stalls which had an amazing selection of things for Sarah and I to try our stomachs at and all meals typically for less than $1. It was amazing... There simply was not enough time to try everything... which seemed to constantly vex Sarah as she realized the limited room she had to work with. Needless to say, we ate well. We were even able to celebrate Sarah's birthday on the 16th while we were there. True, it wasn't a huge celebration and I didn't get to throw the massive, senseless rave that I had been originally planning... but we got her some ice cream and I think that balanced it all out. The book on her head is her birthday hat...

After a day or so of hanging around the port town area and exploring things there, we decided that it was time to break out of our fortified position and venture into the heart of the city - at the very least to go see some of the sights. We found a taxi van (which really was more like a minivan that had been gutted and filled with benches on the sides much like a swat vehicle), and headed to one of the city bus terminals. From there, we took a bus to the Indonesian National Monument (which really is much like the Washington Monument). The park around the monument was huge and we had to walk forever to find an open gate... needless to say we were sweaty as all get out. It was also a mystery even how to enter the thing as they had an underground entrance that began from the other side of the courtyard and then tunneled its way into the monument... it took some walking to figure that one out, but once we hit the airconditioning inside all was forgotten. After making it up the monument, we explored around a bit more, but eventually ended up back in the port town for the evening before the passenger ship was scheduled to take out.

All in all, Jakarta was a great city, despite the warnings we had received on going there and the fact that we both got some good reading time in ;-). People were friendly and welcoming and the food was fantastic. On to the ship!


By the by... we're in Thailand now since the internet connection stunk in Penang... we don't have time to integrate pics or even load all of the ones we want... so check the updates in the gallery for now and we'll try to load some more when we get the chance!

 


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