Monday, October 4, 2010

Arrival: Jakarta

A good portion of my flight is spent reading the Lonely Planet and trying to formulate something of a plan. Skimming through the section on Java (the island where Jakarta is located) I decided that Borobudur, a big Buddhist temple, and Bromo, a volcano, are the things I'd most like to see. Conveniently, they are both located to the East of Jakarta, the way I need to head to get to Bali.
My plan is to go directly to the Jakarta train station and figure out the earliest I can get on my way towards Yogyakarta. From there I can arrange a trip to Borobudur. Along the way, I will further investigate the feasibility of getting to Bromo. The Lonely Planet encourages an early morning hike to catch sunrise from the summit. I am not sure that will be possible, but figure I'll see how travelling goes before ruling anything out.

With my itinerary for the next few hours ironed out I watch and hate the movie Date Night. Yes, it is socially unacceptable to take someone else's dinner reservation. That does not make it a joke that can carry a film. Make more 30 Rock and stop being in bad movies, Tina Fey.

The Jakarta customs check is awesome. You pay $25, a guy stamps like a billion things without so much as speaking to you and you're on your way. The declaration card's notice that drug traffickers face the death penalty had led me to believe it might be a more tedious ordeal.

As I walk out of customs and skip the baggage claim, I discover that I am a celebrity in Indonesia. As I step outside everyone starts clamoring for my attention. Fortunately, the licensed taxi companies have clearly marked booths and everyone who just wants my autograph or whatever is kept behind a fence. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and/or harassed, you feel awesome.

I pick a cab company at random. The price seems high because money is ridiculous here. Exchange rate of like 9000 Rupiah to 1 dollar has left me with a fat wad of seemingly fake money. 200,000 for a cab? Why not?

It turns out that the cab people (and everyone else I will meet, for that matter) speak English pretty well. I say I'd like to go to Gambir station and we're off. The cabbie isn't sure if the ticket booths will still be open, but I hope to at least verify the schedule tonight. There's a strip of hotels not far from Gambir that seems like a logical next step.

I like the small streets crowded w/ random shops and food booths. The driver turns, "Mr., Bajaj, mister" pointing out an awesome 3 wheeled motorcycle-cart hybrid thing that we're passing. I want to own one. Also, I'm amused at being called 'Mr.' Don't get that a lot.

Bajaj are ever bit as awesome as you'd hope.

I get dropped off by the train station. Too late for a ticket, but there is definitely an 8AM train for Yogyakarta. A taxi guy approaches and offers to take me somewhere. I ask how much. He says $5. I tell him Ok, knowing this is probably a relative rip-off but not caring b/c it's $5. Also it's dark and I'm in a city I don't know with no real destination. It occurs to me that in my negotiations with the cabbie no destination has been discussed. I say I want to go to a hotel and the guy says something. It sounds like it could be the nearby district with hotels. Arranging transportation in this manner is probably how people get their kidneys stolen.

Jakarta has the most confusing streets ever. I'm pretty sure we're just going in circles, but since I've already agreed to a set price, that doesn't really make sense. According to the Lonely Planet the place I think I'm going is like 1km from the train station. We certainly seem to be taking the long route. Before I get too concerned though, we pull up to a nice enough place w/ a Bob Marley cover band playing out front. $30 for a room. This country is ridiculous.

1 comment:

  1. I thought date night was sort of funny for an airplane movie. At least the part about radio shack. Also, it's way better than "The Back Up Plan," which I also watched on the way home from Korea. Glad you didn't get your kidneys stolen. Do you think that the swarms of people thought you were Harry Potter? I like to think so.