Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pray: Jakarta, Indonesia Part I

I’ve dedicated this trip as a spiritual healing process. I have been exposed with stressful and troublesome atmosphere for the past months in a city I call home. For just even 9 days, I wanted something different. That’s all I asked for.

I started my trip with a 3 hour delay in Manila since they were fixing their system radar. It was very annoying because I have been waiting in the airport since 8pm. I kept my cool and luckily, I’ve already started learning the art of patience. The trip to Jakarta was about 3-4 hours, I think. As I arrived the airport at 5am (or 4:30), I got a Blue Bird taxi, which is what the people in Jakarta trust and use. Make sure, the meter is on all the time.

It took us about 30 minutes to get to my host’s place as he lives in the South of Jakarta and I don’t think the driver knew exactly where the street is located. Though, I was very positive that I would be getting on the couch anytime soon to catch some sleep. I was welcomed by a compound of beautiful flats surrounded by refreshing plants with a cool air breeze.  I got in the apartment and crashed into this really cozy bed.

I was hosted by Ben along with his girlfriend, Sikha. On my first morning in Jakarta, I woke up and they were both gone for work. It was quiet, cold and relaxing, just what I needed. I got up to get myself water, took a shower and started my day. I started to look for a place to get WiFi to be able to send my mom a message, since I wasn’t sure if she received my message from my Indonesiam sim card.

I walked straight into the road not knowing where I will end up to and saw a small café next to a beauty salon with a sign that says “Free WiFi”. This must be my lucky day. I got in and an Indonesian man greeted me with a smile. First thing I said was, “Sorry, no Bahasa” (Hahahaha! I’ve used this line throughout my whole trip) I ordered an iced lychee tea and did some browsing. I also planned what I’d do for the day and that decision ended up visiting Kota – north of Jakarta.

I got a cab (big mistake) and the trip took about 40 minutes – horrible traffic. We took some kind of expressway and had to pay about RP3,000 (cheap) for toll. I got in there and paid about RP100,000 (expensive for a person coming from Manila) still not aware how the commuting system works. I forgave myself as this was my first day.

According to my Lonely Planet guide book, Kota is an old town of Batavia and was “once the hub of Dutch colonial Indonesia. The historical buildings are pretty much old, a bit destroyed and some were still preserved.

The first building I went to was Museum Wayang, which is a puppet museum. A nice man who made some of those puppets along with his family gave me a nice background about it. They have heaps of puppets from Indonesia along with a few collections from France, Thailand, India, Cambodia and many more. He even told me that he went to the Philippines and friend of his has promised him that he will be given some Philippine puppets. I took my time there and have encountered with a man who advised me to try dating an Indonesian boy, haha. Two Indonesian girls were also very friendly and started a conversation with me.  The friendliness of these people made me feel at home.

I walked around the square, which was buzzed with locals and youngsters bicycling around. There were some tourists as this was the low season in Indonesia. I tried to look for the Museum Sejarah Jakarta (Jakarta History Museum) but didn’t manage to find it. I walked more a bit and on the sidewalk I saw a man selling football club stickers, and there I found out Indonesians are huge fans of football. I got myself a Real Madrid sticker. Yay.

Inside TransJakarta bus

I walked more and decided to visit the Monas next. It is located in the Central Jakarta and this time I did not want to take a cab. I was advised by the people around to take the train so I went to the train station. When I got there, I asked which stop to go to, but then they told me to take TransJakarta instead as it was going to stop exactly where Monas is located.  I went around again to go to TransJakarta, and incredibly, this bus system was actually pretty nice. 

Sadly, I missed my stop. Hahaha damn it. However, while I was inside the bus two youngsters were tying to take a photo of me when I dozed off for a bit, and when I opened my eyes they saw me and put their phones down. They looked guilty and embarrassed. Lol.

I went down on the last stop, which was Blok M, and went around the malls there. The mall I went to reminded me of some malls in Divisoria, it was okay. After that I took like a trycicle, which is called Bajaj. And no it is not Ojek, ojek is a motorcycle transportation.

I got home and to finally see my host (since he was asleep when I arrived) and had a very fun conversation. We went out too eat my first local Indonesian meal – Chicken Sate in a small eatery they call, Warung (I think).

The meal was extremely good. The eatery was operated by an old man along with his young helpers, and let me just say it again, it was freaking good. A plate has several sticks of chicken marinated with awesome sauce along with a choice of normal rice or sticky rice.

Chicken sate with sticky rice

After the meal, I got ready for the night to meet Ethenia to watch some fashion shows in Senayan City where Jakarta Fashion Week was held. Ben explained to me that a “city” in Jakarta meant an area with several condominiums with a mall and other things.

I went inside the Senayan mall and wow it was really nice. It reminded me a lot of SM Aura in Manila, the elevator and floor structure was pretty much the same. They both also have similar stores, and surprisingly, the Balenciaga store there sells clothes! I’m not sure if the one in Greenbelt sells them too. I finally met up with Ethenia and headed to the tent. When we got there, the current show was for invites only.  So we just headed to the show inside the mall that presented working clothes designed by young students. Yes, working clothes. Lol. It was actually a competition judged by a designer and two notable people. After that, Ethenia’s friend, Bidari, came and all went to a restaurant to get some dinner. I was still full from the meal I had earlier, so I just decided to get water instead.  The three of us had a great time and they also told me about their trip to the Philippines as well. We all concluded that the Indonesian and Filipino cultures are pretty much alike despite the religion differences.

Later that night, I went back home to change into my clubbing clothes to meet another nice girl named Elda who have invited me to a club called Fables for a pre-Halloween party. She picked me up with her friends in their Jaguar car, which was pretty sweet. We arrived the club and there was pretty long line, luckily Elda’s other beautiful friend, Natasha, have connections and got us in just like that. The club was filled with high-school students from locals to international students. We got a table and Natasha got all of us some drinks, such a real generous girl. We danced, drank and just enjoyed the night. Until I gave up, since I’ve been up the whole day and was really exhausted. I gave Elda a big hug, said all my thanks for a wonderful evening, and went home.

To be continued.

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