I haven’t even finished my first week in Indonesia, and already it’s been a powerful experience for me. Here, I put myself on a sort of “silent meditation,” making little eye contact, speaking only to people if necessary (or when hanging out with friends, which explains why I couldn’t shut my mouth when I was with them! Sorry Sandra!) I could speak volumes about the all the philosophising that I’ve been doing. Wrapping my head around the infinitesimal chance that I have become the person that I am, the multitude of pathways that I’ve crossed, closed and opened, is quite mindblowing. But, I’ll cut this short. So enough of the heart to heart, and on to the stuff you’re here to actually read about!
Today is my last day in Jakarta, however I don’t feel that I allotted enough time here. The food is great, people sweet and coffee options amazing (key word: options)! To all my friends in NYC, get ready to break out the Vitamix to make some avocado coffee while we drink down some lychee juice with basil seeds, to wash out the taste of the green tea/red bean/espresso lattes and durian shakes!
Jakarta, you’ve showed me one crazy time. I will definitely be back! In the meantime, here’s the rundown:
Day 1: Thursday
I took a KLM flight from Brussels to Amsterdam and from there, a Geruda Indonesia flight to Jakarta. When I booked the ticket weeks ago, I requested a vegan diet and Geruda delivered splendidly. Curry for dinner, noodles for breakfast. Both served with fruit and rye bread. Fab. Decent red wine and a good gin and tonic to go to bed to and I was set for this 13hour flight. Movie selection wasn’t the best, but on a long haul flight, the last thing I want to do is stay awake and watch movies. Sleep, my friend, is the key not being jetlagged; works for me every time.
When I arrived at the airport, I was met with a mad rush of hot, warm air and immediately thanked the lady that lasered all the unnecessary and unstylish hair off my body. I never wear deodorant (surprise if you personally know me!), but for a hot millisecond I considered starting.
Jakarta has multiple free wifi networks. I connected to Shia and YelloChat Free Wifi interchangebly; when one was dragging, I’d switch to the other. However, added bonus: Indonesia has 3 (three.co.uk), so when I landed I was at a FeelAtHome destination, so incurred the same fees as when I was in Belgium, France and Israel, etc.
Airport to Hostel
To get to the hostel that I was staying at in Kota Tua (Old Jakarta, Old Batavia aka Oud Batavia in Dutch), I took a Blue Bird Taksi. Them and Express are the most reputable, however, I have no experience with any of the other taksis on the streets (yet…), so I went with the advice given by the hostel and my Jakartan friend. Getting to Kota Tua should cost no more than 150,000 Indonesian Rupiah (1USD = 12754.99 Indonesian Rupiah), roughly $11.76 by taxi and should take roughly 30 minutes.
By public transport, you can take the airport shuttle DAMRI to several stops in Central Jakarta, and then from there bus or train to your destination. For me, it was estimated 1.5hrs, about the same estimate getting to JFK from UES on the E train or Newark with Newark Express from Grand Central, so the long time frame wasn’t difficult for me to grasp; I couldn’t be bothered. A word of advice: Google Maps is rubbish here. Taksi drivers know better, quicker routes (sometimes) and the timing of buses and trains is all off. Rule of thumb, go with your instinct and if the taksi driver “gets lost” redirect them if you can, don’t let them charge you more than the trip is actually worth. I’ve heard too many stories from people arriving into Jakarta and being charged obscene amounts of cash or being toted around for over 2 hours (without traffic).
I stayed at Teduh Hostel in Kota Tua. They are GREAT! Clean, fast, free wifi, free breakfast, laundry service, clean hot showers with super helpful staff. I arrived at 12.40pm, giving me enough time to get settled and explore.
I was meeting my friends and Junko, teacher and owner of IPDA (Indonesia Pole Dance Association) in Kemang at 19.00, so I decided to make my way down there slowly by public transportation.
For 40,000 you get a bus card with a 20,000 top up. You can use this card for the bus and train. Each trip costs 4,000. Buses are about double the time of train. Taksis really are no better. The most efficient I’ve found are hitching a ride on the back of a scooter since they can weave in and out of traffic. On a Friday afternoon, my friend and I were stuck in Jakarta traffic for 7 HOURS for what should have taken us 2 hours in normal traffic.
Jakarta is a dirty city, but what major metropolitan city isn’t? It’s not a walkie talkie city, either, meaning it’s quite difficult texting and walking at the same time without falling into a hole, walking into garbage or coming across the end of a sidewalk like this… So, hati hati when walking around this city!
I dropped into a class at IPDA (Indonesia Pole Dance Association) taught by Junko. Religiously speaking, Indonesia is 63% Muslim, so I was intrigued that there was a male pole dance instructor in the capital. The entrance to the studio is through a club and up the stairs. The class was full with a few remaining girls trickling in during the warmup. Junko and his students welcomed me with open arms as well as my friends who were able to sit and chat with me in between learning new moves. At the end of class, Junko went through a routine dance that rounded out the strength building and flexibility work we got while learning and practising new moves.
End of the day
My friends and I ended up getting nasi goreng (what my friends in Bali and I lovingly called “nasi boring” by the end of my time in Indonesia) at one of their favourite joints and called it a day. Sweaty and exhausted from dancing and walking all day, I got back to my hostel, had a nice long, hot shower and called it a night in my cubicle.