Archive for February, 2016

Jakarta

Friday, February 12th, 2016

On the first morning of my stay, I join my host on her way to work. This involves a ride on the back of a moped, two short hauls aboard a minivan and a trip in her colleague’s car. We’ll have breakfast in the local market at a stall going by the name ibu Rita. Food containers with ready made meals are on display, and upon request they get served on a plate. Delicious. Then, breakfast gets washed away with delight black coffee from a fully operational roaster named Rosso. Java often is associated with coffee, and that’s for a reason. My tastebuds shamelessly feasts on this cup of black gold. What a delight :)
From here, I am helped onto an express bus taking me to central Jakarta. Though, well, Jakarta is so spread out, even the center is rather large. It is nice and impressive to walk amidst its colossal cityscape filled with shiny highrises. After some walking, I reach the landmark of the city, better known as Monas, which, indeed, means National Monument. A proud arrow shaped statue, rising up into the sky and housing a museum in its base. A museum which, sadly, appears to be closed.
To stay hydrated, I buy a small bottle of soda on a nearby market. Two guys try to persuade me into playing a game that involves throwing woorden rings toward packs of cigarettes. I kindly dismiss their offer, stating I’m a non-smoker.
In the park surrounding the Monas several other statues are found. One of the most striking ones is a statue showing three Javanese women, of which one is dancing and another breastfeeding a child.
From here, it is my intention to visit a Padan restaurant. Fate had other plans, though, and some heavy tropical rainfall caused me to look for shelter at a coffee place that also proved to serve beer and food. Not what I had in mind, but still rather good, and a good way to mentally prepare myself for the way back home. The first leg of that trip proved easy and convenient. The new Transjakarta bus system uses designated lanes, allowing it to zoom past traffic, and all that’s needed to ride it is opening a gate by gently tapping it with a smartcard, deducting 3500 rupiah from the balance stored on it.This brought me to Blok M fast and in a convenient fashion.
The rest of the trip proved a bit less convenient. Having to go to a part of the city not yet served by transJakarta sentenced me to using MetroMini. Small orange and blue buses equipped with seats that’re officially too small to accommodate me. My upper legs are simply too long to fit in between my own seatrest and the one in front of me. Traffic is dense and only moving forward slowly, and the interior of the bus is rather noisy, due to driving with opened doors and street musicians jumping in here and there to play a short set and walk around the bus carrying an empty foil bag, collecting money. The noise and the smoke has a noticable effect. My eyes sting, my throat hurts, my head aches and you can actually taste the carbohydrates in the air. Compared to this, the very last leg of the trip is easy. At There are lots of intersections where motorcyclists casually seem to hang out, but when passing by their true intention becomes obvious. These are ojeks, working as an informal kind of taxi service. Hitching a ride is easy, and before you know it, I’m back where this day started.

Share

Dubai

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

After a miniature pub crawl through terminal A of DxB, it’s time to move toward the gate from where my flight to Jakarta will depart. I pick up the local English language newspaper, with the intention to read it aboard the plane. From the gate, a bus drives us onto the tarmac to a Boeing 777 parked in a rather remote location.
Again, the plane is not filled to capacity, and again I’ve got three seats at my disposal to nap on. THE magic trick to prevent jetlag.
Despite sleeping throughout most of the flight, my onboard data usage proved rather high. The explanation; one of the apps on my phone has the tendency to backup all photos taken to cloud storage, _if_ it is night, connected to a charger and a wifi network. In this day and age of transatlantic fibre optic cables, it feels kinda oldschool, knowing my photos are now relayed via satellite for a change.
Interesting when taking into account I only bought a data package for this leg of the flight in order to look up the address of my sponsor, to fill out on the immigration form.
Once in Jakarta, it took me some time to find the right line to enter the country through, but eventually I found the booth where I could get my visa stamped. After the usual rituals, involving withdrawing money in local currency, toilet break, gathering luggage and purchasing a local SIM card with a pleasantly bulky 4G data allowance. Just no not run out.

Then, it is time to take a first breath of sultry, humid tropical air. Mixed with exhaust fumes, but still, the warmth and waving palm trees, knowing people back home still experience winter is a delight.
Two of my acquiantances are coming to pick me up. First thing they do as we leave the parking lot is the huge billboard, announcing the solar eclipse. This looks promising.
Afterward we opt for coffee. This brought us to a rather generic mall away from the city, but it’s always a good thing to share food and beverages in good company. My first ever visit to Indonesia has officially started.

Share

Schiphol

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

As much time you may or may not dedicate to packing and heading to the airport, eventually you do end up feeling rushed. In this event, I blame Microsoft for that. Before leaving, I wanted to perform the recomended monthly test of the ground fault circuit breaker I so often end up skipping, before switching off all circuits except for the one feeding the fridge. Yet, my laptop decided it was a good time to install updates and service packages just as I made my way to the circuit board and I decided it would be better to leave it powered for the time being and wait until it finished. This actually bought me some time to take out a last bag of trash, so Johan Cruijff was right when he said “Elk nadeel hep z’n voordeel”

Though I had already checked in online yesterday, it does give peace of mind to have dropped off all checked luggage and be cleared by customs. Arriving at the railway platform minutes after the train left and having to wait for another to arrive did, obviously, not bring me any closer to this peace of mind – but it should, yes should, be manageable to be at the counter before it closes. And indeed, I did arrive at the counter more than one and a half hours before the scheduled departure of the flight, and after being greeted by ecceptionally friendly ground staff and dropping off my luggage, it is time to go through customs. Beside the booths where humans perform the passport checks, there are now some automated gates, apparently able to optically read out passports and
match it with the info on the RFID chip. It appears The Netherlands secretly seceded from the European Union, though – because, when I tried it, a message popped claiming these gates are only to be used by EU citizens. Which, to my best knowledge, I still am…

Not feeling any urge to shop or visit a cafe, I decide to manage some last emails and such near the gate where the gracious little bird that’ll bring me to Dubai is already parked. The difference in size is striking, compared to the Aeroflot jet at the adjacent gate. Obviously, I take some pictures. I still have that awkward hobby of wanting to snap an image of every plane I’ve ever flown on. Why? It just happens to be one of the things you start doing and never stop with.

As the gate opens, the same ground stewardess who initially printed my boardung pass and issued the claim ticket for my bag also is the one scanning my boarding pass and granting entrance to the gate. It takes significantly less time to embark the plane than the previous time I flew to Dubai, but the reason behind that is that the economy class of this flight is not nearly filled to capacity. I’ve got an entire row of seats aboard this A380 at my disposal, which proves a great opportunity to get some rest. As much as I dislike reclining seatbacks, that much I appreciate being able to occupy three or four seats at once and turn them into a makeshift bed. though they offer literally thousands of things to do or watch aboard this flight, nothing beats getting some sleep – or, well, sleep, and the ability to connect to the internet throughout the flight. What happened to Justine Sacco in 2013 has become a thing of the past :)

In Dubai, there’s a four hour layover. Leaving plenty of time for some food and drinks. The airline issued a meal voucher, which bought me a sandwich and a soda – and afterward, my creditcard bought me a delightful cup of coffee, and a Lebanese lager to pass the time until the gate opens for my flight to Jakarta.

Share