Sorry, no, I don’t know how many entries I’ll have about Indonesia because it was just SO WONDERFUL and too much to put in one post. Or two. Or three. Or… So we’ll all be surprised when I’m done. Will that work? Good. 😉
I never thought I would have the opportunity to visit the Far East, the islands of Malaysia or Indonesia, or Australia. It’s just so bloomin’ far away. That was before my job gave me the opportunity to go to Jakarta. “Would you like to go,” they asked. Uh, yea! Did I even stop to think about how far it was? (10K miles) How many hours it would take to get there? (a LOT) How long I’d be gone? (at least two weeks) Whether I spoke the language?
No, no, no, and not even close.
But I went anyway. And I’m so glad I did.
The trip was long. Really long. It was made longer when, shortly after takeoff from Dallas, my plane was diverted to Tulsa due to a medical emergency. Can you imagine a huge jet landing really quickly? There was none of the calm, controlled glide onto the runway we normally experience when a plane lands. Heck no. That pilot was getting that plane down speedy quick, as Junie B. Jones would say. It was like Tom Cruise buzzing the tower in Top Gun. Zooooooooom! I figured we might be there maybe an hour or so. Yea, no. In addition to getting the poor soul off the plane, all the preflight inspections happened again, plus the you-landed-way-quicker-than-normal-are-you-ok plane inspection and refueling. Two and a half hours later, we started to move again. Only to have to sit and burn off some fuel because we were now too heavy to take off. Irony…
Take off we eventually did and I arrived in Jakarta at about 4am. Yawn. Above is a photo of the lobby ceiling at the Jakarta Mandarin Oriental. Beautiful, isn’t it? I wasn’t able to get a photo, but the lobby floor mirrors the ceiling in shades of brown and tan marble. Gorgeous. Even at 4am, several hotel staff greeted me warmly. Thus began my interaction with the lovely, graceful Indonesian people. Everything they do, they do beautifully. When they presented my room key to me, it was with both hands and a bow. It was like that with everything, no matter where we were.
The hotel was so nice (we had a government rate, I pinky swear!). There was a bakery in the hotel lobby.
There were several restaurants, including a French one called Lyon (sorry, #2). Look at this yumminess.
Traffic in Jakarta is nothing short of nuts. I have to admit, though, there is organization to the chaos. Take a look:
Those guys and gals with the green helmets were the Uber scooters of Jakarta.
On Sunday mornings, the streets around the hotel are closed for a few hours. It’s a popular event when locals come out to walk, run, and buy food and trinkets from the stands along the way. It’s quite noisy, so the Jakarta Mandarin leaves ear plugs out for its guests the night before.
Our driver each day was a sweetheart of a guy named Mugie. We called him Superman because he usually kept a little superman action figure on his dashboard – and he was a fabulous driver. He put up with our silly selves and tried to teach us Bahasa, even though we were awful students. Salama pagi, Superman!
Isn’t he a cutie? He speaks terrific English.
One thing I noticed about Jakarta is the unique architecture of its many skyscrapers. It’s like each tries to outdo the next in creativity. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get more and better pictures, but here are a few:
During our stay, we got to drive by some cool sights, including the American Embassy
and the National Monument. When we were given directions to something, we often were told where something was in relationship to the monument. We didn’t understand until we saw it. It is 433 feet tall.
Why, you ask, were we in Jakarta? It’s pretty neat, really. Their government has a division devoted to fighting corruption, including a brand new training center. We were invited there to advise them in how to run their center and give them best practices in how to train their prosecutors and other staff. Here are the wonderful people we worked with.
I hope you enjoyed installment #1!