Jakarta, Indonesia: first impressions.

On Sunday, January 5, my flight to Jakarta, Indonesia was on 9:50am. I ordered a cab for 7:15am. I had plans to have an early breakfast with Fred at 6am. I set my alarm for 5:30am.

I woke up on the wrong side of bed. At 3am, I was restless and couldn’t sleep. I packed some more stuff and went back to sleep.

I then woke up on my own and saw that it was bright outside. Shit. Checked my phone. 7:19am. Shit. 6 missed calls. Shit shit shit.

Two were from Fred, and I called her first apologizing frantically without giving her time to speak. I then abruptly hung up after I received another call from the taxi driver. He was already waiting outside.

Long story short: my breakfast comprised of a fruit that Fred had given me the previous night. I beckoned the taxi to stop by my office, as I had checked and found that Indonesia wall sockets were different. No adapter in the office. Damnit.

It turns out that Fred had turned off her alarm and fell back asleep. She too had woken up at 7:15am. So glad neither of us stood the other up, worked out in the end!

Arrived at the airport. Realized that I wasn’t carrying as much cash as originally planned. Realized that I did not have a belt. I was also wearing dress shoes, sweatpants, and a t-shirt. Very fashionable.

I landed not knowing much about Jakarta. Unlike the other places I’ve traveled to, I didn’t do much research on the place. Two colleagues merely informed me to take the Blue Bird Taxi Group, and to be ready for horrible traffic.

Stepped out of the airplane and… into the runway? Reminded me of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I was confused for a couple of seconds before noticing the other passengers walking towards a nearby bus. The bus then took us into the terminals section, which was actually a pretty far drive.

Paid for my on-arrival visa ($25 USD for a 15 day stay) with a Benjamin and received the remaining cash in Indonesian Rupiahs (IDR). That’s a lot of zeros: a 100,00 bill is about $8.21. Feeling rich though!

I was pretty good with avoiding non-licensed taxi drivers. As in once. I foolishly asked the second person who approached me, “Are you with Blue Bird Group?” He said yes and led me into a far away parking lot, holding my luggage. Big mistake, I immediately thought.

15 minutes later, after being surrounded by him and two of his friends persuading me that their unmarked taxi was the same as Blue Bird, I took my belongings back to the airport arrivals gate. He demanded a tip for helping carry my bags, and I finally walked away from him after poor negotiation skills.

Found and stood in long for Blue Bird Group for 10 minutes, then took the cab to the hotel, Century Park Hotel. Whoa, people drive on the left side of the road. Car seats are on the right side of the road. Everything is opposite of what I’m used to! There was also a flash rainstorm for a few minutes, from nothing to pouring.

I’m still not used to staying in places like this. It’s a big difference than Motel 6s, Best Westerns, and other motels that we stayed in for family vacations.

The view from my room. Unfortunately, insanely horrible WiFi connectivity. The only way to do work is in the hotel lobby, which I am not very thrilled about.

It wasn’t a good day. Looking back, the lack of sleep, not knowing what to expect in Jakarta and feeling scared, the humidity, and not packing everything left me feeling vulnerable. I got caught slippin’, son.

I shopped for a stupid overpriced belt in a shopping mall down the block, then ate dinner at an Irish pub. Celtic Chicken, generous portion but mediocre taste.

Went back to my place, prepared for business, and went to sleep at 10pm.

It gets a lot better, thankfully. Can’t wait to write about Monday, January 6.

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