We flew in to Jakarta around midnight from Singapore. As soon as the plane landed I knew it was going to be a crazy country....the moment all the wheels of the plane were on the ground, people started standing up to get their bags and push themselves to the front of the plane. The pilots had to make continual announcements to get people to sit down again...all I could think was...where are we going?
|A view of Jakarta from its National History Museum (taken the next day)|
The lonely planet said that the cheapest way was to take the bus....so on belief that the lonely planet could do no wrong (did I mention it was our first stop?) I paraded my way thru hoards of desperate taxi drivers to the bus stop, where we were pushed on to a bus by very loud, short men....and then waited for 2 hours....from there, after 2 more stops at other airports and more waiting, we were dropped off at the train station at 2am, covered in sweat, in a rain storm, terrified and hungry, with mosquitos swarming us in darkness. We had no idea which direction to go and were terrified of looking it up in the sacred book of answers and having someone 'know' we didn't know what we were doing....looking back...our idiocy was pretty obvious! Could we have had a better experience? Most definitely...will I go back to try it all over again? Absolutely not!
|Our second meal in Jakarta - found in the basement of a mall downtown, |
(right next to a basement mall grocery store)
Not bad food in retrospect, but as my first toasty whole fish, a bit terrifying
The next day we discovered the side walk we had walked along in the dark the night before with our oversized paks and looks of terror had sporadic 2 foot gaping holes here and there that you had to leap over or risk breaking a leg. All of the decaying sidewalks in Jakarta have a deep and wide gutter system underneath them, which keeps the entire city from flooding and terrifies pedestrians...we were the only people walking the streets....it's almost impossible to cross the 5 car wide streets in some parts of the city. Most people take taxis!
|'walking' downtown Jakarta|
This photo was taken on an overpass we fortunately found to walk over the 'normal' street
|waiting for hours at the train station to leave Jakarta!|
We ended up having to pay a man who grabbed our bags at the very last moment and demanded money
All that being said....I will never return to Jakarta. Worst place we visited on our entire trip by far!
Dirtier then the long dusty bus rides in Africa. Hotter then the sun filled blistering days of Thailand....
Yup. Just as there are beautiful places I'm dying to return to....there are places I would rather not see again. Jakarta is one of them. It did teach a lot of important lessons on the do's and don'ts of first days flying into new places -
DON'T arrive late at night!
DON'T hand your bags over to ANYONE and not expect them to want money seconds later.
DO book a room before arrival for your first night in a new city!
DO make sure to plan how you're going to get there!
DO enjoy and have fun trying out the local foods and beverages!
Mistakes we didn't make again after that!
But to end on a good note...the best coffee I've ever had? 1 block away from our jail cell hostel at a hole in the wall restaurant:
|Coffee Jakarta style - strong with the grounds still in with sweetened condensed milk on the bottom. |