We made it, just in case you were wondering. Twenty-one hours door-to-door, of which fourteen in a plane. And Indonesia is still as we left it, six years ago, full of people smiling, friendly, helpful; this is what we had come to appreciate so much in the year we lived here. When pulling your suitcase towards a taxi, a passer-by – total stranger – wishes you a good trip. Arriving at a station, somebody is already pointing you to where the ticket office is. Getting out of a bus, people ask you where you want to go, and walk you in the right direction. Without wanting to sell you something, just because they are friendly, helpful. Perhaps the only ulterior motive is to practice their English. Or Dutch, which, surprisingly, is also spoken by quite a few, even younger people. We need to adjust to this again.
There are not many tourists in Jakarta, our first destination. So we stand out, also because we are considerably taller than the average Indonesian. Some try to sneak a photo of the foreigner, with their telephones. Others are bolder, and ask to be photographed with you.
In downtown Jakarta, like in all other Indonesian towns, there are food stalls everywhere: the Warung Padangs, small vitrines where you select a few dishes to accompany your white rice, which you then eat at a plastic table in front of the stall. Some of the street corners are full of sate stalls, generally not more than a shelf and a charcoal grill, which roasts the most delicious tiny brochettes with chicken or lamb meat. We are going to enjoy this! And I am not sure whether we are going to lose weight.
For those who have been following my blogs on earlier occasions, there is one serious downside, this time around. We have only managed to find tonic sporadically, and no gin, and this is Jakarta! I am afraid it is going to be the odd beer and fresh fruit juice, this time around. Maybe we do lose some weight, after all…
next: a bit more on Jakarta