This posts about my crazy first day in Indonesia, and my interesting living situation over here. I’ll add pictures to the post soon, but just forgot to upload them to my computer this morning so those should be up by tomorrow.
I have been to a pretty significant amount of countries in the past year, and I have to say based on my one day here so far this may be the wackiest one
It all started this morning. I took a cab to KL central, and then hopped on the bus to the airport. Randomly met an interesting dude who happens to host shows on CNBC, PBS, and BBC and is an international correspondent/journalist from Canada based in Southeast Asia.
Also met a really cool American from North Carolina. Always refreshing to meet Americans, especially those with good stories. He had graduated a few years back, and was currently teaching abroad in Korea for the year, and had been in South America teaching the year before so sounded like he was living it up!
Hopped on the plane and started to read a good bit of this ridiculous book called “in the time of madness,” which is all about Indonesia and how there was a ridiculous amount of beheadings and cannabalism in the country just a short 10 years ago, been a fascinating read so far.
Anyhow, I finally landed in Jakarta without any major issues for the first time during my Asian travels, which was a pleasant change. I found a money machine so decided to take out some money. Problem was, I had no idea what the exchange rate was for USD. Turns out it is an absolutely unbelieveable, and obnoxiously large conversion. 1 US Dollar is worth 10000 Rupiah…yes, 10,000. So, when I went to the ATM and saw that there was an option to take out a million rupiah, naturally I had to do it. Phew, I can cross being a millionaire at age 20 off my bucket list now!
Anyways, I grabbed my bags, and headed out the door with no idea what to do. I was supposed to be meeting a gentleman who was the operating partner of the Outback’s in Indonesia, but the only problem was we’d never met before, I didn’t have his number, had no idea what he looked like and no real contingency plan. I awkwardly walked up and down the arrivals area really awkwardly looking for a sign with my name on it, and didn’t see one so headed out. After about 10 minutes of doing the awkward lost tourist for a while outside I contemplated just taking a cab to the outback location in the center of the city. I decided to take one more round inside the arrivals waiting area, so after gesturing to explain the situation to a guard with a machine gun, I got back inside.
Fortunately, after aimlessly wandering for a bit I noticed a sign with my name on it and was so happy to see it, and my new temporary boss Mr.Bhudy. Bhudy is the man, and told me a great deal about the country and culture in our hour and half ride to the first restaurant. He also asked me if I was going to be going to Bali, which is a world famous beach party island that I’ve always wanted to go to. I didn’t realize that was even a possibility with work, and so if I get approval from my boss seriously considering making an epic weekend trip out there solo!
The reason that the ride took so long, is because traffic in this city is the worst I have seen of anywhere in the world. The infrastructure in Jakarta is horrendous, and so as result the city is a constant traffic jam literally 24/7. It’s so bad that i’m sure that after my two week stay here, I’m going to be looking forward to 495 and the bumper to bumper traffic we bitch and whine about. Can’t say I’m ecstatic about the 45 minute (Minimum) cab rides to and from work everyday haha. Apparently, you can also hop onto scooters and they take you to wherever you want to go, dangerously weaving throughout traffic the whole way, so may look into that option one day.
Anyways, I met all the staff at the Ratu plaza restaurant, which is where I’ll be working this week, grabbed some appetizers, and then took off for the second restaurant location. After a painfully long ride sitting in traffic once more, we finally arrived to the restaurant. I met up with one of my main bosses, Dilip, who is the SE Asia marketing director and we all had lunch and discussed my tasks for my time here in Jakarta. I also learned that my hotel did not have internet, but thought nothing of it…turned out to be a telling sign.
Anyways, after picking up another local sim card for my phone, we headed off to my “hotel” room. The drive took forever, and I actually passed out from travel induced exhaustion and boredom. When I awoke, I had absolutely no idea where we were, but were apparently outside of my “hotel.” In all 3 of the other cities that the company has hosted me in, I’ve stayed in relatively nice hotels in good locations in the cities.
**I wrote this last night, and the dingy little room may be growing on me a bit**
Well in Indonesia, not quite the case. Upon entering the room my jaw dropped a bit, as the thought of living here for 2 weeks made me cringe. It is a dinky, somewhat smelly, dirty green room. The ceiling has water damage, and the bed spread looked filthy & had small holes in it…not to mention the spiderwebs adding to the pleasant welcoming to my new “Humble” abode. There aren’t any mirrors, and the windows are completely blacked out, so no sunlight comes in. Don’t have a blanket either, but it is a full bed instead of my usual twin with lots of pillows (Questionable pillow covers) which is nice i guess. I actually thought it was some sort of joke when he brought me here, and to add to things no one at the hotel speaks a word of English, like not even one.
I generally tend to think of myself as a relatively low-maintenance person, and usually don’t mind most living situations. With that said, 2 weeks in this dump of a room could be kinda rough, so we’ll see how it goes. The Marketing guy, who is only a couple years older than me, is actually staying at a real hotel in the city so was thinking about asking if I could possibly be relocated there. Just don’t want to seem like a bitchy, unappreciative American as it seems Bhudy must have spent some time arranging this accommodation for me.
Also, they told me not to go out at night so don’t quite know what to do with myself. The lack of Internet connection is such a strange feeling, and I feel a bit disconnected to the world. At the same time, I guess it may be a good thing as I’ll be forced to read more, keep up with the blog, and catch up on television and movies I’ve been meaning to watch for months. Also, the restaurants have solid internet connection, so planning on taking advantage of that.
About an hour after I started settling in a bit, I heard a knocking on the door and as there is no peephole and I am clearly a foreigner, was a bit anxious to open it. It was the lady who worked at the hotel, the one who doesn’t speak any English. She came into my room with a sheet in her hands, and just started speaking to me in Indonesian and I legitimately didn’t have a clue what she was saying. Everytime I gestured that I didn’t understand she would just repeat it faster and louder and we both just ended up with an awkward somewhat frustrated laugh as we realized we had no idea what the other was saying, She was a sweet lady and wouldn’t give up, and kept babbling away but I got more and more confused by the moment as her gestures didn’t make any sense to me at all.
I called mr.bhudy, explained the situation and gave her the phone and they talked for a while. We ended up playing pass the phone for about 5 minutes, and was extremely unproductive as I had no idea what the hell was going on still, but bhudy said it was all good and she just left and smiled. Confused would be an understatement.
I settled back into bed, and started editing some pics from Taman Negara which I’ll put up soon. An hour or so later, another knock came on my door and when I asked who it was it was a males voice this time. I skeptically opened the door, wondering what the hell it could be this time. Turns out, it was one of the managers from outback who had dropped me off a few hours earlier to the hotel. He had a towel, and laundry detergent in his hand and I was beyond confused. He explained that this was what the lady and mr.bhudy were talking about and he came to drop it off.
I was planning on walking to the grocery store down the road, but they had warned me about walking around in the dark at night. I told him I was planning on going and he told me to hop on the back of his bike. I did, and we took a short ride to the main rode. After thinking I was nearly going to get wrecked by a huge blue truck as we turned on to the road, I hopped off the bike and we both went our respective ways.
The grocery store was located right across the street. As difficult as getting through the Jakarta traffic may be, I think crossing the road may be even more terrifying. I legitimately waited for 5 minutes before I ran across the 2 lane road, as hundreds of cars and scooters were flying recklessly by. Honestly, can’t say I’ve ever been so happy to have safely crossed a road before.
I got into the store, and quickly realized that this city, and my area in particular is not a touristy one whatsoever. In fact, I believe I was the only non-indonesian in the large store. I wandered around aimlessly for a while with no clue what to get to eat, and settled on a healthy and familiar diet of Pringles, cheetos, and a large bottle of water.
I feel terrible buying so many bottles of water, as I know it’s terrible for the environment, is stupid to pay for water, etc. Unfortunately, the regular water’s not safe to drink so am left with little option. As if angry water gods were getting back at me, upon opening my water bottle a significant amount spilled all over my bed.
As a result, I’m sitting on my new towel in my room (Which may be cleaner than the sheet) and writing this blog. Talk about an interesting few hours/first day so far.
Also, just realized that there’s no toilet paper here soo looks like I’m gonna be exploring the washing method haha. I get the concept, but have no clue what your supposed to do after you wash!
Definitely not in College Park, MD anymore…
Talk about a welcome to Indonesia!
Can’t believe i’ll be back home in 3 short weeks, strange and exciting to think about.
I was actually woken up this morning by a rooster. There seems to be about a million living in all directions of me, and i finally understand the old saying.
Got up this morning and continued to bang out some blog posts, and as soon as i post these online i think i’ll be all caught up!
Went on a quick run to see the area a bit, and shit it is hot outside! The humidity, combined with me being so out of shape made for a rather short run. I did see 5 or 6 roosters haha. Hoping if i keep running everyday, by the time i get back to the US maybe running will be much easier back home due to the decreased humidity. Still haven’t figured out how to let any light in to my room as the windows are all covered up. I could leave my front door open but would be exposing my belongings to other people and more importantly mosquitos. Anyhow, there are about a million and one things to see here around every corner, and think i’m gonna be taking an unnecesary amount of pictures of just about everything i see…apologies in advance!
The lady who works here ran into me again, and spent another 5 minutes speaking at me in Indonesian with me helplessly looking on. After gesturing wildly back and forth, and her making some interesting grunts i came to interpret it as she wanted me to pay for the towel or something? Haven’t even really gotten out of my “hotel”/neighborhood and this country is already an adventure haha
Should be a VERY interesting two weeks!