Tuesday - Arrived in to Jakarta airport at 11.00pm Jak time (1 hr in front of Malaysia) but had managed to sleep on the flight out here, which I kinda got upgraded on - it was a pretty empty flight so i got to sit at the emergent exit, a new level of responsibility for someone who was feeling like crap from a stomach bug :s
Going through the airport rigmarole was smooth, got my visa, went through customs, got my baggage (saw bag as it was about to go back out into the world of conveyor belts but couldn't run for it in time), then exited to crowds of people waiting to collect their respective relative or business colleague. Searched for whiteley... Nothing! Turns out she is stuck in the hugest passport control queue that I must have missed. An hrs wait later n she emerges from the hubub bags in tow. In the meantime I'd arranged a taxi (although we found out later it was a rip off taxi) to the hostel. News to me, Indonesia doesn't really do hostels, since hotel rooms are so cheap. But I found one anyway n it's turned out to be amazing - it's an apartment with a pool, jackoozie and shops outside. The owner is an interior decorator so it's beautiful inside! The girls who manage things are v helpful n friendly.
Wednesday - After a good nights sleep - the dorm room houses 8 guests in bunkbeds, and the duvets are amazing, like being back home in uk and their is aircon too!! I got up n had some porridge drink, took my meds then asked the girls what they recommend doing in Jak. The plan for today is to do nothing but rest n sleep, enjoy the pool etc. So we had lunch at a nearby restaurant then sat by the pool, read magazines (catching up on uk gossip) and napped :-)
For dinner we ventured out to a shopping mall where I got some new shorts (thank you M n S!) then we had dinner- a REAL salad for me,
with an egg n everything!! Been craving fresh greens for a while now...so satisfied And my stomach was behaving itself. So well see how tomo goes as we are exploring the city by foot, and heading onto our next destination by train. Or that's the plan.
Thursday - I let Whiteley sleep in to recover from jet lag, then we got read n headed out to the mayhem that is Jakarta. Now as cities go, I thought it was pretty same same the main difference between it and say, KL is that Jak is way dirtier! Like, way way dirtier. But not as bad as Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), still my worst polluted city. So we got a cab (they're metreds and cost less than a pound anywhere, so why not?!) to he national monument, took photos then walked (in the heat humidity hot hotness) to the national history museum which told us alot about Indonesian history re old artefacts. Now, this excited Whiteley as an archaeologist, and me as a geographer, who like old things and maps! So we spent til way past lunch there. My tummy noticed this n protested loudly but then we were escorted round the fourth n final floor which held gold and ceramics by what looked suspiciously like school children since they all shared the same light blue school top uniform, who read the english card translations outloud for us whilst pointig at said object. Felt rude to fob them off so endure a further 20mins before practically running round the rest of the floor to finish. Then we walked to the backpacker area, Jalan Jaksa to see what we were missing. Turns out nothing and that our hostel rocks! It's such a shammy run down looking street with hardly any westeners or backpackers (sometimes a good thing but not in this case) so we had lunch in a bar there cos we needed food but it was forced on my part. Then back to the hotel for naps before exploring our apartment block for dinner. Bit disappointing, as ended up with noodles from the corner shop... can't wait to be able to eat normal food again!
Friday - We woke up early, checked out n got taxi to Gambir train station. We bought our tickets to Bogor (10,000rp £0.70p) which is 1 hr by train. However, this depends when the train actually gets into the station. We had another train waiting at the platform we were due to board the train to bogor, and so the train from bogor (whih turns into the jakarta - bogor train that we needed) was held at another out of town station. This meant that despite turning up at the train station at 9.30, we left on the correct train at 12.30. And it was longer than an hr due to passenger numbers and stop offs.
A new phenomena I experienced was a female only carriage (guarded by 4 male armed guards) which we didn't actually ride in because we had met Aljan, a dutch guy who started chatting to us during our train wait. He is travelling indo for 2 months and so far has joined us in our adventures from Jak to Yogjakarta (not that this isn't a current blog...ahem!)...Upon arrival in Bogor we came across the tourist info centre who told us the hostel of our first choice (can u see this coming?!) was fully booked so our second choice would be better. Hot n tired we couldnt b bothered to argue so we went to our second choice nearby.
It turned out to be ok, Helen and I shared a double room costing less that our last hostel beds put together. The room was sufficient if a bit damp. We were right above the river, which I can imagine u all thinking is lovely, but in reality, imagine this: a brown river (it's slash n burn time of yr so the rivers have high silt contents) wih rocks that stop the rubbish from freeflowing downriver. Rubbish pile ups can be seen generated by the ppl living in houses on the opposite bank simply casting away their rubbish as far as they can into the river wihout a second thought or backward glance. Next time you curse the bin men for forgetting your bins or not doing an efficient job, remember at least you have bin men!
After an afternoon nap, we explored town (a dirty small town not v salubrious and bit dodge) trying to find somewhere for dinner. Not caving into the KFC monopoly out here (I considered it, but would set me back ill wise) meant eating back at the hotel, so we took our bearings, noted the Internet cafe and headed back for dinner. Despite ordering Nasi goreng (fried rice) it was too oily so I resorted to peanut butter sandwiches whilst Hel did a 'dad' and became the human dustbin (she remains stick thin despite her intense love relationship wih chips!)
Internet after dinner - can't upload photos yet so will have to wait home then bed...
We got up very early (met for breakfast at 7.30) and checked out of our accommodation. We took our bags and got a local minibus partly
towards the botanic gardens. I say partly because when u agree a price for 'three' per person, you think it means 3,000rp (locals pay 2,000rp) but the greedy drivers hink it means 30,000rp. Now, this is pittance, I know that and they know that but the principle is, pay what the locals pay relative in the scheme of things otherwise ppl get greedy, and u waste travel money. So we paid 3,000rp and got out halfway there, meaning we sweated our butts off (nicest way I could phrase that, sorry!) walking with my 16kg (????? Plasters?!) backpack on my back and mini bag on my front to the botanical gardens getting lost on the way (Whiteley was map reading!).
So were the gardens worth it. No! Not at all. Silly Lonely Planet saying u could spend half a day there! I'm glad I've gone for the challenge, experience blah blah but it was like walking round the lost world and coming across the occasional sign in Latin for the plant species. The only redeaming feature was the restaurant which served us fish n chips for breakfast at about 11am! Not to mention the school kids who were out in force. One teacher spotted me and called me over, kids swarming to engulf me. The teacher made the kids practicetheir English by pointing at a child n makinthem ask me a question ('how old are you?') etc. I answered them all the the Yeager leapt into singing! The next thing I know all
the kids start singing 'kae sera sera...(what ever will be will be...)'! So of course me Helen and Aljan join in at the top of our lungs classic!
After the gardens we got a bus for 4 hrs to Bandung (40,000rp £2.50), got off the bus, realised it was much the same as Bogor but perhaps
slightly bigger, so we got a local bus to the train station (after waiting for 45 mins for it to fill up, watching the hawkers sweep throughthe bus selling mangoes, cigarettes, busking songs etc) then booked a train to Yogjakarta (110,000rp £6) which is where I am writing this from (the train). The train ride to yogja (as its called) is 8 hrs so we get into the city at about 1am. Not ideal but necessary I think given our travel time scales. It's now quarter to Ten in the eve, I woke up at about 4am this morn then again at 7.30 when the alarm actually went off, so I am cream crackered! Need a lie in, laundry, and a nice hot shower :-) Then beddy byes... Zzzzz