Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hanging out in Jakarta

Date: July 24-28, Aug 5-8 2009
Travel: Taxi; Car
Party: Vu, Linda, Indonesian Friends
Lodging: Linda's Apartment
20090726Jakarta ; 20090807Jakarta

Late friday evening, I arrive at Jakarta. My intentions were to stay at Linda's place, even though she was gone on a business trip until Sunday. Her sister's boyfriend actually picked me up at the airport, and took me out for Gado Gado for dinner. The next day, I hung out with some of my friends I met in my visit earlier that year. We hung out at a mall (surprise, surprise). This particular one had an ice skating rink. We were with some girls who wanted to learn how to dance, and so they invited us to a dance class. The studio was horrendous looking, I had flashbacks of my once pink home. There are a lot of fancy restaurants around, although driving to some and parking is not fun. When Linda returned back from her trip on sunday, we hung out around town. There is a lot of nice asian and asian fusion restaurants around, but something noteworthy was the Pizza Hut where it is quite fancy and considered fine dining. The pizza's are completely different, with different crust variations, mayo dipping sauces, and different type of toppings. The more memorable dish though was the martabak, which was a 20k calorie infestation of batter, butter, condensed milk, chocolate, cheese, and more butter. There are a couple different variations with a salty version and a thick or thin sweet version. At least too sweet is easier to swallow then too spicy. Linda and her sister's boyfriend took me out for lunch one time, where I suggested to eat something local. They have a high tolerance for spice, but this place was ridiculous. My mom makes this chili sauce, which I only need 1/2 of a teaspoon at most to satisfy my spice needs for a meal. Well these dishes were completely smothered in chili. I scraped some of mine off, but Linda's sister bf, ate it all. His face was compeletely red, and sweating all over. He used 4 or 5 napkins at a time to wipe the sweat off, but the napkins kept breaking apart because it was so wet. We actually got a quality facial (my 1st ever) that morning, and it was a full high quality facial at a clinic, with a deep cleanse. I'm sure that meal cleansed out all his pores better than the facial. Or maybe the meal made everything worse by excreting salt back into the cleansed pores. I definitely tried to avoid all that, because my face never felt so clean before.
The movie theaters there offer a variety of ways to watch a movie, the standard seats, sofa, or a bed (not bath!). Plenty of cafes to keep me busy, especially when I was by myself at times. I even got to take a ride on the "world's longest dry slide" at FX, which is another mall. There are plenty of night clubs to spend the night away. However there is a big discrepancy between the rich and the poor, and the middle class is not so big. Some of the clubs have cover charge which would rival to any US large city market, however there are street vendors which you could feed families at a tenth the cost of cover. The retail stores at the malls probably cost the same if not more of American retailers, however, I find more favor in the discount local markets like Manga Dua. Jakarta is just like any big city with the amenities, but it is in desperate need of mass transit. The roads are small, and the traffic is horrible. I remember 1 friday night, we headed out to Kemang food place, and google maps said it was only a 10 minute drive (only like 3 or 4 km), but it took 2 hours to get there. Even though if you own a car, you likely have a driver to take you around, which makes it nice, because parking a car, or looking for your parked car is not so easy. Also a driver is probably not likely to fall asleep in the middle of then night and get me or the dozen of motorcyclist in the road killed. At least I can cross the following off my bucket list: "Grab the steering wheel, and manuever a moving vehicle on a highway from the passenger seat."

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