jakarta

There is something really worldly about sipping a baileys milkshake and typing up a blog about a trip to Indonesia. The world is passing by, the people are buzzing, its warm but not too warm, its actually perfect. But then you realize youre in a bigass mall with a perfectly set up airco and its not really the seaside, but hey - whatever works, right :)

I fell in love with Jakarta almost instantly. "Almost" because the first arriving night was just strange, the dirty exit of the airport, taxi men offering their rides just like working girls offering themselves, it was too hot and i was sticky ever since Hong Kong, so yeah, the love happened the next day. The city is just so big and different, it really reminds me of Moscow - we just dont have cities of those sizes in Europe. In Europe everything is lower, location is difficult to get, buildings are squeezed in, it just is not the same. It is a different kind of big. But then you get to Moscow and Jakarta and you realize - its not even that big, dont kid yourself.

I understand though that not everyone will feel comfortable here. Jakarta, first of all is real fucking big, but also absolutely unorganized, you do not go for a walk, you do not want to take the public transport, youd have to get a personal driver (still cheap) or a taxi (but only a reliable one - Blue Bird that is) otherwise you may get robbed, you spend your time inside, be that an office or a mall, you will probably live on top of a mall anyway, you might go for a jog in one of the many new parks popping up - but there is no way there is one nearby so youd have to drive there. And this is the big difference between the two cities - in Moscow you could still have a life outside, youd still take the metro, or any other kind of public transport. Here, I havent seen a single person walk a dog.. and where would they? Besides, there are no bus stops, they stop where they want or are requested - youd think thats a good thing, but.. not really. First of all - they never really stop - they only slow down, so you have to jump out in traffic as they go. And second - you should see those busses. Gross, man. I have seen stuff here hahaha

However, do you know what i did this morning and the morning before and last night? Went downstairs to a private gym, sauna and swimming pool (outside), one of the awesome benefits of living in a proper residence in Jakarta.There is also a spa, with prices that are so ridiculously low that it is a crime not to go and make use of it. Service is not expensive at all here - if anything, its cheap. Having a maid or a driver - a standard for pretty much any class. Your maid probably has a maid. It is a strange strange place, but it has its own big city charm.

Traffic jams. Well, they are there, as i wrote previously, but you know, i personally never minded traffic jams. I am like children in traffic jams - they love to ride the car, the longer - the better. I am exactly the same. Sure, i had no appointments, i didnt work here, so clearly this is a factor i am not taking into account. Now i understand why Indonesians are always late - here, at least in bigger cities, it is acceptable because of the unpredictable traffic. Although, girls, youve been in Europe for 13 years, about time to get used to punctuality :D

Now, the weather... It has been hot, but not unbearably hot, just the way i love love looove it. But blue sky? What blue sky? "What sky" in the first place! You rarely see it. The pollution is bad, there is no recycling yet, but there are many fresh initiatives to fix and improve the way things work here. But real improvement may seem pretty darn far away. Especially with the amount of cars on the roads. They got to limit that, like Singapore did. They had serious pollution issues, so they limited the amount of cars on the road by introducing a lottery system. So, you cannot buy a car, youve got to win a permit for that. At the same time Jakarta has a ridiculous public transport system (what system? hahaha), so after the metro is built and expanded - people might really consider using it. At least you wont spend hours in traffic jams.

Slums were fun. First of all that was a very tiny part of the slums, in the very heart of Jakarta, and these slums were just wannabe slums. The real trip should have been organized earlier, and wouldnt be so safe with just the 3 of us. So we just walked (!!!) to the poor region outside Plaza Indonesia. You feel me? With a bunch of Ferraries parked outside, barely offering anything cheaper than Louboutins and fucked up rich teens cruising the mall day and night to see and to be seen; the poorest of the city live just across the street. When i say poorest i mean living next to the river that does not even resemble a river anymore - it is just a big pile of mud and trash, smelling probably worse than a decomposing body. Sad thing? Those are not even the poorest.
But when i say the visit was fun I actually mean it. If you smile at people they will smile back even more, they seem very genuine and dont seem to mind a stupid European who just wants to eyeball the slums. The kiddies called me mister and happily shouted Bule! Bule! (white person) and wanted to take pictures of and with me; giggling, running around, shouting and really really hoping i will wave back. Beautiful, beautiful kids. Silly Indonesians value whiter skin much more, but to me these sunburnt cheerful babies seemed too precious.

But i really enjoyed my stay here. For some really awkward reason, especially because of seeing these contrasts all around. Perhaps cuz it reminded me of Moscow. Riding the car at night, watching crazy families of 4 riding one motorcycle, exploring the strange mall culture, eating like i never ate before, finally discovering proper coconut juice, enjoying the service, enjoying the muslim chants, i mean its beautiful. Have been awaken several times by it early in the morning, with the beautiful male voice covering the whole area around, like a spoken song, its such a wonderfully harmonic sound.
I would love to explore the Eid here in Jakarta, especially after seeing thousands of people all over Jakarta praying this morning. But hey, Yogyakarta might be even a better place for that, and thats where im heading.

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Marina Notrima