Thursday, 4 July 2013

Jakarta & Bandung

Arrived at 2 am at the hostel. The taxi to the center from the airport took me half an hour at night, the next day people told me that it takes hours due to traffic. In the 3 days in Jakarta I was lucky enough to experience the famous Jakarta traffic where the taxi didn't move an inch in 10 minutes.
The room is cool, the beds are like in cells, I think I've seen a similar sleeping accomodations in China or Japan. I don't have lonely planet, and without it I'm deeply lost. I went to a backpacker area, if you can call it that, Jakarta is not touristic, and for a few tourists who are here, one has to wonder what are they doing here. The city is ugly, and there is absolutely nothing to see. The staff arranged a trip to a pool, but I'm too sleepy and I need to get the lonely planet. On the way there I got a bit lost cause I didn't have a proper map, I asked some security guard how to get to that street, he pointed me, asked me as always where I'm from, and then when I couldn't cross the street because no cars would stop for you, he got out with his whistle and stopped all the cars for me to cross. So sweet :) I wasn't feeling quite comfortable to walk around the streets, in SE Asia I felt very safe, actually, I didn't feel anything, but in here I do ... something reminds me of India, mostly men are outside and everyone's looking at you ... though not staring, which is calming.
In the backpacker area I met some guy in a restaurant, I thought we would just talk during the lunch, but he got attached to me like a leech, and although he was entertaining, he was a huge weirdo of whom I tried to get rid of very hard. I already said that I have to go, and he told me more and more stories, at the end I just waited till the story was finished said goodbye turned around and walked very fast. The guy was white, married to a local young girl. He said her family is living in the village. I started asking him a bunch of questions. Pretty much he didn't learn any Indonesian, & he's not working in the fields. He's fat, wears dirty cloths, and kinda stupid ... I'm feeling bad for the people in here, and generally in Asia they will marry anyone who's white. I found lonely planet(!!!), but it's an older edition, a few pages missing, and it cost $15, not like $4 in Cambodia :( It's all cool though, cause now I have it :) It started to rain, apparently it's the rainy season in Indonesia, I got a tuk-tuk back to the hostel and watched some documentary about whales, and Tomb Raider to see the footage about Angkor Wat! It's actually not too too bad. I sat near some guy to watch a movie. Sensing that he's Russian I kept talking to him in English, but still after a while, he asked me where I'm from. I said I was born in Ukraine. He asked me in Russian "then why are we suffering , I told him that he's the one who's suffering, I'm not! Pretty rude, I know ... I just really dislike Russians. Who knew at the time that we'll travel around Indonesia for 2 months together? :)
In the evening 20 or so of us went out to a bar. It's the best bar in Jakarta according to all the awards they won. It's a nice sports bar, very clean, modern, playing American music, with efficient service, but with skyrocket prices, about $10/drink, which is not very strong. People got so drunk, those types of people who prefer to spend their backpacking budget on drinks rather than on sights. If you ask them what they did in a city, they could mention a few names of bars, and that's about it. Next day Kostya (the Russian guy), a random girl and me went out to town. The owner of the hostel warned us not go get our expectations high. We went to the city's most famous landmark, an obelisk, a national museum, pretty much the only place recommended in LP to do in Jakarta, and both of them did not impress me much. I was bored and wanted to get out of there quickly. The only attraction in the museum were a bunch of school kids all taking pictures of us with their cellphones. Here we go, India #2!!! The girl stayed behind in the museum ... didn't she see other museums in her life? Or maybe it was just an excuse to get rid of us :) It took us an hour to catch a bus, cause we decided to experience the local transport. It's not very intuitive, the name on the front says that it's the bus that we need to take, but everyone stops us and tells us it's not the correct bus, but as always, everyone was helping us out, so it took a while, but at least we got there :) We walked in the old town but didn't find anything interesting, the main square, but I didn't even take a picture. We had some good local food, I'm so happy that it doesn't remind anything of Thai food, finally something different! :) The menus are all in Indonesian, and unlike other countries, there is no English translation near it, or pictures. So it was blind guesses. We got 2 soups and veggies mixed with peanut sauce, all very good :) We then went to the best recreational park, but that sucked too! Very dirty, not a lot of greenery, some bland attractions which all cost extra, a bunch of people though. We left disappointed and we couldn't find a taxi which would turn the meter on, and instead of 60 cents, wanted to charge us $5. Finally we found one that would turn the meter on. We stopped at a mall, I couldn't find any shoes, and I can't leave Jakarta without buying shoes because I need to walk a lot now, flip flops are not very comfy and sneakers are too hot. No shoes, but we found very very tasty doughnuts. Kostya bought 6 of them! I don't eat donuts, and I remember the last time I bought one in Bangkok, I felt almost sick after finishing it, but these 6, I couldn't get enough. I swear those were the best doughnuts I've ever tried in my life. I hope it's a chain, and I hope I'll see it all over Indonesia, and then I'll get all nice and heat insulated for the mountains of Nepal :)
I decided to stay an extra day to go to the world class botanical gardens. In the morning I went to buy sports sandals, but Indonesia didn't hear of that invention yet. I looked everywhere to no avail. Finally I found some Reebok which looked crocks like and a bit weird, I'm not used at all to that kind of design, but I needed something like that asap, and with no other choice I bought them. I can never find cloths that I like in the markets, it looks like they're all made for barbies, too much stuff drawn on them, which usually doesn't make any sense, and with a bunch of bling. When I got into the malls, I loved everything, but then it had Canadian prices. But luckily sale was everywhere, and I bought the Reebok's for $20 and Converse t-shirt for $5. I then took a train to the botanical gardens which were an hour away. Midway the electricity went out, all trains stopped, and 2 hours later when they started again it was already too late to go. I took the train back, asking 2 people if it goes where I need to go. I ended up far far away from the hostel, but right near the mall with the doughnuts! :) I saw it from the train station, but when I started walking, it got lost behind the buildings ... I'll be freezing in Nepal! :) When I walked out the train station, I walked into the slum. People point finger, "go there", I look into a dark, dirty, full of naked kids, chickens, ducks, all in ruins alley, "there????", "yes, yes, there!". Ok, here I go! Jakarta is a very strange capital. The minute it rains, everything gets flooded, traffic is crazy, there is no center, tall buildings seem to be built anywhere. On our street which is just a very regular street there is pizza hut, KFC and Mac Donald's, which are usually built only in the center of cities, or with high tourist traffic. I took a taxi back to the hostel, but it was a rush hour and at times the taxi stood for 10 minutes without moving an inch. 1.5 hours later I finally reached the hostel, which took 10 minutes the day before. Luckily the taxis are cheap, and it only cost $7. What a crazy day. I was going nowhere for 6 hours! I could've been a third through the island in that time.
In the morning, I thought to give botanical gardens one more chance. Wake up early, go there, and catch an evening train to next city. I woke up and it's raining ... GRRRRR !!! When it stopped, again, it was too late to go.
The slogan of Jakarta should be: Get in and get the hell out ... too bad it took me whole 3 days to figure it out!
Arrived at 2:30 at Bondung. Asked the reception what's there to do, and off I went to some cave. The guy marked on the map where to take the first minibus, and were to switch, I thought it would be at some terminal, but of course I had no idea where I was, nobody speaks English, and off I went in circles, until someone boarded who speaks English, and told the driver where to stop. Then I took a motorcycle to the top, I don't know how I would've walked that. The cave turned out to be not a cave, but a huge 10 kms long park with waterfalls, hot springs and 2 caves. It was already getting late, so I took a guide with me who also had a motorcycle, so I'd finish seeing everything before the park closes. It's actually not caves but 2 big buildings build underground and used as a defense system of Dutch. They stored their weapons in there and later it was used as a prison. But overall nothing too interesting, I wished I had the whole day to explore that park.
Later in the evening, Kostya met me with a huge smile. I was taken by surprise, we only knew each other 1.5 days. He met another Russian girl Julia, and the 3 of us went to a volcano together. Man I love volcanoes! It might have been the reason why I loved Indonesia so much. We went in a shared taxi to the sound of jumping in and out guys playing and singing the guitar. When we arrived at the volcano it was rainy, windy, cold, shoes are wet in a second, very cloudy, but at least we took a few good pictures. It felt like a scene from lord of the rings, dark, gloomy, twirling trees and a mystical atmosphere. The view was beautiful though. We wore our ponchos, tied plastic bags around our shoes and went off for a short hike around the crater. The smell of sulfur was very strong, and some of the paths were closed because of too much poisonous gases. When we came back, the clouds took over the scene and a bunch of tourists replaced it. There you go, in the morning, there were no tourists with a view, a bit later a bunch of tourists with no view. We couldn't go to another place where the mud is bubbling due to too much rain and too much mud on the path. Damn rain season! You have to learn in Indonesia to do things very early in the morning before the clouds roll in. It's the lesson that we'll learn time and time again.
Then went to hot springs, we thought they would be natural, but it was a huge amusement park with many swimming pools a natural river and a bunch of Muslims... meaning no walking around in a bikini. The only tourist girl who was there came out in a bikini and it was quite a show. I didn't want to put such a show on, and we found a pool just for ourselves.
On the news there is nothing but flooded Jakarta, people and cars are getting cozy swimming together on the streets, not in Bandung, it's rainy but steamy :) 


  1. Yana
    Wow! You sure have fun. You'll look back some
    day and say it was all worth it. Mud and all
    Ha ha.
    Just wish we could enjoy the same adventures.


  2. Лапусь, у меня такое ощущение, что у тебя, кроме донатсов, вообще не осталось хороших воспоминаний от Джвкарты, хотя я не очень понимаю, как это может быть вкусно:)

  3. Not your usual sparkling story . I guess you didn't like it that much. Looking forward to the next episode :)

  4. Ha, reminds me of so many days in India. Travelling all day to see nothing. Yet you always seem so Zen. And a Russian travel boyfriend!!!