What a day.
Taxi 05.15 –> Phuket airport (flight delayed one hour)-> flight to KL with Swedish seat neighbour (Gavle), bizarre - > running through KL immigration -> KL luggage retrieval -> KL passport check -> running out of airport and back in again with 15 kilo on my pack and 10 on my shoulder (interesting airport from what I saw!) -> KL late check in desk -> KL passport check -> KL security -> Kl gate with sweat dripping, calling Tanjung Putting tour guide to book flight to Borneo ->flight to Jakarta, nice Dutch seat neighbour, we share plans and decide to travel together through Java if our paths cross -> JK visa on arrival desk, have to leave my passport at immigration and run outside to get currency to pay visa, find exchange counter, go back in again and pay for visa -> JK immigration -> luggage retrieval -> spend 1.5 hours speaking to disinterested people trying to find a cheap but nice and friendly hotel around the airport (failed) -> taxi (without seat belts) to FM7 hotel 10 minutes from airport.
Jakarta is messy, smelly, noisy, frustrating and downright unsettling. Everything is more expensive, complicated and confusing than short ride away in Thailand. I also become acutely that it’s a Muslim country. Women are covered up, even foreigners. I say a silent thank you for the scarf I bought at Phuket airport for protection against excessive air conditioning, now covering me up nicely against the insistent stares from the male Jakartians. I immediately feel less safe and more like a foreigner. The people I’ve met so far have been slightly reluctant to help, and don’t understand English very well.
The taxi ride to the hotel is beyond bizarre. We leave the main road and drive on to a narrow dirt path, skirted by shacks and deserted shops, yet with more traffic than the main roads in central London. Mopeds overtake on the wrong side of the road against oncoming traffic or cut through the ditches or fields on the side of the road, whilst joining traffic from other roads cut into traffic without waiting for a break. We stand still for long periods in the severe congestion and see goats and chickens ducking in and out between the cars. I realise with a growing sense of unease that the doors of the taxi were locked going through this area, when I hear them click open as we pull up in front of the hotel. I pay more for the hotel than I have for 3-4 nights in Thailand in order to ensure I feel safe and comfortable, and get a room large enough to house 8 people.
There's 14286 rupiah to the pound, how can it be so expensive? The room is huge, impersonal and makes me feel very far away from home. There’s a karaoke bar in the hotel, that turns out to be located a couple of doors from me. Bloody hell.
There’s only free Wifi in the restaurant and I spend the evening comforting myself with toast with chocolate jam and Corona beer. Thank god for the good book I’m reading. Those orangutans better be worth it tomorrow.