Arriving in Jakarta, I knew that the normal fare for a taxi to my hostel would be about 100,000 rupiah. However, since it was late and I was at the desk of a reputable cab company, I just accepted it when the guy charged me 300,000 rupiah for the hour-long trek since he insisted he was giving me a “huge” discount. As soon as we walked outside I understood the discount – he booked me a huge Mercedes-Benz sedan with a suited driver. I’m definitely torn because it was a lot more money than I should have paid but at the same time it was a unique experience (not to mention extremely comfortable).
Thursday, May 25th was some sort of poorly explained national holiday in Indonesia so Pink was able to give me a huge tour of the city. Before she picked me up, I checked out Kota Tua, the old Dutch quarter, on my own. The theme music for the Amazon Trail computer game was playing in my head as I strolled around since the architecture, with the white walls and red clay roofs, combined with the warm weather and the foreign (to me) location, made me feel like I was on an (admittedly tame) adventure.
Our main destination for the day was Taman Mini, a cultural center / theme park with areas for every province in Indonesia. In a way, it was a chance to visit the parts of Indonesia I didn’t have time to see. The wooden houses, similar to the ones where her family once came from, were intricately painted and had high ceilings and straw mats on the floor to keep them as cool as possible. We saw traditional dances being performed – the children in elephant costumes performing were particularly cute and the women dancing with hand drums provoked a tremendous amount of suspense. I even had a chance to hold a snake and see a Komodo dragon.
Monas is a great place to walk in this very pedestrian-unfriendly place so we did just that afterwards and remembered all the fun (and some exhausting) days from swimming at UMBC. The street food was great. The kerak telor, a savory crepe-like dish made with duck eggs and eaten like a burrito (with care taken to avoid eating too much paper), was a nice, small dinner. As for the martabak manis, a huge (4 cm thick folded) pancake stuffed with butter, condensed milk, sesame sauce, and chocolate sprinkles, it made both a filling dinner and breakfast for the next day.
The next morning at the airport, I checked in, only for Malaysia Airlines to tell me my flight wasn’t actually being flown that day. However, they apologized by setting me up in the business-class lounge with its full buffet and comfortable seats. I even had enough time to set up my fancy new phone (a Polytron, made in Indonesia, with a screen showing my balance in rupiahs that I still haven’t managed to remove yet) that Pink, very kindly, took me to buy after my old one broke. Between the luxurious ride to the the city, the high-end lounge at the airport, and the big bucks (well, $110…) I spent buying a new phone, I think I (unintentionally) became a jet-setting VIP for a few days.