Indonesia, Part 1

Getting there: Air Canada to Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific to Jakarta

Where we stayed: We stayed mostly with d2’s family and some hotels which are called out.

Fun: You’ll see all the fun as you read all the Indonesia parts.

Tips: Each entry of these Indonesia Diaries will have a few tips before the email diary. 1. If you’re traveling on a Canadian passport to Indonesia, you will need a visa to enter the country. You can arrange for one in advance, or buy one there on arrival. 2. You can arrange to not only rent a car, but a driver with the car here. When you visit sites/go for meals, the driver will arrange his own doings/meals. This was a new experience for dpr. 3. Be prepared to hear lots of prayers throughout the day over the loudspeakers in Indonesia – especially on Java. This is a bit strange at first, but you get used to it. 4. Just like any place you visit where your language isn’t the native language, you can always find ways to communicate – at markets you can use a calculator, and you generally learn the basic numbers and greetings anyway. 5. Bring sunscreen or choose to buy it here – you will need it. 6. Make sure you have mosquito repellant here – it was a lot cheaper to buy it in Indonesia than in North America – almost 10 times cheaper there. 7. Growing up in the dry and cool prairies of Canada, dpr now loves heat – but even the extreme heat of Indonesia is a lot to bear – and on many days as soon as they hit the outdoors, dpr and d2 started to sweat and didn’t stop until they were back inside or in a pool. Stay hydrated! Keep your hat handy! Be smart about the heat!

Email diary:

March 9, 2010: Indonesia Diaries, Part 1

Hey Everyone!

Greetings from Indonesia! It seems like we’ve been here for a long time. The flights here were uneventful – lots of food, not much sleep, lots of movies. We left TO at 10 am on Thursday and arrived in Jakarta at around 9 pm on Friday. Mom and d2’s aunt picked us up at the airport – first impressions were: hot and humid. We’re staying with d2’s aunt and uncle here in Jakarta – they have a beautiful home here with many helpers and a driver. I think I could get used to this kind of life :o) We had a good sleep on Friday night and took it easy on Saturday. We went on a driving tour of Jakarta and did a bit of shopping that evening. One of my favourite sights which we can hopefully visit again is an animal market where they were selling everything and anything you could imagine – monkeys, rabbits, cats, dogs, snakes. Before we arrived, Pop bought himself a couple of lovebirds that are in a cage outside of his room. The cat here thought Pop had bought him a tasty snack, but I think he’s given up on that thought now.
On Sunday Mom, Pop, d2 and I were picked up by our rental car and driver and we drove to Bandung. We filled up the car with gas – it’s around 50 cents a litre here! The scenery on the drive was amazing – the highway was surrounded by lush fields and greenery. There was all kinds of terraced rice paddies and tea trees and the earth is very, very red. Bandung is where Mom grew up and Pop went to university. We went out for lunch with Pop’s school mate and his wife and we also toured around the city to see all kinds of sites from Mom and Pop’s past – the house where mom grew up (which is now a car wash), Mom’s school, the church where Mom and Pop were married (we went in for a bit – that’s the church in the pic), and the street where Mom and Pop used to walk down every Saturday night to get ice cream. The traffic here is pretty crazy – kinda like China in some ways- lots and lots of motorbikes and scooters with many passengers on them – the best was the family of 4 on a scooter – the toddler was on the very front, the dad, and the mom on the back with a baby in her arms – and this isn’t an unusual sight here. At our hotel we had dinner with Mom’s cousin (we will be staying at his house in Bali next week). d2 and I retired early and the fun started as we were up all night visiting the bathroom. Our plans for Monday were changed given that we just really needed to rest, so we finally got some sleep, had some toast for breakfast, and then drove to our second hotel, about 1.5 hours outside of Bandung, in the mountains. We stayed at a resort called the Gracia Spa – the main attraction is the natural hot springs, and the resort is very small – just a few bungalows. Our bungalow had two bedrooms and its own hot pool. d2, Pop and I went for a walk with a security guard from the hotel, who took us on a long walk up a crazy hill and showed us all sorts of crops (cucumbers, tomatoes, tea, lots of bananas on the roadside). I learned all sorts of cool things about tea on this trip. It started to rain as we were on our way back down the hill so our guide made an umbrella for Pop from a banana leaf. We enjoyed our hot pool a lot, had some dinner, and went to bed early lastnight again. I forgot to mention that most of the population here is Muslim, and there is prayer many times a day – which is nicely broadcast over loudspeakers – in Bandung they came on at 3.30 am and then 4.30 am again. This morning in the mountains, we heard then at 4.30 am and then again I think near 6 or just after. Since we’re jetlagged, we’ve been waking up around 4.30 or 5 anyway, and usually staying up. It’s very bizarre to wake up to these chant-prayers.
Today when we got up we enjoyed another dip in the hot pool and then checked out and drove up to a volcano called Tangkuban Perahu. You can just see a pool of water, smell the sulfur, and see some steam coming out of the crater. This area also reminded us a lot of the Great Wall in China – there is a small walkway lined with all sorts of stalls selling the same goods, and since I tend to stand out a little more than the rest of the crew, people were very pestering. Luckily we left when we did because there was an insane downpour on our way out. On our way back to Jakarta we stopped for some ridiculously delicious soup. All four of us ate for $12. And now we’re back in Jakarta hanging out for another day before we’re off to Jogjakarta for a few days. Hopefully we’ll have internet there so I can send you another email.
Hope you guys are all having a good week. We’re feeling a lot better today than yesterday – cross your fingers for us!!
lots of love,
dpr and d2

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