I have always flown EVA airlines whenever I travel to any Asian countries. EVA is a Taiwanese based airline. I like their services a lot. Upon checking in and printing my boarding pass, I noticed that the whole boarding pass itself was decorated with Hello Kitty theme. I found it unusual. I have never seen a boarding pass printed with a specific theme. I did not think of it much until I boarded the plane…almost everything inside the plane were decorated with Hello Kitty. From the slippers, to the food utensils, to the toilet paper, to the hand soap inside the bathroom, it was raining Hello Kitties…. it left me speechless ha. Even the exterior of the plane had Hello Kitty design on it. I immediately thought of one of my co-workers who’s very much interested in Hello Kitties. She’d probably be jumping up and down like a kid even though she’s a grown woman.
Oh yeah, where were we….. so the first leg of my race was…. you guessed it…Indonesia! Coming in from Chicago. It was one heck of a long flight to get there. It was about 24+ hours’ worth of flight filled with Hello Kitties half my flight duration. It was the longest flight I have been on so far. Chicago, USA => Taipei, Taiwan (layover) => Jakarta, Indonesia. Some fast fact about Indonesia. It is the 4th largest country in the world with a population of 260 something million people! It spans a large chunk of Southeast Asia and parts of the oceania if you look at google maps. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is a city filled with intriguing juxtaposition; from contemporary skyscrapers and squatter areas, fine dining to street food stalls pair it with traditions, culture, ethnicities, food and adventures. You definitely have a city that is worth exploring.
I have a friend living in Indonesia that I met up with. He was free on the days that I was there and was able to travel with me the entire time. He invited me to go to his friend’s wedding and I was not expecting to be invited to the wedding. I had to scramble up some flight tickets last minute. We had a rough plan as far as where we wanted to go for the duration of our travels. It made things a bit more interesting and spontaneous. It was very helpful and nice that he speaks both Bahasa and English. He was a great translator during our trip! ha. I did not have to rely on a translator app to communicate with local people.
Indonesia Day 1: 4pm in the afternoon, arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Soekarno-Hatta International airport is the main airport serving the city of Jakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia. From what I recalled, it was named after the first president (Soekarno) and the first vice president (Mohammad Hatta). The airport itself was not that big and its architectural design felt a little casual. Half of the airport was being build and modernized. From what I heard they started building skytrains and other amenities for the airport. Compared to some of the biggest airports in the world. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is still lagging a little with modern and contemporary design and amenities.
I walked out of the airport to meet my friend, Faisal. It was really hot and humid. From the airport door to the street there was a long street hallway in between. I was greeted with blank and curious stares from the people around me. It was packed busy and was hard to breathe a little since I noticed that 2 out of 3 people were consuming tobacco related products already…. Holy cow, I started sweating already. How am I gonna breath for the rest of my travels here. My friend mentioned before that smoking cigarette was one of the biggest health hazards they have in Indonesia. They are cheap and people have easy access to the cigarrettes It was not uncommon to see someone smoking outside every second you’re out on the streets. Indonesia is currently the second largest cigarette market in Asia, China taking the number one spot. Almost every man on the street were smoking cigarettes. I did not see any woman using tobacco related products though.
My friend lives in the outskirt of the city near the airport actually. I would not say the houses were shanty, they were decent. Just a degree higher than shanty houses, if you know what I mean. Riding through the neighborhood with a scooter. Traffic was pretty bad, good thing our scooters were tiny enough to maneuver around the traffic. I appreciated the fact that I got to experienced what it’s like to be in these type of neighborhoods in Jakarta. Busy streets with no traffic lights and no traffic signs present, no street signs present at most intersections. Next door neighbors chatted with their neighbors. Kids squirmed the busy streets, people walked barefeet, street stalls were open for business, people fished at the river filled with trash and so on. Then the moment we reached the city, there was an astounding contrast of modern amenities and modern architectural design present within the city center.
We went to Faisal’s friend’s house, Edwin, to borrow another scooter helmet because he only had one then all three of us went to the mall and had dinner there since I was hungry after a long flight. Went back to Edwin’s house to meet his family and had some traditional Indonesian snacks before going back to the airport. Met Edwin’s little brother. Man he was a ball of energy always running around ha.
After a long flight and quick tour of Jakarta, I was ready to fly again. Man, this kind of traveling was packed with uncertainty and hastiness haha. Always on the go, I liked it a lot actually. It’s not your typical relaxing kind of vacation.
We flew from Jakarta to Bali with Garuda airlines. It was the best airlines in Indonesia considering the history of bad safety reputations of many other airlines from Indonesia. I just had to be on the safe side ya know. I did notice that at Soekarno-Hatta International airport. Garuda airlines operated half of the airport’s section. It was operating in the newly constructed part of the airport. It was massive and modern like the airports in Hong Kong or Bangkok.
We were only going to stay a few days in Bali in transit to Banyuwangi City on the island west of Bali. I felt that Bali island itself was not worth putting many days on. It has been way too commercialized over the past several years. There were many other other islands in Indonesia that we thought were worth going to that kept their own cultural integrity without much influence of foreign commercialism
We landed at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali’s main airport. We quickly got a driver to take us to the guesthouse that we booked earlier that day through booking.com. The guest house was called Gong Corner Guest House. We got to the place and it was hard to find it cause the streets were dark with no lighting. The only lighting, we had was the headlights from the car. The streets were very tight, the street can fit at most a car and half. We circled several times and we finally found it. We got there and the place was closed considering that it was almost midnight. We heard people talking behind the gate and told them that we wanted to check in. They came out and told us that they were guests. I thought, man we’re going to be sleeping on the streets aha. I was extremely tired from all the flying and what not. There were two other travelers trying to check in as well since they arrived about the same time we arrived. The other guests said that the guesthouse had a second location where the owners resided in. They recommended us to go and check in there. Our driver was still with us, glad that se was still there so he can drive us there. He took us to the second location and found someone working for the guesthouse. We told them that we just arrived and that we needed to check in from the other guesthouse. My friend talked to him since he could not speak English. The guy was able to help us, we had to drive back again to the 2nd guesthouse where we went to initially to finish checking in. The guy helping us out did not have any records of our reservation cause he could not turn on his computer. So, he asked us how much we reserved our room for. I had no idea and my phone was out of battery at that time. I went to say a number just out of recollection. I said it was around 180k rupiah. The guy just went with it and had us sign papers. I was like ok I probably could have bargain..….haha. After checking in, we paid our driver a good amount for accommodating the little situation. I told my friend to ask for his number in case we need driver just like him. When we were all settled in. I Showered and knocked out right a way.
Well, that was Day 1 in Indonesia. A lot happened. Already. Ya’ll ready for the next 35 or so something days of my travel? Well then, stay tune and read on! ha More pictures to come. I hardly took any from this part of my trip. The featured image on this blog are my friend’s friends from the wedding.