Getting to Jakarta the high way


Walking around Jakarta today, quite apart from being conscious of how unfeasibly white I am for a tropical environment (days inside office buildings, far from the sun, mean that my skin is pale enough that every vein is visible, like I’m some flayed man arranged for anatomical training), I was reminded of Italy.

Not just the ridiculous condo that was built to look like a cross between an Italian castle and Notre Dame on the way into town; it’s crossing the road. Just like in Rome, where the zebra crossings are designed more to make it easier for motorists to aim at pedestrians than an indication of a safe place to cross, eye contact is more important than some official highway code.

(Or maybe – I haven’t studied the road law of either country – it’s in the statutes. When you cross the road, make a polite wave of your hand at oncoming traffic, and don’t speed up or slow down too much. This is just observation, not inspection of legislation. Although who knows what trouble I’d get myself in if I tried to read a road traffic manual in Bahasa. French was tough enough.)

I didn’t get run over at all (I only had to make four road crossings between hotel and conference venue today, so that’s not a particularly high sample) but all else went swimmingly. Because I was flying on Garuda and I’ve got Gold status with Delta, I got to go in a lounge. (Whereas if I’d been flying with Delta, I’d have been DENIED, because I wasn’t travelling Business Class – oh, the tribulations and confusions of airline alliances.) When I checked in, they gave me a piece of paper entitling me to fast track access through Customs at Jakarta. This would have been a wonderful thing, except that the signs to Fast Track at Jakarta are so few and so confusing that I went through the regular Customs line, and there was nobody in front of me anyway, so it wasn’t like I was inconvenienced at all. (On reflection, Garuda do seem a bit insecure, what with the huge gold plaque inside the plane showing off that they won ‘Best Economy Class In The World’ three years ago. Maybe the insecurity that came from being banned from flying to the EU for a few years hasn’t rubbed off yet.)

I got a taxi into town that had no working seatbelts, on a road where the lane markings were more a suggestion than anything else, but I didn’t die, and when I got to the hotel they upgraded me to a suite, a propos of nothing at all. It’s rather embarrassing to have a hotel room (well, rooms) that’s larger than my apartment: the two toilets, the shower room, the bathroom, the walk-in closet, the enormous living room – it’s lucky I’m only here for one night otherwise I’d get accustomed to it. Or accustomed to not having tiny replicas of me scatter Lego all over the floor every day for me to tread upon in the evening. I even got to go to the (idiotically palatial) gym and do my press-ups and sit-ups and pull-ups (3 lots of 10 press-ups today, and 3 lots of 10 sit-ups, and about 3 lots of 3 pull-ups, so I’m gradually inching towards slightly greater upper body strength).

Now I’m alone in my hotel room (interrupted once by an unrequested masseuse – what is going on in this hotel? Are they that pleased to see me?) rehearsing for tomorrow, and planning on sleeping. It’s an easy life, if you don’t weaken.


2 responses to “Getting to Jakarta the high way”

  1. I perked up when I heard about a masseuse in your hotel room, couldn’t quite get into the bit about Zebra crossings, press-ups and Jakarta Customs control, for some reason. But then, I know I’m not the intended audience for these daily meanderings!

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