Saturday, 14 April 2012


"Lets be honest, Jakarta is a difficult place to love" - this is the opening description from the Lonely Planet. And it's pretty spot on. Jim had already spent a bit of time there so knew some of the 'good' places to go and how to use the public transport. We checked onto a pretty decent hostel which was on top of a bar. It was cheap and reasonably clean and I was surprised how quite it was in the evenings considering it was on top of a bar. Jim and I then grabbed a tram to 'china town' which was just a random side street with maybe 4 chinese brick a brack shops and a few street vendors. Ok, at this point I just want to state that although Jakarta was essentially a shit box a place is only ever as good as the people you're with and me and Jim managed to make the most of our time. If anything, the shitness of the place and the things we were seeing/doing made it more fun! We grabbed some street food and chatted to a few locals. The usual banta went along the lines of:

"Where you from?"
"England, you?"
"Cool, do you like football?"
"Yes, I love Manchester/Liverpool. Where you from in England?"
"I'm from London, I'm Frank Lampard but I'm on holiday. Are you Christiano Ronaldo?"


We had a quiet drink back at the bar whilst watching a half decent covers band lead by a local girl who belted out a pretty tidy rendition of Someone like you - Adele among other popular hits.

The following morning we got up and headed off to the docks to get some culture. On the way we stopped in at a dutch themed restaurant that had been kept preserved to look like how it did when the cloggies owned Indo. It was really nice decour and the food was bloody good. Cost a fair whack but I figured I'd stick to local food afterwards to keep to the budget. We visited the naval museum which was literally just a random collection of naval junk with absolutely fuck all thought put into it. Again, it was hilarious how crap it was, ok example, they only had one room where they bothered to even put the junk into glass containers and in one of the 10 odd containers was a bell, standard issue old school bell, with the description: "this is a bell, the captain would ring this to tell the other sailors when it was meal time"! After that we went off to the fish market which smelt more of rotting sewage than fish! On the way back to the train station we sat down in the square outside the dutch restaurant and where set apon by the usual array of local salesmen. One lady came up to the two of us trying to sell drinks and engaged with Jim in conversation. I kept quiet then when she went to speak to me to ask "where you from?" I pretended like I didn't understand her. Jim played along beautifully explaining that I was French and didn't speak any English. Then she asked him what my name was and she told him, and to this day I don't know how we both kept a straight face, Francois. This was going fine until a group of school kids came over and wanted to use Jim for their school video. The problem was that the sales lady was still there and we didn't want her to lose face so we had to perpetuate the lie that I was French so Jim had to explain to the kids that I was French. Then all of a sudden one said so9mething to another and he went off to grab his french friend.... who was studying french at the uni! Shit. So I had to not only bust out some pretty rusty GCSE french to this girl whilst showing some sort of resemblance of a french accent! Fortunately the Sales lady eventually left just as I was running out of french phrases so I explained to the girl, in English, what the game was. That's the second time I've tried to pretend to be french and its the second time it's backfired!

On the walk back to the hostel there was a massive protest by hundreds of muslims. I'll be honest with you, my western ignorance took over and I was worried I was about to get my head cut off, but we were told that they were protesting about the price of fuel going up so I relaxed a bit. That night we met up with a couple of girls Jim knew. The four of us headed out for some grub then went to a Karaoke place. Before we went into the Karaoke room we went up to the top of the building to see the skyline of Jakarta lit up at night. As usual the view of the city from up top at night was really impressive compared to how the city looked at street level in the day time. Then, all of a sudden one of the girls, who was a really sweet muslim girl turned to me and said "You have really pretty eyes" which kinda took me a back. I don't think she was hitting on me and she was obviously completely sober, but I'm not used to complements like that out of the blue. I guess that may be a cultural thing, perhaps us westerners don't compliment each other enough as we just rip the piss out of each other all the time (and yes, I know I'm the worst for it!). Then we all went off to the Karaoke room and sung our hearts out. This Karaoke place had kind of a sing star type points system that would tell you how well you sang the song after wards. I'm not too sure what the criteria was for it but after I belted out a pretty beautiful version of Snow Patrol Run and got 70% then Jim butchered some gay ABBA song and got 95% I didn't really pay any attention to it!

The next morning Jim and I headed to the train station where we were to part company (sob sob) as I was off to Bogor and he was flying to Singapore. Shame to part though, Jim was a hero.

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