Indonesia at last


Far from the Starbucks and Christmas music where I wrote my last blog, I’m now sitting on a concrete step in the Jakarta train station, listening to a man babble in yet another language I don’t understand, and trying to ignore the people staring at us from all directions. Welcome to Indonesia.

But first, let me backtrack (I’m way behind again!). We left Kuala Lumpur via public bus and headed 2 hours south to the ancient seaport of Melaka (or Malacca). We only had the afternoon to explore, so once we dropped our bags at the hotel, Kris took us out to explore town. Like I said before, Melaka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its history. The town was populated by the Dutch, Portuguese, and the British, which explains the European architecture and cobblestone streets. After a few hours of walking around, several of us took a boat tour up the narrow river that divided the town in two to see more of the Dutch influence and traditional architecture that has been preserved. Later that night, after an amazing Indian dinner, we took a walk down Jonkers Street, which is an open market that only happens on the weekend and has anything and everything you ever wanted. Apparently there’s a guy who breaks through coconuts with only two fingers, but I only heard his bravado – I didn’t actually see him do anything.

The next day we boarded another public bus and headed south again to the city state of Singapore. I was looking forward to some cleanliness and order after several weeks of chaotic Asian cities. At the border we had to get off the bus and take our bags through security. A sign greeted us saying, “All drug traffickers are sentenced to death.” I knew Singapore was strict, but geez.

Through customs (uneventfully except for a closer look at my bottle of coconut oil), and back on the bus we had another half hour to the hotel. As we got closer to the city center, the streets got cleaner and the buildings nicer. No wonder, because littering is a $1000 dollar fine (about US $750).

We checked into our hotel and then headed out with Kris to see the highlights if the city. Like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore has some amazing architecture. One building was designed to look like a durian, a SE Asian fruit with a spiny peel (the locals say “it smells like hell and tastes like heaven”). We eventually wound our way to the city center where three tall skyscrapers form the pedestals for a massive “ship” that holds a swimming pool, restaurant, the Sky Bar, and hotel. The spectacle overlooks a small lake and on the other side of the lake is the iconic Singapore lion spouting water from his mouth. We also saw the beautiful colonial Raffles Hotel, decked out in Christmas decorations and only costing $500 a night. I really liked Singapore, despite it’s ridiculous fines and outrageous prices. I wouldn’t want to live there, but it was nice to visit.

Singapore was also where Sarah and I said goodbye to Kris and the rest of the group. We were to continue on to Indonesia while everyone else went their separate ways. I can’t say it was terribly sad to say goodbye – I didn’t really connect with anyone since their priorities and interests were quite different from mine.

Kris accompanied us to the airport and after checking in, we had a coffee before boarding the plane. I was a little shocked not to have to go though security after getting our tickets, but when we went to our gate, we had to scan our bags (they took my saline solution and coconut oil 😦 I’m not sure why I thought I could fly with liquids here…)

So now I’m in Indonesia with a new group (who all seem really nice and not partiers!) and a new tour guide, who also seems very cool. We spent one night in Jakarta, which is on the island of Java (famous for it’s coffee!) and even crazier than Bangkok. Sarah and I went out to walk around and were bombarded by Indonesian students who’s holiday homework was to flock around white people and practice their English. Seriously. We did find a nice, old colonial bar and restaurant where we found reprieve in a cup of overly priced tea. Now we’re headed east to Bandung. I know very little about this country, so it should be interesting!

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2 Responses

  1. Great Blog! !! Still drinking coffee? I’m still doing battle with it. Love you and miss you a lot.

    Dad

  2. hi becky we continue to enjoy your blogs snow and winter weather here . merry christmas and a happy new year love pops

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