from Barcelona … to Jakarta

I didn’t want to leave the comfort of my beloved Europe. Yet I longed to tick Asia off some list I’ve never even written down. So I accepted an invitation to Indonesia that would reunite me with old friends and continue the journey with a new one and in the dawn of a Barcelona morning, Turtle and I began our long journey.
After finally landing in Jakarta, we spent an awkward afternoon and night in a hotel; insulated from the country we’d just landed in and present in a sort of holding pattern, on land. The goal was eradicating jetlag yet I fell only deeper into a pit of exhaustion and confusion.
I could look out of my sixth-story window and see the buildings of the city but they did not look like I imagined Indonesian buildings to look like. The rooflines in my view looked so Dutch and European, yet all were new construction, some even unfinished. This reminded me of the signs of recession I’ve already seen in half a dozen countries all across the globe in 2012.From the airport to our hotel we had driven through the cliche of what I had always imagined Asia to be — crowded, dirty, chaotic. It had an organization of sorts yet the swell of humanity nearly pushed our van along, engine rendered useless. It seemed we hardly moved at more than a few miles an hour.I ate my first Indonesian meal in the hotel restaurant, chicken satay. I had dinner in the same space, consisting of rice and vegetables; my first tastes of the country were lackluster at best, living up to the expectation of hotel cuisine. I never imagined such a thing would be universal when I found myself as far away from home as I could get. I hoped this, leaving room for improvement, would indeed — improve.

I had no idea just how tasty things were about to get or how much Indonesia would surprise me in a good way…

I’m going to post highlights of specific places and activities on my AFAR profile! Check it out. Though I was a guest of the Indonesian Tourism authority, all opinions and thoughts are my own.

  • October 20, 2012

    Yay – things get tasty!

  • October 20, 2012

    Looking forward to the updates, I’m super-curious about Indonesia, the only part of Asia I’ve seen is India, and I loved it!

  • October 20, 2012

    Too bad your trip didn’t have a great start but I’m sure it was only going to get better anyways!

  • October 22, 2012

    Hey, how about an honest disclaimer? “Invitation” is not exactly forthcoming. Try “This trip was sponsored by the Indonesian Tourism Board, which paid for my flight to and from Indonesia [if that’s the case] and my expenses on the ground.”
    You can always add “Of course, all opinions expressed are my own.”

  • October 22, 2012

    You left me wanting to know more… 🙂

  • October 29, 2012
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Oh, I can only imagine the cultural whiplash you experienced! I have always heard that Jakarta is pretty much one of the worst cities on the planet, never mind in Indonesia, so I could see it not giving you the best first impressions of this brave new world you were exploring… In a similar way, when Tony and I knew we would be visiting the Philippines, we immediately booked a flight out of Manila to pretty much anywhere else in the country because we knew starting there would be more challenging and less representative of the country’s charms than elsewhere. So glad to hear that things improved!

Leave a Comment