The Big Durian, quickly.
The arrival into Jakarta was incredibly depressing on the count of the slums that the train goes through on the way to the station. For at least a couple of kilometers before the last stop, all you can see are makeshift tents and holes through the wall next to the tracks. All you can smell is the trash and whatever else the inhabitants are throwing around. We got a taxi to the main backpacker hangout and had a quick drink before having a quick nap in a hot room. Outside of that area, we quickly found out that Jakarta is a complete mess. For a city of something like 20 million people, it has no real public transport system to speak of, so we had to get around by taxi. From our short stay there, we couldn’t find any kind of neighborhood or logical planning to the city. Street names and numbers don’t seem to follow any logic. Much like most of Indonesia, it looks like it was plopped around willy nilly, supermarkets are next to office buildings which are next to hotels. We went out to check a camera shop and it was next to this fancy specialty wine shop where shitty Australian wines that are typically below 10$ everywhere were going on sale for over 40$. The streets didn’t have sidewalks, street vendors were everywhere.
It was a confusing couple days because unsure of what to do next. We planned on going to Sumatra, but there was an earthquake there a few days before, and the roads are notorious for being awful all over the island. We weren’t sure exactly what to do in Sumatra, or where to go, and while looking up the ferry we found out about a few other options. They were having sales left and right, probably due to the low season and the next day we were on our way to Tanjung Priok, the Jakarta port area. What we booked was a 28 hour boat trip to Batam, a small island not too far from Singapore, renowned for golf and sex tourism. We didn’t go there for either, but to jump on a 20 minute ferry over to Singapore, thereby completely bypassing Sumatra. It’s a shame that we didn’t go, but none of our plans are set in stone, and the spur of the moment decision to jump on a boat in a first class cabin seemed like the best idea at the time. For 50$, it didn’t bleed us dry, and from the few reviews of the boat we read, you definitely didn’t want to end up on the cattle class. The night before we left I got drunk at a “bar” on the side of the road. It was nothing more than a fridge, a tarp and a couple of benches, but the beer was nice and cold, and a jolly Papuan guy there on business kept buying me beers and trying to have a conversation.
The boat ride was nice, and to Helen’s liking, it was very smooth sailing all the way. I don’t think I’ve ever been in first class for anything but it was the only way to get a private cabin, and really outside of that it was only the meal time that seemed very special. They had about 10 stewards around our table while we ate pretty decent Indonesian grub like spicy fish, we had about 4 different forks each. We spent most of the time messing around in our cabin or reading on the deck, but there really wasn’t so much to do. The ride was nice anyway, and soon enough we were making our way through immigration after a 20 minute ferry across to Singapore. After what seemed like a long time traveling already, we were just about to change countries for the first time.