📍 Jakarta, 10th of August 2018.
We arrived in Jakarta at 4PM after a 20-something-hour flight from Berlin through Doha with Qatar Airways. The timing was perfect – we had a decent sleep on the plane and only had to bridge the evening, before we could finally rest in a totally horizontal position. Initially we had planned to get a 60-day visa in advance, but due to some unfortunate events (i.e. forgetting to take a passport to the embassy), we settled on queueing for hours at the airport. We got everything prepared as requested on the embassy website (i.e. biometric photos, bank account statements, return flights etc.). In reality, the whole process took about 5 minutes without any queues, and nobody asked us for any of the above-mentioned documents. Go figure. We could, however, only get a 30-day visa and should request a prolongation in one of the immigration offices downtown. We’ll see how that goes 😉
To have a hassle-free start of the journey, we opted for a more upscale hotel (still, 30 EUR pp/pn) and a shuttle from the airport (20 EUR). It was great not having to worry about anything. In hindsight, however, we could have chosen a much cheaper hotel since we didn’t really take advantage of any of the facilities & could have ordered a “grab” (a local “uber” for a much lower rate). Oh well ¯\
Jakarta is a massive and a super busy city with insane traffic. Overwhelming and intimidating in some respects. I guess this is where it really first hit us – we are actually doing this crazy adventure!
Having checked in in Swiss Belhotel we decided to grab a dinner in some of the local places. Found a cool place on google and off we went. Having no data and a very high-level map, we had to rely on the locals and our gut feeling. That didn’t quite work, so after walking back and forth the same street we concluded the place either seized to exist or never existed and decided to get more adventurous. We found a tiny place which looked like something between a restaurant and a shop. We were warmly welcomed by the staff and the guests and shown to sit down. Immediately after we got a cup of tea and a bowl of rice, without even having ordered anything. To our surprise, a minute later 8 plates with various food arrived (pickled egg, spicy veggies, bananas, fish and chicken in various sauces). Communicating in English didn’t yield any results, we shrugged and just started trying all the dishes. Later we learned that we were in a padang – a traditional Indonesian eatery. You get a selection of dishes served and only pay for what you have eaten/touched. Obviously, we paid for every single item on the menu. Was worth the 7 EUR.
Now that the hunger was gone, it was time to grab a beer. The quest for a beer turned into an hour mission under a tropical rain. The roads for pedestrians are rather uneven, unlit and have huge holes (you could literally fall down the hole if you don’t watch out), additionally the rainwater turned the roads extremely slippery. This was quite an adventure. The locals stared at the two crazy smiling Europeans running through the rain with a bewilderment and laughter and offered a shelter under their roofs. At some point it didn’t matter anymore since we were soaking wet, so just like kids, we enjoyed jumping through the puddles. At last, we found a supermarket selling beers (36K or 2 something EUR for a 0.5l can). Naturally, this is also when the rain stopped.
A successful first night!
For all the beer lovers and occasional drinkers – it is actually rather uncommon to find any alcohol in the local eateries, street food stands, cafes. Supermarkets and more tourist-oriented places do sell beer (and only beer) but be prepared to pay a premium in comparison to the price of food (a beer in a pub is 50K (3 EUR) whereas a lunch is about 30K).