Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jakarta, first impressions.


Where do I begin….

The hotel that GJ’s work has put us in is very nice international hotel, slightly faded in the room decorations, but everything else is great. We were so pleasantly surprised to find a basket of fruit and flowers in our room and a package of books from the Indonesian CEO of GJ’s company. Even the kids got some books. The books are expat guides to living in Indonesia. I am a third of the way through already.

Every one keeps asking how shocked I have been since arriving in Jakarta; but I think that I was so well prepared with research that only tiny things have surprised me.
In brief:-

The grass is brown, (just like Brisbane!). The rainy season is due to start soon, but until then the greenery has definitely browned off. I was expecting total lushness, like Singapore.

I was expecting really bad traffic, which is here; but not the total chaos of the driving.
There is absolutely no system to the driving. The horn is used incessantly and cars just go where ever they like. There are also no footpaths, or they are just pits of rubble. We saw a family of four on a motor bike this afternoon. A lot of ladies ride on the back of bikes sitting side saddle. I don’t think that I would ever want to attempt to drive here.

The level of security. So far at the hotel and the major shopping centre, the cars are searched and scanned underneath with mirrors on extendable poles for whatever (I don’t want to think about it).. At the hotel, the security guards (4-5 at the boom gate) actually open all the doors and boot to check contents. We went through a metal detector at the hotel entrance and at the shopping centre and our bags were checked.
The shopping centre is patrolled with lots of guards and I saw them stop young men with back packs to check contents. Our driver keeps all the doors locked as we drive.

One of the main things we wanted to do on this trip is to check that things that we can’t live without are readily available (shoes, shoes, and more shoes, toys, tampons and hair dye!). We got directions for the large shopping mall, Pondok Indah. We were blown away…I think that it is better than my local mall. We don’t get marble floors at Westfield Chermside! LOL. The shops were all very flash and the prices were only slightly cheaper than Australia. I am sure that once we find all the local malls we will come to think of this as expensive. To celebrate finding all our shopping needs met in Jakarta, I got a nice new pair of shoes. The range of fruit, cheese and meats was great.

We have splurged on two things already (hope we don’t turn into spoiled expats before we even get here!!!). After 10 days in the humidity of Singapore, not to mention a few rain storms, my hair was a bit of a frizzy mess!!!!! The hotel has a hair salon and on our first afternoon I got a wash and blow-dry. I am smooth and sleek in the hair department. Our apartment in Singapore had a washer in it, so I continued my usual daily ritual of copious amounts of washing and ironing. Our rooms in Jakarta don’t have laundry facilities. GJ went on a trip to see what coins I would need and found that the attendant would do a wash and fold service…. (3 bags full later and GJ’s shirts ironed) it cost about $30. Well worth it.
The smoke haze is ever present so far in Jakarta. The illegal land clearing by fire is a major problem in Indonesia. This has caused the haze all over Indonesia and surrounding countries. This is what caused the haze in Singapore. We can not see the horizon here. Apparently, when the rainy season starts this will clear up considerably.

The levels of difference between the rich and poor are noticeable as soon as you leave the airport. There is huge multistory apartments being built close to a shanty town as you drive along the freeway into town..
I feel that we have seen next to nothing of the real Jakarta; we have been wrapped in cotton wool, whisked from the airport to the hotel and onto the mall and back in a private car with a driver. The only sights we have seen have been from the cars window. Of course I took photos…
GJ’s colleagues wife has lived in Jakarta for 12 years and still thinks that there is many places she has not seen in Jakarta..
We have an appointment with a real-estate broker tomorrow afternoon and meetings with 2-3 schools next week. We also have to get to the markets to stock up on fake handbags for Tan Tan.

The money is so hard to get a hang of.
$1 = 7000rp
$14.50 = 100 000rp
$50 = 350 000rp
$0.14 = 1000rp
I have had to write out a “cheat sheet” on the back of a business card and keep referring to it in order to work out the cost of things. It is hard to think in thousands all the time, especially when 1 000 000rp is only $145.

This is the view of the pool from our room, GJ and the girls are swimming.

This is the view of the city from our room, you can't actually see the highrises though due to the smoke haze.


Munchkin Land said...

It sounds like you're all having a wonderful time there and the pictures are beautiful. It sounds like you're all learning a lot!!

Anonymous said...

hi Jen, welcome to Jakarta!

lrlwreath said...

Awesome pics Jen, sounds like you are having a good time. Love the haircut place also =)

treespotter said...

i been following your trip, it's wonderful that you found time to blog everyday.

the warmest welcome to the City!!

(you will need to change your name now, honey, you're not in queensland anymore!)

have fun!

PS: Pondok Indah, is the local mall. i live 10 minutes away. the foodcourt on top's nice.