A Crazy Day in Jakarta

My second day in Jakarta was nice and boring.  Work meetings all day, and my throat was really sore so I went to bed pretty much right after work.  Thursday started out pretty much the same way - more sore throats.  The hotel had a giant variety of breakfast food from all over Asia, so I had a nice spicy bowl of chicken broth to clear up my throat.  The curries, stir fries, noodles, and soups are usually a bit much for me for breakfast, I'm definitely more used to an easy bowl of cereal or some bacon and eggs.

We went into the office for some more meeting but then things got interesting entirely too quickly.

It was about 11 am, we were in the middle of a meeting and an admin walked in and called the meeting leader out.  He came back in a few minutes later and told us there were some bombings nearby and since the office manager was out he was in charge of making sure everyone was accounted for and ok.  We all started looking online and found just short stories online indicating that something was going on at a mall about 1 km from the office.  I figured I better send my husband a text letting him know something was going on and that I was ok - I didn't want him to hear about it on the news first and get worried.  I sent our parents messages also, not sure if the news had travelled to the US yet but that way they at least knew I was aware and was staying put.  One by one people left the meeting room, and soon we were called into a conference room.

We were briefed that it was confirmed that there were some bombings at the Starbucks in front of nearby Sarinah mall and there were at least a few deaths.  Everyone had been accounted for except for one visiting coworker, and she was in meetings with a customer very near that mall.  We were asked not to leave the building or floor and told that we would be updated again as information came in.

We all sat around after that trying to figure out what was going on, any attempt at getting work done that day was feeble at best.  We had another update meeting an hour later, and the coworker had been found and was ok but as asked not to move from her location until we got the all clear from the corporate security group.  Apparently someone was riding on a motor bike shooting at people with an AK-47, so staying inside was essential.

Lunch was brought in for everyone, not exactly sure where it came from or how it got there.  I think we were all in agreement that ordering from an American place was a bad idea without knowing what was going on outside so the mystery curry and rice were gladly tolerated.  Everyone once in awhile helicopters would fly by, and we kept seeing conflicting reports online about the number of attackers involved, where exactly they were, and the number of people hurt or killed.  Someone said that the US Embassy had sent out a warning for that area that morning, but as the website hadn't been working when I tried to register my trip the week prior I hadn't received it.

We all sat around that afternoon talking with each other about what was going on.  By then it was clear that this was a terrorist attack and it was really strange to be that close.  I kept contact with my husband and family, making sure they weren't getting too worried from whatever stories they were seeing on the news.  I didn't really feel like we were in danger where we were - we were high up in a building with decent security and there weren't really any American-associated businesses in the area.    It seemed like as long as we stayed where we were we were fine.

Around 3 pm it became clear that the action was over and we had another group meeting.  Corporate security had cleared us to all go home and had said it was ok for us to go back to our hotel.  Employees were asked not to take public transportation.  They had the available drivers take everyone home, dividing them into groups according to what area of the city they lived in.  Everyone was asked to email the person in charge once they were back home so he could make sure they were all ok.  We went back to our hotel soon after that, thinking it would be best to get off the roads before everyone else started leaving their offices.  Traffic was unusually light, it was erie to see how few people were on the road compared to how busy it normally is.  There was an extra security check at the hotel before we were let in.  We had a really quiet night that night, staying in the hotel for dinner and calling it an early night.  I think we were all weary from the stressful day and needed to relax.

Friday morning I woke up and looked out the window again.  It was the same view as the previous days, but yet it was different because of the knowledge of the previous day's terrorist attack.  My neck was really sore from tense situation but at least my throat was feeling better.  We went into the office again and ended up all congregating together and just talking about the events.  It seemed liked we all needed to talk about it some more to process what really happened.  But it also seemed like outside the city had already moved on, and that seemed strange as well.  We finally got to work, stayed in the building for lunch, and went straight to the airport in the afternoon.  No side trips for us after everything that had happened!

We had to put our bags through a security check before we could check them in, which I guess is normal at that airport.  There was another security check to get through to our flight, and then all of our carry on bags were searched before we got on the plane.  It was a relief to finally get on that plane, and even better when we landed in Melbourne.  How nice to finally be home after such an eventful trip.


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