Jakarta Jaunt

A couple weeks ago I went back to Jakarta for work.  The flight up turned out to be quite an interesting one.  I decided to use some points to upgrade and got to sit in the business section.  It was a nice treat to have a seat that reclined in all different directions and to be waited on throughout.  But unfortunately I didn't get to choose my neighbour.  From the minute I sat down he was saying "ay ay ay" really loudly.  He was 78, Egyptian, and just on a different level.  When the meals came out he spilled his first glass of red wine all over.  I handed him my napkin, and he started praying for me and then made me clink glasses with him over the barrier once he got a refill.  Later on, I got up to use the toilet but had to pause when I lifted the lid.  There was something odd at the bottom of the bowl, so I got the flight attendants so I didn't make the situation worse.  My crazy neighbour dude had just been in there and had fallen in the aisle on the way back to his seat.  That explained the bump I heard.  The flight attendant attempted a flush, and ended up having to reach in and grab what was in the toilet.  He came out shaking his head - it was a bag of pretzels.  

Apparently the fall was pretty bad because he kept moaning and groaning really loudly for the rest of the flight.  Those noise cancelling headphones were not nearly strong enough.  When we finally landed, someone asked him if he was hurt.  He said if he were a woman he would have been screaming in pain.  I was very happy to make a quick exit from that plane and get on my way.
The seat was nice and roomy, but the the divider wasn't nearly long enough!
Being that it was right before Christmas, I was assuming that in this Muslim country I wouldn't see much of the coming holidays.  but turns out santas and snowmen are universal, and I saw several snowflake light displays around the city.
Christmas display at the hotel
 The first night there we went to dinner at the Skye Bar at the top of the round building below on the right.  It's a great view from the top, and it amuses me that they let me in this time because the first time I tried to come here with some coworkers they wouldn't let us in.  Apparently we weren't dressed up enough that time.  Not that I was dressed any different this time, but we were with some people who live there and went there often.

View from Skye Bar
On the way back that night we drove around the National Monument, the site of the huge protests against the Christian Governor.  It was interesting to have seen the pictures with hundreds of thousands of people filling this street.
National Monument
The drive from the hotel to work is fairly short, and fortunately only takes 10 minutes most days.  It's crazy to see how many lanes of cars can cram into a couple painted lines on the road, and in between the cars the bikes fill up any remaining space.
The food at the hotel is an interesting experience also.  The breakfast buffet has choices from all over the world, from the typical Western eggs type breakfast, to sushi, to stir fry and rice, to noodles and soups.  Ramen soup used to seem like a really strange breakfast food to me, but now after a day or two to acclimate it's actually quite good.
Ramen, it's what's for breakfast
 I was originally supposed to be in Jakarta the entire week, but some further protests were scheduled for that Friday afternoon so work asked me to leave on Thursday.  That last morning, I woke up and opened the curtains and was shocked to see that the normally smoggy city was actually quite pretty.  What a nice surprise!
I'd never seen Jakarta look this good!
That day I went golfing with some customers.  Fortunately a coworker from the US had given me a heads up the day before that golfing in Indonesia involves using a caddie.  He then went on to compare the the caddies to a sort of Indonesian version of the Hooters girls.  It was funny to see - they were all young, curvy, and wearing tight white long sleeves and paints.  They knew just enough English to tell you what club you might use or which direction the greens went.  Like it really made a difference to how I played!  It was a bit unnerving having four extra people watch you play, but I got used to it after a little while.  I kept forgetting to hand the caddie the clubs though and she'd have to remind me.
The golf course
Our caddies and customers

The contrast between the lush green course and the busy city surrounding was stark, and the water that ran through the course highlighted this.  There were many people working on maintaining the course, but the stream stunk horribly and was covered in all kinds of trash.  Any balls that made it into the water instantly melted (ok, not really, but it seems like they should have!).
Beautiful (?!!) Stinky Creek
Now I get why some of my coworkers love golfing so much
So, another interesting trip to Jakarta.  With each trip I feel a bit more comfortable there and am starting to get a better idea of what is where.  The people are very friendly, though it's definitely a different working culture than I'm used to.  There, the most senior person attending a meeting is the last one to show up, sometimes an hour after it was supposed to start, and nothing starts until he arrives.  And yes, it is definitely a he.  In fact, I met with some customers on this trip who refused to shake my hand, instead putting their hands together and bowing.  At first I was taken aback, but I later asked a coworker and he explained that they were probably fasting and therefore weren't allowed to touch women.  Apparently they have cooties :)

Always an adventure in this part of the world!  But fortunately no terror attacks this time and the flight back was uneventful.


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