20.01.2009 - 30.01.2009 35 °C
We departed the clean and orderly country of Singapore to head to Indonesia. With it being all of our first times there, we were all very curious and interested for the upcoming unknown. When we arrived in the airport in Jakarta we were met with the usual attacks for taxis and rides to the city. Instead we went cheap and took the local transport to the backpacker area. It cost us all of $2 for an hour bus ride however the one down fall was that the bus was full so we had to stand, but it wasn’t long until someone offered Monique a spot to sit, she must be cute or something. As we traveler towards the city we were already intrigued by Jakarta. From the windows of the bus we could see a river that the disgusting colour of can never fully be described. On the edge of that very river were thousands of shack type houses that looked like they could be blown over in a minute. You could also see a ton of garbage everywhere; you actually couldn’t see a spot on the ground near the river that wasn’t covered in garbage.
The eerie coloured water, not very appealing
Although the view from the bus wasn’t the most pleasant the people on the bus were. On the bus Monique met a nice young Muslim female student who informed her of many areas and things to visit while in Jakarta. She also gave us the low down on how much a Tuk Tuk in Jakarta should cost. This made things interesting when we arrived at the bus station and had to arrange a tuk tuk to Jaksa road. The drivers wanted us to pay 5 times the amount she had suggested we should pay. We finally got one driver down to an appropriate price and we were on our way. It was a tight squeeze with all 3 of us and our luggage but somehow the motorbike engine managed to get us there.
Monique, Michael and Andrew in the Tuk Tuk
A tuk tuk, isn’t it beautiful!
Once we arrive in the backpacker area we were in search for a place to stay. A strange man decided to follow us into each hostel and hotel we entered. He pretended to be concerned about where we would stay and wanted to “help” us by guiding us. However we knew this scam from Thailand and ditched the guy as quickly as possible. With Michael sitting down watching the bags and ordering our first beers in Indonesia, Andrew and Monique set out to find somewhere to sleep. They went to a few hotels but settled on one that offered a Superior Deluxe Room for the bargain price of $5. Although it was nothing to write home about (even if we are anyways), it did have some high class amenities such as air conditioning, hot shower, and towels! Most of the previous amenities are not always included and always require paying more for. But with the extreme heat we didn’t mind paying an extra few cents.
Michael enjoying his first Bintang beer
Andrew and Monique headed back to the restaurant to find Michael already one beer in. We all decided to grab a bite to eat and some drinks. This is when we realized how cheap Indonesia was going to be. We got a full meal and a beer for about $3.00. Andrew on the other hand got a little more than he bargained for when he bite into what he thought was two green beans, which turned out to be two chili peppers. After a few hallucinations and a burnt mouth he was good to go.
Andrew not feeling so good after his chili pepper
Monique showing the culprit, the chili pepper!
After settling into our new hotel we went on the search for bus tickets to Bali. After asking a few different companies and doing our research it turned out to be cheaper to fly then to take a 26 hour bus ride. So we clearly went for the faster and cheaper alternative. Then we decided to celebrate, seeing as Monique hadn’t had a drink in about 2 weeks and the boys were starting to feel better we all thought we needed a night out on the town. We went to a local bar which played all the greatest hits from the 90’s but also had cold cheap beer. After a few too many we crawled home with the cockroaches and went to bed.
Our night out on the town
The next morning before we set out to discover Jakarta we had breakfast at another cheap restaurant. Here the father of a high school student approached us and asked us to help out his son. His son needed to interview “Westerner’s” for a school project. The young man walked in very nervous and shaking but ended up interviewing all of us. By the end of it he was a pro and we wished him well. Little did we know that everyone in Jakarta had this same school project and several times throughout the day we would be stopped and approached for an interview.
Michael being interviewed
Eventually we got the day on the go and headed out to the Old Dutch colonial area. To get there we took a tuk tuk to the train station, however once we got there no one spoke English well enough to tell us we were at the wrong station. Eventually we figured it out and were told to take the bus. We used the Busway system which is little booths raised a few feet off the ground that a bus rolls up to, you jump in then the bus speeds off in its own lane not having to worry about any of the traffic. We were the only foreigners on the bus, so we got a few good stares, but as usual the locals are kind, they even gave up their seats for Monique, again.
Once in the Dutch area we looked at some of the old architecture and buildings. There wasn’t that much to see, but nonetheless most of our time was spent being interviewed by teenagers. We also managed to make time for a nice lunch at the famous Café Batavia. We all had a very delicious but expensive meal. We headed back to Jaksa road for a few drinks then called it a night.
Old Dutch architecture
Moss covered window
The cannon of fertility
Andrew being interviewed and photographed by the high school girls
Our taxi driver wanted his photo taken.
Michael and Monique at the Independence Monument
The next day we were off to Depensar for our flight to Bali. It was a simple painless flight and when we arrived we jumped into a taxi to take us to a cheap hotel area. The taxi driver was so lazy however he didn’t want to wait in traffic (all of Bali is traffic, you cannot escape it). We got tired of him complaining he couldn’t go down the road we wanted him to, so we jumped out and walked, only to see him drive by minutes later. The boys were getting tired and Michael’s back was killing him, so we sat Andrew down at a café and Michael and I went on the quest for accommodation. We went into quite a few places but wanting to keep it cheap we settled on a place that we got for the bargain price of $5 a night. However we weren’t so sure it would be up to Andrew’s standards. Michael and Monique were used to leaky sinks, smelly bathrooms, mildew walls and even worse, so they had no problem staying there to save a few bucks. For a brief description of the room, imagine a sink that gave you a foot wash every time you used it, a shower with no handle/shower head BUT with a ceiling leaking on you which gave some extra water pressure. The room also came with some interesting looking bedding and the unique smell is almost indescribable. However the hotel had a pool and gave free breakfast! What more could we ask for? Monique and Michael were pleased so they went back to get Andrew and bring him over, his first reaction was one of disgust really, but he thought he would give it a chance.
This man thought the hotel was so bad, he decided to repaint and fix his whole room
To break in the first day we decided to go to the beach, but were a little disappointed as it wasn’t the beautiful sandy beach described to us by others. Also the ever persistent hawkers were at your feet every minute (not an exaggeration). So we decided to get away from it all and head back to our hotel and jump in the pool. This is where we got a new admiration for our hotel. With few hawkers and the freedom to drink as much as we wanted poolside (most hotels make you buy their beer which is extremely over priced) we decided to stay at the hotel a few days longer. We also met some British folk at our hotel and ended up going out for dinner and drinks with them. They were good fun, but unfortunately they were leaving Bali the next day.
Michael enjoying the pool
The boys jumping into the pool with our Indonesian neighbours
The next day ended up being a little over cast, which was okay because we were all pretty hung over and could use a break from the sun. We spent the day shopping and the night relaxing by watching some movies, this was of course all in preparation for the arrival of Monique’s friend Amanda. We wanted to make sure we were in top shape to party with her!
Amanda arrived and we met her at her hotel. In the true Amanda style, she wasn’t too impressed with the hotel that was booked through the agency, so they decided to move to a more upscale party hotel. After settling them in to their new home they headed back to Monique’s hotel where the party began. We spent the afternoon in the pool drinking more beer than we should have. When it came time to dinner we continued to drink a little more, but the day had worn us out. The girls and Dave went to bed, while Michael and Andrew went gallivanting around town. Michael and Andrew literally stumbled from bar to bar having a few drinks here and there and eventually stumbled their way back to the hotel.
Andrew, Michael and Dave in the pool
Amanda and Dave
Michael and Andrew representing Van Dongens
All the boys representing Van Dongens
Michael on his night out being silly
The next day we went to go buy beer and realized we had drank the store clean
The following day Amanda and Dave went elephant trekking and rafting. Michael and Monique had already done this in Thailand so they opted out; while Andrew was barely moving he was so hung over. So we decided to lounge by the pool all day and met Amanda and Dave for dinner when they came back.
The next day Andrew was still feeling under the weather so he spent another day sleeping off his hang over. Monique and Michael headed to Amanda’s hotel to relax by the pool and enjoy some drinks and lunch. After a long day relaxing in the sun, we went back to our hotel to shower up. The plan was to meet Amanda and Dave but an unexpected torrential rain fall suddenly hit. It was truly unbelievable how much rain was coming down, all streets were flooded and it didn’t look like it was going to stop any time soon. Michael as usual was relaxed about the whole situation, while Monique and Andrew planned a clever escape plan just in case.
Lounging at Amanda’s hotel
The boys swimming in the down pour
The next few days were much the same; we either relaxed by the pool or watched the rain pour down on us. At this point we were getting a little tired of the atmosphere around us and decided we needed a change of scenery. We made an executive decision to head to Australia early. So we changed our flights for the following day at 10:00pm.
The morning we were set to leave we had the whole day to kill (not leaving until 8:00pm to go to the airport). So Michael and Andrew decided to make the best of their last day and rented motorbikes. After a huge deliberation with the rental guy about the difference between insurance and excess damage charges we were off. Stopping first for fuel, we found a lovely lady who poured petrol served from used bottles of Absolute vodka.
Gasoline in an absolute vodka bottle
From here they set off north, getting as far as we could. Unfortunately Monique and Andrew have the same luck with motorbikes, and after lunch, Andrew’s bike had a flat tire. Michael rode off to find a nearby repair shop, and after calling our rental company to explain their bike broke and they had to pay, and then having to go back to negotiate a price the rental company felt was fair for locals, they were back up and running.
Andrew on his motorbike waiting for Michael to return
We headed north towards Depensar and then along the East Coast towards the mountains in the north of Bali Island. We met some locals who wanted to chat and show us places, but mostly because we wanted to cruise (being the first time Michael and Andrew were riding motorcycles together), and also to avoid any situations we kept driving.
Andrew and Michael stopped frequently, taking photos of the beautiful parts of Indonesia, which were generally hidden while in Jakarta and Kuta Beach. They had been driving until a local raced up to Michael who was a bit ahead and flagged him down to point out that Andrew’s bike had once again blown a tire.
Bombing memorial of 2002
Indonesian garden center
Going back, finding a shop, pushing the bike, and then meeting a lovely family who repaired bikes was another annoying (because of the bike), but nice experience on the journey. In fact the young apprentice boy who was helping out was wearing a Canada sweater (it was +30 out). After some laughs and them not wanting to rip us off, we decided to head back to make it in time for our flight. On the way back Michael insisted on pulling over at one spot that was a truly iconic symbol of Indonesia. It was a small bridge, and when we pulled over, chickens greeted us at the side of the road. We took our cameras and proceeded to take some photos of the daily events that were happening at this junction. Down by the river side there were elderly women taking soil from the river bank and putting it into baskets and then carrying them on their heads to a top soil pile. Passed them were a group of children squatting down fishing in the river. Behind Michael was the true prize, a classic iron bridge abandoned to be a traitorous foot path. The iron frame interwoven with bamboo trees and old wooden planks, held down by rusted nails, and having gaping holes in the rotten wood exposing a 10m drop. After snapping some photos and talking with some of the locals that were hanging out, they got back on their motorcycles and headed back.
The women at work
Heading back they would have arrived on time and dry had they not missed the turn off. But instead one of the many rapid rain storms moved in and drenched them in the last 10 minutes of the drive. Making it an unforgettable journey.
Monique on the other hand lounged by the pool for the last day. She had had enough of motorbikes after everyone they went on had broken. She wasn’t in the mood to walk miles to get one fixed. Amanda and day we’re also leaving this day, but late at night. So they joined Monique for some lounging by the pool.
Come 8:00pm when our airport taxi pulled up, we were all more than eager to go. We were very excited to start the next Chapter (final chapter for Monique and Michael) of our journey. Off to Oz we went!