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More about my trip to Jakarta - The Road
Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Juan
Date: 2007-11-11 21:29
Subject: More about my trip to Jakarta
Security: Public
Jakarta's nickname is the Big Durian, and like its fruit namesake it's a shock at first sight (and smell): a sweltering, steaming, heaving mass of some 10 million people packed into a vast urban sprawl. Unlike US cities, the city seems to go on for miles with no sense of suburb and urban center, and the whole city is filled with high-rises and growing quickly. Everywhere you look more skyscrapers were going up as we watched. The contrast between the wealth of Indonesia's elite and the appalling poverty of the urban poor is incredible. To go from the 5-star Intercontinental Hotel we stayed at to the muddy lanes full of street vendors and corrugated iron shacks you merely have to pass through the guard house manned by stern looking nationals in para-military uniforms carrying machine guns and cross the street. The city's traffic is in perpetual gridlock, a sea of mopeds flowing like a raging river around our drivers cars. Needless to say driving by anyone not raised in the city is impossible, and our skilled drivers provided by Nations kept us safely moving through the city when we did venture out.

Among the sights we were able to see was the beautiful Plaza Senayan, an eight story version of the Houston Galleria that we visited for a shopping expedition. There we dined at the DUCK KING and had the famous Indonesian Duck as well as a variety of fish chips, tofu, and other native foods. Other dining adventures included going to a Kemah-like amusement park where we picked fresh fish out of coolers that were then prepared and brought to our table by the water while we drank coconut drinks. At every stop were entertained by the ubiquitious Indonesian love ballad crooners that were a staple at every restaurant. We also picked out crabs as big Texas watermelons to eat at another fresh seafood restaurant and Russell was able to satisfy his Black Pepper and Chile Crab cravings. At another Indonesian food restaurant we ate more fish and had mango and lychee drinks, wine, as well as their famous meter of chicken sausage while native dancers performed traditional acts next door. The highlight of my dining experience other than the great crabs at all the places was the hotel buffet which included a two foot flowing fountain of milk chocolate that you could dip fruits and sweets in.

We also went to a bar called the BATS bar nestled in the basement of the Shangri-La hotel for ex-pats and grooved to a great band from New Zealand. The musicians personally came down and met each of us before they took the stage and rocked the house. The Kiwis ambassadors were great sports and very fun to chat with, and they put on a great show all night starting out slow and getting more club beats in as the night progressed. All in all it was a great trip and the few hiccups we encountered such as lost luggage and Hamilton being detained for being on the terrorist list at the airport weren't able to keep us from putting on a great demo for Nations Petroleum and enjoying their hospitality.
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