Planes, Trains and a few transgenders lads later.....
26.11.2008 29 °C
"Are you carrying any liquids or drugs and do you happen to be an Arsenal supporter"
"No", I said. "I support Portsmouth."
I then had a 10 minute conversation about how well my team are doing this season with the very freindly customs officer in Malaysia. He waved me through with a quick stamp of my passport not realizing that I had not answered the first two questions. I was leaving the country so I suppose it didn't matter.
The arrival into Indonesia was a different matter. Gone were the casual football questions, only a surly customs officer who pored over my passport looking for the page where I admitted to being a terrorist or diamond smuggler. He even went to another officer in a more official shinier uniform who gave it just as much attention. May be I should have answered those questions in Malaysia. Just as I was preparing to see latex gloves snapped on and being asked to bend over, he waved me through with another quick stamp of my passport. Sue got no such attention and could have waved a brick at the guy and he would have stamped it. Welcome to Indonesia.
After these last last few months in S.E Asia, Indonesia welcomed us like a Uncle who you'd only ever known as a child and are now meeting him for the first time as an adult. The same recognizable edge but starkly different from what you already knew. Not as frantic as the Philippines and not so straight forward as Malaysia Indonesia at a first glance held a familiarity to us.
Jakarta is a bustling city. The capital of Indonesia on the island of Java. 120million people share and somehow coexist on a plot of land about the size of England. Not all of Indonesia is as heavily populated as Java but it still holds a population of over 200million.
The first order of business was to try and get a Indian visa from the Indian Embassy in Jakarta. Bureaucracy rules in India and the Embassy takes it cues from the homeland so getting a visa would require filling out a few forms, hours of queuing and a five days of processing time. We left our passports in the hands of the Embassy and prayed to the numerous Hindu Gods that we would see them again with Visas attached.
We took a local economy train to Jogjakarta. A town 9 hours away from the capital with an incredible Buddhist temple and a few old palaces thrown in for good measure. The train took 12 hours in the end. It was cramped, stuffed full all of Jakarta and just as many people walking up and down the isles trying to sell you something. You could buy anything. Food, books, toys, statues, hats and kitchen equipment were all being peddled up and down the train. This went on with no respite for the full 12 hours. Sue tried to get some sleep but was woken by one of the many singers who strap a speaker to there person, blasting out some Indonesian pop tune while they sing through a muffled microphone to gain a few notes from the seated punters. If you tried to sleep through it you would get a poke with their free hand to depart you from your money. It was hard work. The ladyboy singers were a highlight adding at bit more peppery spice to this already hot mixing pot.