Friday, November 19, 2010

Travel log - Jakarta

Gentle readers....

It is with great smugness that I report that not only am I safe and well in Jakarta, my conference hotel is located smack bang in one of the largest theme parks in South East Asia! The smugness fades slightly when I realise that a) I am not much of a person for rides and roller coasters and b) I'm stuck in the conference all day anyway!

So got to Jakarta nice and early and the first thing that happened was me zooming into Dunkin' Donuts and gorging on a sinful portion of double-chocolate-peanut butter delight. Um.

The second thing was that I nearly got suckered by an airport tout. The dude slithered oilily up to me and offered to show me around. Despite my polite "no thank you"s he continued to ooze along next to me and then offered to push my trolley. After another "no thanks" he grabbed the trolley from me, saying smarmily that he was an "airport worker". I was equally determined not to let go, and I'm sure we provided much comic relief as we both pushed a single (not very big) trolley towards the Garuda airline office (where my booking needed some adjustment). Half way there I got his whole (very boring) family history and an offer to take me to my hotel "very cheap".

Happily the Garuda thing was taking so long that I turned to him and said "go away". At which point he opens his palm, smiled oilily again and says "my tip!!". I kept shaking my head stubbornly and he kept saying "tip, tip" until I finally lost it, waved my arms around and reminded him I said "no thanks". He slithered away in a huff, as people, including the Garuda ladies started to stare. But hey, I'm a foreigner. I'm allowed to be eccentric.

I felt mildly guilty afterwards and compensated by tipping both the driver who took me to my hotel and the porter who brought up my bags about 5000 IDR each. My satisfaction evaporated somewhat when I realised (much later) that the tip was not enough even to buy a dunkin' donut (7000IDR).

Ah well.

And for those who requested pics...

I didn't want to take many food pics in the middle of the conference... would seem so godey as if no food in Sri Lanka. Couldn't resist the fruits though!! Notice the 6 different kinds of fruit... and the single lonesome lurid pink pudding... which tasted of pink gelatin, and nothing else. Almost everyone opted for the fruit, in stark contrast to SL where there will be 6 different kinds of pudding and a fruit salad. No wonder we have so many diabetics...

The Rector's office at Universitas Indonesia. The campus is HUGE sprawled over 700 acres with one entrance being in Jakarta and the other one in Western Java! There are 45,000 students enrolled at the moment... wow!

Faculty of Public Health. Each faculty has been built to reflect the architechture of a designated province of Indonesia. A walk or drive around the campus means that you will see different types of buildings from quiant to ultra modern. Notice also the manicured lawn. The university theme is "green campus" and it was adopted in 1987, long before "green" became a fashionable catchphrase.

Corridor in airport... notice all the woodcarvings!

OK peeps, me off to bed. Wish me luck for my presentations!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My bags are packed...

... and I am GONE!!

Yes folks, after a few weeks of heatbreak and nerve biting tension, my conference was relocated to Jakarta so I am on my way!!

Right now, this post is being typed in KL where I'm on transit for nearly half a day. This sorry state of affairs is due to the changes in flights, and the inability to change others, because of high penalty fees. Yeah, that's what happens when one flies on a limited budget.

I'm checked into the Tune Hotel, LCCT, Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The room is pocket sized (there is literally only 2 feet of walkingspace around the bed), BUT very clean, nice swiss parquet floors, tiny but fully functional tiled bathroom with shower and hair drier and well airconditioned. There is also a huge mirror over the headboard of the bed, which reflects the arty mural on the opposite wall. It's a huge improvement from the poky (albeit, much bigger) hotel room we stayed in the last time we were in KL... and costs about 2/3 of the price.

Ok, Jakarta tomorrow....

With any luck, I will continue to have cheap internet access so can keep you guys updated!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The rain gods...

...they be unhappy....

Brother blames it all on his rain dancing skills... or lack thereof.

Yesterday's thunderstorm caused our garden to flood, with water seeping in through the crack at the bottom of the back door. There were horrid noises in the night... distant woomps and crash-bangs only hinting at the grim possibilities.

We awoke to find that part of our parapet wall had crashed down (narrowly missing the car) and that sheets have been blown off the roof, which was dripping water into the house. Happily the water had drained away, leaving only muddy floors to be cleaned.

While we gloomily surveyed the wrecked garden (the wall had fallen right on top of Mum's prized red palms and gerberra plants) it started to rain again. And the water started rising. First seeping in through the back door, the water in the front garden also rose to a level that it was coming in. Then it started coming in from the french windows from either-side of the house. Meaning that we were being flooded from all 4 corners. Within half an hour the house was over a foot deep in muddy water and we had all retreated upstairs.

Peering out of the windows, there were snakes swimming about the water!!

Well, they turned out to be eels. From the Diyawanna oya.

I still wasn't risking going down there.

So, we are cloistered upstairts... ignoring the drip drip from one point in the roof and the not-so-remote possibility of having it fall down on our heads.

The only consolation I have is that ironically enough, the internet still works!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Whut....? Nooooooooo!!!


I get a paper selected for presentation... I get some funding and Darling agrees to fund the rest... I book flights and pay for them... search for cheap hotels and book a room...

Then this happens....


Earthquakes, tsunamis and now the volcanic eruption, which is exactly 30km from the hotel. The subsequent eruptions that happened today have resulted in suspended flights.

I was all for going to Jakarta and then taking a train, thinking that even if the worst happens, I'll get some great pics. Darling pointed out that there are plenty of pics on the internet, but that there is only one of me, that I am however, a stellar idiot and he is now threatening to cut all funding.


P.s. this post in no way intends to trivialise the loss of life and property and the looming health crisis in Indonesia. It's just me ranting....