Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh, How I Miss Thee, Indonesia

Until July, we have travelled just about every month that we have lived in Singapore (three and a half years!). I think the longest I had ever been here was six weeks. And that was painful. I was terrified that I would have to spend from mid-July until December in Singapore, but as it turned out, I had just about no interest to go anywhere. I had other things on my mind. When December finally came around, it was slightly terrifying to actually leave! Perth/Margaret River was really easy. Sam did great, and I didn't worry too much (though I did have a stiff neck for almost the entire trip, and I don't think it's unrelated!).

My guess is that at least half of our trips from the last three and a half years have been in Indonesia. We have been diving all over, to Bali six times, to Lombok, Medan, Malang, Yogya, Manado, etc. I think that Indonesia is one of the most underrated places in the world - it's fabulously beautiful and has SO much to offer. We love it there. Going with a baby, however, was a whole different ballgame.

We took a local airline. They gave us an infant seat belt which attaches to mine. We strapped her in, though I was pretty sure it wouldn't do us any good. Then, RIGHT when we landed, we were still taxiing and nowhere near a gate, and they came and asked for it back. Um - if we're in the air, and we crash, that seat belt will do us no good. Just about the ONLY time that it MIGHT be useful is on the runway and driving to the gate. Really? I glanced up at the "fasten seat belts" sign that was illuminated above my head, I unstrapped my baby, and I gave it back.

We then got in a taxi. We took only the most reputable taxi company - Blue Bird. As (slightly) responsible parents we brought a car seat with us. We strapped in Samara to the car seat, and oops, there are no seat belts! Hmmm...

We arrived at the hotel, and there was a whole security system. Hotels in Jakarta have been bombed multiple times, so it's not a joke. I have seen this with cars (in Bali), but I haven't before seen a hotel where they put all of your luggage through a scanner before you go in. I had a backpack on my back, and I was carrying Samara in her car seat. I did not understand that my backpack needed to be scanned. They directed me in one direction and grabbed by baby and took her inside. They tried to get me to walk around the corner while she just sat inside the hotel door. REALLY? Just take my baby away from me? Since I didn't understand what was going on, I was trying to follow Samara (or the person who had taken her from me and was walking away), but because of my backpack, they were all freaking out. Finally, Matt explained that I could go with Samara, but I had to leave the backpack to be scanned. No problem - just tell me and do NOT take my baby away! Scary!

Our hotel is the number one hotel on trip advisor in Jakarta - the Mulia Senayan. It's hilarious in general (like everything is gold and very fancy looking), but it's actually a really nice hotel. We took the elevator to the 20somethingth floor, and we got off and saw the "thank you for not smoking on this floor" sign. It really smelled of smoke. Okay - we'll see what our room smells like. We got into the room that had another non-smoking sign, and we saw the ashtray and matches. Huh? We got a new room. Luckily it smelled a lot less of smoke (though it was definitely there...).

We were in Jakarta for Vinny and Jason's wedding celebration. They got married this summer in DC and we weren't able to make it, so we were happy to be able to go to the mass and dinner in their honour in Jakarta. Vinny is from Jakarta. After arriving at the mass 15 minutes late (I was SURE it would start late - it's Indonesia!), the baby started SCREAMING when we walked in. Oops. A highlight of the service was when they sang "Heveinu Shalom Aleichem." It wasn't in Hebrew, but it was definitely those words and that tune - probably a mix of Bahasa and Arabic. It was so cool! They played that when you greeted everyone sitting around you. "Peace Be Upon You." The photo is a bad one - we have shadows on our heads - but it's one of our only family shots!

Another highlight was the Indonesia versus Philippines football match at the stadium opposite our hotel. We saw in the paper on Sunday that there had been a "scuffle" when tickets went on sale, right at the stadium, on Saturday. We then got caught in tons of traffic heading to the wedding dinner. Finally, on the way back, Indonesia had won at least one of the matches (they were playing two, but we didn't get if they had already played both...), and the streets were CRAZY with happy Indonesians flying their flag and playing drums and horns. It was really exciting and fun (until we could hear it until 11pm on the 32nd floor of our hotel). See the video.

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