Indonesian Tales & How Not To Be A Petrified American Abroad (Part 1)

Good Morning World!

I apologize for the delayed response, but welcome back to the roller coaster that is my life! There has been SO MUCH happening, yet very little sleep or time to even write about it. I had initially intended to write last night as promised, but I’m afraid once I laid down in bed I immediately fell asleep clothes and all with my laptop open beside me. I will be leaving to go to the city center of Jakarta in a little over an hour so I will do my best to write as much as I can now. These blog posts will likely have to be written in many parts not only because of how much has happened, but also due to how wildly different this culture is in comparison to the Western world and I feel the need to share as much as I can for those who do not have the opportunity to travel as I have so graciously been given. So fear not, I will have plenty to write about, so much I will likely be playing catch up in America. I will warn you, although many of my initial experiences and descriptions may seem negative and horrific, I am actually having a wonderful time, it just may take a few posts to get there.

I suppose I will start the story off chronologically and try not to wander off topic too much…

Arrival at Jakarta Airport

The first thing I experienced after taking my first steps outside into Jakarta was how obscenely hot it was. I felt like I was melting and feared I would be nothing but a shriveled up, raisin-looking version of myself upon return to America. The group (myself, Iliana, Dr. Silver, and Dr. Jerry Murphy) decided to take a bathroom break. Yet NO ONE warned me about the restroom. 1) not all of the stalls are toilets, instead, they look like urinals but in the ground. On campus they also have these types of restrooms although they have a bucket of water and a big spoon thing in which you pour into said hole to naturally flush it. As if this wasn’t horrifying enough, toilet paper is also not a thing. Thankfully they had some at the airport since a more international crowd is likely to use it, but nowhere else will you find toilet paper (excluding the hotel). You may be lucky enough to find a restroom with a toilet on campus, but its a 50/50 chance and I do not enjoy those chances one bit. Now you may be wondering, what do they use in if they have no toilet paper? Fear not, they have a delightful hose with a spray nozzle in which you can “cleanse” yourself. Needless to say I was petrified by my first two experiences in a public restroom and have now become a tissue hoarder. I will advise you – as no one had the decency to do for me before – if you are to visit Indonesia and do not wish to become one with a more primitive version of yourself,  BRING YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER. 

On our way to the airport, I noticed quite a few motorcycles. I cannot tell you how many there are in the Jakarta region, but there has to quite literally be millions. There are scooters everywhere and they all weave in and out of traffic. There are even Uber motorcyclists if you can imagine that. Add on the fact that everyone drives on the opposite side of the road and the lines on the road only appear to be mere suggestions of order, behind the wheel is definitely not some place I would like to be. Unfortunately, due to my lost phone (I will get to that later) I do not have any photos of my initial experience with the crazy amount of motorcycles, but I will attempt to find some from my fellow travelers. For now, I have attached an image of traffic in the late afternoon along the major road on which our hotel sits.

Depok Town Center Shopping Extravaganza

Depok Mall.jpg

I briefly mentioned in the last post our luggae did not arrive with us in Jakarta, so Jerry, Iliana, and I went to the strange looking building above that is a mall. Thankfully, this is at least the more affordable mall compared to the massive Margo City across the street (don’t worry that will come later as well). I will start off first by saying across the street under the Margo City mall, there is a supermarket, much like a Walmart, that has everything you could possibly need at a very cheap price. For instance, 3 pair of socks cost about 10,000 rupiah which is roughly $0.75. There are also about 2 floors above the main floor in which are tons of stalls and open areas that kind of function as stores where there is a lot of cheap clothes. We of course, did not choose such an option. Trusting Iliana, who had lived here for 2.5 months over the summer, we entered a department store to purchase clothes for the first couple days we wouldn’t have clothes. ThI was also in need of sandals or some kind of waterproof shoes for walking. Since my 9.5 size feet are apparently the size of Bigfoot’s, I could not find a single shoe in any of the stalls which fit me but by some miracle, I found a pair of sandals that fit without having to buy a man’s shoe.

Looks like it is already time to go :/ I will pick up next with the story of I made the store people very nervous and lost my precious iPhone (cries). Hopefully, I won’t get back too late today and I’ll give you some more exciting and perhaps over dramatic experiences as well as some philosophical thoughts on my belief that everyone should travel if I get in the mood. Talk to you later, time to see what else Indonesia will throw my way!

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