Wednesday, 30 December 2009

legally participating in Jakarta's traffic madness

Although I have a driver available, sometimes it is nice just to do your own thing.

I have been driving around without local license (i know bad bad bad boy) so it was time to get myself an Indonesian version of that thing.  Main reason is that you want to give the cops as less reasons as possible to ask for any other fees (if you know what I mean).

So, I made the call to a friend who knows someone that can speed things up. (Yes, speed up in Indonesia does exist...and sometimes those things come in handy). Appointment set, so early morning I get my driver (uhh during the week the car is his domain) to drive to the main office for .....driving licenses.

Rather than going straight to a counter, we report into a ..... WARTEL, one of those phone shops. Me with my passport and thats it. Give the passport to a guy, guy goes out to the next shop, guy comes back with passport and pile of copies. Ok, now it is time for the real work.

We continue our walk into a massive office building and pass some of the gates and entrances.
Please sit, the guy runs off again and returns a little later with more copies, forms and other things.

From there we go further into the belly of the beast...through some more gates. The main thing I see is people waiting waiting and waiting.

We pass some more gates and office doors and suddenly there is the magic door. Our main guid sticks his head in the room, mumbles something and tells me to go inside. As I do, followed by sitting down and wait. The waiting was for the tools to become available. Tools to take your photo, finger print and another pic.

That took a few mins and voila... done., so lets wait outside. Within a few mins our guy returns with my passport AND tadaaaaa the drivers license!

So now we walk back to the exit, where just before we seperate paths. We get  back to the car and just before leaving the guy walks off. Just realized that no service fee had exchanged hands.

Before we leave.....indeed a stop over at the wartel to finalize the transaction. The fee was only a little more than what the locals would pay for a normal or regular process time. In and out for me was now in just over 20min.

Not bad!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Friday, 18 December 2009

Sunday, 6 December 2009

iPhone car charger

As I spend a fair bit of time in my car, and the battery of iPhones are nit that great, i thought it might be handy to get a carcharger. Indonesia has lots of cheap stuff available.


- Posted using Mobypicture.com

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Garden...autumn in Indonesia?



Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel

One of the perks of living and working in Jakarta Indonesia, is that it is possible to have a nice house, with a garden... and yes even a pool! For not toooo overly crazy prizes.

After a little search, we found ourselves a decent place...with a spacious garden and a pool indeed! The climate is such here that it allows sitting outside pretty much throughout the year. Something I do appreciate big time, as during the day I am locked in aircon-environment for most of the time.

Although Indonesia doesn't have 4 seasons, it looks like it is autumn in my garden. The week started with a trip to Singapore. Upon my return, a big part of the garden was covered with leaves and branches that fell down.

The rest of the garden is not in that bad shape so most of the work had to be done on cleaning up the leaves and branches. As I had not bought a hose yet... the rest of the plants could not be watered (just as well it rained a bit).

In total the gardener cleaned it up quite fast, which makes things look way better.


I am thinking to put a little waterfall in the garden, probably close to the terrace.....coz I like the sound of it. The other thing is definitely a dining set.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Jakarta traffic troubles


Jakarta traffic troubles
Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
Last week I moved house (subject to another blog posting). As I knew that traffic can be a bit tricky in jakarta, it was one of the factors to keep in mind when choosing a place to live.

With my newest gadget purchse (iphone 3GS), it is not too bad to travel as it allows me to read stuff on the web...and am slowly getting into the habbit of catching up with email.

Anyways, the first time I drove from the office to my house.... (a distance of just under 15km), I spend a lovely 2 hours in the car! The next morning I was blessed with a 1.5 hour journey.

The 8.7km should be covered in 14minutes according to the photo which is from my Iphone. I gave up on this time estimate pretty much the first time I used it, as it is utterly useless in Jakarta.

The route pointed out here to me around 40 minutes to cover today. Certain areas are a total gridlock.

Complaining doesn't help. A good driver and ways to kill the time are the best way forward here.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

more earth quakes in Jakarta

Last friday I was in a meeting "at the second floor", and suddenly there it was again. Windowblinds moving, floor feels wobbly..sounds like yup another earthquake.

During the last earthquake it remained silence in the building I was in. Silent as in no announcements, no alarms whatsoever. This time around there were announcements and alarms went off quite fast, signaling people to make a move and evacuate the building.

I decided to take a nice spot in the middle of the road opposite my building. The official meeting point is in the centre square of the building...blocking emergency service access...and standing in bulls-eye position for falling debris.

Interestingly enough my wife was less than 500m away in Pacific Place in Jakarta enjoying a nice cup of coffee and nothing happened there. I send her an sms that we were vacating the building. So her next step was to ask a waitress why people are not evacuating as there was a quake. Her answer was.. hmm sorry miss I don't know. I did think I imagined the earthquake because of my headache.....

Well, it looks like this one didn't do too much damage like the last 2.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

BATIK

Thursday evening rushing out to Pasaray close to Blok M in Jakarta Selatan.

Objective: buy a batik shirt-> as on Friday everyone would be wearing batik, on government request.

October the 2nd would be day UNESCO was official naming BATIK as cultural heritage. Although there have been many claims around the region, Indonesia seems to be the holder of the origin of Batik.

Batik , originally coming from the island of Java is technique for dyeing fabric using 3 basic colors being indigo, dark brown and white. Interestingly enough the 3 was linked to 3 Hindu Gods. Which then goes back to the religion on Java in those times.

Different patterns had different purposes and meanings. Certain patterns were worn by the man on the street whilst others were for nobles.

Anyway, even those days Batik still has an important place in the society and is worn during important and less important moments.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Black Out

Another topic to the list of discoveries in Jakarta....a full on black out.

Recently we had an earthquake here so I knew the emergency lighting in my office building was working.

This week Tuesday the power suddenly disappeared just after lunchtime. Lights went off, aircon off, network down, phones down...followed by lights on (being the emergency light obviously). As we have teams in 2 towers, I found out that the other tower was out of electricity as well.... and looking out of the window a very big area was without power.

Cause...a power station, being the major power station of Jakarta went on fire. A bit of background info can be found here at the website of The Jakarta Post.

I was expecting some form of communication or so from the building management. Just as well I didn't hold my breath..... Around 3hours later, finally some messages over the PA system....announcing that there was a power breakdown :) As we had not noticed yet....nothing about when things will get fixed.

Coming in the office the next day...situation was still the same. Although, 1 tower had more power. Air-conditioning was working on one part of the office as were the electricity plugs. The other side of the building was just....darkness.

On my tower..still lights only, some air-con and some plugs were working. So my schedule is...few hours in one office...then a few hours in the other to recharge laptop and then back to other floor.

Apparently the black outs will last for nearly a week till PLN fixes the powerstation.

Let's see

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Piracy Party?

Having lived around the corner of China, there was always an attention for pirated and copied stuff.

Though in the last years Hong Kong has cleared the streets from pirated dvd's, music cd's and software. It is still available, however way less than say 3-4 years ago. The same counts for any other branded product.

Just returning from a holiday trip we needed to pop out to the shops from some basic things. Now in the same complex are lots of small shops housed. I walked past it the last few times, but decided to check some of them out.

Within a few meters of eachother there are like 3 cd/dvd shops located with crazy collections of old and new movies, classic and filmhouse, sitcoms covering US, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.

People openly shop for the latest editions to their collections to kill their sunday afternoon. After the choices are made you hand them over to the shop assistent, who willingly puts them in a player. Just to make sure you are happy with the quality of the dvd and to assure it is a working version. Prices are crazy...like 1/2 a USD for 1 DVD!

I missed the latest Harry Potter in the cinema's.....however they adviced me not to buy it....as they quality was bad.

It is interesting to see the whole world falling over China and Hong Kong about pirated stuff where as in other south east asian countries the business is thriving as well. And....if I am right the movies here are cheaper and possibly better quality. And..shops run openly.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Lebaran Exodus


Lebaran Exodus
Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
This years ramadan is coming to its end...and traditionally people go back to their hometowns to visit their family.

As Jakarta is host to many from around the country, it results in a mass exodus. Many companies have a mass leave policy to allow their staff to return home. In some cases companies sponsor buses for their staff.

As a result flights, buses, trains are booked way in advance. Jakarta seems to go into hybernation mode for at least a week.

Traffic has eased off already in the last week.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Jakarta EarthQuake

Since I am popping in and out of Jakarta, lots of adventures are drawn to there as well.

In July there was the bombings of the hotels, then police force hunting down major terrorists (news died down on that one) and today something else.... an earth quake.

I just went down to get a decent fresh coffee at one of the bakeries in the building. Luckily I brought a thermos mug over from Hong Kong. When coming back up to the 21st floor, gave a cappuccino to one of my colleagues and sat down whilst enjoying a sip of fresh coffee.

Around 15:00hrs local time, I do feel some movement in the building. For me thats nothing of concern, as that happens every now and then. Especially at high floors (I am at 21st). However, this one was different. It kept on going, and the intensity was getting higher as well.

Colleagues came out of small meeting rooms wondering what was going on. I looked at other buildings and saw the windows making strange waves as well. In the meantime the floor started moving more and more (nope no booz at that time of the day). When I looked out again and saw debris coming down... I made the call. Its enough...abandon ship!

So I packed my bag (i.e. put my laptop and mobile phone in there, the rest is there anyway) and announced that it was time to leave the place. So the whole team left for the emergency exit to take the walk down. 21 floors takes some time. Interestingly people were walking down calm and orderly. No chaos, panic or other stupid stuff was taking place here. Everyone was walking down calmly.

Whilst we were walking down, the building kept on swaying. I did keep an eye and ear open for any abnormalities. Read: is the whole building coming down or not. Fortunately no noise or sight of debris, dust or other things that would sound like trouble.

Outside, silly enough many people kept on standing close to the building. I wasn't able to spot any major damage to the building....being good news!

Outside we made our way to the front of the building. A little bit further away, to make it more difficult to be hit by dropping debris in case of more aftershocks. There didn't seem to be any fear amongst the locals. Obviously phonelines were blocked, so my only chance of keeping my wife in the loop was by sms.

When looking around, I figured that the biggest opportunity for accidents now was going to be hit by a car. Traffic, which is always horrendous in Jakarta, kept on running and people were all over the place around roads.

After around an hour, we made our way back up to the 21st floor...trying to find the guy who had the office key :). Fortunately he didn't leave as many others did. While we are setting up to continue the day.... the announcement came in that the goverment gave a 30min warning for aftershocks.

That was it for me...enough for the day. I told everyone to evacuate our office again, take computers etc and make their way out to see them next morning. After checking all rooms, we closed the office and left.

Leaving was easier said then done. Many people had the same idea. Traffic was absolutely horrendous. Credit to my driver who made it to my apartment in 1:15hrs only (normal time 20-25mins).

Take a look below on some observations, just after the evacuation and how it looked like from the 21st floor again.





Lets see what happens with any aftershocks!

More details can be found here as well http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/dyfi/events/us/2009lbat/us/index.html

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Start of Ramadan

Today (22 August 2009) is the start of the Ramadan in Indonesia. As I am currently working with a team of which many have not been "exposed" to this, we received an interesting piece of reading which I have copied below. (yes....with source).

As it is the first day only, I haven't experienced a lot but only a few things I have noticed. Around 3:00 AM the minarets started with announcements. And as both my arabic and bahasa are poor....I can't tell you what they are. In front of my appartment there are normally some small stalls......not today though. Lots of dates etc available in supermarkets (used to break the fast).

This coming week will be able to share more on the impact, as I have a run a few workshops with mixed audience. As the workshops will be followed by dinners, we have arranged some "fast breaking kits" for the people that might want to use it. Just so they don't go for dinner on a completely empty stomach.

And here for your reading:

Ramadhan, for Muslims throughout the world, is a month of spiritual purification but possessing a social dimension. It is a holy month for adult Muslims to practice self restraint and to perform three of the five pillars of Islam: fasting (saum or puasa); praying (shalat) and paying alms to the neediest Muslims (zakat) to express their devotion to Allah. The Qur’an was first revealed to Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, during this month, and thus Muslims celebrate the glory of Allah and thank Him for revealing the Qur’an, a guide for humanity.

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic Calendar and lasts for approximately 29 days. The appearance of the new moon signals the beginning of Ramadhan, and the new moon must be reported by at least two trustworthy witnesses. Due to this requirement, neither the beginning nor the end of Ramadhan can be accurately determined in advance. Depending on the visibility of the new moon, Ramadhan can begin on a different date in different parts of the world. As this advisory is being completed, it is anticipated that Ramadhan will begin on 22 August but we are awaiting official confirmation, which may vary the date by a day or so.

All Muslims who have reached puberty and who are mentally and physically able to sustain fasting are obliged to fast during Ramadhan. People, who are sick, or traveling, and pregnant or nursing women, are exempt from fasting, but they must later make up for any missed days. Women who are menstruating after childbirth are not allowed to fast, but they too must make up missed days. The elderly and incurably sick need not fast, but they are expected to feed one poor person for every day of fasting they miss.

Islamic fasting requires total abstinence from food, drinks of any kind, cigarettes and sexual relations between dawn and sunset. It is believed that fasting is aimed at abstaining from all worldly desires and withdrawing the heart from everything except Allah. Before fasting, Prophet Muhammad recommended that Muslims have a meal, called sahur,shortly before dawn, from 03:00 to around 04:30 hrs. The call to prayer (sahur) from the mosque will be heard early in the morning: as early as 03:00 hrs. Morning Prayer occurs at about 04:30 hrs.

Those who live near a mosque should be prepared to hear this call everyday before dawn during the month of Ramadhan. Even if there is no mosque in the area, the adherents who live in the area will make noise by beating drums, hitting cans with wooden sticks or lighting fireworks to wake up the neighborhood to prepare for their early breakfast. For the uninitiated, this situation can be quite unnerving. Understand that in no way does it represent a threat but is merely part of a daily cycle.

After sunset Muslims celebrate the breaking of the fast with a meal known as iftar or buka puasa at about 1800hrs. People normally break the fast with sweet food, biscuits, dates and fruits. These sweet foods are designed to quickly bring back energy after more than 12 hours fasting. It is an honor to be invited to a family gathering for Buka Puasa,which is sometimes used for family or company gatherings to enrich the bonds of friendship between attendees.

Ramadhan is a month marked by worship and Muslims pay greater attention to prayers (shalat). Prayer timings vary slightly each day with the change in sunrise but in general the first prayer of the day is Subuh between 04:00 and 05:00 hrs; then Dzuhur from around 11:45 to 12:30 hrs; Ashar between 14:00 and 15:00 hrs; Maghrib just after 18:00 hrs and finally Isya at 19:00 hrs. Muslims also perform congregational (jama`ah) or special (taraweeh) prayers in a mosque after the evening prayers. During the taraweeh prayers, you can hear the loud voices of adherents praising the name of Allah. It is considered bad manners to attempt to disturb an adherent during these prayer times.

Many Muslims retreat to the mosque to pray in seclusion. The practice of seclusion in a mosque is known as i‘tikaf.Over the course of the month, Muslims also recite the Qur'an. Since Ramadhan is also the month when the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Mohammad, Muslims believe that the Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power or Decree) on the 27th night of Ramadhan is the night on which “angels and the Spirit descend, by the leave of their Lord, and all is peace till the rising of dawn.” Pious Muslims spend the better part of this night praying and reciting the Qur'an.

Despite the ardors of fasting, a festive, social atmosphere often prevails during Ramadhan. Many Muslims say they feel personal accomplishment and happiness during this time. Young people often reflect the sense of excitement by gathering to let off fireworks at night, although fireworks are officially banned in Indonesia.

As Ramadhan is also a month of philanthropy and benevolence, there is an obligation for Muslims to give alms (zakat) to the poor in the form rice or money. The alms and tithe are usually distributed through the local mosques or other Muslim organizations. On the street, there may be an increase in beggars seeking money by attempting to take advantage of this moral obligation to give alms to the poor.

A festival called Eid ul-Fitr or Idul Fitri (Feast of Fast-Breaking) or Lebaran in local language marks the end of Ramadhan. It begins with the sighting of the new moon on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month in the Islamic calendar, and generally lasts for two days. The celebration begins just after the last Buka Puasa and is characterized by public assemblies, holding long marches, cavalcades of cars and trucks with people playing drums to praise Allah and also letting off fireworks. These events last well into the night. Traffic is chaotic and vehicles, motorbikes and pedestrians mix freely. If you are caught up in this, smile and be patient as you make your way home. Although these events are usually good natured, they can be boisterous. For the uninitiated, it is probably best to remain at home that evening.

The next morning, adherents will continue celebrations by gathering in mosques and other public halls to conduct anEid ul-Fitr prayer. After the prayer they will congratulate each other for their success during the holy month. The real meaning of this celebration is to ask for forgiveness from each other for past mistakes. The celebration is accompanied by the phrase “Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Bathin” (please forgive my soul and body) while shaking or touching hands. Senior members of the community will conduct ‘open houses’ to allow others to come and celebrate the end of Ramadhan with them. To be invited to this event is an honor. You should dress appropriately and, on arrival, seek out and shake the hand of the hosts.

Usually, one or two weeks before Eid ul-Fitr, there is an exodus - a flood of humanity - from major urban centers such as Jakarta to towns and villages. This is referred to as Mudik or Pulang Kampung - the return of people to their family or ancestral homes to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr with their parents, family and relatives. The Government attempts to manage this mass exodus by putting on more ferries, scheduling more trains and buses and controlling ticket pricing and sales. Transportation services and infrastructure often become completely overloaded as people depart Jakarta, but on return trips most seats will be empty. The reverse occurs a week after Eid ul-Fitr as people return to their places of work and residence.

These events make for the busiest days in Ramadhan, with long traffic jams on major arterial and inter-city road networks. Expatriates are advised not to conduct any unnecessary travel during the days before, during and after Eid ul-Fitr to avoid these traffic jams. You may also choose to financially assist your staff in meeting the higher than normal transportation fees charged during Eid ul-Fitr.

As the fast from dawn until dusk lasts for more than 12 hours, energy levels will progressively be drained. Wherever possible, manual labor should be planned to be completed in the mornings. Many restaurants and other food and drink outlets or vendors are closed during daylight hours. Some eateries remain open for those not participating in the fast, by segregating areas for the consumption of food and drink with curtains or sheets of fabrics. Most major hotels keep their full range of facilities available to guests.

During the fasting month, many entertainment venues are closed completely as a sign of respect to the holy month and to reduce temptations. Provincial Governors normally issue an instruction beforehand indicating which venues may stay open and until what time they may do so. Conditions can vary greatly between provinces. Generally, as minimum nightclubs, discotheques, bars, saunas, massage parlors, amusement centers and fitness centers close, while restaurants remain open. Some restaurants may be closed on the day before Eid ul-Fitr, the last night of the fasting month, Malam Takbiran, and the first and the second days of Eid ul-Fitr, to allow their workers to celebrate the festival.

Non-Muslims should be cognizant of the fast and should not eat, drink or chew in public. When visiting someone’s home or on an office call you may still be offered tea, coffee and small cakes as a matter of courtesy. You should politely ask whether your host is fasting and act accordingly, but you can accept the offering if your host insists.

Employers usually pay a Lebaran Bonus of one month’s salary to their workers at some time in the month before Eid ul-Fitr. And historically, the rate of extortion attempts and criminal activity during Ramadhan increases, especially home burglaries. Robbers often target the empty houses of those that are gone for Mudik. You should consider making additional arrangements for security around your home, especially if domestic staff and security officers go onMudik themselves.


What to expect and how to prepare:
· In the days prior to the fasting month, (but not during it), visits are made to the graves of family (nyekar) to pay respects, clean the grave and leave flowers. Expect some traffic disruption, especially near major cemeteries.
· During Ramadhan itself, traffic within the city will be lighter, not only because of the Mudik but also because many prefer to stay at home and limit their travel. However, there is generally a rush home by office workers who are attempting to arrive before Buka Puasa and afternoon traffic jams start earlier. Traffic can be very heavy between 1500 and 1800 hrs. And at the end of a long day of fasting, some drivers are not their usual courteous and patient selves.
· Overall pace of life slows down. Things take longer to get accomplished both at home and at the office.
· Your cook might not be able to taste the foods she is cooking for you
· Your driver will appreciate it if you can let him break the fast in the car with a drink of water and a sweet snack, if he is driving you home at sunset.
· You might be awakened more frequently early in the morning by enthusiastic young people parading through the neighborhood. Telling them to be quiet could be considered extremely offensive.
· Food prices rise dramatically as Lebaran nears. Shop early and stock up.
· Household staff will want to take time off to visit their family and the village, and you may be left without a cook, driver, watchman or maid. Make provision for substitutes or rotational time off. Consider eating at restaurants or having the cook prepare meals beforehand. There are several drivers clubs in Jakarta which may be able to provide a relief driver for you. Company motor pools should look at staggered holidays and car pooling where possible.
· An increased level of patience and tolerance is required when dealing with workers who are fasting. Try not to speak harshly with those fasting. It will achieve little and, if they get angry or have negative feelings towards others, it invalidates their fasting for that day: possibly leading to further issues.
· It will be extremely difficult to schedule travel in Indonesia near the end of Ramadhan, due to the annual exodus of millions of city dwellers to their hometowns. Book early or consider delaying travel till after Lebaran.
· Non-Muslims will enter the spirit of Ramadhan by abstaining from eating, at least in public, during the day. It would be considerate to refrain from eating or drinking in front of others who are fasting (to an acceptable and tolerable level that does not border on false pretenses).
· Your neighborhood association may organize a charitable drive for the poor in your neighborhood. If you are satisfied the request is genuine, contribute to this drive as a gesture of both good faith and your membership in the local community.
· Take extra precautions around your residence to deter would-be burglars or tricksters. Keep gates or doors locked and brief staff to turn away anyone who seems suspicious.
· Ensure your driver is more careful than usual on the road. He may be fit to drive, but others may not. Police often raise the level of “on the spot fines” for previously ignored indiscretions at this time of year.

To our Muslim staff and clients, Selamat Berpuasa.

Advice:
If you have any questions regarding this advisory please contact AGI Office at (021) 572 4077

Assessments Group Indonesia
Wisma Kyoei Prince 12th Floor
Jl Jend Sudirman Kav 3, Jakarta
Ph. +62-21-572 4077
Fax: +62-21-572 4083

www.agisite.com


Jakarta Carrefour

Its Saturday, so time to run some errands as people do anywhere in the world.

After my breakfast, I decided to walk to the Carrefour which is located a few minutes walk from the serviced appartment I am currently staying. A nice day, and a nice walk.



When walking around the Carrefour, I noticed a number of things different compared to for example supermarkets in Hong Kong.

Let me just list them:
  • sheer amount of staff: wow, literally whole teams running around to re-supply stocks sky high. On the side walls of the supermarket, shelve space does reach the sky. Massive trolleys and special stairs were brought in....and goods were thrown from one person to another. 1 product had probably around 6 people working on it...with the "highest" person sitting close to the ceiling to put boxes away. And in one lane there were around 4 of those teams operating. That is beside lots of other staff roaming around the store. I have to admit, this time they were all doing something. 2 weeks ago.... they were just "hanging out"...which was interesting to see (yea yea i know should have taken a pic)
  • signs: lots of different signs throughout the whole store. Signs for discount, signs for imported products, signs for new products, signs for local products etc.
  • freshness: seafood etc did look quite good actually. When looking at the imported oranges and other fruits..it looks like other countries get priority with the nice ones. Good thing is that there is lots of local produce available as well. And... I did spot a good amount of pesticide free and even organic food.
  • packaging: Indonesia is no exception for micro packaging. Water in small cups, cookies packed by piece...and when looking for my razor blades..the biggest packaging size was 2!!!! The pack size is still the same, they only put 2 blades in there. What a waste of materials that is.

2 Blade Mach 3 turbo Pack
  • cost savings: It looked like 3 check out stations were sharing 1 role of receipt printer paper. Quite silly....sorry sir, one moment... I need to get the print out paper from my colleague.
  • Friendly: People just tend to roam around (including staff), no rush and have a friendly outlook over them. Which is definitely a positive thing.
Just a few small observations from running errands on a saturday morning in Jakarta......

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

We have to send a telex!

I spend a few days back in Hong Kong before returning to Jakarta. And...since a return Jakarta-Hong Kong is way cheaper than Hong Kong- Jakarta I decided to get a ticket in Jakarta last week.

No worries, went on cathaypacific.com and booked my ticket..as usual. Unfortunately I had to book the morning flight on monday as the afternoon was fully booked. Maybe due to the fact that Indonesia had a long weekend off as it was there independence day. (wikipedia) This year their 64th day.

Anyway, when rocking up at the airport express station in Hong Kong...with a big suitcase I was happy to see that there was hardly any queue.

When checking in, the attendant said: oh sorry, you will have to wait for an hour or so as we need to check your status. Uhh, sorry what do you mean? Well if you fly to Jakarta we need to verify if you will be allowed in. Hmm, well they let me in for the last few times AND as you can see there is a multiple entry business visa. So.....what is the problem. The supervisor had to send a telex to Jakarta to get approval for me to be checked in and board the plane. As per Immigration department directives.

I was already thinking on how to kill that waste of time, whilst trying to understand what was going on here. Even if I didn't have the multiple entry visa..I can get a visa on entry.

Then the light went on. As I was returning to Jakarta....I didn't have a ticket out (well that was the assumption). Funny enough...I do have a ticket and it is an eticket. So, before I was send off to Starbucks or so to kill an hour of my time..I told the gentleman that I do have a ticket to leave Jakarta. Upon which he returns if I am carrying the ticket with me.

Uhhh no, thats the point of e-tickets--- not to carry stuff like that anymore. Anyway, he was kind enough to check the system... and tadaaaa there it was....the magic word to clear the sky :)

My boarding pass was printed, suitcase taken in... and there were the words: enjoy your flight!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Jakarta.......

In the last weeks I have been traveling a few times to Jakarta.

As I had not been to Indonesia before, I was curious and didn't know what to expect.

The airport was actually smaller than I expected it to be. I got my visa prepared in Hong Kong, so no issues there. Before hitting immigration, you walk past the "health section". Hand in the "I have no flu form". They have a really interesting machine there that apparently can do on the spot disinfection of people. (sorry...no pic nor video on that one).

Immigration went very smooth as well. Only had to wait for a few minutes.....way better than Thailand :)

Luggage is quite interesting, I think they only use 2 carousels. And...as at many airports, everyone tries to jump onto the band. So that as soon as your case arrives....you will need to fight your way through to pick it up..and out to get away.

From there....its time to get another form ready to pass customs. And indeed...where they will run your case through a scanner if they feel like.


Driving from the airport to the city with a BlueBird taxi is interesting. Jakarta does have high rise.....but coming from Hong Kong... it is definitely not as crowded in the sky.

Anyway, lots of new world developments there. Big shopping malls, new major estates.


Interesting was arriving at the hotel. My first time arriving at the Mulia the headlights of the car put the security guards on the spot. First thing I noticed were their automatic weapons. Interesting I thought (this was before the recent bombings).

The trip after that got even more interesting security wise. Arriving at the hotel, my luggage was taken out of the car and put into a separate room. In the room security staff asks you to open up your luggage, which is followed by them checking up on things. Depending on the person, they will go through every single thing in your suitcase.

Arriving at the office, I noticed an increased level of security as well. All cards get stopped, opened up and bags get checked with detectors. Entering buildings is a bit more hassle as well those days as security guards actually do check things now.

Anyways, the weather is good :)



Saturday, 18 April 2009

Opposites.....

Living in Hong Kong is definitely interesting. It is a very cosmopolitan place with lots of Eastern and Western influences.

There are a good number of things that work really well in Hong Kong:
- shopping: an abundant amount of shopping malls for all budgets
- public transport: superb and cheap.. covering buses, trains, minibuses and taxi's really well set up
- food: such an abundance and available 24hrs a day!
- internetbanking: it takes a while to get it started..but do love my hsbc internet banking.
- immigration: lots of paperwork...but straight forward
- service in most restaurants and shops: fast
- availability: shops, supermarkets, starbucks....all over the place
and heaps more.......

Things that surprisingly are slower or work with difficulties:
- supermarket restocking: often compared to the Netherlands products are not available, out of stock or just out of the collection
- banks: sooooo many forms needed for hsbc
- dry cleaners: takes around a week!!! to get a suit dry cleaned

Just a few thoughts after going to dry cleaners and supermarket this morning...