My friend Ale was on the verge to go back home while I had one more week and I was totally undecided. Should I stay and relax in thailand eating Pad thai and swimming in Sananwan Hotel pool??Or maybe should I return to Phnom Pen and finally meet again my nice friend Khonty???Or should I fly to Jakarta and start the discovery of Indonesia??? There I just had a couple of local penpals and an italian acquaintance living in jakarta but too busy with his business to care of me, nothing more. Moreover the flight ticket was not so cheap being a lastminute decision.
Thanks to Ale's spur I resolved to get my fisrt Indonesian experience and I didn't regret this decision.
Jakarta is a huge, ugly, polluted, metropolis engulfed by a crazy traffic jam which can make seem other big cities like Milan or Rome as a small town with some traffic problems. Early in the morning the road in front of Maharani Hotel was just a long endless queue of cars and motorbikes, a metal snake crawling toward the city center and even at nighttime when it was supposed to be a relaxing time, there still was a high level of traffic so that when I was eating something in a small tent-stall on the sidewalk, I could hear a big noise and breath lot of smog. So what?? So I loved Jakarta and Indonesian anyway. They were very fine, curious and friendly, smiling and always eager to help me, from the hotel staff to the motorbike guys, from the veiled shop assistant of Seven Eleven Lulù to my penpals' friends. Educated people can speak english very well and those who can not will help you in any way...in other words Indonesians are much much more similar to us than Thai people. Also I noticed that many foreigners who have never been to this huge country are misleaded by the fact that Indonesia is a muslim country and by the cruel and bloody terroristic bomb attack of Bali in 2005. Sure there are many mosques, sure there are many strict muslims and sure some of them must be some fucking asshole planning something similar, BUT most of people are as fine as I have just written. Yet in a 11 million city, as you could expect, there is also a considerable number of agnostic, moderate muslims, buddhist and catholic people who like to enjoy the life and hang out exactly as everywhere in the world. Jakarta is definitively not Jedda ahahahaha
Food is also tasty and genuine, tasty, simple and very cheap especially if you eat it on the road stalls or in simple small restaurants. I tasted Nasi Goreng (rice) with cuttlefish, with tiny dried fish and with vegetable and loved it. Also gado gado (a cucumber salad) is nice, pity that my friend waluh couldn't find a place to make me taste her favourite food Bakso, a kind of meat balls soup.
The highlights of these few days in Jakarta were the flea market in Jalan Surabaya where you can find so many lovely second hand things: from huge embalmed sea turtle to 2ndWW english helmet or gas mask, from crystal(or glass???) chandelier to old balinese puppet. It's a wonderful small world where you can spend a pleasant afternoon and with good bargaining skills can get lot of cheap and lovely souvenirs. The second highlight was the only mall I visited, the huge ITC in kunigan area, not as modern and flashy as bangkok ones but also filled of too many stuff and nice people to have a talk.
My first friend Starcy was fine and kind to help me find a decent inexpensive hotel in south Jakarta and to introduce me to other funny friends who are very liberal, smokers and in search of a foreigner good deals. But the very unexpected meeting was with my second penpal Galuh who is a stunning, lovely, open mind, easygoing girl always ready to asnwer my questions about Jakarta and Indonesian language, about local culture and tradition, to take me to the flea market, to Pepe Nero restaurant (I almost never eat in Italian restaurants while abroad ahaha) and to be a wonderful, great and sweet mate with whom I had a total syntony. Such a pity she has a naughty, dark and scaring twin sister.