The moment I stepped off the plane I knew I was no longer in Australia. My first thoughts were OMG its so hot. How I am going to survive 2 years in this heat. But I did get used to it and in the morning and evening it is comfortable to walk around the streets, just not during the day.
The population of Jakarta is about 230,000,000 people. That’s 10 people for every 1 Australian. It’s the second largest city in the world after Tokyo.
The traffic in Jakarta is very busy. There are lanes but no one uses them. You don't have to wear seat belts or crash helmets either. And you will often see a family of 4 on one motor bike & bikes piled sky high with plants or pots of other items that are for sale - they run their businesses from their bikes. With so much traffic it takes a long time to get anywhere and this is frustrating for the people who live here. You also have to be careful when you walk around on the street because even though you are on the footpath, bikes will often come up onto the path to get around a traffic block. And you wouldn't want to trip over in the street because you will probably be run over by 20 bikes and 5 cars in 5 seconds.
Mum & I loved our time in Jakarta. Things are so much cheaper here. I am still getting used to the money. On my birthday I spent over 1 million dollars! Well…..not dollars, rupiahs. This is $100 Australian. 11,000 rupiahs is $1 so I have to do lots of maths to work out the real cost of everything. Petrol costs 50 cents a litre, bottle water 20 cents, a cup of coffee around $1, an Aussie restaurant meal around $30 for 3, local food is much much cheaper. But don't buy wine like dad did. Mum was not happy. Dad bought a bottle of cheap Australian wine and it cost $50. For my birthday mum took me to a beauty spa. It cost just $30 for me to have a massage for 1 hour and for mum to have a 75 minute hair spa. The shopping centres are very big and beautiful like Dubai’s and you have to go through security to get into them. And they are deserted. I think people must go on the weekend, not during the day or night (they stay open til 10pm). Because we didn’t really see much I have to say my favourite thing was the cheap massages and beauty treatments. Mum really loved the narrow Jakarta streets, quaint houses and all the trees in the city.
Since we arrived we have been mainly eating Indonesian food; rice, soups, curries, grilled spicy chicken, vegetables in lots of liquids. And it’s really the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner, even snacks; dried & fried corn kernels, tempeh chips that are crispy biscuits made from soy beans & banana wrapped in rice flour noodle. The only time we have really eaten food we are used to is a little bit at breakfast and if AVI don’t have a dinner function for us and we go out for dinner at night. Then we go to a restaurant that has food we are more used to.
The food is all very spicy so it will take us a while to get used to. We also have to drink bottled water but that’s OK since it is much cheaper than Australia.
I am typing this blog sitting on a train going to Yogyakarta. It is an 8 hour train trip which is really great because we get to see a lot of the country. We have gone past villages, rice paddies, volcanoes, up mountains, over bubbling streams and seen people go about their lives on the side of the train track. It is fascinating. The air con stopped working for 2 hours so it got a bit hot and we’re hungry. We didn’t feel like anymore Indonesian food today so mum bought a packet of Orreo’s from the buffet car, the only food they have that we are used to.
On Monday we start at the Wisma Bahasa language school where all the volunteers and their partners (which means me and dad too) will have our own language tutor for 4 hours a day. We will stay in Yogyakarta for 1 month before leaving for Bali.
So, if you would like to share the adventures of an Aussie teen living in Bali (almost there), please look out for my next post.