They Pay Me For This?!

Feb 28, 2010

Cabin crew are terrible for creating ridiculous rumours. Over the past few weeks, I'd heard multiple stories about ghosts that reside in the Jakarta hotel. I try not to listen to silly stories... but I'll admit it, I was a bit wary of my 55 hour layover in the Indonesian city. To make matters worse, I was still feeling a bit sick from the nasty cold that had plagued me during my last layover. At 2 in the morning I met the rest of the crew. I agreed without hesitation when one very enthusiastic Italian named Flavio suggested that we all go to Pulua Seribu (Thousand Islands) the next day. My previous layovers had been spent exploring on my own, but there are places in the world where doing so is not as safe or easy, especially being a non-Indonesian speaking female. I was a bit relieved that I had an ambitious crew. The flight over was probably my best so far. Indonesians are very friendly people, and when it comes to passengers you can't ask for much better. They slept the majority of the flight, rarely rang the call bells, and all left smiling 7 1/2 hours later. As we stepped out of the airport, we were met with extreme humidity. Ahh, the tropics. My dry skin rejoiced in the relief from the desert. Upon arrival at the hotel, I wondered how anybody had anything negative to say about Jakarta layovers. It was a resort hotel with a beautiful swimming pool, surrounded by lush green trees and plant life. I was going to enjoy every minute of it. After unpacking a few things in my room, I set out for the pool. The sun was going down and the mosquitos were rampant, so a few of us agreed to head to the buffet for dinner. I sat there forever, loading plate after plate full of sushi, nasi goreng, seafood... and amazing desserts. I had every intention of heading to bed early, but the free internet kept me awake late talking to my mom and boyfriend. Eventually I crawled into bed, falling asleep immediately.
Day 2, I awoke to my 6 am wakeup call from Flavio. "Good morning! Breakfast!", he cheerfully greeted me. I hopped in the shower (that didn't get much beyond lukewarm in temperature) to wake me from my zombie state and proceeded to the restaurant for MORE food. After we'd all eaten and were ready to go, 6 of us headed out to catch taxis. We advised the driver to take us to the port, attempting to communicate despite the language barrier between us. We drove through Jakarta, passing by row after row of corrugated iron and wood shacks. It's always quite eye opening, seeing the slums of a country. It puts a lot into perspective, primarily how fortunate I am to have this amazing job and stay in beautiful hotels while some people live in makeshift homes no bigger than my washroom. Despite this, the children still play happily outside, completely oblivious to the fact that they are far less fortunate than many others. Eventually, we reached the port. More confusion followed as we were bombarded with tour operators trying to sell us overpriced trips to the islands. We eventually hired a private boat to take us to the nearest islands so that we could plan our day at our own pace. The 1 million rupiah cost seemed extremely expensive, but in reality it was only about $100 Canadian, divided amongst all 6 of us. We hopped onto our boat and set off, away from the dirty shores of Jakarta. Our captain took us to Ayer Island, about a 30 minute journey. There wasn't a whole lot to do besides relax and enjoy the tropical island atmosphere. This was exactly what I needed. I walked around the entire island in about 5 minutes, taking photos of everything in sight. The ocean water isn't exactly ideal for swimming, situated such a short distance from a city of 12 million people. I instead chose the pool to offer relief from the intense heat. I napped briefly on a swing under the shade of palm trees, dined on more nasi goreng in the restaurant, and relaxed until we were all exhausted and ready to head back to the hotel. Thankfully, our boat had not left us behind. As we spent hours relaxing on the island, they sat waiting in the boat to take us back whenever we desired. Satisfied with our day, we arrived back at the hotel and proceeded to feast once again at the buffet. Some of the crew headed out to nightclubs in the city as I headed to sleep. The next day I awoke bright and early to enjoy my last bit of Jakarta. I spent the morning lying by the pool, basking in the glorious sunshine. Around lunch time it got a bit unbearably hot, as even the lounge chair that I was sitting on felt like a hot stove top. After a delicious lunch of Singapore noodles, I headed to the spa to make use of the steam room, already feeling far better than I had a few days earlier. What a great layover it had been. It was time to pack my bags and get a few hours of sleep before my overnight flight. I reluctantly placed my bikini and summer dresses in my suitcase, wondering when we'd see each other again. I'd felt so free in Indonesia, where showing your shoulders is far less taboo than in Dubai. After a great nap I met the crew and we proceeded to the airport. I felt privileged to have been on the very last 55 hour layover, as twice daily service to Jakarta begins in March, making all layovers on 24 hours. Goodbye, Indonesia! Back to the sandpit I go.


Clint said...

Excellent stuff. Your words do well to tell the story in a way that makes me feel like I was there.

I still find it interesting that you have been such a free spirit, able to live abroad at such an early age. When you were half way across the world, I was stuck at home, settling down, getting a job.

Now I do love my job, and I do love my life, but how can you even begin to compete with someone who gets to go to these new and interesting places. I love to travel myself, but I'm so grounded into North America.

Glad to hear your having lots of fun so early into the job. Stay safe most importantly.

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