Tidbits from Indonesia:
Jakarta, Sulawesi(Manado), Bali
DH and I were invited by a friend to a family members wedding in Jakarta in May. She really wanted us to go, so we purchased our tickets nearly a year in advance. Of course as the date approached neither one of us wanted to go. DH was still recovering from his loss of 15 lbs after returning from India ill last month, and I didn’t want to leave the kids, we seriously thought of not going and just taking a loss for the tickets. Reluctantly we packed at the last minute and boarded the plane for what would become one terrific trip. Because we didn’t do the planning in the trip details, my friend made all arrangements, I can’t really do a trip report , I’ll just list a few things which may be helpful to others when going.
FM7 Resort Hotel: http://www.fm7hotel.com/ My friend had told me that we would be staying with her mother in Jakarta, we really did not want to stay with a complete stranger, but thought we would be polite and go with the flow, and if we needed to, we would then suggest a hotel. What a relief when my friend said that her mother was having additional company and the house would be too crowded, so she booked us a hotel, much to our delight. This hotel is located by the airport, but this is also where my friend lives so it was very convenient. The hotel is modern, breakfast was good, people were friendly, they speak limited English but they enjoy practicing with English speakers, most visitors are just one night, so they thought it was quite unusual for us to be there for four nights.
Indonesia bathrooms: I wish I had known this ahead of time. Here is a good representation: http://www.joeygoesglobal.com/?p=1140 . Because we were in a hotel I had no idea how to use these, but upon visiting my friend the 2nd day, she suggested I use her bathroom before we went out, what a surprise. She didn’t tell me what to do, so I just went in and acted like I knew what I was doing. It took me two days, before I realized I was supposed to take water from the mandi or bucket and flush the toilet with it. The benefit of the Indonesian bathrooms and toilets is that they are almost always clean as everything is washed down with each use. I never did figure out how to properly shower with the mandi when I was given the opportunity, I just waited to shower until I reached the next hotel. By the end of the trip, when I was given the choice over the western toilet or the squat, I chose the squat, it was almost always cleaner. I loved the signs in the Bali airport bathroom, with the picture showing users not to squat on the western toilet.
Jakarta Traffic: Never underestimate Jakarta traffic: On our first day we ate lunch and then my friend mentioned that next we were going to dinner. I thought it was strange, but I figured I just wouldn’t each much at dinner. Four hours later we arrived at dinner and we were late, we were sitting in traffic the entire time. For 2 nights when I went to bed, I felt as if I were moving, because we were in the car so much. I’m sure we could have shaved 2 days off of our trip if we would have been able to skip the traffic.
Beauty Salons: On the day of the wedding, my friend said we would be getting our hair and make up done. The salon said I was the first white person they had ever done. They really didn’t know what to do with me. They asked me if they could wash my hair, I said yes, so they washed ( a little different than here in the states: they washed just the hair itself, not the scalp, it was almost like they were using a washboard), then she said my hair was dry and needed conditioner , would it be alright if she put some on, I said yes ( she had to open a new box of conditioner, and I had to buy the bottle, because apparantely Indonesians do not need conditioner, they have naturally silky hair). Next was the make up: They took me upstairs to a room, sat me next to a bride to be, and no one spoke english, the looks on their faces as they tried to cover up my freckles were priceless. I came out with a slight Chinese flair. DH also had a hair cut while he was waiting for us. Very inexpensive: total for 4 people including my bottle of conditioner $150.00.
Wonderful food: I was very apprehensive about Indonesian food, my only experience has been here in the states at Indonesian potlucks. Honesty, I dread going, I have never enjoyed the food. Much to my surprise, I found many options, food was delicious, restraunts were sanitary. I am a vegetarian, so I prepared myself for several days of not eating, it wasn’t necessary. Thanks to the many Buddists’ and Seventh Day Adventists’, vegetarian food is plentiful. There were a few times in remote locations I was not able to eat, but when I was, I was always happy. DH had planned on going vegetarian after India, but aftter our first day, he felt quite comfortable eating everything. In fact, at a couple places in Jakarta, the food was so tasty, we could have been eating it in Paris.
Sheraton Bandara Jakarta: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/features/index.html?propertyID=107
We stayed here our last night in Indonesia, its a nice hotel, but I wouldnt do it again, it could have been anywhere in the world, it didn’t feel like we were in Indonesia anymore. In addition, it was a tad snooty to locals. On the up side it has a very nice pool, fun to people watch, I enjoyed seeing how different cultures use nannies, as several different families were at the pool with their nannies, but the consensus seemed to be 1 kid 1 nanny, 2 kids 2 nannies, 3 kids 3 nannies, etc. The other upside to the hotel is that its convienent to the aiport and shuttle runs at all hours. Given the choice I would choose the FM7 over the Sheraton, but it all depends on what you want from your airport hotel.
Manado: Sulawesi: http://www.visit-manado.com/index.php
Manado was set up so I could meet another friends family. If you are friends with one Indonesian you are friends with all of their entire family. We were met by a friends sister, who is a missionary on another island not far from Manado, she comes to Manado every 2 weeks. According to her sister (who is here in the states) she is also a tour guide. I think that may be pushing it a bit. She is however one of the sweetest, soft spoken people I have ever met. We were also supposed to stay with friends family here in Manado, but we were thankful again that their houses were not available. We really do not like staying with people, but its hard to say no to Indonesians.
Manado and the area is beautiful, we started off our tour in Manado and headed inwards toward the small villages as we ate fried bananas. I was blown away, It was incredibly beautiful. Winding roads, palm trees galore, volcanos,streams, waterfalls, lakes,beaches. Gorgeous! I wish I knew the names of all of the places we visited, but I don’t, so I recommend just getting a driver and having him drive you to all of the out of the way destinations. They really do not get many tourists here and if you are a foriegner you will be stared at and photographed more times than you can imagine.
Next up: a few hotel review and the beautiful life of the Sulawisi people.
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Tidbits from Indonesia: