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Second attempt at Indonesia in two years - this time, succes


View Indonesia 2016 & Indonesia and Singapore, August 2016 on NT01's travel map.

large_1840343_14769677294895.jpgJakarta BRT (Bus Rapid Transit)I am a fan of AirAsia seat sales that I inadvertently end up booking destinations on sale for free (except for taxes and surcharges) or very cheap (under $50 one way). I had booked early in 2015 a trip to Yogyakarta [Yogyakarta-travel-guide-1311494] but had to cancel due to the dreaded 4 letter word - work :P Anyway, I knew it was a matter of being able to buy another cheap ticket to the canceled destination where I finally would be able to make amends for missing it in the first place.

That opportunity happened when relatives had expiring miles on Philippine Airlines that they wouldn't be able to use before expiry. So they endorsed the miles to me, and I was able to book a one way ticket to Jakarta [Jakarta-travel-guide-864113].large_1840343_14909491251646.jpg For the return flight, I had not booked anything yet for fear that my schedule would again change with just a few weeks or days before the actual trip. Fortunately, it did not.

So on Sunday, August 7th, I finally flew out of NAIA Terminal 2 onboard a Philippine Airlines A320 to Jakarta. Getting into the plane it seemed there was a misunderstanding by someone who had taken my seat, 6F (he was supposed to be seated in the row behind, row 7), and so when things were sorted out, I finally took my chair at the window beside a nice senior couple. It turns out that they were Filipinos who have been living in Indonesia for more than 20 years now, and the husband was an advisor to many family owned corporations looking to invest their millions. We had a lively conversation and I was the eager listener to the experiences of Rudy and his wife as expatriates making a good living in Indonesia, where professionals like them (Rudy was a certified public accountant and finance planner) gave them great respect among the local Indonesian business community.large_1840343_14909491325949.jpg

Obviously toward the end of the flight I had to ask for directions going to downtown from CGK Airport, as I was dreading the infamous Jakarta traffic. However my TravBuddy friends Fay (hightide) and Maya (mmeymey) gave me the assurance that as I was arriving on a Sunday, it wouldn't be rush hour heading into the city. After saying goodbye to Rudy and his wife at immigration (they held residence permits so they went through the other line), I made may way through and finally into baggage check. On the way out of customs, I kept an eye for those Blueline taxis that were highly recommended, but then Rudy caught up with me and offered me a ride into town. Graciously accepting their offer, I was deligthed at the opportunity to ask more questions until they finally dropped me at my hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Wahid Hasyim.large_1840343_14909491475887.jpg This was the nearest area to the Sarinah mall not far from the planned TravBuddy meetup venue.

However I was quite concerned as this is also the area that was the scene of the last terrorist attack in Jakarta. On January 14, 2016 (less than 7 months before my trip), three suicide bombers had attacked the area near the Starbucks at the corner of Sarinah Mall, which wasn't really the most glamorous mall frequented by foreigners in the city. It was an ordinary but busy area, and I wanted to make sure that nothing like that would happen while I was around. So far, most people gave assurances that the police were on the lookout for any suspicious activity that might happen after the bombings, and so far, nothing unusual since the attacks. So I was set to have my first TravBuddy meetup in Indonesia.large_1840343_14909491502465.jpgThis was the mosque we weren't able to visit due to rain

Fay had messaged me from her car that she'd be arriving shortly. Likewise, Maya said she would be arriving soon. Good to know that these two would be showing me around the area - Maya, as I've met her in the past during the Kuala Lumpur meetups, and Fay, who always fascinated me with our frequent discussions on WhatsApp regarding many airline and travel hacking topics. Maya had arrived a few minutes ahead of Fay and they messaged me from the lobby. I headed downstairs and we caught up with a few stories and photos before we decided to drive around the main city near the National Monument (Monas) in Fay's SUV. On our way out, it started to rain so definitely no way of continuing around on foot. We first went to the Catholic Cathedral (St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral)
not far from Monas, where I caught a glimpse of the crowds attending mass, plus a few more photos in the garden which was patterned from the grotto at Lourdes.large_1840343_14909491555683.jpg The cathedral is built in the neo-Gothic style, so it reminds me of many of the churches in Europe. We hurriedly left as the rain was getting stronger and the crowds will be exiting once the mass is over. We didn't have time anymore to go to the Mosque across the street, so I guess that will have to wait for my next visit to Jakarta.

As it kept on raining, we opted to stay inside the SUV and went driving around the old town and other areas until it was time for our TravBuddy meetup at Warung Desa. At the restaurant, Yuyun (Yuness) and Early, as she prefers to be called (Arianna88) were already waiting for us there. Unfortunately Cicie (cicie) was sick and we had missed out the opportunity to have a three way Eleven Heaven meetup. Well, another reason to return to Jakarta - to meet Cicie, plus Sisca and the other Indonesian TBs.large_1840343_14909491587735.jpgWith Fay, Arianna, Yuyun and Maya

By 10PM we had to head back as I was flying out to Malang [Malang-travel-guide-866647] in the morning. And with the notorious Jakarta traffic, I had to be prepared ... only that the traffic the following day was going into the city, but not heading out.

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Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Indonesia

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