My trip was not off with a good start. The first flight to DFW was delayed due to mechanical reasons. So I was rebooked to a JFK connection flight 12 hours later. The unexpected delay actually wasn’t too bad. It provided me with a full day to run some errands. I got my driver license renewed, picked up my bisqueware from a friend’s kiln and started decorating them till 5, when Trisch gave me the 2nd ride to RDU airport.
The 30 hour flight wasn’t actually too bad, considering I was in the middle seat of second to the last row. I had an early start in the morning (for my 7:30 am original flight). And by the time JFK-HKG flight took off at 1:30AM I was up already 20 hours. I was tired so after the first meal was served around 3AM I fell asleep till 10AM – a good 7 hours sleep. After that, a couple movies (‘Green Book‘ is a good one), some light music and a couple more meals/snacks, we arrived in Hong Kong at 5AM local time (16 hours flight time). There was some extra in-flight entertainment on this trip. The guy sitting behind me was caught taking wine and liquor from galley. When confronted by the crew, he denied it openly, which was dumb as it was so obvious. The guy sitting next to him was nice enough to try to cover for him, but it was apparent that he had stolen the wine and liquor. The disagreement soon escalated to raised voices and some bodily contact. Other crew and eventually the captain were called in before the guy finally calmed down. A few hours later the passenger sitting next to him said he couldn’t find his iPhone. We were helping him looking up and down to find his phone. He finally “found” it in the backpack of the guy sitting next to him – the same guy who had taken wine and liquor from the galley. The guy stole it from the person try to help him out! Crazy people! We had to sit in our seats when we landed in Hong Kong so security could take the guy away.
Anyway, the rest of the trip was smooth. After a 4 hour layover in Hong Kong (Hong Kong’s airport is definitely one of the best ones I have been), the 4.5 hour flight to Jakarta was easy. A light meal, a nap, and a movie then I was right there at 2pm local time. Customs was also very easy; I was through in just a few minutes. I exchanged $100 for R1.4M!!! Felt rich for a second, LOL. Took a cab ride for R200,000 (about $15). It was a fine 40 minute ride. Just like everyone warned, the drive from airport to Jakarta was easy, 20 miles or so in 20 minutes. Then the last mile took another 20 minutes. The cab was basically crawling in the street, fighting with all other cars, motorbikes etc. But otherwise the ride was just fine and I got in to hotel Oakwood Premier Cozmo at 3PM.
Since Nick wasn’t supposed to be back till 5, I decided to take a short walk around the hotel. We are staying in the heart of CBD, right next to JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton. The area is filled with high end shopping malls, fancy restaurants and western-style cafe and bars. However, just like most Asian cities I’ve visited, such as ShangHai, Hong Kong, and Bangkok, just a few blocks away I stepped into area back in time. The streets were narrow which barely let one car through. Street carts were at every corner serving cheap meals like porridge (Bubur), ramen noodles, fried rice cakes and fresh fruit juice, with dogs and cats often laying near their owners. It’s always striking to see these neighborhoods just steps away from the rich and modern world with steel and glass high rises filling the skyline.
After the walk, I met Nick in the hotel. We decided to take a quick dip into the pool to stretch out a little. The hotel’s infinity edge pool was very nice with an impressive view of the towers around us. The cold water was refreshing after my long flights. We went back and took a nap before heading out for a light Vietnamese dinner. We decided just to eat nearby in those shopping malls instead venturing into the city. As expected the food is mediocre and expensive ($25 for two, which is not much but I am sure it’s expensive in local standards). We went to bed early to get ready for venturing around Jakarta over the weekend.