A tale of two cities
Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
13Trip End Aug 2008
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A summary of Java did not lye ahead. Jakarta took me by surpirse. Capital of an overwhelmingly Islamic island/country the mosques eluded me, a number of gays introduced themselves and I was harrassed by crotch grabbing prostitutes. The city itself is not good
I got stuck in Jakarta. Meeting the same Jakartarians and travelers each day I felt a little at home. A night would start with a few drinks on Jalan Jaksa with other travelers, being pestered by the same girls and politely declining whatever they were after - work or a western boyfriend. Enrico and I would rally a few travelers together for a night out at Stadium Discotheque. Even after two days I'd walk down Jalan Jaksa and stop two or three times to talk to people met previously.
Also towards the end of my stay realisation kicked in. To be with the locals is an excellent experience especially as this was as modern and as close to my own life Indonesia could offer. But it is not my Western life. Sad stories included a husband lost in the tsunami in Sumatra, a son who died in a disorganised Jakarta hospital and a young man struggling to re-enter Europe where every day was an anxious wait of news from haloed lands
Although brought down to earth by the disparities of Jakarta I enjoyed my time there more than most cities. The kind nature of the Indonesians was a constant of these two amazing months spent in this immense country and Jakarta was no exception. Refreshing to find in a big city.
I could never settle on a favourite country, they're too complex, cant be compared and put in a list
Two and a half hours later and the world seems so unfair. Cleanest city in the world bursting with money. Having spent a few days in Singapore last year I was left with very little to do for the week I waited for my Chinese visa. I filled up on curry and tiger beer in little India, caught up on sleep and generally kept a low profile - Singapore is expensive. I found myself laughing at the perfectionist nature of Singapore. Video demonstrations of how to deal with terrorism played on loop on the subway. Singaporeans were advised that, if they're hands were full of shopping bags, they should take the lift instead of the life threatening escalators. The newest mobile flashed on screens along the train tunnel wall. "Singapore is ridiculous" I thought when leaving the city. These people are controlled more than we are, urged to consume every waking hour, keeping the economy strong and the governement in favour. Shopping malls which are literally on every corner stay open until 9pm.
If I thought the Singaporeans were controlled, I was in for a shock in China.