So we have one full day in Jakarta. We've set off to see some of the sights. It's very hot and humid. A slow steady walk is called for. To be honest our research suggests there isn't really much of great interest to see in the city.
Our first stop is Freedom Sq. It's a huge concrete square with a massive concrete tower in the middle. Ugly doesn't begin to describe it. Apparently the tower is a representation of a former leader's penis. Nice.
Moving swiftly on we start looking for the Dutch quarter. It's a long walk down a busy main road. We aren't sure if we've gone the right way but 'The Holland Bakery' factory with a windmill on the roof puts our mind at rest. We had imagined it might be a mini Amsterdam quarter but no. Another square, this time with nicer buildings. Also on the square is what is described as the iconic Cafe Batavia. It is a very old world restaurant along the lines of Raffles in Singapore. The walls are lined with pictures of the rich and famous who have allegedly dined there. We popped in for a beer and a sarnie but no one took our photo.
We soon got bored walking around. The city is really just a mass of high rise office blocks surrounded by slums. Little wonder people just touch and go. We had a little touch of Asia. The taxi and the evening meal were dirt cheap. Also we had a couple of beers in the hotel bar during happy hour. It was buy one get one free. I was therefore a little surprised when the bill was full price. I enquired about happy hour beer. 'Not that beer only this one' was the smiling reply. I enquired why it doesn't mention that on the poster. That was met with another smile. When I pointed this out to the duty manager she went 'Oh, I have to speak to IT manager and get it changed. You want another beer?' 'No thanks I'll just have my money back' I replied. In fairness she coughed up.
Next day we were back to the airport for our flight to Bali. We checked in and were given seats 10 rows apart. When I queried it I was told the flight isn't full just move after takeoff. Yes but if it isn't full.....oh never mind. Once on board we just sat together.
The flight was about an hour and a half. As we left the airport we were descended on by taxi hawkers. We had been advised not to use them but to walk to the main road and hail a metered taxi. We were followed across the car park with prices dropping as we walked. In the end they gave up and we hailed a cab. It turned out to be about thirty percent cheaper. The ride took about an hour. The traffic around the airport was horrendous.
We arrived at our hotel which is about a 15 minute walk outside of Ubud. Ubud is really six or seven villages which over time have morphed into one big town. It's a strange mix of shops, restaurants, temples, lodgings and houses. There are mopeds everywhere.
A short walk out of town and you are suddenly in the country and amongst beautiful rice paddies. Our hotel is nice with lovely views off the terrace.
It's strange how some nations get a reputation. When we were in Cambodia we were physically pushed aside by some people at a temple. Our friend Nak said they are Koreans, very rude people. Our first night was very peaceful. The next night two young couples arrived. They were very noisy. At 1am I had to go and tell them to shut up. In the morning the hotel owner apologised. It seems other guests had complained to her about the noise. 'Bloody Koreans' she said. Always the same. She told them if they made any more noise she would throw them out.
Next day we got a local map and went for a walk out into the paddy fields. The views were gorgeous. Everything is so green. We walked for a few hours and ended up at a small restaurant with a terrace overlooking the fields. We sat cross legged on the floor and enjoyed a cold Bintang beer.
Tonight we have been to watch a traditional Balinese dance group. Very colourful and fascinating to watch. When we got there it was very full and most of the seats were taken. We bought a beer from a little old lady just inside. She then took us through the crowd moving people out of the way and sat us on the floor right at the front. Ringside seats. It's not what you know eh?
South America was a bit of a challenge for food. Not so Indonesia. Curry, fish, and stir fry I love it all. Evening meals have been tasty and cheap.
Today we hired a small motor scooter to go and see some of the sights further afield. It was delivered to our hotel by a chap who then borrowed a pedal cycle to return to his shop. It wasn't in showroom condition but everything worked and it was only £4 for the day. Helmets on and off we went. I haven't ridden or driven for over six months so it was fun. Once out of the town it was great to ride through the small villages in the hills. They are currently decking out everywhere for a Buddhist festival so there are flags everywhere. They also put huge decorated bamboo poles outside their houses. A bit like Christmas trees.
The beach resorts of Bali are apparently full of drunken surfing Aussies. When we got our luggage off the carousel at the airport it was bag, surf board, bag, surf board. Ubud is in the hills and completely different. There are still lots of tourists but it is much quieter and very pretty.
Tomorrow we are catching a bus to the harbour and then a boat across to Lombok. We plan to spend a few days at Sengiggi which has beautiful quiet beaches.