Friday, 22 June 2012

Day 1

Yesterday I was enjoying a bracing minus 6 degrees morning on the Southern Tablelands.

This evening, a muggy 33 degrees in Jakarta – you have to love international air travel.  I didn’t pack the camera I am afraid so this will be a word only blog – unless I succumb to the lure of cheap electronic consumables that is.

I sat next to an interesting fellow on the way over – lets call him Simon (not his real name). “Simon” regaled me with stories of high finance and intrigue from Sydney to Jakarta – his was the company that manufactured the pipes for Saddam’s super gun a while back that saw a brief diplomatic incident and then suddenly got hushed up.  And he had many more stories like this and had obviously lived life in the fast lane.

It sounds crazy, maybe even counter-intuitive, but I have to conclude that business class is better than economy – I couldn’t touch the seat in front of me with my feet and the food was edible.

I looked out of the window only a few times on the way over, due in the main to the tales Simon was recounting, but it was rewarding each time.

Some of the mental snapshots I took then:

- The crenulated, dry, dusty, stereotypical heart of Australia

- The Pilbara coastline and the sense of "going overseas"

- A perfect coral atoll, looking like the picture of an oblong cell from some sort of aesthetically perfect school science book - welcome to the tropics

- The fields, warehouses and houses on the outskirts of Jakarta - welcome to Asia

Flying Garuda was great – all immigration processing is done on board and there is nothing to do when you arrive but to stroll to the carousel to pick up your suitcase.

Suitcase in hand it was into an air-conditioned car and onwards, as dusk began to fall, into a Blade Runner-esque city.  Traffic, giant video screens, sky scrapers, tin sheds, highways and muddy puddles – all standard Asia mega city stuff I am sure – but quite impressive to see for the first time.

It was a long drive in traffic – apparently the record is over six hours from the airport to the hotel – we did it in two.

Jakarta certainly does traffic properly, the cars squeeze extra lanes out of the overtaxed infrastructure and then once they have squeezed together as close as is possible, and then just a bit closer, you add motorbikes that flow through the chinks and cracks between the near solid mass of cars and throw in a few street hawkers until saturation is achieved - and then some.

It is really quite impressive.

No comments:

Post a Comment