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Jakarta

Written on: Saturday May 17th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

Despite arriving at the weekend there wasn?t a whole lot to see in Indonesia?s capital. Maybe I should have given it a bit more time and explored it a little more, but its streets were congested with traffic, the pavements and gutters were teeming with litter and there were a wealth of ladyboys vying for my attention. In fact my two day stay in Jakarta didn?t get more exciting than watching the FA Cup Final between Portsmouth and Cardiff, and if you saw that game you?ll know that that wasn?t all particularly exciting at all. One particular visit to a bookshop on Julan Jaksa, the main backpackers? district in the city summed up Jakarta for me. While flicking through the shelves for a new book to read as I?d got through almost all my reading material on my epic bus trips I?d just endured (including Dostoevsky?s Crime and Punishment ? an epic in itself), I noticed something move on top of one of the books and quickly disappear. A second later out of the corner of my eye something scuttled behind another book, then I saw exactly what it was that was taking my attention as one of the disgusting creatures hopped on to my foot. There were cockroaches everywhere, big bloody ones too. The next thing I knew one dropped on the floor from the ceiling via my head. I didn?t care if their books were free, I had to leave, and Jakarta is a little bit like that, dirty, grimy, sweltering. Despite its sights you just feel yourself compelled to get out. On the Sunday I did venture out to Medan Merdeka, described as ?the heart and lungs of Jakarta? where the Monas Tower stands in the centre of the park?s confines and looks out over the city. Treated once again as if I were some sort of VIP film star two tour guides latched on to me and offered to give me a guided tour for free of the complex. Why not I thought and it was worthwhile too. They were both extremely knowledgeable of the country?s and the city?s history and also of the projects planned for its future. The area itself was very scenic, with families? out and about flying kites in every direction you care to look, but again like Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Burma the local people just don?t seem to appreciate what they have and litter it profusely, which makes the place an eyesore rather than a scene to behold. On a funny note, on the Saturday evening I shared a few beers with another English traveller called Dan. At one point that night he went off to get some money from a cash point and left me alone at the bar. Almost immediately I was joined by an Indonesian girl who was seemingly as sex-starved as one can get. She threw herself at me and within minutes of introducing herself was telling me how she wanted me to come back to her place. Even prostitutes, which she constantly denied she was, don?t come on this strong. I?d done everything to try and get rid of her save punch her in the nose and stamp on her legs. When Dan got back we even moved seats, but she just didn?t get the message. She even followed me back towards my guesthouse without me knowing after Dan and I had both left pleading with me if I wasn?t going to sleep with her just to kiss her. In the end there was nothing else for it so I opted for the nose punching and leg-stamping. I?m not a teacher for nothing!