Thursday, May 24, 2018

Jakarta

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We departed Bali on a Garuda International flight.  Garuda is the national airline...nice big planes, comfortable seats, and lots of entertainment options.  Two hours later we had flown over the "big island" and landed in Jakarta.  The airport is huge and modern and they had one of the best taxi lanes we've experienced so far.  Outside there are rows of seating where the taxis line up.  You get a number from the ticket machine and an attendant calls it when it is your turn.  They have others who help you with your bags and load you into waiting taxis.  There were no hawkers at the arrival gate.  It was very pleasant.

Our drive into the city center took about 30 minutes and cost less than $10.  It was amazingly hot...temps up to 100*.  We arrived with little trouble at our apartment building.  It is a 36 story tower above one of several shopping malls.  We had a bit of a snafu, that being the previous guest forgot to leave behind the only key.  We met the maid waiting in the lobby for its return.  So a bit of a wait was followed by being escorted up to the apartment.

Our space is small, just two rooms, but clean.  It has a decent kitchen and bath.  The bed is very firm but comfortable.  All of the essentials are in place and it is only $18 a night!!!  Wow.  Our host was really nice and apologetic for the delay in checking in.  The view from the balcony is a bit overwhelming.  The SMOG was so thick we had a hard time making out high-rises just 15-20 blocks away.






We left the maid to do her cleanup and headed out into the mall searching for a food market.  The mall directly below our apartment building is a bazaar with 100's of clothing stalls on five different floors.  It amazes me how anyone can make a living with so much competition and everyone carrying literally the same things.  We got a lot of stares...and a lot of smiles.






We went out on to the street and up to the next mall.  We got a lot of stares...there were few folks that looked like us around...that may be the reason.  The next mall was very upscale and only a block away.  On the lower level we found a nice market.  It even carried pork and liquor and there were plenty of expats shopping.  The staff were lovely and very pleasant.  A week's worth of groceries ran less than $100 and that included beer.





We headed back to the apartment to settle in.  The next day we had a leisurely morning and then started planning our activities.  The smog was even more intense today, and even more hot and humid outside.  After spending quite a bit of time on the internet we determined that for us there would be little sightseeing in Jakarta.  Two of the things that interested us were a culture village and an art market...however both were in the distant east side of this huge city and that became less appealing when we realized we'd have to travel over an hour by taxi to get there.  The metro system exists but is not as elaborate or well designed as we have seen in Korea or Japan.

We contacted a few tour agencies regarding the museum and a food tour that interested us and then settled in for what would be a week of resting, reading, and watching TV.  I took the downtime to work on our South Africa itinerary that we will be sharing with a few girlfriend next year and worked on my latest painting.

Fascinating. There are countless mosques in our neighborhood. This is what we hear from our balcony seven times a day starting at 5:15 am and ending at midnight. Check out this video.  Yes, it really is THAT LOUD. Even with the windows closed. Thank goodness for earplugs.



We discovered a really nice upscale cinema in the Grand Indonesia mall on our second visit and took in a film.  It cost a whoppoing $7 for two plus $4 for popcorn.



During our visit we happened to notice they had one of those 4DX theaters.  We opted for another film the next day.  In Japan showing were going for $25 a person, here it was $10, so why not.  AFterward we decided we would not do that again.  The 3D and big screen were fine, but the moving seat, mist, fog, air wisps, auto punches in the back etc. were distracting-at one point a bit of motion sickness set in...LOL


One of their venues was class the Ultimate Lounge.  While we didn't see a film there, I wondered what happens when they show an x-rated film...then I remembered what country we are in...LOL 


On out last day we finally found one of the hop on hop off buses we had read about.  It was free and made a nice circuit through the central part of the city.  We got off at a few stops.


The highlight of the day was the national museum.  Lovely building and extensive collection.








 The National Mosque is impressive.  Very large, very modern.


 And right across the street the Catholic National Cathedral.


At the end of the day we returned to do laundry, pack our bags, and get ready for our flight to Kuala Lampur.





Thursday, May 17, 2018

Day Touring in Bali

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Our time in Bali has been relaxing and HOT!  The humidity it amazing for former Alaskan...LOL.  We have really enjoyed our plunge pool, the food, and the countryside touring.  The best part has been the people.  They are so kind, pleasant and gentle.

The manager of our villa offered us a couple of days of touring.  For $120 USD for the two of us we enjoyed two very full days of activity.  There are no railroads or highways in Bali.  Everything outside or the city center is a narrow two lane road with loads of scooters and vehicles weaving between each other.  We passed countless statue and stone masons.



The Monkey Forest is an area with a few small temples that has been dedicated as a wildlife reserve.  There are free roaming monkeys all over the place.  It was cool inside the park and there were lovely water features.



















We traveled another two hours and reached the higlands and the rice terraces.  There we wandered up and down both sides for well over an hour.  It was amazingly hot and humid and the paths were narrow.  It was worth the experience and the people were so very nice.











 For a religious country the certainly aren't shy by offering provactive gifts for the tourists.
 We drove higher into the mountains to visit a coffee plantation, this one specializing in Luwak Coffee.





 The Luwak is a local feline, looks like a cross between a fox and a cat.  They eat the coffee beans and then excrete the seeds.  From there the seeds are washed, roasted, and ground.





 We enjoyed a cup of the brew.  Honestly tasted like a good expresso and for $5 a cup was certainly an experience.  In the states this cup would have run about $25.




Local gas pump.
 A funeral procession that blocked the road for several KMs.
 The volcano from a restaurant terrace.



 Then it was another two hours of winding roads as we traversed the ridge lines between mountains before arriving at the mother temple.  An amazing collection of about 20 temples in this complex, we had a private guide that took us around th see the largest of the collection.















Please note who has the wear the skirt wrap here.

 These are musical instruments much like marimbas.  We were allowed to play them.

On our second day Putu took us to the coast to visit the sea temple.  Lots of rice terraces along the way and lots of tourists at the temple








 And of course a share of pythons to hold and pet.





 We enjoyed lunch next to a rice paddy full of ducks.  Bobbie had duck for lunchl.


 Our last stop was another monkey temple on the coast.  Here we both were wearing shorts and thus had to don our traditional wraps again.  So much fun.



 These guys were a bit more agressive.  They have learned that if they snatch your glasses off your face the guards will trade food for the glasses.  The problem is that they have also learned that it is a lot more fun to toss them over the edge and into the water while the guest screams.











 One the way back we noticed a very large structure being built far off in the distance.  It turns out it is a twenty year project to complete the world's largest statue.  It will be of the Hindu god Wiznu.
 This is its current status.  Quite impressive when you realize that the "pedestal" is a six story building.

 And here is what it will look like when completed....