A week's struggle

Jakarta Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 23 › view all entries


I am fixing up my stuff at Liz' place as I have to leave, go to my 3rd host's house up north and head off to an interview near that area. The rain pours heavily and I struggle to get a cab physically and over the phone in my new dress from the FO in Bandung and pumps which I am wearing for the first time in Jakarta. I am on the verge of crying as Darcy, the compound's helper is also nowhere to be found and still has about 10pcs of my clothing from the washing. I decide to call the school where I have a scheduled interview and ask if it can be moved as there is no way I can make it in time. They advise me the position has been filled, tough luck, thank you for the advise. I cancel the taxi after several pushy calls of having one sent to my home, and exhaustedly just surfed the net. I go to my afternoon interview which is a few minutes away from Liz' place and after all my preparation and taxi to and fro it just takes barely 10 min which was mainly due to my questions, I do not get the point of the interview really. 

I now take the long cab ride to my 3rd host's place which is ironically 1 min away from my first host's place. Moving in here has been the most backpacking I've done. Facilities are complete but I am living cowboy style with a mattress on the floor. A good looking guy from Finland is also in the room and I try not to appear flustered by the setup. There are tons of mozzies flying around the house and in the room, and I walk to the nearest mall which I am familiar with to clear my head, get bug repellant, and dinner. The bug repellant unfortunately is a spritzer refill and I don't have one! so i resort to spreading the liquid on my skin. All works as I resignedly lay my head to sleep and the Fin guy seems to have left.


I am heavy headed from the uncomfortable sleep I got from the mattress not to mention that my allergies have acted up with the dust and I'd been restlessly swatting mozzies the whole night. I am welcomed at breakfast by my host's partner with the line ' i hope your shoes weren't expensive' because their dogs have apparently ate my 2 pairs that were left on top of the plantbox instead of the shoe shelves. That hurt a bit. Especially since 1 of them was just on it's 3rd use.  

I find that Fin guy is still around and finally got to chat a bit with him. Something he says strikes me: all for the experience. My strength with the struggles around the country is renewed.

I embark on a mid afternoon adventure to Manga Dua, relying on my memory of directions when Elsa and I first went here. This is for the sole purpose of getting new sandals to replace the eaten ones, and a backpack for my upcoming spontaneously decided trip to Yogyakarta. I excitedly enjoy a concoction of cassava with sugar and coconut milk, similar to what we have back home.

Unforgettable moment: My helmet flying off in the middle of a main road as it is too loose and I did not buckle it underneath my chin. Good thing it is returned in one piece by a pedestrian.


A morning out with Hellen to visit the long planned National Museum. I was not as impressed as I hoped. A lot of the rooms were being renovated and were not well lit. The various stone gods that were uncaved were very interesting though as most were fashioned after animals as mentioned in the bible. Apparently the god's were taught to Hellen in elementary and she uses this to educate me.

We have explored another mall, Plaza Senayan for lunch. Another posh mall in the business district. Hellen decides to join me at Blok M Mall to scout for my backpack as Manga dua proved fruitless the previous day.

I do the usual drama of walking away as I bargain with the seller to lower his price. I proudly got my North Park imitation bag for IDR 40,000 from the original IDR 150,000, woohoo!! In pesos that's Php 200. This gets Hellen really impressed. Roti Boy is tried out for the famous Kopi Bun, similar to the one at our Kopi Roti but a bit more fresh.

I join a Life Group ( same with our Small group) that I saw on the brochure at the English Service. I am astounded by the size of the house it is held at. I did not even know that this rich area existed in Kelapa Gading. It is a small group of 5 mixed genders, 4 of us being Filipinos and I coincidentally meet a Filipino who was referred by another online friend. Who would've thought of all places. Add up the husband and wife who pastored the session. It feels like a group study as we run through a standard booklet and watch several videos on the lesson. The entire session takes 2 hours with a few more thoughts from the attendees.

I feel sad that most of the Filipinos are restricted to the confines of their staff houses and schools due to the advised danger of the area. Personally speaking they are prevented from being infused with the culture which I do not agree with but keep silent on.  

The two boys from the group offer to drop me off which is good because I was dead exhausted from the long day. We get a bit lost as I do not know my exact address but just use my keen sense of direction to get home.


The whole day is spent on a huge adventure going to and fro 3 schools to submit resumes. 2 schools are way up north in the middle of nowhere, the last being in a very posh, remote, suburb that has again reminded me of the huge financial status gap.

After  3 angkots, 3 buses (2 on the busway), 3 ojek rides (motorcycle), 2 taxis and the usual 10 min walk home in on and off heavy rain,  I am practically crawling on my bed.

Unforgettable moment: my umbrella flipping upside down as the ojek driver and I struggle through the heavy rain.

On my 4th night I share my host's room with a Swedish guy who is trying out backpacking for the first time. He is highly conversational but humorous. We chat quite a bit before he gets his dinner and as he fixes up for his early train while I am groggily trying to get back to sleep.


I strategize with my host's partner on the Jakarta map on how to go about my day's business. I head off for a school close to my area. I go straight to the South excitedly for an interview with a consultancy firm. After 3.5 hrs a bit of a complicated setup is ironed out and I am now committed to 3 months of 4 hrs english teaching each week.

Due to the length of the interview I hurry home stressed to try and catch my evening train to Yogyakarta. 2 hrs alloted time from South to North Jakarta on the busway at rush hour on a rainy Friday evening, it is not possible. I advise my hosts both in Jakarta and in Yogya that I will instead take the morning train than continue being stressed about this. I have not even packed.

Dinner: Chowking! Php 115 converted value. Contents: Fried chicken Filipino style, rice, kangkong in garlic which tasted funny, weak soup that had a weird combination of wanton and chopped mushrooms, and Coke. I think none of the people eating there were actually Filipinos, well it's hard to guess.

Other discoveries this week:

1. KFC - when I had my first rice meal, the clerk questioningly looked at me as I asked for utensil, apparently most use their hands. Do not ask for gravy or you'll get the same blank stare, gravy = sambal or hot sauce. Tomate sauce or ketchup is your alternative.

2. There are absolutely no water stations at the malls. You would always have to buy your own. Buying it at the grocery is better than getting it through the resto.

3. People love tea!!! I've started to love it too, as long as it's sweetened.

4. I've started to also love nasi goreng (our fried rice), bubur ayam (like our arroz caldo) with more toppings for breakfast, and tons of noodles!

5. I have gotten used to being pushed and sadly, pushing a bit as well to get into the busway. Survival of the fittest.

6. I am now also trying to avoid the heavy traffic lines during rush hour, 5-7pm at the busway.

7. Always haggle for prices, whether it be in public transport except if it has a standard rate like the buses,  or in buying an item, except if it's at a department store and the price sticker is on.

8. Half the time I am not provided a helmet by the ojek driver, what is the fast and the furious.

9. Ojeks are almost the same price as a taxi at times but way faster. I always haggle for 1/4 less of the price. Most of the time the drivers don't know how far the location is or how much they should really charge for the distance.

10. Asking locals the prices of items help whenever you haggle, e.g., having a CD burned.

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photo by: cicie