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Thursday, June 18, 2009

First nigth in Jakarta

Indonesia's capital, Jakarta is chaotic, dirty and poor. By first impressions it's difficult to take in the slums and traffic jams (side comment: since there is so much dirt, there are quite a lot of cats! let's just say I was not a happy camper!)
We were in a hotel just in the centre (Jaksa area) for u$22 per night. We were exhausted from the whole airport saga, that we decided to get a few beers at a bar around the corner.

People are very friendly, they smile at you and try to practice the little English they know. Everything seemed harmeless...until we realized what was "really" going on!

In the hotel bar there was an Englishman (in his mid-40's) talking with a local boy (maybe 18 years old) and a local girl (in her 20's). They were all having a great time...talking and laughing...suddenly the kid puts his hand under the man's shorts (massaging his private bits!)...mmm... a bit strange we thought! The woman started walking around and chatting to other men. It was here that things took a new turn.

A local man (in his 30's) started walking around with a sheet of paper, writing names and collecting money. Later we realized across the street was the Brothel (Telo en Argentina), so the local guy was the Pimp and of course the hookers with their clients. When the hook up was made, they would go to the bathroom in the bar we were at, to wash their private bits and then cross the street to do the nasty!

After all this, we ordered another beer and went to another bar to have a few games of pool. Overall, a strange but interesting night!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Flight to Jakarta - Part 2

So, since things were getting a bit awkard, I decided to play my "Oscar winning I'm from Argentina performance" (usually when mentioning Maradonna people smile and get soft), well, not this one!! haha...so, then I changed to plan B: with watery eyes I started "I come from a 3rd world country, don't have a lot of money, we earn Argentinian pesos, not us dollars!! please!!" nop! didn't work either.
So, he looks at me and says "we help you, you help us"...I didn't get it at first, so I got quiet...Enda quickly responded "how much?" to what the officer said "how much can you give?" Enda says "u$20"... the answer was "mmmmm....." not very happy!

They pulled us to the side and we said "ok, we want to buy a new ticket...can it be refundable?" (which basically means that you purchase the ticket and when yo uget to your hotel you cancel it!). They said NO!! so, again I started getting really pissed (no acting now). I said "but we just paid u$50! give us the money back and put us back on a plane!'. No response...so Enda says "ok, we don't have much money, we'll give u$40". The officer went to check the supervisor you gave him the thumbs up!

Again, went to passport control showing the passports with the u$40 inside!! Here, they continue giving me attitute! He said "you know, this is the last time...I help you! if you have friends of family here don't say anything because we know..."

With the sour taste we arrived in Jakarta...first stop in Indonesia...first time bribeing!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flight to Jakarta - Part 1

We got a fight from Hong Kong-singapore-jakarta for u$160, with a 6 hour lay over at Singapore. We thought we were going to the city and do some sightseeing, but once I learned that it has been voted the best airport in the world we decided to stick around. The airport is huge! and I couldn't believe there were showing free movies, there is free internet access every 5 minute walk, there is a hotel...and...the best part: there is swimming pool!! (unfortunately I couldn't use it...I found it just 40 minutes before leaving!)

After the 6 hour wait, we go on the flight to Jakarta (Indonesia). The 2 1/2 hour flight was great...the problem started when we landed!
We knew that in some countries we would need a visa, which it's not a huge problemsince they issue the visa at the airport. So, after looking at our passports, they gave us an option: either get a 7-day visa for u$10 or a 30-day visa for u$25. Since we didn't know how long we were going to stay, I said; "c'mon! let's just get the 30-day visa!". When we were going to pay, they asked when we were leaving and since we had no ticket (we don't know where we are going next or when!) we had to speak with an officer. He was not thrilled , buthe said: "ok, we'll give you the visa". Great! we thought...well, not for long!

The next step was to go through Passpot Control, where the first question was; "where are you going next?' since our response was the same as before: "don't know", they told us we had to purchase a ticket now...otherwise we would stay at the airport!

Guess what happened next?...stick around for the next post...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Victoria Park

Every Sunday the maids/helpers/nannies gather in Victoria Park. They are mostly from Malaysia and the Philippines; and Sunday is their day off. It's very common to have a maid here, it's quite cheap: 4000 HK = 400 pounds = 2000 pesos Argentinos per month. By law, they have to live-in with the family, which could be a bit awkward. But the loss of privacy is compensated with great service! Unfortunately, many people abuse this service; and it's not uncommon to make the maid sleep in a tiny closet, on the living room floor or even in the bathroom! Some are even sex slaves! really...unbelievable! I guess the good part is that they can work for 13 years and retire! or support their families back home with their jobs in HK.

What exactly do they do in the park/street? well...eat, talk, show pictures, pray, dance, do their make-up and hair and gossip of course!

What do you do on your day off?

Sunday, June 7, 2009


This is thin pasta in a bowl of soup...it's quite tasty but a bit difficult to eat...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chinese Dominoes

It's actually called 'Mahjong'; which is a board game similar to Rummy. There is a set of 144 tiles (fichas) of different suits (bamboo, circles and numbers); the goal is to make sets of 2 and 3...but to be honest I only played once and I didn't even understand it!! If you want to learn more about it, click here

For me, this is a social event. Almost every Sunday, we go to a friend's house to play Mahjong! Since there are only 4 players at a time you can chat and eat while the others play.

I have always been terrible at playing games...I don't like them at all!! I think it all started during my childhood...we used to play Rummy and Burako on the beach with my younger sister and my mom...and they would always kick my ass!! big time!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The odyssey of the bag - Part 1

I admit it! I'm terrible at packing....yep! I leave everything to the last minute! my fault! the only problem is when I involve other people to help me when the situation gets out of control...like what happened last week.

Before moving to Hong Kong I had a chance of leaving a bag in London with a friend (Ana -gracias!) who was coming here a month later. Since I could not organize myself quickly and efficiently enough, I lost the opportunity of bringing it!

But, last week another good friend (Luciana- diosa total!) embarked on her trip to Europe and her first stop was London....yes! you guessed correctly! I asked her to bring a 23 kilo bag. The problem is that I decided to ask her for this huge favor 2 days before her flight!

My parents (absolute angels!, mil gracias a los dos!) had to rush and in one day bought a new bag, got to my flat in Bs.As, packed the things, and took the bag to my friend's flat.

Following morning, the bag was on its way to London. Now, the issue was that my friend is backpacking in Europe, so another friend (Alf y Patri-mil gracias!) met her at Paddington Station to get the bag. Luckily the whole thing went well!

Do you think the whole saga is over? well, this is only half of the journey...now my friend will have to post the bag to HK....seriously!

Please light a candle, say a prayer or just cross your fingers!!

ps: Mil gracias a Sole y Cris for your help in London! ;)