10th Oct to 12th Oct 2014
While someone was asleep in departures, someone took the chance to use up all the remaining Dong but also seen more things so spent some US Dollars. 3 hours later after a decent flight on Vietnam Airlines with a good meal and beer for Shan and wine for me, we arrived in Soekarno-Hatta Jakarta Airport. It was 35 degrees and the outside of the terminal looked tropical with plants and lush lawns. We headed for our Visa on Arrival (VOA). Lonely Planet book had said it was US$25 each, so we had enough dollars plus spare. However as of July this year the VOA had increased to $35 each, fine yeah? Hmm except I had spent some on my new bracelet, bookmark and cooking book. We didn't have enough, Shan was confused where the money had gone (he somehow didn't remember me telling him I was using the dollars- maybe cause he was snoring) he was annoyed to say the least, so we paid with our bank card and got our receipts. Then headed to immigration where they stamped our passports and attached a visa valid for 30 days. We will only be in Indonesia for about 20 days though, and only have enough Malaria tablets (which we started taking yesterday, one day before we arrived) for 21 days stay.
After grabbing our rucksacks we headed for a taxi. Inside arrivals there were taxi counters but they actually wanted to take you in a merc for double the price, so we went outside got a few people latch on ask for us to go in their taxi. But we headed over to the roadside and got a taxi. We said the name of the hotel Grand Mercure Harmoni. And then said Central, driver said no not central, so we mistakenly booked a hotel about 15 minutes drive from the centre, but that was fine with us.
One hour later after a lot of traffic and a lot of straining to hear what the driver was saying, he would say a few sentences but with only one or two words in English, we then tried to decipher what he was meaning- we arrived at the Grand Mercure, nice new building, a wait for check in, asked about tours, didn't know what 'tours, excursion, or indeed what "Krakatoa" ' was. We got our room on the 7th floor, big window out, not much to see, had a mooch about hotel, outdoor pool, mens only sauna but I asked if I could go they said yes. Then we went across the the road (via the bridge) to the mall. It wasn't up to much at all, and actually we both felt a bit odd, not in a rude way, but the streets were a bit grubby and the people looked poor.
So the reason we came to Jakarta was to go on a tour to Krakatoa (Krakatau) which is a volcano, famous as there was a cataclysmic eruption in 1883 which caused tsunamis (killing +36,000 people) The explosion is considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, with reports of it being heard up to 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from its point of origin. The shock waves from the explosion were recorded on barographs around the globe. The reason I wanted to go was because I remember my dad talking about it when I was a kid. However... We had looked it up on trip advisor beforehand it looked like $85 each which was fine, but when we arrived and finally found a lovely lady in the hotel who could speak English and knew of Krakatoa she phoned tour companies and found it would be around £300 each!! We hadn't realised but it is a speed boat, and the more passengers the cheaper, other people who paid $85 were in a big group of family/friends. So it was way, way to much money for a day trip which was a six hour round trip plus five hours there. So we decided not to go! It's a bit of a shame but to be honest we have done so much and will have so much more to do, so it's okay.
Only thing was, we'd booked three nights in Jakarta, so now what do we do? Not much is the answer. We had a lovely lazy day watching films in bed and then went to the spa, went in the hot pool, sauna, steam room and for a late night swim in the outdoor pool, and played lots of table tennis, we ended up doing that two nights in a row. We also went to the National Monument which was five minutes in a taxi. We looked around then wandered around the streets, before jumping in a tuk tuk and going to a big mall. It was full of rubbish too.
The two best things about Jakarta- how comfy our beds were (yes beds, we got single beds we enjoy it, and also I think the best beds we've had have been singles). And the fact we went to Hard Rock Cafe and stuffed our faces with a massive plate of Nachos and delicious beef and chicken fajitas!!! And it was happy hour so got a few rounds of Bintang beer in.
The Hard Rock was in a big mall, where we had a nosey around and seen an exhibition on dresses worn by famous celebrities.
Now time to move on to our next stop in Java...