Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day 4 (18/3/2008) - ‘Checking out’ and ‘Check out’

‘Checking out’ is like looking and examining something. ‘Check out’ is what I had to do on the morning of Day 4. After tossing and turning, it was finally time to get off the bed and hit the shower.

Then I went down to the coffee house for breakfast (of course after properly dressed!). Except for a guy at reception, the lobby was kind of deserted. The coffee house was dark. I went to the reception and checked if I got the right place for breakfast. Yes. Perhaps I was early. I returned to the coffee house then realized that there were some waiters behind the dimly lit counter. And the breakfast 'buffet' already 'spreaded' on a small table.

The breakfast ‘buffet’ was simple – fried rice and porridge. There was nothing wrong with the rice but it was kind of ‘hard’. I prefer my rice to be ‘soft and fluffy’. I ate a few spoon-full. I should have eaten the porridge before the fried rice because the porridge actually tasted better. Could have eaten more (of the porridge) if my stomach wasn’t already filled with the fried rice.

I returned to my room. As in Mutiara’s house, I looked around the room a few times to make sure I didn’t left anything. Satisfied, I went down to the reception and checked out of the hotel. During Mutiara visit on the previous night, we made new plans. I was to meet her at MP’s house. I would leave my luggage there. We would meet her friends, run some errants and go for a last sightseeing in Jakarta. She gave me a piece of paper stating the location of MP’s house. Even after rehearsing the pronunciation, I didn’t think I could pronounce (hence remember) the name.

I got out of the hotel gate, onto the sidewalk of the main road. After a short while I saw ‘bajaj’. I hailed (more like waved) for it. It stopped. I showed “Abang Bajaj” (translation: the ‘driver’) the paper. I tried to ‘negotiate’ the price. The fact that I wasn’t a local must be obvious - I was in front of a hotel with a hiking backpack and my cheap-looking-canvas backpack. He drew a hard bargain. Couldn’t get the price suggested by Mutiara. I only got as low as IDR 10 000. I agreed to it anyway. Off I went on my solo ride in the 'bajaj'.

Similar to the train ride previous day, I got to see life ‘unfolded’ in the morning. Children in school uniforms. People going to offices. I took out my DSLR and began snapping a few photos. Later on the flight homebound, I was told it was sort of dangerous to do so. I ran the risk of being mugged by dubious characters that might lurk on the road. That really explained the weird face of “Abang Bajaj” reflected by the side mirrors.

I reached my destination without any untoward incidents - still oblivious to the risk I just took. I returned my DSLR into my cheap-looking canvass bag before I alighted the 'bajaj'. I gave MP a call from a nearby wartel (that’s short for “warung telefon” or telephone kiosk) where instead of putting coins, you pay at the counter after you use the phone.

I waited MP in front of a small grocery shop. The shop owner invited me to sit on a stool next to his shop. Not wanting to look very lost, I chewed on a bun I bought from the shop. I didn’t know where to look. Wondered where he would come from, left from the many houses, or right from the main road where a church stood.

Three bites into my bun, I saw MP coming towards me. We walked to his house, stopping at a lady selling local patries or “kuih-muih”. He greeted the lady and picked a few “kuih”. To my amazement, we left without paying. It was only while continuing our walk that he told me that the lady was her aunt.

When we reached his house, I was introduced to more of his families. No thanks to my quietness and reserve-ness, MP and I fell into some awkward silences. Somehow the conversation turned into cars. I told him that I have a second hand ‘kapchai’ and a second hand car. From him, I discovered a shocking truth: if our math was right, my second hand car is about the same price of a Mercedes (I can’t remember what series) in Indonesia!

Besides that, it is cheaper to get a driving license (for motorcar and motorbike) in Indonesia than in Malaysia. However, renewing a Malaysian driving license is cheaper due to the fact all class (motorcar, motorbike, lorry etc.) is on the same license. Indonesians have separate license for each class. Imagine how thick you wallet would be if you have license to drive five different classes of vehicles!

We ended up ‘checking out’ each others driving license. I have to admit, my laminated pieces of license looked cheap and fake next to his thick, bar coded, license or what they call SIM, short for “Surat Ijin Memandu” (loosely translated into: permission letter for driving). Even so, I much rather have my cheap and fake looking license, because it is thinner and fits nicely in my wallet.

No comments: