Sunday, May 25, 2008

Just Married

To my close friends and family:

I did went away for awhile. But I didn't went away to get married.

Remember the my post on "Engagement Party"? It was the wedding for the two love birds.

More of it later.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Yet Another Trip

I'm packing my bag and will be leaving in a few hours.

Where to? Stay tuned to find out!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Day 4 (18/3/2008) - Delayed

Yes, I know the ending for Jakarta enteries is very much delayed. I promise, this is the last entry for Day 4. No, the taxi to the airport did not caused me to be delayed. In fact the taxi ride was uneventful. No “macet” nor road accident along the way.

It was a wonderful drive to the “bandara” (translation: airport). I chatted with the taxi driver (actually the taxi driver did most of the talking). Thanks to Mutiara, according to the taxi driver, I (finally) sounded like a local! Since I was speaking fairly slowly, the taxi driver had to follow my pace of talking. Hence, it gave me ample time to understand and then, participate in the conversation using the ‘formal’ Bahasa Indonesia.

I didn’t have any luggage to check-in. So by 4.30pm, I had safely passed the immigration check. I had almost two hours to kill. I did a mental arithmetic. The flight should take about two hours to get to Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur time is one hour ahead of Jakarta time. That would mean touching down in Kuala Lumpur at approximately 9.00pm Kuala Lumpur time. Great! I could take my dinner in Malaysia.

As I wandered from one airport shop to another, to kill my two hours (or so I thought), I found an electronic information board – the one that displays flight information. I was horrified to discover that my flight was rescheduled to 8.10pm! Coincidently, I had a dead mobile phone (I wasn’t sure if it was because I dropped it or because the charger was faulty). Tried the public phone at the airport, but for some reason I couldn’t get through to the people back home.

After a few futile attempts to contact those at home, I resigned my fate to the Almighty. Surprisingly I did not panicked at all. I contemplated on telephoning Mutiara to inform her of the ‘delay’ but decided against it. What could she do. She couldn’t ask the airplane to leave early just for me. Besides, I didn’t think I could talk to her without bursting into tears.

Another quick arithmetic made me to conclude that it would be too late to have dinner in Malaysia. So I headed to the food court. Nothing on the menu seemed to grab my appetite. At the end I settled for a cup of hot chocolate and two slices of smoked-salmon sandwiches. I ate only one slice of sandwiches and emptied my cup of hot chocolate. Packed the other slice of sandwiches into my backpack and continued to wandered at the terminal. Bought some souvenir for people back home. Like most shops in other airports, the prices were a bit more expensive if compared to shops at outside of the airport.

Tired of walking, I headed to the boarding gate. I spotted a row of chairs near the gate. A lady in her late forties or early fifties was sitting alone. I went near her:
Me: Maaf, bu. Ada orang? (Excuse me, ma’am. Is the seat taken?)
Lady: Nggak. Silakan. (No. Please sit.)

By then I was hungry again. So put down my backpack, and sat on a chair next to her. I took out my remaining sandwiches
Me [being polite]: Jemput makan, ya bu. (Have dinner ma’am.)
Lady: Terima kasih, silakan. (Thank you, enjoy your meal)

Once I finished my sandwiches, we somehow went into an engaging conversation. I was glad she understood English for my brain was kind of tired translating my thoughts into formal Bahasa Malaysia. Quite frankly, I don’t use formal Bahasa Malaysia in my daily live. She on the other hand, admitted that certain Bahasa Malaysia phrases sounds funny to her Indonesian ears. And so we chatted mostly in English.

The lady, HM, is a headmistress visiting her engineer sister who resides in Malaysia. Judging from my simple-no-brand clothes, she was surprised to find me able to speak fluent English with little difficulties. She thought I was still in high-school! I assured her that I was old enough to have a school-going child (which I might have if I was married). She was also surprised that I was bold and brave enough to go for a solo-backpacking trip to Jakarta.

Before we knew it, it was almost 8pm. We made our way to the boarding area. There was a short queue for a final security check. A few minutes later, we were in the boarding area, only to discover that the flight was further delayed! We took two seats facing each other and continued chatting. Near us was a loud group of Malaysian family – Mommy, Daddy, Aunty, teenage son, and two young sons.

The loud family were returning from a big shopping spree in Jakarta and Bandung. They asked us a few questions. But they were more interested in indulging themselves about the things they bought. I could see from HM’s face that it was somewhat hard for her to understand what the Malaysian family was saying. I told HM that it was a local Malaysian dialect.

The loud family was commenting on how cheap things were. And how they had spent at least RM 1000. They also discovered that some executives earn merely IDR 2Million (roughly around RM700). I quietly told them, after my ‘home-stay’ with Mutiara, IDR 2 Million, is a lot of money. HM too, agreed. In lower voice, HM and I doubted that their hired driver would have take them to similar places that I had been (the non-touristy places).

Weary of the loud family, we were glad when the boarding gate finally opened. We were taken on a bus to the waiting aeroplane. Since it was free seating, HM and I sat next to each other and continued chatting. The aeroplane finally left the tarmac around 9pm.

We reached Kuala Lumpur LCCT around 12am (Malaysian time). I gave my phone number and bid adieu to HM. After a little drama, I finally reach my brother’s place around 2am. With that, my four-days-trip finally ended!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Day 4 (18/3/2008) - Jamsostek

“Jamsostek” is short for “Jaminan Sosial Tenaga Kerja”. Our destination was the branch at Selemba area. We got off the “angkot” by a busy road and walked a few metres into the building compound.

The building itself was an old one storey building sandwiched between newer multiple storeys building. Not old as in dilapidated and run down but as in if-it-was-in-KL-it-would-be-torn-down-to-make-way-for-new-ones. Even thought it was old, it was well maintained. The relatively fresh coat of paint made it looked respectable.

The wooden door opened to a standard setting of counters-and-waiting-chairs. There were three counters. In front of each counter were two chairs. The rest of hall were rows and rows of chairs for people to sit while waiting for their turn.

‘Their turn’, as I quickly discovered, was not determined by any numbers nor queue. When we arrived, Mutiara’s second friend, T, was already seated at the counter for her ‘turn’. L quickly sat on the second chair next to T. While waiting for the two ladies, Mutiara explained to the concept of “Jamsostek”. From what I understood, it was similar to Malaysia’s Employee Providence Fund (EPF).

Some time later the two ladies joined us. They discussed something. They were too fast for me to understand. Then Mutiara went to the counter to check how much money was under her name. It seemed that among the three ladies, L has the most. Unfortunately, like Mutiara, L, didn’t have all the papers with her.

After a little suggestion (or more like persuasion) from the other two ladies, L decided to get the papers and get everything done that day. So we left the “Jamsostek”. It was a hot noon. Surprisingly no “angkot” for our route passed by. Since time was of the essence – we need to return to the office before the counter closed – suggested that we take a taxi. Mutiara stopped a taxi. She sat at the front seat. I sat behind the driver with L on my left and T at the other window.

The girls were very ‘chatty’. I gathered that they haven’t seen each other for quite a while. Again, they were all too fast for me to understand. Besides, they weren’t using the formal Bahasa Indonesia, which made it even harder for me to comprehend. They girls were very animated, so much so, eventually the taxi driver joined the conversation.

Again, Mutiara noticed that I seemed to listen more than I seemed to talk. She told everyone in the taxi about my comprehension problem. Actually, even when I did understand the conversation, it was kind of hard for me to reply them. I had to construct my sentences in the formal Bahasa Malaysia, which I don’t really use except when writing formal letters. Had I used the my daily Malay, I doubt they would understand me as well as they did.

Anyway, we dropped L somewhere in an area near to her house. From the point where we dropped her off, she would have to take other public transport to actually get to her house. The three of us continued in the taxi and got off at a shopping complex, Gajah Mada Plaza. While waiting for L, we managed to squeeze in a little last minute shopping. As much as I dislike shopping, I needed to buy something for people back home.

Before we knew it, we were done shopping with plenty of time to spare. We headed to “Gloria Jean’s Coffees” near the entrance. The girls decided that we should have some drinks and seat at the coffee shop while waiting for L. I couldn’t agree more. I haven’t had any good chocolate drink since I arrived in Jakarta. The one I had in “Dunkin’ Donut” the previous had more sugar than chocolate. Without hesitation, I ordered a cup of hot chocolate (that came with a marshmallow). Mutiara ordered a glass of mango juice and T, a glass of what looked to me like an ice-blended. I “traktir” them. And to my surprise, everything cost only around IDR 42 000 (with my hot chocolate making half of the price). That would roughly converted to less that RM 15.00 which if in “Gloria Jean’s Coffee” Malaysia could probably buy my hot chocolate only.

I was finishing my heavenly cup of hot chocolate when L finally arrived. We took a taxi and made our way to the “Jamsostek” only to find that the counters were closed for lunch. Left with little choice, we went for lunch at the business complex next to the “Jamsostek”. The air-conditioned restaurant looked exclusive. It was the kind of restaurant that the waiter would greet you and ask how many people dining. Seeing the ‘look’ in the waiter face (except for L, we were more or less not dressed-up), I can’t help but spoke in English: “Table for four, please”.

There were plenty of empty tables. So we picked a table next to the window. I ordered “Nasi Uduk”. I can’t remember what the girls ordered, but they all ordered same kind of meal. Theirs arrived at the same time while I had to wait a little longer for mine. “Nasi Uduk” turn out to be something similar to Malaysian “Nasi Lemak”. Among the “lauk” was chicken (which I passed to Mutiara’s plate), egg, and vegetable. We had earlier told the waiter not to put “sambal” (sort of hot spicy side-dish). The rice was good, but unfortunately I couldn’t each much because the harmless-looking-vegetable was actually laced with burning-hot chillies.

After lunch, we returned to the office. Mutiara and I left the two ladies around 3pm. We made our way back to MP house. I had a 6.10pm flight to catch. I should be at the airport 2 hours before the boarding time to settle all the check-in and immigration stuff.

A short rest at MP house was followed by goodbyes. Mutiara and I hugged goodbye as if we were old friends. As I hugged her, I could feel her ‘trembling’. I knew, I should made it a quick goodbye, otherwise we would both broke into tears. And so I hopped into the taxi and left.