Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Joko's Java Journey - Part One

Me in 1986
Jakarta is called by some "The Big Durian", a fitting description for a big place that's somewhat stinky, not for everyone and at the very least, an acquired taste. I really enjoyed my time living there as a teenager in 1986-87, but Jakarta was just the beginning of my journey; I did not intend to linger there. I hoped that perhaps I'd be able to secure transportation quickly enough to allow me to visit my old neighborhood, but I wasn't optimistic that I'd have time to see much of Jakarta.

The journey started off well. For the first time, I was
Having it my way.
departing through Yangon's brand new international Terminal One. Therein, Myanmar's one and only Burger King restaurant can be found, and I'm a Whopper fan.  It is strange that as it's located in the departure lounge, you need a ticket out of the country to visit BK.

Torrential rainfall delayed the flight. It was raining so hard that the incoming plane couldn't land and we were 90 minutes late departing. My new arrival time for the transfer in Bangkok was 4:30. The flight to Jakarta began loading at 4:30... It was going to be tight. Serendipity struck as it turned
Once again, I get entrusted with
the emergency exit seat. I exude
competence and a need for extra
leg room.
out that the Jakarta flight was similarly delayed! Yay! I've never cheered a delayed flight before.

After some confusion with my free hotel airport shuttle (I was waiting in front of the wrong information counter), I settled into my hotel near the airport ready to begin calling around to secure a motorbike rental the next morning. As you hear me explain in the video, it didn't work out very well. I ended up having to spend an addition night (last night) in Jakarta. At least the hotel I had planned on staying in in Bogor allowed me to cancel my booking at no charge.

So last night, I got to wander around an area of Jakarta I'd never visited. It's called Cengkareng, and it's an odd little armpit on the edges of the city. Lot's of colonial architecture, which I can't tell if it's actually old or not, lots of unused commercial space and lots and lots of massage parlors and karaoke bar.

Again, the first day didn't go as planned, but it least it had a happy ending.

Indonesian food is a happy ending.

Now, I've got to check out from my hotel and still no word from the motorcycle rental guy.

Enjoy the video.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Java Journey - Prologue

The power is out. I've got most of my bag packed, but was leaving some to the last minute stuff until this morning. Now, it's uncomfortably clammy and its hard to find stuff in the dim light. If this is the biggest problem I run into these next two weeks, I'll be a happy man.

Today marks the beginning of two weeks vacation, and I have a flight booked for this afternoon from Yangon to Jakarta. Tomorrow, I'll go in search of a suitable 2-wheeled vehicle (I'm thinking I'll be getting something with a little more power this time) on which to travel the hinterland of West and Central Java. It's the Tour d'Joko: Java Journey. My itinerary is comprised of the 2000 kilometer loop you see below. (I can't get the picture function to work)


I lived in Jakarta in 1986-87. Thanks to Google Maps Street View, I've checked out my old neighborhood, and it doesn't look that different after 30 years (except for the fact that the house I lived in has been torn down and replaced by shops!). Of course, the question is whether or not any of the people remain that I used to know. I'll find out soon.

By contrast to my recent voyage to Borneo, I expect this loop to be far more... umm... dense. There's 141 million people living on Java, more than twice that of the UK on an island half the size of Britain. It's the northern plains where most people live; my plan takes me along the southern coast and zigzagging through the volcanoes of the interior.

Ah. Here comes the power again. Time to go back to last minute preparations. I can't decide whether or not to bring two things: a jacket and a ukulele. I

Thursday, August 11, 2016


It's less than three weeks until my next motorcycle journey in West Java, Indonesia. It does kinda say something that my life is measured by how long it is until I get my next vacation. Things have become somewhat of a grind.

Things are changing here in Yangon. The pace of development has increased significantly. I see things changing so rapidly. There's half a dozen HUGE building projects in progress right now. It won't be until 2017 until they're done, but their potential for changing things looms large.

For me, of course, the biggest change has been Badger, the kitten I adopted 3 weeks ago. Oh, you should see all the scratches I've got. It's been a challenge to train this little guy that my hands are not playthings, and my legs are not trees to be climbed.

It's also Olympics time. I enjoy watching these international competitions, and my satellite TV package gives me plenty of feeds to watch. For example, this evening I watched China play Venezuela in basketball. Badger kitten enjoyed it too.

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