The next day, with Bart still away, I decided I’d do some more sight-seeing and went to try and find the open top bus which tours the city. I followed Shinta’s instructions and asked a taxi driver to take me to Bus Way. I think he just took me to the nearest bus station rather than to the central bus station and it was not clear if I could catch the open top bus from here. I spoke to a couple of Indonesians who for once spoke excellent English and directed me to the opposite side of the street. I waited a while and saw several buses pass, but no open top bus.
Behind me, an Indonesian man on a motorbike kept haranguing me to have a lift on his bike and I finally relented. I had no idea where he was going to take me as he spoke no English. In the end, he took me around two blocks, said “Top Bus” and I paid him the 20,000 he asked for (an excessive amount for the service rendered, but there we go).
From here, I wondered about for a bit. I came to a mosque and had a nose in there. I had a light lunch – a sort of potato and egg curry – provided by a street vendor. I also swapped a Marlboro Light for one of his cigarettes – a Sampoerna. I decided I’d finally found the Indonesian cigarettes I’d been looking for as these were really nice.
With no sign of an open top bus anywhere, I thought I might as well just go back to Bartlett’s, so hopped in a taxi once again. I got back just as Bart was returning home from his business trip, so that was quite good timing.
That evening, he promised to take me to the Skye Bar which is a bar, as you might expect, on top of a skyscraper. For a change, instead of by taxi, we went to the Skye bar by motorbike which was quite good fun.
It was a Wednesday and usually, Bart said, they did an offer on sangria on Wednesdays. Unfortunately, this week the offer was for bottles of whisky which was out of our price range. We instead still ordered sangria, Bartlett asking for just a little ice so we wouldn’t get scammed. They instead brought a jug just over half full with ice separate, so I guess it worked out about the same.
The music (house) and ambience of the place was pretty good and of course, the views excellent, although we’d just missed out on the sunset.
Instead of continuing to drink here, Paul suggested we go to a couple of other bars close by. These were still expensive but what the hell, I was on holiday.
We went to a wine bar, where the wine was pretty pricey so I started on a Guinness, but in the end, we thought we might as well join the majority of punters and ordered a glass of wine each. I think it was one more drink before we went on to one last bar, Batt, in the basement of the Shangri La Hotel.
Here they had a table football, and of course, Fisk being the table football expert, he slaughtered Bartlett something like 10-3.
In the bar, Paul warned me to expect a lot of ladies of the night, which indeed turned out to be the case, with many women dotted around, drinking on their own.
There was a live band and Bartlett and I sat quite close to watch the band. Bartlett called over one lady. I had a brief dance with her, but she was a bit rough so I shooed her away.
Bartlett had to be up for work the next day and we’d already been out longer than intended, so we got in a taxi and got home.
On Paul’s advice, the following day I took a trip to Jakarta’s old town. ______ Square was filled with school children enjoying a break, many riding around the square on brightly coloured bikes.
Apparently as a white guy, I was a curiousity and a couple of young students came to interview me, no doubt to practise their English.
I went into one of the museums and elected to have a guide. The guide made it only slightly more interesting than it might otherwise have been: this was no Natural History Museum, not even anywhere near the standard of Cardiff’s museum, with fairly bland, uninteresting rooms.
Finding postcards in Jakarta had proved tricky, but there was a post office opposite the museum so I went to look there.
Here, I ran into an English lady on a similar mission. She struck me as the typical eccentric English person abroad. They did indeed have postcards here, but only if you asked for them: there were none on display, the counter clerk having to fish them out of a bag! Not very attractive cards and the lady, whose name I would learn was Jeanette, nabbed all the best ones (she needed eleven) leaving me with just a few boring ones depicting the National Monument.