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Three Capitals in Twelve Hours

INDONESIA | Wednesday, 21 January 2009 | Views [538]

Jakarta to Yogyakarta, rice paddies

Jakarta to Yogyakarta, rice paddies

While the rest of the world tuned in to Barack Obama’s inauguration we joined about 200 other travelers and tried to get comfortable on the cold, hard tile floor of the Kuala Lumpur airport.  KL has become the budget priced hub of choice for SE Asia but we weren’t prepared for its austerity.  We had to walk about half a mile from the plane to the terminal only to learn there were no chairs inside the terminal and it was still eight hours until our flight to Jakarta.

When we finally arrived in Jakarta we had traveled from BSB in Brunei to KL, Malaysia to Jakarta, Indonesia – three capitals in just over 12 hours.  Groups of people were crowded around outdoor TVs to watch news coverage of the inauguration.  The general consensus in Indonesia is relief that ‘W’ is out and hope for the new administration.  We didn’t get to see Obama’s speech until later this afternoon at our hotel.

It is easy to get ‘sticker shock’ in Indonesia where one US dollar buys 10,500 rupiahs; in other words $100 equals about one million rupiahs.  Jakarta is more expensive than in other places but it is still a bargain by US and European standards.  We treated ourselves to an upscale hotel for the night and bought train tickets to Yogyakarta for the morning.

The Taksaka “Exsekutif” train takes nine hours from Jakarta to Yogyakarta but it is much more comfortable than bus travel.  The cars are modern, the seats are roomy, the bathrooms are clean and lunch is included.  The music and movie weren’t too annoying and the little girl in front of us alternated between sleep and flirting.  All we saw of Java for nine hours was pancake flat rice paddies.  The philosophy seems to be if you can’t build on it plant rice.  It isn’t so surprising in a country of 280 million rice eaters and it looks like it will be a good harvest. 


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