Friday, January 30, 2015

Jakarta, Getting our Chinese Visa + Walking Tours

Our number one goal in Jakarta was to apply for Obama's 2nd gift to us (the 1st being the ACA): 10-year multi-entry visas to China. We could have gone through a visa agency in DC before we left, which was too mundane and costly for Sun-Ling....Nonetheless, this mission had both us tied up in knots.

Our first 24 hours in Jakarta were hectic. After a pleasant train ride on Sunday afternoon from Bandung, we exited Gambir Station at about 5:30 PM in exactly the right direction and walked in a very light rain to our hotel of choice in 20 minutes. However it was not until 11 PM that we were installed in a hotel with working hot water and internet. I'll spare you the details.

Monday morning we were up at 6 AM. The hotel's included breakfast was fine and we headed out the door at 7:15 with our double-checked backpack full of documents and computers, ready to tackle the TransJakarta bus rapid transit system on our way south to the China Visa Center. Although Sun-Ling had studied the Trans Jakarta system up and down we barely made our goal to get there before 9 and be first in line. I'll spare you the details; however, the education was worth the price.

First in line at the China Visa Center, yes. First to complete the application process, no. After much to and fro, by noon we were back at the hotel. I'll spare you the details.

By Thursday morning, pros at TransJakarta, we were surprised how fast we got back to the Visa Center, considering the traffic. By 9:30 AM we paid our $310 (total for 2 visas) and had our 10-year visas in hand. Thanks, Obama! In the previous 10 years, not counting the visas our work paid for, we had paid over well over $1300 ourselves.

Our 20 year-old copy of Jakarta - Lonely Planet City Guide has 4 walking tours. We did three over the next two days. All excellent. Walking and taking local transport is surely the best way to get to know Jakarta.

Waiting for the down elevator at the hotel
Jakarta, Indonesia

I swear I'll never again taste gorengan (deep fried veggies) as good as the ones from this husband-wife team.
Jakarta, Indonesia

Women (wanita) get their own section on TransJakart buses which SL thought was very civilized.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

No eating, drinking, or touching your neighbors skirt on the TransJakarta.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Typical TransJakarta stop with an enclosed station between opposing traffic lanes, with raised platform. Advantages: The same station serves both directions; you pay before you get on the bus; you walk right on/off the bus - no steps.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

And a bus pulls up while SL studies her transit map.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Inside a station wating to catch a southbound bus
Jakarta, Indonesia

Chinatown is gearing up for Chinese New Year.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

We checked out several family temples in Chinatown. One was particularly serene and well tended, and we chatted with a man who shares SL's father's family name; Lin.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Chinatown back lane.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Oldest temple in Chinatown.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

From Chinatown we walked north to the Kota District where the Dutch first "settled" in the early 1600's.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Kota Train Station.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

With Starbucks and 7-11.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

The Dutch-built Post Office faces the old square.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

As does the old City Hall, now a museum.
Jakarta, Indonesia

Yes, the rental bike comes with a hat.
Jakarta, Indonesia

And then farther north along the canals to the old shipyards, docks, and fish market. Lots of poverty in this area. Sun-Ling felt like she was in a movie.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Then a rest stop for some "es campur" an Indonesian shaved ice, mixed fruit treat. Yes, that's avocado.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Beautiful old whitewashed mosque near our hotel.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Dinner at a resto near our hotel.
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Surrounded by a vast park, the National Monument (Monas), rises 432 ft with a museum at its base and an elevator to the top.
Jakarta, Indonesia

New friend - an elevator usher who was brave enough to ask to practice her English.
Jakarta, Indonesia

Looking south to the new business district.
Jakarta, Indonesia

A view to Istiqlal Mosque and Catholic Cathedral.
Jakarta, Indonesia

Students at the museum. Typical of most Indonesian students on field trips, they are writing furiously in their notebooks.
Jakarta, Indonesia

The interior of St. Emmanuel's (Protestant) Church.
Jakarta, Indonesia

The Catholic Cathedral across the street from Istiqlal Mosque is pretty big.
Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

But is not in the same league as the mosque which can hold 200,000 people (including outdoors).....The barrier separates the men and women.....We were lucky to arrive during noon prayers.
Jakarta, Indonesia

The women put on extra coverings for the service, which they put on and take off right on the carpet.
Jakarta, Indonesia

There is also regular school and Koran School (seen here) at the mosque.
Jakarta, Indonesia

Jarkarta is hot but there are many shaded sidewalks like this one that making walking bearable.
Jakarta, Indonesia

And each walking tour ends with some shopping, this time at Pesar Baru.
Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

Finally, looking south to the new business district.
Jakarta, Indonesia

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bandung, The City and People

Bandung sits at 700 meters (about 2300 ft) and so is noticeably cooler, by about 10 degrees, than the other cities we've visited on Java although the direct tropical sun seems just as strong. Thus on Sunday morning there were hundreds of bicyclists streaming down the street after participating in Car Free Sunday.

Or hotel had a good location; less than 10 minutes walk from the train station and near several vegetarian restaurants.

Not to mention that Bandung has a slew of outlet malls located on route between Art Deco highlights.

Always nice to have a spacious hotel room.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Ahimsa Vegetarian Restaurant.
Train from Yogyakarta to Bandung, Indonesia

Kehidupan Tidak Pernah Berakhir Vegan Restaurant. This place was awesome! Rice + 4 veggies for 8000 rupiah - about 65 cents.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Sun-Ling and friends.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Crazy young folks with a selfie stick.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

It's not just foreign tourists who visit Bandung. Watch out for those low wires!
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Lots of traffic in Bandung.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

This is NOT rush hour.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Even the milkman goes slowly.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Bicyclists.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Ondel-Ondel (Giant Puppet) guys.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Sun-Ling street fair shopping.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

One last food shot - veggie meal at a local warung.
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia