Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Buses and Bogor

Much like when I was in Manado, two years ago, it seems like Jakarta is a city to escape on the weekends. This Sunday, Liz and I went up to Bogor, an half an hour (or 2 ½ hour, depending on the bus) ride north of Jakarta, high into the volcanic mountains that make up Java. As the bus drove up the slope, you could see the mountains clearing out of the smog of Jakarta. Or maybe it is just the steam of Jakarta. Probably both.

I was happily able negotiate the organized chaos of the bus terminal. My favorite part was when one guy, in charge of getting people on his bus, to some place other than Bogor, told me that there were no more buses to Bogor, until about 8 hours later. I gave him an incredulous look and said, in my most colloquial Indonesian, “Maaaaasak, sih?”, (loosely translated, “No Waaaay”). Then he took us the five minute walk to our bus, and made sure we got onto the right bus to Bogor, leaving that minute.

In Bogor, we went to the Botanical Gardens, or Kebun Raya. These gardens were planted as a playground for the Dutch colonialists in 1817, and have only been improved over the years. They are half perfectly manicured lawns and gardens, and half well taken-care-of jungle, with tropical trees over 200 years old. Huge. Now the gardens serve as both a center of research, and a place for Indonesian couples to get a degree of privacy, and maybe even hold hands.

One girl, who was clearly on a date, had a shirt that read (in English): "So you love me... but can you buy me a (check list) car? house? diamond?". I felt bad for the guy, who was buying her an ice tea.

Liz and I explored for the day. We went through as much of the 80 hectare park as we could. There were spiders four inches across, orchid gardens with hundreds of orchids in bloom, and Bria-sized leaves (see pic from yesterday). I also had my first paddle-pop, a ice-cream from Walls that was a staple of my adventures when I was in Manado. It was chocolate, and yummy.

On the way back from Bogor, we caught the wrong bus. It was going to where we were going, but it was not taking to toll roads, which meant that the trip took 2 hours, stopping at the side of the road whenever someone wanted to get on or off. It was actually quite nice. I was sitting by the open door (rather dangerous at 40 mph), and there was a nice breeze. And there is no way to see random road life than by very slow bus. But the swim when I got back felt very good.

As for work, things are still working themselves out. The big-big boss got back from Aceh, and he said that my skills are needed up there, and that there should not be a problem. Nonetheless, I am waiting for paperwork and the final OK to come through. With luck, it will all be settled by the end of the week. Until then, research on kids in other parts of Indonesia.


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