Ms Chocaholic with lots of opinions and an attitude

Monday, August 31, 2009

Scam. Nay. Extortion at Jakarta airport!!

As I mentioned, with much enthusiam, that my brother flew out all the way to spend a couple of nights with me in Jakarta. Was an all happy event, despite the limited time we had together, given I still had to continue with meetings in JKT.

He left very early Sunday morning, while I had taken the flight back to Sydney the night prior. As he was flying out to Penang, there was only one very very early morning flight.

He got to the airport, checked in, and was alerted by airline staff that he seem to not have his departure card. He duely filled in a new form and proceeded to Immigration.

This was where the drama began. The officer made a lot of noise about him having 'lost' his Departure card, proceeding to tell him it was a criminal offense. BLAH! of course its important, but we all have made that mistake before, and as long as you have the arrival stamp in your passport, and can prove you entered the country legally, it really should not be such a big deal.

Well, not to these unscrupulous immigration officers (by then the guy that was dealing with my brother had created enough commotion to draw other officers to the counter - I believe its their intimidation strategy). The airport was almost empty, devoid of any other witnesses. Anyhow, they proceeded to threaten my brother with jail term, talking about taking him to the police station and holding him there. While he knew he wouldnt really go to jail for such a trivial mistake, he also knew these guys would hold him at the airport long enough to make him miss his flight.

They then started talking about how they can "HELP" him. RIGHT, help! The nerve they have! Im sure you know the rest. We can help you, but its a serious offense, we will need some money to get this done. blah blah blah.

In his tired state, and wanting to just get out of there, my brother gave them whatever Rupiah he had left on him (which in itself was a fair bit), but made the mistake of not thinking straight, and overlooking the fact that there was also USD in his wallet. So turned out to be a very expensive trip to Jakarta for him!

If he had realised how much money it ended up being, I figure he would have opted to miss the flight. Getting a new ticket would have been cheaper, and certainly less maddening than having to part with so much money for these unscrupulous type!

I know theres nothing that we can really do anymore. Complaining to the Consulate will achieve nothing. HOwever, I do hope to spread the word out as much as possible, so Im hoping my friends that read this blog post will help me spread the word around.

around Indonesia islands hopping in 8 days?

perhaps my FNF friends were trying to imitate the adventures of travelling around the world in 80 days? We didnt get anywhere close to that, but managed to cover bits and pieces of Indonesia in 8 days.

I know there is still much more to be seen, but spending each of the 8 nights in different towns was certainly a fair bit of moving around at least for me :)

I landed in Jakarta on Friday morning, waited at the airport, where FNF colleagues joined me for the connecting flight to Semarang. Had an interview over is very similar to Thai and the Thai-Chinese adaptation. Some more interviews the next morning, before heading off to Solo. ON the way out we worked out that one of the partner's wife happens to be a friend of mine from IAF, but by then it was too late to arrange to meet up, so all I managed was a phone hello to Iswari (but at least now I have some news of her - married, and an expectant Mom! congrats Iswari!! and Ofa)

I was excited about Solo being included in the trip, as was hoping to see some good Batik. UNfortunately, we only got there at 7.30pm, went straight to a dinner meeting with a large group, and finished discussion at close to 11pm. Time to head to the next town! Checked in at Kediri only at 2am.

More meetings, and here is where things start to get hazy. NOt sure if we left the town for elsewhere, or we simply had more and more meetings in Kediri, before heading out to Surabaya that same night. (Alright, so the title of the post is misleading....we changed plans and headed out to Surabaya late night, which meant we spent 2 nights in Surabaya, instead of whatever other town we went to whose name escapes me at the moment).

From Surabaya, after more meetings, we flew out to Mataram, the provincial capital of the famous Lombok island. Saw a lot more non local faces on the flight, and after our meeting with the Vice Mayor of Mataram I even managed to get a bit of western food. Dont get me wrong - I enjoyed Indonesian food tremendously, but after meals after meals of some sort of either grilled chicken with spices, or chicken curries, or chicken nasi goreng - all accompanied with yummy spicy sambal - I needed my dose of salad and fresh greens! Even had a couple of free hours in the evening that allowed us time to head to nearby beach to watch the sunset. HAve to say the beach wasnt as impressive, but my guess is you need to head further away from town to see the very beautiful beaches that Lombok is famous for. Im still appreciative of the break of course :) Will come back to update name of the beach. Too many names in my head at the moment!

From Mataram we flew to Padang in West Sumatera. More meetings there, followed by long winding road to Bukit Tinggi. It was my favorite place for the trip. A bit cooler weather, surrounded by mountains, and a decent hotel with a pool that I never had time to use :) BUT, I did manage to order a tiramisu cake, and a nicoise salad, both initially with scepticism. I was pleasantly surprised. For those that are heading to Bukit Tinggi - its the Hills Hotel, previously was a Novotel Im told, but now under different ownership.

The next day we had a meeting in the small town of Tanah (something), and on the way back we drove past the biggest lake in West Sumatera ..again I forget the name. I always thought it was Lake Toba in Medan? Perhaps if we had more time to look around, I may be more appreciative, but for those that know me and what road trips does to me would understand why sitting through long windy roads for a 1 minute glimpse of a fog covered lake didnt do much for me. (Speaking of my motion sickness - for a girl who hated road trips since she was 5, Id say Ive come a long way!)

Next stop Jakarta! Was I happy! Despite more hectic days ahead, at least there was something to look forward to. My brother was flying out to Jakarta to meet me! YAYYYYY. and ofcourse there is Lily. Didnt manage to catch up with Ida (AGAIN! ....but shes always so busy!)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Indonesia......funny sightings at the airport

so on Friday I got into Jakarta, this is 2 years after my previous trip. Cant say if much has changed as I didnt quite venture out of the airport, but proceeded to the domestic terminal for a flight to Semarang.

HOwever, while at the airport, a couple of things struck me. 1. There is a porter service to help you pick up your bags from the conveyor belt on to your trolley. Great service for old people, unaccompanied minors travelling on their own, or such others that need this service I suppose. It does however feel strange to me to see a very strong man use the service.....not that there is anything wrong with it, just different. I know they have porters in India train stations, but then you dont have trolleys to help carry the load. I dont remember seeing the porter service the last time I was in Jakarta so thought its a 'new' service, but friends inform me it has existed for quite sometime.

Another thing I noticed while waiting for Anung and Eko to arrive at the airport was a lady came round to me and brought out a bottle of perfume. She then moved on the lady next to me. It was then that I realised the first lady was offering to sell the perfume. Very strange. Not sure what the concept is? She bought it cheap at duty free and then hopes to sell it to someone at the airport? Or was it a counterfeit product, and she chooses to sell it to travellers at the airport?
Whatever the concept, it was a rather strange idea. I wonder if she makes any sales......

by the way, while on the subject of airport, I must add that I quite like the domestic terminal in Jakarta. It doesnt compare to the likes of Singapore, or KLIA or Bangkok in its modern offerings, but was impressed when I saw it last time, and it still has that same pleasantness. Its very green. The building has walkways surrounded by glass that looks out into a very well maintained garden on both sides. I give it the green thumbs up rating for its effort to create a relaxing and pleasant view to look at.

Garuda Indonesia

I cant speak for its safety record, but having now used its service for both international and domestic sector I can certainly say the service is very good. Well, part of it could be due to the fact that in Sydney they were far from busy, no queue at check in, flight was not full. Staff were very friendly, gave me whatever seat I requested, and even went a step further to suggest blocking seats next to me so that I can have the whole row of seats to myself. Thanks Aaron :)
The plane was equipped with personalised entertainment screen (albeit the choice of movies on offer were not exactly 'new', but overall was not bad)
plus they give you chocolate icecream for your second meal! cute :p

domestic wasnt too bad either...full flight......a little bit of snack on board, which included a tiny little bar of kitkat amongst other things. Whoever is on the nutrition board gets my vote :)

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stargazing at Belanglo

after much to-ing and fro-ing of whether I would or I wouldnt, could or couldnt, in the end I decided I would go to Belanglo with the IH gang (supposedly with Anesha as my buddy and JP as the token guy).

However, as we know things never seem to go accoring to plans. Anesha booked herself a flight to Brisbane, while I thought oh well perhaps next year. It was then that the token guy decided he was still keen on the drive, so off we go on the M5. Me being me, completely trusted the driver, and didnt even bother looking at the maps that were sent to us. Whilst in the car looking up Belanglo in both the Sydney Metro and NSW Regional street directory, as well as the Australia Atlas maps (both of which listed even the tiniest of creeks) - did NOT have the Belanglo State Forest listed. Interesting. I wonder if it has anything to do with the bad publicity Belanglo received? surely not.

Anyhow, thanks to google map and a nice lady in Berrima, we finally make it to the Log Cabin in Belanglo. They had redone the kitchen, and have now built toilets right next to the cabin. (party poopers! now there wont be memorable freezing cold trips to the bathroom on your nights at the log cabin anymore. awww!)

It did bring back memories of the last trip there with all the IH friends. Perhaps less cold, as I managed to stay outdoor watching the stars for quite a fair bit, and survived inside even without the fire having been lit (but mind you it was still only about 7.30pm or 8 when we left - so the night hadnt got down to its coolest yet). Speaking of the stars - country sky has never disappointed. Millions and millions of stars, and having the astronomical society guys there meant they point things out to you with the most powerful lasers that feel like they are almost touching the stars, and amazing telescore where one blurry dot in the sky is revealed to be a collection of thousands of old stars (I forget the technical term for it - anyone?)

Star filled sky brings back yet another memory - driving down to Armidale for Christmas at Leesa's some years ago. The most amazing non-date I can think of :) Thanks to Leesa and Tony (Ho).

Football season has started!

so ...
the season started in style for us

leading Everton 3 nil at half time. and by 89th minute the score had gone to Everton nil, Arsenal 6

but looks like I wrote this too soon. just as Im typing Saha scored a goal. so its now Everton 1: 6 Arsenal.

still not a bad opening game at all is it

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sickness update!

so thats how boring my life (and my blog!) has become. I now have to resort to updating about my sickness :p

so after about 2 weeks I finally feel somewhat better. after about a few days of antibiotic, I was given a shot of penicillin (which dated as it sounds, is what seems to have helped me recover). Had some blood test just to make sure its not glandular fever. And here is the amazing thing about modern technology/science/medicine. They try to check for one thing, if they dont find anything wrong with that particular test, they somehow manage to find something else thats wrong with you. Great!

But. Its not something I have to worry about in the short term. I dont think. so we can deal with that if need be.

For now.....still trying to get back to my normal diet. Of late apart from no food, there has also been absolutely no chocolate intake in almost 2 weeks! (except for some choc chip cookies early on, some chocolate milk and one, get this, ONLY ONE timtam! that was when I realised I hadnt yet recovered, when I couldnt have any more than one timtam)

I must be really really sick. :p

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The amazing things my family get up to...Mom mainly!

so Mom was in KL last week. I called on the weekend and Pa Pawan says hes booking her something for KL.
eh? again?
but she was just there!

well my very capabale Mom. Amidst the high security between Thailand and Malaysia border, she managed to leave Malaysia without getting a stamp in her passport! Amazing!

So now she's heading back in again, to get an exit stamp.

(I think it was just her ploy for another trip back there!)

And my brother? what does he get up to?
I remember one day....he had parked the car just outside our house (its on the main street), and had received a ticket for parking in the motorbike spot. (They had recently re-painted the spot just outside our house from a car parking to motorbike parking). We have always parked our car outside our house for not a happy lovely brother picked up the ticket, walked across the road, and planted the ticket on a car parked illegally on corner of intersection. The car belongs to some police officer. Im not sure what became of that ticket....but we havent received any since :)

the flu...again!

so here I am....the last 2 days in bed.....
my throat feels like its being slowly cut on the inside with one of those little blades...swallowing water is an effort!
eyes burning , yes yes yes i know....
everyone has had the flu before, why am I making a big deal etc

well.......theres no one around to pamper me with hot soup, so have to whinge somewhere dont I....

so after 3 and half days in bed, lots of panadol to bring down fever, I finally managed to venture out to see the Doc. been diagnosed with Tonsillitis...swollen lymph node...which explains the impossibility to eat or drink...... temp was brought down from 39.5 to 38.5. been prescribed antibiotic, and get this...traditional indian style salt water gargle :)

have to go back to see the good doc again tomorrow......