Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jakarta Diary--Travel Jitters

With only barely a week's notice, I found myself being sent to Indonesia for a best practices workshop with some of our counterparts in the region. I won't bore you with work details--suffice it to say that I was excited when I learned of this trip. I stayed for a year in Irian Jaya, Indonesia when I was in pre-school. I don't have memories of Jakarta, the place where I'm going, but it's always nice retracing your way back.

Another reason why this trip is special is that it's my first out-of-the-country trip for the year. Last year I went to Macau with two of my friends, and for the most part I relied on them for the travel details. Now, even though I'm with one of my superiors, I'm basically on my own.

I was in the NAIA Airport early Tuesday morning. The place was already abuzz with activity, with check-in lines snaking from here to there. I was wishing the airport was brighter and more airy. I tend to worry about the whole thing, but I breezed through check-in and immigration, and I had ample time waiting at the boarding lounge. I killed time improving my Spanish with my smartphone app, and before I knew it, we were being called to board.

We were booked in a Singapore Air flight. I'm partial to PAL, the national carrier, but it has a thing or two to learn from Singapore Airlines. The inflight meals for a start. To this day I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of our breakfast.

We were supposed to catch a connecting flight in Singapore's Changi airport, but since we arrived late (our guess), and baggage transfers take time (their official line), we were transferred to a later flight. We were given 20 Singaporean dollars for lunch.

If I'm going to be stranded in an airport, I'd choose Changi airport, voted one of the world's top airports (click here). They say that if you're going to showcase a country, one of the things you should develop is the airport. The airport's bright and airy, and laid out simply. I love the souvenir shop--not all the items were tacky, and I made a mental note to buy one of the figurines of the elephant conservation campaign the next time I visit.

For lunch I had the dry Tai Wah Pork Noodle. It had pork, pork liver, meatballs, and dried cuttlefish.The sauce was spicy, which was good, but the dish was a little gamey for my taste.
This was the stalls I chose my lunch from. I decided not to go to the usual eateries I could find in Manila.
After a couple of hours we arrived at the Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta) Airport, which reminded me of the domestic airports of Zamboanga (Moorish details) and Laoag (the red bricks). This is one instance I love about holding and ASEAN airport--one less queue to fall into.
More Indonesian posts soon.

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