Putanga – Life on the Road

Stories from my journeys around the world…

Welcome to the Jungle

Posted by Monica Johansen on June 24, 2009

Yes, I know. I haven’t been very active on my blog lately. The reason is that I have been working too much (as usual), and when I have been thinking about writing something I have always prioritized writing some customer documentation or scopes of work. In other words, life has been hectic lately.

Raffles Long Bar

Raffles Long Bar

Anyway, I have had a few really enjoyable days during the last couple of weeks. First of all, one of my previous work mates from Sydney brought his lovely wife and cute daughter to Southeast Asia for a holiday, and I had the pleasure of spending Sunday June 14 and Saturday June 20 with them before they headed back to Australia. They are originally from Sri Lanka, but they have lived in Australia most of their lives and to me they are more Aussies than Asians. It was nice being a tourist guide in Singapore, and at the same time spending time with a lovely family. By the way, they completely fell in love with my favorite coffee franchise, The Coffee Connoisseur (TCC), and they started talking about opening a cafe in Sydney. I don’t drink coffee, but their hot chocolate is quite good, and their yoghurt smoothies are awesome. 

Wednesday June 17 I also had the great pleasure of having dinner and drinks with another former work mate from Australia who was in Singapore on a business trip. Mark is English, in fact from Liverpool, but he moved to Sydney about 3 years ago. We worked together on a project the last time I was in Sydney, and it was a very nice work experience. Naturally, I had to take him to Raffles Long Bar for a Singapore Sling, and although he didn’t like the fact that the drink is pink and originally meant to be a woman’s drink, he ended up having three of them. Since I don’t drink alcohol I had a couple of Virgin Slings instead. They look almost the same, and I am sure they also taste just as good as the alcoholic version. However, what amused me the most that evening was the fact that I was sitting in the bar at Raffles Hotel, my all time favorite hotel and the most colonial building I can think of, with a true English gentleman dressed in khaki linen. It was almost as if we were back in the 1930ies.

Now I am back on the road, and I am spending this week in busy Jakarta. It is great to be traveling again, although I always get frustrated with the delays, queues, and crowds that are typical for airports. For instance, getting through the Visa on Arrival queue in Jakarta this time was a nightmare, and at some point I was wondering of they all had gone for a break and just left us in the queue. While I was standing there I also noticed the huge red sign that welcomes you on arrival. It says “Welcome to Jakarta. Death penalty for drug trafficking.”. What a way to welcome visitors to your country! I must admit that sometimes I find Asian countries to be very strange…

Indonesian Harbor

Indonesian Harbor

Well, this week is somewhat different from most of my other traveling weeks since I have had company in the evenings for a change. My very good looking Irish gentleman friend, Jason, who previously lived in Singapore but now lives in Jakarta, invited me for dinner and drinks. On Monday night, just after I arrived, we went out to one of the bars near by my hotel, and on Tuesday we had a fantastic dinner at a very popular restaurant called Blowfish. Jason is a frequent guest at Blowfish, and all the staff members know him, including the smiling Mexican chef. When the chef heard that Jason was there he came out for a quick chat and he personally took our order. We asked him to recommend something, and while he already knows what Jason likes he asked me if there was anything I didn’t like before he disappeared back into the kitchen. After a short while the waiters came out with some lovely little sushi and sashimi dishes, and everything tasted lovely.

Tonight I have been meeting up with two colleagues for dinner, a sales engineer who is based out of my office in Singapore, and our new sales representative for Indonesia who is actually based out of Malaysia. Although we have communicated quite a bit on email, I have never met him before, so it was an interesting evening. The sales engineer knows Jakarta like his own back yard, and he took us to a very nice outdoor restaurant that I can’t remember the name of and that I would probably never find back to again. And even if I should figure out where it is I wouldn’t really want to walk around here alone. Unfortunately, Jakarta is not the safest place in the world, and I try to keep that in the back of my mind when I stumble around in this city on my own.

As a friend of mine, who is an ex-marine from the British Military, once said to me, “be careful, it is a jungle out there…”.

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