The Second Version


Impressions of Jakarta, Part 3

The Flood
I arrived there just in time to experience firsthand the worst flood (banjir) in years. Water was up to 4 meters deep in some parts of the city. The hotel was effected marginally, too: for the first two days, satellite TV was restricted to a local channel and Al-Jazira (argh!) and Internet was not available (no big deal; I intentionally left my laptop home). Then the hotel pools had to be emptied due to a shortage of clean water and for one day shower water had to be rationed. But it's nothing compared to the several tens of thousand people who had to be evacuated and saw their properties severely damaged. At some point, I began worrying that riots or disturbances of some sort may break out with all the evacuees in precarious conditions, but nothing happened. The Italian embassy - which had been flooded too - had no particular recommendations. Travelling around was even more difficult than usual, and my friend could not go to work. But we spent more time together, and we're more-than-friends now... Waste collection was disrupted, and a pile of rubbish will be really nasty after a few days in the tropical climate, trust me.

People tried to make the most of the situation, so it was not uncommon to see fishermen with rods or the throwing nets typical of SE Asia trying to pull some fish out of the flood water. However, most of the water were gone by Friday, and on Saturday morning I even had a brief swim in the pool.

The Security
Every hotel, mall and many business buildings are protected by checkpoints where security guards check the trunk and underside of incoming vehicles for explosive or other nasty devices. It feels awkward initially, but I got used to it. Many malls also have security personnell checking bags and backpacks at the entrance.

Cops over there do not normally carry firearms, but a long truncheon and a taser/stun gun (my lady told me that cash is required not to be tasered...). In fact, the only openly armed person was a non-uniformed guy walking across the mall with a 12 ga. semiauto slung over his shoulder. Apparently, in Indonesia it is sufficient to pay a rather hefty fee to obtain a firearm carry license, but I don't know the details.

The Food
Food in Jakarta is of the general Asian variety: stir-fried and deep-fried stuff; rice, noodles, vegs - but with local variations. First of all, over there they just love chillies and put inordinate amounts of them everywhere. They also eat loads of seafood; probably the most typical dish is fried rice with seafood (and chillies). Boiled meat, beef and chicken, is also very popular, including oxtail, tripes and brains. Eggs are boiled in a fashion that renders them brown on the outside, so I needed some times to understand what those smooth and brown globes were. Another specialty is cow skin; I'm not sure how it is cooked but it tastes rather nice - as long as you don't think about what it actually is.

We went to an excellent seafood restaurant where I had a fish covered in an aromatic paste, then wrapped in palm leaves and finally grilled: delicious. And another fish, cut open and then deep-fried whole, so it assumed a sort of butterfly shape. That one was delicious too, and my lady assured me I could eat also fins and even bones, but I wasn't interested. The meat was enough.

The curious thing is that bread is common in Indonesia, and you can even find butter-fried bread sweets. Bread & butter aren't Asian things, so I suppose it must be a leftover of the Dutch colonization. Which lasted quite a long while, and the Indonesians shook off with the force of arms.

Read Part 2

Etichette: ,

0 Commenti:

Posta un commento

Iscriviti a Commenti sul post [Atom]

Link a questo post:

Crea un link

<< Home page