Selamat Natal!

That of course, means Merry Christmas!  We are sitting here looking out at the rain streaming down the windows– just looking outside we can pretend that it’s actually chilly. However, when we do eventually make it outside it’ll be as steamy as ever. 

We decided to treat ourselves to a nice hotel room for our Christmas present, so we’re using the free email here.  Now we’ve never stayed in anything other than the cheapest room available at a hotel before.  So, for example, we always look for the AAA super-saver or "Best Available Internet Rate" or whatever.  But now we’re staying at the Gran Melia Jakarta, a swanky place.  We found this deal on the internet though, and we splurged $30 extra for a "Royal Service Room".  This turned out to be a good idea.  It’s basically like business class on a plane, but at a hotel.  Aside from the giant, gorgeous room, we get access to the "Royal Service Lounge" all day, which features free coffee and tea (which they insist on making for you), pastries, fancy couches, and this computer.  When you arrive a glamorous Indonesian woman escorts you to the "Royal Service Check-In Suite" where they give you champagne while you check in.  From 5:00 to 8:00 every evening, they have complimentary cocktails and snacks.  Normally that means "pretzels and crappy wine and peanuts," but not here.  It means "open bar, help yourself," plus fancy peanuts, gourmet sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres, etc.  Very very nice.  Seeing as you can take the grad students away from the budget constraint mindset, but you can’t take the budget constraint mindset out of the graduate students, we loaded up on free roast beef sandwiches and chocolate-dipped apricots, sushi and insalata caprese; drank three bourbons; and decided to call that dinner.

The breakfast this morning was excellent.  Orange juice was the lowest on the hierarchy of juices, instead of the highest as is normally the case in a breakfast buffet.  JM had guava juice.  They had a big plate of stinky raw-milk cheeses from Europe–you can’t even legally buy these in the US.  Pastries, tropical fruit, meats (but no bacon), and Sultana Bran (they call raisins "sultanas" in the rest of the world).  And instead of an "egg station," a liveried waiter whisked your order to the chef in the back.  All of this was complimentary.

Turn-down service was included, and there is free unlimited shoe shining and clothes pressing as long as you stay.  Late checkout, naturally, is at 6:00 PM, so we’ll be here for awhile.  Maybe if it stops raining we’ll try the swim-up bar at the pool for a Singapore Sling.

OK, that’s it!  We’re off to luxuriate some more.  $115 is totally a bargain. We just reserved a room for New Year’s Eve…

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