We’re back (JMP and TP) in Jakarta and will be updating almost daily for the next five weeks or so. We are blogging currently from the Sheraton Bandara, the only true airport hotel in Jakarta. It is stunningly nice for an airport hotel–almost like a resort and way nicer than the place we stayed at JFK which cost quite a bit more money. TP is here for more research, while JMP (the former JM) is here to teach at the Jakarta International Summer Music Festival. We will be dropping her off there shortly, after which TP will return to central Jakarta.
We flew Cathay Pacific. It is not as nice as Singapore Airlines, but the seats are more roomy (although less comfortable). The service was not as good either. The food was about as good, and the entertainment on demand is great. The music selection was quite expansive, and while it was not as good as Qatar Airways in the rock and pop department, the classical music selection exists (which made JMP quite happy).
A few quick initial observations:
1. We arrived at 8:00 PM and slept from 10:00 PM till about 8:00 AM without much trouble. For anyone who travels regularly, you know how hard this is. Arriving at 8:00 PM is infinitely superior than arriving at 10:00 AM.
2. It is also infinitely better to travel with a companion than to travel alone.
3. JMP agrees that Jakarta seems cleaner and more lively than it did when we first started traveling about 4 years ago.
4. The exception is the pollution. It’s really smoggy here today, and we believe this is probably due to forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo. One thing that keeps us amazed is that while Jakarta is really polluted, our friends who know both Jakarta and Beijing assure us that Beijing is unambiguously far worse in the pollution department than Jakarta. We just can’t imagine what that must be like. Jakarta is already dirty enough that you can’t dry your clothes outside without them getting dirty again.