I think I am required to say that this blog is not officially affiliated with Fulbright, AMINEF, or any of its counterparts or affiliated agencies - you get the picture.
Landed in Jakarta this morning at 10:30 a.m. and passed through customs (must've been some sort of "internal" system as our luggage was not even scanned or looked through). The flights from KC, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Singapore combined to leave me very tired, but everyone, all 32 of us that is, got their bags and we swept through the airport to a bright yellow bus.
This post is rambling as I'm working on 3 hours of sleep in the past couple days, which was a wonderful 3 hours by the way. Singapore was great, we (John, Mike, and I) walked around near the hotel and ate and drank at a local shop (Tiger beer, brewed in Malaysia) before heading up to the pool at the top of the hotel, where we brought more beers and hung out until 3:30 a.m., until at last exhausted, we headed to bed to get a couple hours of sleep. Not being able to sleep, I walked about Singapore for a bit by myself, passing transvestite hookers a number of times (scary but kind of funny) before finally hitting the hay at 4:30. Getting up at 6:30 was tough, but the shower was great, and we were off for breakfast and Jakarta.
Jakarta is a sprawling city, full of mosquitos (buzzing around me currently in the Hotel lobby), shacks, high-rises, food-stands, and people. Right now we are in the midst of Ramadan (which I was reminded of as I tried to give a tray of airplane food to the woman seated next to me... whoops), so some stands are open all night and most are crowded after sunset and just before sunrise (a gong marks both times for fasters). The hotels have been fantastic - I have a full bathroom, closet, kitchen with stove, deck, couch, TV, everything for myself for what seems to be only 268.(,)000 Rupiah, or $26.80 US - not bad. After napping here, Sarah, Raj and I went out to a local restaurant (14.000 Rupiah fare there, although the guy on the way back would end up driving us around pretending to be lost for a half hour for 55.000 Rupiah, or $5.50 US - not a big deal), where I ate chicken and fried rice for 17.000 Rupiah. All in all a cheap night. As we sat with the plastic cup/candle burning in the middle of the table overlooking the river, fireworks erupted around us, a fantastic sight. I hope there are more to come.
Last story - I misheard a street vendor when purchasing Indonesia's version of Vitamin Water (Pocari Sweat), and paid him 20.000 Rupiah. Halfway down the street, I heard him run up behind me to give me the change I had deserved, as the bottle was much cheaper than that - all I could say was Terima kasih banyak (Thank you very much) - that would never happen in America!
That's all for now - I need to study more Indonesian so I know what everyone is saying - not many speak English here. Bed time, and official business tomorrow.