Whenever you arrive in the tropics the initial reaction is always the same. You step off the plane into the arms of the local weather and frantically try your best to adjust…your clothing, your pace, your attitude.
The feeling of being wrapped in a warm blanket during the height of summer is not easy for anyone and takes more than a set of Jetway steps to get used to.
For me it’s about 7 days before I calm down completely and sink into vacation mode. Shedding all residual sub-conscious ties to work and melting into a relaxing state; free of those exaggerated concerns associated with daily life.
She was ready to burst!
My plan was a simple one. Eat, sleep, and then sleep some more. The first two I accomplished without a problem. It is 4 am so I guess I have failed miserably on the third.
Fish always seems a fitting meal when in the islands even though I have never really considered Jakarta to be island-like. It is more a huge bustling mega-city suffering the same issues as all large centers of population plus a few extras thrown in for good measure.
On this night though, I was in for a treat.
Some friends of mine took me to Bandar Djakarta in the Ancol area. The restaurant is on the ocean and is surrounded by palm trees draped in flickering lights. The tables themselves jut out over the water and a band plays in the background.
Containers of fresh fish are on display for your selection; a gentle breeze, a flash of distant lightning, and you are no longer in the hustle and chaos of Jakarta.
You are relaxing in the clear glow of a moonlit sky now recovering from the trauma of an afternoon storm.
Ancol itself is a haven with two faces. An area set aside to provide a respite for all those in Jakarta; residents and travelers. The night-time face brings with it a sense of romance and peace. That quintessential warm tropical breeze, waves that are little more than ripples caressing the shore, and the glimmer of a full moon…throw in a palm tree and you’re in a velvet painting of paradise.
By day this same area is a carnival. Fun houses, street performers, plastic on metal elephants spinning in a circle like a horizontal ferris wheel, and the inevitable open air bus train that transports visitors around the park.
An attraction for any occasion.
Tucked away on the periphery of Ancol, in an area that until recently was prone to flooding by the ever-present ocean swells, is a beautifully maintained cemetery dedicated to Dutch soldiers and civilians executed in WWII. It’s a serene place in complete contrast to the screams and shouts of the carnival atmosphere surrounding it.
I was enjoying the night-time face; its alternative experience would be left for another time.
There was not much more I could ask for. Grilled fish, grilled shrimp, tofu stuffed with chicken and spices, cut vegetables, sambal, rice, and a variety of sauces. Good company and the embrace of a country I have grown over the years to anticipate with excitement; each return trip.
I was set to sleep well… until 4 am at least.
For photos of Indonesia click here.