The kids were almost instantly asleep and I spent a few hours reading before I too went to sleep. The train took about 10hours and we got to Jakarta Sener station at 4.30am. There are a few stations in Jakarta with Gambir being the main one.
In darkness we set out walking the streets to find a hotel where we could spend a few hours getting some rest and cleaning up.
It’s worth pointing out that a common misconception about Jakarta is that its dodgy. It’s not. It is one of the most populated cities on earth yet crime rates are pretty low. Never once did we feel unsafe. Ultimately though we couldn’t find a hotel and so I consulted LP and found out that the main backpacker haunt was Jl Jaksi. We got a tuk tuk and it was quite surreal racing through the empty streets of Jakarta at 5am. Jl Jaksi was about 15 minutes away and cost 20,000IDR (£1.50) There was a festival on, well what was left of one the night before and so of course all the hostels/hotels were full. I did however manage to find one, a bit of negotiating and we had a room from 6am until whenever we wanted for 120,000IDR (£8.50)
Needless to say we just slept.
We headed for the airport at about 6pm and as we made our way there I noticed just how modern Jakarta is. It beats any UK city hands down for uber modern malls and world class hotels. The journey to the airport took about 40 minutes and cost 90,000IDR (£6.50)
Our Tiger airways flight to Singapore was scheduled for 8.55pm, yet on the boards it showed as 8.05pm. I assumed it had been re-scheduled and suddenly a rush was on. Particularly since at CGK security is before check in, which is the only place on the planet I’ve ever seen this. At check in we were told that the flight was still at 2055. After about a second of elation I almost choked when I was told to leave the country we had to pay 150,000IDR each. (£11) I know it’s not a lot, but it pissed me off that we got robbed on the way in with the state operated Visa scam, and now upon leaving we were getting scammed again. I checked my flight details and realised we had already paid $97USD taxes and yet here we were now having to pay even more money. I don’t know why I was surprised to be honest and on reflection I suppose it was to be expected. After the Visa scam, tourist tax scam in Bali, bus scams and blatant corruption what did I really expect?
Whilst sat waiting for our light I felt a bit sorry for the genuine Indonesian people which includes about 99% of the population. They live in one of the world’s most beautiful countries. Home to some of the best beaches on the planet, they have nature that is beyond breathtaking and have a history that would rival anyone’s. Yet most tourists will leave with tainted memories of a spoilt paradise; Spoilt by greed and corruption.
As we left the runway I looked out over the bright neon lights of Jakarta and glad to be leaving behind the scams and hassle, but sad to be leaving one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
We landed in Singapore about 1hr 30mins later. We went to McDonalds and it was 1am as we sat munching chicken nuggets deciding our next move. We got a taxi to the Geylang area of Singapore which is where all the ninja cheap hotels are and also home to the red light district.
We walked around a few hotels and eventually got a decent rate by Singapore standards at $60SGD (£30) until 3pm that afternoon. We slept until midday and then headed for Malaysia.
We got the MRT to Woodlands which is the Singapore border point, grabbed a bus for $1.40SGD each (70 pence) and after a couple of stamps in the passport later we got off at City Square, Johor Bahru which is right on the Southern tip of Malaysia. A Nando’s and taxi ride later and we were at our hotel in Danga Bay. Where we hope, as advertised by the hotel itself we can stay in Malaysia, play in Singapore. Well, for the next few days at least.