We arrived in Jakarta at night and checked into the hotel. Dad was tired but he sat and watched me eat. The hotel was totally intimidating. There were guys with guns at the gates and a metal detector (which my Dad walked around with no problem). The whole place was on this ridiculously large scale with 30 foot ceilings and apparently no guests. You could hear a pin drop in the dining room. It was beautiful but unnervingly large and quiet.
Paul (Kelly’s Dad) was right. Before I left on this trip he had sort of a puzzled look about why we were going to Jakarta. He also said something like “I hate Jakarta more than anyplace on earth.” And, while it’s not the worst place I’ve ever seen, it ranks highly on the boredom to population count meter. Jakarta has a greater population than any other city in Southeast Asia (~8.5 million people) but there is nothing to see. Like, nothing. Except for Obama’s elementary school, which was the first thing we saw right away with our guide.
It was soon apparent that our guide rode the short bus to guide school. He was utterly retarded. He’d give open-ended awkward questions like, “I think you must be smart if you want to be president. What do you think, John?!” That was the other thing. He kept saying John over and over again. It’s so awful. “What do you think, John?! What do you think, John?! What do you think, John?!” I don’t know what I fucking think. At the first museum we went to he asked me if Shiva was a Hindu or Buddhist god. I told him Hindu, but that’s not my job. He was very confused about the guide/tourist relationship. I’m the one who asks questions about things we see. He later asked me what kind of writing one inscription was written in. I said, “sanskrit.” He asked if I could read it. I said, “no,” and he seemed disappointed.
There’s an interesting phenomenon throughout Indonesia. Indonesians will offer you two options when only one is valid. After the first museum the guide asked if we’d like to go to the national monument next or another museum. We agreed we’d like to see the monument. He said we’d go to the museum and then the monument. Why did you ask, then, tool? Later in Bali, our waitress at a restaurant asked my Dad if he’d like a large or small beer. He said large. “We only have small.” “Ummmm….small then.” I feel like they want you to be extra happy if you select the option that will work. But we never did that.
Then we went to the puppet museum which was awesome.
Finally, we went to the national monument, another cookie-cutter phallus of power that every good civilization needs for the bi-annual international dick-measuring games. The guide took us to a massive row of Indonesian history dioramas under the monument. Each diorama was poorly-lit but had English captions. So the guide red the English captions in his head; pointed at them and obscured them with his hand; and then translated them into unintelligible broked English. FAIL. When we left, he offered to take a picture of us in front of the monument. Unfamiliar with “zoom,” he backed up for a few minutes until it appeared he had us in the frame. This was the result.
Nice work, asshat. All you have to do is get the two tourists and the phallus in the picture and all you get is us and a building of unknoqn height to the left. MASSIVE FAIL. We went back to the hotel; bid Mr. Mensa adieu; and talked about how stupid he was over dinner. Next up was Borobudur and Prambanan in Jogyakarta.