The first thing that struck me as I tried to exit Jakarta’s International Airport late yesterday afternoon after clearing immigration was that there were no taxis. Not a single one. Perplexed I searched high and low with my very unyielding luggage trolley, attempting to gracefully dodge this scary looking man yelling at me in a language I could not understand. With no taxis in sight, was I meant to catch one of those packed buses with all the locals hanging out of the bus door? Surely Jakarta couldn’t be umm… this backwards? The yelling did not cease despite what I thought was my well judged inclination to ignore him, but eventually with his persistently wild gesticulating arms, I was made to realise that I had used the wrong exit, the workers exit, and I was to retrace my steps back through to the other end of the airport, to a more civilised arrival hall with ATM machines, foreigners, and taxis waiting.
The first crisis over, I was swiftly faced with crisis number two. On attempting to withdraw cash, using both cash cards and in all five ATM machines three times over, I realised neither of my cards worked. With only the sum total of £5 in my pocket it was not enough for cab. So it was to be the bus after all. My thumbs were a blur as I sent frantic messages to my bank manager during the long bus ride into town, but it would be some four agonising hours before my account was “unlocked”.
Which was why that night, after all was resolved, in a ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Moment’, I did not eat dinner, feeling all too exhausted and all too jetlagged. I woke up absolutely ravenous, but as I didn’t want to leave the air-conditioned comfort of my hotel room to brave the 35 degree heat, I only finally emerged at about lunchtime. By my count, this meant I had not eaten for some 26 hours since the noodles at the airport. Surely this justified some comfort eating once more.
I headed for the buffet at the Japanese restaurant, Keyaki, at the 5 star Sari Pan Pacific Hotel. Jakarta’s searing heat was like a surge of electricity to my system so the restaurant being air-conditioned was one irresistible draw card, that and the fact that it is rated by Indonesia Tatler as one of the best restaurants in Indonesia in both 2007 and 2008. It is styled in the usual Japanese fashion; glossy dark wood tables, lantern light fittings. Also, the presence of the atypical sushi bar is perhaps also a giveaway.