Thursday, April 21, 2016

Halo Jakarta! Fun Facts I Learned During my Stay in Indonesia

Monas (Monumen Nasional)

"Halo" means "hello" in Indonesia.  In Spanish, it's "Hola".  A simple exchange of vowels transforms the word into another dialect.  I noticed that because I just recently written a post about my trip to Uruguay.  Traveling is a good teacher but it is quite expensive.  So, save up, the memories that you acquire when you travel is irreplaceable.  Lucky are those people who travel a lot because of their work (wink).

My trip to Jakarta was memorable not only because it's another cross out from my bucket list but also because of the friends that I have met there.  I went there to undergo a long but rewarding 21-day training.  I garnered 3 major certificates:  ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), ITLS (International Trauma Life Support) and Remote Site Medic Training.  Yahoooo!  I was the only doctor in my group, so I felt a little bit of pressure, it would be very embarrassing if I fail an exam (lol). Most of my classmates were Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai medics and nurses.  We were divided into two groups.  The other group also has a doctor from Bali (Dr. Cintya).

Our classes were only done during the weekdays, so we had some time to see the city during the weekends.  I was the only Filipino, but fortunately an Indonesian nurse (Winsy) knows how to speak my dialect with perfection.  I was so surprised.  He graduated from Mountain View College in Bukidnon, Philippines.  I really admire people who can learn other dialects, it's not easy.  I know a good chef in my workplace who speaks 5 languages.  Wow!

Our hotel, the Pejaten Suites
We stayed in a pretty neat hotel called The Pejaten Suites.  My room was large and we had free wifi.  The hotel also has a small pool where we had small parties every now and then, just hanging out, listening to music during our free time.  It also has a small gym where I dragged myself everyday (hehe) to have some exercise.  I had a good time there.

Just like any other hotel, there was free breakfast.  Indonesian food is very delicious, I love it!  It's like Filipino food but more spicy.  For 21 days, I ate nasi goreng (fried rice) everyday!  So, I ate fried rice with egg.  The next day, fried rice with chicken and then fried rice with beef and then back to egg and the cycle continues.  They don’t serve pork because majority of the Indonesians are Muslims.  They also served fried rice with goat’s meat but I didn’t try.  Each order of nasi goreng always comes with krupuk (deep fried crackers) and some vegetables.  I was relishing the taste, the mixture of the spices blow up in my mouth like firecrackers, that’s how excited I was every time I eat.  There was a small restaurant across our hotel so my Malaysian friends (Irwin, Faiz and Sazre) and I eat there almost every night.

Nasi Goreng (fried rice) with Krupuk and some vegetables

One order of nasi goreng costs 35,000 Indonesian Rupiah.  Yes, you read it right!  Indonesians must be probably very rich, right?  Well, some of them really are.  I’ve seen expensive cars in Jakarta which I haven’t seen in my home city.  Going back to the price of the food, the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) has a very high exchange rate with the US dollar.  As of press time, one USD is equivalent to 13,000 IDR.  In comparison to the Philippine peso, one dollar is equivalent to 46 pesos.  So, that explains why.  One of my colleagues in the rig also said that they have the same situation in Romania but their government did an economic overhaul and took out 4 zero’s from their currency.  In Indonesia, you have to prepare 50,000 IDR if you want to eat in a fancy restaurant and that’s just for one order!

As I have mentioned before, majority of the Indonesian cuisine is spicy but I didn’t expect their snacks would be spicy too!  We were served with snacks during our training and I was so surprised to discover that one particular ingredient is present in every snack:  a small green pepper.  It doesn’t matter what kind of snack they serve, the small green pepper is always there.  I didn’t eat it for a couple of days but I became so curious.  I know for a fact that eating a small green pepper would be a disaster but I tried it anyway.  It was not as hot as I thought it would be unlike the ones we have back home.  The taste actually augmented the flavor of the main snack, ingenious. 

My Malaysian and Indonesian friends understand each other, they speak the Bahasa language.  Regarding, physical appearance, we have the same features, although our Thai brothers have fairer skin and look more Chinese.  Thai names are hard to remember and definitely hard to spell (55555).  So, we just call them by their nicknames. In Thai language, the fifth number is pronounced as “ha”, so when we laugh in our text messages to each other, we simply put 55555, it’s easier.  Attitude wise, there isn’t much difference.  Asians are generally polite and sometimes passive.   But we can also become crazy too, 5555! 

The view from the top of Monas
The only Indonesian landmark that I was able to visit was the Monas (Monumen Nasional).  It is a very lofty tower, 132 meters (approximately 40 stories) high.  On top of it is a gold plated flame-like structure.  The obelisk is a symbol of Indonesian struggle for independence.  It is located in Merdeka Square, Central Jakarta.  We waited for two hours just to get to the top.  There is a single elevator which will take you to there.  Claustrophobics be warned.  It was a great site up there, you can see the whole stretch of the city.  It was actually funny because we only stayed 15-20 minutes at the top.  After taking some pictures we decided to go down.  The long wait made us really hungry and we went straight to the mall. 

I think Jakarta has a good public transportation system.  We rode the bus going back to our place and there was no traffic jam, buses have their own driveway separate from other vehicles.  Very clever.  Inside the bus, men and women do not sit together.  In small streets though, you can experience traffic jam because of the great number of motorcycles.  I haven’t seen so many motorcycles in my whole life, the flow of motorcycles never ends.  And I also remember that it is dangerous to cross the street because the vehicles drive at the left side of the road, I got confused where to look, and the myriad motorcycles are just very fast!  Whew!

International SOS training center with Mammos, Black, Irwin, Sazre,
Ekamon, Saman, Dr. Cintya and Phong
I hope you had a glimpse of Jakarta through my words.  I had fun and you know what, I became a millionaire there after I exchanged my currency in the money changer.  We all became instant millionaires (wink)!

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