Friday, October 28, 2005

Indonesia de Experience

So what, gitu loh....

Indonesia, HERE I COME!!!

Indonesia is a great experience for me. I fly to Jakarta for business trips since January, with more than 80 of my business partners. I knew I have nothing to fear of since I have been there before. News from mass media about bombings and riots exposed Indonesia as a dangerous country to visit. On the way to airport and even in the air, my business partners were still doubtful about the security of our destination country. However, my mind was clear and I knew it wasn't that bad. And all of us knew we must go for the sake of the business.

Stepping down was great. Although we were welcomed by frowns of those immigration officers but it was later unveiled, the smiles of the 250 millions Indonesians. Never judge a book by its cover, never judge a country by its news and immigration officers.

As we were ferried by a Kijang to our hotel in Central Jakarta, we passed by "Apartemen Teluk Intan", which is still under construction. "Wow, that was great! My hometown Teluk Intan is even in Jakarta!", I told myself. The huge bold letters, measuring about 15 feet tall, decorated the construction site. It made me feel just like home.

The traffic was really bad. The vehicles are not even crawling, most were stagnant for a long period of time. We finally reached Aston Hotel Sudirman, a five-star serviced apartment, after about 2 hours drive. Imagine, coming to Jakarta from Kuala Lumpur is only 2 hours!

As we ventured along the cities, we realised that Indonesia has so much to offer. "Selamat Datang, bu!", the waitress welcomed us with a warm smile. The variety of food is astonishing, even the Pizza Hut there offerred extended menus than it is in Malaysia. Any food, French style, Japanese style, Italian style, you name it, they have it. The fact that Indonesia itself has so many provinces, trying the food of each province can be endless. Food can be found everywhere! In the food court, shopping complexes and even the road sides are filled with food stalls. Food in Jakarta is a little expensive but in Bandung, we had grilled fish, grilled squid, grilled prawns with rice and a drink for only less than US$3. Specialties like Pucuk Waluh and their ginger drink called Bandrek were still in my mind.

We were addressed as Bapak (Mr.) or Ibu (Mrs.) or Mbak (Miss) or Mas (Boy). Most of it is almost the same with Malay Language in Malaysia but Bahasa Indonesia has a very smooth accent that is comfortable to the ears. Different provinces have different dialects just like Malaysia as in Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan dialects are slightly different.

Indonesians are basically friendly people. They smile a lot and treat foreigners really well. They tend to make friends and develop relationships before we can start to talk about business. However, Indonesians are hardworking lot, mainly because of the crisis that they have been through and the huge population in Indonesia opening doors for stiff competitions. Most people really work hard in order to be recognised or to be successful.

In this place you can see the filthy rich and the poorest of people. Walking into Plaza Indonesia, a plaza almost filled with branded stuffs, you can see how the rich Indonesians spend their money to pamper themselves. On the other hand, it is always sad to see children who lived under the bridges, holding umbrellas during rainy days. They scout around for by passers who need the umbrellas. Once a person took an umbrella to protect him from the rain, the children will just follow behind. All drenched, the children patiently wait for tips from the person who reached his destination dry. Sometimes as we were stuck in the traffic, we can see children with a tray of newspapers or other products. They knock on car windows to sell their products everyday.

In a foreign country, I came to appreciate how much better we are in our own country. There is no place like HOME. Although the food is a variety, I still miss our Asam Laksa and Nasi Lemak.