Travelling in Jakarta is not for the faint-hearted and most especially the curmudgeon because snail-pace is the norm of driving on the sardine-packed roads, which wasn’t the case about five years ago. Living in Bekasi and heading to Jakarta for business or recreation was a matter of an hour’s plus journey, give and take spots of traffic snarls. But the last two years has made the journey even more trying than usual. Take, for instance, my trip to the Philippine Embassy on Jalan Imam Bonjol. It was a two-hour plus derriere-numbing trip that was all the more made insufferable with the loud sighs of the driver.
“We are in Indonesia, Pak,” I wanted to remind the driver, but decided against it unless he saw it fit to throw a tantrum.
A traveller in road in Jakarta entails being armed to the teeth. I always have a book in my bag; my friends have their iPods. But there are times when these two weapons fail to calm agitated nerves so a pit stop to a cafe would do the trick. There really is no use of being a martyr on the road plied with cars at bumper-to-bumper. The travel time to the Embassy was longer than my business in the embassy, which took less than 30 minutes so afternoon tea at Hotel Mulia, located at close proximity to the embassy, was in order.
Hotel Mulia would be a vade mecum of mine if it were a book. It is relaxing being in the hotel at the end of the work day, which is why a gal-pal of mine, when she was still based in Jakarta, made it her watering-hole. The Cascade Lounge, its vast floor area replete with chesterfields suffused with pillows, was very inviting; the soft lights and carefully situated davenports created a special nook for every wearied traveller. A trio of women musicians, resplendent in their shimmering bedazzled turquoise gowns, serenaded the frazzled guests lolling on the sofas or gazing at the manicured jungle landscape fitted with a mini waterfall beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. It was the perfect place to past the time sipping tea and slicing through a piece of strawberry shortcake after nibbling on prawn spring rolls and chicken wings.
I can’t think of any better way to wait for the infamous Jakarta traffic to untangle itself. Can you?