Written By Kelly Silver
The first thing that hit us in Jakarta was the heat. Then the insane traffic. Our drive to the hotel took about an hour, but with no traffic it would’ve been considerably less. There were cars, trucks and hundreds of motorbikes surrounding us. We were greeted at the hotel with breakfast and massages till the rooms were ready. Ours was ready before I had a chance for a massage. The hotel rooms were apartments. We had a two bedroom with a kitchen, living/dining room, washing machine and a bonus room which the girls turned into a dance/singing/play room. The apartment was pretty large, especially by NYC standards. The complex has a pool, spa, restaurant and bar and it’s walking distance from the theater and mall.
Our first excursion from the hotel was on our second day in Jakarta. We went with two cast members, Michael and LaNette to Miniature Indonesia. It was quite a short ride, maybe thirty minutes. We didn’t know the park closed at 4pm. We arrived at 3pm, so that really didn’t give us a lot of time. We did get to see a few of the buildings. It was a good way to get a quick view of Indonesian architecture.
I’m not sure people had seen blondes before. We were constantly being asked for a photo and people were touching the girls hair.
We took it easy relaxing by the pool the following day to make sure we were over our jet lag for tech rehearsal.
Getting back into the swing of the show was pretty easy for us. Since we had an apartment this time, I changed homeschooling to the mornings before we even went to the theatre. We only had weekend matinee’s and they’re brains for school are way better in the daytime rather than the evening when we’re at the theatre.
Opening night was a huge success in Jakarta. The audience understood the humor of the show. You never know how that will be with the language barrier. Olivia had a few friends she had made on Instagram who came to see the show. We were also going to meet her friend Victoria the following week for sightseeing.
After the opening weekend we were taking a trip to the Krakatau Volcano. The drive was about three hours from Jakarta. We left at 6am, which was a little shock to the system being on a show schedule. Once at the coast we took a speed boat to Krakatau. It was raining and windy, so we were not sure if the weather would allow us to make the trip. We spent an hour of fear on the boat. It was so bumpy I thought we were going to fly off. I felt more sick than I had dune bashing. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I knew the ride was about an hour and a half. About halfway through the skies cleared to beautiful sunshine and the view of the volcano. My stomach calmed along with the storm and I felt a huge wave of relief as we watched in awe of Krakatau.
We were surprised to see a lot of vegetation at the bottom of the volcano. Mammals and reptiles also live there. It’s quite a climb to the first ridge, which is as far as you’re allowed to go. Eliana was struggling halfway up, so we stopped to take some photos. I told our tour guide that it was probably as far as she could go, but he said he would help her. We needed to see the top. I thought the view from where we were was magnificent and doubted it would be any better from the top, but we continued the hike. Thank goodness we did. The view from the top was the most stunning I had seen and we all felt we had accomplished a great feat.
In 1883 the Krakatau volcano exploded causing a tsunami which wiped out villages killing over 37000 people and injuring thousands more. Volcanic ash traveled around the globe causing the temperature of the earth to be lowered by one degree for two years. It remains one of the deadliest and destructive volcanic events in modern recorded history.
The eruption destroyed 60% of the island but the volcano activity continued under the sea causing it to resurface during 1927-1929. The Island still keeps growing and the volcano is still active today. It’s last eruption was in September 2012.
We stopped at the old Krakatau Island to go snorkeling. It was a first for all of us. I’m not a strong swimmer and I’m not comfortable in the water, mainly cause I can’t stand cold water. I figured the girls would go in and I would watch, They’re both excellent swimmers and would stay in water all day given half a chance. Again, the tour guide said this was something I wouldn’t want to miss, so on went the lifejacket and I was in the water. I instantly put my face into the water. It took a couple of seconds before I completely relaxed realizing it was easy to breath. It was so incredibly beautiful. As I enjoyed my swim with the beautiful fish around me, I didn’t realize I was swimming away from the boat. I looked up and couldn’t believe how far I had gone. We swam to the shallow part of the coral reef where we could touch it. I felt like I had been transformed into a mermaid and was at one with the ocean (or in this case the Strait).
The boat ride back was calm and enjoyable and we all enjoyed the ride home soaking up the view of the coast.
The following two weeks show schedule had nine shows per week. One evening performance on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Matinee and evening performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Our cast seemed to be dropping like flies with sickness probably from food they ate, or water. Some with sinus issues which was thought to be caused by going from the extreme heat outside to the extremely cold air conditioned theater. We had our own thermostat on our dressing room, so I turned the AC off all together. Luckily, we escaped any illnesses at all. I was very careful not to take the girls on trips in the heat on show days. We didn’t even rinse our toothbrushes in tap water, only mineral water and we only ate at good restaurants. There were plenty to choose from the mall. There was a supermarket where we could buy food to cook in our apartment, but it was more cost effective to eat out. We kept the apartment stocked with milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, fruit, bread and cereal for breakfast and snacks, but ate out the rest of the time. A meal in a restaurant was very inexpensive.
The cost of food and services made no sense at all at first. You could get a ninety minute massage at the hotel for $10, but a pack of Oscar Meyers bacon was $25. I later found out that the import tax is very high. You could get bacon for a couple of dollars, you just had to know not to get an imported brand. Of course I took full advantage of the super cheap massages. I’m not complaining.
Our only other day off was the following Monday. We spent the day with Victoria and her mom, Herlin. They picked us up around 11am and showed us pretty much the entire Jakarta in a day. Monday, isn’t particularly a good day to go sightseeing in Jakarta. A lot of the museums and buildings are closed, but it was our only day off, so we made the most of it. We started at the National Monument. Other days you can go to the top to see the view, but it wasn’t open. It was cloudy and rainy, so it didn’t matter anyway. Next was the Old Town. There were bicycles made for two which you could ride around the square. Victoria and Eliana on one bike and Me and Olivia on another. That was a lot of fun! We had lunch at Cafe Batavia. Good food and a lovely view and ambiance. I had Nasi Goreng, a traditional Indonesian dish. Olivia had pancakes and Eliana had fish and chips. Definitely not traditional Indonesian food.
We visited Ancol Beach and took the cable car ride for the view. It was sweltering hot, even the beach didn’t give much relief. As I mentioned before, everywhere we went people would stop us for photos or touch our hair. Victoria couldn’t believe how much this happened. She felt sorry for us. Eliana was really beginning to get fed up with people touching her. We all were, but she wasn’t having it anymore and gave everyone her best evil eye if they came near her. We had a day at the pool previously where a group of people were videoing the girls swimming. I had to let security know. I understand that we’re somewhat unusual there, but I found that to be very rude. I don’t even mind so much when people ask for a photo, but videoing my children enjoying themselves is just wrong. Ancol beach was pretty dirty, not somewhere to spend a day, but worth a quick visit just to see what’s there. It has a water park too, but also dirty. I wouldn’t go there.
We ended our day with Victoria and Herlin driving past the President’s house. Like the US, it’s a white house. Then we went to the mall where we ate Japanese food for dinner. We were so fortunate to have them show us around for the day. We wouldn’t have been able to see so much of Jakarta otherwise. Victoria speaks perfect English. She was the only person we met in Indonesia who did. You would’ve thought she was educated in the US.
We had one more week of shows in Jakarta, We spent the days homeschooling and swimming with our evenings in the theatre. We ate all our meals at the hotel or at the mall. More cast members were sick, so everyone was about ready to leave Jakarta by the end of the three weeks. I think for us, our worst part of being there were the elevators up to the theatre. They took so long and they packed people in like sardines. I think that was probably one of the reasons people got sick too. You see a lot of people walking around wearing face masks to protect themselves from the fumes, pollution and germs.
I enjoyed the Jakarta experience. For a big city with so many people there was surprisingly not a lot to do, so maybe a week less would’ve been good. The congestion, traffic and pollution makes it hard to travel around. I think the biggest shock looking at the city is the huge contrast. You have big high-rises and western shopping malls mingled with illegal shacks people have built to live in. I would like to have spent more time visiting other parts of Indonesia, but that will have to wait for another trip.