September 7 – 8
I left my home in Tennessee to begin my journey to Jakarta, Indonesia. My flight was delayed out of Dallas, Texas so I missed my connecting flight to Jakarta once I landed in Hong Kong. The airport was very well organized and there was already a hotel room and boarding pass ready once I stepped off the plane. Despite the hospitality, I admit that I was slightly disappointed about the delay and the feeling seemed to be mutual among other travelers in the same situation. However, three of us started talking and decided to make the best of it and travel by rail to see downtown Hong Kong. After experiencing the enormous and beautiful city, I was thrilled that I had the opportunity to see another country – impromptu.
After landing in Jakarta, I was greeted at the airport by a familiar face, Yoga (the fellow I hosted in May) and his wife, Dena. They spent the rest of the afternoon showing me around Jakarta. The first thing I noticed was the quantity of people living in Jakarta (10 million!) and their resourcefulness to share small spaces.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to join the next YSEALI cohort at the US embassy. Ambassador Donovan shared some of his thoughts about the future of Indonesia with the fellows.
Today is the Islamic New Year, a recognized holiday in Indonesia, and we celebrated by visiting the largest mosque in southeast Asia, Istiqlal, which means “liberation”. It can hold up to 200,000 people and took over 25 years to build.
After Yoga brought me to a restaurant called Siang Malam (“Day and Night”), where we tried many different dishes including Rendang (beef dish) and sirsak (a yummy fruit drink). I even tried Otak (cow brain in coconut milk), which was actually pretty tasty. After lunch, Yoga showed me an area of the City that is being revitalized with new infrastructure, which I can certainly appreciate since I am in the Public Works Department.
I met with the Ministry of Marine Fisheries and Conservation, and was invited to listen to a discussion on management of Marine Protected Areas (MPA). They have many challenges managing these areas including cooperation over multiple jurisdictions, protecting migratory species, and managing exotic species – just to name a few. The Fish Quarantine Galley across the street showcases some of Indonesia’s biodiversity and educates the public about exotic species like the American catfish that are currently problematic in Indonesian waters.
We also visited the Marine Heritage museum where I learned about ancient trade routes, uncovered artifacts, shipwrecks, and their protected areas.
There is so much delicious food in Indonesia, it is hard to choose.
View from the National Monument.