Tuesday, May 12, 2009

the real jakarta

ummmmm what on earth was i thinking when i opted for the cheapest hotel option near the office? now that my colleagues are gone i can't mooch off the 5-star hotel anymore so i had to switch. ok, i admit it, i didn't want to come off as posh american lady who only stays at the fancy park lane hotel, ...this place had the nicest name of them all, the maharani! it may have been grand back in the day, but i tell you it is loooong past it's prime.
take for instance, the 5 clocks behind the front desk for new york, jakarta, bangkok, london, tokyo. 4 of them have the same time and tokyo is hanging by a thread of a wire. and i think it's kept there to hide a ghastly brown stain on the wall. the daily rates board is missing half the letters, and there's a day rate for my SUPER OR J NIOR ROOM. a DAY rate. who would want to be here other than under the cloak of darkness?
to pay my bill i had to walk 3 feet from the front desk and give the man in the plexiglass box my credit card. the bedsheets have dried blood stains yet the king mattress is actually pretty nice and new. i get 2 complimentary pairs of foam flip flops! but there are burn holes everywhere, on the couches and shower curtain, along with price tags on everything. and not in a "would you like to purchase this maharani ashtray as a souvenir" price tag, but in a "break it you buy it" kinda way. sheets are worth a buck, i might steal those to get new ones.
i do get animal planet (sea otters!!), and i did a thorough check for bedbugs and found nothing. there's a mosque outside my back window uhhhllllllllugullllluuuuuuuhhhhhhhuggggullluuuuullll and check out the night stand:
the scariest thing about it - is that the buttons actually work. this is how i change channels and turn off the lights. so uber modern...for the 60s.
it stopped being funny when i noticed the special button inside the room that switches a little light outside the door - do not disturb or make up the room. i know the types of places they have these....shudddder.

part II

ok, so i'm switching to the uber fancy hotel later this week, though the maharani actually isn't that bad. it's sort of grown on me. the staff calls me Obama-lady! and they're pretty nice. i sleep extremely well and there's a tv channel that shows nothing but steve guttenberg movies in bahasa (he's gotten buff in his later years!).

in the morning there's a tasty buffet with a make your own soup station - they supply the broth and you put in all the fixins. they have newspapers on those long wooden sticks like in a public library. the other day i was rummaging in the rack for the english paper, the jakarta post, and i couldn't find it and the hotel dude is like wait wait wait! and he goes off, and returns to hands me a paper on a stick. i bring it to my table and it's the Koran Times or something in arab. he was so proud of himself, he smiled and nodded at me the whole time i pretended to read it. this happens almost every morning now.

but the maharani is in this killer neighborhood with all these tiny side streets with cats and people who skin chickens on their bike stands. i walked around the other morning and tried to take pictures, but it was pretty dicey, they were definitely yelling bule! a lot (whitey!) and there was a lot of angry grunting.

the hotel i'm going to is top notch, and we get a ridiculous corporate rate so it's only $10 more a night, totally worth it. but it's where all the foreigners stay, and in an uber fancy embassy part of town. so, it's also sortof lame, but i need a gym or a pool or something or i'm going to go stir crazy, not to mention fat. i broke the news of the switch to pak tri who's staying across the street and he says, all sadly with this big frown, "you can stay there, but you'll have to take a taxi to get to the real jakarta."

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