Sunday, 19 September 2010

Jakarta in a day

Those of you who read the last blog will know that I was about to set off – with another examiner – with the lovely Angke on a guided day trip round Jakarta. You’ll also remember that I described her physically in glowing terms.

Let me adapt what I said then; firstly the name Angke was actually her version of a shortened version of ‘Angela’, but with a hard ‘g’. I’m not sure how to write that – Anggy? That just looks strange, so I’m going to stick to Angke if you don’t mind. Or even if you do mind.

The second most striking thing was that taking her out of her work clothes – if you see what I mean – turned her into any other 18 year old. Attractive enough, yes, but nonetheless just another 18 year old who had volunteered to take two middle-aged foreigners round the city. Someone the same age as my daughter was trusting someone as potentially dodgy as me. And a friend.

The third most striking thing was that when we met in the hotel lobby at 11am, the other examiner and I asked if we should look for a taxi, or whether the hotel had organised one for us. Oh no, said Angke, we were going to go in her car. Her car? But;
    1. she was 18, working as an intern in a hotel – how would she be able to afford a car?
    2. we were standing in the lobby of a hotel with no car in sight
    3. driving in Jakarta is only for the insane
She soon put us right. It was fine, she said, her driver was going to take us round for the day. Would it be ok if we went round in a Honda City? Her driver? And there was a choice of car? There were now far too many questions and the other examiner and I tried to avoid catching each other’s eyes, but this was promising to be, well, interesting.

Angke's driver. Racing goggles not shown
Her driver turned up outside the hotel and we all piled in. Our itinerary was simple: this other examiner had found an article in an English language newspaper written by some Javanese pop princess about what her perfect day would be if she were to spend it in Jakarta. That would form our plan of campaign. Visit those places.

As we set off, I tried a few simple sentences in Indonesian and asked a couple of questions. Angke was impressed… my Indonesian accent was very good, apparently, and didn’t sound English at all.

I relaxed… here, clearly, was a girl who showed good taste, discretion, and was prepared to lie in order to be polite. Things were looking up.

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