Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
We had a delightful time in Bogor staying with our acquaintances (now friends) from our home city and it was with mixed feelings that we departed this morning for the next stage of our adventure. Our friend rented a car and driver on our behalf and he was an attentive and pleasant driver who took us along the toll road almost as far north as Jakarta before moving east towards Bandung. The scenery between Jakarta and Bandung is breathtakingly beautiful with every patch of ground being used for either rice paddies, tea plantations or villages. Over these lush, green scenes tower volcanoes with ragged craters.
It rained steadily all day and this evening we saw some TV news showing flooding on the streets of Jakarta, so it’s good that we passed by without trouble. We stopped along the toll road for lunch at a rest stop. This was unlike any rest stop I’ve seen before because rather than it having just one fast food outlet and a petrol station, this was like an eating district with more than a dozen small eateries, hawker food, convenience stores, restaurants, lots of clean toilets, and a network of small streets. I had a delicious meal of Soto Ayam (chicken soup) with guava juice. From the convenience store I purchased vouchers for train tickets from Bandung to Yogyakarta. I had tried to do it online but the site repeatedly timed out and it was simple to do in the store but foreign credit cards aren’t accepted so I was guided to an ATM nearby to withdraw cash and complete the transaction with the kind and gentle attendant.
Our next stop was Bandung railway station where I converted the vouchers to tickets. I took a ticket from electronic queuing system at the information desk but then wondered if I was even in the right queue so when one of the attendants became available I asked her. She smiled at me in a heartwarming way, checked if I was in the queue then ignored my queue position and helped me to print my tickets while smiling winningly at the man who was now standing beside me and presumably was the rightful next in line for service.
The only toilets that we could find were attached to the prayer room at the station so we took off our shoes and climbed the steps, put on toilet room thongs and used the free and clean toilets. When my daughter and I emerged from the cubicle I noticed that a woman who entered with us was still loitering at the handbasin and she rushed towards us holding out her BlackBerry phone and smiling quizzically. She embraced me and took a photo of the 3 of us but the quality was poor so I took a photo of her with my daughter, then she passed the phone to my daughter to take a photo of me with her. When she viewed the photos she squealed with delight, hugged and kissed me, shook my hand and patted my daughter’s cheek. Now I know a little of what it would be like to be a celebrity!
From the station we joined the constant queue of heaving traffic and wound our way north to Lembang. I chose our accommodation using Booking.com for a 2 bedroom apartment with pool and restaurant. The apartment is very spacious and comfortable but it’s cool here and raining so I don’t suppose we will use the pool and the restaurant is a construction site so we won’t be using that either.
We felt a bit despondent about dinner opportunities and when I called reception to ask for the room service menu the lady said something quickly in Indonesian and then hung up so we headed out in our raincoats to reception to find out where we could eat. After asking several questions the man at the front desk realised that we don’t have a car and took pity on us and offered us the hotel car and driver for free to take us out for dinner. En route the driver asked if we wanted Sundanese food at a standard restaurant and because our Indonesian is limited we asked for a bagus (great) restaurant. He took us to an amazing restaurant which is like a village floating on a lake. We invited him to join us for dinner but he refused repeatedly and waited for us in the car. The ambience at the restaurant was delightful, the food was delicious and the man serving us was sweet and spoke some English . When we arrived we were the only patrons and we had to wait with soapy hands for the water to be turned on at the toilets. I assumed that we would be alone but a steady stream of people arrived including a huge group. On the way back to the hotel the driver stopped so I could buy water and when we arrived at the hotel he helped our children out of the car and I had to follow him to tip him for his extraordinary efforts to help us (all done out of kindness and without expectation of payment).