We landed at our first destination of Jakarta, Indonesia and realized right away the climate difference as soon as we stepped onto the Tarmac. Fans were blowing in the terminal and the humidity penetrated through the glass with the sight of palm tree landscaping. My two uncles picked us up and met us outside the airport with hugs and smiles on everyone’s faces.
On the way to my family’s house who live in the heart of North Jakarta, the lack of efficient roadways were prevalent. Motorbikes and cars flood the highways, even with toll roads that separate different types of vehicles. A 10 minute car ride without traffic easily takes 45 minutes to get from point A to point B.
After arriving to our destination we were greeted with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors. All meeting Val for the first time. It was a special moment to remember and not to mention plenty of food was prepared for our arrival to go around for days. We all chatted for a few hours, opening gifts that my family back home had requested us to bring over. And, ended the night after a long 25 hour plane ride. We have arrived.
The next day followed with heading to Indonesia’s national monument: Monas. A large structure standing at 433ft tall symbolizing the fight for Indonesia and the struggle of gaining it’s independence lies on the center of Merdeka Square. There are three levels to this magnificent building. An underground level with displays that delivers insight into Indonesia’s deep rooted history of wars, political changes, and ever evolving cultural perspectives. It’s the National Museum displaying 51 well designed diaoramas from the earliest days up to present day. The next level up is the base of the elevator with a line of people waiting outside to take the up to the very top. Lastly, we reached the top of the structure that allowed us to see miles and miles of the city with a 360 degree view. Skyscrapers that rose hundreds of feet from the ground down to the small local vendors of peoples homes. In the distance, dark clouds were looming when we first got to the top. After 10 minutes of taking pictures we were greeted with a storm shower of heavy rain and high gusts of wind. There was a line of people waiting for the elevator the get back down, leaving us exposed to the elements for another 10-15 minutes. After huddling together to stay dry the elevator finally came to take us down. We ended up sitting on the basement level to air dry and wait for the rain to blow over.
As nightfall arrived, we were back at my family’s house to recover. We were invited to go to the local market where a variety of items were being sold. To get there we walked through the streets of where my father grew up in. Friends and neighbors would occasionally wave to us. Even though we were just walking around the neighborhood I had a sense of strong connection with my father’s background, being able to experience the sights and sounds that he went through growing up. Dark alleys and structures that were pieced together with cement, tin, and wood gave off an feeling of despair. Times like this really set things in perspective for me and get me thinking of my own upbringing.