So on my flight to Jakarta I made friends with a guy who was originally from Indonesia but now lives in Taiwan. I talk to him in Indonesian for a few hours. It was a great warm-up for my arrival in Jakarta.
When I got to Jakarta, that nice man pointed me to the wrong line. I had about 45 minutes to catch my next plane and the line to get through customs was horrible. I was the only white person in the line, so I thought something must be wrong. I asked people where to go, kinda panicking, but then each person told me to go to a different place. One guy pulled me aside and was like.. hey I can help you.. you need to get through fast right? OK. Just pay me 200,000 Rupiah. (like 20$ USD or like 20 meals worth of food in comparison).
I instantly told him it was corruption (korupsi haha) and then was saying, what is this, "pajak bule?" (which is kinda like saying "What is this, gringo tax?") So he got scared because you can get in a lot of trouble and I was starting to panic more and more. Nobody would help me. At the end I was getting desperate and still had no idea and finally someone who I had asked maybe 5 times felt bad for me and let me through the pilots entrance (pretty much no line to get through).
At that point I had about 30 minutes to get through customs and get to my flight.. BUT. I still didn't have my suitcase. I did not want to leave Jakarta without my suitcase. After having a 30 minute panic attack searching for my suitcase, I met a few other Indonesians that also came from Salt Lake City a lot earlier than me and didn't have their luggage. I gave up on my flight. I got past that pretty fast and thought I had to buy another ticket. Those people eventually helped me find the office to report missing baggage and I made a report. After making the report I needed to look for my next airline and see if something could be arranged. There was some guy who brought me to the counter and they said I could make the next flight that left in 10 minutes. Somehow he got me through customs within that time (where they really didn't check me) and then we went up some shady elevator.. (there was a sign that said it was for handicapped people.. haha!)
Then I had to get through security again, and I knew I was cutting it close. I got on the plane and it actually was MY flight, somehow magically delayed for me, and we left right after.
When I got to the airport in Semarang, I was looking for the guy that I had arranged to meet. All the sudden I felt a tug on my backpack.. In Indonesia, if you feel a tug, it usually means something is missing from your bag, ...or it was a diversion and your wallet is gone. So I gave him the dirtiest look I could manage and stopped somewhere to check my bag.
Turns out, that was the guy that I was meeting (I confused him with another driver I had met before in Jakarta with the same name -Sam, so I didn't expect him. I recognized him.. he was just messing around with me on purpose. I felt like a jerk, but whatever. We left on his motorcycle, (really fun) and I re-experienced the crazy traffic and weaving and everyone constantly playing chicken, but for some reason I wasn't nervous. I guess I'm used to it. He remarked how other Americans usually freak out and that it was a nice change.
I wanted to go eat but this guy only cared about using English and wanted to give me a mini tour. He brought me to a money changer and we ran out of time. Crap. I have to go now.. will continue later