On a whim

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I can be a very lazy traveller at times. Figuring out all those details such as what transport to get, what accommodation to book and what activities to plan are a bit of a pain – I much prefer the idea of jumping on the next bus without any real plan, and seeing what happens. Up until now I haven’t put this idea into reality as I am always travelling with much more organised people than myself! But on Saturday I decided to make my way to Jakarta for a solo trip to see The Cat Empire perform.

So how did my ideal travel scenario fare in reality?

Well, at about lunchtime I made my way to Ciwalk downtown to see if I could find a bus (or ‘travel’ as they call it), to Jakarta. The first office I tried had no tickets until 6, but the next office had a bus leaving in half an hour. Perfect. On I jumped and away to Jakarta I went – book in hand and backpack at my feet.

The traffic up until Bekasi (a pilot suburb/town of Jakarta) was fine, but at Bekasi the traffic slowed to a crawl. It didn’t matter too much to me – I hadn’t finished my book and the event didn’t start until late that evening. Once we finally passed Bekasi the traffic opened up again and we arrived in central Jakarta with no problems.

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From here I went straight to the venue because I hadn’t yet bought a ticket for the evenings gig. They had all sold out (officially), so I was banking on them being kind and releasing a few tickets before the show! As well as that, the event was organised by the Australian Embassy and I had a few friends in the embassy who said they would try and help me out. So from the travel office to the venue I grabbed a taxi…but it turns out the venue is harder to find than you would think. My driver went around and around in circles, stopping to ask for directions and gesturing at random buildings, asking if it was the one I wanted. I could only reply that, as I had in fact NEVER been to the venue before, I really couldn’t tell him whether or not it was the right building. Eventually, in a fit of disgust I got out and walked to the venue. Much faster than that silly taxi.

Once at the venue I (along with quite a few other hopefuls), asked if they had any tickets left. As I had kind of expected, they hadn’t started releasing more yet – so they suggested I come back just before the gig started. Feeling a bit defeated I decided to go and check in to my hostel. In theme with the entire weekend, I hadn’t yet booked a bed – but I was just hoping they would have enough room. Sure enough, the little hostel had a cheap bed available – and after a delicious dinner and a quick break, things were looking a whole lot more positive.

Buoyed by this success I jumped back in the taxi to make my way to the gig. Unfortunately I hadn’t learnt from the first taxi drive and hadn’t gotten better directions. Combined with the fact that I swear taxi drivers in Jakarta are the most hopeless drivers in the world, I realised I was probably in for a frustrating drive. I had allowed plenty of time to get to the venue before the gig started (including macet), but I hadn’t calculated how long it would take to actually find the place.

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 What followed was one of the most frustrating taxi drives of my life. The first taxi driver seemed to know the venue when I gave him the address, but as it happened he really had no idea. We stopped countless times to ask for directions, took countless wrong turns and got stuck in traffic. I was furious. Eventually I told the driver to let me out (…in the middle of the road). Marching across the highway I hailed another cab. But no luck – despite showing him a VERY CLEAR map, he had no idea. We drove around aimlessly for a while, until again, I told him to stop. This time I was in the middle of a dark suburb. By this stage I was running late and my patience (already at a very low level), had reached rock bottom. My behaviour was embarrassing – the amount of doors I slammed that night wasn’t pretty.

Hailing my third cab of the evening, I muttered the address, expecting that he would also be confused. And unfortunately, he was. He dropped me off in some random complex, from where I asked people on the side of the road WHERE ON EARTH this venue was. Gesturing vaguely across the road, they said I was close. All I could do was run and hope that being 40 minutes late hadn’t ruined my chances.

And I made it. Puffed (and quite frankly emotionally traumatised), I joined the queue. Looking hopefully at one of the guys I had met earlier, he signalled ‘how many?’. When I responded with a pitiful face and ‘just one’, he ushered me over and sent me through. I was just in time to grab a much needed drink and to find my friends before the gig started.

The event had been organised by the Australian Embassy, so the venue was filled with the Australian/Indonesian embassy circuit. I met friends from CAUSINDY, from ACICIS in Yogya, and also caught a glance of the Australian Ambassador himself.

And as for the gig? AMAZING! They were so much fun and so incredibly talented! There were trumpets, trombones, singers, a DJ booth, rapping, guitars, Cuban lyrics….which all combined to make it one of the best gigs I’ve been to. As the gig drew to a close one of the girls who had organised the event signalled us over, and invited us backstage.

Yep, backstage with The Cat Empire. And what did we do? We sang karaoke alongside these crazy musicians. Did Shania Twain feature? Yes, yes she did. Great times, great times.

The following morning I caught up with my friends again at Social House in Grand Indonesia for a late brunch. The food was delicious, and the view was preeetty cool. From brunch I met up with another friend for a final coffee before making my way to the Travel office – I hadn’t bought a ticket (of course), and I had no idea what their schedule was. And unfortunately, the first office didn’t have a bus leaving for another few hours. Undeterred and relaxed I got a taxi to the next office – and they had a bus leaving in half an hour. Perfect, once again.

Zipping along the highway back to Bandung I put my feet up and closed my eyes. Had my idea of going on a trip with nothing organised been a success? Was the freedom worth the moments of frustration?

I thought yep, definitely.

Fay x.

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