One of my dreams in life has always been to travel abroad and, after months of planning and around a year of saving and sorting out obstacles, I finally got the chance to do so last October 2013. Two of my lady friends and I embarked on 6 days of adventure in Yogyakarta and Jakarta, Indonesia. That holiday was for me one of the crowning glories of my whole traveling experience so far. After all, I experienced so many first-time things – going out of the country, going through immigration (scary), dealing with language barrier, seeing an entirely different culture than my own, seeing structures that don’t exist in my country, and many more. From start to finish, it was a blast!
Since this trip was a first for all three of us, I was happy to do most of the research six months in advance. And finally on October 23, 2014 Day 01 of our Indonesia trip arrived and we’re excited and apprehensive all at the same time!
We got the Cebu-Manila roundtrip ticket through a Cebu Pacific promo which cost us about Php 1,230 per person. As for the Manila-Jakarta roundtrip ticket, it was still a promo costing us Php 2,640 with 15 kilos checked-in baggage allowance included. Overall, we spent about Php 3,870 per person for our flights, not a bad deal at all considering this was Cebu-Manila-Jakarta and back. ^_^
The day started early for my friend April and I since our flight from Cebu to Manila was at 6AM. The plan was to spend a long layover at NAIA to wait for our third companion Marj who is Manila-based and still had work that day. Our Manila to Jakarta flight was still in the evening – 10:55 PM.
NAIA was big and there were sections there where you can hardly see people around. We explored around a bit but grew bored and hungry so April and I decided to get out of NAIA, get across the street and find some places to eat. We also realized that, despite having exchanged some of our money to Indonesian rupees beforehand, we still needed to exchange more. So we also took this opportunity to seek out money changers.
We did manage to find a money changer within walking distance of NAIA and the guy there (who was quite handsome from what I saw of him through the counter hole) was kind enough to allow us to chill at his shop for a bit. When the lunchtime sun wasn’t so punishing anymore, we ventured out and got to explore Brgy. Villamore, Pasay some more. Since we were really hungry, we just settled on eating at an alfresco carenderia providing very simple (and cheap, yay!) Filipino fare.
After eating, we wandered around again but soon sought shelter at The Valley of Sonoma Beauty Salon and Day Spa. Yes, we haven’t officially started this trip and there we were pampering ourselves already. Some backpackers we were! haha But the salon’s aircon was really good and to make sure we could stay there for a bit, I took the opportunity to have my nails done. At least they won’t look so horrible while being dragged around Indonesia ^_^ Anyway, the salon people were very nice and their place was relaxing enough. April (or Popoi as we call her) and I even managed to take a short nap there haha! #bagagfez
After a while, we felt we were overstaying so we got out of the salon and decided to walk around to see more of that part of Pasay. We came across the Pinecrest residential buildings and as I snapped a few photos, a guard approached me and said photos are not allowed. Okay… Since it was so hot, didn’t have the energy to argue or question him so we just moved on. We got to New Port City and passed by the Emperador building. Took a few photos of the immediate city landscape and hastily went back inside NAIA for the wonderful, wonderful shade and aircon. Seriously it was super hot that day @_@
Once inside, we looked for outlets since we needed to charge our phones and we finally found some near the toilets. Since no seats were nearby and we really needed to charge, Popoi and I just decided to squat right there on the cold hard floors near the toilet and outlets. That seemed odd to us at first but we saw people farther away squatting on the floor and even lying down to take naps that we eventually were not bothered by the whole thing. We even managed to request a passing airport cleaning staff to take a photo of us, just because. Hehe
The afternoon stretched on as we waited for our phones to charge and for Marj to come.
Then it was time to face the immigration people, the first major stress point of this trip. Popoi and I were apprehensive because there are all these bad stories online about the Philippine immigration officers. We’ve read that they can be corrupt or idiotic individuals who have no other mission in life but to to hinder honest Filipino travelers from exploring other countries. Fortunately for the two of us, they just looked at our itinerary, our IDs, and asked us a few questions (I was asked what type of company I worked for and Popoi was asked if she knew some guy with the same family name as her). I tried smiling and being polite to the immigration lady in front of me, but she didn’t smile back at all. After around 5 minutes, the immigration people thankfully let us through despite our blank, virgin passports.
Note: The whole check-in process for international flights would require you to pay the travel tax of around Php 1,600 so don’t forget to include this in your budget.
Then the second stress point came in the form of us receiving communications from Marj that she was delayed due to her work and the usual horrible Manila traffic. There was a point where we thought she wouldn’t make it and how awful it would be if we fly without her. Would we even have left her behind?! Popoi and I breathed a sigh of relief though when we finally saw Marj at the immigration counters.
The third stress point was when the airport announced that our flight was delayed due to radar maintenance. Whaaat?! Popoi and I were at the airport for around 15 hours, it was getting a bit ridiculous. At around 11:50 PM we finally departed for Jakarta, Indonesia but the three of us were super sleepy and exhausted by the time we boarded. The flight took 4 hours; good thing we were able to sleep a bit in the plane.
Dawn came and we found ourselves at the Soekarno Hatta airport in Jakarta, yay! Thanks to the short sleep in-flight and the many handsome guys at the Indonesian immigration counters, I regained a bit of energy to appreciate our new surroundings. It was exciting and once again I got the reaffirmation that traveling is what I am meant to do.
The three of us dragged our sleep-deprived bodies through the arrivals process and out the airport to find a taxi that will take us to our accommodation in the city. Upon checking into our room, the three of us just collapsed onto the beds as we were super sleepy. Setting our alarms to ring 3 hours later, we drifted off to get as much sleep as we can for we have a tour to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah that afternoon.
As I surrendered my consciousness to the warm embrace of sleep, I remember feeling elation because one of my dreams in life was finally in the process of getting realized at that moment!