Monday, May 11, 2009

Jakarta Diary Day 1

With the rains threatening to put Manila underwater, I decided to leave early for NAIA. Except that it was a light drizzle. Nothing the city's clogged streets couldn’t handle.

But I arrived at the airport a good five hours before Cebu Pacific 5J 579 took off for Jakarta, Indonesia.

My media colleagues (Julius Manicad of the Daily Tribune, Joey Villar and Jun Mendoza of the Philippine Star, and June Navarro of the Philippine Daily Inquirer) arrived an hour later so we had time to chill and chat.

NAIA Terminal 3 is spacious; way too spacious that it could use some good cheer. It’s kind of lifeless. Stale and with a sterile look of a hospital.

Food choices inside aren’t much. There’s a San Miguel Food Shop where rice and noodle meals are double their price outside. There’s a sushi bar, a pasta and sandwich restaurant, there’s a coffee shop, and Jamaican patties.

I recommend you bring in your own food as well for one what’s inside (for now is expensive) and not that great. I saw some folks bring in KFC and Jollibee. Smart folks.

I know the flight takes three hours but it seemed longer than expected. As I’ve said before, I’ve got travel sickness and long rides or flights do not help. With the small seats of Cebu Pacific it was horrible for me. I had to transfer to another seating area that didn’t have its full 

complement of people. The plane has a capacity of 150 people but only 113 booked for it. Even worse, we had to endure several minutes of lousy turbulence as it was raining in Indonesia.

So it was a huge relief to finally touch down.

The Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta) International Airport reminded me of the old Terminal 2 mixed with Singapore’s Suvarnabumi International Airport. It’s kind of dated and long.

On our way to Immigration, we got to see those scanners that check for swine flu. Flu babi as they call it. Hey isn’t “swine” called “babi” in kapampangan?”

We were met by our Indonesian liaison Lola (yes that’s her name but she isn’t anything close to that; in fact, everyone’s trying to get to talk to her) who escorts us to our van for the 30-minute ride (23 klicks from the airport) to Sunlake Hotel in the Danau Permai Raya Blok C1 area. We arrived around 1:30 in the morning, which is about 2:30am in Manila (we’re ahead by an hour).

We’re all given our room keys but I stick around in the lobby where they have free wifi. In the room it’s $10 a day! I’m sharing a room with Willie Caballes  (of the Manila Bulletin) who will be arriving tomorrow night. So for tonight I have the room to myself.

The room is spacious and I hear it costs about PhP 3,000. But I figure that cost is down because we got it on discount as a part of an international delegation.

The balcony offers a nice view of the lake where many water sports are held.

But right now, I’m kind of tired to be thinking of all that. Gotta get some shut eye because it’s a long day for all.

I got up for breakfast around 7am  Indonesia time. And joined the team at the restaurant for a spicy breakfast. The food isn’t that bad but too much of this will tell on the stomach. The way I hear it, the others feel the same way too.

The drive to the Britama Arena takes about 15 minutes. Us media folks ride with the coaches in this cool van where the doors open and close automatically.

Believe it or not, the arena is inside a mall! But the venue seats up to 5,000 folks. For today’s games, I’d say that it was half full. You’ll have to check my other blog for the sports updates.

After we filed our stories at the Press Room, we went to a nearby mall to buy some food stuff for the two-week stay.

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