Arriving to Jakarta

“Maybe in your past life?”

It was already 03:30 in the morning in a musty hotel room in Jakarta and I was ready to start writing. A total of forty hours of plane rides and airport connections to get here had not managed to leave me with a single sleepy bone in my body. The thrill of being in Asia again was burning through my veins like wildfire.

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Jakarta Skyline at night. Photo: Yohanes Budiyanto, used under Creative Commons License

This particular breed of euphoria is anything but exhausting and I knew the feeling all too well. The moment we left home it felt like we were only coming closer to it.

The first couple of times my feet touched the ground in this, to us, such a far away land, they did so in Jakarta, surrounded immediately by the familiar faces of unbeatable hospitality and perpetual stream of smiles. In an instant, memories of my sacred experiences in Thailand washed over me.

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The Chinese New Year in Glodok, a predominantly Chinese Indonesian neighbourhood of Jakarta. Photo used under a Creative Commons license.

Then there was the negotiating. Negotiating everything from taxi fares, gizmos and gadgets on street stands, and even food in local makeshift restaurants. The air, so familiarly hot and humid, quickly glued my clothes to my body and I felt as if I had just showered in them.

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Welcome statue roundabout, Jakarta, Indonesia (Creative Commons CC By Cillian Storm)

In the taxi ride to our hotel, I hopelessly tried to make some room for my skin to breathe . I did my best to satisfy the curiosity of our taxi driver, “Yes – this is my first time in Indonesia,” I replied “but it feels like I’ve been here a thousand times”. “Maybe in your past life?” he said. I couldn’t help but wonder whether he was right.

Most of the time I have a way with words but I am at a loss for them in Asia. My thought ran amok in my mind, stuck hopelessly with a feeling of belonging.

The hospitality doesn’t take long to get to me and even in the bustle of Jakarta’s surreal jungle like traffic a sense of serenity loomed over me. Also, if you must know, a tiny corner of my heart was singing with joy and it felt like the sheer strength of the vibe would blow me to pieces.

The night was beginning to turn into an early morning, one with a long, exciting day ahead. Jakarta served as entrance and exit point for what was to be yet another amazing journey through Asia.

Our travels would start in the jungle of Kalimantan, the very next day.

Have you ever been somewhere that immediately felt like coming home again? Where was it, and what made it so familiar? Please feel free to share your stories in the comment section below!