Well, we've done it. After four years we've bid farewell to Jakarta, in a goodbye-for-now way. We've quit our jobs and wrapped up freelance work, or most of it, and we're heading out to travel around Southeast Asia for three months before heading back to the US where I am set to enter grad school in the fall.
I envisioned leaving in an organized, well-paced manner: leisurely spells of packing punctuated by get-togethers with friends and philosophical blog posts looking back over my time here. Of course it turned out to be chaos. But somehow, over a tumultuous two weeks, stuff got sorted into piles, piles disappeared into boxes, and a very few items made their way into our backpacks. Sunday night we got onto the late (ie cheap) flight to Singapore to begin our life on the road.
Singapore is a good place to start, because we know the drill. Forget hotels: the expensive ones are too expensive, and the cheap ones have all the ambience of a jail cell. Go straight to the Inn Crowd hostel in Little India and get a private room.
The Inn Crowd may not be high-class, but it has heart.
The next morning we ran around doing all those little things that are easy to do at home and hard to do on the road: rescheduling a plane ticket to Bangkok, finding a bus to Kuala Lumpur. (For various reasons, it made sense to visit our friends in KL first and then move on to Thailand). Luckily, just as we got everything sorted out, a drenching rainstorm forced us to take refuge in a cafe. The coffee was gloriously strong, with just a hint of condensed milk.
By midafternoon we were across town at an old shopping mall featuring several dubious-looking karaoke joints and the Beyond Friendship Marriage Agency.
The 3:00 bus would take us on to the first truly new stop on the trip: Kuala Lumpur.