Humidity. The first sense I recall stepping out of the airport. It felt like a warm blanket wrapped around you. I arrived at the airport that is located outside the city of Jakarta at night, so it was quiet and dark--and there was no traffic. I was picked up by a driver my company sent, and we silently rode to my apartment that my company chose out for me. As soon as I arrived in the apartment, I prepared my clothes for work tomorrow and went straight to sleep.
The next morning, my first task was figuring out how to get to work. I was surprised by how convenient it is to get around Jakarta. A company called Go-Jek has taken over the city--providing motorcycle drivers, car drivers, food delivery, online payment options, and countless other services. Not only is it cheap, but it’s extremely convenient. It makes getting to work and anywhere else in the city easy for someone who isn’t familiar with the city. Getting to work that first morning was quick and efficient.
At the office, people trickled in at different times because of the traffic during their commute. Soon after everyone settled in, I was introduced to every single person in the office. There was about 3 floors with around 150 people. Although it was impossible for me to remember every person I met, the gesture was an effective way for me to feel welcome. I only stayed in the office for two days before we went on Lebaran holiday.
Lebaran (Eid) holiday is a Muslim holiday that commemorates the end of Ramadan, a month in the Islamic Calendar where Muslims fast. I was looking forward to spending a few days of Ramadan in Jakarta as well as celebrate Lebraran so that I can experience the holiday in a different country. For the first days of break I was recovering from jetlag during the day and going out to eat and explore at night. I spent the next week trying different local Indonesian dishes such as ayam satay, grilled chicken with peanut sauce. I also had different international foods that are present in Jakarta but not in Los Angeles, such as Yemeni food.
The day of Lebaran I was welcomed by an Indonesian family during the morning prayer. During this holiday, most people either return to their home cities and spend the holiday with their families. Some of them also go on holiday to Bali or neighboring countries like Japan, Singapore, or Thailand. Another intern and I tried to go to Bali during this holiday but since most people are also traveling out of Jakarta, the ticket prices are higher than normal. We decided to go during the normal pricing period, and explore Jakarta meanwhile. Since everyone leaves for the holiday, the city is emptier than usual, so we did not experience true Jakartan traffic until 1 month into our stay.