“Let’s go to Bali, and be a millionaire.”
Nu, a freelance reporter from Vietnam, told us. “When you go to Bali and have your money exchanged with Indonesian rupiah, you get seven-digit cash.”
“Yes, that’s true,” agreed Jen, an Indonesian journalist in her early twenties.
“Oh, that’s cool!” I responded.
After almost a year, I still think of that conversation. We had this plan to go to Bali and have fun. We met in a climate change reporting training in Cambodia.
Days and months had passed. Still, there was no trip to Bali. Life gets in the way, as they say. My interest in Bali had started to fade, too.
Until recently we got reconnected through LinkedIn. So I asked her: If I go to Indonesia, where would you take me?
“Jakarta.” (That’s where she’s based.)
Then she named foods and places we could try and visit, from this famous street food goat fried rice to the old town of Kota Tua where we can go to museums and old buildings by Sepeda Ontel, an old bike in Indonesia.
How about the banana chips?
That’s in another province (Lampung), but we can find resellers in Jakarta. Jen gave me and another Filipina in the training chocolate-flavored banana chips before we went back to the Philippines.
Thanks to my lack of company during our first night in Cambodia. Jen, together with Sugi and Him who are also reporters from Indonesia and Cambodia respectively, welcomed me to their group.
My first dinner with them was an introduction to Khmer noodle dishes, as Him volunteered to be our local guide. Our second dinner: we ate ipil-ipil (a stomach cleanser) as an accompaniment for oyster.
In the Philippines, though, it has other uses. “We use this in cleaning concrete floors!” I couldn’t help but say it. Him acted like he was offended, and we all laughed out loud.
Those moments reminded me not only of the good times we had in our free time in Cambodia but also that we could be friends. She, Sugi and me.
In the meantime, I’ll have glimpses of Jakarta through Jen’s travel piece, Traveling in your own backyard, published on Jakarta for Global Indonesian Voices as I scout for cheap flights.