Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ice cream and happy landings

We flew back to Jakarta today in a small jet, that felt like it landed sideways on the runway; it certainly wasn't a smooth touchdown with the wings horizontal, and I was clenching the arm rests hard enough to leave fingerprints. Still, at least we landed and came to a halt without any sort of disaster. That's not too much to ask.

We took a car into Jakarta and checked into the hotel, a shiny box of glass and steel in the centre of town, in marked contrast to the rustic room full of geckos that we've been in for the last four nights. I assume that when it rains, we won't need to dash around with towels to stop the place from flooding. Having dropped off our bags, we headed over to the Grand Indonesia, an enormous mall, where you can have a hand-made Magnum ice cream and endless amounts of pizza.

I'm rather baffled by the concept of the Magnum restaurant. Well, that's not quite true. It's hardly difficult to grasp the idea of a restaurant that solely sells Magnum ice creams, to people sat on Magnum-shaped seating, with staff dressed like Edwardian royalty. It's a little odder when you consider that it has peppered steak on the menu (what does that have to do with ice cream?) but strangest when you see the enormous line of people queuing up to have a man dip an ice cream in a wooden stick in a vat of chocolate sauce. Why exactly is everyone in Jakarta desperate to come here?

Not that I was complaining; I've never had a pistachio-and-dried-fruit Magnum before, and probably never will again, unless the Magnum Cafe is a research station being used to check out potential flavour combinations to foist on the rest of the world.

That was the first ice cream since we got to Indonesia, and it seems perverse that after spending days on a tropical island with no ice cream, as soon as I find myself in an air conditioned mall it's the first thing I get to eat, but that's the way things go.

To finish our cultural sensitivity expedition in style, we went to the cinema and watched the new Sherlock Holmes film, which isn't as good as the old one, and then went back to the hotel, running a gauntlet of terrible drivers, men sitting on the pavement staring, and innumerable metal detectors. This is a strange, strange city.

But it has ice cream.


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