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March 9, 2009 Semarang, Java

Written by GingerBlossom Published in

The best laid plans..... I thought I'd be in Jakarta tonight - ha - When I got to the Semarang Airport, there was not one seat available today to Jakarta. Not with Garuda, nor Mandala, nor Lion air, nor Batavia. I was told that this was because of the long week-end, people had taken off. No problem getting a ticket for tomorrow morning, so on the bright side, I get to stay at the (in)famous Hotel Candi Baru here in Semarang. Lonely Planet describes it as " a magnificent, rambling old villa with panoramic views of the city, shabby but good value". Kareem, the Lebanese Brooklynite simply calls it haunted.

I paid the extra $2 ($15 instead of $13 a night) for the deluxe room. The room itself is OK, with 14 foot high ceilings, beautiful tiled floor, but a nothing special lumpy bed and funky 50's furniture. The Deluxe comes in to play in the bathroom. It's a split personality from the bedroom, the bathroom had the Oberoi Royal Face Lift last year, and it's a 5 star bathroom, with marble floor and walls, recessed lighting, huge glass walled shower, etc. I've got my own balcony too, with ancient low chairs, and incongruously, a huge executive desk.

The Candi Baru is a bit away from the town center, it's way up on a hill. I'd love to walk around here, but it's like Beverly Hills - no place to walk, no sidewalk, people stare if you're walking, not driving. People stare in town too, but at least there are sidewalks. I did learn a handy phrase - jalan jalan - which means to take a stroll, an eccentric thing to do, but as a foreigner, eccentric is almost expected. At least when I get to Bali, I can jalan jalan to my heart's content.

Later - the executive desk on my balcony is not so weird after all. I'd popped across the street to a kiosk for a book of matches to fire up my anti-skeeter incense, and couldn't resist buying a pack of kreteks, the package was so cool, all retro red and white. So now I'm sitting outside at the desk puffing away on my kretek (can't inhale, these are straights, not filtered) but the smoke clouds are doing way better at scaring bugs than the puny incense stick does. Lucky that I didn't get the flight that I wanted. It had just flashed on the news that the Lion Air flight Semarang/Jakarta had spun out on the landing and slid off the runway. They had the fire trucks out on the runway, and the inflatable slides to unload passengers, but it looks like everyone is OK.