Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jakarta Phase 1

After nearly two productive weeks in Padang, we headed to the big city: Jakarta. We scheduled a few more meetings regarding more information on Padang’s soil structure, the earthquake modeling used for the inundation map, and one with a Dutch engineering firm that worked on designing vertical evacuation structures in Aceh. Details about those meetings will follow, but now I just want to describe Jakarta generally and our experiences there.

We flew in on the 6am flight out of Padang after a somewhat late night since it was Veronica’s last in our little home, so leaving at 4am was tough. In the taxi ride we were able to see the sprawl of the city and its strange mix of high-rises and slums. From the freeway we could get an indication of the extreme inequality that exists in the city that contains 90% of the GDP of the fourth largest country in the world. Off the highway, getting closer to our hotel, we got a good taste of the ridiculous traffic crowding the streets at all times of the daylight hours. We stayed at a nice place with hot, running water and flushing toilets (needless to say, we were all a bit out of our element). We got into the elevator, and just pushed buttons but nothing would work! Finally, someone realized that we need to put the key card in first: that experience was the start of the four of us (Veronica, Lucy, Andi, and I) calling ourselves, the village people. We did not belong in the big city.

From Padang Summer 2010

The rest of the trip was filled with malls and taxis, a few meetings with the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Department, an engineering firm that design evacuation structures in Aceh, and a researcher who had just finished the meeting about the new seismic maps of Indonesia (yay), great breakfast at the hotel after going to the gym and swimming, and a whole lot of laughter about how much we embarrassed ourselves by not knowing how to properly act in Jakarta. It was a very fast trip and we had a lot of work to do, so there was not much time for touring except the national monument.

New meetings are posted as well for those of you wondering what "work" we are actually doing.

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