Indonesia Flag Hanging Low

I was in Bandung isolated from world news when my friends and family sent me text messages asking if I was affected by the earthquake in Sumatra. What earthquake, I asked my wife. And where is Sumatra? My wife told me that Sumatra is nearer to Singapore than Bandung and it was my turn to ask if my friends in Singapore was okay.

Looking forward, I believe that there is a silver-lining to all that happened.

Before the tsunami swept across southern Asia, Indonesia government was at war with the Aceh. The rebels in Aceh was fighting for independence. Indonesia government had 30,000 strong force deployed in Aceh.

Somewhere not too far away, Sri Lanka has issues with the rebel Tamil Tiger.

After the disaster struck, when 80 percent of the capital of Aceh was destroyed and when the Aceh government totally shut down – dead, missing, or busy looking for loved ones – Indonesia government steps in and helps. Call it political propaganda, I doubt if the Aceh conflict will renew itself in the short run.

And in Sri Lanka, both the government and the rebel recognised that something bigger than war has happened and hopefully, this will turn into something better in the future.

Something on the light side, when one of my friend sent me a sms telling me that Sri Lanka was hit the worst, I asked should it not be Sumatra that hit the worst? Apparently the statistics from Indonesia came late but I joked in return that there may be more animals died than human beings (I was not aware if there was any major civilisation in Sumatra).

It turns out the animals may have sixth sense on natural disasters. Reports have confirmed this interesting finding during this recent tsunami.

Commuting in Indonesia

It took me 1 hour and 15 mins to fly from Singapore to Jakarta. It took me 2 hours to travel from the airport to the hotel which is located at the Central Business District via taxi. It took me 6 and a half hours to travel from Jakarta to Bandang in my brother-in-law’s car.

It is amazing to learn that an average Indonesian spends so much time on the road. Take my brother-in-law as an example, every morning at 7, he drops off his girlfriend at her workplace. Then he took another one and a half hours to get to his workplace, which according to him is very near to hers. I really think that the Indonesia government should do something to stop wasting her citizens’ precious time.

Can you imagine how much an Indonesia can do with all these unnecessary travelling hours? He or she could learn something, enrich thyself, spend more time with friends and families, push the economy by spending more time and money in the mall … anything but getting frustrated in the car accepting such a horrible transport system. Cynthia told me that if by 2005 the government does not do much to overhaul the road system, the average speed in town will be 10 km per hour. Oh God.

Back to the 6 and a half hours roadtrip to Bandang, first I saw police car openning up the opposite lane so that my direction of traffic became a one-way dual lane road. Nice. But what happened to the traffic on the opposite lane? To my surprise, all the cars from the opposite lane were just waiting in front of a police blockage. I must have seen miles and miles of traffic all waiting for the police to re-open the lane. Does this really solve any problem at all?

And after some detours and some ferocious overtaking made by my brother-in-law, we were met with traffic at a crawling speed. In fact, I would say three quarter of the entire road journey was commutted at a crawling speed.

At the end of the jam, I have discovered that in this one lane that take us from Jakarta into Bandung was nothing but a T-junction (I was kind of thinking that it was a stupid traffic light that slows down the traffic). And in this T-junction, there was a big jam to the left and the road to the right was wide open (we headed right). Basically, cars that intended to turn left at the T-junction blocked all the traffics behind including those that wanted to turn right.

Duh!

Universal Studio Hollywood Is Awesome!

The Universal Studio Hollywood is definitely a lot more worthy than the Disneyland.  The special effects are a lot better.

The first one we went for was the Jurassic Park Ride.  It was awesome.  The big boat can accommodate forty people and it does look real.  Quite a few dinosaurs here and there and the final drop was awesome.  Everybody got really wet in the end.  My whole head was totally wet.  My T-shirt was partially soaked.  But it was fun.

The next ride was the E.T. Ride.  We managed to get the front seat.  Even before getting into the ride, the decoration (dark, a lot of tall trees) is great.  We were virtually “hovering” in the air.  Cars crashing in from our sides.  Police cars below us.

And then we moved onto Cinemagic.  Actually, there were three sections.  The first session talked about the show “Back to Future”.  Talk about how they filmed the scene inside the car (well, not exactly a car but only a “partial” car), how they simulated the “flying scene” with a small expensive computer operated car.  The second section talked about how they made a horror movie and the last one was about the sound effect.  All of them are truly entertaining.

Next, that was the Backdraft.  It wasn’t a ride at all.  We all stood in front of a studio and they exploded everything in front of us!  The heat was strong and it was just like a real life movie.

And the Waterworld show.  Just awesome.  They put a play with all the original settings.  Towards the last part, a plane came crushing down just in front of the audience.  Not to forget to mention about the Back to Future Ride.  It is the best simulation so far.

I can just go on forever but I am just too drunk with the Long Island Ice Tea.  Ah, we did have a BBQ dinner tonight.

Los Angeles Disneyland … Disneyland Paris Is Better, No?

Amazing that I have been writing diary for four months.  I shall keep it up.

Disneyland at Los Angeles. I was hoping that it will be better than the one in Paris but both me and Colin agrees that the former Eurodisney (now called Disneyland Paris) is far better.  The Sleeping Beauty Castle is so much smaller; even the trees seem to be bigger.  Anyway, this is the original Disneyland.  The biggest one is in Florida.

Okay, we started off in Adventureland.  The Jungle Cruise was just a laugh.  Everything (elephants and crocodiles and hippos) are so fake.  According to the guide, it was built somewhat forty odd years ago.  The next one was pretty good.  It was the Indiana Jones Adventure.  The ride was quite exciting.  I loved the last part where a giant ball was rolling towards us and we suddenly dropped.  By the way, we were riding in a jeep.

Splash Mountain was very much like the one in any theme park.  Riding on the water in a log.  The final drop and … splash … everyone got wet.

The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is definitely not as good as the one in Disneyland Paris.  The one in Paris, we have two trains going head-on-head with each other.  This one is quite primitive.

As for the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Fantasyland, it is pretty good.  A lot of spinning.  Don’t remember riding it in Paris.

The next one worth mentioning is the Space Mountain.  Very fast speed roller coaster.  But Colin told me that the one in Paris is far better.  Well …

All in all, we were kind of disappointed but it is an experience.  We didn’t take a lot of photos (indeed less than 5) and we left around three.

I just couldn’t help but thinking about JP from time to time.  The time we had when we were in Eurodisney.  I told Colin that I was hoping to forget about her in this US trip but he admitted that it is kind of hard for I will keep thinking back about the good time we had.  True enough.  True enough.

We got out of Disneyland and headed off to Beverly Hills.  Quit a long ride and we stopped by a tiny Chinese Restaurant and had a meal (at 5!).  The American Born Chinese (ABC) look so different.  Heavy makeup, dyed blond hair and perfect American English.  We parked somewhere in the middle of the Beverly Hills and all the shops are so high class.  Even the women on the street, they all look so gorgeous.  Must be a lot of plastic surgery.

Really tempted to buy the single “You were meant for me” by Jewel and send it to JP.  But as Francis said before, for every action, there must be a purpose.  If I don’t intend to get back to her again, what is the purpose of sending her the single?  The original reason of doing so is to let her know why I feel right now, but on the other hands, what do I get out from this?  Does she really care at all?  Wanted to ask Annie (when I return to Paris) if JP has already got herself a new boyfriend but then again, what’s the use of knowing or not knowing this piece of information?

Of Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam

Grand Canyon.  That was today’s plan. Well, I woke up half an hour later and Colin was very impatient.  Seriously, I need at least seven hours’ of sleep in order to be able to drive such a long distance.  And last night, we slept late.  As I have said before, if I have to get up early the next day, we better sleep early the night before.  Also, I do need to wash my hair and so on in the morning and as for him, just wash up, dress up and go.

That goes back to the first agreement that we have – a relaxing holiday.  I think, in the end, our definition of relax is different.  For him, it is less of travel and for me, it is more of sleep.

That also make me realised that the way I treated JP was not quite right.  Last time, I always didn’t understand why she needs to sleep for ten hours and I always waited at the door impatiently for her.  That is good that I feel that way now.  At least I can truly put myself into her shoes.  After all, people are different from each other and there is no way to change.  But to understand and accommodate.  Am I right?  Pity that it is a bit too late to realise this.

Therefore, I don’t blame Colin for feeling that way.  In fact, he was quiet the whole morning.

OK.  Back to the trip.  Took an hour drive to reach the Hoover Dam which is in Arizona.  The reason of building such a dam is because of the flooding of the Colorado River.  It is the largest dam in America and it is quite spectacular.  And after visiting the dam, we rush off to Grand Canyon which took us another four hours to reach.  As pressurised by Colin, I was driving at 90 mph.  Kind of quite exciting.

Basically, the national park has a few views for us to stop.  It is the most breathtaking scene I have ever seen.  It is somewhat like a very long stretch of “cliffs” and the formation of such a wonder is still a mystery to me.  Whether it is worth of driving ten hours today is still in doubt.

The West Rim can only reach by the shuttle bus.  And we managed to catch the last bus and managed to see the sunset.  While we were in the bus, waiting to return to the part centre, there was one very old couple and one young couple.  As the conversation exchanged, we learnt that the old man has been through the World War II while the younger one has been through the Golf War.  We joked that Colin should tell them that he is from the Singapore Army and get ready to start the World War III.