Elephant No. 14: Jakarta, Indonesia 

Today has been a huge change of scene from previous weeks: it’s been goodbye to China, goodbye to my travelling companions Katy and Ali, goodbye to all my favourite dumplings and aubergine dishes, to my good friends Waygo and Pleco, and to wearing short shorts – but hello to Indonesia, hello to solo travelling, and hello to a whole new culture, language, and cuisine (I’m particularly excited about this latter matter!) 

My first impressions of Indonesia have been through Jakarta, the noisy, busy, traffick-y, sprawling capital that everyone told me I’d hate. In fact, I’m loving the fact that it’s worlds away from China, and particularly from Hong Kong with its squeaky clean feel. I’ve been using a fork for the first time in months (!) and have been reduced once again to utter incomprehensibility as regards the language – not to say our Mandarin was particularly good, but now I’m re-discovering that a smattering of language is infinitely better than none at all!

Anyway, back to the elephant. This lovely bronze statue stands outside the National Museum in Jakarta, next to an Indonesian flag, and was a gift from the King of Thailand in 1871, which has led the museum to have the alternative name of Gedung Gajah (Elephant Building). Unfortunately, due to the length of time it takes to traverse anywhere in Jakarta, I only managed to get there half an hour before closing so only got a brief glimpse of the stunning ethnographic collections housed inside, but the elephant made the brief trip worth it.

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