1-24 Ringing in the New Year with Guinness in Jember, Indonesia

We spent New Year in a hotel bar in Indonesia. This might sound like we spent it alone, having not ventured out, in fact it was quite the opposite.

Late night, or is that early morning? in the rain, like you do on the New Year’s

We left our hotel to find a taxi in the rain. After fifteen minutes, we determined that there were an insufficient number of taxis on the road, at which point we went back to our hotel and asked them to call a taxi. Fifteen minutes after that, we were in a taxi with a “broken meter.” In Indonesia, taxi drivers tell you the meter is broken so they can over charge. This is particularly used against tourists. Lucky for us, we were going to meet our two PCV friends. That meant, they could argue with the taxi driver in Bahasa, making it much less likely we’d get scammed. We hoped.

After a wrong turn and a phone call to the PCVs which got passed to the driver, we found them. They then noticed that the meter wasn’t working, which caused a bit of an argument. The PCV in the back with us quietly muttered, “If we get out and give him money, just jump out.” The driver and the PCV in the front seat reached an agreement and we continued on our way.

We were planning on going to a club, because why not. We arrived at the club doors and it looked swanky. We sent the best dressed of us in to scope out the scene. He came back out 60 seconds later and jumped back in the taxi. It had a $10 cover fee and a dress code. Not our kind of place. (A $10 cover fee is steep for Indonesia. We were both eating entire meals for $6-8.)

Chow time!  The low tables were standard for street food stalls.

We continued on, at no additional fee from the scammy taxi driver, to a slightly less swanky hotel. The month before, the PCVs had found cheap drinks there. They had increased their prices for the evening, so it was $3 for a giant bottle of Guinness, instead of $2. The PCVs were disappointed. We were delighted to have Guinness.

We spent the next three hours drinking Guinness and discussing politics, corrupt governments, educational policy, the importance of fiction, and other such weighty topics. I also got a serving of banana fritters topped with chocolate sauce and parmesan cheese. I know it sounds weird, but I promise, it worked.

A few minutes to midnight, we started a countdown on Jason’s phone. At 20 seconds to midnight, our companions interrupted the band to get the countdown going. Since we were the only ones in the bar, that wasn’t really a problem. We toasted the New Year with double shots of Johnny Walker.

Sorry it is blurry.  Long exposure + Alcohol = Difficult.

The bar was trying to close, so we decided to leave and go find some food. We ended up at a park of some sort that had wonderful patios lined with food stalls. It took a few tries, but we found one that suited our PCV friends and ordered food. Indonesian food is perfect drunk food and fairly vegetarian friendly. I had fried noodles with veggies and egg.

We walked from there back to our hotel. We got in at two in the morning, like one should on New Year. I woke up with a minor hangover, which was justly deserved. Luckily, it didn’t last long since we were on a train from Jember to Surabaya to Jogjakarta at 10:30 in the morning.

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