38. Undesirable Residence

Jakarta Bound is a travelogue about life in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in South East Asia.


The next morning I got up to have my morning swim, but the band on my swimming goggles broke when I was putting them on. Nevertheless, I swam anyway. A bit of chlorinated pool water in my eyes for one morning couldn’t hurt. Well maybe a bit of chlorinated water wouldn’t have hurt, but whatever anti-bacterial agent the pool maintenance staff used to sanitise the pool water at Centro City managed to temporarily blind my right eye. I was squinting like Popeye on the busway journey to Podomoro City and for about an hour afterwards. But blind in one eye or not, I was determined to find an apartment.

I followed the same routine as I had done the day before, albeit with a visual handicap and a little less enthusiasm, but all I got were the same responses: Twelve month contract and money up front. The best offer I got was a six-month contract, but that was still with the money in advance. It was pissing me off because I had asked Sally the recruitment manager if I would be able to find decent accommodation on the salary EF were paying and she assured me it would not be a problem. So far choices were looking extremely limited. The only glimmer of hope came right at the end of the day when I met with an estate agent who told me she had a couple of two-bedroom apartments available for 6,000,000 IDR on a pay-monthly basis. Not exactly within budget, but at least I wouldn’t be committed. If something came up at a later date I could always move out, so it was worth a look.

Sammy Ming was a little dark-skinned Indo-Chinese woman who worked for Vivi Properties. She had no connection to the other Vivi (whose name isn’t actually Vivi) and did not look quite as trustworthy. Sammy Ming was a shifty-looking woman with narrow eyes, badly drawn, old and worn tattoos up her arms, and a set of teeth that were little more than rotted, brown, stumps. Her office was a bit of a shit tip too. There were stacks of old fashioned furniture piled up everywhere and even more of this old junk stacked up behind a long screen that split the room in two. The walls were decorated in old, garish wallpaper and there were a series of cheap paintings of Jesus hung up on the walls. I think these paintings were artistic depictions of the Stations of the Cross, but I’m sure there were some missing and they were definitely not in the right order.

Sammy Ming had a couple of units to show me that she was prepared to rent on a monthly basis. The first one was a shithole in Mediterania 1 that was dank, dull and horrible. The walls quivered with a scurry of movement as soon as the door was opened as a gang of little half-grown roaches rushed back to their cracks. I was surprised this dwarf-like woman even had the gall to show it to me, let alone keep a straight face whilst doing so.

The other place she had to show was a two-bedroom apartment in the Mediterania 2 complex. This was much nicer, but it wasn’t as nice as the one that Vivi was offering in the same block for 500,000 less.

After two days of apartment hunting things weren’t looking good. Belgian Jeff had extended his deadline, which led me to believe that he didn’t have anyone else lined up to take the place. Nevertheless, I didn’t really want to share a place with someone I hadn’t even met yet and parade of random people dropping in for short stays as and when his online bookings came in. No, that was not an option; therefore, to avoid shelling out too much on rent I had to try and get Simon to agree to sharing. The week before when we had met at Loewy’s I had completely forgotten to talk to him about it, so I sent him a text message to see if he was still interested. His reply came straight away and he still seemed very keen on the idea, so we arranged to meet in Loewy’s again later that night. This time I was going to make sure that we did actually discuss the apartment before either of us got too drunk to make any sense.


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