Monday, September 3, 2012

Jakarta Sept 4

Well, it's a long road from Rarotonga to Jakarta -- or to anywhere.

The flight to Indonesia showed me how isolated the South Pacific really is..after 18 plus hours from DC, we faced another 15 hours. Flew across more of the Pacific, including New Caledonia where my father served in the Second World War. Two hour layover in Brisbane for refueling, and then out across the Outback for another 7+hour stretch.

Afraid from here on in the pace picks up considerably so these updates are going to be short. We got into Jakarta at around 7 p.m. and went straight to the Foreign Ministry where Clinton had her meetings. After about an hour and a half she and the Indonesian foreign minister (who, according to his bio, is my age and looks like a 60's Beatnik) came out and said their pieces on the need for stability and a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

We went back to the hotel and filed our stories. It was, at this point, about 11 o'clock so what to do...suggestion (as usual) was to meet in the bar, which in this hotel turned out to be the most astonishingly noisy and horrible dance club you could imagine. A bad cover band, interspersed with even worse techno, all delivered at ear splitting volume. Lots and lots of Indonesian ladies in very tight dresses and a smattering of dumpy Western guys. One beer and out -- and it was time for bed anyway.

This morning I did up a preview piece for the next stop in Beijing, and we are going to roll shortly for Clinton's meetings at ASEAN headquarters. Then, unhappily, another seven hour flight. But at least I have a good night's sleep under my belt not to mention a huge breakfast. I ate a normal hotel buffet breakfast and then realize that there was an Asian buffet on the other side of the room, so I went back and had a full Chinese dinner. The food was excellent, although I don't think I can handle back to back meals very often. The upside is we won't get much on the plane so hopefully I won't have set back the fitness program too much!

More, if time permits, from Beijing tomorrow.