JAKARTA, Indonesia — I may have stumbled on to the cure for jet-lag: Lots and lots of exercise.
Since arriving in Jakarta, I’ve been treated to some of the most exhilarating moments of any trip in recent memory — all on two wheels. One particular stretch of bicycling, I told Josh, was probably second only to running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, back in 1992. Except here, the bulls are motorized vehicles and they don’t instinctively jump over you if you happen to fall.
With a handlebar-mounted Canon G9 (more on this later), I relished taking video of the insane traffic that includes entire families of four on mopeds, pushcart merchants who dart out in front of you with amazing agility and buses belching diesel exhaust for your breathing pleasure.
At one point, Josh decided we would circumvent gridlock by biking in the controlled-access, bus-only lane. It seemed a good idea until the point when he looked behind us and yelled, “You’d better haul ass. The bus is coming.”
Coming from the normally cool, calm, collected Josh, the urgency was doubly notable. Here we were in the equivalent of an express lane — or maybe more like an urban bobsled track — and bus drivers, unaccustomed to barreling down any street fettered, make the most of this opportunity.
Josh quickly zoomed ahead, as if rocket-powered. I fumbled with the bike gears for seconds that stretched out to an eternity and pedaled my heart (and legs) out with the fear of Zeus in me. (I tried uploading video of this, but my Internet connection is still wonky.) Approaching the red light, I finally heard the bus behind me, horn blaring and engine rumbling.
There’s no way the bus driver would mow down a whole gaggle of mopeds, minibikes and a couple of cyclists, I thought, then quickly cursed myself for possibly having jinxed my relative good fortune.
By the time we finally met Josh’s wife, Dian, and a local Jakarta rapper at a restaurant, I was speechless with an endorphin/adrenaline rush.
Although I had stayed awake past midnight every night I’ve been here so far without any symptoms of jet-lag, it only occurred to me this night that pure physical exhaustion was, perhaps, to thank.