Sea World, which was right on the water, was clearly not going to be an option, but then, a brochure advertising the Taman Safari park caught my eye. I was sold. The travel agents, however, were not. They told me it was about 45 minutes away, and, if the water hadn't receded, I'd be unable to get there. I asked them if they minded calling the park and asking for me. Grudgingly, the agreed. In the end, it sounded like, everything was going to be a go. But I wasn't out of the woods, yet. Next, they tried to convince me I needed to rent a car to drive through the safari myself. I knew that normally people drove their own vehicles there, but, "Surely," I told myself, "a tourist attraction of this magnitude has options for people who have not yet mastered the mystery of driving on the left side of the road." I scoured the brochure and found that you could arrange to rent a car there. While driving myself around the park wasn't my favorite idea, it was at least better than driving myself through the giant, congested city, a feat I was sure would kill me if I attempted it.
So, the next morning, I ate an enormous breakfast at the hotel buffet (my plan was to survive on the two complimentary meals, provided by the hotel, a trick I learned at family Thanksgivings when we stayed at a similarly-styled hotel), and headed out to the taxi stand, where I found another one of my trusted BlueBird taxis. I told the driver where I wanted to go, and, after he checked to make sure I was serious about the 45-minute ride, we were on our way.When we got there, I assumed that there would be some check point where the driver would let me out, and I'd piddle around until I found the rental area. So I was very surprised when I realized that there were animals surrounding the car. As it turned out, the driver had opted to take me through the park himself, a considerably cheaper option for me (since the taxi fares in Jakarta are mostly based on distance traveled, rather than time - as they are in Korea) and, I'm assuming, a considerably more enjoyable option for him than his normal fares. He even drove me around the theme park part of the area, driving me up to different rides and attractions and waiting for me to finish. After the park, we made a couple stops for souvenirs, and returned to the hotel in time for me to have some dinner and do some serious work on my story (Yes, I'm still working on it. If I'd been more faithful to it, I'd probably be further along by now, but I haven't been. I can also justify it a bit by saying that I've been very anal about my edits, too, so it's changed massively since I started, which has contributed to the amount of time I've spent on it). I made the choice to stay with this taxi driver, based on one observation: It was crazy cheap to do so! I had a private driver the whole day for a grad total of $60. That, my friends, is winning.
Now, we all know it wouldn't be a vacation post if there weren't some pictures. I will tell you this, though, I forgot to charge my Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 12.1 Megapixel Black Digital Camera - 6352B001 (Google Affiliate Ad) the night before, meaning that a few minutes into the tour, it died. At first, I was very frustrated, assuming I wasn't going to get any pictures, but then I remember that I had my Penguin (Aka.. my iPhone) on me, so I used that to take most of the pictures in the park. I must say, I was very impressed with how they turned out. See if you can tell where I switched cameras (to be honest, I can't remember exactly where it happened):
A lot of people brought carrots with them to feed the animals. As a result, many of them would stick their faces right into the cars, searching for food. I shook hands/trunks with this elephant.
My brother thinks this was a bull, but I'm not convinced. All I know is that I wouldn't want to be the one to make it mad.
This tiger looked like it was pretty settled to take an afternoon nap like many of the other tigers were doing, so I leaned out the window to take a picture of it (not at all uncommon for people to do in the park). At that moment, it decided it didn't like the spot it was in, got up, and started walking seemingly toward the car. The taxi driver started yelling, "Window! Window! Close the window!" It was a hand-crank window, so I was turning it as fast as I could, yelling also: "I know I know I know I know I know!" It turned out that the tiger only wanted to pass in front of our car to cross to the other side. (Apparently that's not just a chicken pass-time.) We both giggled rather sheepishly for a bit after that.
In the baby zoo, people could buy tickets to play with/take photos with various baby animals. The only two that were awake while I was there was the white tiger and the lion cubs. The tiger had just woken up from a nap, so he was happy to play. He licked my leg and sniffed at my arm, yawning widely in a couple of pictures. All in all, he seemed rather curious. The lion, on the other hand, was very sleepy, about to end his shift. He did sniff my face, something that made both the handler and myself nervous, but, mostly, he just laid there like a doll. But I can assure you, he most definitely was real.