Poffertjes and Power

Continuing my search for a place to plug in and work at airports, I was pleasantly surprised to find that HSBC has laid out the red carpet for its Premier account holders, at least at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport. If you have one of their fancy accounts, anywhere in the world, you and your partner can partake of their lounge services.

It’s all a bit new, and, dare I say it, charmingly Indonesian: More people (three men watching one female doing the work) were involved in making my poffertjes (a Dutch batter treat popular in the former colony) than there were actual poffertjes:

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HSBC’s Poffertje-Making Team (4)

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HSBC Poffertjes (3)

But that’s not to say I wasn’t pathetically grateful. Food is never good at these kinds of places, so that the HSBC PMT (Poffertje-Making Team) took such care with my poffertjes was in itself a cause for celebration.

What impressed me, though, was that there was ample room there to work — several little cubicles, a couple of actual offices, and, blow me backwards, lots of power outlets — either in the walls, or in the floor. Like these, which pop up at the flick of a little switch. No Wi-Fi or anything, but you can’t have everything. Well done, HSBC.

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First Impressions, Last Impressions

What’s the first and last thing you’re likely to experience in a country you visit? And what kind of lasting impression is that going to leave?

Jaktoi

Cigarette-burn marked toilet paper dispenser (empty) at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport, April 28 2007

Sintoi

Toilet paper dispenser at Singapore’s Changi Airport, April 28 2007

Investment in tourist attractions, advertising campaigns and big ticket infrastructure projects may lure visitors, but chances are they will remember what hits them first and last. If you want to win visitors over, bathrooms at airports might be a good place to start.

Travel tip: the practice in an Indonesian bathroom, by the way, is to yell out ‘paper please’ (‘minta tissu’) to the attendant once you’re perched in the cubicle. He’ll then hand you some under the door.