Once Around The Sun

38022 km


JAKARTA

I remember a geography class in my elementary school when with fascination I used to study the atlas. Indonesia seemed so far and remote that I thought there is not a chance that I will one day get there. Yet here we are, catching a flight from Singapore to Jakarta and so Java becomes a reality for us. A little bit wary too, Bali has a record of bomb attacks every now and then and just in January 2016 Jakarta has suffered a terrorist attack. We try not to think about it as shit could happen anywhere and it could take up any form when it hits the fan...

First obvious thing is that Jakarta is not Singapore. As we make it to the city centre the modern buildings that are scarce are enveloped in a slum like quarters. City is dense, streets are busy and traffic is not restricted to roads only. On the top of that the constant flow of cars, buses, bemos, motorbikes and bicycles does not seem to acknowledge the traffic lights, the difference between red or green or the stripes of a pedestrian crossing. A little bit like Saigon, just cross your fingers, step out, move slowly and let the traffic envelope you. The city is huge and the suburbs surrounding it are immense. Jakarta counts 10 million souls without and 30 million with suburbs included and there is still not many of the tourist attractive places within. Of course that means that the metropolis is not spoilt by the many tourists visiting and you will have a good idea of daily life. It is possible just to sit down and immerse yourself in the fast but relaxed everyday life. With the lack of some kind of purpose we set out towards the National Monument and National Museum with plans to visit Masjid Istiqlal mosque and Gereja Kathedral Jakarta if time permits. Since we made base in a so called backpackers area near Jalan Jaksa it seemed all within walking distance. What you need to know about this 'backpackers area', is nothing you have seen or would expect in any other metropolis. There is a handful of homestay's a couple of restaurants and a couple of bussiness hotels down the road, is centrally located and close to train stations, but that's about it. One morning upon requesting a breakfast in one of those restaurants the personal told us to go ahead and prepare it for ourselves. Majka did take up the challenge and prepared us a few slices of french toast. Of course we paid our bill including tax and service charge...

Even those few things we set out to see the first day were no too tourist friendly, many close at 2-3pm, which left us staring up the monument thinking whether is worth coming back the next day. Unfortunately curiosity got me and the next day I've spent 2 hours in the heat of the day, waiting for that one sorry lift to carry up 10 passengers at a time. There is also no way of buying a bottle of water in the whole area of the monument and the park surrounding it, for which I would like to shake managements hand. Job well done! On the other hand, the architect drawing a 132 metre tall National Monument plan with a single lift and no other means of escape route is a genius on a whole new level. Probably the same level as the one who signed off the regulations. These things would be unthinkable in Europe and for that reason alone it was kinda worth it, even though the new birds eye perspective left me a bit unimpressed on one side, but is also a good experience to come in terms with the wast size of Jakarta. It feels like a fusion of Saigon and Yangon, but leaves something to desire. People are nice but not simply sweet as the Burmese and the traffic is hectic but much more careless for pedestrians than the Vietnamese ex-capital. It is also a bit filthy and the whole of it looks a bit tired. Probably the best day was our last day when we took a train to the 'old city'. We didn't realise the extent of excitement from the local tourists, who swamped around us in hope of getting a photo with us. We've never experienced anything like that and at first it was funny, but soon it become quite annoying and we had to make a run for it. We 'run' towards the Maritime Museum and the fishing market that turned out to be quite picturesque. Upon walking around the fishing market we even got lost and wandered around one of the slums. It is difficult to watch children play in their own dirt while we were so lucky to be born in Europe. Again, that's a different story...

Although not super exciting, Jakarta is under the radar of many travellers and for that reason it is interesting. People are not used to tourists and the city has a few quirks only experience can educate. Surely this is also a good place to visit, but now we look forward to explore East Java...

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