City Guide: Jakarta

Jakarta? Why Jakarta? And why Jakarta for just two days? Where is Jakarta at all? – Indonesia! Questions I heard often when we came back home. Well, it appears it just arouse. Jakarta is an interesting city regarding its fast growth and the circumstances, yet it is not really a city which is known as a tourist destination. As we had a pretty great time there anyway and discovered Jakarta as a whole, it’s a good time to review the capital of Indonesia!

When we arrived at Jakarta Airport (Soekarno-Hatta), we were searching for an ATM to get some Indonesian Rupiah for the taxi to our hotel. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any, so we had to go to a money exchanger at last.

Finding a taxi was some kind of challenge as well. It’s not that there was nobody offering this service. The point is that there were just way too many. So what the challenge was to find a taxi of the Blue Bird Company – as the hotel later told us, just those as no other taxi would be “safe” for tourists.

Traffic: Crazy as hell

It took us half an hour to get to the “Grand Indonesia Shopping Town”.

Grand Indonesia Shopping Town in the dark

Grand Indonesia Shopping Town in the dark

You might wonder why this is anything special at all? Well, we found it great that there was a shuttle service complimentary from the hotel we stayed at to the mall! The thing is that we thought they must be kidding us when showing us where we would find the mall: Across from the hotel, just across the street. The street was very big though and at first glance, there was no way in traversing it. But seriously, half an hour with the shuttle just for getting on the other side?

Traffic is nothing but crazy

Traffic is nothing but crazy

Most of the time we spent was in walking speed or less. As we later found out, this was no exception at all – Jakarta is known as the city with the worst traffic situation all over the world.

Security everywhere in Jakarta

One thing you have to know about the city is that you’ll be feeling like in an airport when getting into any public building. We first thought it was something like a joke when checking in at the hotel, but the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town turned out to be exactly the same. A security check, x-ray tester before being allowed to get in and stuff like that. Ok, well then, but don’t be that surprised as we were.

Grand Indonesian Shopping Town

Things I’ve learned about this building:
– It’s huge! Try to not lose orientation (I’m bad at that anyway)
– Shops in there are very glamorous, chic and well-known brands
– There’s a big area just for food! Here you can buy exclusively food!
So, take your time and enjoy it there, even though it’s probably not any other than other shopping malls around the world.

Some sightseeing in Jakarta

Jakarta has some tourist attractions? Well, not really. If you’re interested in history, the National Museum might be something for you.
Inside the National Museum

Inside the National Museum

Be aware of the new part and don’t forget about that one, we nearly did. But it’s the one which seems to be more organized and more beautiful to see. I guess the only “real” attraction is the National Monument.
We were lucky enough to get into a demonstration when we chose the entrance, so a friendly local accompanied us to the opposite one. When he found out we come from Germany, he immediately started the conversation in perfect German with us! Sadly, he was a bit obtrusively, as he was keen on some tip. C’mon guys, not like this. If we want something like a tour, we ask someone for it.. Due to that, we told him that we were short of time (which was true), and took a taxi in order to check out of the hotel in time. Though, these are the only pictures we have to offer, we didn’t come any nearer.

Religion in Jakarta

For us, it was very strange to experience a muezzin in real. Five times a day, he asked the faith community to pray. As a result, we decided to have a look at the mosque in Jakarta. It is called Masjid Istiqlal. We had too much respect to even try to go inside, afraid that we were not allowed to. Anyway, here are a few impressions from the outside!

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Vis-à-vis, the Cathedral can be found. We are actually not talented regarding times, it was closed then. Also, some impressions from the outside.

The “real” Jakarta

The next day, we decided to go to the “Old City” by train. The commuter line is probably the very only public transportation system, which explains the traffic catastrophe: 40 Million inhabitants and neither a metro nor a real commutr bus system nor any possibility to go anywhere seriously on foot? Nope, that won’t work and it doesn’t.
The pedestrian zone (I just call it like that, don’t know exactly though) was pretty nice! The huge place we found also was.
What you could also find there were some other probably interesting museums. But as it was Monday, every single museum in Jakarta was closed.
Museum Bank Indonesia

Museum of Bank Indonesia

Anyway, we decided to walk on and have a look at the harbor. I think the way to get there on foot showed more something like the real face of Jakarta.

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When we finally arrived there, we weren’t shocked anymore about the conditions the workers have or that one guy wanted to persuade us for a private guided tour through the harbor. We declined politely.
Jakarta is hot, really hot. After walking for approximately 2 km, we only wanted to have some rest. The Marina Batavia came in sight at the right time. Anyway, I was shocked about the undescribable contrast between the harbor workers and the rich yacht owners there.
I don’t know whether it was polite of the workers to greet us every time, but it was definitely strange for us. Hey, we’re not anything special just because we look different! Obviously, we were. Just as the andongs and “taksis” were for us. Jakarta overall was a crazy experience for us.

6 Comments on “City Guide: Jakarta”

  1. Because of the colonialism which makes people in Jakarta ‘adore’ you so much, hehe 😛 no wonder. But still, the friendly hearts of Jakartans easily catched your attention, didn’t it? If you experienced once LOL.

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  3. As a local, I have to admit that Jakarta’s traffic is very bad. We deal with it every day. It’s getting worst if there’s accident or when it’s raining. We’re developing our transportation system by working on MRT project (thank God). Yeah, we don’t have that much tourist attractions. Only malls and malls everywhere. Thanks for visiting Jakarta. Really nice to know from foreigners’ perspective.

    • I’m honestly wondering how you make that every day – we needed half an hour to get on the other side of Plaza Indonesia. MRT would really be an improvement, do you know when it is planned to be finished? Yeah we found lots of malls 🙂

      • It’ll be finished gradually, in 2018, 2020, and 2024.
        For work, people go out very early to avoid the traffic. Sometimes we spend most of the time on the street instead of the place itself, haha.

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