Day 225 (16th Apr) Jakarta

6 05 2011

Jakarta, nice from far, but far from nice…

Close to the bottom of anyone’s list of must see destinations lies Jakarta. As we were to fly out of Jakarta we thought it would be nice to give it a couple of nights. Rolling into town on the raised railway line and watching the city with its modern hi-rise buildings out of the window, Jakarta looked like many capital cities. In the taxi to the hotel we passed several grand government buildings, monuments and statues – pretty standard stuff for a capital city. However, in the morning it all started to look a little rough around the edges.

With below the average number of sights for a city of 9 million and the fact they are scattered across the large centre makes sight seeing a pain. Taxis are cheap and plentiful; however before you get in one you have to go through the 5 minute ritual of haggling the guy down to 1/3 to a ½ the original price. If you don’t you are faced with a long walk in the heat across a pedestrian unfriendly city fending off street sellers. Plus being a predominantly Muslim island anything short of trousers and long sleeves (in 30oC and 90% humidity) results in stares. Oh and there is the metro, which is a zoo – people hanging off the sides and kids on the roof.

We visited Istiqulal Mosque the forth biggest mosque in the world and were taken on an official guided tour by a nice guy. However, when we went to make a donation to the Mosque he suggested it was best we made the donation to him instead! We also saw the 132 metre tall national monument, Fatahillah square, Sunda Kepala plus a few other sights before the smog got to us. Jakarta suffers from very poor air quality – probably due to the crazy numbers of two stroke engines on scooters and tuk-tuks.

I was just happy to get some lovely Indonesian street food and retreat back to our hotel room for the evening. I guess you can never be told not to go somewhere; you have to find out for yourself. So I’m not saying ‘don’t go’, just take a face mask and long trousers with you.

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