|Passing the National Monument on the way|
|The view from my balcony|
|I zoomed right in to see the famous monument and mosque behind it|
|Lit up at night|
There was a 7/11 type convenience store on the ground level so I stocked up on more noodles, packets of chips, chocolate cereal, milk and bananas.
|The view from the opposite side of the building I was staying in|
Day Three. 28.05.17.
Being a Sunday, Reza had told me that it was a car-free morning along the main streets from 6 – 11 am. At 9:30 I thought I should pop out to see what the city was like. It was a 40-minute walk to the main icon of the city, the National Monument, or Monas, as the locals call it. It was actually a very pleasant walk and there were many locals out and about for a jog or cycle along the empty roads.
I only passed one other European, and we both side-eyed each other as we walked past with the expression of “what is this person doing in Jakarta?” It was a funny moment.
|Down my street a bit|
|Jakartan Tuk Tuks|
I took my time, so as I approached Monas I took a few snaps and had to basically turn around to make it back in time before the cars came. I made a very quick stop at a Starbucks first, where I ordered a refreshing coffee frappuccino (it was very hot walking around in jeans at 35° C) and a ham and egg quiche which I wolfed down, my first proper meal in a while.
Today, as predicted, I walked back to Grand Indonesia. This became a haven I frequented often. The shops didn’t so much appeal to me, as I wasn’t interested in buying anything, but there were many local food courts (that were open!) and it was a safe place, you even had to put your bags through a scanner to enter inside. I explored the mall and found an excellent Japanese sushi restaurant, which you ordered on an iPad, and it came flying out on train-like rails.
And they sold beer! Glorious beer. I was very happy and over-ordered, but extremely pleased with my discovery.
|A very eerie morning (it started pouring soon after)|
|Inside the mall|
|I ordered another 4 pieces after this…|
Day Five. 30.05.17.
After spending the best part of the day working I ventured back to Grand Indonesia in the afternoon with the plans of visiting the Skye Bar for sunset. I had read it was one of the top things to do in Jakarta and conveniently it happened to be attached to that exact mall.
I browsed a few shops before locating the only bar in the mall called Paulaner Brauhaus. Now if anyone here knows me, you’ll know I love my German beer, and I was ecstatic to find there was not only a bar (uncommon), but a German bar here. It took me a while to find, but eventually I settled with a delicious half pint of freshly poured Hefeweizen, my favourite. I laughed when I looked around wondering why everyone was staring at me – I was the only female in the bar, and also alone, which I suppose might be strange to some people.
Afterwards, I rocked up to the 56th floor to the Skye Bar and wowed at the incredible skyline. I had two cocktails, a mango vodka and a dragonfruit margarita, both around $15 AUD each, but you pay for the view. I enjoyed watching the sky darken, but as it was super cloudy/smoggy on the western side I couldn’t actually see the sun set.
|The Skye Bar is at the very top!|
Once it was dark, I popped down to the busy local food court and ordered a delicious Indonesian chicken curry. I was the only European amongst a sea of people breaking their fast, but I was not unwelcome.
As I was out late after dark, I decided to try my hand at my first Uber motorbike. I already had the app downloaded on my phone from Australia and I didn’t need to change anything to use it. It automatically came up with the extra option to choose a motorbike.
It arrived quickly, the guy didn’t speak English, but he didn’t need to. I hopped on and at first, held on for dear life – but it was a breeze! I had a huge dopey grin on my face, weaving in and out of the traffic, and it didn’t take long at all. Guess how much that cost me? A grand total of 50 cents AUD. I was flabbergasted.
Day Six. 31.05.17.
I researched quite a bit and although there weren’t many tours I found for Jakarta, I happened to find a free walking tour on Trip Advisor that had good reviews, among the central city highlights. They do several tours including a street food tour I was interested in, but as it was Ramadhan, it was temporarily canceled.
I booked my new favourite way to get around – Uber motorbike and it was about a fifteen-minute ride to the meeting point at the National Museum.
I was the only person on the tour (I wasn’t surprised) so I basically got my own personal tour! We started with Monas before heading to the famous Istiqlal Mosque – the largest in Southeast Asia, passing some interesting streets and buildings along the way.
This was my first time in a mosque so it was a very new experience for me. Even though I was fully clothed I still had to don a robe (which was stifling hot) and you had to take your shoes off to enter. I cursed myself for not bringing socks, but ignored that and got shown around the enormous place. I was taken to a viewing platform where I was allowed to take photos (I didn’t want to be rude but I did snap a quick couple). The praying sections are segregated and the right side is for men only and the left for women. The set times for that day’s praying were all illuminated on large clocks on the walls.
I was shown the ground floors where the big beating drum is that calls the prayers and the large area where a capacity of 200,000 people can meet at one time during big celebrations. There were young boys playing around the drum and they all came over and stood around me while my guide talked about the significance of the drum. They couldn’t even say hello but they were very interested in me, this blonde girl that was in their mosque (there were no other tourists about that I saw).
Afterwards, we walked across the road to the Saint Mary’s Cathedral. They were built opposite each other as a symbol of tolerance among all religions. Even their national slogan translates to “Unity in diversity.”
The top spires were destroyed in earthquakes twice before they decided to rebuild in stone, which is why they are white.
We had a peek inside and then the three-hour tour was up, which sure went by quickly.
I really enjoyed my day and I learned so much from my guide, even where his top favourite spots in Indonesia were to travel to (which I hastily wrote down). I gave him a decent tip and Uber motorbiked back to Grand Indonesia. By my third ride, I was cruising around on the back of the bike like a pro, not even holding on. Totally fitting in (not really, I stuck out like a sore thumb). That ride was rather interesting, I was proposed to by a guy on the side of the road while stuck in traffic. That sure doesn’t happen every day.
I had one last Paulaner Hefeweizen (and the bartender impressively remembered my order) before heading back to the food court for a cheap and delicious local dish.
|The national symbol and slogan|
Day Seven. 1.06.17.
For my final day in Jakarta I was up bright and early for a day trip I had also found through Trip Advisor. I had my own personal driver and guide for the day to see more of the city.
I had shaken off my initial apprehension and wished to make the most out of my time there.
As I had already seen the central highlights, I was first taken to the Old Town Square which has the first ever building, built in 1707 which served as the Town Hall.
I then got to go inside one of the traditional West Sumatran houses I saw from above.
One part was dressed for a typical ceremonial wedding and there were traditional bridal and groom outfits on display.
I was super excited to visit the reptile park as they had a Komodo dragon and I had never seen one before. It was just a small one, but I heard all about how dangerous they are – basically, they are mini dinosaurs. There were also many different types of Indonesian lizards, crocodiles and humongous snakes, the biggest I had ever seen!
Our final stop there was Museum Indonesia, of which the outside was a Hindu style temple. It reminded me so much of Bali and I loved it! Inside were three levels of historical Indonesian artifacts, displays, sculptures, custom clothing and mini traditional rooms of homes.
|I remember learning about Indonesian puppets from Play School! (Kids TV show)|
I was told to skip Jakarta as there are much nicer places to visit in Indonesia. I definitely believed them but I still wanted to go. I try not to regret anything that I do, as it is all life lessons that you can learn from, and I learned a lot in Jakarta. It was a new cultural experience and opened my eyes to a different part of the world I hadn’t seen before.
I was impressed by their symbols of religious tolerance, but whether it is actually peacefully tolerated, I cannot be sure. I think if I had of stayed in a comfortable Western hotel and received great service, went about my tours and stuck to Starbucks and the mall, then yes my experience would have been significantly different, but my eyes would have been shielded. Staying in a local area showed me the real side of things, the streets and the real people and I did feel very exposed and uncomfortable at times, being alone and a female.
However, all was well, I kept to myself and walked about during the day fine enough and it was an interesting place to visit. Would I return again? Once was enough for me, but I did as always, appreciate my time there.
If you would like to see the highlights video I made from my time in Jakarta for Youtube, here is the link here:
One of my guides told me the locals call Jakarta the ‘Big Durian’. This made me laugh, and he said “Smelly on the outside, but sweet on the inside.” That, just like the fruit, might just be a matter of opinion!
Coming next will be my travels in Bangkok and Krabi, hope to see you there!
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