30.08.2010 - 30.08.2010 30 °C
Most travellers would not have Jakarta in their list of places to visit due to the various reasons including perceptions on the structure and lanscape of the city, volatility of situations and being the extremists targets. One wouldn't have realised that Jakarta can be filled up with interesting activities that will rile up one's travel when in this Indonesian capital. Explore the city and you will realised that this is a place not only restricted for shoppings but also with historical values, cultural distinction with other Asian neighbours, good food and not forgetting the bad and notorious traffics! If it is compared to Bangkok, I would say that this city looks much bigger, traffic is more chaotic, more shopping malls around, good public bus transport (Bangkok has good Skytrain and subway) and equally good number of nice food around.
My first stop was Sunda Kelapa harbour. This is the place where you can witness how the labourers loading the goods into and off the large wooden ships during the day time and also to see with closer eyes on those old ships which may not be seen in other ports. The port itself is not a huge one where you can take a walk from one end to the other. All the ships will be harboured along the pier where it will be mostly sandwiched between each other and workers can be seen working closely as a team in loading goods on or off the ships. This workers are working in a group of aby 15 or more people. Lorries are also moving in and out from the port area in dropping off or loading up goods to be transported to its respective destinations. Nevertheless, the place look calm without any signs of traffic congestions and there don't seem to have overcrowded labourers within the harbour area. There is a spacious concourse in between the pier and a pathway leading to the end of the port and a stroll along this concouse will be good to see how the people work. There are some shops around and also seafood restaurant but due to ramadhan, most shops are closed including retaurants. Other than this time of the year, visitors should be able to access to the seafood restaurant. Its ideal to be here early morning when the weather is still pleasant so you can walk around more comfortably. This is a place worth a visit to snap some nice photos of the old ships and the harbour landscapes.
Next I was at the Fatahillah Square. This is where the Old Fort is located or Kota Tua. A few numbers of old hostorical abandoned buildings are seen here and the highlights are the museums. There are 3 museums, The History Museum, The Wayang or Puppet Museum and the Money Museum. I visited 2 of the 3 museums, The History and Wayang Museum. The History Museum is a combination of various composition of display comprising of old prison at the rear of the museum building, antique collections on the upper floor (this is a 2 storey building) which is seperated with few rooms and a main hall which has a balcony overlooking the museum concourse with a sight of the Batavia Cafe on the opposite left side which also has a General Post Office on the opposite right side from the main concourse area. Some interesting sights including the colourful old bicycles for rent to cycle around the Kota Tua area. This bicycles are parked along the edge of the concourse area fronting the Batavia Cafe. Apart from collections of antiques, there are few inscribe stone on display in the history museum. Students can be seen in groups assembling around the concourse of this square after school hours. Also, I witnessed how some schoolgirls get excited when they met with foreign tourists, happily wanted to be photographed with such travellers and eagerly chatting up with them. The Wayang Museum is where colletions of different puppets all around Indonesia are being displayed with various sizes from big to small. Also on display are some traditional music instruments that use to accompany the performance of the puppet show. This museum building was part of the old church which had been destroyed during the earthquake in the 17th century and part of the church historic walls can still be seen at the end of the museum building. Around the vicinity of the Fatahilah Square are colonial buildings which had been abandoned, a bank that occupies the historical buidling near the Stasiun Kota (Kota Train Station) and also the Transjakarta bus station with an underground connection to the Stasiun Kota. (more on Transjakarta later).
I head to the Taman Impian Jaya Ancol just to see how this theme park looks like as this is recommended by most travel wesites. This is a place with a combinations of resorts or hotels, cafes or restaurants, boat riding for sightseeing of the sea and also a water and theme park. There is also a cable car ride to sightsee the whole park and also to enjoy the sea landscape. Also, visitors can take a walk along the pedestrian walkways build along the edge of the sea with some trendy restaurants and cafes dotting this coastline. There are some seen fishing around this area and boat rides are offered to visitors. Most Indonesians will fill up the park on weekends for a day out and during weekdays the place look much relax with thin crowds but this is also the time to enjoy the charms of this place with such atmosphere. Night time will be livelier with some restaurants seen to have stage set up for performances for their patrons to enjoy while dining at their outlets. With such a good location, the place can be very enjoyable for dinner and music entertainment.
Monas or Monumen Nasional (national monument) is a landmark of Jakarta. This place is a gated area and it is very big. Many people seen to come here to enjoy their weekend by relaxing at the park, walking, jogging, flying kites and playing football. The tower is also a symbol of independence for Indonesia. At the base of the monument is a history museum with the independence proclamation text displayed in it. Talking a walk at the park can be interesting and take a while since it is huge but worth the time. This place is worth a visit as apart from telling people you had been to Jakarta, its also a place where you can stretch out a bit through walking around the huge park.
There are various food found in Jakarta and the most commonly seen is the masakan padang or nasi padang and also satay. Nasi Padang is the icon of Indonesia and in almost everywhere, this dishes can be found easily. This is a dish that comes with varities of plate offerings including fried chicken, curry chicken, green vegetables, potato with prawn chillies, egg with chillies, rendang beef and many more other delicious choice with steam white rice. One of the affordable nasi padang restaurant is the Restoran Sederhana which offers some good nasi padang dishes. This is a franchise restaurant that can be found in most areas in Jakarta. Another interesting indonesian food is the Sundanese food with its highlight being the "tempe" made from partially cooked, fermented soybeans in various cooking varieties. Others including deep-fry beancurd marinated with sweet soysauce, kangkong vegetables, steam salted egg and steam mushroom both wrapped in banana leaf and the sundanese spicy corn soup. Try Lalapan Sunda Restarant near Taman Impian Jaya Ancol which offers some great sundanese food. The restaurant has a main eating hall and also "saung" or huts in the garden area with water fountains and small trees surrounding the huts. Good place to enjoy the food while seated on the floor of the small hut which is a kind of sundanese culture. Sate is also a famous food in Indonesia, most found on the street stalls. There are various types of sate and the common ones are the Madura style and another, the Padang style. The Madura style sate comes with various meat, chicken, beef, lamb and rabbit. The meat are barbequed until the meat is cooked but not hard, and the peanut sauce will be spread over the satay skewers before served to customers. The meat being used for sate Madura is thinner as compared to others. Sate Padang comes with barbequed beef meat and serve with specially prepared sauce with ingredients such as broth, tumeric, ginger, curry powder and salt. Other indonesian speciality foods include the "bakmi" or pork noodle commonly eaten for breakfast. This is a noodle dish that comes with noodle, minced pork and barbeque pork similar to the Hong Kong version of "wanton" noodle. In Jakarta, one most notable drink here is "teh botol", which literally means bottled tea. This is Indonesia's version of coke and can be found in almost all restaurants and cafes in Indonesia, not only Jakarta I presumed. even in McDonald's, the fast food chain here replaced coke with "teh botol" as its main drinks in its beverage varieties.
The bus transport system is Jakarta is surprisingly efficient with special lane dedicated for the bus under the Transjakarta transport company, which is known as busway. Depending on the bus conditions, some may be old and little unclean or uncomfortable due to faulty airconds but overall, the service is satisfactory. Each station has a "halte" or shelter which is a covered cube for passengers to purchase tickets to board the bus and link to various other areas including shopping malls, office buildings and tourist spots. The one that serves the CBD area is the Kota-Blok M line. The are 8 lines in all. The cost is only Rp3,500 for each line (end to end) for one way destination and is this is very affordable. The special lane also provide further value to this service where the bus can avoid being stuck in the traffic congestions. I took the Kota-Blok M route which takes about 45 minutes and I found the service satisfactory and highly recommended for travellers who are tight on their budget.
Bandung is dubbed the education city of Indonesia and produces one of the largest graduates pool in Indonesia. This city has no skyscapers and is well spread instead of concentrated in a centalised area. The weather during early morning and late afternoon can be very cold where a light jacket is required to keep you warm and comfy. Many old shops can be found in the city centre. The highlights of my visit to Bandung is the Mount Tangkuban Perahu located between Lembang and Subang, which is about 30km in distance from Bandung city centre. Mount Tangkuban Perahu is an active volcano mount and there are rows of souveniers shops between the main volcano sites to the mountain peak called Mount Bukittunggul, where you can trek up there, which is one of the adventuruos activity here. just before the main entrance to the souvenier shops, there is a large teal plantations of the left hand side. Before reaching the main volcano crater, there is a hotspring at the lower part of the mount near the entrance of the mount, which is called Kawah Domas. Most visitors will stopby to freshen up by having a mud massage, take a close watch at the hotspring or to boil eggs. When I reached here, its already in the late afternoon and the park was about to close. The weather turned rather cold due to its location which is higher as compared to Bandung, with wind blowing, it can get very chilly here. The smell of sulphur is so strong that it could get to your nose most of the time near the volcano viewpoint area. Smoke can be seen billowing from one side of the volcano too, a sign of an active volcano. Over in Bandung, one of the most important sight here is the Gedung Sate, a colonial building during the reign of the Dutch which was being used as the main office of the Dutch Indies Government Companies. The reason for the name "sate" is because the rooftop has a with 6 ornaments looked like the popular Indonesian food, satay. Nearby the Gedung Sate is the Gasibu Park which has a sunday morning market here selling all kind of goods in particular sportswear. Other activities that one can induldge in while in Bandung is shopping and enjoy some good food. One of the interesting shopping area is Cihampelas Walk which have many inexpensive jeans to buy and factory outlet at Rumah Mode which offer some designer brands at good value. The most unforgettable dining experience for me while in Bandung is the Kampung Daun restaurant which has a natural surroundings within the reataurant boundary with choice of individual or shared saung (hut). The atmosphere here can be well defined as the one that bring diners close to the nature with the man-made waterfalls, pools with many trees surrounding the huts. Not only that, each individual hut is equipped with large wooden table, large pillows and bolster where diners can have a very relax way of dining or simply just lazing around before and after the meal and chatting while enjoying the cool weather. The was a band performing at the main entrance of the restaurant. Other nice food found here are the "babi panggang" or roasted pork and "babi goreng" or fried pork which are dipped with special sauce mad from the pork blood cooked with other ingredients as well as the white pepper cream sauce.
Some of the interesting way of life for Jakarta folks is that some poor people can be very creative and with initiatives where taking advantage of the heavy and bad traffic condition, these group of people will try to be traffic controller helping the motorists getting through the predicament with lesser hassles and with that, they get some "tips" about Rp 2000 from the understanding and generous drivers, which help them to pay for food for the day.
With so many things to do as well as the great Indonesian food, this is such an interesting country and I'm looking forward to come again!