Asia Indonesia

Oh Jakarta

I am in Indonesia to see if we can get sponsors for the Asian Women’s Empowerment  Conference. I thought I’d mix business with pleasure and check out the area too.

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A friend from Jogjakarta warned me about this. “I prefer to avoid Jakarta at all costs,” she said, “you’ll never get anywhere.”

I was determined however, that since I am in Java, I had to check it out. So instead of flying straight into Jogja, I decided to stop by Jakarta and see it for myself.

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I arrived in Jakarta on Friday morning. Albeit all warnings about immigration I entered the country smoothly, which once again reinforced my idea that I travel to prove everyone wrong about everyone else’s countries.

I had the good fortune of having a friend here, who is currently teaching at the New Zealand International School in Jakarta. After clearing immigration I hopped into a taxi and the battle with traffic begun.

Traffic is a constant issue in any Asian city, whether it be Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei or Seoul. Thankfully, most of these cities have excellent public transport systems that it didn’t really matter.

But oh Jakarta. I thought Manila was bad, but you are a different kettle of tea.

Upon arriving and after having had breakfast and coffee, my friend took me sightseeing. We went from south to north Jakarta, and visited Kota Tua, the old Dutch capital where colonial buildings still stand, slightly battered by age and ruin, still used as museums and cafes today.

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We visited Museum Wayang, the puppet museum. Puppets are ways of story telling through the generations, to keep the legends of warriors and gods alive. The Indonesian puppets take different forms from different regions, and the stories they tell are absolutely fascinating.

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After taking refuge in a nearby restaurant and sampling their delicious mocktails, we hailed a taxi to go home. This was 2:30pm.

Traffic is bad in Jakarta, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. As my friend from Jogjakarta said, “you’ll never get anywhere”. And it seemed that on Friday afternoon, her omen was correct. By 3:00pm, we had gone a whole 2km.

In the end, for a trip that would have otherwise taken 15-20 minutes, took us about 3 hours.

We did come home in time to a great meal at the food garden for an excellent Nasi Goreng. Food is a great restorer of the trafficked soul.

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Throughout my time here, the traffic did not ease, even if we were taking the Bajaj, the tricycles that could weave in and out of jammed vehicles. Bumper to bumper we travelled, taking in the sights and smells of Jakarta slowly. Even going through the  same suburb would take more time than usual, and for my trip to the airport tomorrow, I have been advised to leave an hour early.

Oh Jakarta!

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