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mistybleu Jakarta - A travel report by Amanda
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Jakarta,  Indonesia - flag Indonesia
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mistybleu's travel reports

Jostling in Jakarta

  13 votes
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Stopovers can be fun and not too expensive. Although it isn’t the perfect destination, Jakarta introduced Indonesia to me the ‘adventurous’ city traveller. But what I found out was a trip to the Island of Java should be limited with Jakarta.

Welcome to Indonesia
Welcome to Indonesia
Indonesia is an archipelago made up of over 17,000 islands with only 6,000 inhabited. The five largest are: Kalimantan, which is 2/3 of Borneo; Sumatra; Irian Jaya, which is part of the world's 2nd largest island, New Guinea; Sulawesi; and the most fertile and densely populated island Java/Madura.

Indonesia is the 4th most populous nation (over 230 million inhabitants) with more than half of them living on Java. Jakarta has over 15 million residents in the chaotic Capital and is located in the mouth of the Ciliwung River. This huge city started off as pepper trading port.

The island experiences quite a lot of rainfall throughout the year, but the monsoon season is from November to April. It is very humid in the city so it is best to take a lot of light cotton clothes.

The national language is Bahasa Indonesian that is very similar to Malay. But as there are so many islands there are at least 580 different dialects and languages.

There are 3 time zones in Indonesia with Java being 7 hours plus GMT; the flying time is around 13 hours, although I’m not sure it’s possible to get a direct flight for London.

Most international flights use Sukarno-Hatta International Airport that is 20km west of city and before Immigrations there was a huge sign about the punishment that would be incurred by drug trafficking. I think it was the first time I’d seen this when entering a country.

Visas can be purchased on entry; I believe it costs $10/£6 for a 7 day entry or $25 for a 60 day visa.

In addition Departure Tax (Rp100,000 (£5.50)) has to be purchase and handed in when check-in desk.

It is best to prepay your taxi from the airport and costs around Rp120,000; I used Blue Bird as it came recommended by my hotel.

I'm not sure whether I loved or hated Jakarta, or whether I just didn't spend enough time to make a reasonable opinion; I will definitely return to make a better judgement.

Favourite spots:
Ancol Craft Market
Ancol Craft Market
Jaya Ancol Dreamland also known as Taman Impian Jaya Ancol is it the largest amusement park in the North part of the city located on Jakarta Bay. There are four main attractions - Sea World; Marina Beach, Atlantis Water Adventure and Fantasyland (Dunia Fantasi) that offers rides and attractions to keep children busy all day. From the main area there is a gondola that takes you across.

There is also an arts and crafts market which offers a fabulous collection of Indonesian handicraft, paintings and souvenirs. This was a fantastic place to speak with the artists and watch them paint or mould sculptures.

Ancol is a nice place to hang out, as you can spend part of the day in the resort before exploring the amusement park.

It costs Ph7,000 entrance fee, but for many attractions an additional entrance fee had to be paid.

What's really great:
Plaza Indonesia - great shopping
Plaza Indonesia - great shopping
I didn’t find many things to do here; as it turned out that my favourite thing to do was shopping - go figure. In fact it was a lot cheaper than Dubai and KL with was wide range of products. I first headed for Plaza Indonesia – it is linked to 3 other malls, where you can start with designer shopping before moving a little down market.

Plaza Indonesia it attached to the Hyatt Hotel and with most buildings you get scanned before entering. They have lots of designer shops including the likes of Tag, Chanel, Dolci & Gabbana etc and prices were really cheap.

Chinatown in Jakarta isn’t the same like in other countries. There aren’t any traditional buildings or names of shops in Chinese as the area recovers from the 1998 riots. Chinatown here is in the area of Glodok – a really hustling bustling part of the city where you can purchase electronic goods, hardware, technological goods and pirate software.

It can be a little intimidating but it’s what you do in Jakarta.

Monas - the National Monument
Monas - the National Monument
Medan Merdeka – from where the Monas can be climbed.

Welcome Statute – a fountain and columned statue of two youth waving, it is also the main shopping area.

Glodok – this is Jakarta’s China town and the best place to find electronics.

Sunda Kelapa Harbour – a mile long harbour that used to be the main trading site for spices. It’s a great place to explore especially old Dutch Lookout Tower.

Ancol Dreamland – theme park and convention centre.

Taman Fatahillah – the old town square that dates back to the 1600s.

Mesjid Istiqlal – the largest mosque in South East Asia

Taman Ismail Marzuki – the cultural centre for dance, drama and music.

Taman Mini Indonesia – compresses all Indonesian islands to make up an miniatures attractions.

Museum Wayang – the puppet museum displays masks and puppets from all over Indonesia.

Museum Seni Rupa – the fine arts museum located in the old Court of Justice building.

Museum Bahari – this is more of a marine museum.

Alila Hotel Foyer
Alila Hotel Foyer
I finally pre-booked accommodation and ended up at the Alila Hotel that was very pleasant and the service was great, as was the rooms, food and facilities.

They had a decent sized gym with various machines, plus a dance studio with classes held throughout the day. My personal favourite with the sauna and steam room separated for male and female.

Breakfast was included and I can only assume like in India the cost of food was cheap enough they could include it at minimal cost. They provided a mixture of international and Indonesian food; I must admit I was taken aback when I saw noodles on the breakfast menu, as well as chicken porridge, but I'm open to new experiences.

The decor was modem with wooden floor that created a homely feel. But I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad at the sight of armed guard at the entrance with scanners and metal detection units - wow

They also ensured that there was an English speaking concierge that was very helpful.

Hard Rock Cafe Jarkarta
Hard Rock Cafe Jarkarta
I didn't experience any nightlife in Jakarta, but I did go to the Hard Rock Cafe, which is quite a cool place as you can either eat, have a drink or listen to some live music. Depending what night of the week you go, depends on the type of entertainment that is offered.

The happy hour is also pretty cool - 2 for the price of 1 on selected cocktails and beers.

I’m not sure if I could tell the difference between Indonesian and Thai food as the main staples seem the same: rice, coconut milk and hot red chillies, but I had some interesting dishes.

The most popular local dish is nasi goring, satay and gado gado that is fried rice, grilled meats on skewers and boiled vegetables in peanut sauce; hmm tasty. A popular fastfood is pot noodles; you chose flavour and the seller then adds the seasoning and hot water. Now that’s definitely better than having a packet of crisps.

Padang is also very popular and for a cheap restaurant try Sari Bundo on Juanda Street - a meal for under around £6. The food is served in various little dishes, kind of like tapas and you only pay for what you eat.

That kind of communal eating wasn’t for me, so I also tried the Shanghai Storm - serving a really good Chinese food; it was little empty but I found the surroundings pleasant. Also, next door was the Buzz Cafe that served some nice cakes.

Other recommendations:
Ice-cream man
Ice-cream man
As mentioned previous I did myself an injustice not to have explored the inner regions of Java or at least ventured outside Jakarta.

To the west is Banten – a small fishing village but it has two palaces in ruins and a Dutch fortress to explore; also an interesting old mosque, museum and a Chinese temple to discover.

Plus, the island has many forests and volcanoes, at least one that erupted in 2006. In the centre of Java the town of Yogyakarta is said to be very interesting and there is a wonderful temple of Borobudur close by; which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But to explore this region I’d needed at least another three days, that would include a full day travelling or another aeroplane ride.

Then there is always Bali; every second person commented that I should have gone to Bali instead of Jakarta, oh well.

Published on Friday May 9th, 2008

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Mon, Oct 27 2008 - 05:23 AM rating by tokyomike

Very nice report! I'm feeling much more prepared for my first trip there. I'm not into shopping, but I'll be sure to get in on the food!!

Fri, May 16 2008 - 02:58 AM rating by terje

Thanks AManda!

Wed, May 14 2008 - 03:55 AM rating by confusemuse

Greetings from Jakarta! Pretty good assesment on the city...Next time you're here drop me a line. I might give you a good recommendation or two ;)
Oh, try the ITC/Mall Ambassador on the Casablanca road for great fun cheap fashion and great deals on 'fakes'!! hahaha..

Mon, May 12 2008 - 10:24 PM rating by krisek

Another excellent report; informative, practical, personal. Thank you, Amanda. And gives us more, please.

Mon, May 12 2008 - 04:42 AM rating by rangutan

Another top report full of useful recommendations.

Sat, May 10 2008 - 02:18 AM rating by marianne

After reading this I am sure we will have to visit Jakarta. So far we never went there (apart from the airport) because we did not want to visit a large metropolis on the last few days of an exhausting 6-week holiday.

Fri, May 09 2008 - 11:42 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Amanda, another of your useful and good written reports. Thanks.

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