Jakarta Tales

Although Jakarta isn’t a city I had been planning to visit but hey, has there ever been a travel experience not worth recounting? To put it simply, Jakarta turned out to be a city different from what I had imagined. Maybe because I currently live in one of the safest countries/cities of Asia, people have been telling dreadful tales of dangers lurking in Jakarta to me for the longest time.

Contrary to all that, I found Jakarta an extremely friendly city. Well, traffic jams are truly from hell, and they made the Delhi-Gurgaon jam s seem like a breeze and to be truthful, we did take care not to venture to the unknown allies after dark, but isn’t that a sane thing to do any foreign land?

Bustling with life, different parts of the city move at a different pace. The downtown area where our hotel was located is fast moving, vivacious, and loud on Saturday nights. Come Sunday evening, it sleeps. Shopping is a favorite pastime, just like its neighbor, but the demographics of different malls depict which race has clinking purses in Jakarta.

City roads are wide, with the most fascinating bus-stands in the middle of the roads, with overhead walkways. The buses just glide through the bus lanes and stop in front of the on-air bus-stops that remind one of tram stations. But the best or worst, depending on your disposition, part is the carefree driving. Our driver, who seemed to know the way to nowhere, stopped in the middle of the road, sometimes on the crossroads, and waved to traffic policeman, or sometimes the policeman, to ask for directions. No one minded the rapidly building jam behind our car, and someone on the roadside would happily wave to those stuck in the jam to take over our stationary car while our driver happily chatted to find out the way to the next crossroad where he could ask for directions again.

And so it continued, our slow journey through various nooks of Jakarta.

We drove uphill to Bandung, which is supposed to be shopper’s heaven. We did not shop, unless buying two pairs of socks for your girlfriend counts. However, we had a blast at a cultural café called Kampung Daun situated amidst green trees and rocky hills, with waterfalls in the background. We got a tiny hut for ourselves to enjoy lunch, which was the local delight. I liked the fragrant steamed rice the best, however odd it may sound.

Next day, we snuck out to view something historical and ended up at Monas, the national monument. Bang in the middle of the city, it is an extremely popular monument amongst the local tourists. We could see Indonesians swarming the area, so much so that the queue to go up the tower had a four-hour waiting. Happily, we all agreed to take photos from the outside and move to our next destination, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a cultural recreational area sprawling across acres of land.

However, the thing we enjoyed the most during our short stay in Jakarta was bingeing. After the big breakfast in the morning, we usually did not feel like lunching but always ended up having dessert instead. Copious amounts of ice creams, cakes, and such were had.

Another highlight of the trip was attending an Indonesian wedding. Although a Chinese wedding, it was very different from those in Singapore. For example, the bride did not toss her bouquet to single girls. Instead, the couple tossed teddy bears to single people. And the tallest man jumped high to catch it! Most people were interested only in food and getting a photo taken with the couple on the stage. Reminded me of home. 🙂

Oh, and we also got carried away with the conversion rate and carrying millions in our pockets. For the first time in life, we all were trying to find things to spend money on. The movie ticket prices flabbergasted us, three people could watch a movie in a luxurious cinema at the price of one ticket in Singapore! Why would we miss the chance? So, we saw something terrible called “Something Borrowed.” Next day, we spent a good couple of hours hunting for things to buy – anything. Ended up sky-shopping in the end, a first for each one of us.

As I always say, no place comes without new experiences. Fun can always be had in new lands.

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