Jakarta – a flying visit to Indonesia’s Capital

Indonesia’s capital has about 10 million inhabitants, counting in the surrounding municipality, this number triples up to an astonishing 30 million. Located on the northwest coast of Java island, Jakarta – formerly called Batavia by the Dutch colonists – has evolved as a trading center around a huge harbor.

Nowadays, Jakarta is the financial center of the country, and in the last decades, sadly, the focal point of political violence in the country. We delve into this lively city for a short 2-day-trip!

What a madness! Jakarta immediately reminds me of the capital of another huge and culturally diverse country in this world: New Delhi, India. The streets are dirty, the traffic is a chaotic swirl with a constant background noise of honking, and the sights are… well… not that attractive. Add in a pressing heat under a foggy-smoggy sky, and you get pretty close to the harsh reality of this city. But let’s focus on the bright side, as we want to have fun! Like everywhere in Indonesia, people are very friendly and curious and food stands wait on every corner with some inventive interpretation of a tasty Indonesian dish.

We do not spend much time in this huge metropolis and choose two areas which we explore within our two days stay!

Sunda Kelapa – Jakarta’s old port

First of all we spend the rest of our arrival day in the harbor neighborhood, where we visit the huge and rustic jetty full of impressing transport ships. Curious workers hide in their ship’s shadows from the intense afternoon sun.

Right next to the port we get lost in the maze of small alleys around the fishery market. The only shops that are open now sell souvenirs with a musical or a maritime touch for reasonable prices. Hence if you are looking for your own Angklung or Indonesian flute, this might be the place to make a good deal!

Near the harbor the former Dutch East India Company warehouses from colonial times now houses the Maritime Museum Maritime Museum. What a blessing to stand in the windy shades of an open warehouse door! Indonesian maritime history and some local schooners are on display. Also walking through the beautiful building gives an impression on the trade volume that the East India Company generated here.

Kota Tua Jakarta – Jakarta old town

Next day, long city walk! We enter the main plaza of “old Jakarta”, called Kota Tua. Immediately we are captured by endless groups of Indonesians with cell phones: It is selfie time! After 30 minutes of a total rock star feeling we finally manage to escape our questionable fame. We continue the sightseeing tour through the ancient colonial quarters of the city. Some very beautiful museums open their gates towards the main square. You choose if you like to see handicraft in the Fine Art and Ceramic Museum or if you better study some history in the Jakarta History Museum in ancient functional buildings from the Dutch colonists, Jakarta has it all.

After a short walk through the old streets we get lost in a rustic living quarter. A lot of kids are playing in the dust in between drying clothes and tiny sweet shops. The next narrow gangway suddenly ends up into rails and a big crossing, where we find our way back to our hotel.

There is a lot more to Jakarta that we missed!

As we missed out the opening hours we did not make it to the Merdeka square , but I mention it here because it has a rich and varied history as railway station, market and, nowadays, parade place. A lot of museums stand around the concrete-covered windy place.

We have absorbed enough of the hot and tasty metropolis and for the calmer Yogyakarta, in the evening…

travel tipp infoHungry in Jakarta? Keep your eyes open for narrow streets in between the Skyscrapers because many small food courts hide here. They offer authentic, delicious Indonesian street dishes.

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There certainly is much more to Jakarta than we could figure out in such short time! Share your ideas and experiences on what we missed out in Jakarta!

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