Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours Singapore one of our most popular destinations Chaotic, crazy and crowded. But that’s what makes Indonesia’s capital so unique.
There are places you will fall in love with at first sight and some that you won’t. It’s usually the first impressions that makes us love or hate a place. But cities are like women. Some will throw themselves at you, and some will make you chase them. Which woman would you go for?
Jakarta, Indonesia is an example of the latter, you have to dig a little bit deeper to get to know her. She may seem hesitant at first and is happy to let you wait, until you take the time to properly understand her. Then, she’ll give you everything you need. To me, she might even be the unofficial queen of Southeast Asia.
Jakarta is not Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Some people say “If you don’t like her, she won’t like you”. After a few days I understood why. To be honest, after landing in Jakarta I had no idea what to expect. You don’t hear much about it and as soon as you exit the terminal you already feel lost. It is big and hot and busy. Not to mention the traffic. I didn’t really get the vibe at first. Although soon enough, I understood what the magic of Jakarta was. It is truly Asia, more so than many other Southeast Asian cities you will discover on your journey.
So here are a few reasons why you should experience Jakarta for yourself.
Jakarta traffic is more symbolic of ‘Asia’ than Bangkok and Saigon put together
Three million cars, nine million motorbikes and inadequate public transport. Experts predict that in 2014 the whole traffic in the city will collapse. During rush hour the average speed in the inner city is around 10 km/h and if you’re lucky, it will only take you three hours to get to work. The average citizen of Jakarta has his breakfast in the car on their way to work.
Yes the traffic in Jakarta is full on and you need superhuman patience and nerves of steel to survive it. But it can also have positive effects. During rush hour there needs to be at least three people in the car otherwise drivers get fined, and a lot of Indonesian mothers who normally would have trouble finding employment have taken this fact and used it to their advantage. They offer their presence to wealthy businessmen and sitting in their car with them during these peak hours to help them avoid the fine in exchange for some income. Genius.
Find a rooftop on any evening and listen to adzan, Islam’s call to prayer
My CouchSurfing host lived somewhere in the middle of the city in a typically tall building. I explored its rooftop which overlooked the surrounding areas and on the horizon was a beautiful view of Jakarta’s skyline. It was around 7 p.m. when the sun was going to rest, when the call to prayer occurred. It was such a unique experience in this city. You could hear it from many mosques all over the city. It is hard to explain what I felt at that moment, but it really left an impression.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation with 87 percent following Islam as their religion.
If people are talking about going to the ‘stadium’ they ain’t talking about football
No opinion in Jakarta is more divided than those about the Stadium. Some people love it, and others hate it. You hear many, many stories about it and it’s up to you whether you believe them or not. One thing is for sure, whenever you ask about Jakarta’s nightlife someone will mention the Stadium.
What is this place though and why is it so popular? Well, one thing that is heavily associated with it are drugs. Sure, you will find drugs in any night club in the world but at the Stadium it seems to be a continuous issue due to the fact that because most Indonesians don’t drink alcohol due to their religious beliefs, they might substitute it with a pill instead.
True or not, most of world’s top DJ’s have performed or will most likely perform at Stadium at some point in their careers. It is a great place with awesome acts and a great audience. Otherwise people wouldn’t talk about it. I reckon it is a must see and if you like good techno, then the Stadium is definitely worth checking out.
You can experience Indonesia in just one day in Jakarta
How can I see a whole country in a day by just staying in Jakarta, that doesn’t make sense. Yes that’s what I thought too. My local friends took me to a park called Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, which essentially translates to “Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park”. The park was opened in 1975 and unfortunately doesn’t really look well maintained. The lizard house especially looked a bit sad and I felt sorry for the animals. But once you’re there you get the chance to pat a Komodo dragon, even though it probably hasn’t moved since 1975.
But it’s still a great way to get to know the local culture of each province in Indonesia. You get to learn about local habits, look at different architecture, clothing, food and many more aspects of Indonesia’s culture. There is a big lake in the middle of the park with a little island in the shape of the country. If you have the guts to take the cable car you can enjoy a stunning view of it from above.
Indonesians will make you feel like a star
First of all, Indonesians are super hospitable people and they are very friendly towards foreigners. But there aren’t as many foreign tourists in Jakarta as you might think. You will get a lot of attention and the locals will genuinely be very keen to get to know you. That’s in fact amazing to me. In Thailand a lot of the locals seem to get easily bemused and simultaneously annoyed by the mass tourists, and this won’t be the case in Indonesia.
The most surprising thing was the local CouchSurfing scene though. I’d received about a hundred various emails offering help, recommendations and hosting offers. I was blown away by the kindness of those people so I decided to meet as many as I could. We organized a big CouchSurfing meeting and many local Indonesian travelers attended. Their enthusiasm was unbelievable and I made a lot of friends that day. Even a crew from Metro TV came and filmed a little documentary for the national channel about CouchSurfing.