When you mention that you’re going to Indonesia, people assume that you’re going to Bali, the Gili Islands or Yogyakarta. Bali was the final destination and it was absolutely blissful…
But first, let’s rewind to Jakarta. I spent a few days in Jakarta thinking that there would be loads to do in the capital. Little did I know that some capital cities are just not that captivating. Well, since initial plans fell through…I had to make the most of it. I thought I could go to Krakatoa or even Ana Krakatoa but there were no day tours available and the camping/hiking tours are meant for millionaires. Ahem!
There are some really cool cultural things you could do in Jakarta. I used maps.me to find some interesting locations around the city.
- Walk! Long walks around the city because you seem to find gems in all the nooks and crannies. From my experience, the city seems fairly safe.
2. China Town (Glodok). This is the place to take your camera and capture all the weird and wonderful things you get to see. It did help that I chose the hottest day to go there so I would stop for a drink of water then something would grab my attention. At one point when I was pretty much soaking, I walked into a bank and stood under the AC. The security guard was not impressed. If you’re a fan of Chinese medicine, you’re also at the right place! If you walk around long enough and get lost, you will find a quiet temple tucked away in the midst of all the excitement! You can find live mice, frogs, fish, rabbits or…you can have it cooked. Your pick!
3. Walkabouts in the Kota Tua (Old City). I sat at the Fatahila Square and people watched. It was there, where I was approached by a gentleman who was interested in my whereabouts. Then he told me about how if he had money, he would travel the world. So when he is not working, he hangs out Jakarta’s touristy centre to chat to tourists and asks them about their cultures and countries. Interesting!
There are a few museums in this area as well as a major shopping complex. Like, a few stories! This is the place to be if you want to buy a whole lot of gifts. The Kota Tua has a huge night market! Go on and devour all of the street food. I am not sure if the deep-fried banana is my thing, though.
4. About the museums…some are free and some are not (check out this website for the museums in the area). Since I can’t remember whether I paid or not for this one, we’ll just say that it was free, okay? It’s located in the Kota Tua. There is a wonderful puppet museum (The Wayang Museum) where you will be fascinated by Indonesia’s history. I was confused when I started reading Dutch but this museum stood an old Dutch Church dating back to the 1600s. Then, a man spotted started to talk to us (I was with a travel buddy) and asked if we wanted to see how puppets were made. I mean, yes, sure. Then, he led us out of the museum… Oh, come on!
Free shadow puppet show!! Yaaaay! We basically had a crash course on how to make puppets. Listen, this is a tradition that has spanned hundreds of years and we got front row seats…best part, it was a custom made storyline featuring South Africa! *wink
So, go with the flow in Jakarta. It will reveal itself to you.
Where to stay: I always use Agoda, which is related to Booking.com. Other travellers that I have met also recommend Hostel World. I would recommend Homiestay; airconditioned rooms, clean and a free breakfast. Woot, woot!
How to get around: The easiest way is to use Uber. However, you cannot get an Uber from the airport unless you leave the complex. You will need to use an official blue taxi. It’s a little pricey but you don’t want to get into trouble upon arrival.
Tips: 1. Talk to people around your hostel. You won’t find a lot of information online so talking to people is the way to go.
2. Eat all of the nasi goreng around! All of it!
3. Get chatting to the locals; friendly and welcoming people. Bonus, if you speak English, there is no need to worry.
4. INSECT REPELLENT! My Tabard saved the day. Seriously, do yourself a favour. Indonesian mosquitos love fingers and toes – the most irritating itch!