. True, the traffic situation was chaotic, but it was mountains of fun zipping around the city in a 'bajaj', a motorized tuk-tuk, and even the buses had their own designated bus lane, which suggested to me that at least some attempt had been made at slicing through the gridlock. Shopping options abounded, ranging from the teen-centric (Blok M), to the upscale shopping mall (Taman Anggrek), and I was getting drawn into a world where consumerism had the upper hand, and actually formed an entertaining and absorbing whole. Hats off too to the creators of Jakarta's Sparks Hotel, which came across as clean, modern, funky, and well-equipped, especially for the price per night I had paid for the room. The 'rough and ready' elements of the city, such as the dockland development of Sunda Kelapa, made for an authentic window on Indonesian working lives, and a sideline day trip to Bandung city, the drive-in volcano at Tangkuban Prahu, and the hot springs at Ciater was a perfect way to make use of a one-day driver hire. So, as the guide books rightly pointed out, Jakarta really is the urban equivalent of the foul-smelling fruit, the durian, which so many cannot stomach, but others (like myself, I concede) cannot resist.
At a cursory glance, the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta comes across as one of the lesser-likely travel destinations, yet my philosophy of never judging a book by its cover led me to happily include the city of Jakarta as an add-on to the main portion of this trip, an 8-night stay on the island of Bali. Upon arrival in the city of Jakarta, in the late evening, it seemed like city life was a slice of urban chaos, which enthralls some and tends to repel others. My keenness to work my way around all of the Asian capital cities before l'm through made me see through all the reports of grime, corruption, intense heat and mad traffic congestion, and see for myself what unbiased opinions I could form about the highly populous Indonesian capital city. One of my very first constatations was that, despite the frenetic lives that the residents of Jakarta lead, nobody was indeed hostile or impolite, and the city lacked the snobbish aspects which blight a few too many capital cities whose residents seem to think that they live in a city where inhabitants of the rest of the country can only dream of aspiring to