Oh my god, its so hot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trip Start Sep 10, 2010
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Trip End Feb 19, 2011


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Where I stayed

Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Last but not least, our stopover in Jakarta, before heading to Borneo tomorrow.

13 million people live in the city, 23 million in the greater Jakarta region, and we think all of them brought their cars into the city today. We are staying just 1km south of the heart of the city Medan Merkala. Again, we take issue with rough guide where its described as “a square kilometre of sun scorched grass.” Nothing could be less true, its an enormous park, with lots of green spring grass, masses of trees, interesting monuments and on its edge sits Mesjid Istiqlal mosque, the largest mosque in Asia and capable of holding quarter of a million worshipers - that’s a big building.

The city itself is surprisingly clean, though utterly traffic clogged and over flowing with people - though its people in no rush to get anywhere and there is little jostling for position as you’d get in New York or London at busy times. Perhaps it’s the heat that keeps then relaxed - we have been to some warm places in our time and on this trip, but my goodness is Jakarta hot. It makes Madrid in August seem like a Nordic city - as you leave any building its like a wall of solid air blasting into you. The humidity in the mornings is ok, surpassingly low seeing as we are just entering the wet season and are only just south of the equator, so wandering around is bearable for a while. Its so hot that after a time you think the inside of your clothes are wet with perspiration but by the time it reaches the outer layer its bone dry to the hear. Afternoons is when the heavens open and boy does it rain hard here, humidity shoots off the scale and everyone is moist - not nice J

All the travel books really do dis the city rather unfairly in our view. Sure its big, noisy, hot and congested and lacking in much for the tourist to see, but there are a couple of nice old Dutch style squares, the old port is interesting (for 2 minutes) but the highlight is the puppet museum. As you may know, they love puppet shows in Indonesia and the museum in Kota (Old Batavia) is a definite must see. We even bought some puppets to take home - you can see them being made there and really its not half as dull as we know it sounds.

Food here is close on double the cost of other places in Indonesia - we just had the most expensive dinner on our trip so far. Nearly 20 for more than we could eat, definitely the best food we have had in Indonesia (which in fairness is not saying a lot - this is no culinary centre of excellence) and so it was nice to have such a meal on our last night.

If there is one thing Jakarta is great for it’s the public bus - traffic is simply horrid everywhere you go. But they have built two lanes in the middle of the major roads and these are blocked off by a small wall from the rest of the traffic. One bus company owns these lanes, and for less than 30 pence you can travel right across the city in no time - they have raised platforms in the middle of the roads with two entry points to the bus. The first is for people with kids, elderly, disabled or anyone needing a little more time. The bus arrives and opens its doors first at this entry point, the people get on the bus, the doors close, it drives on 5metres more and the rest of the people get on. None of the buses are allowed to get overcrowded - a conductor controls the door and only allows certain numbers on and nobody minds as it keeps the bus a little free of crowds, and you know that the next bus is no more than a couple of minutes away. Other big cities could learn something here about bus travel.

So, tomorrow we have morning for a wee bit of last minute sightseeing and shopping to spend our last few hundred thousand Rupiah (there are 14,450 rupiah to the British pound) so you may feel rich with a wallet full of paper, but then you realise that one beer costs 30,000 Rupiah and then you come back down to earth. Its off to the land of the Orang-utang tomorrow - can’t wait to see the orphans.
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Comments

Martyn Timmer on

YAY for Dutch colonialism! Shame the food isn't great, us Dutchies still eat a lot of Nasi and love it!

Can't wait to visit and can't wait to see you soon! Have a safe trip and stay away from vulcanos, ok?

Jan on

Yeah! Well funny on the creepy puppet! You just couldn't help yourself could you?! I'm with Cheu, I think you were a right girl being scared of a lil' 'ol volcano....pah!

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