On March 6 2013, my good friend and travel buddy Jan and I finally made it out of the expanses of Java, and into Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Arrival in Jakarta was a long time coming – It’s a city I’ve heard about continuously for years. Two close friends of mine have moved there for extended periods of time, and I’ve seen and heard all sorts of different accounts of the city.
For some reason, prior to my arrival, the image I had in my head of Jakarta was a distinctly rough one. I had heard that it was a rough, crowded, loud city. I heard stories of local women befriending whites guys very quickly. I heard or crazy bars, crime, and everything else. And for some reason, the image in my head was of a city of rubble – much like the depiction of the city of Mogadishu, Somalia in the film “Black Hawk Down”. So that’s what I was preparing myself for. But what Jan and I found was a much different place.
Jakarta turned out to be splendid oasis in Indonesia. Yes, it’s crowded, loud, smelly, and dangerous. But it’s also refined, beautiful, peaceful, and depending on where you go, quite safe. I felt welcomed to Jakart with open arms by the Indonesias I befriended – both my wonderful hosts at the EXCELLENT Six Degrees Backpackers Hostel, as well as the cool kids who reached out to me on CouchSurfing.com.
A brief note on Six Degrees Backpackers Hostel: It’s great. Really great. Out of all of the hostels I’ve stayed at around the world, Six Degrees definitely ranks up there in the top 5, if not the top 3. If you’re traveling to Jakarta and looking for an inexpensive hostel atmosphere, with great other travelers to meet, a super social atmosphere, clean, quiet accommodations, tasty food, and the best staff you can imagine, stay at Six Degrees. The location is not the absolute most ideal, but taxis are cheap, and what Six Degrees doesn’t have in location, if more than makes up for in charm and comfort. Stay at Six Degrees, it’s great. Find Six Degrees on Tripadvisor too.
Jan’s stay in Jakarta was a quick 2 days, and then I was on my own for the rest of my time there – however by “On My Own”, I mean surrounded by the nicest people, excited to share their city with me. A few pics from Jakarta:
Arriving in Jakarta, Jan and I took a walk around town – through a few peaceful riverside enclaves.
And then the Tuk-Tuks started. These three wheelers are everywhere, with their maniacal drivers trying every trick in the book to get you inside. Prices are crazy, and the driving style is even crazier. Fun for a quick experience, though.
Jakarta’s Istiqlal Mosque – the largest Mosque in SE Asia. From Wikipedia:
Istiqlal Mosque, or Masjid Istiqlal, (Independence Mosque) in Jakarta, Indonesia is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and has the highest capacity. This national mosque of Indonesia was built to commemorate Indonesian independence and named “Istiqlal”, an Arabic word for “independence”. The mosque was opened to the public 22 February 1978. Within Jakarta, the mosque is positioned next to Merdeka Square and the Jakarta Cathedral.
The mosque is a beautiful structure, and the constant hum of worshippers walking around is even nicer. After taking off our shoes, Jan and I were given a personalized tour of the place, including the main worship room, which is huge.
Taman Mini Indonesia. What a weird place. This once great park tries to embody all aspects of indonesia culture into one park, and includes houses built in the styles of all of Indonesia’s tribes and regions. Centrally, it features a lake with islands in the shape of Indonesias islands. Something similar to the “The World” island formation in Dubai.. but smaller and crappier. Do not waste a day going here.
Songkran, in Jakarta. During the time I was in Jakarta, Thailand was celebrating their new years – and the Thai community in Jakarta got in on the action. I met up with a few friends to shoot waterguns at eachother and run around partying. A great time!.
Car Free Sundays. Every Sunday, the main drag through Jakarta shuts down for the morning, and the locals come out to bike, ride and walk around in the fresh, quiet air.
As a thanks to the Six Degrees Backpackers Hostel, I made them a mug with my picture on it. They loved it. What an ego move! :)