I had a good reason to go to Jakarta: some Friends of mine live and work there for some time and I’m reasonably close by to give them a visit .
A visa was easily arranged: simply upon arrival at the airport in Jakarta on payment of § 25 and you can stay one month.
After the administrative matters were settled, I took the bus to town, looking for my hostel.
The next day I wanted to take the city-bus, the TransJakarta, to go to Jakarta Selatan, where my friends live, but after more than half hour waiting in the line for my bus, even without having moving a single inch, I felt a liitlle annoyed, especially because of my backpack that seemed to pull more and more on my shoulders. The buses that passed the busstop were all fully packed. The only other option is a taxi (taksi), walking was out of the question: Jakarta is big …very big.
I arrived a little early, but was welcomed by the domestic worker, she took me to the guest room with air conditioning (!) and a little later, Yvon and Bram came home: a special meeting, realizing that you know each other from almost the other side of the world.
The TransJakarta buses are the only means of public transport in the city, there is no subway, train or whatever. You can take a taxi or a tuk-tuk, but mostly is doesn’ t make sense because of the traffic jam. The city buses however have there own bus lane and if outside the peak hours it’ s quite comfortable, fast and cheap: for RP 3500 (approximately € 0.30) you can take the bus and cross the entire city …and that’s what I did.
Walking to the old fish market in the north of the city I encountered a lot of old buildings from the colonial past: the governor’s office, old warehouses, many references to the old name of Jakarta (Batavia) and surprisingly many people start speak Dutch when you say you come from Belanda (the Indonesian name for Holland).
The old fish market is quite different: walking past numerous shops and stalls, avoiding the holes and puddles of water, my curiosity took me to a very narrow alley and came out between stilt houses on the water, they seemed to be build with all useful and available materials. When I walked between these houses I had the feeling I almost walked in the homes of the residents, so I went back.
Jalan Jaksa is called the backpacker street in Jakarta. Compared with Thalon Khaosan in Bangkok it was a bit disappointing, because there is actually not much to do, I had expected more, just because it’s called backpackers.street.
Nevertheless there are numerous food stalls, as everywhere in Southeast Asia, and whatever I ordered so far, it tastes always good, this time I took “satay ayam” ( peanut sauce and chicken ), and it tasted very well again!
Every morning I’m awakened at 5 o’clock in the morning by some surrounding mosques where the imams sing there prayers through the loudspeakers, it’s quite loud but after a couple of days I’m getting getting used to it, actually I enjoy the sound of the prayers, perhaps because of the good singing voice of the Imam. Anyway, 5 o’clock in the morning is way too early for me to get up and when everything is quiet again, I’ll resume my sleep … half past seven, time to get up.
The area behind my guesthouse is a whole maze of narrow streets and cozy houses, here and there a bridge and if you do not know exactly the way you become lost. “Did I already passed this bridge or this is another? … hmmm”. “Hello, can you tell me the way to Jalan ….?” … —-> …. “Aah, That Way, thank you, and then? Left or right?” … “yes” … “…. Okay …. thank you very much, I’ll try Both “. Perhaps she meant “same, same” I have often heard this in Asia.
“Ah, a motorbike, when I try to follow him I probable will encounter a main road, from where I find my way much easier. And so I went on: left, bridge, mini rice paddy right, first right, left turn, follow the second sharp right, walking under the clotheslines, right at the end of the lane …. finally, I’m out of here. And now?.left or right? same same maybe, “tidak apa apa”