In August I went to Southeast Asia for the very first time. I was quite anxious before I went: new continent, new country, unfamiliar language and no clue at all what to expect. Within 30 minutes after touch in Jakarta, Indonesia all my fears proved to be absolutely futile. Turned out I was just scared for the unknown. My time in Indonesia was absolutely wonderful. The sights were amazing and the people were very friendly. I don’t think that one person looked grumpy, and even when they did a smile was always answered by their smile! The logical first place for us to go was Jakarta, the bustling 29 million people counting capital of Indonesia.
To be honest: I was quite overwhelmed with Jakarta. Coming from the Netherlands where the capital Amsterdam does not even have a million people (780.000 to be exact) a city that immense is just really hard to fathom. There were cars and taxi’s and bike and motorcycles everywhere. I didn’t know that a 2 lane motorway could easily turn into a 5 lane motorway. I also learned however that just raising your hand will crossing the street is like having magic powers: cars always seem to stop just in time! Although some people and guides tell you to skip Jakarta as it is big and dirty I think that visiting the capital is worth your time, even if you only stay for 2 days!
We were in Jakarta for a total of 3,5 days (2 at the start of our trip, 1.5 at the end). Whether you do it first or at the end is up to you: both have different advantages. Indonesia does not have suck a slick public transportation system as many North American and European cities but still you can get to a lot of places. When chosing a hotel make sure it is close to a Transjakarta route. The Transjakarta is a bus system that has its own separate busway. This means that during the busiest times of the day (which is basically all day) you will get from place to place relatively faster than using a taxi or walking. There are a lot of stations and the most well-known landmarks are easy to reach by Transjakarta buses! The tickets are easy to acquire: you’ll buy a transjakarta pass that is topped up with 20,000 rupiah (which was about €1,33 when we were there). You can use one pass for multiple people, just make sure you check in individually. A one-way ticket will cost you 3,500 rupiah. You can cross the city from east to west and from north to south with your single ticket, so it is an absolute bargain!
For the places that are harder to reach with public transportation you can make use of taxi’s. In Indonesia taxi’s are generally inexpensive although they are somewhat more expensive in Jakarta than in other cities. Please remember that most taxi companies have a minimum payment of 20,000 rupiah. In the beginning we only used Bluebird Taxi because I heard that they were generally the most reliable company, but during our stay we used many other taxi companies as well. Just make sure that the taxi has a official number and that you know the name of your driver. Always request the use of the meter (Pakket Meter?) as you will inevitably be overcharged otherwise.
I you plan to visit Jakarta consider staying at the Kosenda Hotel. The hotel is conveniently located near some big malls and the Transjakarta busway, near the new and improved city centre. It is an art hotel with a really laid back vibe. Although the rooms are small they have everything you might need: lovely and comfortable bed, desk with stationary (scissors, eraser, pens etc.) complimentary mini-bar, vanity with q-tips, cotton balls and a comb, bathrobe and a really nice rain shower!
The hotel has its own restaurant/cafe that serves food 24/7 where you can get a delicious breakfast. Try their eggs Benedict, they are jummy! They also have a rooftop bar, and although not as high as the Park Plaza Cloud 9 lounge, it still a pretty awesome place! Even if you are not a guest you can enjoy some cocktails and drinks there. They have quite a lot to choose from :). Make sure you reserve a seat though as it might get busy in the weekends and you might have to spend a certain amount to get a table. This should not stop you from going: we hung out at the bar which was pretty cool too!