Mari Bali and Hai Jakarta 🙂
After arriving in Jakarta I took a shuttle bus close to my hotel. I paid a taxi driver a few cents (the taxi was more like a little caravan with other passengers on board) and he drove me literally just 300 m and dropped me off at the most crowded street ever. No one was interested in the traffic lights, scooters, cars and TukTuks passed me in a chaotic style, way too close if you ask me and the whole caravan was laughing at me. So I took my bag pack and went along the street and finally found my hotel 🙂
By then it was noon and I decided to use the rest of the day to explore Jakarta. The women from the reception told me that there is a free city bus tour I can take which will drive me around the old part of Jakarta. So I did this and it was amazing and somehow a bit strange ….
Let the story begin
I was the only white person in that bus. Turned out that all the Indonesian people, who are visiting Jakarta, using this way to get around. So there was nothing in english, the announcements were just balinese and I decided to hop off whenever all the other passengers left. With this way of traveling I found myself in the strangest situations.
Istiqlal Mosque and a dubious donation
First stop was the Istiqlal Mosque. Actually I’ve planned to stay in the bus, because I was so tired from the flight, but all the passengers needed to hop off, so I just followed the crowed 🙂
The Mosque is the biggest one in south east Asia and I think the third in the world. I entered the Mosque, covered with my scarf, and immediately all the glances were on me. Luckily I found the visitor centre (just a table in the middle of the Mosque) and they gave me a nice Kimono and a guide (even without asking for it). So he went with me through the Mosque, but was more busy in texting his friends in Whats App than showing me around.
Nevertheless the Mosque was built as a sign of independence. You can enter it through seven different gates which is a symbol for the seven heavens. The diameter of the main dome is 43 m and it is pillared by 12 pillars which symbolise the birthday of prophet Muhammad (12. Rabi-Ul-Awwal). The building counts 5 floors which relates to the 5 pillars of the Islam.
After the tour my guide asked for a donation. And as we walked through the Mosque I saw all the donation boxes and of course I wanted to give a donation. But he insisted me to give my donation directly to him and put the money in his pocket. I doubt that this money will ever leave his pockets again 😉
Across the street you find the Cathedral and I took a short view inside, because there was a wedding going on.
And back to the bus station, again.
In case of spotting a white person, stay calm, take a photo and change your profile picture
Back in line for the bus, I noticed that even here at the Mosque Station was no other tourist around. So I stood there with all the other passengers and waited till I found a place in the third bus. We drove all the way to the Museum Bank Indonesia and once again we had to leave the bus. At this time I was a bit used to the balinesian announcements and knew when all the others were moving I needed to follow. I went outside and discovered a market on a big place which was surrounded by a lot of museums. This place was amazing, you could buy everything here. Shoes, bags, jewellery, painting and a lot of street food.
I strolled around and just enjoyed the ambience. But from one time to the other the scene changed completely because the police was coming. I have never seen so many street stands disappearing within such a short amount of time. The owners packed everything and rushed away and I was left on an empty plaza now 😀
So I decided to line up again for the bus and driving back to the Monumen Nasional (yes, here in Jakarta you write it like that).
Back in line it was hot and crowded and after the police had passed, every street stand came back again and the normal business started all over again. I just stand there and watched all this with the eyes of a child.
After 15 minutes a guy from the bus came to me and told me: “Come, come, tourists have priority”. So I entered the bus first, sat in the front row and to be honest with you, I was quite happy not to be outside in the sun… even though it felt strange to have priority…
Nevertheless a few minutes later all the others entered the bus and I think they had kind of a challenge who is first in sitting next to me. A women in the ages of 30 won and even though she had kids, she told them not to sit next to me because she wanted to do so. So here I was, surrounded by her family and all their phones over, in front and behind me. We took plenty of selfies and then I saw that she uploaded them immediately on Facebook. Then she changed all her profile pictures into the picture she shot with me but the best part was that she facetimed her husband. So I had the phone in front of my face and I think she told him about me, because the camera pointed towards me, I had to say Hi to him and the whole family was giggling.
Back at the Monument I was quite happy to be outside again and able to walk along by myself.
Indonesian food, a beautiful sunset and more selfies
I entered an Indonesian restaurant and no one was able to speak english. But nevertheless I found out how it works there. So you go inside the kitchen and choose all the dishes you want to have. They are all cold and most of the time its chicken and fish. I managed to explain the cook that I want to have VEGETARIAN and so I ended up with eggplants, beans and curry. Then they serve you all the chosen dishes with hot rice and you eat by hand.
I had two dishes on my table but the guy behind me had 15 different dishes on his table! And I just had a little cup of rice, but he got a huge bowl 😀 I drank a balinesian tea (something herbal) and enjoyed a bollywood movie even though I didn’t have a clue what they were talking.
2,40€ was the price for this delicious meal and I was ready for the sunset at the Monumen Nasional.
Of course a lot of people wanted to have pictures with me but after half an hour I decided to stop it, because it was not getting calmer. People came from everywhere and this time there was no Mike to safe me. And I remembered Prats words from India: “Whenever you say Yes to selfies, there will be a lot of locals standing in line or just taking photographs without asking. You can do that, but I just want to let you know.”
Watch the sunset video: Sunset at the MONAS
The sunset was amazing and the Monument coloured itself in pink, orange and blue lights. As I went back to the hotel, my feet were hurting but I had a sensational day here in Jakarta 🙂