Doing what a tourist would do @ Jakarta

May 29, 2010 at 13:45 | Posted in Indonesia, Travel | 1 Comment
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It’s a long weekend, and so I thought exploring funky Jakarta would be a good idea, but with no better idea on what to do, I do what a tourist would usually do: visiting tourist attractions on Vesak Day.

Immediately after a hearty (but not healthy) hotel breakfast, I took a Blue Bird taxi down to Ragunan Zoo, about 45,000 IDR from Jakarta city centre.
Possibly the only reason I want to visit the zoo is due to fact that I really want to check out my primate cousins at Schmutzer Primate Center. Think the zoo is really smart by charging separately for zoo entrance fee (4,000 IDR) and the primate center entrance fee (5,000 IDR); they had to, as they are targeting 2 separate groups of people.
As you enter the zoo, you will be greeted by the vastness of the space, and the freshness of the air, a stark contrast to Jakarta streets… and it’s of no wonder why families would go there for a picnic, cycling and some even jogging.

The primate center however, have stricter rules about food, water, backpacks etc., supposedly you are expected to come closer to the primates, and for your safety, and to prevent you from feeding the primates, you have to deposit your items at their counter.

Feedback on the visit, not really enjoyable or educational as I expected, unless you enjoy seeing animals in captivity…

The one thing that I’m happy about the visit is that I got to see 2 life-size Silverbacks upclose, well not really close.

And not forgetting the Orangutans too!  Funny thing that happened is that neither the taxi driver nor the hotel security guard know what I mean when i say Ragunan Zoo, but when I say “Ragunan… Orangutan…”, he knows what I meant.

Other photos from Ragunan:

in conclusion for Ragunan zoo: confusing to navigate, animals not exactly in their “natural” habitat enclosure, a place you would go to for a picnic and escape from Jakarta city.

But if you don’t have the time to travel that far south from the city centre, want a good escape and still want to do the tourist-y stuff, you can consider visiting the National Monument, also known as MONAS, basically President Sukarno got inspired by the Eiffel tower of Paris and wanted something similar, and there you have it, MONAS!

The entrance to the monument itself is a bit of walk, but it was a big space and people are seen jogging (even in the hot afternoon sun), picnic in grass patches (it’s a park around MONAS), cycling, and kite flying. Entrance fee to the monument compound is 2500 IDR. It was a mistake that I went there in the afternoon as the queue to the elevator that brings you to the top was quite long, not going to waste time on the queue. I found a stairs up but it only brings you up  to a base level opening where more people are flying kites; you can’t climb the stairs up to the top, only the elevator can, thought that i could challenge myself to some Vertical Marathon 😦

There’s a museum at the basement showing Indonesia’s struggle for independence from their Dutch colonial masters… WARNING: nationalist propaganda
And the whole complex is playing some nationalist anthem…

MONAS: a place to go if  you don’t mind listening to nationalist propaganda, go early (really early) if you want to go to the top to see the Jakarta city scape. The reason why I go there is partly because I want the taxi driver to know a prominent landmark to represents Jakarta city centre, at least I’m somewhere near my hotel.

Took a funky Bajaj to Plaza Indonesia (20,000 IDR) for some retail therapy; from Nationalism to Capitalism. Played “follow-the-locals” for crossing the road to Grand Indonesia shopping town; for the zebra crossing, you can depend the security guards with their whistle to help you out.

Both shopping centres are the Takashimaya & ION Orchard of Jakarta, in fact, it’s much much bigger… and it’s definitely some upscale shopping experience for me, I can’t really compare the prices as I usually don’t go for such upscale shopping in Singapore… but I do see shops repeating themselves, so if you have visited Plaza Indonesia, you can skip Grand Indonesia if you do not have the time… but walking around is definitely some good exercise, not sure of the distance I have walked though.

Some funny things I saw in Grand Indonesia:

An antique car on exhibition

A man covered with “brown stuff”

two things side by side...wonder why?

Took a taxi back to my hotel (Prasada Mansion), the map behind my hotel’s card definitely helped the driver with navigation.

Conclusions from my Jakarta exploration:

  1. Picnic and Shopping are national past time for Jakarta city dwellers, the “Mall culture” is definitely in…
  2. There’s a getaway even in busy Jakarta
  3. No one really speaks English (the taxi drivers, the service staff in tourist attractions, shops), some basic Bahasa should help you get around

Two more weeks (and final weekend) in Jakarta, travel plans for next week:

  1. Learn to take Busway, an affordable and comfortable aircon bus that have its own dedicated bus lane in busy Jakarta streets
  2. Take Busway to Kota, visit the colonial flavoured Kota Tua streets, and possibly a meal at upclass Cafe Batavia
  3. Visit Blok M to immerse myself in Jakarta mall culture

Possibly a run tomorrow morning, heard from my boss that the roads are closed on Sunday morning for people to jog and cycle.

Good luck to all Sundown Marathon runners!

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