Jakarta

February 12th, 2016

On the first morning of my stay, I join my host on her way to work. This involves a ride on the back of a moped, two short hauls aboard a minivan and a trip in her colleague’s car. We’ll have breakfast in the local market at a stall going by the name ibu Rita. Food containers with ready made meals are on display, and upon request they get served on a plate. Delicious. Then, breakfast gets washed away with delight black coffee from a fully operational roaster named Rosso. Java often is associated with coffee, and that’s for a reason. My tastebuds shamelessly feasts on this cup of black gold. What a delight :)
From here, I am helped onto an express bus taking me to central Jakarta. Though, well, Jakarta is so spread out, even the center is rather large. It is nice and impressive to walk amidst its colossal cityscape filled with shiny highrises. After some walking, I reach the landmark of the city, better known as Monas, which, indeed, means National Monument. A proud arrow shaped statue, rising up into the sky and housing a museum in its base. A museum which, sadly, appears to be closed.
To stay hydrated, I buy a small bottle of soda on a nearby market. Two guys try to persuade me into playing a game that involves throwing woorden rings toward packs of cigarettes. I kindly dismiss their offer, stating I’m a non-smoker.
In the park surrounding the Monas several other statues are found. One of the most striking ones is a statue showing three Javanese women, of which one is dancing and another breastfeeding a child.
From here, it is my intention to visit a Padan restaurant. Fate had other plans, though, and some heavy tropical rainfall caused me to look for shelter at a coffee place that also proved to serve beer and food. Not what I had in mind, but still rather good, and a good way to mentally prepare myself for the way back home. The first leg of that trip proved easy and convenient. The new Transjakarta bus system uses designated lanes, allowing it to zoom past traffic, and all that’s needed to ride it is opening a gate by gently tapping it with a smartcard, deducting 3500 rupiah from the balance stored on it.This brought me to Blok M fast and in a convenient fashion.
The rest of the trip proved a bit less convenient. Having to go to a part of the city not yet served by transJakarta sentenced me to using MetroMini. Small orange and blue buses equipped with seats that’re officially too small to accommodate me. My upper legs are simply too long to fit in between my own seatrest and the one in front of me. Traffic is dense and only moving forward slowly, and the interior of the bus is rather noisy, due to driving with opened doors and street musicians jumping in here and there to play a short set and walk around the bus carrying an empty foil bag, collecting money. The noise and the smoke has a noticable effect. My eyes sting, my throat hurts, my head aches and you can actually taste the carbohydrates in the air. Compared to this, the very last leg of the trip is easy. At There are lots of intersections where motorcyclists casually seem to hang out, but when passing by their true intention becomes obvious. These are ojeks, working as an informal kind of taxi service. Hitching a ride is easy, and before you know it, I’m back where this day started.

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