My trip to Jakarta

  • Owen Brook
  • 26 July
My trip to Jakarta

Jakarta is an unfamiliar city to me. The only impression in my brain is the 1998 Jakarta Anti-Chinese Event that shocked the world. According to Ta Kung Pao, riots occurred in 27 districts in Jakarta from May 13 to 15, 1998. More than 5,000 Chinese shops and houses in the city were burnt down, and more than 1,200 people died. The mob also violently raped more than 400 Chinese women in broad daylight. This is known as the "Black May Riot" in history. The background of the incident is complicated, including economic reasons caused by the 1997 Asian financial turmoil and long-term historical and political reasons. The Indonesian government at that time actually adopted an attitude of connivance and acquiescence. If you think about it carefully, every city can unearth a lot of tragic "black history".

From the wet streets and heavy water in the low-lying areas, it can be known that it has been raining here the day before or a few days ago. Unexpectedly, on the first day I arrived in Jakarta, I had trouble with the local taxi driver. After reading the travel guide, I took a car from Blue Bird, a regular taxi company in Jakarta. Before getting on the bus, I showed the hotel address to the driver. He definitely said that he knew how to get to the destination. As a result, he kept going in circles on the road. He didn't have GPS installed in his car, and he didn't use the mobile phone map to navigate. He was busy for a while but didn't know how to get there. Of course, finally arrived at the hotel. What makes me angry is that I found that the location of the hotel is actually very easy to find. It is on the side of the main road and next to the subway station. He may not know the route at all, which caused me not only to waste time but also to pay twice the price to reach the destination. But I can only blame myself for not being cautious. Next time, I must buy a local mobile phone card, connect to the mobile network, and use Google Maps to navigate.

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Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and the largest city in Southeast Asia. Lonely Planet described the city as “Emotionally speaking, Jakarta is a ruthless city. As one of the largest cities in the world, it is gray. The urban area has expanded relentlessly by dozens. Kilometers, passing through the flood-prone plains, there is almost no park to break the monotony of concrete. "If you want to explore the history of the many changes behind the name of Jakarta, you can basically get a glimpse of the context of its urban development.

As early as the 14th and 15th centuries, Jakarta became a port city in Southeast Asia that was beginning to take shape. It was named "Sunda Kelapa" at that time. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese came to Indonesia to look for trade opportunities and arrived in Coconut City in 1522. The Portuguese were driven out in 1527, the city was renamed "Jayakarta" and became a fief of Banten Sultanate. At the beginning of the 17th century, both the Dutch and the British coveted the city. The Dutch built a coastline fortress here in 1619 and renamed it "Batavia". At the beginning of the 18th century, Batavia, where commercial trade gradually prospered, attracted many Javanese and Chinese to emigrate here. In 1942, Japan became the new colonizer of the city and changed its name to "Djakarta". It was not until 1972 that it was renamed Jakarta, which is still in use today.

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Today's Jakarta, although coconut trees still stand in the "reinforced concrete forest" of the city, more often the traffic jams make people ignore the swaying green plants outside the window. However, Jakarta's BRT system is still very convenient. The shelters are well planned, and there are also bus guides. The area where I live is called "Kota", which is the location of the ancient city of Batavia. It was once the center of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia. TamanFatahillah, Jakarta History Museum, Sunda Kelapa, Museum Bahari, and other attractions still retain the pre-colonial style. I originally wanted to go to the Museum Bahari, but it was closed during the New Year. In the end, I could only take BRT Line 1 from Kota Station and get off at Monas Station in central Jakarta. One side of the road is Museum National, and the other side is Independence Square. Museum National is also closed for holidays, so I have to visit Independence Square.

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Independence Square, also known as Merdeka Square, is very large. The national monument is a symbol of the city of Jakarta. It was built by the order of the first Indonesian President Sukarno in 1961 and was not completed until Suharto was in power in 1975. The monument is 137 meters high, with a torch made of 35 kilograms of gold on top. Under the monument is the National History Museum, which tells the story of the Indonesian War of Independence with miniature landscape models.

After returning to the hotel in the evening, I asked the front desk clerk to recommend a delicious Indonesian restaurant nearby. He said with a grimace, "I'm afraid most restaurants are closed early on the first day of the new year." Therefore, I can only wander around the nearby streets to see if any restaurants are open. Fortunately, there are still restaurants open. I ordered a set meal with chicken, eggs, greens, and tomatoes. It was delicious. The fireworks of a restaurant are the soul of a city at night, and a life-saving straw for the hungry ghosts wandering in the city. Unexpectedly, my New Year's Eve ended with joy and satisfaction due to the delicious dinner.

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The next day, I took the bus to Monas station again. This time it was purely to visit Museum National. As the largest museum in Indonesia with the richest collection, this is the place where I linger in Jakarta the most. Museum National was built in 1862 and has antiquities exhibition hall, prehistoric exhibition hall, folklore exhibition hall, gold and silver jewelry exhibition hall, bronze exhibition hall, currency exhibition hall, East India Company exhibition hall, etc. The eye-catching bronze elephant at the door was given by King Rama V of Siam during his visit in 1871, and the museum is also called "Gedung Gajah". Among the dazzling exhibits, sculptures of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are always surrounded by believers. You can learn about everything from house models of Indonesian islanders to props and instrumental music for religious ceremonies in the folklore exhibition hall. Among them, CILI, the Hindu rice goddess made of palm leaves, left a deep impression on me. It is really aura, showing the delicacy and ingenuity of handmade creation. In addition, the Porcelain Exhibition Hall actually used half of the exhibition hall to introduce porcelain from ancient China. Among them is a window showing the exquisite porcelain exported from China to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and other places during the Ming Dynasty.

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When chatting with other tourists in the rest area of ​​the museum, I learned that US President Barack Obama had spent his teenage years in Jakarta. Obama lived in the Menteng Dalam area of ​​Jakarta in 1967 with his remarried mother Stanley Ann Dunham, stepfather Lolo Soetoro, and sister Maya Soetoro. Obama attended a nearby elementary school. In 1971, Obama returned to Hawaii to live with his grandparents. I am curious how much influence his childhood in Jakarta has brought to his growth.

Due to time constraints, the wandering in Jakarta left a little regret. The Miniature Park of Indonesia that I originally wanted to go to was not completed. Indonesia is "the country of ten thousand islands." It is said that there are nearly 20,000 islands in the country. It is almost impossible to set foot in one by one, but the miniature park is said to show the Indonesian archipelago, mountains and rivers, ports, historical sites, customs, etc. in the form of "mini", allowing you to visit Indonesia in one day.


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