Part 1 of 3
(Editor’s Note: this article which I wrote first came out on CNN iReport, which has since been discontinued.)
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Traveling is a lot of fun and inspiring, too.
In my latest travel abroad, the 33rd since 1994, I got the chance to go around this teeming city of 12 million or so, spending a day to see some cultural and historical sites which are very important to Indonesia’s struggle to free herself from colonizers, such as the Dutch.
It might be more fun in the Philippines, but for sure I had lots of fun here in the biggest Muslim country of the world with about 230 million people, where there are many things to see and enjoy.
Image: courtesy of Image + Movement — WordPress.com.
In my latest trip abroad on February 27 to March 3, 2012, I got lucky to have a day free to engage in a little adventure, before my three and a half hours train ride on February 29, 2012 to Bandung, in West Java. The Dutch colonialists in their time called Bandung “Parijs Van Java” — Paris of Java — and left behind their imprint, including architecture, cultural influences, among others, not to say blood and gore.
But this one’s about Jakarta and some of the many cultural must-see sites.
So, I took advantage of my free day on February 28 at the bustling and ever-busy capital. The first thing I did after getting out of the MaxOne Hotel where we were billeted at K.H. Agus Salim Street in Jakarta Pusat (Cental Jakarta), I asked people on the streets what are the must-see tourists spots within Jakarta.
One government worker I asked told me that should be Monas, Istiqlal Mosque, Catholic Cathedral, China Town, the Fatahillah Square (former Dutch community), the Old Port, Pasar Baru (which is like Manila’s Divisoria), among other cultural sites.
For the day’s small adventure, I preferred going to cultural and historical sites. So, I thought that was a perfect list for me. But I conceded there was not enough time for them all.
In my amateurish opinion, cultural sites have relevance, meanings, and stories all their own, which belong exclusively to a particular nation. Every natural scenery peculiar to a certain country has beauty and majestic presence common with others across the world.
My small adventure started with a ride near my hotel onboard a three-wheel contraption, similar to Bangkok, Thailand’s, popular “tuk-tuk,” also called a motorized rickshaw.
Like Manila, Jakarta struggles to get by every day to overcome heavy traffic. Thus, it is sometimes better to take the three-wheeled “rickshaw” because it can weave in and out like a snake to escape bottlenecks.
When taking Jakarta’s version of “tuk-tuk,” be sure to haggle with the driver for the price before you step into his vehicle. If you haggle for the fare after your ride, the result could be unpleasant to you. I paid 10,000 rupiyah (just over a dollar) for the short ride to Monas (Monumen Nasional), Indonesia’s symbol of independence and pride.