A whole day of sight-seeing in Jakarta: Monas, Istiqlal Mosque, Catholic Cathedral a must visit

Part 2 of 3

(Editor’s Note: this article which I wrote first came out on CNN iReport, which has since been discontinued.)

Beautiful aerial view of National Monument under blue sky at Jakarta, IndonesiaMerdeka Square, Jakarta, Indonesia. National Monument, Monas, center. (Image: iStock)

It was past noon time when I went to Merdeka Square to see Monas (National Monument) at Merdeka Square, site of the iconic Monas commemorating Indonesia’s struggle for independence. The square has become a favorite for jogging, flying kites, and having picnic.

After getting through Merdeka Square’s gate, I looked around and straight ahead I saw Monas. Gardens surround Monas, adding character to the concrete structure. “So, that’s Monas,” I quipped, admiring the structure and its meaning to Indonesians.

While I was talking to a vendor of souvenirs, a freelance tourist guide probably noticed I am not an Indonesian.

So, M. Syariffudin approached us and started giving details on Monas. He sold me the idea of having a guide and said he was willing (to show me around) for 500,000 rupiyah. I haggled with him and got 350,000 rupiyah (about $39 dollar) for the day tour.

At the time I was haggling with the guide I reckoned it was better to have a guide rather than go on a little adventure not knowing where best to go. “It was worth the price, though,” I muttered to myself.

My tourist guide and and other sources on the internet, such as the all-knowing Wikipedia (no offense to the Great All-Knowing One up there), and other just-as-Jakarta smitten tourists like me, narrated that after the Dutch colonialists granted Indonesia’s independence in 1949, founding President Soekarno wanted a structure that would be the symbol of his new-born country’s independence and struggle against the Dutch.

(Later in 2005, the Netherlands accepted August 17, 1945 as Indonesia’s date of independence.)

To be continued.

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