In April 2014, my work took me to Jakarta. This city was not on my list of “must visit” places, and yet I was glad I visited this part of the world.
Here are a few observations, unless otherwise explicitly mentioned, compared with Hyderabad, India.
A brief travelogue for you all!
Jakarta is a big city, and that was evident as soon as I stepped out of the airport. Infrastructure (read buildings, skyscrappers, roads, pavements, public transportion, etc.) is really impressive!
I observed some interesting aspects about two wheelers during my couple of weeks stay and commute in the city.
i) Rider and pillion, both wear helmets – good! I think it’s required by law.
ii) I found it strange that the lights were turned on during the day time time too. Just bikes, not cars and other vehicles, though.
iii) This was a whole new surprise to me – they have two wheeler taxis! They’re everywhere, carry one passenger and price is negotiable.
In general, traffic is very disciplined. The traffic is heavy but still runs smooth – everyone respects traffic rules, follow lane system and policemen are seen at many junctions to keep a check. No unnecessary honking even if the traffic slows down at junctions or narrow entrances.
Food is good. It would be a treat for people who enjoy non vegetarian dishes – a lot of variety and cuisines are served. While I hogged on a lot of chicken and sea food varieties only, beef is the default meat there. I had to mention not to include beef every time I ordered non veg dishes. Pure vegetarian visitors will need an extra effort to find places to eat comfortably.
While Jakarta is an International business destination and is one of the most densely populated asian cities, the locals are not very comfortable with any language other than theirs. I had tough time conversing with everyone around in English. Some people can’t speak beyond Yes and No. I ended up learning a few commonly used words to deal with the cab drivers.
Another interesting experience was currency. Do you know I was a millionaire for a while? With a conversion rate of about 1 Indian Rupee = 190 Indonesian rupiah, the few hundred US dollars I carried for my travel expenses showed balances on travel card beyond my expectations!
But again, I paid 35,000 for Fried Rice, 1,98,000 for a six pack of beer and what not! I was poor again in no time.
Jakarta has some really impressive malls. I visited a few just to roam around and get a feel of the massive shopping arrangement. Except TVs, everything else was priced higher than the commodities in India. After dividing the prices by 190 a few times, for which I needed calculator, I moved on to division by 200 in my head. 🙂
I had a long weekend during my visit which also gave me an opportunity to cover some places around the city. With three other colleagues, all from India, we visited a hot spring, a strawberry farm, an inactive volcano and a quick stop in tea gardens on the way.
Here are a few more pictures from the visit (following pages). Click on the thumbnails to see full size images. All images clicked using Nokia Lumia 820.