Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jakarta | 1 of 2

We arrived in Jakarta, having no clue what to expect. It is the 13th biggest city in the world, with a population of almost 10,000,000. We spent 5 days here and to tell you the truth we didn't see much. And what we did see was out of a taxi window. The traffic is RIDICULOUS in Jakarta (it's rated as having the second worst traffic in the world, just behind Sao Paulo, Brazil). Getting from our hotel to anywhere took at least an hour in a taxi. And walking around was tough because there is no sidewalk to walk on and no where to walk to. We spent some time in one of Jakarta's (many) fancy malls. Which was quite a weird experience. You spend an hour sitting in a taxi looking at all the poverty around you and then you pull up at a fancy mall with Louis Vuitton and D&G stores selling their luxury goods, and wondering who the heck can afford this stuff. I don't think there is a middle class in Jakarta. I don't want to judge a city after only being there for 5 days but the traffic alone is enough to keep me from coming back. 

So that's the bad. The good is that the people are very warm and nice. We met up with one of our blog followers, Gladys, and we quickly became friends. She generously spent several days showing us around Jakarta, making us try local food, introducing us to her friends, and even took us to her church on Sunday (we'll share some of those photos in the next post). Experiencing a new city is always more fun with locals. 

As you know, our camera broke in Thailand, so we bought a new camera online and were able to ship it to Gladys. Most of the photos below are from our last day in Jakarta when we finally got our new Nikon D700 (some of the first shots are from the compact camera). Most of the photos were taken out of taxi windows or from the back of a hired scooter. On our last day, instead of crawling through traffic in a taxi cab, I paid an older man on a scooter to give me a quicker ride. I held on with one arm (hoping the guy didn't mind me squeezing him) and snapped away with the other. I'm sure I got my share of pollution for the rest of my life in that 20 minute scooter ride.

We stayed in a little boutique hotel called the R Residence, which was great because we were the only guests there and had the whole place to ourselves. They served us hot breakfast every morning with a glass of amazing guava juice. The owners were very nice and went out of their way to take care of us and make sure we had a great stay.  

Side story -- We were running a little late to our flight out of Jakarta and the taxi driver didn't see the time right (or Gladys told him to give us a trip we wouldn't forget) but this was one of the scariest rides we've been on yet. Whenever we hit traffic (which was most of the time), he would fly onto the shoulder or into incoming traffic, took random U-turns, and sped so fast it was unbearable to watch. We did get to the airport on time.... and alive. 

- Yuriy