isles of sunshine and spices'
Jakarta, is on the island of Java in Indonesia
and sprawls over 25 kilometres (15 miles)
from the docks to the suburbs of South Jakarta. The city centre
spreads out from around Merdeka Square, a grand,
barren field, site of the central gold-tipped landmark of the National
Jakarta doesn't really have a specific centre, theres numerous centres
all separated by traffic jams, incredible pollution and heat. For
many visitors, the area south of the monument holds
the most interest. Jl
Thamrin is the main shopping and deluxe
hotel thoroughfare, while to the east is the main restaurant
and less expensive hotel area.
If you can put up with Jakarta's pollution and congestion, and if
you can afford to indulge in its charms, then it is one of the areas's
most exciting metropolises. Consider Jakarta
as the 'big durian' - the foul-smelling exotic
fruit that some can't stomach and others can't resist.
Once stuck with a reputation as a poverty-ridden hell hole, Jakarta
mutated into an Asian boom town in less than a decade. Devastated
by the 1998 riots to a burnt-out shell, it still remains very much
at the centre of political events re-shaping the country.
At first look, this hot, muggy, smoggy city feels like nothing more
than a waiting area for the millions queuing up to make their fortune.
Jakarta’s infamous gridlock chokes its freeways
and all attempts to forge a central focal point for the city have
Beneath the veneer of glass walls, concrete slabs and shabby slums,
this is a city of surprises. From the richly scented
streets of Chinatown, to excellent shopping, to the city’s
decadent nightlife, Jakarta is a Pandora’s
box, filled with all the good and bad.
For most visitors, Jakarta is either part of a
business trip or no more than a stopover on the way to popular tourist
destinations such as Bali and Yogyakarta. Most find little that
makes them want to linger in Indonesia's capital.
To enjoy Jakarta, visitors must seek out sights that invoke the
city's historical heritage as a meeting place for
East and West. They include the remnants of the Dutch colonial
era and the old schooner harbor, still hard at work and
looking much as it did centuries ago. But don't be surprised if
modern Jakarta begins to grow on you: Its mix of trendy nightspots,
teeming streets bespeak a place where the present is unfolding in
an exciting if not always orderly manner.