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Jakarta, the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia, is a special territory enjoying the status of a province, consisting of Greater Jakarta, covering an area of 637.44 square km. Jakarta is the international gateway to Indonesia.  Located on the northern coast of West Java, it is the center of government, commerce and industry and as such has an extensive communications network with the rest of the country and the outside world. 

 

As Indonesia's main gateway, the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport serves a growing number of international airlines and domestic flights. Jakarta is a city of contrasts; the traditional and the modern, the rich and the poor, the sacral and the worldly, often stand side by side in this bustling metropolis. Even its population, gathered from all those diverse ethnic and cultural groups which compose Indonesia, are constantly juxtaposed as an ever- present reminder of the national motto; Unity in Diversity.

 

 

 

Sumatra, & Java - Indonesia

 

 

Finding its origin in the small early 16th century harbor town of Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta's founding is thought to have taken place on June 22, 1527, when it was re-named Jayakarta, meaning: Glorious Victory by the conquering Prince Fatahillah from neighboring Cirebon. The Dutch East Indies Company which captured the town and destroyed it in 1619, changed its name into Batavia and made it the center for the expansion of their power in the East Indies. Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Batavia fell into the hands of the invading Japanese forces who changed the name of the city into Jakarta as a gesture aimed at winning the sympathy of the Indonesians.  The name was retained after Indonesia achieved national independence after the war's end.

 

The ethnic Jakartan called "Orang Betawi" speaks Betawi Malay, spoken as well in the surrounding towns such as Bekasi and Tangerang. This language has two variations: the conventional Betawi Malay and the modern Jakarta Malay. While the first is spoken by the elder people, born and bred in Jakarta, the second is spoken by the younger generation and migrants.

 

Jakarta's architecture reflects to a large extent the influx of outside influences which came and has remained in this vital seaport city. The Taman Fatahillah Restoration Project, begun in the early 1970s has restored one of the oldest sections of Jakarta also known as Old Batavia to approximately its original state.  The old Portuguese Church and warehouse have been rehabilitated into living museums. The old Supreme Court building is now a museum of fine arts which also houses part of the excellent Chinese porcelain collection of former Vice President Adam Malik. The old Town Hall has become the Jakarta Museum, displaying such rare items as Indonesia's old historical documents and Dutch period furniture.  Its tower clock was once returned to England to be repaired under its lifetime guarantee, which up to now has already lasted hundreds of years.

 

One of the most interesting tourist attractions is the "Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park" popularly called "Taman Mini". Built to portray the variety of cultures found within the many islands contained in the Republic of Indonesia, this open-air museum comprises the many architectural forms of arts and traditions of all 27 provinces. It is proof of the country's motto of Unity in Diversity as well as Freedom of Religion depicted in the houses of worship built on the grounds.

 

Jakarta has preserved its past and is developing for the future. Skyscrapers in the center of the city are part of a new look.  Modern luxury hotels today cater to the discriminating visitors. Transport within the city is plentiful. It should be noted that museums are open daily from 8.00 a.m. (except Mondays) till 2.00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. On Fridays closing hour is 11.00 a.m. and on Saturdays at 1.00 p.m.

 

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

 

The National Monument

 

The National Monument, or "Monas" as it is popularly called, is one of the monuments built during the Sukarno era of fierce nationalism. It stands for the people's determination to achieve freedom and the crowning of their efforts in the Proclamation of Independence in August 1945. The 137-meter tall marble obelisk is topped with a flame coated with 35 kg. of gold. The base houses a historical museum and a hall for meditations. The monument is open to the public and upon request the lift can carry visitors to the top which offers a bird's eye view on the city and the sea.

 

 

Central Museum

 

Established in 1778 by U.M.C. Rademacher under the auspices of the Batavia Association of Arts and Sciences, it offers historical, prehistorical, archaeological and ethnographic aspects of Indonesia through its extensive collection of artifacts and relics which date as far back as to the Stone Age. It has one of the most complete collections of bronzes and ceramics dating back to the Han, Tang and Ming Dynasties. The Museum has one of the finest numismatic collections in the world, including cloth and money which was used on several islands until recently. The religious art section is filled with statuary and sculpture salvaged from sites of Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic edifices. Its collection of cultural instruments, household utensils, arts and crafts provide an introduction to the life of the various ethnic groups which populate Indonesia. This museum is popularly known as Gedung Gajah or "Elephant Building" because of the stone elephant offered by King Chulalongkorn of Thailand in 187 1, placed on the front lawn of the building.

 

 

Indonesia in Miniature Park

 

An extensive park to get a glimpse of the diverseness of the Indonesian archipelago, it represents Indonesia's 27 provinces and their outstanding characteristics, reflected most strikingly in the exact regional architecture of the province. It has its own orchid garden in which hundreds of Indonesian orchid varieties are grown. There is also a bird park with a walk-in aviary, a fauna museum and recreational grounds with a swimming pool and restaurants.  Of special interest here at Taman Mini is the Museum Indonesia. A richly decorated building in Balinese architecture, it houses contemporary arts, crafts and traditional costumes from the different regions of the country.  Open from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. daily.

 

 

GETTING AROUND JAKARTA

 

From within Indonesia, there are several airlines that serve the domestic markets: Garuda, Merpati, Sempati, and Bouraq. If you prefer the romance of the ocean, passenger ships connect several cities in Indonesia, including Jakarta. From Medan, for example, you can take the Kambuna; it stops in Jakarta on its way to Surabaya and to Ujung Pandang.

 

Island hopping is best done by airplane. Garuda, Sempati, Merpati, and Bouraq are the four major domestic carriers. Garuda serves the primary cities (and international destinations) as well as Sempati, Merpati and Bouraq have their own niche. If you want to fly direct from Bandung to Denpasar, for example, you have to use Merpati. Using Garuda, you must have a stop over either in Jakarta or in Surabaya.

 

Jakarta taxis are more colorful than the bright yellow cabs of Manhattan; they come in such a great variety and can become a source of confusion. You can also get a rental car, equipped with a driver, to get you around Jakarta.  For the adventurous there is the traditional Becak.

 

 

Becak or trikshaw

 

 

BUSES: Buses are the primary means of public transportation in Jakarta. Big TATA or Mercedes Benz's span the metropolitan Jakarta, taking you from one main hub to another. On some, the PATAS, you would actually be able to enjoy the comfort of air-conditioning and a high probability of getting a seat. On the regular DAMRI, consider yourself lucky if you can get a seat. When you do, remember to get up and inch towards the exit amidst the sea of people at least 5 minutes before your stop. Fare does not depend on distance.

 

METRO MINI: If you think that this is a smaller version of whatever nice image you have concocted in your head when you hear the word "Metro", think again. These bright orange beasts roam the streets of Jakarta. If you are 5'11'' or taller, there is only one seat in the bus where you can sit - back row, middle seat, facing the isle.  

MIKROLET:  Not as romantic as the bemo of Bali, it is typically a modified van that can carry up to 10-12 passengers. Mikrolet can take you to the remotest corners of Jakarta.

 

OJEK:  The last one in the chain is probably Ojek. Ojeks usually park in front of small alleys (gang) that can have thousands of residencies inside. There is no chance for a taxi or a car to get into these alleys, and the distance maybe to far to walk it. So, Ojek - a motorcycle complete with its driver for hire - comes to the rescue.

 

BECAK:  Becaks (or trikshaw) used to be ubiquitous in Jakarta. They are basically bicycle with an attached 2-passanger carriage attached in front of it (or on its side if you are in Medan). Several years back, becaks are banned from the city, and they now have become home to various kinds of fish up north by the Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands). Oh, the romance of sitting together in a becak with your loved one, maybe with a slight drizzle, is no doubt part of the memory of lots of the thirty-something people of Jakarta. What is left now is a variant of becak called Bajaj, a Vespa (think of it as a fat-bottomed motorcycle, if you don't know what a Vespa is) derivative with an attached carriage. Their obnoxious bright orange color, and distinctive, ear piercing rattle, will accompany you along your ride in the constantly vibrating vehicle.

 

 

 

Jakarta fishing boats

 

 

 

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