Monday, June 05, 2006

Jakarta Contrasts

Took a little trip into the big smoke (Jakarta) last weekend. Its a place I like to visit from every so often to get those things you just can't get in the provinces.

At 6'1, I am a bit bigger then the average Indonesian, so getting shoes and clothes that fit can be an interesting exercise at the best of times and Jakarta is often the last option. As usual, I had plenty of time to admire the view from the airport to city centre as a bus breakdown meant the normal 1 hour tollroad run took just over three hours.

Flew in via Garuda, the national Airline and took the time to read the Garuda in-flight Magazine. There was a fairly large section promoting Jakarta, mostly informative but where in the world did they get those photos of a smog free Jakarta??? No traffic jams, blue sky, lots of green, I must have missed that day! Whenever I am in Jakarta even on clear (?) days, the city is bathed in a very weird yellow tinge..sort of an "end of days" glow. You get the feeling the city is (has) entering an end game of terminal pollution meltdown.

Having said all that, Jakarta has a lot going for it as well. Some for the best food in the world, try Oasis or Lan Na Thai you won't de disappointed or duck down to the nearest Kaki Lima (street vendor) for some real down to earth tastes (stick to the fried stuff and you won't get sick). Personally, I love the Padang food and the way they serve it up.

Some of the malls are just bizarre in scope and size . There ia a night life scene that caters for all tastes and wants ranging from very up market clubs to downright sleazy. Best of all, a live music scene that is second to none and is easily affordable to most. One thing though, for some reason all the bands seem to come from Bandung (is there something in the water there?).

Hotel/Motels range from Hilton class five star to rent by the hour flea pits. Mind you, it might be ok to stay at the Hilton bit it seems a risky place to work at times as a poor young waiter found out here

"In the early hours of New Year’s Day 2005 Sutowo’s youngest son, Adiguna, was arrested in the bar of the Hilton Hotel, Jakarta. According to witnesses, when the woman with whom he was drinking had her expired credit card returned by a young part-time waiter, the young Sutowo said, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’, and then pulled a gun and shot the waiter dead. He was found guilty of murder, but received only a seven-year gaol term, much less than that of the well-known Australian drug smugglers."

Great movie houses can be found in Jakarta, I went saw the "Insider" in fanastic comfort. I must confess still confused about the movie, I must have missed a couple of twists somewhere.

All in all a great weekend but as usual I was left pondering the vast difference between the "haves" and "have nots". I know all cities have them but in Jakarta it is right in your face, walk 50m from your plush, air conditioned hotel and suddenly you are looking at people with no hope, no future and nowhere to go. I don't claim to have the answers by any means but it is confronting to say the least.


IndCoup said...

did ya get the chance to savor any of the other "delights" that Jakarta has to offer?

and btw if ya ain't based in Jkt where are ya living?

oigal said...

Now Indcoup a gentleman never tells..

and nope I ain't living in Jakarta, I ahve one of those fortunate jobs that takes me all over Indonesia and I am based in......(can't tell ya here you have email). BTW it was not me leaving those childish inane comments on your blog a couple of weeks ago.

Joepsc said...

Hi, oigal,

Have not been back here for a while.

From your descriptions of Jkt, there ain't much change socially, from the time I was here for a year or more, in mid-seventies. It was very nice driving from Jkt towards central and east Java.

I bet one thing that has not changed is money power!

treespotter said...

i think you mean Inside man?

and you still owe me one of those icantremembertheword thing? ha ha...

and btw, about Jakarta smog free, it is usually very clean these days. except sometimes it's really bad. may be you caught the uglier days.

bad luck, i guess :p

oigal said...

Hi T/S.. Yep you are right it was the Inside Man..not a bad flick..

Actually I owe you a couple of things including a cleansing ale one day when we meet..

Jakarta..quite clean..come'n now, I manage to get there every six weeks or so and I don't think so..maybe you are immune. Then again maybe I am spoilt coming from the countryside..clean air, no traffic.. ))


Nice to see you pop in. Despite my comments about the smog, I think Jakarta is a great city, you could live there for ten years and never be bored. Its a catch 22 thing if they every fix the traffic and smog then everyone will come and it won't be a secret anymore. I do have a soft spot for Singapore as well (be there next week) mid morning coffee orchard road and watch the world go by..every race, creed and colour ..amazing

treespotter said...

we keep it clean until you come then pretend like it's still smoggy and awful and dirty and jammed and generally shit.

treespotter said...

and singapore is a bore

oigal said...

mmm ..T/S That might be true..I do the same with the "powers that be" from up the bad side because I don't want everyone to know what a great place Jak once you know your way around a little bit.