Capital Corner


    A City Tour

      1-11-2016
     

    A City Tour

    A City Tour

    Admiring Jakarta's iconic Monumen Nasional from the bus' window.

    A City Tour

    MH Thamrin Monument, one of Indonesia's historical figures.

    A City Tour

    Museum National's open rectangular garden.

    A City Tour

    A display of Indonesia's traditionals music instruments at Museum National.
    A City Tour

    A City Tour
    Admiring Jakarta's iconic Monumen Nasional from the bus' window.

    A City Tour
    MH Thamrin Monument, one of Indonesia's historical figures.

    A City Tour
    Museum National's open rectangular garden.

    A City Tour
    A display of Indonesia's traditionals music instruments at Museum National.

    Strolling around Jakarta using the city’s tour bus...

    What should a first timer see in Jakarta? This is a question that you might ask when visiting the capital city of Indonesia. The city that was once a part of the Dutch colony and an important port town named Batavia has now turned into one of the fastest growing cities in Southeast Asia. Some may see it as another overblown city in this modern world with its ambitious skyscrapers and vast shopping malls. But if you take a closer look, Jakarta has more than meets the eye.

    This city is also named ‘The Big Durian,’ which perfectly suits its characteristics. Durian is a tropical Asian fruit that is hard on the outside with pointy skin, yet has juicy, soft and sweet flesh on the inside. It also has a powerful smell that you might either love or despise. This fruit seems to well represent Jakarta. You have to peel the sharp and thick exterior to get to the sweetness at its core.

    Back to the question of what to see in Jakarta, you will surely want to explore the city’s touristy places. However, this could be a tricky business since this city is home to more than 10.1 million people, so traffic can be overwhelming most of the time. The city’s ongoing battle with the urban growth is also reflected everywhere. The government is developing a new MRT, a mega project that everyone hopes will solve the city’s traffic problem and is expected to be done by 2018. But you don’t need to worry about the traffic because Jakarta’s local government has launched its Jakarta City Tour Bus, a doubled-decker bus that will take you to Jakarta’s famous districts.

    The Jakarta City Tour Bus is comfortable, clean and more importantly, free. I was quite impressed with the bus when I was onboard one fine day, as I sat on the second level at the very back of the bus. All 80 seats were full and everyone was sitting neatly in this fully air-conditioned bus. The conductor strictly limited the number of passengers so that no one would be standing in the aisle. My only wish was for a line at the bus stop because everyone was trying to jam their way in as soon as the bus arrived.

    Discover Jakarta
    My first stop was the National Museum, where a collection from Indonesia’s cultural heritage is stored. The museum boasts an extensive collection of Indonesia’s historical archeology, ethnography and relics. For me, visiting this museum felt like I was attending a history class but in a more compelling way. The purplecolored bus also took me to see other historical places such as the Monumen Nasional (Monas), Gedung Arsip, Museum Bank Indonesia, Gedung Kesenian Jakarta and Balai Kota. The bus then passed Istana Merdeka, the official home and office of Indonesia’s President, which is a remnant from the Dutch era. “Merdeka” means the nation’s victory after years of colonialism. For Indonesians, this building is a symbol of pride.

    As the bus rolled around the city, the passengers were turning their heads left to right repeatedly, enjoying the view of the city’s landscape. From the bus window I also spotted the massive Istiqlal Mosque on my left and the Cathedral Church on my right. The Istiqlal Mosque is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia with international style architecture, while the Cathedral is Jakarta’s archdiocese with a neo-gothic style. Indeed, these two holy places that stand opposite each other reflect “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika”, the country’s official motto that means “Unity in Diversity”.

    The woman driver then maneuvered through mini double red lights and circled the Bundaran Hotel Indonesia, another landmark of the city. On my left I saw Plaza Indonesia, one of the busiest malls in the heart of Jakarta. Jakarta wouldn’t be the way it is today without all the spacious malls, and Plaza Indonesia is one of the shopping havens that offers everything from local products to international brands as well as restaurants and bars serving Western and Asian food.

    New Point Of View
    To get on the Jakarta City Tour Bus is pretty easy – just look for the ‘City Tour’ signage on a bus stop. There are 14 bus stops with this signage across Jakarta’s iconic spots. On the weekend the bus stop at the Istiqlal Mosque also functions as the central stop where you can find an empty bus – this was where my journey started. Since March of 2014 the Jakarta City Tour Bus has been operating on a regular basis from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. except on Sundays, when the tour starts at 12 p.m. On Saturdays, a night tour that takes passengers around Kota Tua (Jakarta’s old town) is available until 11 p.m. The tour bus covers three major routes; Jakarta Historical Places, Modern Jakarta, and Art and Culinary.

    Taking the Jakarta City Tour Bus will give you a new insight on the busy city – at least that’s what I experienced. When my tour ended, I could see this city from a different point a view. I can’t help but feeling a deeper love-hate relationship with Jakarta, an affair that has already been manifested throughout my experience of living in this city. “Hate” because Jakarta is quite chaotic, yet this mega city is hard to forget and always makes me want to come back. After all, this is the city where dreamers come to make their dreams come true and realists come to dream.
     

     
    Irene Barlian

       Contributor : Irene Barlian


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