Capital Corner


    When The City’s Asleep

      30-9-2017
     

    When The City’s Asleep

    Jakarta looks more beautiful when the city lights are on.

    When The City’s Asleep

    When The City’s Asleep

    When the city is quite empty, the sky is clearer.
    When The City’s Asleep
    Jakarta looks more beautiful when the city lights are on.

    When The City’s Asleep

    When The City’s Asleep
    When the city is quite empty, the sky is clearer.

    Our contributor Fadil Aziz cherished the only time of the year when Jakarta was quite deserted...

    Imagine a city with about 10 million people and more coming to either work, travel or simply live. Can we call it a gargantuan city? Maybe we can, since the sprawling city becomes even larger over time, packed with more people, vehicles, apartments, offices, and so on. The city now even “eats up” its neighboring areas, transforming into an even bigger urban town with about 30 million people. This is Jakarta, a metropolitan that is often considered to be “never asleep”. However, not many people know that there is a short time in the year when Jakarta morphs into a sleeping beauty and reveals its charm and charisma...

    The Old Days
    Jakarta was once a tiny trading outpost of an inland Hindu kingdom around the estuary of Ciliwung River, about 600 years ago. In early 16th AD, the Portuguese had an eye on this sleepy hamlet (named Sunda Kalapa at that time) to find a spice trade route in the Malay Archipelago. They established a stronghold there, but Fatahillah, on behalf of the Sultanate of Demak, conquered the Portuguese in Sunda Kalapa in 1527. Sunda Kalapa was then renamed to Jayakarta, but in early 17th AD, the Dutch seized the port of Jayakarta and changed its name to Batavia.

    Batavia played a very important role during the Dutch colonization as it became the administrative and capital city of the Dutch East Indies for more than three centuries. The Dutch built a magnificent Stadhuis (a big spice warehouse) and canals which can still be seen now in the Old Batavia area – please refer to our ‘Capital Corner’ of the June 2016 issue, titled “Historical Buildings in the Old Area of Jakarta”.

    According to Britannica in 1910, during the colonization, the population of the city ranged from 100,000-200,000 people. The number increased dramatically to 533,000 people (based on Forbes, 2004) in the first half of the 20th century. In 1949, the city was renamed to Djakarta and has ever since become the capital city of Indonesia, attracting economy-driven people from all over the country, and the world. Hence, it has an estimated population of 10 million people, making it the 10th largest city in the world.

    However, many people who work in Jakarta live in the satellite cities, which are often called “the sphere”. The term “Greater Jakarta” is also commonly used to refer to these areas which include Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi (Jabodetabek). If we combine the population of Jakarta with its spheres, the population reaches a staggering figure of about 32 million people! Can you imagine? No wonder the Greater Jakarta area is among the largest urban agglomerations on the planet.

    The daily traffic congestion is also proof of how big Jakarta is. Many of the city dwellers have to start their journey to the office early in the morning just after the sun rises and return home long after it sets. Spending hours on the road is a typical scenario and becomes a daily routine for the Jakarta people. Therefore, a thorough schedule is mandatory every day. A half hour difference can be a make or a break; you can either be on time or even too early to your meeting or end up wasting too much time in the traffic and return rather late at night. Sounds scary? It is. This is what happens when almost 12 percent of Indonesian population reside here.

    The Sleeping Beauty
    Still, there is beauty and positivity to this city. As I have mentioned earlier, many Jakarta people and commuters originated from other places in the country. At one point, they will make a return journey to their kampongs, mostly back to Java and Sumatra to visit their families and relatives. This usually happens during the Eid al-Fitr holiday that falls after the fasting month of Ramadhan.

    Eid al-Fitr, or Lebaran, is one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar that is celebrated throughout the world. To celebrate the beginning of a new chapter after spending a full month of fasting, Muslims in Jakarta who have moved out of their kampongs to work or study will go back to their kampongs to gather with their family members. Thus, annual migration has become a part of the celebration in the country as millions of people travel out of Jakarta using all kind of vehicles, leaving the city empty and a bit deserted.

    Off they go, and all the streets are empty, especially in the first few days of Lebaran – however, many of them stay behind in Jakarta and go to amusement parks, museums and malls on the following day, so it’s better to avoid these places to get away from the crowd. Restaurants, food joints and cafés are still open to serve customers, especially on the second or third day after Lebaran. Still, Jakarta morphs into a sleeping beauty. For me personally, this is the time to enjoy the city without any hustle and traffic congestion.

    As the city is more “asleep” than usual, it is probably best to tour Jakarta using a bicycle (or simply walk) and visit the Old Batavia area. You can also go to the Pasar Ikan area, Senayan, and many other places. This year, I opted to hunt for some cityscape pictures, focusing on aerial views. I was able to fly my drone safely enough compared to normal days because there weren’t any helicopters whatsoever. Less people on the ground also means less risk. The air was also far from polluted. I could even see mountains surrounding Greater Jakarta quite clearly in the distance, among them Mount Salak, Mount Gede Pangrango, and the Halimun on the west; Puncak and Sentul area on the South; and Hambalang and Kelapa Nunggal hill on the East. This was pretty amazing. I can tell you that this is quite a rare occasion during my 40 years of living in the city.

    No matter what activities you choose, enjoying Jakarta when most of the population are off to their kampongs would be a great experience. The city will reward you with gorgeous scenery which is precious to treasure for a lifetime.


       Author:  Team
      Magazine issue > Capital Corner
    loading...
    loading...
  •    RelatedArticle