THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jakarta Tour


I was in Jakarta from 12th -15th March on an AirAsia ticket I had bought about six months ago. The to and from fare was RM 194.98 ( including taxes and other costs).The flight from KL - Jakarta was about two hours and the plane departed and arrived on time.It was an Indonesian AirAsia flight and the in-flight service was good. I had nasi kuning with tea for brunch. It was still available although it was a return journey to Jakarta. Much unlike other AirAsia flights when most of the snack packs are sold out on a return trip. It was service with a smile all the way to Indonesia with that cabin crew.

Jakarta is a dynamic capital city of Indonesia. Indonesia has 17,000 islands, with a population of more than 240 million. There are 300 ethnic groups, speaking more than 200 distinct languages. Hence there is an incredible diversity of languages, cultures and religions, although Islam is the dominant. City of Jakarta alone has a population close to 10 million.

The central Jakarta area is the centre of Government and Commerce and boasts of ultra modern, futuristic buildings and wide roads and greenery - a well planned capital. But a mere 7km away is the typical squatter settlements not unlike many asian cities.These squatter settlements are mushrooming in large numbers in the outskirts and the government seems indifferent to their existence. According to my taxi driver there is no way to control people from rural areas coming to the cities in search of a better life.

Transportation in the city does not seem to be a problem. There are tuk-tuks (motorised tricycles ), vans, small buses, normal buses, coaches and trains for public transportation. These together with motorcycles and cars fill up the motor ways and very often cause massive traffic jams especially before and after office hours. At the wrong time you could end up spending hours on the road in Jakarta.

Among the tourist attractions l visited were the Taman Mini-Indonesia Indah, a 300 hectare park offering a sampling of the country's more than 300 cultures. The highlight features Museum Indonesia and Tanah Airku performing arts theatre.

The next day I went to the Ancol Jakarta Baycity, a vast 300 hectare ocean side park, an entertainment park for all ages.Special features include performances of sea animals, a safe lagoon for water sports,and a host of restaurants, hotels and nightclubs.The sea world is the biggest sea aquarium in the Far East. Journey to the bottom of the world at the microworld movies are regularly screened. Dunia Fantasy includes a thrilling roller coaster, flume rides, turbo tour simulatars and bumper cars.

The following day was spent going to the planetarium, which was unfortunately closed for renovations . Hitching a ride on a tuk-tuk, I sped to the Jakarta Cultural Centre to buy a ticket for the show, only to be told to come back later in the evening to get the tickets for the show at night. And hence I missed that show as well.

Because of the constant threat of traffic jams and afternoon rain downpour, I left to the airport early that afternoon of the final day. Luckily for me that day, there were fewer traffic jams and no rain and hence I arrived early at the airport.

The Soekarna-Hatta International Airport is a huge linear complex built using traditional Indonesian Architecture and comprises a Domestic arrival-departure area and an International arrival-departure area. Because of its linear design you could get in and get off in front of each airline's check-in counter, a novel design I have not seen at any other airports.The airport also boasts of a very beautiful garden-in-airport concept design, a pleasant difference from most airports.

My departure was however delayed by an hour because of the delayed arrival of the plane from Kuala Lumpur.

This short tour of Jakarta was indeed a memorable one for me as that country was in many ways different from Malaysia.

( Pixes by me - Top: Gedung Kesenian Jakarta, Jakarta Cultural Centre; Middle: Art work by an Indonesian artist at a gallery; Bottom: Souvenirs at the Airport Souvenir Shop. )