Jakarta, Indonesia 2019

The nation now known as Indonesia began as a Hindu kingdom called Tarumanagara in 417 A.D. as this is the earliest confirmed date based on a tablet found discussing waterways (sewage channels...) being built by the king.

It was stable and grew into a huge trading hub, given its amazing location between so many bodies of land and calm waterways, it lasted for 1,000 years. Then came the Portuguese. At first it was mutual defense in the area, and they worked together against other kingdoms. Around a hundred years after they met the Portuguese, the Dutch and English had come to trade in the area too. The prince at the time, Jayakarta (I wonder how the city got its name...), didn't like the forts being placed around this kingdom, so he partnered with the Brits, to attack the Dutch.

They lost. The Netherlands became their colonial master until WW2 when the Japanese invaded and were particularly harsh even after promising equality in exchange for Indonesian cooperation.

After the war, they declared independence seeing as they didn't have much support from the Netherlands at all during the war, resulting in five years of fighting. They won in 1950 and became an independent nation with Jakarta as the capital.

The city is now the capital of the most populous Muslim nation in the world and a massive banking and petroleum hub, so it's economically doing very well. There are other concerns which will be addressed later in this blog.

The Arrival

I flew in on a redeye out of Hong Kong International, and was coming in around 4am or some such thing, flying over the Java Sea, when I saw tons of lights below. Those are thousands of oil platforms giving a huge financial boost to Indonesia.

I landed, got my bag, and was through customs to a cab in 25 minutes from deplaning to cab leaving airport. I made a HUGE mistake, never take an unbranded cab. I paid 40% more than I would have on a meter.

Regardless, got to the JW Marriott around 5am. I had called Marriott from Hong Kong to see if I could get checked in earlier, but I didn't expect to be there that early. To my amazement, my room was ready, and I only had 40 minutes before the executive lounge was opening. Great timing.
Almost magical from the air, oil rigs
I got changed, showered, fed, unpacked, and eventually motivated to go explore. I mapped out where I wanted to go, but first I wanted to exchange money for more local currency. I found the cheapest rate was at the Grand Indonesia Mall, which was at the end of the subway line. My hotel was nowhere near the subway line... I walked along the sidewalks (sewers covered with concrete slabs, that is just how things are here) and saw a lot of real life.
Cats everywhere.  No, they don't eat them, my god By the mall, a monument signifying the welcoming Indonesian people
After exchanging my money, I began to walk around the streets in the Central Jakarta district towards the National Monument Park. It's quite a walk, and... well, the security situation for westerners isn't that great. I'm a bit crazy, so I didn't mind, but many of you might feel uncomfortable, and it's not without risk of kidnapping. Especially on the more secluded streets.

The park is quite a deal - it has an amusement park, gardens, the national monument, fountains - very large, and quite pleasant. There were lots of families. The national monument can be ascended but the wait can be hours and it costs (not a lot) to get in. I opted not to wait 2 and 1/2 hours to get up there.

The National Monument.  Very important to Indonesians
A complicated monument about Arjuna, an ancient king/hero who won the ultimate battle for truth with the horses leading him depicting the philosophies of leadership This park is quite lovely
Slowly I made my way back and then through the subway to the Hard Rock, as I usually do, for pins. I walked out in the 100 degree equatorial heat and grabbed a real cab back to the hotel. Good move!

That night, I ran into some Canadians in the executive lounge, and we went out for drinks to a night club (we're all old; it wasn't that exciting) in the Shangri-la Hotel. It was a nice club, reasonable prices, a lot of working girls and a lot of local people. Interesting to say the least, but that was the end of my night for sure.

I had been informed by Marriott Ambassador desk that it was ComicCon weekend in Jakarta, and I didn't have plans, so on the way to walking to the expo center, I screwed with the Russian Ambassador and explored some more of the city.
I'll probably pay for this when I try to go to St. Petersburg
Taste the legend!  Seriously, please do and tell me if it is good or not, I didn't goYes, the Minnesota coffee brand.  First international location, and the real deal. Being at sea level, with some places sinking lower than it each year... there are so many of these around
It was hot, and I got tired after a few miles, I think 7. I opted for a cab to the convention center. What a zoo and wow, people are the same everywhere, same nerds, same kids, same adults all doing the same things at a comic convention even on the other side of the planet.
Nerds are everywhere
WW2 reenactors!  My favorite!
You ask why I walked so much in a city that big? The traffic is horrid, every day, 6am to 10pm.
I swear the traffic is always this bad

Summary

Jakarta is really big, really crowded, millions of people and I think every single one of them drives. Security is not guaranteed here, Westerners get kidnapped and sometimes worse. It's rare, but never truly gone either. My hotel was blown up twice in the last 20 years. Everywhere has car gates and bomb checks. All buildings had security entrance checks, metal detectors and x-rays.

There is an old China town, a Dutch area and lots of museums. I made friends here, and will be going back for more hotel stays (which are 5 star if they are any stars) and seeing more of things. Overall not a tourist city, but fits into my agenda of approachable luxury and making more international friends.



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