As November comes to an end and December fast approaching, our holiday to Indonesia in September feels farther and farther away. I can’t remember how the humid heat feels like anymore and what it was like to wear anything but a big cozy sweater. We had a really fantastic time exploring the islands of Java and Bali; definitely one of our favourite trips to date!
We started the whole tour in Jakarta, on the west side of the island of Java and the capital of Indonesia. We were warned before going that Jakarta was not the most exciting city, that we shouldn’t spend too much time there, but we arrived mid-morning with an open mind. We weren’t travelling on our own, we joined a tour with Intrepid Tours for 14 days from Jakarta to Ubud, so we did only have one day to see the city.
The great thing about Intrepid is that the groups are never too big. The maximum capacity is 12 people, and our group was only 9. It was a great size to explore with, we never felt too big or cumbersome, and in Indonesia we all anyhow stood out as tourists regardless of being in a group or not!
We explored a local market, getting to know some of the fruits common to the country and had our first taste of street food. It was also the start of our group’s love affair with the delicious and decadent pancake sandwich known as “martabak” (below).
It was really interesting to learn more about the city’s history and especially the Dutch colonial era. The historic centre (title image), quite close to the central train station, was fun to explore; the architecture looks familiar but hard to place at the same time, surround by an entirely different atmosphere and climate. We also spotted a lot of Dutch words in the Indonesian vocabulary, which sometimes gave us a leg-up in comprehension!
Jakarta is home to the largest mosque in southeast Asia, Istiqlal Mosque. It can house more than 200,000 people for prayer and lies directly across the street from the Jakarta Cathedral. It’s a juxtaposition that the city is proud of. We were able to visit both and experience a bit of the duality of Jakarta’s past.
In the end we saw most of the main sites all within one day. But I think I could have happily spent one or even two more days exploring the city. We love experiencing places through its restaurants and cafes, and we didn’t have much time to explore in our own way. So do take some time to discover the city, there is a lot more to it than people will lead you to believe!