Jakarta aka The Durian and the white crater at Bandung
After the modern commercial metropolis of Singapore I was really looking forward to my visit to Indonesia and Jakarta. I did some research on Jakarta and apparently they gave Jakarta the nickname “The Durian“. Now for people that haven’t been to Asia much, the durian is a quite famous fruit around many Asian countries. It’s distinctive for its large size, stomach-churning odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. Western people often are appaled by the strong smell before even letting it touch the their tongues, but in most cases, there are always people that love it and hate it. With this said, you can probably kind of imagine why they call Jakarta the big durian.The city itself is really packed, dirty, sweaty and overpopulated. After spending some time in Malaysia and Singapore, walking downtown in Jakarta suddenly seemed like such a big culture shock. I had no idea what to expect of the local people and was really taken back by the poverty of the country. When people say Indonesia they probably often only picture the amazing beaches and landscapes from Bali, but here in the capital… there’s not much of that charm. The first couple of days I lived quite far out from the city center. I had to take the local train for 1 hour to get to the center and these trains are pretty ghetto to be honest. There are several classes depending on how much you’re willing to pay. The lowest rank one doesnt have aircon and no lights and I think the doors were just left open when it was running. I even saw people sitting on top of the cars. Anyway, Pontie, an Indonesian girl I met in Singapore invited me to stay at her place and recommended me to take a class higher, just to have a bit more luxury, which was still pretty average. In the center, there were actually only a few things that were slightly worthwile to visit. One of them was the Museum Bank Mandiri. It’s an old Dutch bank from the Dutch colonial era, inside you can see how the bank was run back in the days and you can even go down the vault. Not THAT impressive personally. Afterwards I went to the Museum Wayang, puppet museum, dedicated to puppetry, one of Indonesia’s most famous traditional art forms. There were tons of shadow puppets, 3-D puppets and special dance masks. All these buildings were situated in the historic Kota district. You can find tons of remnants of the Dutch colonization. Good for a stroll. Now looking back at the things I did and didn’t do, I feel like there’s a lot of stuff I haven’t done and could’ve. I think the main reason was that the city was pretty horrible to walk around in. I like my freedom and walk from place to place, but it was just so humid and hot to walk around all day and not to mention the dust everywhere. They do have a decent bus system that resembles a subway system with fixed stops and private lanes which makes it easy to move around the city center. As I said before, I stayed in Bogor with my friend Pontie. Bogor is about 60km away from Jakarta itself and it known for its world class botanic garden. Inside the garden you could find the presidential palace as well, now one of the Indonesian president’s summer escapes. There was also a wedding going on at the time, so me being the huge tourist, I kinda crashed it and went around taking some pictures of the people. 🙂
The only reason why I went to Bandung was to see Kawah Putih aka The White Crater. It’s a crater lake and tourist spot in a volcanic crater. I met up with, Juliah, another friend I met in Singapore along with Pontie and she showed me around Kawah Putih. Even before you get to the crater itself you could smell the strong sulfur smell around the place. It’s not that intoxicating, but I can imagine that if you stay around for a while it would get to you. The water itself was nice to see, everything was really white because of the water and the sulfur around it, the water was still steaming as well.There was a small hiking trail next to the crater as well, me and Julia went around and checked it out. I kinda wanted to find a nice spot at the top to take a picture of the whole crater. The hike itself wasn’t that challenging, but Juliah wasn’t really a hiker so she had a few difficult moments. But once we got to the top and back down, she was glad she went along with it. 🙂 The other thing that caught my eyes was just the random graffiti around the city. The whole area around the train station had some nice and colorful grafiti on the walls. Definitely worth a stroll. Bandung as a city itself was actually once called the Paris of Java and one of Indonesia’s megacities. You can still find some Dutch art-deco monuments around the city, but honestly, I’ve checked out some of them, they weren’t THAT spectacular to be honest, but maybe because I’m not an architect major or anything. After visiting my first crater, I made my way to Yogyakarta to check out some UNESCO sites and other historical places!