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Ben's Jakarta I

Exploring Jakarta by Public Transport

semi-overcast 30 °C

Ben met us at the hotel to start a day seeing his sights of Jakarta travelling the way that ex-pats don't. It was hectic but very fascinating as we jumped on a smoky, windowless bus to a railway station and weaved through the stalls selling hardware, drinks, newspapers, phone cases, used shoes and cakes to wait on the busy platform. Ben bought a cup of tea for 7 cents from one of the guys who set up shop behind the fence on the platform and trade through the wire mesh. We caught a very crowded but air-conditioned train to find one of Ben's favourite coffee places. The better trains here are former Japanese ones that have been donated. Ben feels great that he is probably the only one of the thousands on them who can read the "air-conditioning is set to low" sign above the door. They still have all the Japanese signage and Ben has even seen Japanese destinations still at the front.

After a few more adrenalin-charged street crossings we made it to Bakoel Coffee which is a beautiful Dutch-colonial style cafe. The coffee and ambience was great. We also had our first experience of some of the curious aspects of Indonesian service. It is extremely calm and polite but rather quirky in that if you ask for for a menu item, the waiter will go into great detail to fully describe it and it's various permutations, take your the order on one of these well-explained items, then return a few moments later to apologise that they don't have it. It seems to be culturally difficult to say no or "that is not possible" in a direct way.

After a relaxing breakfast, we took a bus to Ben Hill (it's short for something) and had noodles at one of the fairly ramshackle wooden stalls beside a skyscraper with ANZ Bank written on it. This contrast between corporate wealth and how ordinary people live is quite striking. There are countless glass and steel billion dollar commercial and shopping facilities that would match anything anywhere in the world yet there is no basic sanitation. Something's not right.

We then got an extremely crowded transJakarta bus to one of the swanky shopping centres called Grand Indonesia. There is airport style security to get into these places (as there is for the hotels) that is obviously a response to the terrorism issues but I can't help wondering if it's really used to keep certain classes of Indonesian people out. After purchasing a couple of items, we went back to Plaza Semeggi to the rooftop bars for a drink. After watching the wait staff rearrange all of the furniture several times, we took a taxi to Ben's neighbourhood for a meal at a fish restaurant and checked out his Kost or room at a kind of boarding house.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 02:56 Archived in Indonesia

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Dear travellerspoint blogger,

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by dhieaz

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