Jakarta Crash CourseJakarta is the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia (sometimes spelled as Djakarta). With an area covering 637 square kilometers, it enjoys provincial status. As Indonesia's main gateway, the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport serves a growing number of international
Once saddled with a reputation as a poverty-ridden hell hole, Jakarta mutated into a metropolis with all the outward appearance of an Asian boom town in not much more than a decade. However, it took only a week of rioting in May 1998 to reduce some of this modern façade to a burnt out shell. Shopping malls, offices, banks and businesses owned by ethnic Chinese and the ruling Soeharto family took the brunt of the rioters' anger. Jakarta remains very much at the centre of political events re-shaping Indonesia and South East Asia, and the speed at which it has recovered from the riots and the political and economic turmoil lays truth to its undaunting stability.
That said, Jakarta is the most expensive city in Indonesia, the most polluted and the most congested. But if you can withstand this onslaught and afford to indulge in its charms, then it is also one of the region's most exciting metropolises. Consider Jakarta the 'big durian' - the foul-smelling exotic fruit that some can't stomach and others can't resist.
Jakarta's historyBecause of it's great strategic trading location as one of the watery cross-roads of South East Asia, beginning in the fiften century, trading ships from present day Vietnam (Champa) and China, and all the islands in between and throughout the Indonesian archipelago carrying everything from seafood, gold, rice to especially important, Molaccan spices have archored at the Ciliwung River mouth. It was a tremendous blend of peoples and customs, West meeting East. Eventually Jakarta grew into an international trading hub. Sunda Kelapa, once an active harbour town ran up both shores of the river from the 1100s to the 14oos. both sides of the river between the 12th century and 15th century. Because of less draft, newer commercial vessels in from the 1600s to 1800s to could travel further up the Ciliwung allowing further trade with newer partners.
The principal port of the Hindu Sunda Kingdom was Sunda Kelapa, while the Pakuan Pajajaran Kingdom was two days further journey upriver, known now as Bogor.
Four Portuguese boats commanded of Captain Alvin in 1513, landed in Sunda Kelapa coming from Malacca to discover a well-run and busy harbor. Malacca had been conquered two years earlier by Portuguese naval officer, Alfonso d' Albuquerque. He came looking for pepper and found the motherload. Later Portuguese Enrique Leme came to Kelapa bearing gifts Sunda's King. Being well received, on August 21, 1522 he was able to sign the Treaty of Friendship between Portugal and the Kingdom of Sunda. With this, the Portuguese were granted permission to build a 'go down' or warehouse, and also to put up a fort in Kelapa, and appreciated by the Sudanese as reinforcing their position against the fast approaching Muslim troops in central Java.To honour this treaty, the Portugese placed a Padrao, a big stone cross inscribed with the coat of arms of Portugal as part of a land claim, however it disappeared for several years. The stone was was unearthed in 1918 in the same area, and can be seen now on Medan Merdeka barat Street in the National Museum. Where is was found suggests that the original shoreline was some four hundred meters further inland than today. As the
By 1596, the Dutch began arriving in Jayakarta and were been granted permission to build a go down in 1610 across from Prince Jayawikarta on the Ciliwung River's east bank. Then in 1615 the prince was frightened by the Dutch cannons facing his palace, so he allowed the British to build bedside him.The fragile relationship between the prince and the Dutch increased in December 1618, when his soldiers attacked and took over the Dutch go down, as fifteen British ships arrived led by Sir Thomas Dale, once the governor of Virginia. Aging rapidly, the British admiral was indecisive allowing the Dutch governor to escape to Molucca for support. But negotiations failed between the prince and Dutch governor as the Dutch had conclusively proven their deception aiming their cannons at the prince, and the governor was arrested. Prince Jayawikarta entered a friendship agreement with British.
But as history would have it, in 1619 the Muslim sultinate chastized Prince Jayawikarta for attacking the Dutch and befriending the British, and was summoned back to Banten. This strengthened the Dutch, who burned Jayawikarta to the ground, renaming it Batavia paying homage to the ethnic group of Batavier, who were the ancestors of the Dutch, then rebuilding it to soon become the home base of the powerful Dutch East Indies Company for nearly the next three hundred years.
President Soekarno initiated a number of super projects such as Hotel Indonesia, the Senayan Sports Complex and the Sarinah Department Store. Near the end of Soekarno's tenure there was a failed communist coup where five generals were murdered, and a monument was erected in their honour, Lubang Buaya Heroes Monument.
After Soekarno's term of office ended in 1966, General Haji Mohammad Soeharto took over the post bringing improved economic prosperity and political stability to Indonesia after years of difficulties. Indonesia finally became rice self-sufficient, but all good things come to an end, and his did during the 1997 Asian economic meltdown. Under his leadership, Indonesia became self-sufficient in rice. His power came to an unfortunate end, however, as a result of a prolonged financial and economic crisis triggered by the Asian economic meltdown in 1997. Roits and protests forced him out of office, and his vice president, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie took power.
Today, despite a record of civil unrest in such a difficult multi-ethnic and religious society, hope springs towards the future. Poverty increasing with a burgeoning young population is far from resolved, and until they get a grip on it, there will never be any true and lasting peace. The new president Susilo Bambang Yudhohono is ruling now and was democratically elected. With an open society, Indonesians are once again hoping the country will stay the course, remain tolerant of other peoples cultures and religions, and maintain stability into the future.
a democratically elected government led by President Abdurrahman Wahid now rules the republic. In a more open society, Indonesians hope that the country will once again return to the path toward prosperity.
Geography of Jakarta
Jakarta is on the northern coast of western Java, Indonesia's most populated island, and lies on a flat, low alluvial plain which is prone to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall. Jakarta is the center of government and commerce with an extensive communications network linking the rest of the country to the outside world.Indonesia lies between the mainland of South-East Asia and Australia in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world’s largest archipelago state. Indonesia is made up of six main islands – Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Bali, Kalimantan (part of the island of Borneo) and Irian Jaya (the western half of New Guinea) – and 30 smaller archipelagos. In total, the Indonesian archipelago consists of more than 17,000 islands; 6000 of these are inhabited and stretch over 4828km (3000 miles), most lying in a volcanic belt with more than 300 volcanos, the great majority of which are extinct. The landscape varies from island to island, ranging from high mountains and plateaus to coastal lowlands and alluvial plains.
This is one of the hottest and most humid capitals in the world and the weather is a main consideration in determining when to visit Jakarta. It is always hot and to some extent, humid. There is little seasonal variation in temperature; the average high in January is 29° C (84° F and in July 30° C (86° F). The period from October to February is the wet season when at least some rain falls each day, often in short, torrential busts. It rarely rains at all during the remaining months, however, the average annual precipitation in Jakarta is 1,790 mm (71 in).
Economy of Jakarta
Jakarta really blossomed into an international hub of trade under the Europeans and it continues to play an important role in both international and domestic commerce today. It is Indonesia's largest economic center attracting most of Indonesia's domestic and foreign investment and, as the administrative capital, government expenditures are also significant. Jakarta is benefitting from strong tourism growth because of its role as a gateway to other areas of Indonesia, especially Bali.
Manufacturing is notable, and products include textiles, footwear, apparel, foods, chemicals, plastics, and metal products. Near Jakarta's port is a tax-free export processing zone - an industrial area where manufacturers may produce goods for export. Also, a large government developed industrial area partially financed by a World Bank loan is located at Pulo Gadung, south of the port area.
Jakarta's need for renewal and modern facilities has fueled an ongoing construction boom since the early 1970s as increasing demand for office blocks, hotels, and housing attracts private funds. Public funds are used to address the city's electricity and water resources, among other needs. Real estate, financial services such as banking and insurance, and business services such as advertising employ relatively few people but produce high income.
The number of private automobiles has increased faster than any other form of transportation in Jakarta and this has created a demand for the expansion of roads and parking. Traffic congestion is a serious problem despite costly efforts to create new and improved roads. Traffic control measures, such as restricted lanes for high-occupancy vehicles, have helped somewhat. The majority of people must rely on public transportation. Although the fleet is old and breakdowns are frequent, buses are the most common form of mass transit. In addition, a variety of smaller vehicles, including the motorized three-wheeled bajaj, are important. To ease congestion, the government banned the use of becaks (three-wheeled pedicabs). However, they are still widely used in the city's neighborhoods as an inexpensive and accessible mode of transportation. The modernization and expansion of Jakarta's urban rail system has been an important planning issue since the 1970s as a major upgrading of the electrical rail network is now in progress.In response to increased tourism and business traffic, Sukarno-Hatta International Airport opened in 1985 at Cengkareng, west of the city center. Port facilities are located just north of the city center at Tanjung Priok, one of the chief ports in Indonesia.
Jakarta's telephone system has improved greatly, but the number of houses with phones is still relatively low and a waiting list exists for connection. The city's newspapers are mostly read by middle- and upper-class residents. Kompas and Berita Harian, published in Bahasa Indonesia, Indonesia's official language, are among the major daily newspapers available in Jakarta. The Jakarta Post is the major English language daily. Radio communication is dominated by Radio of the Republic of Indonesia (RRI), but radio broadcast stations are numerous. Jakarta also receives several television channels, including one government-operated and -controlled station (TVRI).
Housing is one of Jakarta's most serious problems. The quality of the buildings varies widely; more than half the structures are temporary or only semipermanent. The most common types are single-story structures made from wood and, occasionally, bamboo mats. Also common are single-family detached or semidetached houses made from brick, cement, and wood, with tile roofs. The government has made some effort to construct low-cost housing. Luxury houses in limited-access neighborhoods, such as Kemang, are increasingly common on the southern fringes of the city.
Electricity supply has expanded to meet the city's needs and most houses have electricity for lighting. However, water supply and sewage disposal are still inadequate. Less than half the households have piped water for drinking. Fewer still use piped water for bathing and washing. Only a small part of Jakarta is served by piped sewers and many homes lack septic tanks.
DemographicsAt the 1990 census, DKI Jakarta had a population of 8,259,266. The 1997 population was 9,341,400. These figures do not include seasonal residents who may number more than 1
Jakarta is a magnet for migrants from other areas of Indonesia; during the late 1980s an estimated 250 migrants arrived daily. Most were between the ages of 15 and 39 years, many with six years of education or less. There is also a significant number of commuters and seasonal migrants who work in government, manufacturing, and services. In addition, many of these temporary residents are engaged in informal employment as drivers, vendors, street sweepers, or in other similar occupations.The population of Jakarta includes people of many ethnic groups. Sundanese from West Java and Javanese dominate, but Sumatrans, Minangkabau, Balinese and others are well represented. There is also a significant Chinese population that is usually divided into two groups: Peranakans, who are Indonesian-born Chinese with some Indonesian ancestry; and Totoks, who have only Chinese ancestry and are usually foreign born.
Bahasa Indonesia is the official language of ndonesia. It is similar to Malay and written in the Roman alphabet. In addition, there are over 250 recognized languages spoken by as many distinct ethnic groups. Many local languages are further divided by special forms of address depending on social status, and all languages are spoken in a variety of local dialects. English is the most widely used foreign language for business and tourism, and many people in the more remote areas have a basic command of English. The older generation still speak Dutch as a second language.
Religion in IndonesiaThere is a Muslim majority of approximately 88 per cent, with Christian (ten per cent), Hindu (mainly in Bali) and Buddhist minorities. Animist beliefs are held in remote areas. Most people in Jakarta are Muslims. However, Buddhism, Hinduism, and a variety of Christian faiths are also represented.
Entry requirementsUnited States, British,Canadians,Australians, South Africans, New Zealand and Irish citizens require a passport and a visa. All passports must be valid for six months from date of entry. Return ticket or
You are required to register with the local Rukun Tertangga (RT) Office and the local police when you arrive in Indonesia. If you are staying more than 90 days you must have a visa that allows this and you also have to register with the local immigration office. Ensure you have the correct, current visa at all times as otherwise you may be fined, jailed, deported or banned from re-entering Indonesia for a period of time.
Under Indonesian law you are required to carry identification (your passport, Kartu Ijin Tinggal Sementara (KITAS) or Residents Stay Permit) at all times.
Places to visit in JakartaIt should be noted that museums are open daily from 8.00 a.m. (except Mondays) till 2.00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. On Fridays closing hour is 11.00 a.m. and on Saturdays at 1.00 p.m.
The National Monument
'Monas' or otherwise called the National Monument, was erected while Sukarno was in power to instill unabating nationalism. It represents the determination the people have to live in a free society, and the acknowledgement of what they did with their August, 1945 Proclamation of Independence. The 445 foot tall marble structure is crowned with a flaming spigot coated in thirty five kilograms of pure gold. At the base is a museum depicting the Indonesian struggle as well as a meditation chamber. Open to public viewing, there is an elevator taking you to a spectacular view of Jakarta.
Central MuseumIt was established by Dutchman Rademacher in 1778 as the Association of Arts and Sciences of Batavia, offering amazing historical evidence of the earliest stone age beginnings of Indonesia up to today.
Indonesia in Miniature Park (Taman Mini)This extensive miniaturized park offers a look of the diversity of Indonesia's archipelago. Represented are Indonesia's twenty seven provinces with their individual characteristics and exact architectural reproductions. Orchids are seen all over the world and Indonesia is no exception displaying hundreds of varieties in its orchid garden. Enjoy the walk in aviary bird park, an animal museum, a recreational area, several restaurants and a pool for swimming. The Balinese architecture in the Indonesia Museum draws you inside to see the various costumes, crafts and arts from different regions of Indonesia. This area of the complex is open from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. daily. Imax Keong Emas Theatre or Golden Snail Theater. Also in Taman mini is a large Imax system with a movie about the wonders if Indonesia, open from 11.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Museum KomodoBuilt in the shape of the Varanus Komodiensis (the only prehistoric giant lizard found exclusively on Indonesia's Komodo Island), it exhibits dioramas depicting the fauna of insects and wild animals. Located
Museum PerangkoThe Stamps Museum at Taman Mini has an attractive collection of stamps once issued in the country over the years. The museum is ideal for philatelists. Open daily except Monday, from 8am to 3pm.
Jaya Ancol Dreamland
As Jakarta's biggest and certainly most popular recreational park, they used beach land tat was reclaimed by the Bay of Jakarta. It has both freshwater and seawater aquariums, several swimming pools, a man-made lagoon for boating, fishing, bowling. There are several nightclubs, a variety of restaurants, steam bath and even massage parlors (massage only!).
You can see sea lions and dolphins perform daily within the Aquarium. The attached Ancol Complex has a golf course, marina, hotels, Dunia Fantasi or Fantasy Land, and even a drive in theater. Pasar Seni or the art market has a good collection of paintings, handicrafts, and souvenirs for sale from all over Indonesia. There is also an open-air theater where performances are held in the local Indonesian dialect.
Fantasy Land is a ten hectares entertainment park is located inside Ancol Dreamland. There are plans to expand it into a 500 acre park that will introduce visitors to modern technology and sciences. They will offer tours to the various continents and use animated puppets to explain things.The park also offers a number of restaurants and souvenir shops.
The Marina Jaya AncolThe marina houses several yachts, sail and boats, and it the place of departure to visit the nearby Pulau Seribu plus some islands scattered around the Jakarta Bay. Enjoy renting various water sports equipment, jet skis, sail boats, even fishing tackle. There are tents along the sunny beach to rent for sunbathing and keeping your things, and several stalls selling refreshments.
Jalan SurabayaJalan Surabaya is a street located in a better area of Jakarta, but mostly people recognize it for the giant flea market. Enjoy bartering and haggling for everything including porcelain, ornate lamps, brass-ware, and crafts. Before paying too much for an antique, be sure it is authentic, as most are not.
This building was initially the town hall of the Dutch East Indies Company's, finished in 1627. As far back as 1705, remodelling began with a gate of stone and offices. The famous Indonesian folk hero Diponegoro was help prisoner in its terrible dungeon before he was finally exiled to Sulawesi.
Until 1970, they used building as a barracks then later for the city's administration, but they decided to restore it to its former self, and show how the Dutch ruled Batavia, with there documents, antique furniture, porcelain and weathered maps. There is a cannon from the 1500's near the cobblestone square.
The fish market Sunda Kelapa (Pasar Ikan) is on the River Ciliwung. Formerly it was the harbor town and called Sunda Kelapa, it is the place of Portuguese trade with Hindus from the Pajajaran Kingdom in the 1500s.
Fish are auctioned off each morning. Along the street towards it it are several stalls catering to the fishermen, as well as shells, etc. for the tourists.The Dutch dominated Jakarta and all of Indonesia starting from this place, with remnants the old fort plus their trading post, Kasteel Batavia, still there. You may find tall masted schooners hailing from South
T.I.M. Art CenterOne of the better focal points of cultural activity is the Art Center for Jakarta, Taman Ismail Marzuki, but often just TIM for short. It has exhibition halls, an arts academy, theaters, a building for archives and even a planetarium, and it is supposed to be the biggest building of its type in South East Asia. Most hotels display their monthly program showing events, exhibitions, musicals, poetry, plays, dance recitals and performances, drama and folk art from all over Indonesia.
In the Bay of Jakarta is a group of islands offering the perfect escape from the city. Relax on their powder white sand beaches backed by palm trees. Skin divers love the clear water to see the variety of pretty fish and multi-coloured corals that await. You can reach the islands through Tanjung Priok and Sunda Kelapa on a ferry or hire a boat. There is an airstrip on the island of Pulau Tanjung and fresh water only on Just Pulau Ayer or Pulau Bidadari. A company is developing a few of the islands with restaurants, cottages, and diving and sailing facilities, but it certainly has a long way to go to catch up to Cancun! Catch it before it self-destructs.
Taman Ria Remaja SenayyanYou will find it at Jalan Pintu 8th Senayan, the park's wonderful little lake is used for canoeing, boating, and cycle boats. Children will enjoy mini-cars, merry-go-round and trains to keep them out of trouble. In the evening, entertainment includes live bands and local comedians. It is open daily from 4pm to 10pm, Saturdays 8am to midnight; Sundays and holidays from 8am to 10pm.
Ragunan ZooThe biggest zoo in Jakarta is located in the Ragunan suburb in the south of Jakarta. It is a lush and tropical setting. The indigenous animals such as the famous Komodo dragon, tapirs, anoas, Java tigers, bantengs, wild oxen
The Wayang Museum
This museum is a puppetry museum located in the west part of the Old Town, with displays of their wayang puppets coming from all locations of both Indonesia and as well, Southeast Asia. These leather and wooden puppets are of the finest workmanship for this traditional form of theatre. You can catch quicker shows of the puppets each Sunday morning.
Bird Market (Pasar Burung)
Unfortunately birds are for sale here, fully uncontrolled, no sense of what endangered species they are selling, needless to say it is quite colourful and loud, and located in Pasar Burung or bird market in Jalan Pramuka. If you must, it is open daily from 9am. You may need an interpreter.
Satria Mandala Museum
A centrally located museum representing the developments of the Armed Forces of Indonesia and its help in the persuit of Indonesian independence. There are many military oddities. Open daily except for Mondays.
Lubang Buaya Heroes MonumentLocated southeast of Jakarta maybe 20 kilometers from central Jakarta, you will find a a park honouring the memory of six army generals and an officer slain in an porly co-ordinated Communist-style coup d'etat. You will find the main attractions are the statues as part of the Pancasila monument showing the seven heros near a well that they were apparently thrown into after being tortured and murdered by the communist death squads.
This museum displays various textiles from all over the country, from hand-woven cotton, silk and batiks, as well as, of ancient or contemporary productions.
Maritime MuseumTwo warehouses are the only ones left, which were of the first trading post and port of the Dutch East Indies Company in Java. They now house the Maritime Museum. The old harbormaster's tower stands nearby. Open from 8.00 a.m. till 2.00 p.m. on Tuesdays Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. On Fridays closed at 11.00 a.m. and on Saturday at 1.00 p.m. It closes on Monday.
Portuguese Church Opposite the Kota Railway Station, behind the Museum of Old Batavia, is the oldest church in Jakarta built between 1693 and 1696. It was built by the Portuguese, among the first Europeans to arrive in Indonesia. Its exterior is plain, but inside you'll see carved pillars, a baroque pulpit and organ, copper chandeliers, solid ebony pews, and plaques that commemorate prominent Dutch administrators.
Parliament BuildingThis very modern edifice on Jalan Gatot Subroto is the parliament building where every five years the People's Consultative Assembly (the National Congress) will hold their sessions. With permission granted in advance, visitors can be allowed in.
Perintis Kemerdekaan Building and the Soekarno - Hatta MonumentBoth of these are situated at Jalan Proklamasi 56, on the former site of the residence of President Soekarno where he claimed the Indonesian independence. Open daily from 8am
It seems every tropical country has a place for people to view several varieties of orchids, and Indonesia's Slipi and Taman Mini is no exception. They say Indonesia's orchids are the most unusual and exotic looking.
CondetThis village in southern Jakarta is a protected area where the old rural life style of Jakarta is preserved.
Indonesia Jaya Crocodile Park
This park in Pluit, North Jakarta has about 700 crocodiles of all sizes and ages. It offers regular shows, usually taking their themes from popular Indonesian folk tales.
Indonesia is a wonderful place to acquire fantastic works of art. Check out the handicrafts from all over Indonesia. Of particular popularity are the waxed and dyed batik paintings which originated in Yojakarta, ebony carvings of beautiful women, sea shell jewelry, gorgeous woven wall hangings, electronic and photographic equipment, garments made to order and local herbal cosmetics. By the time you get these things home, you won't want to depart with them as gifts for others.
Safety issues in Jakarta
The most sensational things always make the news, and in the case of safety and security in Jakarta, it is the terrorist activities that do so. In recent years there have been attacks in Indonesia directed towards Westerners by Muslim extremists. But the chances of being in such a problem are propertional to how you avoid situations where you are in crowds of Westerners, such as bus tours, large hotels, bars and discos, the airport before going through customs, markets where tourists visit, embassies, Christian houses of worship, etc., places where the extremists, most often suicide bombers, want to target. They want to go out with a bang, taking as many infidels as they can, so you are pretty safe (from terroristic activities) in casual areas where the pace is slow, and peaceful. Keep a low profile, and keep your religious thoughts to yourself.
Most of the attacks occur during Christian holidays.
Foreigners run a slight risk of being kidnapped as well, so be vigilant especially on places like foot bridges, and try to give nobody an opportunity to take advantage of you.
Civil Unrest/Political Tension
Stay away from demonstrations and protests, as if you need to be told. Why would you want to get involved? If you need to visit an embassy or government administrative office, call ahead to confirm your appointment, so you don't needlessly go to places that could become dangerous.
The presidential Palace and other government buildings are often places where protests and demonstrations take place, and are often well-publicized in advance (if your read Indonesian).
CrimeCrime is where you are far more likely to have problems, rather than terrorism. Pick pockets, and petty theft are occuring at a greater rate than ever before, and the jails are filling up. Credit card fraud is uncreasing, so check your statements to be sure you actually made all the purchaes they are claiming. ATM machines are another source of criminal activities. Some people have been robbed just after they get their money. Use ATMs in secure places (banks, malls), during daylight hours, and only take out what you may need for a few days. On the increase also are temporary kidnappings where foreigners, often in taxis, are taken at gun point from one ATM to the next, and forced to withdraw the maximum they can each time. Be careful of purse snatchings, especially drive-by motorcycles who approach a woman from behind, and grab her purse. Also, increasing are day and night time robberies, where cars are held up at gun point at a stop light.
If you need a taxi, try to get one through a reputable intermediary, such as an airport taxi stand, or through your hotel. Otherwise you run a slight risk of what has been mentioned above. If you need to catch a taxi on the street, write down the identification number of the taxi, plate number, taxi registration number, anything identifying.
Another way tourists have been robbed is by having their drink spiked. If you frequent places with strangers, be careful that someone you can trust keeps an eye on your drink when you leave it unattended.
Another way tourists have been robbed in Jakarta is when the thieves place a nail under your tire when stopped or parked. They then follow you, and become the 'good samaritans' helping you change the tire, while either robbing you behind your back when you are occupied, or at gun point.
Remember that Indonesia has incredibly harsh penalties, and even though your home government will do what it can to help, it can't get you out of jail. Drug possession for even a small amount can result in large fines and jail time, trafficing in recreational drugs can lead to the death penalty. Keep a close eye on your bags at all time, even instead of putting them in the trunk of your taxi, it is better to keep them with you in the cab, so that no one has the opportunity to plant anything on you. Police love to bust you, and popular bars and restaurants are often targetted by them.
The death penalty is handed out almost frivolously, so if you get involved in any serious crime such a treason, piracy or those activities involving bodily harm, don't say you haven't been warned.
Avoid gambling in Indonesia as it is illegal. There are gambling rings that operate, and if you get into debt, you could face some serious problems.
You will see signs in certain places that prohibit photography, so if in doubt, ask first.
Foreigners need an international drivers licence to drive the appropriate vehicle in Indonesia, your home country driver's licence will not suffice.
Basically be conservative in Jakarta, including modest dress and behavior.
Health IssuesIt is recommended you carry travel insurance in case of illness or an accident. Medical standards are far below those of the West, and payment is generally required before the care begins, even in emergency situations. Emergency evacuation to Singapore or Australia can cost ten of thousands of dollars. Be sure to check with your insurance agent before you leave home, exactly what you are covered for.
I have a Swedish friend who was sitting near the back of a bus in nearby Sumatra. The driver drove like an idiot, racing on hairpin curves, etc. and when the bus fell off a bridge and crashed into the water below and started to sink, my friend tried to get his bearings, and then kicked the window out where he was sitting, and crawled out, then he reached inside and started pulling out as many arms and hands as he could. About twenty people died in the crash, and he lost everything, as his bag was attached to the roof, and got swept down stream. With only his passport on his person and no AmEx travellers cheques that got washed away, he was forced to basically survive by his wits for three weeks until one day out of frustration, he started screaming at the top of his lungs in an American Express office that he needed their help which they had been reluctant to give, and AmEx finally handed him some money. After dealing with American Express for years with all of my hotels, I don't like them, they do whatever they can to avoid paying you, yet they seem to almost monopolize the travellers cheques industry.
Before coming to Indonesia, I recommend you check the most updated list of suggested immunizations, outbreak areas, etc, through the following site, World Health Organization (WHO). You will likely come in contact with various diseases in your food, drinking water, even air-borne. Boil your drinking water, or drink bottled water, or even better - beer! Peel your own fruits, don't eat meat product sold by street vendors, stick to the busiest restaurant where they have a good turn-over of inventory, check the source of ice cube water, and if diarrhoea lasts more than a day or two, seek medical advice, even a pharmacist can be a wealth of knowledge.
ProstitutionThe Islamic fundamentalists have had a lot of problems curtailing the massive economy produced by the 'sex for sale' industry in Indonesia, and Jakarta in particular. Endemic poverty, low educational levels and a lack of opportunities have forced many people, including children, coming from both rural and urban areas, to enter the industry. Combining this with the secular government and its corrupt officials on the payroll or taking bribes, and parents selling their children to unscrupulous traders and pimps in hope that the child will send money home, there appears to be no end in site.
Because of the Muslim heritage in Indonesia, and Jakarta, the sex industry is subdued as to not offend devout Muslims, but it is extremely active. As Islam promises 72 virgins for those that sacrifice for Alla, their erotic sex life, by all outward appearances, is held over for the after life.
Like almost anywhere you go, including Bangkok, Panama City and even Los Vegas, prostitution is a fact of life, however, if you aren't looking fo it, you probably won't bump into it.
For a foreign man (bule) looking for straight company as opposed to a full fledged bump and gring prostitute, often the malls are a good place to start. They are quite modern, many brand name stores, very entertaining just to people watch, filled with all walks of life, and often ladies will try to strike up a conversation, helpful if you speak the language, and become available to party, or stay with the man. In these cases, they do not expect to be paid directly, but a nice meal, or a donation is certainly appreciated.
Though there are massage parlours, and low-key, almost hidden brothels, Jakarta's sex industry often centers around most of the four and five star Jakarta hotels, but there are a few hotels that do not allow or cater to the sex industry. In most hotels there is a fair sized bar or club room open daily until about 2am, depending upon the crowd. They have a band six nights a week, and the men (mostly foreigners or high level government officials) are out numbered by the beautiful young ladies that frequent the place. Very rarely are regular Indonesian men in these places, probably because of the cost more than anything, though religion may affect the reasoning of others. There is about a $5 cover charge, but the drinks are expensive. Women vary from full professional to not even in the game. The working ladies tend to wear tight miniskirts, and stiletto heels, and their game is to make eye contact with a man. Often they introduce themselves and try to sit down with the man who is supposed to buy them drinks, of which I am sure she takes a cut. The ladies are free to come and go as prostitution is illegal, and bars are supposed to have nothing to do with it, and not charge barfines to customers to take the ladies out.
When most Jakarta hotels close down around 2am, others stay open until the sun comes up, and the prices here generally go down, though many of the women have already had earlier 'dates'.
When the man takes her back to his hotel, she will ask for 'taxi fare' which starts off very high but is negotiable with a sense of humour and a smile. Generally a lady will want to spend the entire night as $40 or $50 will keep her happy and she doesn't really want to go back to work looking for another man. Besides the huge bathtub, A/C, large soft bed and room service are so hard to leave, when she realizes her own room in the slums is anything but luxurious.
Because Jakarta has so many different types of people from many different lands, the facial features are quite different and varied, as opposed to Thailand where they look very similar. The prettier ones gravitate towards the more up-scale and expensive bars, often where bules frequent, where the less attractive ones head down to 'walking street' where the oil rig guys and sailors hang out. Unlike the Philippines where the ladies work for money, but their goal is to score a husband, the Indonesia ladies are much more sedated and tranquil, and accept that a man who was with them last night, may be with a different lady tonight, even sitting just a few feet away.
Most ladies frequent only certain bars, and therefore if the man wants variety, he is the one bar hopping.
For the horror side of things, tens of thousand of Indonesian women, and even more children are now caught up in the international sex slave industry, where they are taken to a foreign land like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia, under false pretenses, then forced to put out in order to gain enough money to return home someday.At the same time some 3% (about eight million) of the Indonesian population are estimated to be prostitutes within Indonesia, 30% of those are children, working in bars, karaoke clubs, salons, etc.
In order to make a token effort to please the devout, a few of the better known sex venues have been closed down, forcing those in the business onto the street, where it is far more dangerous, less health controls, and no way to tax it.
Out of ignorance, the youngest participants in the industry are the very ones who do not practise safe sex, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise. Until the government gets poverty under control, which means reducing the number of mouths to feed in the forever burgeoning population of poor, and spreading the wealth around more equitably, there is no hope of ending the sex industry.
If you are travelling to Jakarta, it is recommended that you complete a primary course of polio vaccinations prior to travel.There is an outbreak of polio in West Java and a large-scale immunization campaign is underway in the affected area. If you are travelling to the West Java region and it has been more than ten years since your primary polio vaccination course or last polio booster dose, you should have a single booster dose of a polio vaccine. If you are unsure of your polio vaccination status, check with your doctor prior to travel.
Dengue feverIndonesian authorities have reported a significant increase in cases of dengue fever throughout Indonesia. See your doctor or travel clinic for advice about anti-mosquito precautions. Dengue fever occurs throughout
It is typical for there to be a smoke haze across much of the north-west part of the Indonesian archipelago from July to October, sometimes reaching as far south east as Jakarta. Kalimantan and Sumatra are generally the worst affected areas. You should be aware the smoke haze could impact on your health and travel plans.
Check out Safely.travel, it could save your life
If you are new to travelling, or even if you have travelled the globe for years, I strongly recommend you check out the following link for some very interesting and informative reading about safe travelling in Jakarta, and the Third World in general. It is an accumulation of original thoughts and experiences of several worldly travellers, just go to Safely.travel. It was written with the Third World in mind, where travelling disasters are around every corner, and a pre-emptor to what we may all expect someday in the First World as populations increase and desperate people become more brave and sophisticated in their survival techniques. It will make you aware of all sorts of scams, how to check into a hotel, advice for single lady travellers, advice for single men travellers, rip tides, credit card scams, driving in a foreign land, kidnapping, street people, you name it. It is an essential read for anyone travelling, and the most comprehensive discussion I know of!