Komodo. The islands of Indonesia are spread over an unlimited expanse of ocean and technically speaking is divided by two Continents.
Some parts of the Country will be as different from each other as black is from white. The hustle and bustle of the trendy capital Jakarta is like another planet when compared to the standard Papuan tribes of the Baliem Valley.
Jakarta – Not only is it the largest City within the Country, Jakarta is also the heartbeat. Indonesian’s from everywhere in the archipelago come to the city to try to find their fortune or simply to survive. The face of the city is consistently changing due to the development of new skyscrapers, shopping malls and hotels.
Jakarta is mainly a business and political City and not likely a tourist destination, but the older colonial parts of town are very interesting and the museums have quite a lot of fascinating exhibits.
Jakarta, like you’ll expect, is essentially the most expensive place in Indonesia, as well as probably the most polluted and most congested. It may be very hard to cope with the entire hustle, dirt, crime and value, but if you may you will see that an exciting City with plenty to offer.
Kota – That is the old Town of Batavia, which was the capital of the Dutch East Indies and the most effective example of the colonial era in Indonesia. Though much of the old town has been destroyed or demolished over time, some of the old Colonial buildings are still in active use, and the realm has a definite Dutch feel to it.
The centre of the old Town is the pebble stone square known as Taman Fatahillah and this is the important thing to with the ability to orientate yourself across the sights of the old Town. The canal of Kali Besar is one block to the west of the square and runs alongside the Ciliwung River. This was a very prosperous area and on the west bank are some of the high class homes that date from the eighteenth Century.
The Chicken market bridge is the last remaining drawbridge from the Dutch era, it is on the north end of the Kali Besar. Buses always come by on their routes and the city train also has a stop here.
Jakarta History Museum – This museum is housed within the old town hall of Batavia, which is on the south side of Taman Fatahillah. It’s a well built building, which was originally constructed in 1627 and added to within the early 1700’s. It was from here that the Dutch administered their colony, and the cities law courts were also here in addition to their main prison compound.
It contains plenty of heavy, carved furniture from the colonial, as well as other memorabilia from the Dutch period. Open, 9am till 3pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission: 1,000Rp
Wayang Museum – This museum can be on the Taman Fatahillah, and has an amazing assortment of
Wayang puppets. It also has examples of puppets from other Countries like Cambodia, China and India.
This building was formerly the museum of old Batavia and was in-built 1912 on the location of the former Dutch church which was demolished in 1808 because the Dutchman ‘Daendel’s’ plan to rid the town of its unhealthy areas. In the downstairs courtyard, there are memorials to previous governors who were buried on site. Open, 9am till 3pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission: 1,000Rp
Fine Arts Museum – Built in the 1860’s, the palace of Justice building is now the Fine arts museum. It has a pleasant collection of contemporary paintings from prominent artists. They also have some ceramics on show from Chinese items to Majapahit offerings. Open, 9am till 3pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission: 1,000Rp
Gereja Sion – This church was built in 1695, and is the oldest Church in Jakarta. It is on Jl Pangeran Jayakarta near the Kota train station. The exterior of the Church is actually pretty plain but inside copper chandeliers, the unique organ and the baroque pulpit makes it very appealing. Though thousands of individuals have been buried here there are only a few tombs left remaining.
Sunda Kelapa – Just a ten minute walk from the Taman Fatahillah, the old City port of Sunda Kelapa is stuffed with wonderful Macassar schooners and the brightly coloured sails of these boats make for great viewing. The ships are still a significant technique of transporting goods to outlying Islands.
Guides hang around the docks and for a couple of thousand rupiah will show you around and tell you some insightful stories. You too can take a ride out to the offshore fish marketplace for around 5,000Rp.
Admission, 250Rp to the dock area.
Maritime Museum – That is an old VOC warehouse that was built in 1645 and is by the entrance
to the Sunda Kelapa. It has examples of Indonesian crafts from across the ages and has photos of the voyages from Europe to Jakarta. The building itself is well well worth the visit and the lookout posts are a part of the old City wall.
Just before the entrance to the museum proper, is the old watchtower that was built in 1839, it has brilliant views over the harbour. Opening hours are hit and miss, so try to search out the caretaker.
National Museum – This museum, constructed in 1862, is considered the paramount museum in
Indonesia, and one in all the best in South East Asia. It has an enormous ethnic and relief maps of Indonesia on which you can track your travels. The museum has a variety of different cultural displays that show a diverse collection of clothing, instruments, model houses and religious items. In addition the museum has a fine collection of Chinese ceramics that even date back to the Han dynasty of the third Century.
The museum is sometimes known as the Elephant house due to the large bronze elephant that was a gift from the King of Thailand, and that now stands outside. Open, 8.30am till 2.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission: 750Rp. Guides are around who can conduct tours in various different languages.
National Monument – This 130 metres high monument stands over Merdeka square and is Jakarta’s chief landmark. The construction was started in 1961 but was not finished until 1975, when it was officially opened by President Soeharto. At the bottom is the National History Museum which tells the story of the Indonesian struggle for independence. On national holidays and at the weekends the queues could be long. Open, 9am till 5pm, daily. Admission: 600Rp or 3,100Rp which features a ride to the top.
Lapangan Banteng – Just east of Merdeka square is this nineteenth century colonial square. It has a few of one of the best examples of Dutch colonial architecture in the whole of Jakarta. The Catholic Cathedral was built at the turn of the twentieth Century, and is opposite the principal place of worship for Jakarta’s Muslim community, the Istiqlal Mosque. To the east of the square is the Supreme Court that was built, along with the Ministry of finance, in 1809 by that man ‘Daendel’ to replace those buildings torn down.