Oh Jakarta, a juxtaposition of old and new worlds, so painfully apparent when you see shanty towns with a backdrop of skyscrapers. An urban jungle with a population of 10 million in the city proper, expanding up to 30 million when you include the suburbs. It’s not uncommon for Jakarta to be featured on lists of world’s most hated cities, but after six months in sleepy Semarang, I’m ready for a little city excitement, even if that means battling world class traffic.
From the glitzy malls to the gritty street markets, everywhere was decked out with red lanterns for Chinese New Year. Jakarta is a place where you can truly find anything. In one outing you can pick up a Chanel bag, vintage Dolly Parton vinyls, a cotton candy as big as your head and also pick the best bunch of live frogs from a selection laid out on banana leaves.
Jakarta has an additional form of transportation that we lack in Semarang, the bajai! It’s a three wheeled scooter-car-hybrid. With a small backseat fit for two, it’s my favorite way to zip around downtown Jakarta. I told Joel we should buy a bajai because I feel like it would be easier and safer than me driving a scooter. He said I could have one in the same way parents say “sure you can have a pony!”
Sunday morning is Car Free Day on Sudirman Street, a main street downtown that runs by two big malls. It was close enough that we could walk from our hotel which I loved because I got to look into all the big fancy Jakarta mansions on the way. As usual, all the homes have ornate, iron gates and fences around the property which are typically overgrown with lush plants.
Tuesday morning we took the hour flight back to Semarang, back to daily grind.