A bit of sightseeing around the city meant we visited the National Monument, Mesjid Istiqlal (Mosque) and the Catholic Church all in Central Jakarta. All three sites were nice to see but despite the Mosque supposedly being the largest in SE Asia, none were overly impressive and so a leisurely meander past all three was suffice.
The National Monument The Mesjid Istiqlal (Mosque)
Once in the area, a few MRT stops away was Kota, Jakarta’s old town which was previously home of the Dutch Colonial Indonesia. Apart from Taman Fatahillah, the central cobblestone square which is surrounded by some of the original colonial buildings (Including Taman Fatahillah – Former Town Hall), there is unfortunately no longer much else to see with many of the historic buildings no longer standing.
Old Town Old Town Square
Having been there on a wednesday we got a little inside info that most travelers would not know about; the free evening buffet and drink deals in the Marriott hotel. Despite the limited meal choices the single beef stew dish followed by the desserts, did not disappoint living up to the Marriott name. The high standards which we witnessed is apparently the case week in week out despite the menu changing on a regular basis. The two for one beers all night meant it turned out to be a cheap but very enjoyable meal. Funnily enough, not appropriately dressed for the Marriott they called my attention and made me change into a smart pair of trousers they had in the laundry mat for the time I spent there!
Within the space of an hour we went to five star dining to starless dining as we headed to an area in the old town to try a traditional meal; Cobra. Here we had to pick our snake from a cage of about 15 lively cobras which were all looking for a means to escape. Once we had the “Chosen One”, it’s head was cleanly chopped off and the blood was then collected in a mug. With a little wine added to the blood, we then were able to drink the snakes blood as we waited for the meat to be cooked. Knowing exactly what it was we were drinking meant it wasn’t easy to drink but the actual taste really wasn’t too bad at all. The meat on the other hand was quite easy to eat as the satay sauce was the perfect touch to this tasty meat. Although having been told in the past that it is a tough meat to chew which tastes like chicken, it was quite the opposite, being quite a tender meal with its own distinctive taste. To finish off this tasty traditional meal Lou also got a little extra and was given the snakes gall bladder to swallow.
For our last night in Jakarta there was no better way than to finish off in typical Asian fashion; in a Karaoke bar in the middle of Jl. Jaksa street. It didn’t take long before Lou and David were up singing away whilst I became their personal photographer. After they had sang about 5 songs I was convinced to join them for their last song to sing for an audience of about ten people. Gone 2am and after a couple of drinks, on our way home we stopped for our third meal of the night which was a bowl of street noodles which were amazing.
With our new friend David
Once again, Jakarta was another major city that was only really fit it into our route as it was the capital city with a couple of worthwhile attractions, but also had the cheapest flights into Indonesia. After having really enjoyed our first few couch surfing experiences we thought there would be no better place to do it again than somewhere with few expectations where we could see the local side to life. Our experience in Jakarta was definitely a case of; it is not always what the place has to offer to enjoy yourself but rather the company you find yourself with. There’s defiantly no better way to experience a new place than with a local as we were able to experience the true Jakarta and enjoy some of their traditions.
Do it the local way with David and having drinks on a mat on the floor
Chicken legs...yum and lets not forget chicken brain!