Strolling around Jakarta using the city’s tour bus …
What should a first timer see in Jakarta? This is a question that you might ask when visiting the capital city of Indonesia. The city that was once a part of the Dutch colony and an important port town named Batavia has now turned into one of the fastest growing cities in Southeast Asia. Some may see it as another overblown city in this modern world with its ambitious skyscrapers and vast shopping malls. But if you take a closer look, Jakarta has more than meets the eye.
This city is also named ‘The Big Durian,’ which perfectly suits its characteristics. Durian is a tropical Asian fruit that is hard on the outside with pointy skin, yet has juicy, soft and sweet flesh on the inside. It also has a powerful smell that you might either love or despise. This fruit seems to well represent Jakarta. You have to peel the sharp and thick exterior to get to the sweetness at its core.
Back to the question of what to see in Jakarta, you will surely want to explore the city’s touristy places. However, this could be a tricky business since this city is home to more than 10.1 million people, so traffic can be overwhelming most of the time. The city’s ongoing battle with the urban growth is also reflected everywhere. The government is developing a new MRT, a mega project that everyone hopes will solve the city’s traffic problem and is expected to be done by 2018. But you don’t need to worry about the traffic because Jakarta’s local government has launched its Jakarta City Tour Bus, a doubled-decker bus that will take you to Jakarta’s famous districts.
The Jakarta City Tour Bus is comfortable, clean and more importantly, free. I was quite impressed with the bus when I was onboard one fine day, as I sat on the second level at the very back of the bus. All 80 seats were full and everyone was sitting neatly in this fully air-conditioned bus. The conductor strictly limited the number of passengers so that no one would be standing in the aisle. My only wish was for a line at the bus stop because everyone was trying to jam their way in as soon as the bus arrived.