After the last train ride on the Singapore rail system we arrived at Singapore’s airport and in my opinion an airport says a lot about a city, even a country and this like everything else in Singapore was swish and spotlessly clean. The airport boasts many attractions but the one we came across at our Terminal was the Teardrop mobile – a mobile mobile (what else?) made up of red teardrops made of chrome/metal?
It was a shame to leave Singapore it is one of those places where you actually do feel like you are looking at the future with the way the city runs and its architecture and although we did not know it yet this was particularly poignant with Jakarta next in our sights.
Whilst Singapore showed us everything that was good about a city, Jakarta showed at least to myself early on – the exact opposite. The airport is quite a way from the city itself and the drive into the city was one of the few things on the trip that almost made me weep! I was hoping that some of the problem could be put down to the recent flooding Jakarta had endured but even now I am not so sure.
The city, like most was quite industrialised on the way in but unlike most it was really really a depressing drive, the drive takes place on a motorway of sorts and there were people living underneath the roadway in what to my eyes were quite appalling conditions nothing more than hovels with little kids playing in it all – it was a stark contrast after Singapore. I thought the city maybe better but this too was horrible, some of the main streets have ‘canals’ running down the middle but these are nothing more than dumping ground for the masses – the ‘water’ itself was the colour of blue grey sewage and the smell was of a similar hue! There were mopeds everywhere, if I thought I had seen mopeds before now was the real deal EVERYONE in Jakarta has a moped!
After the bus ride through Hell we were dropped at a shopping centre called Mangga Dua still a bit away from our digs so we did – as advised by the Lonely Planet – and grabbed the nearest Bluebird taxis as there were quite a few stationed there and nobody wanted our fare, they gave us lots of BS reasons for why they could not do it so frustrated I flagged another taxi firm down and we finally reached our destination.
The BnB itself was fine but the main road it was by was another street of crapola so not exactly the most refined of settings but it was what it was and after us running out on KL it seemed that we should at least try to see if this city would grow on us!
This in mind we decided to hotfoot it to the local square which was only a walk away and had some history to it as well, so off we went. If the main road seemed bad from the taxi it was definitely no better close up – parts smelt like it was being used as a public toilet! We were later to discover it was a bit of a red light district as well – welcome to the neighbourhood folks!
The square was quite cool though, after first grabbing a bite just on the outside – at one point we did see a rat during our feasting – into the square we went. It was quite mad, at the front of the square there appeared to be a muslim rally going on – great place for a couple of Westerners to hang out! The rest of the square was dotted with various hawkers selling everything and we could tell we were causing bit of a stir when people seemed to be staring at us, so we did as all good English people should and retired to the pub! This was a nice (odd) little place, a lot of gay icons in the toilets but a band on so it was all good to us.
The lady singing had huge heels on and her singing was not too bad at all but we had enough for a beer or two and then set off back home. We needed to see a better side to Jakarta and if this meant culture then so be it!