Although we were not to be here long we decided, rather than shutting ourselves up and keeping the city out we were going out to ‘mix it’ with the city if only to find out if there were some redeeming features about the place. After hopping onto a bus we were off into the centre of town – I say ‘hop’ loosely as to get on the buses you have to climb up the stop which is a rough four foot off the ground then jump onto the bus when it stops, this leap can be small or big depending upon the skill of the bus driver, thankfully for us our driver was not too bad so we just needed a John Cleese-like step!
We needed money but wanted to get into the heart of the city too so aimed for the Monas National Monument which the banking district was also not too far from as well. At least the two seemed close together on the map but when we got there and started walking it was far from straightforward but after a good half hour or so we were back at the park grounds that the Monas monument stood in, money in our grubby little mitts. As we walked in the park it appeared we had just missed some kind of ‘Fun Day’ as there were a few people in fancy dress and a couple of bouncy castles being dismantled also there were people selling odd bits and bobs about the place as well just our luck – but plenty of people still remained in the afterglow!
It was here as we approached the National Monument that we found what it was like to be famous – of course I am not talking ‘A’ list celebrity status more possibly ‘D minus’ but small groups of lads and lasses between the ages of 11 to about 18 were actually stopping us to have their photo taken with us! This was definitely a new one on us and I was keeping an eye out for the candid camera film crew but it was definitely happening though even now I am not exactly sure why. They were all very pleasant and whereas the boys were a bit more forthright the girls would sidle up to us and then the group would pick out one of their own to thrust forward to ask for the picture to be taken and then it was a free-for-all as various shots were taken. Sometimes it was Liz who was more popular, sometimes myself and for a while we did have a laugh at which famous film stars they could have mistaken us for, Liz picked Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – I thought more Sooty and Sweep!
Well after the hullabaloo we got to the Monas monument and as there was quite a queue decided simply to give it a good coat of looking at and extract a few photos of our own. From here we then, when we finally got out of the park, crossed over the road to the National Museum which again was quite good for a couple of hours. Indonesia is a place of many different tribes all having their own customs and languages and the museum did a good job of highlighting how different these tribes are, as we spoke to more Indonesians it appears their moto is ‘Unity in Diversity’ and this to me was a very laudable philosophy which could teach other so-called progressive countries a thing or two.
There was a very poignant display which quite clearly showed the state of play with our living quarters or possibly the state of us both after us backpacking for so long – see below (lol).
The most famous exhibit is the ‘Flores (Hobbit) man’ skeleton but there was lots of other stuff to keep one amused but this could only last so long so off we went to find another attraction to amuse us. A bit further down the road we came across a shopping mall with a good vantage point of the city having a ‘Skye bar’ so up we went for a drink and a bite both of which were very good.
Had this mellowed our view of Jakarta – possibly not because we still had to traverse the same crappy streets to get back to the digs but Jakarta simply is what it is, the people simply roll with it and me being of more of a sensitive nature could not but as my wife pointed out to me, this is what the trip is about – not necessarily liking everything we see but at least being in the fortunate position of seeing it and being able to move on unlike most of the residents!
Planning the next move was what we spent a lot of the night doing as Liz had seen a homestay with the opportunity of teaching English – our chance to do a bit of good or possibly teach English hitherto unknown to the poor souls off Cianjur – now planned to be our next stopping off point.