Most of the tourists who have visited different places in Thailand claim that Pattaya is not Thailand. Or at least not the whole of Thailand. And they are right, the real life of Thai people is infinitely far from the bustling nightlife of Pattaya tourist amusements .The same can be said about Indonesia and Bali: Bali – it’s not the whole of Indonesia. True, the reasons are somewhat different. Bali largely retaines its identity, the press has affected tourism on the culture of these places to a lesser extent than in the tourist resorts of Thailand.
And what is “real” Indonesia? Deaf, lost in the mountain forests of the Javanese village? Yes, probably. But also the biggest metropolis of the planet, the country’s capital Jakarta. City of incongruous combination of striking and shocking, the city of story, garden city, city of … tragedy.
This is the mixture that remains in memory after a visit to Jakarta. Travelling to a modern airport in Jakarta and moving into the hotel room, we do not see Indonesia. And the urban landscapes that flashed outside the bus, this is not Indonesia. And dazzlingly smiling girl at the reception – is not Indonesia. And an exotic restaurant and gift shop, and the luxury houses, wherewith built up the business districts of Jakarta.
Indonesia – a working margin. It has numerous mosques. These are the people on the streets, which should take a closer look. It’s Chinatown Glodak (in fact, not quarterly, and huge, the size of a decent city, region) with the vast Chinese market for the same. This area of Taman Fatah in the old town (called Puss). It’s the palace of Sukarno in Bogor. It is, finally, the Portuguese church and town hall, transformed into museums. Here there and you realize how many cultures are mixed in Indonesia. And how difficult history of this country.
Indonesia, unlike Thailand has been repeatedly subjected to conquest of the strangers. As a result European cultures have left a deep imprint on it, especially Dutch. From Asian – Arabic and Chinese. It turns out “explosive mixture” of eastern traditions and Islam. And Islam is the dominant religion. And it affects more than just – anyway, as somewhere in the backwoods of some European town you suddenly see a Buddhist temple decorated with gold . Impossible? And in Indonesia – completely.
You have to compare. And when visiting Jakarta in memory constantly pop up on the one hand, cutting-edge, comfortable and very Buddhist Bangkok, on the other – the Hindu island of Bali, where residents are against Muslim and Jakarta which looks absolutely free, unchained. No, we do not claim that Muslims in Jakarta are in thrall to superstition. Their religion – their soul, world, the meaning of life. And it must be respected. Yet residents of the capital of Indonesia are very different from those same Balinese, and the Thais (not to mention the Lao or Khmer of Cambodia).
Rolling in a taxi in Bangkok, we caught several times on the evil drivers. But their deception was somehow … innocent, naive, not dangerous. Well, the taxi driver asked us to pay some extra fifty baht, although we have negotiated a lower amount. And we gave – not half a hundred smaller, which made it possible to repay simmering tension and leave with the taxi driver without a heavy residue on the heart. In Jakarta, we got “hit” on the first day in town. The taxi driver just has delivered us into Chinatown and dropped us there. And we were very whirlwind of a complete stranger “city within a city” where, as it turned out, no one spoke in English, and therefore could not help us … Chosen, of course. But it remains a serious confusion. Why did this man (taxi driver), decided to trick the tourists? What was the goal he had pursued? He could ask for money, we would probably give him some. Thus there’s no need of being so mean.
However, fine. It was the only trouble we have experienced in Indonesia. While everything else is difficult to attribute to a solid “amenities”, we were very interested. It is interesting to watch people with such familiar features of persons (we are referring to Asians, which for weeks and months, my travels, and even used a little stick with them), but praying for other canons, rather than the custom of Hindus and Buddhists. It is interesting to consider the museums and souvenir shops, where you find not what I expected. It is interesting to taste the local cuisine, which is inspired by association with the poor Egyptians, diverse Indian and fiery Thai at the same time … Again, a combination of incongruous? That’s it.
But most of all we were surprised by what we have not seen in Bangkok (and what a handful drank in Cairo) – dirty suburbs of Greater Jakarta … No, it’s not even the dirt, it’s full of unpleasant emotions, poverty in brought to the absolute form. And this is just a few blocks from the cutting edge of buildings of more affluent districts. Jakarta – a city of contrasts? What else can I say, seeing the home of rusty sheets of roofing iron, which is inhabited by a family with three children?
To get into Jakarta you need to make some efforts. Tourists are not carried to the far districts (by the way, despite the bleak misery of the inhabitants of neighborhoods, we have not felt even a hint of aggression against us, well-groomed, well-fed tourists – people were smiling and friendly). But from the window of a tour bus curious tourist can consider many things!
Jakarta is a giant city. According to official figures the city is a home to about 10 million people. Together with its suburbs and satellite cities, Jakarta has a great population- around 23 million people! Not a city but a whole country.
As for the attractions and places worth seeing, then they are plenty. In addition to the huge number of museums and temples, and tourists must carry in a luxurious Ragunan zoo. And it’s not just a zoo, a nature lover’s paradise … And the same heaven – in the form of a giant botanical garden – located in a suburb of Jakarta, Bogor. This, for a moment, the largest botanical garden planet. More than just a wild jungle .
Jakarta has left an ambiguous impression. And a strong belief that this town deserves to come here not for a couple of days, and at least a couple of weeks.