Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jakarta, Not Just a City

My short trip this weekend was only to meet my parents and do a so called 'field trip' for my future big dream. Yes, I was going to attend a wedding and see how the wedding organizer operated during the wedding. :)

I was scheduled to fly to Jakarta on 09:50 pm (GMT +8) and touched down on 10:50 pm (GMT +7). That was the fastest boarding time I experienced. The flight was almost full but I don't know why there was no queue at the air bridge nor the aisle. And surprisingly, we touched down Jakarta 16 minutes earlier than the scheduled time.

On Saturday, we lazed around at home till 11:00 am and headed to my dentist for a routine check-up at Taman Ratu, West Jakarta. After that, we proceeded to mom's skin doctor at Senopati, Central Jakarta for her routine check-up. A visit to Central Park was to close the afternoon before we went to the wedding reception at night at Aryaduta Hotel.

Our last day in Jakarta was filled with gathering with dad's friends. His friend then sent us to the airport for my flight back to Singapore and my parents' flight to Palembang.

In Singapore, I already had someone waiting for me. And I also had my next days waiting. :)

So what should I tell today besides my itinerary?

For me, Jakarta is boring. A city full of people, vehicles, and dust. The giant skyscrapers eating the tiny dirty houses. The branded bags versus the ragged clothes. The traffic jam and the angered people. The hot polluted weather. The overly priced land plots and houses.

Don't take my opinions for a truth. Jakarta still has its own beauty. As the capital of Indonesia, it acts as the center of political and economic activities. The hope to get better life in Jakarta brings almost everybody to migrate there. The hope that Jakarta offers is its unique beauty brings everyone together.

Just like Singapore, you can see a lot of houses, apartments, office towers, and shopping malls. However, Jakarta is far bigger than Singapore. And Jakarta has much longer history than Singapore.

Long before Indonesia was formed, Jakarta was part of Kerajaan Sunda (Sunda Kingdom) in 669 to 1579 AD. Back then, Jakarta was named Sunda Kelapa.

Portuguese was the first one to land in Sunda Kelapa. In 1522, Kerajaan Sunda and Portuguese signed a trading agreement. Sunda Kelapa should provide spices for Portuguese and let them build storage and fortress but Portuguese should help Sunda in fighting Kerajaan Demak in return.

In 1527, Fatahillah from Kerajaan Demak managed to defeat Portuguese and chase them away from Sunda Kelapa. Since then, Sunda Kelapa was renamed to Jayakarta. Long after that, a number of historical experts interpreted the date of this occurence as 22 June 1527. This date was then used as the birthday of this city.

In end May 1619, The Dutch finally reached and conquered Jayakarta after landed in Banten in 1596. They change Jayakarta's name to be Batavia in 1621. The Dutch used  Batavia as the centre of their legacy. Batavia's geographical condition was similar to Netherlands: a lot of swamps, the ground level below the sea level. Therefore, they started to build canals, buildings, train station, etc by using the manpowers from Madura, Sulawesi, Maluku, China, and India. They also extend the boundary of this city more to the south. Their objective was to dominate the market of spices trading.

The people that were forced to work as builders for this city then resided in certain parts of Batavia. That's why until today you still can find Kampung Cina (Chinatown), Kampung Melayu (Malay Town), Kampung Bali (Bali Town), etc.

To cut the story short, people started to fight The Dutch only after a riot in 1740. However, no attempt was successful to chase The Dutch away.

Only during World War II when The Dutch was in the losing end, Japanese managed to take Batavia from their hands in 1942. Japanese then changed the name again to Jakarta Toko Betsu Shi. Due to the bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, Indonesia, led by Soekarno, managed to defeat The Japanese and declare the independence of Indonesia on 17 August 1945. Jakarta was also declared as the capital of Indonesia.

In September 1945, The Dutch came back to dominate Jakarta. But the spirit of independence created different effect. A lot fights, a lot of battles, a lot of mediations, and in the end, The Dutch recognised Indonesia's independence in 1949.

Jakarta faced a booming in the number of residents since then after that due to its role as the centre of politics and economy. And it stays like that until now. Everybody thinks that Jakarta can offer good salary, good lives, everything.

Since the independence of Indonesia, Jakarta has faced two times of major riots, in 1965 and 1998. The former caused Soekarno to step down from his presidential chair while the latter caused Soeharto to do the same.

Jakarta has also gone through a lot of flooding cycles, a ton of criminal records, and more than a number of mass demonstrations. However, since 2012, two saviours were sent to mend Jakarta. They are the Joko Widodo and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the governor and vice governor of DKI Jakarta Province (since 1961).

They have done wonders to Jakarta. I can't say that Jakarta is not messy or flooding or jam anymore now. But at least, there are improvements, a significant one.

1. The construction of Jakarta MRT was finally executed by them although the progress looks very very slow. I believe baby steps are needed.

What Jakarta MRT will look like in Year 2XXX (Photo Source:

2. They managed to relocate the poor residents around reservoirs in North Jakarta and revamp the areas. There are more city parks in Jakarta now.

Waduk Pluit Before (bottom) and After (top) (Photo Source:

3. Some other ongoing works in Jakarta: conservation and revitalization of Kota Tua Jakarta (Jakarta Old Town), construction of Kampung Deret, rent-free scheme for small and medium enterprises in Pekan Raya Jakarta Monas (Monas Jakarta Expo), etc.

Sooooo, I am looking forward to the new face of Jakarta in years to come. Who knows Jakarta can be a heritage city like Penang?

I am still hoping and dreaming. And when the dreams come true I can proudly recommend you to travel to Jakarta. :)

Love is in the air,
Little Feet

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