Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Beautiful Jakarta

The next day was Christmas eve. We slept in, had a late buffet breakfast, then had another nap. It's so nice to be in a good hotel for once. We actually feel clean.

As much as we'd heard bad things about Jakarta, I wanted to get out and see the town. After all, it is a city with an official population of 8 million, and an unofficial population of 15 to 20 million. There really is no centre of town, it's just a big sprawling low-rise poor Asian city.

We caught a cab from the hotel and headed for Kota, the old neighbourhood in town. Kota was previously called Batavia when the Dutch ran things. It wasn't highly recommended, but the guidebook did say that it had some interesting old buildings, and was as much a tourist destination as anything else in this vast city. We headed over there and it was as billed - run down and falling down. The museum in the old square was closed, and the other buildings we checked out were all falling down. It was worth it, barely, just to have seen the area. Plus, as we stood in the square, we clearly stood out as tourists. Two student groups came up to interview us, to practice their English and find out our thoughts about Indonesian business and tourism.

We next walked down to the harbour. The guidebook said that it was very run down, but that the schooners at the docks were an interesting site. I can't say that we felt particularly comfortable walking to the harbour, and once we got there it didn't get any better. A pretty dodgy area. We stayed for a bit and looked around, then got the hell out of there.

Next we went to one of the many malls in town. It was Christmas eve, and I needed a gift or two for Colleen for Christmas. Perhaps not the perfect scenario, since she was with me, but it was the best we could do. And, since we're on a pretty tight budget during our travels, it was a fairly brief but fun trip. We got a few things then went to the mall's Starbucks for a holiday latte.

Later, when we got back to the hotel, we had a romantic Christmas dinner at the buffet in our lounge area. Perfect? Of course not. But we seemed to be the only people in this area of our hotel, so it was actually rather nice.

We miss our families for Christmas and Christmas dinner is when this is particularly hard. We're having a good time, but this is one time when we'd rather be at home.

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