Sunday, 23 May 2010

Coming to Jakarta

Some questions and answers I get and give from people coming to work or live.

Indonesia and Jakarta

What is the weather like?

Jakarta is hot all year round including in the rainy season. Average temperature is 80 degrees and that includes the night. Depending on the air quality the sun can burn you in minutes so you need to be careful as Indonesia lies along the equator.
If it rains prepared to get wet. Umbrellas help but you might need to take a change of clothes with you if you are walking.

Is the city safe?

Jakarta is a big metropolis and there are over 18 million people living in and around Jakarta, so like any city it has criminals and crime. In my experience it is not less safe or safer than say London, Los Angeles etc. Being an Islamic country there is a lot more tolerance and well behaved people here but like any where else in the world, make sure you keep bags closed, wallets, phones purses hidden and never leave anything lying around. Petty theft is more common with pickpockets and opportunists looking to take things from you.

What clothes should I bring?

Bring casual clothes you feel comfortable wearing when you are at home or out and about. Western women normally dress conservatively here in the city. It is hot so loose clothing is preferred. For School – the men should wear trousers, shoes, shirts and ties and for women, smart shoes, trousers or skirts, tops and blouses.

Can I buy my size clothes in Jakarta?

That depends on your size but overall yes. If you can’t buy it off the peg you can have it made from a tailor or cobbler. There are so many clothes shops here from the cheap to the very expensive and Indonesians come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. For those with big feet and bodies, shoes, socks and shirts can be a challenge to find.

Is there anything that is hard to find?

As a rule, no. Everything is available for a price! Alcoholic Spirits (Muslims do not drink alcohol) can be hard to find by the bottle but it is available. Feminine Hygiene products, like Tampax are again hard to find and expensive but they are available. Non food items are more expensive here but you will find most products you are familiar with are here from Kellogg’s cornflakes to Pantene shampoo

How many hours head / behind is Jakarta?

Jakarta is 7 hours ahead of London, 11 hours ahead of New York and 5 hours behind Auckland.

How do I shop for food and where?

Don’t panic. There are lots of western style shops to shop in. Every mall has a supermarket which is either – Giant, Hero, Carrefour or Hypermart. There are also Indomarts, K Marts and lots of little stores you can buy food from.

Can I buy a car or motorbike?

You can but through an Indonesian, You will also have to have a licence.

How safe is air travel?

No worse or better than many other countries. The airlines here are getting safer all the time and Air Asia is probably the most safest airline for domestic routes and one of the cheapest. 

How safe is traveling in Indonesia?

As safe as anywhere else. Indonesia is a 3rd world country so its infrastructure is not the best and when you are out of the cities you will find people very poor financially but rich in heart and spirit. Just be careful with your belongings when you travel.
Transport safety is probably the biggest concern however all types of transportation are becoming safer and more reliable all the time.
You should refer to your governments information regarding how safe it deems Indonesia to be. Like every other country in the world, it has its share of random terrorist attacks and violent demonstrations. Also it is wise to review any information on health warnings or geological events.


Is money easily changed?

Yes it is. But you need to bring very good condition US dollars otherwise they wont be exchanged. All notes for exchange need to be in mint condition.

Do I need to bring cash with me?

Yes, bring cash, already turned into Indonesian rupiah. The notes are 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 in size but beware 10,000 and 100,000 look the same at first so be careful.

Are there ATM’s in Jakarta?

Yes lots. And they accept most cards including Maestro and Cirrus. But the charges for them might be costly. Visa and Mastercards can also be used.

Do I need to bring a credit card?

If you have one then yes it is a good idea for backup if you need quick cash. Visa is preferred. However you should notify the card issuer that you will be in Indonesia so that they allow it to work here.

Should I bring American Express Travellers Cheques with me?

These are hard to exchange as many places do not like to exchange them and the rates are low so in my opinion I would say no.


What kind of food is eaten in Indonesia?

Everything is eaten. Rice and Noodles are the staples here but you will find everything and anything. The fruit and vegetables are vast and wide in variety and there are lots of meats and pastries too. Most supermarkets carry great ranges of goods to buy. Breads, cakes and ice cream are very popular. Many types of food are fried and Chicken is the most popular meat. Seafood and shellfish is fantastic and cheap too. You can eat from the street vendors or in very plush restaurants. Becareful with ice and prepared fruit though.
Every thing comes with chilli sauce and that can be very hot to taste.

I am a vegetarian can I buy food with out meat?

Yes you can, there are lots of vegetarian options here.

Is the water safe to drink?

I do not recommend drinking tap water. Cleaning your teeth and washing dishes is ok but not to drink. Buy bottled water and be wary of the ice you get from street vendors.

Is there western food here?

Yes sadly! From Pizza hut to Macdonalds. Most fast food restaurants deliver and some open 24 hours a day. There are over 30 Starbucks in Jakarta alone!!!


Does Indonesia have mobile phones?

Yes it does. There are 2 types of service, CDMA and GSM. GSM is for 3g etc. Most popular networks are 3, Telkomsel and XL and sim cards work in any unlocked phone. Try to bring an unlocked phone or buy one here.

Is the Internet fast and secure?

The internet is getting better in terms of speed. It is safe If you use it carefully.
If you have skype or voip then that works perfectly well here too.


Can I get malaria?

There is a chance if you go to malarial places and get bitten, however, Jakarta is currently malarial free but other parts of the country are not. If you wear mosquito repellent then it will help prevent you from being bitten.

Do I need health vaccinations?

It is wise to make sure your vaccinations are up to date and to take precautions with your health while you are here in Indonesia. It is a 3rd world country so taking boosters for HEP A B and tetnus are advisable. If you are unsure you should consult your doctor.

Are the hospitals clean?

Most Hospitals here in the city are part of Western Chains so they are of a very high standard. Hopefully you won’t ever experience one.

What are the dentists like?

They vary on price and service but all dentists are trained and are of a very high standard. Again consult your DoS.

How bad is the pollution in the city?

Jakarta sadly has lots of traffic problems and poor ineffective laws regarding pollution so it can be very bad some days and good on others.


What is the rainy season like?

Yon can expect lots of heavy rain for long periods of time, frequent floods and the occasional power cut. There are still lots of days of clear blue skies and it never gets cold

Should I register with the local embassy?

Yes it is a good idea. You can normally email them to let them know where you are. You should check out your government’s information and your countries rules and where the embassy is situated.

Can parcels and letters be sent home?

Yes they can but it is expensive to do so. If you are receiving parcels or post do not have money or valuable things sent unless through a courier and always have it delivered to a safe address.

Should I bring electrical items?

Most cafes and restaurants offer free wireless internet and sitting on a Sunday afternoon drinking ice cold coffee and surfing the net in an internet café is a great way to while away some hours. I think a camera is a must and if you like music then bring your mp3 player with you.
Hair tongs etc here are hard to find but you can buy them.

I play sports, is there stadiums and places to play?

There are lots of sports played in the city, Badminton and Football are the favourites alongside basketball and billiards.
There are golf courses, softball pitches, tennis courts, gyms, swimming pools aplenty so if you are sporty then you should find something you like.

Are the poisonous snakes in the city?

Most dangerous wildlife is in the countryside and forests and I have yet to encounter anything more sinister than a ghecko lizard or a low flying bat in the city. Most wildlife is away from Jakarta although ants and mosquitoes will still bite you occasionally.

How bad is the poverty?

Indonesia is still a 3rd world country and it is working very hard to change that, however the process is slow and there is much to do.
You will see poor homeless people, beggars and children begging. Also many people live in shacks and slums or squatters housing without adequate sanitation or access to clean water.

What is the nightlife like?

The social scene is becoming more and more western and there are lots of cafes and bars opening all the time. There are some western hangouts and your teachers will take you to those places. The nightclubs are some of the best in Asia but most of them play either RnB or trip hop and far too loudly. There is also a great live music scene and there are live bands always playing in malls and bars.
If that is too much for you then there are western eateries that open late and of course the coffee shops which close after midnight.
There are plenty of movie theatres and all the latest movies are shown here.

How far is the Ocean for diving or Surfing?

Jakarta is on the north coast of Java. Off the coast are a group of islands called the Thousand Islands. They are easily accessible from Jakarta. For Surf,  head to east Java or Bali where there is plenty of surfing to be done. For beaches that are clean then no more than 4 hours away but because of tides etc I would not recommend swimming.

Are there any rules or customs I should be aware of?

Yes there a few. The most serious one is the taking or procession of illegal substances which like the majority of Asian countries has the death penalty as its maximum punishment.
Working in a Islamic country there are a few things to understand. The people here whilst friendly and very curious are also very shy when it comes to affection and aggression and so showing either of those in the street can be met with some hostility and comment.
Drinking alcohol publicly is not accepted as a general rule. It is also important to ensure you dress correctly. Dressing down maybe ok for the house but in the street it is not really accepted. Also just because it is hot it does not mean that you can walk around half naked as this is also considered vulgar and rude so you need to be smart but appropriately dressed for the weather.

Cost of Living in Jakarta

This post was created in May 2010 and I have updated the list which can be found in this post  or  here

Hopefully this table helps with understanding the cost of living in the city.

Its a  rough table and price guide but I think a fair reflection. The prices are average prices excepting flights which are lowest that I have found if you shop about. With average I mean the prices I have paid and the experience of buying things here.
If I am way out then please let me know and I will correct.

When I did this table £1 rupiah bought you 13,400 rupiah and $1 dollar bought you 9200 rupiah. The coversion the other way is very little.

There are some areas missing but that is deliberate as frankly I dont really do clothes shopping as I brought plenty with me and find my sizes here hard to find. I will in time do a review and update the table.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Friendly Bloggers

I have been named as a most friendly blogger by great person and supporter, Umihoney. Thank you for the award and to be considered. I am now adding my top5 friendly bloggers and links.

Jolly Princess

So thank you one and all

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Global Warming Jakarta style

What is going on?
It is getting hotter, it is getting cloudier, it is raining for an few hours a day. The smog is getting worse, the smog is clearing more, it is more windy and it is getting hotter.
The mountains south are more visible and make the city seem smaller when you can see them. I love seeing them, I will like everything add photos soon. I have all my photos on Picasa until my name. Luke Regler.If you get bored, lost or a free few hours to browse through them. I am also planning to geo tag them all with google maps but that is a laborious process but hey  I like the idea of it so I will spend some time a week giving it a go.

I have learnt a lot about smog and pollution through an invention called the 'Window'.

At the end of the corridor in my apartment on the 23rd floor, there is a window. It faces south west, over Tanjung Duren, Kedoya, Puri and into Tangerang and then the mountains. On a hazy day, the tall buildings disappear the brown line of smog filled air is too brown and the clouds are just a haze.
These are of a glorious golden sunset, but these are caused by particles in the air which reflect light and make it look simply amazing but you can see the haze across the city regardless.

On a clear day/part of the day. The intense backdrop of the mountains. These were taken on my phone and through a window but it was a lovely air day.

Daily I ride out into the city and head towards that mountain in the picture above and when I am not dodging buses and angkoks I am looking at the sky making sure it wont rain and also for the condition of the air to calculate how many hours the journey has shortened my life by!!!

Fluffy clouds mean a good day hazy days means coughing for the rest of it!!!

I also carry a rain coat so for the last couple of weeks I decided not too guess. Yes it rains, this weekend it rained all Sunday. Now nothing. 
Global warming is impacting now on the city and the country. Water is running out in the city and there are still  power outs in Pluit and other areas of the city. 

Still saying that. In England there are frosts in May and the temp is 7 degrees. So where would I rather  be? 

Friday, 14 May 2010

Jakarta Tours

Love history and the visiting old parts of cities? Then read on....

I spent the day touring the historical sites of Jakarta, mainly around Kota, Sunda Kelapa and Glodok.
I never went to Cafe Batavia of the museums. Instead I saw 17th century warehouses, the standing parts of the Dutch fort in Batavia, stood where the English fort once was and wandered through Glodok in search of real and still standing Chinese houses.
The photo speak for themselves. I would however point out, this was no trip organised by the tour guides and touts in Kota Square and so if you are interested in doing this tour then leave me some comments and I will see what I can do. It took about 3 hours by foot and we skipped quite a lot.

This is mainly a photo blog

The tour started out in Kota Square

and then we headed out of the square towards the tollway into a truck stop. From there I have really no idea for a while but it was amazing.

No one really seemed bothered with us wandering around

 The warehouses are not in good condition but they are still standing and look amazing

 The door was heavy and stiff and it was nice and cool inside

 It did not feel safe to go upstairs as it is so old and run down yet families were in there living. The rent must be low
Thats Andy, he is the tour guide. He found all this by just wandering around the old city.
More views of the warehouses. They were cool and very thick walled, idea for storing things that were needed to be kept cool.
What is important to remember that 300 years ago the harbour and the coast line was a little more inland than it is today.

Then from there we headed around the corner and found the smallest of streets and to the left was a huge wall. The wall is what is sadly left of the Batavia Fort, forgotten and largely ignored by all.

The walls were about 4 metres high and very imposing

Not sure whats in the hole but you can see how thick they are.
Plenty of life still in the walls with the trees and nature reclaiming it.

Just a view between houses

The archway is still there and accessible to the grounds inside....

The walls still have the original look outs and you can see where the holes for the wooden floor would have been.

The well is still intact and in use by the looks of things, although maybe to water the lone banana plant

The locals are using it as a playground and a truck stock but there was very little rubbish here

A big space and the original windows really make the place look old and imposing.

The last shot is of the archway back out into the little street

From there we headed out in the Kampung which was lovely and very tidy. The people there made us welcome and were very friendly. 

 Walking through to the river
 This was really nice despite the poverty
 That's the river taxi
 The river is dirty, dark gray and those little buildings over the river are the toilets, no flush...

 Found lots of anchors. Made me smile, they are all chained together just in case some one comes and steals one. How heavy are they?
The cream pillar in the middle is to identify that there was a English Military garrison there

 This tower is actually leaning over and is part of the maritime museum. Had no time to visit it, next time.

Museum Bahari and the old fish market. Lovely, though never saw the market or any fish

 Lots of canons

 Behind the museum and in another area, these old wooden warehouses
 The boards to the right of the picture actually go to someones house, it was too unsteady for me. The water comes from the sea I guess.
There were fish and kids fishing, though not big fish.

 This man was making bolts by hand using this machine. Not sure how many he had made, looked like 30 by the time I got there.

 21st century and we still accept people living like this

 This around the corner and we had to be very quiet as the residents were sleeping
 Inside the old warehouse

 Totally derelict but the opportunity to make into a tourist area is huge.
 Looks nice from a far

 Ferry boat

 Glodok is also known as chinatown and this a huge area full of everyting. The buildings are either old or 1970's or 80's and look bad.
But there are still glimpses of past times and pride in the buildings if you look closely enough

 This was being torn down. The stained glass was really nice. Such a shame.

 Inside Glodok's streets the bustle was great and so much to see and smell.
Food Food Food and cheap wallets!!!!

 Massage tools?????????

There will be other tours I sure of the old areas of the city. I am trying to pluck up enough courage to do a river tour but that will take some guts and injections but I am sure it would be awesome. Also to visit the old Arab quarter and see what that has to offer. 
Jakarta is full of surprises really, you just have to make that step out and be brave to walk down that little lane full of noise, smells and people and see what is there. 

I will visit these areas again and hopefully spend more time in Glodok exploring.