Monday, 4 April 2011

Istiqlal Mosque

Been a long week really and there has been much planning and organising and to be honest all of it in a good way. I have just finished my hardest assignment for my current study course I am taking and I am expect to hear back soon the scores. 
The weekend came and I gave up trying to read all of googles' april fool joke websites and things as there were too many going around and just focused on my work. On saturday I finished work and then decided to go into the city for something good to eat and see something different. I settled from Kenny Rogers Roasters or Hard Rock Cafe, both are which are in the same part of the city, in conjoining malls, Malls EX and Mall/Plaza/Grand Indonesia,l dont really remember as there are too many malls with the words Indonesia in there title (at least 2) and they are next to each other and equally as big and full of shops as the other.
Anyway, I digress, we get to Kenny Rogers and sit down and notice while it is very quiet whilst the other restaurants near by are full. The waiter full of smiles hands us the menus and comes back a few minutes later to take our orders. After I had ordered 3 different things including some french fries and each one was met with a no we dont have. We left. The restaurant was undergoing improvements, although to what it was hard to say. There were / are no notices, the menu is the same and there was no work going on to support the waiters claim. It was in fact a shame but there you go. The lack of information, building work and people eating there should have been clues alone to guess something was wrong. So Mr Kenny Rogers Roasters - Fail
Then we headed to Hard Rock Cafe to see what we could eat there, the menu looked good, it was busy inside but 150,000 ($13 usd) for a cheeseburger before tax was a thank you, but no. 
Pancious it was then. Good pasta, lots of people and great service.... well done!

That took far too long and we had spend 3 hours doing this. So we headed back to Central park, did some shopping and then home. Bit of a trek for a Saturday afternoon. 

Sunday I was out on another city tour with some new teachers. I took my fiancee with me and so once picked up by the car we headed headlong into the traffic and off to the Ambassador somewhere Kuningan  Raya. Due to the major building works currently being carried out we parked in Oakwood and walked into ITC Ambassador for a quick scoot about.
The best thing currently about outside the Ambassador Mall and there is one is a) there are no performing monkeys delighting the crowds while chained to an owner and beaten continuously if they dont perform and the noise the pedestrian crossing makes. This has to be the only pedestrian crossing I have ever seen here and the noise from the siren was a like a ticking duck ready to explode. Still the local transport and security guards managed to ignore that and conduct the traffic however they liked.

From there, time for something more spiritual and interesting. No, not Starbucks Oakwood, although we did stop in, but the Istiqlal Mosque. (see below).

Istiqlal Mosque, or Masjid Istiqlal, (Independence Mosque) in JakartaIndonesia is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia[1] in terms of capacity to accommodate people and building structure. This national mosque of Indonesia was built to commemorate Indonesian independence, as nation's gratitude for Islam's blessings; the independence of Indonesia. Therefore the national mosque of Indonesia was named "Istiqlal", an Arabic word for "Independence". Courtesy of Wikipedia - click for more here

The mosque is actual ly directly opposite Jakarta Cathedral and the cathedral is over 100 years old and looking rather splendid while the Mosque is a 60's type building and whilst its not old for me it is a rather well designed building. It takes a while to appreciate the style and design and while the bridge walls toppings are made of stainless steel that if you touch them in the Jakarta Sun you can suffer 3rd degree burns. Perhaps you could fry eggs on it if hungry, I don't know. It just seems odd.
We were instructed to take our shoes off, and were led to a small room where my fiancee was told to cover up ( maybe her cross around her neck was offensive or the dress she was wearing but actually the kimono she was given was really nice. The guide then asked us to sign in and then we wandered about the mosque bare footed and were totally ignored by the people there. We were taken up to the forth floor to so we could see the main floor where everyone prayed and worshipped and wow, thats some room. Once we were told that the mosque could hold 120,000 people and that they had praying squares and lines I was impressed. We were facing toward mecca and the mosque was also remarkably cool. 

The courtyards outside we nice and calm and peaceful and there were lots of people going about their business. On the way out we left a donation and felt rather happy we could go in and see what was going on. 
Sadly at getting the Cathedral by playing Frogger across the road we could not go into the cathedral as there was a service going on and so we peaked in, said that looked nice and left.
One I day I will take a look around it. 

From there we went into Kota Tua and wandered through the square. If ever there was a time for things to be strange it was Sunday as they had lots of things going on. The square seems to be as popular as ever and there were hundreds or thousands of people there taking photos, riding bikes, eating, drinking, going death from the over loud music, getting harassed by others, sitting about the museums and the like. 

The local Ondel Ondel Betawi fgiures were dancing to some bad music and then we spied the bull whips and the 9 year old kids cracking 5 meter long bull whips for no real reason. The most bizarre thing happened. The men sat about got up and summoned a little girl to lie on a white sheet. She was then wrapped in the sheet and then stood up. Then she was tied and trussed like a Christmas turkey. The crowds just looked on and the whips carried on cracking. Then the men led her on the floor, placed a Javanese dagger on here and then cracked the whip directly over her. It was fairly disturbing as there was no real idea what was happening and to the little girl. Once the whips had stopped, the girls all tied up was bundled into a little black tent. Outside the tent were some fire breathers swallowing flames and doing stuff with liquid paraffin and making even more heat.
Then as if by magic, and maybe it was, the girl appeared from the black tent and walked off. No applause no ceremony nothing. Bizarre.

 We left after that and headed for the sanctuary of Batavia Marina, and to rest and relax, sup some beer and generally chat.

A rather good day out and lots of fun had. I must return to Kota Tua again on a Sunday and I think I will hide in Cafe Batavia and look through the window at the thronging crowds.

Links of video of the bull whipping can be found here.

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