Monday, August 11, 2014

Wander full Weekend in Batavia (1 of 2)

I didn't expect much from this trip, at first I was only after its good food at cheap price.  But surprisingly, there were several things to do in Jakarta. But travel-wise, Jakarta is difficult to get around because of the dense car population, and the pedestrian sidewalks are not so  commuter friendly.  Although their MRT service is under construction, hence in the near future Jakarta might be another tourist haven.

The best advice for visitors is to stay in a hotel in an area where you will spend most of your time for exploring the city or for sightseeing.

Our flight via Air Asia to Jakarta (old name is Batavia), was booked using the redemption of  Big points so only paid tax of around 70 SGD roundtrip.
From CGK airport, we took taxi to Jakarta CBD, where the hotel is located. It was highly advisable to book Blue Bird taxi company, to be safe and avoid any fix price transactions. Our cab fair was almost 150,000 IDR.

Then, we checked in at Millennium Sirih Hotel, for a free overnight stay courtesy of Amex Ascend - Kris Flyer Miles Credit Card. 

After settling at the hotel, we went out to explore the city.  I learned earlier that there are free tourist bus around Jakarta. 

We saw some of these City Tour Bus along Thamrin.   The timing of the bus is available from their Twitter-Jakarta City Tour Bus.
    • Bus #1 & #5: Hotel Indonesia bus stop only
    • Bus #2: Museum Nasional, Gedung Kesenian Jakarta and Sarinah
    • Bus #3: Istiqlal & Medan Merdeka Utara
    • Bus #4: Monumen Nasional & City Hall
Since our hotel is quite far from those pick up point, we took taxi to Jakarta Cathedral, the fare was almost IDR 21,000.

The present church was rebuilt between 1891 and 1901. Pastor Antonius Dijkmans, SJ was appointed as the architect.  "De Kerk van Onze Lieve Vrowe ten Hemelopneming - The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption" was blessed and inaugurated by Mgr Edmundus Sybrandus Luypen, SJ on 21 April 1901. The church was renovated in 1988 and 2002.

There are three main spires in Jakarta Cathedral: the two tallest ones measured 60 metres tall and are located in front on each side of the portal. The north tower is called "The Fort of David", which symbolizes Mary as the refuge and protector against the power of darkness. The south tower, also 60 metres tall, is called "The Ivory Tower", which the whiteness and pureness of ivory describe the pureness of Virgin Mary. On the Ivory Tower, there are old clocks that are still functioning as well as a church bell. The third spire rises above the roof's cross intersection and measured 45 metres tall from the ground, and is called "The Angelus Dei Tower".

Notice the statues of saints where all covered with purple clothes.  This is a catholic tradition during Lenten week.

Cathedral of Jakarta is well maintained from outside and inside.  I love the seats which are made out of local materials, and it is very appropriate for the warm climate.

The massive - Pipe organ, has its own elevated platform was made by George Verschueren of Tongeren, Belgium, built in 1988.

Next, we just cross the road, and we entered the compound of Istiqlal Mosque.  This was known as largest Mosque in Southeast Asia, or 3rd largest in the World.

While outside, we observe people how they entered, and followed suite.

Upon entering, the guard pointed us to proceed to reception area where a guide welcomed us, and lead us to an air conditioned room to leave our footwear, and put on the long gown to cover the exposed legs.

Then we were escorted to 3rd level, where we saw the very spacious prayer hall.  The dome ceiling was magnificent in glittering gold and green pattern.

Then, we walk around the compound to see minaret, and hallways which conveys a sense of peaceful and calm atmosphere.

After the 30 mins of guided visit, we left and gave our guide a tip of IDR 20,000.

Next, we walked to the MONAS (Monument Nasyonal).  The National Monument is a 132 m (433ft) tower in the center of Merdeka Square, Central Jakarta, symbolizing the fight for Indonesia. It is the national monument of the Republic of Indonesia, built to commemorate the struggle for Indonesian independence.

Construction began in 1961 under the direction of President Sukarno. Monas was opened to the public in 1975. It is topped by a flame covered with gold foil.

At night, we took dinner outside Grand Indonesia, to try their street food.  Assorted fritters and Sate chicken, each costs few centavos only.

Murtabak, a stuffed pancake or pan-fried bread which is commonly found in middle east.  In Indonesia, particularly Jakarta and other cities, it is called "martabak", and has two versions: a sweet one, and a savory one with egg and meat.  We tried the sweet version, which is filled with sugar, margarine, cheese, chocolate.

Brought this sweet dessert back to hotel to end our first day in Jakarta.  Read the next post to discover more about the car free day, old town, and 4D Movie experience in Jakarta.

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