Dec. 12th, 2017
We were supposed to arrive in Jakarta at around 8:00 pm, but it ended up being around 9:30 pm due to a flight delay out of Yogyakarta. The taxi ride to The Packer Lodge Hostel cost us 200,000 IDR (around $15 USD), which took about an hour.
We walked up three flights of stairs to get to our room which was our first mixed-dorm accommodations on this trip. We were pleasantly surprised by everything about this hostel. It was cool, clean, and comfortable. In our room each person had their own little hole in the wall, which was really cozy. We went straight to bed when we got in.
Dec. 13th, 2017
In the morning the included breakfast consisted of cereal and fruit. We had some bananas and watermelon, and vowed to pick up some almond or soy milk and granola at a shop later so we could have a normal breakfast for the first time in a long time.
We had heard and read that Jakarta was just a big city, but we sort of welcomed that since we hadn’t seen one of those in about a month.
We went out for a walk and started south along the massive and busy Gajah Mada street. We checked out a couple of big hotels, and the Mercure just a few minutes walk from our hostel offered the use of their gym and pool for only 55,000 IDR (around $4 USD) per person for the day, which we planned to take advantage of the next morning.
We got hungry about 30 minutes later, so hopped into a blue motorized tuk tuk and directed him toward the nearest vegan restaurant called Indo Vegan that I found using the Happy Cow app. Without setting a price before we got in I figured the 10,000 IDR for every 10 minutes traveled rule still applied here, but when I got out after maybe 5 minutes I handed him a 10,000 note and he immediately asked for another. I put on my shocked face and handed him a 5,000 note and he seemed reasonably happy with this. I know you should always set the price first, but it isn’t always easy to do!
It was around 11:00 am at this point so were kind of hoping for something breakfasty, but the Indo Vegan restaurant had more lunch/dinner type items. It was the kind of place where all the food is on display behind glass and you point to everything you want. We each had 4 different items, and I thought they were all delicious. The only negative was that some of the dishes were cold, and when we asked they didn’t offer to warm it up. I would still recommend this place to anybody looking for a cheap and delicious meal, especially vegans as there doesn’t seem to be many options in this part of town.
From there we got on the back of motorbikes operated by Go-jek, which is like Uber only using motorbikes, and asked them to take us directly to the Masjid Istiqlal, which is a large mosque. After about 20 minutes of some pretty intense weaving in and out of traffic, we got there.
When we entered the mosque we almost made a faux pas by walking towards the main prayer hall. Several people tried to get our attention and we eventually got the hint that we had to be accompanied by a guide, so we walked over to a table we had overlooked with a lady sitting behind it near the entrance. This lady kindly showed us to the robe room where we had to put on the robes that were required to wear to enter the main prayer hall. She then showed us around the whole mosque whilst giving us information. The Masjid Istiqlal we learned is the biggest Mosque in SE Asia and can accommodate up to 200,000 people on its grounds. We also learned, that it was designed by a Christian architect, which was mentioned to us by more than one person. The Muslims we spoke to at the mosque valued including people of all religions rather than being exclusive and discriminatory. It was quite a sight to see, and we happened to be there during a time of prayer when men and women gathered in the main domed hall. I respect all religions, but I find it hard understanding all the rules imposed by each one on their members.
After exiting the Mosque we jumped into a free tour bus to get to the National Monument not too far away. As we walked towards the monument, there were loads of school kids walking with us and Sophie fit right in amidst their ranks. The monument was massive, and the grounds it sat on here so vast it took ages just to walk around it.
Our last stop of the day was the massive Grand Indonesia Mall, which was number 1 on TripAdvisor’s “Things to Do in Jakarta” list. That fact was also an indication that Jakarta was just a big city. Usually we look for places that have top things to do being religious monuments, historical sites, or popular hiking trails. However, I can also appreciate and marvel at feats of engineering, and this mall was massive and beautiful. The GI mall as well as the Plaza Mall, which is right next to it, are the two nicest malls I have ever been to. You can really spend a whole day there just walking around, catching a movie, going bowling, eating, shopping, etc.. Of course though it is expensive so definitely a once in a blue moon kind of activity for us.
Dec. 14th, 2017
Today would be our last full day in Jakarta so we decided to start by walking north up Gajah Mada street to the “Old Town”. We got there and had a nice little wander. I thought it might be a bit of a larger area, but from what we could see the main attraction was the large square where you could rent crazy coloured bikes to ride or eat at one of the many restaurants along its border. We walked all the way around the square but couldn’t find any other streets that looked fun to walk down so we left it at that. We enjoyed watching loads of kids playing and having fun everywhere, it just seemed like a nice place to sit and people watch or read a book or just be. Sometimes traveling we are so busy planning the next part of our journey and looking forward to the next amazing thing we want to see or experience we forget to take a breath and just exist and count your blessings. It feels good.
We knew the next few days were going to be a whirlwind of traveling and festivals so we decided to continue with the chilling and go see a film. We saw the movie “Wonder” and it was a tearjerker. So if you go to see it, be ready to cry or at least get that lump in your throat like I did. You just can’t be human if some of the scenes in that movie don’t move you in some way.
After the film we went on a search for some good food, and after some searching found a pretty nice Indian food place called the Curry House that had vegan options. It was located in the food court of a place called the UOB Plaza. We ended up there because I had my heart set on a famous all-vegan restaurant chain called Loving Hut, but it was already closed for some reason at 7:30 pm!
Dec. 15th, 2017
Yet another travel day that started in the wee hours of the morning. We were told by our local hostel receptionist to allow at least two hours travel time from our hostel to the airport because of the morning rush and the fact that there was a concert going on nearby which could add to the morning traffic. So we took her word for it and set our alarms for 5:00 am so we could hop in a cab by 6:00 am at the latest. We ended up being quick and getting in a cab by around 5:30 am and we were at the airport by 6:00 am….and our flight wasn’t until 10:10 am. So much for local knowledge! Can’t blame her though, it is always better to be too early than too late. I can also imagine that in a place like Jakarta the difference in getting somewhere in 30 minutes vs 2 hours only depends on a matter of minutes from the time you leave. Thank you local hostel receptionist lady.
Our flight spent a long time in the queue to take off so we landed in Kuala Lumpur later than planned, which left us with only about 90 minutes before our connecting flight to Pattaya. No biggie though, as it wasn’t far to the departure gate. I also had time to find a currency exchange place to get some Thai Baht as there wasn’t any in Jakarta.
Stay tuned for our next post covering Pattaya and the Wonderfruit festival!