Every time our family has to go back to Indonesia to see my mother or to spend Christmas together I always dread the idea that we are going to JAKARTA. I am happy to go home alone or just with my kids. But not with hubby. Why? Because Jakarta can be cruel to people who can't tolerate the pollution and the traffic. Jakarta is not friendly for people who love outdoor things, and honestly it is not that kind to children either.
I get used to the hustle and bustle in Jakarta, because I grew up and spent almost my adult time there. But for my hubby and kids, sometimes it can be rough. I can handle my children, although some of the kids play grounds are inside the mall, but once they are there they are happy, well at least for couple hours.
My hubby is a different story. It's always a dilemma (for me) to take him back to my home town. He doesn't like the traffic, doesn't like the malls, doesn't like the noise, and doesn't really enjoy the night life too much. So, even though I would like him to see my mother and other relatives as often as possible, sometimes I wish he didn't come, because he can give me headache and we argue more than we have to! But I suppose to be fair..he still comes and tries to make the best of it...sometimes.
We are always trying to be equal in spending Christmas and New Year with both side of the family. If this year we go to Indonesia then next year will be in Australia. So, last year it was Jakarta's turn. Here we go, let's the fun start :)
The boys and I flew first then hubby came two days before Christmas. I took him to Kota Tua or also known as Old Batavia or Old Jakarta. According to the Wikipedia : Kota Tua / Old Batavia is reminiscent of colonial times in the 16th century when the city was only within Batavia's walled compound, while the surrounding areas was only kampung / villages. Batavia as it was named by the Dutch, was once a center of commerce for the whole continent due to its strategic location and abundant resource.
First we hired bikes, which cost us Rp.35.000 (AUSD 3.50) per bike for two hours with a tour guide. So, my brother was with T1 and my hubby was with T2 while I got a ride with the tour guide, yay! :) He took us around the port town, first stop was Toko Merah (Red Shop) the building's red color contributes to its current name. Toko Merah was built in 1730 as the residence of the Dutch Governor and then it was converted into a hotel from 1786 to 1808. Then became an office building. They are doing some renovations when we visited as they are going to make it as a gallery and conference hall.
Second stop was Jembatan Intan (Intan bridge). It was constructed by the Dutch government in the 17t century to connect West Kali Besar and East Kali Besar. The brigde was made of wood and equipped with leverage to get the lower side of the bridge up when a ship passed by. The ship delivered spices to the warehouse in Old Batavia. Oh, not to mention that the famous Vincent van Gogh had visited Batavia and painted a painting of Kota Intan Bridge!
Next stop was Sunda Kelapa Harbour, the oldest port in Jakarta. The harbor used to be very busy with foreign ships from China, South India, Japan and Middle East. It also conducted trading activities such as horses, wine, coffee, silk, textiles, perfume, to be traded with the spices. We also stopped at Maritime Museum near Sunda Kelapa Harbor.
After finishing our bike riding, we had lunch and cold drinks at Cafe Batavia. I love this café. It preserves historical value. The furniture, nice tables, chairs, lamps and cabinets in the café using Java teak wood produced in the late of 19th century. Up to the second floor, the entire wall was filled with photo frames from the 60's and maybe 70's it's just a cool touch to the café atmosphere. Oh...and the male's urinal is backed by a long mirror which I found quite interesting and strange :p Yes, I went inside the male toilet!
After spending Christmas time with family and relatives, the next day we caught a train to Jogjakarta. I had booked our tickets earlier online from Australia. The official site for Kereta Api Indonesia is pretty good. Click here for the link. A day before our departure I went to Gambir station and showed them my booking number for them to replace it with real tickets. This way you save time queuing on the D-day. We took an executive train, it was not that bad, just a bit old. And it was only delayed for half an hour :p The view along was beautiful, while it took 8hrs, my kids loved the train journey. From Gambir station we only stopped once at Cirebon and continue to Jogjakarta. If you have time I recommend to take the train to Jogjakarta, and/or you can fly back home.
We stayed for four nights in Jogjakarta at The Phoenix Hotel , a very nice pleasant hotel with a touch of colonial and traditional blend together. The breakfast is so good with lots of variety. I love the bubur ayam though! :) In front of the hotel there are always becaks to take you around the city.
While in Jogjakarta, I think it's a must to see Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple. We went beach hopping, though Indrayanti beach is nice, it's so touristy and very crowded so we opted for Sandranan beach which is not that far from Indrayanti, about 10 minutes driving. Pok Tunggal beach is also nice and quieter.
Also we went to Merapi in a jeep which was quite fun, my boys love it. For 2 hours trip cost us Rp.350.000 (AUSD 35). The driver took us around the flanks of the volcano, over the pyroclastic flows, and we also visited the destroyed houses from the last eruption which was in November 2010.
Desa Tembi or Tembi village is in southern of Jogjakarta, about 20 minutes driving, is also worth to visit. It is so quiet, the village is surrounded by paddy fields. With 'dokar' traditional transportation drawn with a horse you can explore the village and pay a visit to Rumah Budaya Tembi (Tembi House of Culture), House of Batik, or Bambu Pendopo. D'omah hotel / villa is very nice and cosy with traditional Java touch if you plan to stay a night or so.
Beyond all doubt I had a good time in Jakarta, even though I was stuck in traffic for 3 hours and fantastic days in Jogjakarta. It's just nice to see your family back home...even grumpy hubby seemed happy enough...most of the time.