It’s said Jakarta’s traffic is some of the worst in the world – which is a big call when you’re considering Manila, Bangkok and lovely Cairo. If this sweeping statement wasn’t true, I’d be able to tell you more about Jakarta – the shops, the cafes, etc etc. But much of the afternoon of planned sightseeing was spent encased in a mostly-stationary mini-van, looking at spectacular buildings, but unable to find out what they were and who designed them.
We did, however, see the school that little Barry went to (yeah, that’s Barak Obama to everyone else in the world), and Sukharno’s last erection, as the locals refer to the National Monument. The 137 metre column was the site of an anti-drugs demonstration, the friendly coppers told us. With its young guys in polyester tracksuits waving their arms in time to some fairly miliaristic music, it looked more like a North Korean mass jazzercise program.
Friendly’s the key word here: Jakarta is far less conservative than the international press would have it. Visions of veiled women and mass religion seems far from the truth: we are constantly waved at by smiling kids and adults alike and the city is a mixed bag of morals from headscarves to shorts on girls, and from my limited experience in bars (ok, so I’ve been to only one to date) accommodating to the extreme.
However, who needs bars and nightclubs when you have a shower like I’ve got a shower? The Italian cubicle is a standalone affair in my hotel bathroom that requires some serious thought, otherwise you’d end up leaping in there at 8am, hitting every button, which includes aircon, radio, sauna and water. And it all comes hitting you at once. Steamy, loud and sweaty, I could have been in a nightclub. Now if I could just program the world’s first free-thinking toilet to bring me a drink…