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Published: February 6th 2014
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Living in Jakarta
Jakarta, also known as the Big Durian.
The Durian is the perfect metaphor for Jakarta, its taste divides opinion as does Jakarta in terms of living there, you will either love it, or you will hate it. It really depends on what you expect when you get here and how hard you are willing to look beneath the dirt to find the jewel which the city is becoming. Oh and should I mention, like a Durian, Jakarta smells a bit.
Jakarta is a city, like many, with its own problems. Any google search will bring up heaps about its infamous “macets” (traffic jams) and “banjirs” (floods). But Jakarta really has a lot more to offer than a mass annual swim and fits of road rage.
If you’re planning to come and live in Jakarta, then life can be as simple or as hard as you want it to be and you will find every commodity known in the Western World.
If you are planning to work in Jakarta, then I suggest you find a place to live which is close to your work. Commuting in this city can be a nightmare, so having somewhere nearby will severely reduce the amount of time you spend in a car and how early you have to wake up.
The good news is that renting in Jakarta is reasonably cheap, you can pick up Kost (think of a halls of residence in a UK university) for as little as £50 a month (Feb 2014), or if you prefer a comfortable furnished apartment for £1,000 to £2,000 a month.
If you prefer to decide to live a small distance from work (and you may depending on prices) then I would suggest you look at buying a motorbike, A brand new motorbike here costs in the region of £650. This will get you a rugged 115cc semi automatic with normal sized wheels. It sounds small, but considering the traffic and potholes, its the perfect sized bike. I honestly advise against the automatic scooters here. I don’t believe their wheel base is sufficient to navigate the substantial number of potholes here.
If you are worried about the cost of running a bike here, then don’t be. Spend £40 and get your license and after that it is about £2.50 for a full tank of petrol (premium from the best station). A full service costs at most £2 and a new bike comes with a three year warranty.
In regards to eating and drinking, then I challenge you to find a cheaper country in the world. On the street are fantastic food vendors willing to sell sate, fried rice, noodles and all manner of local cuisine for as little as 50p. You will not go hungry, because there is a vendor open at all times of day and night. If you are worried about sickness here, then my only advice to you, is go where the locals go. If they don’t go to a particular one, then there is a good reason why.
So now that is all out of the way, what is there to do in Jakarta?
Well “what isn’t there to do?” would be a better question.
Jakarta is a major city, so naturally is full of things to do. Despite Indonesia’s claim as the biggest Islamic country in the world, it doesn’t follow it entirely in reputation, in Jakarta anyway. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very conservative Islamic areas outside of Java.
This means that all you alcoholics can find the much needed beer to calm you down after a hard days work. There are many bars and clubs for you to choose from. Jalan Jaksa is hotspot for them, so you will not be short of places to relax.
If you’re a shopaholic, then I would suggest that there is no better city for you. Jakarta will not rest until it has more malls than it does people. Pacific Place, Taman Anggrek and Central Park are three of the biggest in Indonesia and all of them would hold their own in cities like London and New York. And they all the shops you would expect with prices that should be cheaper than what you would expect in England anyway.
If you’re a fan of green grass, fresh air and natural beauty, like me, then Jakarta is absolutely not for you. It is the epitome of a concrete jungle. The government is trying to “green” the place up, but in honestly the nearest thing you’ll find to a park here, is the mall Central Park.
However, this is NOT a problem. This is where I tell you the best thing about Jakarta, It is a travel terminal like no other. Indonesia is a land of beauty and Jakarta is where all the journeys begin. You can fly all over Indonesia for at most £80 return. Java is connected by a decent railway system. It costs about £20 one way, to go to the opposite end of an island larger than England in business class (and I don’t mean the shitty English trains version - more like airplane business class)
It is also a gateway to Asia. Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and so many others are just a cheap and short flight away. So if you’re good with saving, you will always have a wealth of travel options.
So don’t worry if it isn’t all fields of green, it is nothing more than excuse to go out and explore to fulfill that particular need.
All in all, Jakarta is a nice place to live. Like all cities, it has its places you shouldn’t go. It has a small theft problem, much the same as Paris or London. But on the whole it is safe, people are always willing to help you and they will bend over backwards if you’re in trouble.
Its a great place, so great, I’m going to stay another year (at the very least)
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