Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 6 January 2016 • Blog
“Where are you spending the year end holiday?”
“What are you doing on New Year’s Eve?”
These are the two most frequently asked questions approaching New Year. In the last few years I’m happy to answer them with, “Home, watching the fireworks from my balcony.”
I have never really grasped the importance of celebrating New Year. Though I have experienced going home tipsy, being stuck in New Year’s Eve absurd traffic and munching sausages on barbecue sticks at or after midnight, I realize that I did all that for the sake of having something fun to do while others are out partying. It was more of that FOMO feeling.
I still like having something fun to do while the rest of the world is out partying, but now it’s more as an excuse to have a small gathering with friends when nobody’s busy with work. Besides, it would be difficult to sleep with all the rackety sounds of fireworks all around anyway, so I might as well stay up and enjoy the night.
Having said that, it wouldn’t matter where I spend the New Years as long as I have my good friends and loved ones around me, right? Well, not really. I much prefer to stay in Jakarta these last few year-end holidays, the city where I reside and haven’t come to love but have loathed much less over the years. While many big cities in the world are filled up with tourists to celebrate New Year’s Eve or simply vacate, Jakarta is quite the opposite, and that’s why I love Jakarta in the year end.
Here are reasons why I love spending the year end in Jakarta that might be your considerations to choose a place to be if you’re not into New Year parties:
Jakarta’s sucky public transportation system and Indonesia’s low tax on vehicle purchase, plus the overloaded population, have created a traffic monster. Having lived in Jakarta over a decade, I still don’t do well with it. While Mumun had written tips to deal with Jakarta’s mad traffic, I still try to avoid it as much as I can, and working from home has been a great solution so far.
Jakarta year end, as well as Eid, is heavenly when it comes to traffic in this hectic city. School is out, many offices are off since Christmas, a lot of people are getting out of town as soon as they can for maximum holiday. The number of vehicles on the streets – motorbikes, cars, including SUVs with only one passenger – decrease greatly. Like, super greatly. Reaching places that normally takes an hour can be reduced to just half of it, like midnight traffic! Isn’t that crazy? Crazy good!
Visiting places I used to avoid.
Jakarta is loaded with interesting places, from cafes to libraries, from parks to museums. It is also a huge city, so there are so many places I haven’t been, food I haven’t tried, enjoyment I haven’t indulged. A lot of places I avoid getting to because of the traffic jam that means too much time wasted being static on the road. So the year-end is a perfect time for me to explore more of Jakarta, specifically the places I used to avoid.
In 2014, I went north (all the way from the south-near-centre) to see what the Suaka Margasatwa Muara Angke, as my friend Regina had written here, has to offer. I even woke up early to jog at Ancol bay, also on the north. Just last year in 2015, I ventured more to the south for breakfast in Gandaria area. Friendly traffic doesn’t only mean short duration, but also cheaper taxi or Uber fares. Yeay, more money on food!
Touristy places are crowded.
Every year-end holiday I see the news on TV about static traffic out of Jakarta, people getting to touristy places like Bandung, Puncak or Bali. Mumun spent 38 hours to Lasem, a historical small town in Central Java, only about 600 km from Jakarta. Lasem isn’t what you’d call touristy, but some cities you’d have to pass getting there are, like Cirebon and Semarang.
So, yeah, I prefer staying in Jakarta for the year end. I’m glad Mumun is back with sanity, having traveled with the right road trip mates for her.
High season means high price…and SALE party in Jakarta.
It’s not a secret anymore that tickets and accommodation prices are more expensive approaching New Years. Being a thrifty tourist that I am, I try as much as I can to avoid traveling at this crazy time. Fortunately, being a freelancer means I can schedule my travels at low seasons.
While I steer clear from spending too much on tickets and hotels, I also need to stay away from shopping malls in Jakarta, as stores are screaming SALE from every corner. I did quite well on that, but I gotta admit that I failed steering clear from Instagram shop. Oh well, at least I have a few more nice clothes for my next travels.
Feeling the warmth in rainy season.
The end of year is the beginning of rainy season in Indonesia. It’s the season where Jakarta’s temperature could drop to 20’s Celcius in the day, where normally it’s 30 to 39 degrees Celcius. I use less of air conditioning, save more energy, yet I can still hang dry some of my clothes in the balcony.
While it’s cooler outside in general, I feel warmer on the inside. 20’s C temperature feels home to me, a tropical girl who doesn’t operate well in too much heat. I don’t mind cloudy weather, as long as I’m dry and cool, I’m happy. So, spending the year-end in Jakarta is perfectly fine for me.
How do you like spending your year end?