Surviving Jakarta

Jakarta Old Town

Jakarta Old Town

Jakarta is like marmite. You either love it or hate it. For a person who lived in Jakarta for 2 years and 4 months, I personally hate it. If it wasn’t for work and in South Jakarta, I would never move to Jakarta. But for friends who have lived and embraced the stuffy and crowded city all their lives, they love it.

Where do I start with this city? It’s crowded for a starter. An estimation of population in Jakarta is 10,187,595 people according to Wikipedia (WOAH!) and you can certainly feel it when you’re there. Secondly, the traffic is horrible. You want to go out for a nice dinner on a weekend night? Forget it, I would rather stay in and cuddle up with my TV than be stuck in hours and hours of traffic jam. And considering the size of the city, you would think that by now they would have some nice public transport. Wrong. The only public transport I frequently used and trusted was taxis, and only “special brands” taxis. Sometimes I used angkot – which is short for angkutan kota (roughly translated to city transport) – but only in some parts of the city and not during the night. The busway is also nice to use but only in off-peak hours and weekdays.

Jakarta can be enchanting at times, when you find the right place and moment

And it gets worse in the rain. I remembered once going back from my former office to my flat in the rain, which usually takes only 10 minutes with an angkot, and it took almost two hours. Crazy I know.

So, how did I survive the capital city? Here are some advice for you working in Jakarta:

  • Try to find a close resident near your office. Though it sounds horrible living near the office, but think about the traffic and the effort you need to make when you live far away.
  • Make a lot of friends, travelling with friends in Jakarta helps you to cut down prices on transportation (like sharing a cab together or splitting fuel price if you’re travelling with a car) and they make great companies in public transportations. I always chose to go with friends when travelling in buses and angkots, I felt safer somehow.
  • Subscribe yourself to a gym nearby, if you can a cheap one. I subscribed one in Hotel Kristal, a hotel situated in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, which gave great one-year deal. Exercise definitely helps you overcome the hecticness of this city.
  • Find a nice cafe to hang out with your friends, preferably one close to where you are living.
  • Smile, cos it’s a city full of frowns.
Jakarta in rain means more traffic and as a result: stuck in the office
If you’re stopping by Jakarta for a visit or a traveller wondering what the capital city of Indonesia is like, don’t be put off. There are some parts of Jakarta that I admire. For example the old city, which I think is really nice and worth the visit. I was actually kinda surprised myself that they had these lovely, old part of town. My friend also did a great post on Museum Fatahillah in Jakarta which you might want to visit during your stay in Jakarta. For transportation, take the taxi but if you want to try public transport I advice the busway. The routes are somehow clearer and there are busway stops in almost every major parts of the city – check this site for the routes of busway. If you’re willing to explore more ways of travelling check this article: Traditional and Modern Public Transport in Jakarta.
And by the way, CNN Go just voted Jakarta as top 10 most hated citiy, well gotta admit that I agree.
All in all, Jakarta is…well as I said…like marmite. Either love it or hate it.


Ever lived in Jakarta or simply dropped a visit to the capital? What did you think? Share with me your thoughts!


15 Comment

  1. says: Reply

    Wow… Great post of you Aggy… It’s really Jakarta, that I know… šŸ™‚ Even I hated the traffic but still I love the city… Cause I’ve found love at the city :p… Haha… But after all, Jogja and Klaten are still in top position for city loved by me :D…

  2. Thanks Ndre šŸ™‚
    Maybe, if I find love in Jakarta I would learn to love the city haha. That is true, Jogja is the best city in Indonesia for me, I really like Klaten too. I have a thing for small cities šŸ˜‰

  3. says: Reply

    haha… one day you’ll find one … šŸ˜€

  4. “Though it sounds horrible living near the office, but think about the traffic and the effort you need to make when you live far away.”

    Speaking as someone who lives a heartbeat away from work, I couldn’t agree more with your statement. The traffic and transportation system is just bad in this city. Which is a darn shame because it overshadows the beauty of old Jakarta (museums and monuments – great for photos and old school adventures) and somewhat-modern Jakarta (the many many MANY malls with crazy discounts all year long).

    1. Christa, you definitely know how I feel. However, I feel that you live TOO close to your office šŸ˜›
      I agree with you, Jakarta’s traffic does overshadow the beauty of Jakarta…so much that people often forget and neglect it! šŸ™

      1. Agree with both of you. Indonesia have to start the mass transportation project… šŸ™‚

        1. Agree! And they need to start it soon, will be a great improvement to the city.

  5. So let’s hope to Jakarta’s new governor. Leadership of Jokowi-Ahok. Nowadays, Mass Rapid Transportation project, busway and city transport improvement are a big headlines in newspaper.

    1. Really hope Jakarta will improve! šŸ™‚

  6. I live 30kms outside Jakarta and have to commute to work everyday. If I were lucky, it will only take me 1.5hrs one-way. But when the city is on its worst mood, it can easily goes up to 3hrs. One-way. Tell me good reason not to hate the city.

    1. I used to live in Fatmawati and my work place was just in TB Simatupang, when it rained it could take me 2 hours to get back to my flat even though it’s only 10 minutes away!

  7. Maybe the experience also depends on who you shared your time with in Jakarta. I never lived there but visited a friend a few times and through the horrible ‘macet’, heavy rain bursts and spoiled expat encounters, Jakarta will always be a positive experience for me. Great vegetarian food, nice nightlife, very photogenic.

    1. Hi Tine! Thanks for dropping by šŸ™‚
      Actually while I was in Jakarta I made some really great friends who later on became my best friends and I have to admit I loved every second I spent with them. However that does not change my opinion on the city, I just hate facing the macet every day, looking at the long line of traffic from my 16th floor office was just frustrating. However I am glad that some people get to see the positive side of it which I’m yet to discover. I did find the old town rather intriguing.

  8. Nice article! Let me share mine. I’ve stay in Jakarta for 2 years and 8 months, up until now I couldnt find a reason to love Jakarta except that I have job here.
    Public transportation is horrible, the second worst thing happened last week when I have to stand inside busway for 1.5 hours for 11 km journey.. The worst is when I have to travel that 11km journey for 3 hours because of traffic jam after rain..

    1. Jakarta is indeed a hard place to live which is why I plan to never return to live in this city hehe

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