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.
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.