Day 6. Exploring Jakarta’s colonial heritage

It was 8.00 a.m. when we drew back the curtains after sleeping soundly for almost ten hours, catching up on deprived sleep from the previous night of travelling.  Soon we were ready to experience breakfast in the Jakarta Novotel’s restaurant on the 6th floor.  We found a vast array of cooked dishes under stainless steel cloches but not being partial to the likes of chicken with rice for breakfast, we opted for the fresh fruit, yoghurts and cheese.  The egg station had a blackboard menu propped up on its counter and I was pleased to note that my favourite Eggs Benedict was available so I opted for this.  Rather than English muffins, the eggs were served on two brioche buns but very tasty, all the same.

Breakfast, Jakarta Novotel
Breakfast being prepared at the Jakarta Novotel

We glanced at the English version of the Jakarta Post but didn’t find much to interest us so we spent a short time reading the news on our iPads whilst sipping cups of freshly brewed coffee.

Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta
Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta

Just as we were ready to head outdoors it started raining heavily so we sheltered in the foyer until our Grab car arrived to take us to the Museum of Indonesia.  This was a slightly longer journey than the ones we had taken the previous day but the fare only came to IDR 27,000 (£1.49).  The entrance fee to this museum was IDR 10,000 (55p) each and, as with the museums we had visited the previous day, it was located in a beautiful colonial building.

Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta
Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta

Although the museum contained a large number of artefacts, the layout was very dated and not very easy to follow.  Several school parties were exploring the galleries with their clipboards and pens but otherwise it was reasonably quiet with few, if any other European visitors.

Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta
Live displays of weaving at the Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta

On leaving the museum, we crossed an extremely busy road to view the exterior of the Presidential Palace.  We were wrong in thinking that crossing the road at an electronic pedestrian crossing would be safe as some irresponsible motorists and scooter riders just hurtle through the red lights causing mayhem to those trying to safely find their way across the road.  This wasn’t just a one-off occurrence, but happened to us numerous times during our stay in Jakarta making it difficult to cross, so take care.

Presidential Palace, Jakarta
Presidential Palace, Jakarta

After viewing the palace and the solitary guard on sentry duty, we continued along to the Merdeka Square Park but ended up having to walk a long way around its perimeter fence to find an entrance gate that was open as a number of them were padlocked for some unknown reason.

Freedom Tower, Merdeka Square Park Jakarta
Freedom Tower, Merdeka Square Park Jakarta

It had been our intention to take the lift to the top of the Freedom Tower but there was a large school party waiting to ascend and as the lift capacity was only 11, it would have been a long wait.  As we didn’t want to waste a long time waiting to climb a tower that wasn’t particularly high we changed our plans and wandered along to the National Mosque instead.  Luck wasn’t on our side as we found this to be closed for major renovations!

Merdeka Square Park, Jakarta
Merdeka Square Park, Jakarta

Our journey wasn’t entirely wasted though as just across the road from the mosque stands the city’s catholic cathedral so we dodged the traffic, making it safely inside the church where a service was taking place.

Jakarta Catholic Cathedral
Jakarta Catholic Cathedral

We then attempted to order a Grab car from outside the cathedral to take us to the National Gallery but as we were unable to connect to a Wi-Fi network and there were no hotels or cafes nearby where we could have popped in for a drink and to access their internet, we were forced to walk.  It felt exceedingly hot as we made our way along the traffic choked, polluted streets of the city centre and we were glad to rest our legs and sip cool drinks on the shady terrace of the museum cafe.

National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta
National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta

Entrance to the National Gallery is free with its galleries housed in yet another splendid Dutch colonial building.  Unlike most of the other city centre museums, the National Gallery had been modernised and was attractively laid out.  Again, there were few visitors apart from two bus loads of secondary school children.

National Gallery of Jakarta, Indonesia
National Gallery of Jakarta, Indonesia

A little further along the road we passed the vast U.S. Embassy and the Jakarta City Hall before reaching our final destination of the day which was The National Library of Indonesia which is also known as ‘The Window of The World’.  The library’s entrance is somewhat unusual as it is accessed via a single storey heritage building, with the new library towering in its shadow.

The National Library of Indonesia, Jakarta
The National Library of Indonesia, Jakarta

The library has only been open for two years and welcomes visitors.  It features a very impressive entrance hall with a huge bookcase leading all the way up to the uppermost floor.

The National Library of Indonesia, Jakarta
The atrium, National Library of Indonesia, Jakarta

It was interesting exploring each of the subject zones but my favourite part of the library was the heritage area with its antique bookcases, desks and reading lamps.  Accessing the free Wi-Fi we were able to order a Grab car back to the hotel.  This arrived promptly and cost us IDR 24,000 (£1.31).

The National Library of Indonesia, Jakarta
The heritage area of the National Library of Indonesia, Jakarta

The time had now reached 4.30 p.m. so after a cup of tea in our room, we popped down to the sauna to relax.  A few people were using the gym but again we enjoyed the luxury of having the sauna to ourselves.

High Tea at the Novotel, Jakarta
High Tea at the Novotel, Jakarta

Instead of eating out, we both decided that it would be rather nice to enjoy the hotel’s high tea which was available until 8.00 p.m.  Alongside pots of tea, we tucked in to a large spread comprising dainty sandwiches, dim sum, fruit, scones and a selection of irresistible small cakes.

With our friendly waitress at the Novotel, Jakarta
With our friendly waitress at the Novotel, Jakarta

Whilst enjoying our meal we chatted to one of the waitresses who was very friendly and keen to practice her English.  She told us that it took her almost two hours to commute to work which seemed such a long time for that level of work.  She explained that she could only use her car on alternate days to comply with the city’s campaign to ease congestion and keep traffic moving.

Later, we enjoyed a short stroll around the neighbourhood in the pleasantly cool evening air before returning to our hotel after an interesting day exploring the Indonesian capital.

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21 thoughts on “Day 6. Exploring Jakarta’s colonial heritage

  1. Pingback: Day 11. Exploring Seminyak, Bali – Love Travelling Blog

  2. Pingback: Day 8. From Jakarta to Bali – Love Travelling Blog

  3. Pingback: Day 7. Ancol eco-park, Jakarta – Love Travelling Blog

    1. Jakarta has retained some beautiful old colonial buildings creating a city of contrasts with its towering skyscrapers. The only downsides are traffic and pollution but at least the cars keep moving albeit slowly unlike Manila. Thanks for your welcome thoughts Andy.

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  4. Hi from a Jakartan! Just came across your blog (where have I been all this time?!) and I’ve really enjoyed reading your nicely-written posts. Seems like you’ve had a bit of a rough day in the city but I hope you can still enjoy your overall stay! *fingers crossed* On normal days, there are MRTs and busways that during certain hours may not be too crowded and are pretty comfortable especially compared to other means of transportations in the city. But you’re right, online taxis are better options if the traffic is ok. We locals are more used to using online motorbike (ojek online) these days.

    Anyhow, hi from a new follower! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking an interest in these posts. Jakarta was very interesting but three or four days is probably enough to explore the capital. I usually watch Portillo and his rail journeys but am a bit behind with my viewing so will look forward to watching the Great Asian routes.

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  5. I really miss those scenes. One of the highlights I recall about Indonesia is travelling from Adelaide to India via Singapore on the Italian liner “Marconi” in 1965. We travelled through the straits on a moonlight night and as you have land on either side the view of those tropical islands at night will always remain with me. My first visit to Indonesia and changing dollars for Bhasa Indonesia notes with such high numerical value made me feel like a millionaire. Looking at the old colonial building reminded me that right across the countries of SE Asia which had been under colonial rule for sometime there was a fairly common architecture. Its a treasure most of those countries still try to protect in spite of modern construction of glass and steel. There is a charm in those old colonial buildings. My house and office complex in Singapore was of common colonial architecture as a hand me down. Unfortunately that had to come down to be replaced by multiple towers. Singapore needs buildings for high density now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The colonial architecture in south east Asia is indeed beautiful and it’s good that at least small pockets of it have been retained as reminders of the past. That boat trip from Adelaide to India sounded wonderful Ian. What wonderful memories.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Jakarta is fascinating for a short break but I think three nights is sufficient to cover the main sights. Public transport is virtually non existent so that is why we used taxis so much. For the brave and fearless you could go even cheaper with Grab scooters! The Novotel was ideal and very reasonably priced. Thanks for commenting. Hope you’re enjoying this lovely weather.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Looking at your photos where you are is so beautifully interesting. I don’t know why but I wondered if this place had any slum areas for the lower class? In a perfect world, the answer would be no.
    I think the library was my favorite photo. It was HUGE. I absolutely adore libraries having spent quite a bit on the ones in my surrounding areas.
    I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for taking an interest in my blog Sheryl. The colonial district had some very interesting buildings and museums. I, too am drawn to libraries and this was with its huge bookcase atrium was stunning. Sadly, the city does have its fair share of ramshackle accommodation some of which we viewed from the train windows coming in from the airport.

      Liked by 1 person

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