Although your feelings towards and opinion of a particular country will grow and evolve as you see more of the country and experience more of the local culture, nothing can ever duplicate your initial impressions. For that exact reason I will be publishing a First Impressions post for every one of the 80+ countries on my RTW adventure.
Arriving in Jakarta airport was just like any other country. However by the time you claim your bags and make it through customs it quickly becomes clear that you have arrived somewhere tropical. The touts are everywhere and they are very eager for your money. Everyone from the currency exchange attendants to the taxi drivers are literally fighting each other for your business. With so many shady taxi companies and other traveler horror stories, it really helps to know who to go with.
Blue Bird taxi service (spelled taksi in Bahasa Indonesia, the local language) is the best and most honest company. However Express is also a close second. Those are both basic taxis but if you prefer something better, Silver Bird has a top-notch fleet of Mercedes and only cost slightly more than their inexpensive sister company, Blue Bird. For example from the airport to my hostel was 150,000 rupiah ($15USD) via Blue Bird and 210,000 rupiah ($21USD) via Silver Bird.
Exiting out into the city visitors will quickly become aware of two things: lots of traffic and lots of trash. The last few years have seen a substantial increase in the number of vehicles and motorbikes on the roads without any significant road or public transportation improvements. The worst part is this trend shows no sign of changing. As such, one has to wonder what traffic in Jakarta and the other big Indonesian cities will look like in five years? Ten years?
Just like other metropolises in developing countries, the roads and highways here can be shocking to first-time visitors. The lines on the road mean practically nothing, with everyone just swinging around each other in the hopes of getting to their destinations a few seconds faster. The motorbike drivers weave in between cars nonstop, seemingly fearless despite the fact that many have their whole family — infant(s) included — on that one small bike. All vehicles must truly have great brakes and a working horn if they hope to survive the drive.
After safely arriving at the hostel and dropping my bags off the first thing I did was check out that famous Jakarta street food. Luckily I didn’t have to go more than 20 meters to already have a variety of options. The best part is everything is amazing! Whether soto ayam nasi (a unique rice soup with chicken and veggies), capcai (mixed vegetables in soupy sauce), mie masak sapi (noodles with beef and fried egg), nasi goreng ayam (fried rice and chicken), or anything else, it’s all good!
Take A Look Mmmmm Food! My next post is all about the food of Indonesia and how to order it.
All together my first impressions of the country are quite positive, despite all the warnings from both travelers and local friends alike not to trust anyone. Many others do not have very many positive things to say but the majority of those only have the negative thinking because they have never been to a major metropolis in a developing nation. Manila and Mexico City are both very similar.
Yes, something tells me I am going to enjoy my time here in Indonesia!
Be sure to check out my new posts on Indonesia for more great sights and activities! Saya tinggal disini sekarang!