It’s not always easy to find what to do in Jakarta. There is a whole city heaving and waiting right at your fingertips, but sometimes you can be at a loss of what to do and with the heat and the traffic and pollution you may feel a little lazy and end up at the mall…..again. But believe it or not there are always things to do outside in the great outdoors. Why not leave the air conditioned comfort of the mall and head out to the markets? Tri and I headed to Cipulir markets on a mission to find some tshirts for Lestari Sayang Anak. This is not for the fainthearted and it’s better if you want to buy in bulk. And if you are a bule, be prepared to be stared at like “OH MY GOD, there is a bule in the market – get the cameras out”, and of course be prepared to bargain, or have an Indonesian boyfriend who can do the hard work for you.
Sundays are the best in Jakarta because Jalan Sudirman is closed to cars, at least in the mornings. Having a folding bike is brilliant because you can load it into the taxi to take you there, for lazy people like me, and the drive is just great. Jakartans en masse exercising in front of shops and on the street, it’s unusual to be up before 12 on a Sunday but it is so worth it. If you have never seen Indonesians exercise before (and I am sorry for the stereotype but I have some Indonesian friends who would rather catch an angkot for 50 metres rather than use their legs – after all they may get sun on their skin if they are exposed to the elements) then Sunday is your day. My friend and I went there on a ride for Cancer research, but we weren’t the only group in our matching tshirts. People marching together, families going for a stroll, others dressed in old fashioned clothes smoking pipes and riding old school bikes, the road was so packed that in some parts it was difficult to ride, but it didn’t matter because there is something extremely satisfying about taking over from the endless cars and motorbikes, if only for the morning.
Riding up Sudirman rather than waiting impatiently in a taxi, gives you a new and fresh perspective on the city. You can look at the diverse architecture – nothing is matching – old building and modern buildings sitting side by side under the blue sky. There are no kopajas to drive past you and blast you in the face with black smoke, and people are happy and excited to be out together.
It’s not always easy to live in a city like Jakarta, but there are many moments when you are out in the city when you remember why you chose to come here, what fun Indonesians are, and how easy it is to feel so free riding helmetless up the middle of the road without risk of getting a fine.
Get on your bike. Ayo.