Jakarta is the current capital of Indonesia, the largest Islamic state in the world. I say current because the capital will actually be moving to East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
Why? Because Jakarta is sinking at the rate of around 25 centimetres every year.
Situated on the Java Sea and with thirteen rivers coursing through the Jakarta municipality, the heavily built up city is sinking faster than Venice or Shanghai due to residents and industries having drained huge reserves of underground water.
The process is now thought to be irreversible and experts predict that by 2050, 95% of North Jakarta will be completely submerged. What will happen to Jakarta’s 15 million residents is anybody’s guess.
We visited way back in 1997 and decided to stay two nights in the capital which was the start point of a three-week independent visit through Java & Bali.
In those embryonic internet days we had just taken the name of the hotel from our Lonely Planet guidebook and exchanged a couple of emails.
Our joy at seeing our names scrawled in black marker pen on a whiteboard was however short-lived. The hotel could best be described as an absolute dive!
We first noticed the walls smeared with blood and splatted mosquitoes and then spent 30-minutes using all of our sticking plasters to patch up the holes in our included mosquito nets!
The whole place needed a deep clean, but as we were on a budget we just grinned and beared it.
My memories of Jakarta are perhaps my sketchiest of all. We had arrived during the SEA games as attested to by the banner hung across a busy highway proclaiming “BEST WISHES FOR THE 19TH SEA GAMES”.
We both thought that Jakarta was perhaps not best known for water sports, until we realised that it actually stood for South East Asia and was in fact a sort of regional olympics.
Other memories included going to a restaurant and witnessing a guy listening to a Walkman whilst singing terribly and drumming aggressively on the table. His music of choice was not however Heavy Metal as we supposed but Lionel Richie. This fact amused us even more.
Apart from that I have memories of visiting the port area where cargo was being carried on and off old-style schooner vessels, the type of which are still used today, plus a boat trip around some shanty type dwellings pitched on stilts above the water.
Here are some of the very few pictures that I took.
The city beginning with the letter J that I would most like to visit that I haven’t yet? Jodhpur in India.
How about you?
Look out for K on Monday