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Why We Chose Jakarta as Our Entry Point

West New Guinean Liberation Monument, Jakarta

West New Guinean Liberation Monument

I come from a country that prides itself for having more than 7 107 islands, which has now increased to 7 407 after a mapping agency discovered four hundred islands more. It has been my quest to visit all 81 provinces in the Philippines before traveling abroad; but it was a tough task to comply, especially I preferred staying in one place longer to have a glimpse of how locals live. As of now, it is the extreme, the northernmost and southernmost parts of the Philippines that deem themselves elusive.

BACKPACKING MALAYSIA | A week-long trip around Malaysia | Budget | Itinerary | Accommodation

Traveling around our country is like a preparation of some sort in traveling around other Asian countries, especially Indonesia, which has around 17 000 islands.

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Despite Indonesia’s size and varied destinations, T and I decided to start our journey in Jakarta, its capital city, contrary the usual somewhere-to-Bali route. One, there are more pocket-friendly flight choices in Jakarta, both domestic and international. Two, we want to know how the capital functions and perhaps compare it to our respective cities: T’s Vienna and my Cebu. Mine is the most provincial and the most unsystematic of the three. And perhaps compare Jakarta to other Indonesia that we had in our mind: Yogyakarta (pronounced as Jogjakarta), Mt. Bromo, Malang, Bali, and Lombok.

Jakarta’s train and bus system is laudable. The city’s bus stops are designed in a way that it is impossible to wait anywhere we want, like how we do it here in the Philippines.

So what are the things to do in Jakarta? A lot.

Night Food Market at Jalan Sabang

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We practically walked from Jalan Gunung Sahari to Jalan Sabang. We did not have a specific destination in mind. We just wanted to walk. It was a long walk, but if you asked us, there is no better way of knowing a place than walking. Star Wars: the Force Awakens was released in Asia then. T is a fan. So yeah, we ended up watching it at Cinema XXI, and instantly BB-8 captured me. She (she is a she to me. 😛 ) is like the droid version of Hip-hip, my black cat.

DON’T KNOW WHERE AND HOW TO START? Wanna travel abroad? Talk to your family!

After the movie, we found Jalan Sabang’s lively night market. Food after food: from noodles, chicken feet soup, seafood, barbecue, and a lot of stuff I did not know the name. There are a lot of choices that even though we always had our dinner there and pretty much ate everything that looked new to us, it felt that we had not tasted everything yet! We have a notorious appetite. 😉

TRIVIA: Jalan is the Bahasa for road. In the Philippines, we call it dalan. Yes, our languages are sisters too! Some locals hop from one table to another, sing a song, and ask for a donation afterwards. It happens in public buses too anywhere in Indonesia!

Monas, Buildings, and Huge Scupltures

From Jalan Gunung Sahari, we passed by a lot of interesting buildings. One is the popular Monas, the locals’ name for National Monument, must be the most prominent landmark in central Jakarta. It is a big property, except on Mondays, you can enter the heavily guarded gates and roam around the area. We spotted some museums, parks, and interesting buildings along the way (will look for their name once I start writing the narrtive), but it was a Monday, and obviously in Jakarta, Monday is like a Sunday for public offices. There are locals selling street food by the road; the snacks are worth trying out; some guys sell instant coffee in motorbikes.

Photo-walking around the Old Area

You may have noticed that I have mentioned walking a lot. Because that’s what we did in Jakarta! But we tried and assessed all public transportations within the city: the bus, Blue Bird taxi (the most reliable taxi company in Indonesia), and the train. On our second day, we purchased a train card and visited Jakarta’s old port.

_3650699 copyWe are the kind of travelers who do not really research much, and there are some places that we would have wanted to visit like Kota, which is pretty near the old port. I think we passed through this place on our way back.

Ancol Dreamland: the Nearest Beach in the City and Many More

Jakarta is very big unlike the city where I come from. One place worth visiting is Ancol Dreamland, especially if you love theme parks, pools, and some other water activities. This massive property has golf courses, beaches, and aquarium. Find the best hotel around the area, say, Aston Marina Ancol is a good option. It is a boutique hotel in Ancol Dreamland (Yes, I’m crazy about boutique hotels and boutique restaurants!). Although we have not tried it, we decided to splurge on our last night and stayed in its sister hotel, The Fave Hotel by Aston in northern Jakarta.

NOTE: Although this is a sponsored post by Traveloka, I think Jakarta is an interesting city to visit: from posh architecture to interesting coffee shops. And the job allowed me to post something about our Indonesia trip which otherwise would have taken a back seat. Photos used are all Jona Branzuela Bering’s.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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