Jakarta has a beautiful skyline, but the sharp division between the wealthy and poor was shocking. Wealthy consumers strolled up and down the mall's aisles buying overpriced clothes and junk. However, several miles away, the poor constructed scanty towns next to the metro tracks.
My biggest issue was Jakarta has too many people with too much traffic. I could not walk across the street between 4 PM and 8 PM as the motorcycles, cars, and trucks formed a continual fence across every street. After a week in Jakarta, I felt sick and nauseous from the heavy pollution. I just did not feel well. As the plane left the city, I felt much better and from my window, I saw an orange-brown fog covering and choking the city.
- Area of the country spans 735,358 square miles, making Indonesia the 15th largest country in the world.
- The currency is the Rupiah with an exchange rate roughly one U.S. dollar equals 100,000 rupiahs.
- The capital is Jakarta.
- In 2011, the population was estimated at 237,424,363, making Indonesia the 4th most populous country in the world.
- Jakarta is the largest city, and the financial, manufacturing, and political hub of the country.
- Tourists do not flock to Jarkarta. Instead they head to the beaches in Bali, hike in jungles, or visit the temples around Yogyakarta.
The Borobudur Temple is located in Mageland about 40 kilometers away from Yogjakarta. Borodudur Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world constructed around 850 AD. The temple laid buried under volcanic ash for centuries until the British had uncovered it in 1814.
The Borodudur Temple has three levels. The bottom level is humans indulging in carnal pleasures, called the Kama Sutra while the top level is the heavens or enlightenment. The temple is covered with hieroglyphs that tell Buddhist's stories.
A volcano kicked my ass. I tried to climb Mount Merapi, an active volcano in Indonesia that juts up 9,000 feet above sea level. Mount Merapi means Fire Mountain. The volcano erupted and killed 353 people in 2010.
Our group started one o’clock in the morning. As I was climbing, I was slipping and sliding at some places on the inch of volcanic ash that covered the trails and rocks. Other places, I grabbed tree roots and stumps to pull myself up over the 70 degree inclines and cliffs.
After hiking for three hours, I stopped at the plateau. I lost the energy to climb the last 1,000 feet to peer into the volcano. I stayed at the plateau to wait for my group and boy, was it freezing up there. We started at the village that is about 3,500 feet above sea level, and I gave up at 8,000 feet.
I thought I wouldn’t make it back down, and I am experiencing a new dimension of pain. I feel my body has gone through a meat grinder.
Pontianak is located on the western side of Borneo. The city's name, Pontianaka, means ghost or vampire, and over 573,751 residents inhabit the city in 2015.
I hopped on a bus in Kuching, Malaysia and took an 8-hour journey through the hills and jungles of Borneo. On the Malaysian side, I enjoyed the smooth bus ride as I read an ebook. However, the roads on the Indonesian side varied considerably. I enjoyed a smooth bus ride for the first hour, but the next two hours turned into hell. The monsoon rains washed part of the road away leaving large potholes and bumpy, dirt patches. The bus driver drove slowly as the bus hopped up and down over every large pothole and kicked up clouds of dust. Finally, the roads became good again, and, after another five hours, I arrived in Pontianak, Indonesia at dusk.
The city, unfortunately, has little infrastructure for tourism, and the city seems to be decaying and stagnating. The city has a handful of taxis, few tourist attractions, and no museums. I hung out at the J Co Coffeeshop at the local mall. Since few white tourists visit the city, many residents turned to stare at me. Many people warned me about my safety since I stuck out, making an easy target for theives and robbers.
Yogyakarta is a rustic city in Java and a cultural and education center of Indonesia. Yogya means fit and proper while karta means prosperous. City appears to be a good place to settle down, and I have met several French and Greeks who call Yogyakarta their home.
People are friendly, and the food was excellent. I rarely eat street vendor food, but I could not resist the wonderful smells coming from the streets. I tried skewered chicken with a peanut sauce, bakso - meatball soup, and goreng mee - fried noodles.