Although I have been born & bred in Jakarta, I haven’t been exploring this city enough. Of course I have been to most of the must-visit places in town, but not nearly as often as I wanted to. Until, a while back, when I saw a sign that says “CITY TOUR JAKARTA” at one of the TransJakarta Bus Stop. And it struck me, maybe I should give it a whirl.
After giving it a few thoughts, especially due to rainy season is here, I finally give it a go. But first things first, I need to get myself to the Bundaran HI TransJakarta bus Stop. And decided that I should take an Uber just to save me some time. Once there, I went straight to the map board, and discovered there were 3 lines (History, Modern, and Art & Culinary ). And as you might suspected, I chose the History Lane. Ooo did I mentioned that the city tour bus is free? Yes, it is free & they have the service all week long.
And I guessed, I picked the wrong place to start. LOL. On top of that, the buses are seating buses only. No standing is allowed in the bus at all times. If you are in a big group, try to get in either from Balai Kota (City Hall) or Sarinah is also a good option. After waiting for around 40 minutes, I decided to jump on a taxi and go to Museum Nasional instead. And not long after, finally the bus arrived & I got the front seat.
As I noticed, all of the buses used for this tour, are all brand new. Many are donated from foundations and major companies. One down side is that the crew doesn’t speak English yet there are many foreigners are also using this service. But no need to worry, all of the signage are both in Bahasa & English. OK, back to the bus ride. It took less than 20 minutes to get to Museum Bank Indonesia, which is actually my stop. I wanted to visit Kota Tua or Old Town. After getting off the bus, I just need to cross the street and I arrived.
I immediately realized that the Kota Tua I remembered have changed. It has become more lively and gotten an update. Unlike a few years back, there are more street vendors around. But on the bright side, the number of visitors have also climbed outrageously. The crowds are getting younger, although there are also many families from in and around Jakarta. Not only that, there a few new eating joints that are suitable for lounging or just simply get hydrated. One of the place I visited was Historia. The place is nice with a vintage feel and offers traditional Indonesian food.
After getting my snack fix, I decided to continue my walk around the area. Taking a look around, I saw many street performers. It definitely attracts the crowd. One group are in three, and was showing a levitation act as well as a cosplay of an old Dutch Bride. It is absolutely fine to take photos but don’t forget to leave some money in their boxes.
Going forward, I entered the Fatahillah Square. Since it’s a Sunday, there was a huge huge crowd. Everywhere I looked, there are bound to be people on bicycles. Well, bicycle is a thing here. A lot of people are renting their Sepeda Onthel (bikes made in the Dutch era) and the bike can fit up to 2 people. They are vibrantly painted and can be use to take a spin in the area.
Other things that got me intrigued to go there, was definitely the old buildings surrounding the area. In my right, I immediately noticed a big white building which was filled with visitors. It is the Fatahillah Museum or also called the Jakarta History Museum. It was originally build in 1710 and used as the Stadhuis of Batavia. Near there, I also saw the Wayang Museum (Puppet Museum). On the other end, there is the Fine Art & Ceramic Museum which was once the Court of Justice. Although most of them have been converted into a museum, one building is still in use to this day. That is the Kantor Pos or Post Office.
After a while, I decided to get away a bit from the crowd. I took myself walking towards the other side of Kota Tua. Many buildings are still preserved with its colonial architecture and being used as cafes & hotels. But a few are deserted & starting to get deteriorated. It is said that the government are trying to restore the glory of Kota Tua. I guessed I will have to wait until my next visit to give you an update.
For those of you who would like to visit Kota Tua, it is better to come early. Taking the City Tour Bus is always a good idea, but don’t forget to check the time tables as the schedules differs between Monday – Saturday & Sunday. Bring your camera! as most of the places allows for it. Only Wayang Museum that doesn’t allow photographs to be taken inside the building. If you only want to enjoy the cafes, I definitely recommend you to come in the evening, as there will be less crowd. So.. Have Fun!!