Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is famous for many things – traffic jams, skyscrapers, mega malls and a treasure trove of good food to name a few. Here are a few interesting things that you should know about the Big Durian.
CITY OF MALLS
The people of Jakarta love shopping malls. One of the most concentrated cities in the world (malls-wise), it is estimated that Jakarta has more than 180 malls. In 2013, Joko Widodo (then the governor of Jakarta) famously criticised the city’s planning and ceased granting permits for new malls in the capital. That being said, if you are visiting, chances are you will drop by one of the city’s numerous shopping malls, some of which are integrated with five-star hotels, offices, apartments and even art galleries!
SUNDAY RUN DAY
Initially implemented as a bid to reduce pollution from cars, Jakarta has held car-free day every Sunday since 2012. From the Senayan roundabout to Hotel Indonesia onwards to Jakarta’s national monument Monas, Jalan Jendral Sudirman is closed off to vehicles every Sunday for pedestrians. It is something of a rarity for pedestrians to walk and exercise about the city on foot, given the capital’s oft criticised lack of pedestrian pathways. Do bring a pair of jogging shoes and join in the locals.
First-time visitors to Jakarta often ask this question, “How does anyone get anything done in all this traffic?” A few years ago, a typical local will probably go into a long-winded explanation on the ingenuity and innovative mindset of Jakarta people. Nowadays, a local will just shake his head at the naïve visitor, smile and say, “Gojek”. Gojek is an all-in-one food delivery, courier, shopping and transport on-demand motorbike application that is proudly Indonesian. Download the application and give it a try, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.
THE SIGN OF FIVE
Loosely translated as five feet, the term kaki lima originates from Dutch Colonial time, when the minimum width of foot paths was set at five feet. After Indonesia’s independence from colonial rule, most of the foot paths ended up being occupied by enterprising street vendors, which were in turn called pedagang kaki lima (foot paths vendor). Today, one can find all sorts of scrumptious and exotic sweets and street food from all corners of the archipelago on the foot paths of Indonesia.
ONCE YOU GO KAMPUNG
Organic? Free-range? Grain-fed? These are good and all, but your typical Jakarta local is more interested in whether what you are offering is ayam kampung (village chicken). Ayam kampung refers to chickens which are not bred commercially, but allowed to roam free around a village. Ayam kampung tend to be smaller, leaner and more flavourful. Prized over the typical commercially bred chicken, expect to pay a 50-100% premium in restaurants which offers ayam kampung. That being said, it is a must try delicacy.