Jakarta, City of Dreams

Jakarta long time ago

As the capitol city of Indonesia, Jakarta (which also known as Land of Betawi) has everything to share and surely it has many stories to be told to anyone who drop by and enjoy the atmosphere of the city either at day or night time. The story of Jakarta began in fourth century when Tarumanegara Kingdom (one of the oldest Hindu kingdoms) established a civilization in the northwest area of Java Island. Today, this territory is known as Jakarta’s main area and between the 7th-13th century this area was controlled by the Srivijaya Maritime Kingdom and a new name was given for the Port which is called Sunda Kelapa.

A picture of Sunda Kelapa port

A picture of Sunda Kelapa port

In the year 1513, there were four Portuguese ships arrived in port of Sunda Kelapa (Jakarta’s teritory) in the middle of effort to find spices in land of Java. The Kindom of Sunda agreed for an alliance treaty with the Portuguese and in the year 1522 the Portuguese established a port to defend their colony and trading post from the arising power of Sultanate Demak. Five years from the treaty agreement (exactly in year 1527), Fatahillah a.k.a Falatehan (the famous general) from Sultanate Demak attacked and conquered Sunda Kelapa port and sent the Portuguese to their mother land. As The Sultanate Demak controlled Sunda Kelapa completely, Fatahillah gave a new name for it which known as Jayakarta.

Jayakarta simply became a new domicile of the Sultanete Demak and became a major trading center for the entire South East Asia region. In the year 1596 the Dutch ships were arrived in Jayakarta and in the year 1602 the English East India Company arrived in Aceh. The English East India Company continued their sail to Jayakarta since they came to land of Java to build a trading post and extend their exploration area in South East Asia.

Years by years, Jayakarta were crowded by many nations who came and established a trading post. Until year 1682 this area became one of the most important sites for the English merchants and gave big contribution for European market especially for spices and other crops that can’t be cultivated in Europe.

During the Colonial era by the Dutch, Jayakarta renamed to Batavia and there were lots of Chinese immigrants moved to Batavia. These Chinese immigrants were settled down around Glodok area near the Batavia port and some of them were sent back home to china since Batavia only had small area for settlement.

(Left : Glodok area, Right : Menteng area in the year 1955)

(Left : Glodok area, Right : Menteng area in the year 1955)

Major city development to extend the settlement in Batavia began in the year 1818 and more inhabitants were pushed outside the city wall. Between years 1835 – 1870 the south area of Batavia started to grow as residential area. As an answer of Batavia’s population growth, the Dutch colonial Government developed Menteng Housing Park in the year 1913 and within few years later (exactly in the year 1930) Batavia was crowded by more than 500.000 inhabitants. 

During the World War II, Batavia was renamed again to Jakarta (short form of Jayakarta which means “Complete Victory”) by the Indonesian nationalists after they freed Batavia from the Dutch Colonial government (Due to the old style of Bahasa Indonesia Phonetic Spelling, the word Jakarta was written Djakarta during 1949 – 1972). The Dutch Colonial government was replaced by the Nippon (Japan) colonial government and the Japanese forces stayed in Jakarta for few years before there were two major aggressions from the Dutch after the Indonesian acclaimed their Independence Day on August 17, 1945.

It was Sultanate Jogjakarta that helped the Indonesian nationalists to establish an emergency government when the aggressions happened. The Sultanate Jogjakarta provided a secure domain for the new-born republic of Indonesia at the heart of Jogjakarta city wall so the seed of this nation can survive during the Dutch aggressions and once the Indonesian independence secured in the year 1950, Jakarta once again established as the Capitol city of The Republic of Indonesia.

Jakarta as the Big Durian today

Similar to major cities around the world, Jakarta also offers everything from big opportunities to big problems. In the year 2012, there are more than 10 million people who choose Jakarta as their place to seek for fortune and chase their dreams. Those people came from every province of Indonesia. No matter they are well educated/skilled or not, there is only one thing in their mind, Jakarta could change their life.

This urbanization trend was started during the era of 1960 – 1990 and one of the best Governors who changed the face of Jakarta was Mr.Ali Sadikin (He was born in Sukabumi, West Java on Juli 7th, 1927 and died in Singapore on May, 20th, 2008). He changed the perspective of business, social and economic in Jakarta. He encouraged people of Jakarta to appreciate arts and local culture. He also built hospitals and schools to fight poverty in this city.

Mr.Ali Sadikin served as Governor of Jakarta from mid-year 60’s to 1977 and retired with standing applause from the people of Jakarta. His charismatic style of leadership reminds the people of Jakarta to the patriotic hero such as Soekarno (The First President of The Republic of Indonesia).

During few decades of governor periods, Jakarta people always seek for a breakthrough to solve many social and economic problems which haunted most of inhabitant of this city. Criminality, Vandalism, Bad Traffic, Flood and Bad Public Transportation Facilities are some of major problems that faced by the Big Durian in the last decades.

(Left : Mr. Ali Sadikin, the Breakthrough Governor of Jakarta , Right : Jokowi and Ahok, the new Governor and Deputy Governor of Jakarta)

(Left : Mr. Ali Sadikin, the Breakthrough Governor of Jakarta , Right : Jokowi and Ahok, the new Governor and Deputy Governor of Jakarta)

Looks like Jakarta will have a new horizon when Joko Widodo a.k.a Jokowi (former Solo city mayor) joined the governor election last year and he won the election as the Governor of Jakarta. Now, the challege to break many problems of Jakarta is on the shoulder of Joko Widodo and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama a.k.a. Ahok as Governor and Deputy of Governor. So much hope from people of Jakarta to live in harmony with decent health facility and good education access. Besides that, the flood possibility in Jakarta which could reach up to 80% during the heavy rain season surely another problem that must be solved by the new Government line-up which led by Jokowi.

(Left : Hotel Indonesia Roundabout sealed by flood, Right : Thamrin area became two ways “artificial river” during heavy rain season on January 2013)

(Left : Hotel Indonesia Roundabout sealed by flood, Right : Thamrin area became two ways “artificial river” during heavy rain season on January 2013)

On the other side, Jakarta is one the most prosperous cities in Indonesia along with Surabaya, Medan, Makassar and Denpasar. Jakarta is a city with thousand opportunities and worldwide challenges. Famous brands can be found in major shopping malls across 5 cities within the Special Capitol Region of Jakarta (in Bahasa it is called Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta). Most of International companies that tried to enter the Indonesian market have representation office in Jakarta. The 5 cities which formed the Special Capitol Region of Jakarta (North Jakarta, Central Jakarta, West Jakarta, East Jakarta and South Jakarta) are led by mayor and connected to other area which formed metropolitan area (JA-BO-DE-TA-BEK, JAkarta – BOgor – DEpok – TAngerang – BEKasi). The metropolitan concept is another point which will be an advantage either by company or employee to get the best opportunities in Jakarta.

(Left : Transjakarta Transportation Service or also popular as BUSWAY, Right : Commuter Line Service)

(Left : Transjakarta Transportation Service or also popular as BUSWAY, Right : Commuter Line Service)

In simple words, Jakarta is the heart of government activities, vein of economic pulses and brain of national movements. So, strategically this city is Indonesia’s terrace and Jakarta gave supporting system for young/new provinces in Indonesia. People who live in Jakarta also interact with many cultures from around the world since all of embassies are settled in this city. That situation makes people of Jakarta (especially the young executive) must have knowledge about various languages to build good relationship with the expatriates who plays important role in some international companies. 

For worldwide tourists or travelers, Jakarta has many attractions, cultural performances and tourism spots that will tell the story of Jakarta. Some of tourism spots in Jakarta are The Old Batavia town area (this one is include the old Jakarta Train Station, Fatahillah Museum a.k.a. Historical Museum of Jakarta, Shadow Puppet Museum, The sea-side restaurant Bandar Jakarta and The old Sunda Kelapa port complex).

(Left : Fatahillah Museum at the heart of Old Batavia area, Right : Bandar Jakarta Sea-side Restaurant)

(Left : Fatahillah Museum at the heart of Old Batavia town area, Right : Bandar Jakarta Sea-side Restaurant)

At the East Jakarta we can visit Indonesia Miniature Park (Taman Mini Indonesia Indah). This theme park is built to give presentation of overall province in Indonesia within a unique recreational area. Other famous tourism spots of Jakarta are the Ancol Bay (Recreational area at north of Jakarta), Thousand Islands (in Bahasa means, Kepulauan Seribu) which located at north of Ancol Bay, The National Monument (in Bahasa it is popular as MONAS, MOnumen NASional), The Ismail Marzuki Park (Taman Ismail Marzuki), The Ragunan Zoo (in Bahasa means, Kebun Binatang Ragunan), The Istiqlal Mosque (the biggest mosque in South East Asia) and many more. 

(Left : A view from Monas Park , Right : Fountain Show at Monas)

(Left : A view from Monas Park , Right : Fountain Show at Monas)

International brand hotels, local resorts and home-stays are easy to find out in Jakarta. The good point is, for travelers and tourists who want to know the real Jakarta they can rent a room from local people to stay while exploring this city. It is relatively cheaper than the hotel rate and you can find many interesting stories about Jakarta from the local people.

Traditional arts performance such as Ondel – Ondel dance, Tanjidor (the traditional orchestra of Betawi), Lenong (Traditional comedy show) are often performed on television show, cultural park or even on the street and shopping center (malls). There are also famous events in Jakarta such as Jakarta Great Sale (Pekan Belanja Jakarta) and Jakarta Fair (Pekan Raya Jakarta).

(Left : Ondel – ondel dance costume , Right : The Tanjidor group)

(Left : Ondel – ondel dance costume , Right : The Tanjidor group)

Those are annual events that always anticipated either by domestic or foreign tourists. Each event offers different experience, interaction and audience so it will be great to enjoy both of those big events. If you have plans to visit this city, Jakarta Fair will be held on the next June – July as main event to celebrate the Jakarta’s birthday every June 22th.

Another corner of Jakarta

Although Jakarta has International airport which claimed as the busiest one in South East Asia and it has International dock facilities but there is always be another corner that can tell “something different” about Jakarta. Yes, many luxurious cars sold out from the car dealers around Jakarta but there are also lots of poor people struggle every day to survive in the land of Betawi.

(Left : Soekarno-Hatta International Airport , Right : The Ancol Bay)

(Left : Soekarno-Hatta International Airport , Right : The Ancol Bay)

We can see there are many slums next to Ciliwung River (the main river of Jakarta) and there are also slums next to local railways (between old Jakarta station and Jayakarta station). Children are playing everything next to railways and it is surely a dangerous situation which can trigger another problem in Jakarta.

High pollution level either on Land, Air and Water could be a time-bomb for Jakarta if those problems can’t be solved immediately. These days, drugs are more popular for teenagers in Jakarta if it is compared to Bir Pletok (traditional beverage of Jakarta). Actually, (in my opinion) Bir Pletok could be an ideal choice for the teenagers of Jakarta while having a night party instead an alcohol based beverage since it is healthy. You should try it then you will know why Bir Pletok is good for your health.

Another irony in Jakarta is, most of local people and descendant of Betawi people have been relocated to the outside of Jakarta. This could be a natural effect of globalization plus capitalization (people who got power will rule the other) but it is a very sad situation if these people can’t get something decent from their mother-land and they only can dream about an ideal Jakarta for their children. While the rich people of Jakarta dream about a new car in their garage, these people is far from a dreamland on their bed. They prefer to deal with any job that could be done just to survive in Jakarta.

(Left : Slums at Railways side , Right : a child playing at dump area)

(Left : Slums at Railways side , Right : a child playing at dump area)

Maybe it is a naive wish but if I had a change to contribute more in Jakarta, I will try to help these people to find a better path to live in Jakarta. They are also brother and sister for all Indonesian and they always hope that their wishes were heard by the government. So far, they hope many things from the government of Jakarta but they got nothing in reality. It is important to remember that their ancestors were struggled together (in the past) to help Jakarta survive from many aggressions and problems so it is a fair option to give them a decent place to live or a good job to grow together as people of Jakarta.

Well, whatever people said about Jakarta, that’s my home-town. I was born and grew up there with all plus and minus of Jakarta. The dream that I do believe until this time, someday Jakarta will be a better city for everyone who live-in there. “Jaya Raya Jakarta” (Glories and Greatness for Jakarta).

By Amar Pujo Wicaksono

(Contributor at visitingjava.com)


14 thoughts on “Jakarta, City of Dreams

  1. Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your site is extremely helpful.

    Thank you for sharing!

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