20 little-known facts about Jakarta

By admin, in Tourist Guide on . Tagged width: ,

Jakarta has been around for 488 years now. And just think, in 12 years from now, this town will have reached its fifth century of existence. However, it’s confounding how little we truly know about Jakarta. So, we urge you to read through the following pages and discover more about your city. Learn about the milestones that have made The Big Durian the city it is now, right from its very formation. Here are twenty obscure facts about Jakarta that you might not have heard before:

  1. Although famous as the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles actually spent quite some time in the Big J when he was governor of Java. The tomb of his second wife, Olivia Mariamne Raffles, can be found at Museum Taman Prasasti.
  2. One of a number of legacies left by Raffles and the British colony is driving on the left side of the road. It all began in, of course, Jakarta.
  3. One of the oldest operating restaurants in town is Restoran Trio. An eatery specialising in Cantonese cuisine, it opened back in 1947 and has seen many luminaries visiting its premises, including almost all of Jakarta’s past governors.
  4. Another unique restaurant that not many Jakartans are aware of is Pyongyang Restaurant. As its name suggests, Pyongyang is a North Korean joint and is operated by an organisation working under the government of North Korea. They serve authentic North Korean delicacies that you can’t find elsewhere in the city.
  5. Jakarta boasts the oldest golf course in South-East Asia. Jakarta Golf Club, located over in Rawamangun, was founded way back in 1872. It was first known as Batavia Golf Club, and was a frequent haunt of the late former president Suharto.
  6. One of Jakarta’s sister cities is Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco. Both parties signed an agreement to formalise the relationship in 1990. Jalan Casablanca was named to celebrate this alliance between the two cities. However, no street in Casablanca has been named in honour of Jakarta.
  7. To prove that museums don’t have to be housed in massive historic buildings, Jakarta is actually home to a few small places that call themselves museums. Ones to look out for include Museum Di Tengah Kebun in Kemang and Museum Katedral inside Gereja Katedral.
  8. If you’re wondering why we’re beginning to see blue bajaj among the original orange ones, it’s because the petrol-driven orange bajaj are being slowly replaced by the blue ones, which run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). We can expect to see only the blue variety on the streets of Jakarta by the end of 2016.
  9. Jakarta is home to the largest population of Indonesian Chinese in the archipelago, who account for 5.53 per cent of the city’s total number of inhabitants.
  10. Unlike other cities in the world, Jakarta does not have proper sidewalks for pedestrians to walk on. Even when there is a footpath of sorts, chances are motorcycles are using it as an extra lane, or large holes are using it to break people’s legs.
  11. Due to the short supply of land and property, along with a currency that is depreciating in value, Jakarta offered the highest return on upscale property investment in the world back in 2013, according to a report by London-based global real estate consultancy Frank Knight.
  12. North Jakarta is the only part of the city that directly connects with the Java Sea. This is where you can find Tanjung Priok, Ancol Dreamland and some parts of Kota Tua.
  13. Speaking of Ancol Dreamland, did you know that despite how poorly some Jakartans rate it, it is the largest integrated tourism area in all of South-East Asia?
  14. Jakarta is nicknamed The Big Durian because many people see the city as the Indonesian equivalent of New York City. Big Apple versus Big Durian?
  15. If you thought that Jakarta was all concrete jungle and congested streets, well, you need to get around more. Hutan Kota Srengseng is a 15.3-hectare man-made forest situated in West Jakarta. Built way back in 1993, it’s a mystery why so few people know about this green paradise.
  16. Those of you planning a holiday in Paris to see the Louvre in all its glory probably didn’t know that Jakarta is home to a building that looks strikingly similar to the famous Parisian landmark. The agribusiness information centre in the office complex of the ministry of agriculture is a remarkably Louvre-like glass pyramid. It’s surrounded by a lake, and has a vast park next to it.
  17. While Bangkok boasts Khao San Road as its main backpacker strip, Jakarta has its own budget traveller paradise in the form of Jalan Jaksa. Teeming with foreigners and tiny bars, even Jakartans feel like tourists when they step foot there.
  18. Once upon a time, Jakarta had its very own Hollywood in Mangga Besar, frequented by celebrities, artists and other luminaries during the 1930s. Known as Prinsen Park, it was built by a Chinese businessman called Tan Hin Nie. During the ’60s, the place began to lose its allure, and by the 1980s it had been deserted by the rich and famous. The city’s government changed its name to Taman Hiburan Rakyat Lokasari, and since the nineties, it has transformed into a nightlife utopia (of the debauched kind).
  19. All is not what it seems with the hordes of beggars on Jakarta’s streets. A practitioner of this lowly trade can pocket up to Rp.1 million per day. In fact, it has become such a lucrative business that those vagrants and street urchins you see every day are suspected of belonging to syndicates.
  20. Although it now serves as the residence of Indonesia’s past and present presidents, the Istana Negara was initially erected as the abode for Dutch businessman JA van Braam. The location was chosen because it was in the city’s most exclusive neighbourhood of the time.