Another country – number seven – and therefore another inaugural post.
I’m writing this a bit behind schedule… Tardy, I know! And we have already blitzed our way through three of Java’s major cities – Jakarta, Bogor and Bandung.
Based on these cities it is unfair to judge Java, let alone the entirety of Indonesia. Each one of the cities so far have been chaotic (a south East Asian pre-requisite), noisy (ditto), busy (as above) and yet managing to retain a certain charm.
A charm we found in Kota – a very old part of Jakarta – that the Dutch impacted upon heavily in terms of industrialisation and architecture. But it is a charm that we have struggled to find in much of Java’s major cities.
Bandung was a urban sprawl of indescript quality, which is unfortunate seeing as it is the capital of West Java.
Bogor has become just a part of the mega-metropolis that is Jakarta. As a city it lacks any stand out quality other than the beautiful green-lung that stands at its centre – the botanical gardens. These offer a serene respite from Bogor… And offered us a tranquility after a few days in jarring Jakarta.
Even if I did feel like a celebrity! Interviews. Photos. Constant hounding… I now know, a good celebrity I would not make!
One thing that stands out, and unfortunately unites, these cities in West Java… the smell. Now, travelling around Asia you get use to a certain aroma, that altogether unique perfume, a special blend of ‘odour toilet!’, but so far Indonesia has raised the bar. The open sewers that shadow you along each road. The smell of garbage, effulgence. They cling to you. Rotting vegetables, carcass, meat haunt your steps. Sorry. I hope you’re not eating.
Through this, you may think it is a miracle that we managed to find any charm at all in Jakarta, but we did. And Jakarta’s brand of perfume was top notch! The best, or worst, of the bunch depending how you look at it. It is a credit to the city. A city with a lot to offer once you scratch beneath the surface… Just don’t sniff.
So we are escaping the cities to find a more captivating part of Java. I’m not too worried, I already have a special place in my heart for this discordant country… I just can’t say the same for my nostrils!