A Bucket List Weekend in Jakarta

Most travelers have a bucket list. I have been lucky enough to have checked quite a few off my personal list, but one place I have not yet reached is Jakarta. The 13,000 islands of Indonesia are astonishing, and having spent a month in serene Bali, my dreams now turn to city life. Enter Jakarta, the massive capital on Java, the mixes cultural influences from around the world.

image via Flickr by Stenly Lam

In this bucket list dream, I would plan the perfect weekend, and the first step, as always, is to make the hotel booking. Although price is always a consideration, as in all real estate, it’s really about location, location, location. While I am mostly a budget traveler, sometimes I find in such a large and chaotic city, splurging on a little luxury can be the difference between feeling restless or relaxed. In this case, I’d head over to the Fairmont Jakarta, ideally located in the heart of Senayan.

This melting pot of a city never sleeps, and offers up something for everyone. Although  I am not generally a city person, there are a few places around the world that offer up such diversity it is hard to resist their draw. Jakarta ranks high on that list.

During my dream weekend, I would first hit the markets. No matter the country, markets are the very life blood of a community, and I can never get enough. Hours can be lost wandering the endless paths and stalls with products ranging from Batik to produce to dressmakers. India is one of my very favorite corners of the world, and I would embrace the equally spicy and complex flavors of Indonesia at one of the kaki lima stalls making my heart, and my taste buds sing.

image via Flickr by DMahendra

After such proper motivation, it’s time for sightseeing. With only a short time in the city I would head first to the National Museum of Indonesia. The museum, opened in 1868, gives a wonderful overview of the cultures that came together to form the exotic and mesmerizing culture that now exists. With influences that range from Javanese to Arab to European, Jakarta offers up a blend of cultures unique to it’s geographical location.

Primed with knowledge of the region, the choices for the rest of my short visit would seem endless. There is the Wayang Museum featuring festive Javanese puppets and dolls. Perhaps wildlife in the city would seem in order with a trip to the Ragunan Zoo. In spite of the urban setting, Jakarta offers up a multitude of peaceful parks, and art galleries abound.

I would surely spend much of my weekend trying out the various local foods, starting with the national dish, Nasi goreng, a delicious fried rice dish served with a thick, sweet soy sauce and garnished with pickled vegetables. Next up, some satay with peanut sauce before a big finish of Bakso, a savory meatball soup garnished with fried shallots, boiled eggs, and wontons.

image via Flickr by rendy cipta muliawan

The night would end visiting one, or more, of the city’s bars and nightclubs, before heading back to the peace and tranquility of the Fairmont.

Jakarta offers up a tantalizing blend of ancient and modern, of old and young. While I’m not heading there right away, I know this one for the bucket list will someday be checked off.

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