Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Jakarta Jakarta, Java, Indonesia, Friday, 03 June 2011 4:54pm

The Maritime Museum sounded interesting, so I caught a cab there in the morning. I think the distance as the crow flies is under 5 miles from my hotel to the museum, but somehow the trip took an hour. I'm not sure whether it was just traffic, or if it was that the driver had no idea where he was going. I had the tourist map that my hotel gave me, and even I seemed to have a better grasp of where it was than he did. He had to get out of the car and ask for directions a couple times, and tried to drop me off at an apartment complex before eventually finding the museum. Perhaps it was a scam, but, if so, the driver was quite good at acting confused.

The museum itself was a bust. The stairs leading to the actual exhibits were closed for some sort of safety concern.

I walked back to Kota, the old Dutch quarter (formerly Batavia) and had lunch in a cafe that was decorated in the 1930s, before checking out the museum of puppets. This museum was excellent, with displays of traditional puppets made of leather, horn, and wood. Many of the puppets were characters from the hindu epics (they even had a Kumbakarna! He was not shown asleep, though), but there were also characters from other stories and even some depicting the struggle for independence.

I walked back to the city center past seas of traffic. The locals seem to cross busy streets almost at random, and, after some observation, it seems to me that they get away with it because the traffic is moving so slowly. I think the walk would have been faster than my taxi ride if I hadn't stopped to get a drink. They seem to be crazy about donuts here. My iced tea came with a free glazed donut ("No one is glazzier than you!" according to the wrapper). The shop also featured sandwiches served on sliced donuts.

I spent the afternoon wandering semi-aimlessly around the center. Saw the Mesjid Istiqlal from many angles. It's definitely the most 70s-styled mosque I've ever seen.