Beneath the veneer of glass fascias, concrete slabs and shabby slums, however, this is a city of surprises and a city of many faces. From the steamy, richly scented streets of Chinatown to the city’s thumping, decadent nightlife, Jakarta is a Pandora’s box, filled with unexpected gems. Here it’s possible to rub shoulders with Indonesia’s future leaders, artists, thinkers, movers and shakers, and to see first hand the deep-seated desire so many Indonesians have to rise above the poverty they were born into. Populated by Bataks from Sumatra, Ambonese from Maluku, Balinese, Madurese and Timorese, Jakarta is also a vast cultural melting pot in which the larger Indonesian identity is forged; it is Indonesia in a nutshell.
Jakarta certainly isn’t a primary tourist destination, but parts of the old city (Kota) offer an interesting insight into the capital’s long history, and there are a handful of good museums scattered about. But if you want to get under the skin of Indonesia, a visit to this mammoth city is an absolute must.Show in Lonely Planet
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