After catching another overnight train, I arrived to Jakarta Kota (city) station and made my way to the hostel where I was advised to not use the tap water because of it’s high saline content due to proximity to the ocean, but I was skeptical. So immediately after waking, I headed out to look for nearby hostels and compare the water, then arranged to change lodgings because their water did not taste salty. Then I explored the numerous attractions near the station from Bank Mandiri museum to Bank of Indonesia museum, where I pieced together the history of fiscal mismanagement due to domestic and civil wars which lead to inflationary policies and today’s 14,000:1 IDR to USD exchange rate (note: the museums didn’t explicitly state these things).
At the center of downtown is Fatahillah square surrounded by Fatahillah Museum, Seni Rupa dan Keramik museum (guarded by an Indonesian Obama look-alike), Kantor post office, and Wayang Museum filled with Indonesian and worldwide shadow puppets, but sadly the shadow puppet shows season had recently ended. The “guide” that greeted me was quite animated and made some unusual comments, but I wasn’t able to escape him until I finally refused to pay him a tip because I knew many of his facts were misleading or wrong.
With insufficient time to hop on the free bus 46, I opted to head further north toward the Dutch Drawbridge, VOC Galangan, the Maritime museum up to the docks then turned around before it got too dark and knowing that I would get another chance to return with a free walking tour.
As I crossed Fatahillah square again, it was packed with locals enjoying the cool evening. Before changing hostels, I told the staff about the US’s Flint water crisis and shared some facts I learned at the Fatahillah museum about Jakarta’s lack of a central sewage system, which I believe means their water is dangerously contaminated by sewage. Then I moved.
An effective way to save money is to avoid buying water. I like to choose hostels with free filtered water or water coolers, but be careful with coolers. I check the new ones next to the cooler to make sure that they’re properly sealed, so I know they contain clean water (similar to what you should do when checking the cap of a new water bottle for proper seal).