Jakarta and Bogor, Indonesia
One really nice thing about Jakarta is that there is a free walking tour every day of the week. I joined the the old town tour and got an overview of the museums which I had already visited, but this time we hopped on a minibus to the port where the tour was granted access. After walking across the port, the guide helped us “negotiate” a boat tour out to where we could capture some of the economic contrasts of the city.
On our return, we saw some levees and learned about some of the local government’s development plans which would displace the squatters who were already struggling to make a living at the fringes. It was interesting to hear about how people can make anywhere their homes and the level of attachment which they apply to them.
After the tour, I hopped on the local train toward Bogor, which I read was one of the world’s most densely packed cities just outside Jakarta and not too far away. It turned out to take much longer to get there, but I was able to explore the incredibly packed market area surrounding Bogor station then make my way to the Bogor Botanical Gardens, a very large park in the middle of Bogor containing a palace, numerous trails, sculptures and other attractions.
Aware of the long train ride, I rushed back to Gambir station so that I could get in line to get a limited ticket to go up the Monas and capture an evening view of the vast city.
When I got back to the hostel, I had not yet eaten and ended up making a friend who had taken the Chinatown tour, which I missed. She offered to guide me through the area in exchange for dinner, which I gladly accepted given Indonesia’s incredibly affordable prices. Then as everyone else went to sleep, I stayed up to talk to the hostel’s staff as I waited to catch a late night bus to Gambir station where I caught the DAMRI bus to the airport, concluding my time in Indonesia.
Sometimes tours are the only way to get access to restricted areas, whereas the vast majority of tours visit publicly accessible locations and sites. When given the choice between two tours, the choice should be clear, but it may be difficult to discover this information unless you ask the guides directly.