One of the world’s greatest megalopolises, Jakarta is a dynamic city of daunting extremes that’s developing at a pace that throws up challenges and surreal juxtapositions on every street corner. An organism unto itself, this is a town in the midst of a very public metamorphosis, and despite the maddening traffic, life here is lived at an all-out pace, driven by an industriousness and optimism that’s palpable. Dysfunction be damned.
Translation: it’s no oil painting, yet beneath the unappealing facade of new build high-rises, relentless concrete and gridlocked streets, fringed with rickety slums and shrouded in a persistent blanket of smog, Jakarta has many faces and plenty of surprises. Its citizens – even the poorest among them – are remarkably good-natured and positive, and compared to many of the world’s capitals, crime levels are low.
From the steamy, richly scented streets of Chinatown to North Jakarta’s riotous, decadent nightlife, the city is filled with unexpected corners. Here it’s possible to rub shoulders with Indonesia’s future leaders, artists, thinkers, movers and shakers in a bohemian cafe or a sleek lounge bar and then go clubbing till dawn and beyond, the sober desires of current lawmakers notwithstanding.
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