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The agency arranged for a car to meet us at the airport (I even had a plackard with my name on it!), and whisked us directly to our meeting, and then whisked us away to our phat rooms at the Ritz Carlton in Jakarta (only $180/night for a deluxe suite – SWEET!).  There is one thing that occupies the bain of existence for everyone in Jakarta, and that is – TRAFFIC.  There is lots of it.  But from the air-conditioned bubble of our car, only the driver was bothered by it.

My room has 20-foot ceilings and sweeping views across the city.  This is the first hotel I’ve ever stayed at where dogs and men with mirrors greet your car at the gate, and upon entering the hotel you are greeted with an xray machine and a pat down – apparently some Iman just got arrested and they are worried about terrorist attacks.  We arrived in the midst of Ramadan when the entire city is fasting, so at night, when the sun set, the prayer call breaks out – there are about 5 mosques surrounding us and as they announce prayer call it sounds quite magical – they go on and on for quite a while.  Up here in my bubble room, the city feels peaceful and exotic.  Everyone you meet in Jakarta is so incredibly warm and friendly – and that is no joke.  The people have the most amazing smiles that warm your heart to the inner core.

Beautiful room at the Ritz

We took a stroll around to grab some dinner, and the city is definitely NOT a walking city.  There were very few people out, at least in our neighborhood, and the massive blocks and endless traffic does not make a welcome stroll.  The next day we had meetings all day, and then visited some electronics malls with our client to conduct some research.  At the end of the day, we had a few hours left, so I asked our host “If there was one site you could see in Jakarta, what would it be?” – and she said “Nothing!”.  She claimed that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing to see or do in Jakarta – except for traffic!  I asked what the young kids do at night for fun – she said they go to the malls.  I asked what families do on the weekends when they want to get together – are there any parks or plazas to gather in and enjoy together.  She said “No.” – on the weekends they leave the city.  Looking on tripadvisor, it looks like there are 31 things to do/see in Jakarta, a city of between 9-13 million people.  Of those things to do, one of them is Sea World, another (most popular) one is a fish market.

The "Ramadhan Smoothie" otherwise known as a Date Shake.

So the one afternoon we had free, we, of course, went to the mall (another “bubble” of sorts) – which is where many people were in fact hanging out on a Friday night.  There is even “Mall Art” making it half museum, half shopping experience.

Mall Art

The people of Indonesia is really the attraction of this place.  They are incredibly warm and friendly, and I will absolutely come back here with my country for my next two months vacation, but I’ll probably not spend too much time in Jakarta, as it seems the rest of the islands offer far more to the traveler.