It was dawn of our last day in Indonesia when the night train deposited us back in Jakarta after a very memorable two days in Yogyakarta. Considering we had a full schedule the day before – visited Borobudur and Dieng Plateau – it was an easy matter for me to sleep well on the night train. Exhaustion is a great sleep inducer 😀
My friends and I did not check into any lodging anymore; we just hung out at Gambir train station and waited until city attractions opened. We charged our phones and cameras using one of the few free charging spots in the station and chilled. While waiting, we witnessed a mishap on one of the escalators nearby where a woman’s hijab (long dress for Muslim women) got caught. Since the dress covered her from head to toe and not just a skirt separate from the top part of her wardrobe, when the garment got caught, she immediately lost her balance and quickly toppled down. Worse, she was with another woman who was carrying a baby and it got really scary for a few moments. Both women’s screams jolted us from where we were resting, but thankfully the station’s guards were there in an instant to help. After a few minutes, they got the woman’s dress untangled from the escalator and we saw that no one was majorly injured and the baby was safe. Phew.
After that incident, we successfully whiled away our time peacefully until it was time to head out and see what Jakarta has to offer.
Merdeka Square and the Monas
Carrying our now considerably heavier pasalubong-filled backpacks, we made our way to the Monas monument (aka Monumen Nasional or National Monument). This 132 meters white tower located in the center of Merdeka Square, Central Jakarta was built to commemorate Indonesia’s fight for independence. It also looks over Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral symbolizing Indonesians’ religious tolerance.
Beneath the tower is a sprawling room with cold marble flooring that invites everyone to sit or lie down and just rest and escape the heat outside. There’s also a museum there with displays highlighting to visitors the important parts of Indonesia’s history. Thanks to Marj, we found out there’s a baggage counter at the bottom of the tower where you can store your bags. We certainly took advantage of that because the weight of our backpacks and extra pasalubong box was punishing! Oh the lengths we Filipinos go through just to bring stuff for our family and friends back home.
Visiting the Monas requires you to pay an entrance fee of around IDR 2,500. If you wish to go up the tower, another IDR 7,500 is required. (This may have changed by now though so better check). When we were there, the upper part of the tower was under construction so we weren’t able to see what’s up there. That time there was only one elevator too so if that is still the case now, expect a long queue to get to the top.
Overall, a visit to the Monas is recommended if you wish to know more about how modern Indonesia came about. It is also a good place to people watch as there are many Indonesian families who go there to have picnics.
This was my first time going inside a mosque and I’m fortunate enough to have visited Istiqlal in particular because not only is it the largest in South East Asia, it is also right across the Jakarta Cathedral. I bet there aren’t many places out there where a Muslim place of worship is right in front of a Catholic church.
Though I’m not a particularly religious person, how and why other people practice their faith is still of interest to me. After taking off our shoes and paying the officer in charge of touring visitors around, we were ushered to a room where we donned on long robes. This was because no visitor should be walking inside the halls of the mosque if they’re exposing too much skin. We weren’t violating the dress code though as we were wearing pants and sleeved shirts, but the guide asked if we want to wear the robes still and we readily agreed.
Once inside, I learned so many interesting things including…
Since this Catholic church is just right across the mosque, we did not miss checking it out. Plus Marj and Popoi wanted to attend the ongoing mass and I was attracted to the church’s towering spires and neo-gothic architecture. Much like the mosque, the cathedral was cavernous too and packed with people. Its friezes, columns, carvings and statues were very nicely done too.
All these made me really think how tolerant Indonesians are. By experiencing this firsthand, I can confidently say that it is possible for people with different faiths to live in harmony. Really, tolerance is all we need. Open-mindedness and respect go a long way too. I am agnostic and have many atheist friends. As long as others don’t force their beliefs down our throats, we’ll respect your faith. The moment someone becomes holier than thou however and act as if those of us who don’t subscribe to their religion are evil or pitiful, well let’s just say that person isn’t doing anyone any favors.
Kindness is all this sad world needs.
Savoring Our Last Moments in Indonesia
This trip was super special to me. So many firsts happened and I learned so much. My perspectives about the world and myself suddenly broadened and I am now more convinced that exploring the world is what I am meant to do. I also learned that aside from nature, I’m also a total sucker for ancient history and structures. If I didn’t hate Math so much, I might have taken up Architecture in college haha. Oh I also learned that it is impossible for me to go on for a week without eating meat… Thankfully, there was a Japanese restaurant in a mall nearby. Saved!
As I left Indonesia’s airspace, couldn’t help but feel overjoyed that we got to do this trip and at the same time feel sad because this trip was just too short and over so soon.
Overall, a lovely and unforgettable holiday! Thank you Marj and Popoi for the company! For those of you hesitating to go to Indonesia just because it isn’t as popular as Singapore, Thailand or Cambodia – seriously just go. The country is beautiful and gallivanting costs are cheap!
Want to read the start of this adventure? Here’s Day 01. Hopefully these posts were helpful to you. Do leave me a comment, will appreciate to know that not only internet robots visit these pages. ^_^