Been playing tour guide to one of my oldest friends (not in age, but length of our friendship), Soph, and a newer acquaintance, Tom, for the past few days. After checking out malls, malls and more malls in Jak, we went up to the Jakarta Old Town, which is basically just ruins of Dutch colonial buildings.
I don’t think my visitors were that impressed, which is hardly surprising. “Oh, here’s a beautiful example of colonial era architecture. It does have a tree growing out of it and no roof, but nevermind that…”
When I go up there, I just feel sad about all the potential that is being wasted… potential that could be used to boost the city’s failing tourism industry, provide jobs etc etc.
Cafe Batavia is one of the few places that shows just how gorgeous the rest of the old town could be if it was properly restored.
If more of the buildings were restored, more of the streets were closed to the traffic, just imagine how great it could be. Cafes, restaurants, galleries… it could be an amazing tourist drawcard. Tourists who stumble there now, guided by the Lonely Planet’s valiant attempts to find any tourist attractions in the capital, are often seen wandering about with a “WTF?” look on their face, leafing through their guidebook to check they’ve actually gone to the right place. But it could be amazing… and someone is already providing the bikes that tourists could cycle around on wearing color coordinated hats…
But until more is done to upgrade what has descended into a colonial-style slum, not that many people are motivated to explore. Though this golden bike/straw hat combination would have convinced me if the weather wasn’t so darn hot: