In the north of Jakarta there is a place where you can still feel the colonial time. You can embark on a journey into the past and experience the atmosphere of the Dutch era. The place is called old Batavia. It unites the remains of the Dutch colony that was setup here long time ago.
Batavia was designed and settled by European Dutch in 1619 and at one point of time was renamed to Jakarta. The city expanded from a small Dutch colony into one of the world’s biggest cities. It’s metro population now is around 30 million people.
My trip started at the renovated museum of Bank Indonesia and set me up for the right mood. These buildings indeed stand out from Jakarta’s average architecture. They make you feel as if you were on a movie set.
My trip continued to the main square of Batavia where a former city hall was located. Now it’s another history museum. By the way, there are quite a few of different museums in old Batavia alone and the variety of them is astonishing – Jakarta’s history, sailing, Indonesian traditional dolls, even finance. Interesting differentiation, isn’t it?
The main square, of course, was bustling with people. As it’s the place that everyone definitely pass through, it’s full of merchants, street performers, bike rental agents and other interesting persons. As usual, right from the start I was asked permission take a photo with me, so seeing that there are a lot of potential askers I quickly entered into another popular tourist place – cafe Batavia, a place to take a rest from the pressure of being a European tourist in Southeast Asia.
I later continued my trip throughout the district and must say the feeling was perfect. The road finally got me to walk along the river and even though buildings were far away from what I was used to, I liked it. Apart from the river being quite dirty, of course.
There was also an old watchtower on the way so I decided to have a look from above. There were no skyscrapers in 17th century, so you can see quite far.
My final destination was an old port of Batavia where wooden ships dock. Turns out that these ships are still used for freight transportation, so it’s a bit strange that this place is considered a major tourist attraction. I got asked to pay for entering the port area (ok, only 60 cents), but when I came to the water all I can see were ships and trucks – basically, you get what you pay for, but I’m not sure what’s the hassle is all about.
Even though buildings are rather old and not renovated, you still have feel as if you’re not in the 21 century. It’s like continuing the journey in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie (persistent street merchants probably add to the experience). Also, dilapidated houses bring authenticity to the place which is hard to get otherwise. So you can truly experience how it must have looked at the time.