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Open spaces are few and far between in Jakarta, so this tidy little park in the affluent enclave of Menteng attracts many visitors. Located on the site where a football stadium used to stand, attention has been given to sports in the design of the park and there is a basketball area, an open air futsal pitch as well as a children's playground. The park is located in an area of Jakarta where US President Barack Obama spent his childhood. Hungry? Simply head to one of the excellent restaurants nearby. And should you wish to stay in this famous and fashionable part of Jakarta, several quality hotels are also in the vicinity. - Martin Jenkins
Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is the most populous city in Southeast Asia. With a rich cultural heritage, this city traces its roots way back to 39 CE under an Indian King Purnawarman. The Portuguese, Dutch and British also set up trade links here and these European flavors come across even now as tourists experience the old world charm. This city never sleeps and has something or the other going on all year round, be it art, music and film festivals, marine tourism or sports events. The nightlife is one of the best with DJ's playing until early dawn and several international rock groups performing here regularly. Jakarta is fondly referred to as the 'Big Durian.'
Home to the National Monument, Lapangan Merdeka measures one square kilometer and ranks as one of the world's largest squares. With government buildings and Jakarta's major thoroughfares lining its four sides, it makes for a very pleasant and picturesque stroll on a cool day. The park conceals a long history. From a grazing field it became a military training ground in 1809. It was then renamed Koningsplein (King's Square) in 1816 and Lapangan Gambir toward the end of the 19th century, during which it also hosted an annual night fair. Finally, it became the Freedom Square in 1975.
Lapangan Banteng lies in the city center, where the Irian Jaya Liberation Monument stands with his gigantic palms. The square has been known by a number of names, including Paviljoensveld, Waterlooplein (Waterloo Square) and Weltevreden. It served as the center of high-society gatherings during the Dutch era and later the site of a bus station. Today, it consists of a soccer field on one side and a pocket of greenery on the other. A leisurely walk affords sweeping views of Central Jakarta, including the Supreme Court and the Department of Finance.
Originally occupying five hectares of land, this cemetery shrank to 1.2 hectares due to the city's massive growth. The park still contains an impressive collection of tombstones, including those of Batavian Governor-General, Jan van Hoorn; wife of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Olivia Marianne Raffles; and Chinese Indonesian student leader who fought during the Old Order, Soe Hok Gie. Some believe that placing a bouquet of fresh flowers on Jeremias van Riemsdijk's tomb grants the wishes prayed at the spot. Many of the tombstones stand as silent witnesses to Jakarta's bloody past.
In the west part of the city, near China Town, Pecenongan is a street that has something for everyone. The street offers local favorite dessert drinks like iced coconut and iced avocado (yes, avocado for dessert and it'll blow your mind), the best Chinese food served on the street side for under USD5 a head, a must-try martabak Bandung (thick pancake with fillings, get the banana-chocolate-cheese) enough for a party of six, a great Chinese restaurant called Super Kitchen with hard-to-beat shrimp mayonnaise and mango pudding, and the first Alila hotel (boutique style starts at USD100 a night) in the world. Go after six pm with a bunch of friends when the bustling street begins its life.
Packed with a cornucopia of sightseeing opportunities, the historic town of Jatinegara lies in the eastern part of Jakarta. The area was cleared and developed in 1621 by Meester (Master) Cornelis, a Dutchman from a well-to-do family and was named in his honor. Now the district is home to a local produce market, a gemstone bazaar, several mosques, Buddhist temples, Hindu temples, churches, residential kampongs (villages, such as Utan Kayu, Kampung Melayu and Rawamangun) and business complexes.
Pasar Baru is a rare street in Jakarta, in that you can actually stroll along it. It's definitely not for the branded shoppers, but more for those looking for stores with old-time feeling. Locals come here for family-owned stores that mostly sell shoes, textiles and watches. Have lunch in Bakmi Gang Kelinci or Bakmi Abun, both are long-time favorites of noodle fans, then shop for second-hand fashion in Metro Atom (closed on Sundays). Vintage shirts, dresses, belts, jackets and everything are as cheap as USD1-don't forget to bargain though. No vehicles are allowed in Pasar Baru, so begin the walk from Metro Atom at Jalan H. Samanhudi then take the long-needed walk towards the rear end where the historic Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (Jakarta's Art Center) is located.