Places

Old Batavia

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rent a bike and a sunhat helmetIn the north of the modern city of Jakarta lies the area of Kota, literally “city” in Indonesian.  Kota is the site of Old Batavia, the original dutch city colony founded in 1620 although the area had been inhabited for many centuries prior to this.  Many of the original buildings of Old Batavia still remain and a visit to Fatahillah square should be on any visitors list.  Get there an hour or so before dusk and you will see colorful Jakarta at its finest, brightly painted dutch bicycles, hawkers,  performers, snake handlers, classic car enthusiasts and of course, some historic architecture.

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Shopping in Jakarta pt. 1

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durianJakarta is non-stop, the city hums through all hours and the streets are full of vendors selling everything you could possibly imagine.  Most neighborhoods have at least one area that is the domain of the street stall and often the area is themed.  Looking for an exotic pet?  Maybe a bat, owl or monkey? Those are found around block M.  Feeling edgy? You can shop for swords and knuckle dusters near Glodok and then relax after your shopping with a fresh Cobra blood cocktail on Mangga Besar (it’s cheaper for Python).  Shopping in Jakarta can be an experience to say the least but the old and the new sit comfortably side by side, in part 2 we will show you Jataka’s malls, a consumer experience that challenges Dubai or Singapore for sheer opulence.

Bats

fruit market

Cart 1

Indo Mate

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Indo

So the AIG is at it again, traveling just over 10,000 miles in 24 hours the team arrived safely in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta.

We are pleased to welcome the AIG’s newest member, Goose, to the blog. Keep an eye out for her as she is known to have a bit of a mean streak.

 

The Smallest Market in the World

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img_8485Throughout Delhi, wherever you look capitalism reigns. The most notable evidence of this to western eyes is easily the street stall markets that seem to be everywhere you look.  A combination of small sheds, tables and wheeled trolleys using the sidewalk (or road) for their shop space. What really surprises you  is the diversity of shop that is represented in these markets; hairdressers, stationers, electronics and even small manufacturers. AIG have been using a local market printer who’s shed is taken up almost entirely with a large floor standing colour laser printer.  To give you some context of the size of his shop, when he has to replace the paper in Tray 1, he has to step outside.

One off the bucket list

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The local watering hole near the office is now the team’s favorite bar in the world. We learned a few things about this Caribbean beach themed blues bar last night. Decor consists of cut-out Styrofoam fish, tiki awnings and Halloween decorations. The reggae imagery adorned menu features Indian, Mexican and Italian food and includes one dish named “the chef’s sister’s recommendation combo.” King Fishers all around!

Fortunately, we arrived on Karaoke night. There was a table Indian business men singing their hearts out to a mixture of Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, System of a Down and, of course, Coldplay. The regulars, who may or may not be part of a hair band, know how to put on a good show too. Now we can all cross “Eat Italian in a Caribbean themed blues bar while listening to Indian business men singing heavy metal” off the bucket list.

Delhi and the Future

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Construction-01Delhi is one of the fastest emerging cities on the Indian subcontinent with an average yearly economic growth rate of over 10% per year for the last five years. Because of this, any time spent in the metropolis leaves you with the feeling that you have somehow arrived a little too early and that the city isn’t quite finished. Wherever you look there is construction, apartment buildings, metro lines, hotels and shopping complexes, all covered in scaffolding and buzzing with workers.  Construction work in Delhi is often a family affair with groups living in the building they work on during the day. After dusk most of the sites in the Defense Colony are alive with temporary wood fired stoves cooking chapattis for the workers and setting up for the night. If the Defense Colony is a bellwether for the Indian economy as a whole then the future looks bright and undoubtedly different. All the AIG hopes is that they will get a chance to come back and see their old neighborhood in a few years time.

The Taj Mahal

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About 120 miles south of Delhi lies the town of Agra and one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, the Taj Mahal.  With the new Delhi-Agra expressway due to open up within a week the AIG decided to chance the old road and head for the world heritage site while the journey was still part of the experience.  Forty five degree heat (113f), camels, cows, twelve person rickshaws, painted trucks with musical horns and all manner of overloaded vehicles crowd the road, horns blaring, jostling for a gap.  Four hours later (yes four) we arrived and quickly moved through the impressive Great Gate with its red stone facade that would alone be a noteworthy monument were it not for the absolute beauty of the landmark it protects.  Standing at the end of manicured gardens and reflecting pools the worlds most well known mausoleum is truly breathtaking to view up close.  Its white marble shimmers as it reflects the hot sun and its towering minarets dwarf you as you pass into the cool interior.  Inside, every surface is ornately carved or adorned with floral inlays of semi precious stones. The Taj is a true work of art, with a magnificence that is impossible to capture in words or pictures.  If you are ever in the Agra area or even just near India be sure not to miss this.  As for the journey, I would probably try the new expressway.