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Located in the heart of the city, the Monumen Nasional, or National Monument, is roughly 1 square km full of expansive lawns and shade trees. Visible from blocks away is the 433′ (132m) obelisk monument symbolizing Indonesia’s fight for freedom. Completed in 1975, the park has become a destination for families as the city’s largest open area where motorized vehicles are prohibited, although the AIG saw more than a few local workarounds.
Come on a Saturday night to witness a laser light and fountain show, where the tower is lit with a rainbow of colors while crowds lounge on the lawn and partake in volleyball, football (soccer), and the occasional python wrangling.
In 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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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.