The Second Version

15/01/09

The Jakarta Skyline

My fiancee asked me why I only talked about Jakarta's dirty alleys and decrepit trucks, and I did not mention the skyscrapers, the elegant houses and mansions and apartment complexes.

I can say that those are the things one expects to find in nearly any metropolis of the world, while rusty trucks sporting fearsome bumpers are rather unique.

Yet, it is true that Jakarta has a rather impressive skyline. There are several tall and shiny skyscrapers - I do not know their names, they are not as famous as the ones in New York or even the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, but they are buildings of a respectable size and built with modern techniques.

Many shopping malls, from big to huge, dot Jakarta and attract vast crowds. Anything can be found there, from the most modern and trendy restaurants to luxury stores, from shops selling the traditional batik fabrics to small and crowded auto parts stores (want a Daihatsu transmission shaft? it was just hanging from the wall in a store).

But the city is not just about skyscrapers and malls: many streets (I cannot recall which area) are lined with beautiful houses and villas and imponent trees growing in the gardens - but only little of the houses can be seen behind the high walls and fences around them. I have been in some of them and been quite impressed by the vast salons and tiled floors and frequent fish ponds.

And to end... well, the apartments in the recent condos are not bad at all too. I have spent a few days in one, at the twelfth floor of a 30-story tower, one the four built around a square where a garden and a big pool and and another pool snaking around the garden take place.

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