Jakarta: So much money in Indonesia, so little on tourism

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When one US dollar is 9,500 Indonesian Rupiahs, currency conversion can be a nightmare.
The first thing you do when you book a prepaid taxi on arrival at the Soekarno Hatta airport, Jakarta or even buy a local SIM card is balk at the number of thousands thrown at you. 231,000 IDR for a trip to downtown Jakarta, an hour’s drive still.
Yet, the Wiki page on Indonesia kept me enthralled and ignore this small inconveniences since these can be red herrings or mere distractions to the main purpose: Tourism.
The quality and location of the hotel, Aston Rasuna, was excellent just like all other properties around the world when holiday bookings are done by xchangeworld.com and their tie-up with Q Net.
The plan was to stay for four nights/five days but sightseeing itinerary was not fixed. And one cannot be blamed for not planning that out because research of the official Indonesian tourism website came out with this:
Sightseeing tour: Day 1: Arrive from the airport and straight to the Hotel. Relax and enjoy the evening at leisure.
Day 2: Full day to explore the sights in and around Jakarta.
Day 3: Checkout from the hotel and head to the airport.

Seriously. That was it.
One thought Indonesia may still be catching up on the virtual web world but the ground reality may be better.
Maybe it was. But the realisation could only happen if there been a common language to communicate.
Practically the whole bunch of the world’s fourth most populous country – if you were surprised knowing that, you were not alone – has some kind of aversion to English language.
And yet they were friendly, easy-going in nature as they can come. And for all the people on the streets and the ugly architecture of a third-world country, the streets were pretty clean.
Goes to show, how different the picture would have been if the tourism industry and the peripheral processes would have been more organised and ‘connected’ to the world.
Even the most reputed travel agencies with 24×7 support pick up the phone to say they can speak English only to offer Bahasa gibberish when asked a simple yes or no to a basic question, “Do you arrange city sightseeing tours by bus?”
The heartburn increased when we were told on the last day of the trip about what could have been the best fun part – snorkelling and diving, with just a couple of hours-long boat trip outside the Jakarta shoreline. That nugget of information came from a fellow Indian, a Sindhi at a Sikh Temple, which is in the city for more than four decades.
Added to the fact that no one from the hotel guided us to an Indian restaurant which was right in their own vicinity and also we told we will be charged for internet access when it wasn’t, as mentioned on the Xchangeworld website. Frustratingly, at the time of checkout, they did not bill us as per the original plan but the inconvenience was done.
Maybe the trip would have been different if we got more help from the worldwide web, given the circumstances.
Then maybe not.

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