Jakarta, My Love Affair


Creative Commons License photo credit: basibanget

What is it about this city that makes me have such a love and hate relationship? The pollution? The traffic? The fact that it is now home to about 27.9 million people?

The very first time I came to live in this city was in mid 1994. That’s some 17 years ago.

Freshly out of junior high, my parents decided to ship me here for high school.

Awkward kid, I was thrown into a pretty fancy catholic high school. It wasn’t easy to fit in or mingle with the city kids. To them I was that kid from small town that they never even know exist in Indonesia. An outsider for awhile.

My whole life changed drastically when I moved to Jakarta.

Too young to be on my own I was placed under the wings of an aunt and her husband. She lived in a town on the outskirt of Jakarta.

Welcome commuting from hell…

With my high school somewhere in the southern part of Jakarta, I was introduced to the art of commuting from early on.

As school started at 7am, I’d be up by 4:30. My late Grandfather would cook me breakfast then religiously walked me down to the bus station around 5. For months I had to take 3 buses to and from school. I dislike this part…the commuting, when all of my schooling life before I’ve always lived very close to school and walking was my commute.

Then much to my delighted my aunt moved, much closer to school this time. Commuting was much much shorter, just one ride away.

I wasn’t a spoiled brat, but living with my aunt gave me enough skills to be independent. There were times where I cried myself to sleep wanting to go home to the comfort of my parents’ home. Tough love was her ways and now, looking back I couldn’t thank her enough! She kept me in line.

During my last year of high school, again my aunt moved and I had to follow suit. The house was in the eastern part of Jakarta. So long commute and dealing with sickos was once again the norm.

Graduated high school I went to college and was deemed mature enough to start living on my own.

College here is different. There’s no dorm or fraternity or sorority house. There are plenty of boarding houses though. And that’s where I stayed not far from campus.

Freedom finally

Or so I thought! At first glance living on my own was fun but it turned out not that glamorous in reality. From balancing the monthly allowance so it would stretch long enough to lasted until the next month, to crying alone because you’re sick with no one to take care of you, down to the homesickness.

I wasn’t all saints during that early ‘independent’ era. Got mixed up with the wrong crowds, partied too hard, dated a jerk of a boyfriend, ended up with my good grades sank.

Luckily, I straighten up with the help of some tough love from family.


Creative Commons License photo credit: Stenly Lam

Has been home for years. Got my real heartbreaks in this city. Got engaged and now a single mom.

When I was away from this city I missed it terribly, I miss the easy delivery system of just about anything you need to your door steps. Miss the vast assorted of foods from all over Indonesia.

Might never like the traffic here but the memories seamed into this heart of mine will make me love it like a step sister.

And now with a boy who’s been making Jakarta his home for the past 3 years, I wish he’d somehow find his roots here too, to be able to call this eclectic crazy congested city his home.

But I still have a little dream tuck inside me that I will move out of Jakarta to somewhere quieter where life is much simpler.

Do you love where you’re living now?



  1. March 7, 2012 / 6:50 pm

    I just can’t believe that you took 3 busses to get to school!!
    I don’t think that that would be a place I’d like to live at…not that it’s not a wonderful place…it just seems way to busy.
    My husband grew up in the country and I grew up on a small town outside of the city. When we married we moved into a house that borders my town and the city. It’s a perfect combination of quiet and semi busy.
    But I wouldn’t move any closer to the city.

    • March 8, 2012 / 7:17 pm

      Those were crazy days, my friend!
      Sounds like you and your husband found the perfect balance when it comes to where you are feeling at home at and that’s so awesome! Growing up in small mining towns, I adore and love the quiet of a small town. Jakarta is too big of a city but I love it for some reasons yet hate it for some other reasons too lol.

  2. March 7, 2012 / 11:15 pm

    I have a love/hate relationship with NYC…more love, but hate the high prices, dirty streets, etc.

    You had quite the long commute as a kid…can’t imagine doing that myself. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    • March 8, 2012 / 7:20 pm

      I’ve only been to NYC for short visits en-route to Albany and I never had a chance to visit Central Park which I regret to this day 🙁 As expensive as Albany is I can only imagine how pricey it is in NYC.
      Yes, it was pretty crazy back then and I had to ‘armed’ myself with paper cutter just to protect myself from all the psychos and boy, where there plenty of them around.

  3. March 8, 2012 / 2:41 am

    Where I grew up is much busier than where I live now. I still have plans to move somewhere even more quiet.

    • March 8, 2012 / 7:20 pm

      Hope you will have your dream comes true soon, Jessica 🙂

  4. March 8, 2012 / 9:23 am

    That’s amazing that you would wake up so early at such a young age. I’m so impressed! I do like where I live now. I live in the suburbs of Washington, DC. I have thoughts about how fun it would be to live in the city, but I know that with kids, I like my life here. I like being able to have a yard and the slower pace and the space. If you could live anywhere, where would you like to live?

    • March 8, 2012 / 7:24 pm

      That part of my life taught me to get up early for sure and it carried on to this very day 🙂
      Oh yes, the yard…that’s a luxury that only rich rich people here can afford. How I miss having a yard! Hopefully one day I can sit and watch my boy do all kinds of fun things like running around the yard and be free. Here, lands are so expensive so most houses really doesn’t have yard. Houses are built right next to one another.
      I don’t really have any specific idea right now but that yard is definitely included in my dream place to live where the quietness, peacefulness and charm of a small town.

  5. March 8, 2012 / 12:50 pm

    I couldn’t imagine that commute now, especially for a child. That’s crazy!

    I don’t live in a real busy area, but there is still some hustle and bustle here. It’s busy, yet quiet, if that makes any sense.

    • March 8, 2012 / 7:27 pm

      Yes, it was crazy and I really don’t want my son to have to go through that.
      Ah so you have the joy of both busy yet small enough to have your quiet times. How wonderful that is! 🙂

  6. March 9, 2012 / 4:14 am

    Moving from Seattle to Scottsdale we have no regrets. Arizona is an amazing place! Love the profile pic lady.

  7. March 9, 2012 / 10:13 am

    Couldn’t be much happier for me living in the city we live now. I used to live in Bandung and Jakarta. Then Dallas Ft. Worth area. The city we live now is not that big, but it is a Metro area. There are two beautiful parks and a museum within walking distance from our house. The houses in our neighborhood are similar to those in Senopati area, big old houses with big yards, each house has its own character. Typical houses built during the oil boom. (1920s). The traffic is not too bad. The weather? Well, sometimes the weather changes when I blink, but I definitely gonna bear this weather than the Jakarta’s pollution. And,,,,,,,, I got to see Rick Springfield in concert recently and got real close to him…Love it ………love it……. love it…. LOL

  8. Saundra Rohn
    March 17, 2012 / 6:30 am

    I learned a lot about your younger days in Jakarta. 🙂 I hope one day to visit your city but I do hope my grandson can have the best of both worlds as he grows up. Visiting us in the USA and me visiting the whole family in Jakarta. Love you, Mom♥

  9. March 26, 2012 / 9:05 pm

    The traffic make me feel that i was in a big deal to go somewhere

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