Jakarta’s 7 best spots for street photography

It is quite easy to take Jakarta for granted. With its traffic congestion and pollution, the capital city is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when listing scenic locations in Indonesia. Thus, many photography enthusiasts set their hearts on capturing scenes in popular tourist destinations like Belitung or Bali without even considering exploring what Jakarta has for the lens. In fact, the capital city, with all its problems, has plenty to offer for the aspiring and seasoned photographer alike. Here are several places in the city I would recommend for photo hunting. 1. Kota Tua Batavia (Old Town) The historical Kota Tua Batavia in West Jakarta is, by far, the city’s most famous location for capturing pictures. The old Batavia’s colonial heritage buildings make a perfect background for a shot but their characters are strong enough to become a main subject as well. When you have had enough of photo hunting, try visiting the area’s museums, such as The Jakarta History Museum, Wayang Museum (shadow puppets museum), Ceramics Museum as well as the Museum Bank Indonesia (the central bank museum). Start your day early, at around 6 a.m. or 8 a.m. and drop by the whimsically decorated Café Batavia for lunch or choose from the array of traditional street food vendors available in the alley adjacent to the Jakarta History Museum. 2. Jl. Sudirman – Thamrin’s car-free-day Recently, a friend of mine asked me where to hunt photos in Jakarta during the weekend. I suggested he go to Jl. Jend. Sudirman-Thamrin, in Central Jakarta, which is the city’s main road, spanning from the Senayan area down in the south to the National monument area further north. Every Sunday, the city administration holds a car-free-day program running from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is when many Jakartans re-claim the road and showcase their talents, bicycles and whatever else they feel like showing to the world. Naturally, this means great scenes to capture. Several historical statues decorate the landscape, such as the Youth Statue; the Welcome Monument, which was built to welcome Asian Games participants in the 1960s; and the Gen. Sudirman Statue, honoring the hero of the Indonesian national revolution. Wake up early, grab your camera and use the TransJakarta busway to get to Jl. Sudirman-Thamrin road at around 6 a.m. - or explore the surroundings by riding a bicycle. 3. Ancol Ancol is not the best beach in Indonesia, but it is still is one of the favorites to go to in the city during the weekend. Try to arrive there before 6 a.m. and go straight to the pool beach to see the sunrise. The beach has a pier called Le Bridge, which is a great focal point for your pictures. Try to do research on the many events that held in Ancol. One example is Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 17, which usually include a traditional greasy-pole climbing competition called panjat pinang. Other possible photo hunting spots in Ancol include Sea World aquarium and several parks. It will be easier for you to roam the whole area if you drive your own vehicle. 4. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah The Taman Mini Indonesia Indah theme park in East Jakarta, offers you the chance to visit all of the country’s main islands and to learn a lot about Indonesia’s cultural heritages in one day, because the park is equipped with miniatures of the archipelago’s main islands traditional houses and as well as museums showcasing cultures of many different peoples. One could visit the place at any time of the day, but note that the traffic on the way there will likely be congested whenever the place hosts big events. 5. National Monument National Monument (MoNas) Park in Central Jakarta is usually used as a venue for athletic activities in the morning. High atop MoNas itself is the informal symbol of Jakarta, the golden Lidah Api Kemerdekaan, or Tongue of Independence, which resembles a flame and makes for good Jakarta-themed photos. During the evening MoNas is illuminated by colorful lights. 6. Sunda Kelapa Port Big boats harbor in this port in North Jakarta. The best time to go there is early in the morning when crews are still busy working. There is special moment in the morning during the Idul Fitri holiday when hundreds of Muslims pray together in the port. 7. Jakarta Cathedral and Istiqlal Mosque These two places of worship are located side by side in Central Jakarta. The Jakarta Cathedral – officially named the Church of Our Lady of Assumption– is a neo-gothic style building built in 1901. Do not make the visit during the church service time because you would not be able to take pictures of the interiors. The best time is to arrive just a bit later after the service has been completed. You might capture a picture of the less crowded church. Meanwhile, the Istiqlal Mosque is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia. It has the capacity to hold 120,000 people. Likewise, it is not recommended to come during prayers time. Go visit a little bit later or earlier instead.

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