Slum tours in Jakarta now operating

An Indonesian tour operator, is now offering tourists the chance to see the ‘other’ side of Jakarta – a side tucked away from the sprawling shopping malls and 5-star hotels.

Jakarta Hidden Tours is advertising 3 different separate routes through the slums, allowing you to “explore Jakarta with a local and see how the majority of people live, work and raise their kids”.

Poverty tourism” has come into the spotlight since the release of Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.

Robert Finlayson, from Volunteering for International Development from Australia, helps run the tours and believes that the tours help social understanding. “Guilt is like pity, it stops you from seeing people as they actually are,” Finlayson was reported as saying. “What we wanted to say is…People are the same all over the world.”

Head of the Jakarta Urban Poor Consortium advocacy group, Wardah Hafidz, disagrees. “”It creates more problems for us than it helps,” Ms Hafidz said. “If you come with money then it’s a complete language of money. It doesn’t develop the understanding that they (the slum dwellers) are powerful, that they can help themselves.”

What do you think? Should tourists support this type of travel?
[via AFP]

Indonesia facing alcohol shortage

Indonesia is not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of drinking culture. Considering the country is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, a religion well-known for its temperance, visitors coming to Indonesia are probably not looking to get wasted as their first order of business.

But considering the increasingly modern fabric of this southeast Asian nation, it’s probably not surprising to discover that its citizens do happen to enjoy a tipple every now and then. Yet that is exactly the problem these days – in the country’s capital of Jakarta and in tourist hot spots like Bali, they’ve been experiencing a chronic shortage of alcohol – a problem that has been affecting Indonesians and tourists nationwide.

According to a recent article from the BBC, a recent anti-corruption drive has left the typically thriving market in black market liquor sales bone dry. leaving only a single licensed distributor to deal with an onslaught of demand nationwide.. Locals have argued that the problems caused by the shortage have been limited largely to international hotels and tourist regions like Bali – locations where foreigners tend to congregate.

So what then, some might say, if some drunk tourist can’t grab their tumbler of Glenlivet in a Muslim country? They should be respecting the norms of the culture they’re visiting right? That’s not entirely the case – many hotel managers argue that the ban has affected ordinary Indonesian citizens as well, who are having trouble enjoying a drink at their favorite nightspots as well.

It’s an interesting contradiction in a country facing the conflicting forces of traditional muslim culture and modernization. Perhaps, in fact, the type of open free-flowing discussion that can only happen over a good drink. Here’s hoping the citizens and tourists of Indonesia can work this one out like adults.

The 10 stupidest laws you could encounter abroad

Indonesia’s New Hot Spot

No. It’s not Bali or Jakarta. It’s Bandung.

Jakarta’s little sister has a rapidly growing tourism industry. Though most of the visitors are from the nearby mega-city, regional and international travelers have been arriving in ever increasing numbers.


There’s no surf in Bandung, but…

It’s cool (temperature-wise). Located in the highlands above Jakarta, it is the place to take a break from the tropical, sea-level heat. A two hour drive (that’s not taking Jakarta’s famed traffic into account) means it’s within striking distance for residents and tourists.

Also on Bandung’s plus side: an insanely diverse street food scene and a healthy number of shopping malls. Because of the high concentration of universities, there are some youthful and energetic nightlife venues.

Is there anything wrong with Bandung? If you consider a lack of public transit and an abundance of untrustworthy taxi drivers a problem, then yes, it is lacking in some areas. Popular shopping and eating spots get elbow-to-elbow on the weekend, a by-product of the city’s growing vacation reputation.

The increasing number of visitors to the city shows that, for now anyway, the good is outweighing the bad. Tourists with their mind set on a Southeast Asian vacation will be hearing more about Bandung in the near future.

Did he, or did he not, cause the crash?

Pilots in Jakarta have been protesting over the arrest of Marwoto Komar, the Garuda national airline pilot accused of causing the 2007 plane crash, which killed 21 people. There are, of course, two sides of the story.

The pilot has been under police supervision since the crash, BBC reports. The chairman of the Indonesian Pilots Federation, Manotar Napitupulu, said that the “criminalization of pilots will put pilots under pressure in carrying out their job”. The federation has been receiving support from pilots’ groups around the globe.

On the other hand, the Indonesia’s National Transport Safety Committee said that the pilot ignored 15 warnings against landing and approached the runway too fast. He has been charged with five offenses, including negligence causing deaths and the destruction of an aircraft and could face more than five years in jail.

This is a tough one. I don’t envy the responsibility pilots have over human lives. Yet, not even pilots are immune from making bad judgments…