Jakarta is a sprawling, polluted, loud, and chaotic city. It is a place of contrasts, where new meets old, progress meets the Third World.

There are expatriate Westerners of all stripes here, from oil company heads to scruffy Asia bums. There is plenty to do, and the shopping malls and movie theaters are often a comfort to recently landed North Americans.

West Jakarta | landscape

Jakarta is all Indonesia rolled into one huge urban sprawl of nearly nine million people. Indonesians come from all over the archipelago to seek fame and fortune. They are all united by Bahasa Indonesia and a desire to make it in the capital.

Jakarta is a hard city to love. One of the world’s greatest metropolises , its grey, relentlessly urban sprawl spreads for tens of kilometers across a flood-prone plain with barely a park to break the concrete monotony. And yet beneath the unappealing facade of high-rises, slums and gridlocked streets, this is a city of surprises and many faces.

One of the world’s greatest megalopolises, Jakarta is a dynamic city of daunting extremes with surreal juxtapositions on every street corner.

Jakarta is like an uncut gem. It already has some really attractive attributes, but until issues such as the crazy traffic and drinkable tap water are addressed it isn’t as good as it could be.