JAKARTA: It was already 10pm when three youths gathered in front of Karet Sudirman Pedestrian Bridge on one of Jakarta’s main roads, as workers raced to put the finishing touches to the walkway shaped like a traditional catamaran.
“We have been hunting for Instagrammable places around Jakarta,” one of the youths, Karina Suryabrata, told CNA as her friends snapped pictures of each other.
The Karet Sudirman Bridge, which was days away from being opened to the public, was their third location that evening.
Jakarta, a metropolis of 10.5 million inhabitants, can be a hectic place with crippling traffic congestion and worsening air quality. It is also notorious for having poor infrastructures, particularly in low-income neighbourhoods and areas outside of the city’s main commercial districts.
Which is why Jakarta residents like Suryabrata welcome the city government’s move to improve the city with aesthetically pleasing infrastructures and facilities. Such efforts began back in 2016 as the city prepared to host the 2018 Asian Games, and continued until today.
“They are quite effective in taking our minds off the stress we feel as residents of Jakarta,” the 20-year-old university student continued.
The infrastructure upgrade continued despite the pandemic, with new facilities instantly becoming the go-to places for social media savvy city dwellers and photography enthusiasts, particularly as Indonesia relaxes its COVID-19 restrictions.
Some old buildings have also been given a new breath of life, turning into trendy hangout enclaves among the young people. In an attempt to attract patrons, private sectors, too, added new attractions to their commercial spaces.
Here are five of the growing number of Instagrammable spots in the Indonesian capital.
GBK CITY PARK
Located inside the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex in the heart of Jakarta, Jakartans flock to the park to enjoy a relaxing breeze after their morning or afternoon exercise.
With an unobstructed view of the high rise buildings of the Jakarta Central Business District, the 4ha public park is also a hit with people looking for a quiet and relaxing place to have a picnic or an afternoon stroll.
Dotted with ponds and water fountains, the park sits on what used to be a golf driving range. In 2016, the driving range was dismantled to make way for an upscale hotel and restaurant at one end and a public park at another. The former was opened in 2018, ahead of the Asian Games.
Construction for the park was completed just after the pandemic hit Indonesia in March 2020. The activity restrictions that followed meant that the park was not fully opened to the public until August of that year.
But the park was not an instant hit as people were still anxious about going outdoors. It took another lockdown in mid-2021 as the country battled COVID-19’s Delta variant and another reopening in October 2021 before people began going to the park in droves.
The park opens from 6am to 10am in the morning and 3pm to 6pm in the afternoon. It is closed on Monday for maintenance.
KARET SUDIRMAN BRIDGE
An imposing fixture on Jakarta’s busiest street, Sudirman, the Karet Sudirman Bridge has been drawing attention even before it is opened. Visitors and passers-by are drawn to its unique traditional catamaran-like design.
There are four pedestrian bridges which join together in the middle section, where a viewing platform is located, providing views of the surrounding high-rise buildings.
At night, the Karet Sudirman Bridge is lit with flickering yellowish lights. The roof of the viewing platform meanwhile, is illuminated with a set of colour-changing lights.
The bridge is connected to the Karet bus stop, operated by city-owned operator TransJakarta.
TEBET ECO GARDEN
Another public facility which is getting a lot of buzz on social media, even as construction is still under way, is the Tebet Eco Park.
Located in a middle-class neighbourhood called Tebet, the park will not only serve as a place where locals can socialise and unwind, but also feature a plant nursery for gardening enthusiasts and a children’s playground.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on his Instagram account on Jan 9 that the park is “90 per cent completed” and will also act as a flood retention pond during the rainy season.
“The park… has an ecological function and will act as a social, educational and recreational space,” he wrote.
But the park’s crown jewel, one that is set to attract many photography enthusiasts, is a ramp in the shape of the infinity symbol. It connects two halves of the park which are now separated by a road.
At night, the ramp is illuminated by a set of lights which shine every colour of the rainbow, creating a brilliant spectacle both from the ground and from the air, which is why the location is already attracting a number of drone enthusiasts looking to snap a picture of the light display.
The building started its life as the headquarter for the postal and telegram services when the country was still under Dutch rule. Construction for the art deco-style building began in 1912 before it was opened in 1927.
The building is still in pristine condition and its interior and facade, adorned with stained glass windows and marble floors and counters, remained unchanged for nearly 100 years.
Despite this, its function has changed numerous times. After Indonesia gained independence in 1945, the building was converted into a philatelic museum.
As interests towards stamp collecting and postal service died down with the presence of the Internet, the Indonesian Postal Service began to look for new ways to commercialise the space.
In 2015, the building was converted into a co-working space. But the co-working industry was devastated by the pandemic as people are forced to work from home.
In October 2021, the Indonesian Postal Service collaborated with a private firm to convert the space into a mix of eateries and shopping centre, which features a number of hip cafes and restaurants as well as shops selling anything from T-shirts to antiques.
The 7,000 sq m building, a stone’s throw away from the Jakarta Art Building and the West Irian Liberation Monument, is a hit with Jakarta’s youths, drawn to its historical charm, abundance of selfie spots and diverse selection of eateries.
SENAYAN PARK SKYWALK
Featuring an elongated bird’s nest facade, a vast park and a manmade lake, the Senayan Park shopping mall was opened in August 2020.
While the shopping mall has largely been quiet with only a handful of spaces occupied, the same cannot be said with its semi outdoor space on the ground floor, featuring a number of hip restaurants and cafes overlooking the park and lake.
The park, located near the Jakarta Convention Centre, the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex and the Indonesian parliament complex, provides a serene sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta. It has a jogging track and an amphitheatre.
But that is not the main reason why Jakartans come to Senayan Park, which is only a few hundred metres away from the TransJakarta JCC Senayan bus stop.
Weeks before 2021 came to a close, the operators behind the Senayan Park shopping mall opened its latest attraction, a multilevel skywalk on its rooftop, which became an instant hit with the city dwellers of Jakarta looking to enjoy a clear view of the city’s skyline.
However, because of the pandemic, the skywalk’s operating hours are limited to between 3pm and 9pm and the number of visitors on the skywalk is capped at 100.