Exploring your city like a tourist

Exploring your city like a tourist with A New pair of Eyes

This article has been published on Grryo (November 20, 2015) and Independent Observer Newspaper (March 16-22, 2018 issue)

Every city has its own flair and speciality. When we travel to any country and explore different cities we enjoy and discover something new. A trip to a new place makes us feel our holiday was well spent. Being a tourist means “a person who travels to explore a place for pleasure”, this means we can be a tourist anywhere even in our own city. Having lived in Jakarta, I decided to change my perspective by discovering my city as a tourist. Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and it is a city that is vibrantly filled with cheerful people willing to help and guide you anytime, anywhere. Each city has their specific landmarks that are a must visit. In Jakarta, there are not many places to visit but some give a completely new outlook on what our city is all about.

There are many ways to see your city as a tourist, you can have a group of like-minded friends and go together or join a group of explorers who do tours to various parts of the city. I chose to do the latter and have found many new things about my city. By seeing new things, learning more about my culture has helped me to grow through photography. Capturing is about Perspective or Vista, a way we see everything around us. Thus, taking pictures through exploring helps to motivate the photographer to gain perspective and have an outlook.

Through my trips, I saw my city in a new way and tried to click as many photos as I could to treasure the moments. Whilst clicking, I was able to experiment with my camera to understand the principles of Photography. I learned the meaning of ISO, Aperture, Exposure, Focus, and White Balance and how to use them during my captures. Through the process, I realized once you understood how to balance the light with ISO and Aperture, the rest goes with how we feel during the moment. Although I am not even close to mastering these main features, the mystery behind the balance allows me to keep sharpening my skills.

In Jakarta, we have various aspects of culture and history spread in different parts of the city such as museums, historical sites, markets, or even the harbour. As much as I love going to museums, I’d like to highlight the places that made me appreciate my city more.


Glodok is considered our “Chinatown” although, it is completely different from Chinatown in other cities around the world. The history of this area dates back to the Dutch era, where the Chinese were brought to Indonesia as slaves from China. They resided in this area and many of them have remained in the area to date. Currently, the local Chinese community has moved to different areas in Jakarta, yet, Glodok still remains the main hub for their supplies of food, vegetables, and medicines. The tour around this place was thoroughly fun. Walking around Glodok and the market was a new experience for me. We learned about the cultural heritage and historical treasures. The narrow alleys, muddy streets and rundown buildings were part of our adventure. Taking pictures of the surroundings made one feel like part of their daily routine.

Kota Tua

Kota Tua means Old Town, which is the original downtown area of Jakarta. It is also known as Old Batavia. It’s called Old Town because it is the older part of Jakarta, built during the Dutch colonial rule. There are a few museums around Kota Tua, namely the Wayang Museum (Puppet Museum), the Historical Museum, Museum Bank Mandiri, Museum Bank Indonesia and Fine Art & Ceramic Museum. Whilst touring this area, I didn’t feel like I was in Jakarta. The architecture and the layout transport you to Europe. There is much hope to restore this area to rejuvenate Old Jakarta’s legacy.  The photos below are of the main Kota Tua square and Museum Bank Mandiri to portray the heritage and fine architecture.


Mosque and Church

The Masjid Istiqlal (Independence Mosque) is known to be one of the largest mosques in Southeast Asia. The national mosque was built to commemorate Indonesia’s Independence. When entering the Mosque, as any other religious holy place, you feel peaceful and calm. It was a fulfilling experience to explore the architecture of the mosque and feel the atmosphere inside it. It is a massive building and can accommodate up to more than 120,000 people. The building near the Mosque, the Jakarta Cathedral (Roman Catholic Cathedral), also has a very fine and intricate architecture. This building reminded me of the churches we see in European countries. The way it’s built, the feeling inside the church and the complete structure of it is beautiful. It was irresistible not to take a snap or two to capture the details of these buildings.

There are still many more interesting places to see and discover the wonders of Jakarta. Exploring it like a tourist has made me value it even more. Jakarta may not have a perfect description but, it is a part of Indonesia, a country which is diverse, yet united.

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