By Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., FACOG


I truly believe that travel is cathartic for the body and the soul so we try our best to take at least two family vacations every year, one in the summer (or during Spring break) and one during winter break. This winter break we opted for Southeast Asia for a few reasons. First, we always try to escape the harsh Chicago winter for warmer climes. Second, we were traveling with my in-laws and my wife (and her sister) wanted them to experience a Muslim majority country outside of the Middle East. Third, since we last visited Bali in 2008, I’ve always wanted to return. So, Southeast Asia it was and in particular Jakarta, Indonesia followed by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and lastly my lovely Bali, Indonesia. So come on along for our 16 day journey through Southeast Asia.


You can check out my Jakarta video trip diary right HERE, just don’t forget to come on back when you are finished.


After a 27 hour journey from Chicago to Tokyo to Jakarta, we arrived Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International airport bright and early at 6AM.


The best way to fight jet lag after an epic journey over 15 time zones is to stay in constant motion. After checking in to the Doubletree hotel, we took quick showers, changed clothes and hit the streets of Jakarta’s Diponegoro neighborhood. Only my mom and oldest son Adam could hang, everybody else was sleeping. Wimps!!!


The streets of Jakarta are definitely busy. I can honestly say that scooters and tuk tuk’s probably out number the cars 2 to 1.


No matter how far you travel, graffiti is one of those constants you find in a big city. Lazy and Reckless, Young and Useless, this looks like parental revenge graffiti!


We arrived on a Friday which meant that most of the city stopped for the mid-day Juma (Friday) prayer. When I say most of the city stopped, I mean it. People literally pulled out their rugs and prayed in the streets.


As we walked, we came across multiple fruit stands including this one. I have no idea what fruit this is but it looked and smelled wonderful. Probably should have had the cajones to try one.


Yeah, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I couldn’t have done *fill in the blank*, I was having a cup of joe at Alibi coffee. This guy really does look kind of guilty, good thing he has an alibi. Ba dum dum…I’m here all night folks.


Don’t ask me why but this tree really caught my eye. You have to admire nature’s determination, this tree said city sprawl be damned, I’m going to make a way to survive!


Jakarta is the city of 17 canals and this is one of them making it’s way through the city sprawl.


Many parts of Jakarta were less than “limited mobility” friendly.


We made our way over to the upscale Menteng neighborhood and the Menteng 01 school, better known as…


President Barack Obama’s primary school for the second and third grades.


Here is a statue of little Barack in the school courtyard.


Back on the streets and this was a first for me, an actual Uber motorbike. In retrospect, I probably should have Uber’ed somewhere on a motorbike just to say that I did it but I have a feeling my wife would have objected.


We saw tons of family motorbikes, in fact the most I saw on one motorbike was a family of four.


We even came across a few horse drawn carriages including…


this one. Not sure why it was so festive but this carriage definitely caught my eyes.


Our next stop was Merdeka Square located in the center of the city. Hint, Jakarta is hosting the 2018 Asian games later this year.


Merdeka park was a really nice (and huge) green space in the middle of city.


Surprisingly I didn’t see a lot of the Wonderful Indonesia branding across the city but I guess they figure they don’t need to promote Indonesia once you are already there.


This monument in Merdeka Square commemorates the Indonesian struggle for independence from the Dutch.


The popularity of Merdeka Square was easy to understand. Even though it is surrounded by busy Jakarta, it really does feel like an oasis of calm, palm trees and all.


This is MONAS, the national monument at the center of Merdeka square. It too commemorates Indonesia’s struggle for independence from the Dutch.


Istiqlal Mosque was a stones throw from Merdeka Square so it was our next stop.


With a capacity of 200,000 people, Istiqlal is the largest mosque in southeast Asia and the third largest mosque in the world.


The architecture on the outside was actually pretty plain but the architecture in the main prayer hall was phenomenal.


I don’t know what is more striking, the dome itself or the Arabic calligraphy below the dome.


After leaving Istiqlal, we went to one of Jakarta’s oldest train stations, the Jakarta Kota railway station, which was built in 1870.


The high arched ceilings are typical of the western art deco style of the era. I kind of got a kick out of the juxtaposition between the old architecture and the modernity of cell phones and Starbucks.


In a city of close to 10,000,000 people there is always going to be poverty. The site of these three young men sleeping outside of the train station was heart breaking.


Driving around the city, you could see bits and pieces of Indonesia’s Dutch colonial past.


Our three days in Jakarta flew by and soon it was the day of departure. Just as we were preparing to leave for the airport, there was a massive storm that brought with it very high winds and a deluge of rain.


We left for the airport four hours in advance so even with the slow traffic, we made it to the airport in plenty of time. The winds came fast and furious but thankfully we didn’t see much property damage.


We arrived Soekarno-Hatta airport about three hours before our STD.


Our next stop was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and…


I wouldn’t be a self respecting aerophilie if I didn’t choose to take KLM’s fifth freedom flight from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur. Be sure to check out the written and video flight reports for KL810 to KUL.


Thanks for exploring some of Jakarta with us, I hope you enjoyed the journey! You can check out the video trip diary right here:


Don’t forget to check out the written flight report and the video flight diaries for our trip from Chicago to Jakarta right HERE:

-Written flight report, click HERE: Flying to Jakarta

-Written flight report flying KLM from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur HERE:

-Written report, Exploring Malaysia HERE:


Be sure to check out our website and please connect with us on all of our social media outlets at TheTwinDoctors.

About The Docs


Idris is the creation of twin OB/Gyn Doctors Jamil and Idries Abdur-Rahman. Jamil (Dr. J) and Idries (Dr. I) were inspired to start after participating on season 22 of CBS’ ‘The Amazing Race’.

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