The way it’s called in Indonesian language is Monumen Nasional, but its shortcut name is simply Monas. In English it’s obviously The National Monument of Jakarta. The monument is a 132 meter high tower located in the centre of Merdeka Square, central Jakarta. The construction started in 1961 and was open for public in 1975. The tower was the first monument to commemorate Indonesia’s struggle for independence. Opening times are from 8 am to 4 pm and in the evening hours between 7 and 10 pm, and in the weekends till midnight. Special reliefs are used in the monument with different meanings. The design itself has another meaning.
The tower has an observation deck. A lift that can carry 11 people brings you all the way up to the deck. On the deck there is room for 50 people. On top of the tower is a gold coated flame. The distance between the deck and the top of the flame is 17 meters. A ticket to the deck cost you around $0.75. The area in which the Monumen Nasional stands is that of a very big square, a traffic free zone. You can hangout there for quite some time either outside on the square or inside the monumen tower.
Demonstrations are allowed in Indonesia but you might be in for some experience if there is one going on when you visit Monumen Nasonal. It seems that the Merdeka square area is also used for demonstrations. Not exactly on the square at the monument, but rather on the surrounding roads.
You’ll get stuck in a traffic jam and better opt to walk a bit. It won’t be easy to see where exactly an entrance gate is through a mass of around 1000 protesters. The demonstrators are often from other islands. Waving flags, having speakers and are surrounded by hundreds of police and army personnel. Many in uniform, others undercover. A big part of the area has been cordoned with razor wire fence. If this all isn’t enough, there are all kinds of heavy equipment and vehicles to crack down on any untoward incident.
It might look impressive or scary. Some people might feel nervous to walk through such a big number of people. In this particular case there was no threat nor feeling unsafe. Instead, many people see you as the only foreigner in between them and ask friendly and shy to go on picture with them. No matter their religion. First one, followed by many more and you really feel appreciated and welcome. It might depend on the reason or background of the demonstration if a crowd is friendly. In this case they were teachers.
Traffic & Currency
The traffic in Jakarta can be pretty mad. Over roads on a Grab motorbike, to the Monumen Nasional and even to the airport. On a motorbike you usually can save quite some time. Traffic comparisons can be made with Ho Chi Minh City. One is when motorbikes get to a point of being stuck in a jam and their last resort is to take over the sidewalks as their domain. Rules are in place but not much followed. Chaotic and busy is the Jakarta traffic situation best described.
Currency of Indonesia is Rupiah. The value as at the end of 2018 was $1 = 15.000 Rupiah. Available notes are of 2000, 5000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000 and 100.000 Rupiah. There might be higher notes than that for big payments. Colorful notes and therefore easy to recognize in value. Change them at the airport when you leave the country because they won’t be accepted anywhere else to exchange.
of the demonstration and the Monumen Nasional