Enjoy Jakarta – while we murder the English language

I’m the first to admit I’ve made a few typos and grammar mistakes since I started this blog.  But I don’t represent the biggest city in SE Asia: http://jakarta-tourism.go.id/wisatadkiapp/

Here’s an example from the site:

History of JAKARTA

Jakarta the city of history mention the earlier phase emanates from the diverse ancient inscriptions found in the nearby port, begin at least the 14th century with the development of a small port of Hindu Padjajaran Kingdom which known as Sunda Kelapa at the mouth of Ciliwung River. Searching for the fabled “Spice Island”, the Portuguese were the first Europeans which arrive and establish a fortress on the site in the early 16th century.

I guess they’re not really interested in telling about the history of Jakarta, or they’d use something better than a language translating site (I can’t believe they could have paid someone to write that home page).  They might also have mentioned a few other things happening after the Portuguese built their fort – such as the Dutch coming and staying for 300 years?

I’ll leave it to you to identify all the other things that are wrong about the home page, if you have the inclination.  I found this site about three months ago, and I wouldn’t be criticising if they had fixed a few of the obvious problems.  But it’s quite a typical attitude that once something’s ‘done’ it’s never improved on or updated.  At least they update the calendar, but notice they still have the ‘Visit Indonesia 2009’ icon at the bottom of the page?

There is, in fact, some useful information on the site, such as hotel listings, including a large number of budget hotels in Jl Jaksa (the backpacker’s area – look under 1 star hotels) though an English speaker will have a few troubles making a booking since they only give the address and telephone number.  Of course, nobody who knows Jaksa would make a booking without checking out the hotel first.  But the information isn’t intended for people who already know the city (who in their right mind would stay in a seedy hotel in Jaksa?).

Some of the information is downright dangerous, for example, they recommend a shopping visit to the Jatinegara gemstone market.  Jatinegara is not the finest neighbourhood in Jakarta and the gem market isn’t exactly set up for tourists.  The one time I went there, none of the merchants were willing to show me a natural or untreated stone and the prices were so inflated there was no chance of bargaining the price down to a reasonable level.  There was no air conditioning, little lighting and nowhere to rest or eat.  I don’t know why they continue to try to make it into a tourist destination.

One last point – under ‘travelling tips’ they recommend tipping 10% at restaurants.  In my experience, a tip is completely unexpected, although most welcome.

I could say a lot more about the deficiencies of this site, but it’s like shooting fish in a barrel – too easy.  Can I just ask that the Governor of Jakarta take tourism seriously some time?


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