Advantages location, architecture, surrounding environment
Disadvantages the wicked guard
|Is it worth visiting?|
I visited the National Monument Tower when I was in Jakarta in 2005. Since I have written about Jakarta in my Hotel Ambhara Jakarta Hotel review below, I will repeat it here in order to make this review can be read and help making decision in one complete review. I'm sorry for my friends who have to read the same first part again.What and where is Jakarta?
Jakarta is the capitol city of the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia), the world's largest archipelagic state, located in Southeast Asia, a country on the ring of fire. The whole country consists of more than 15,000 islands (around 6,000 are inhabited) lying along the equator, from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, and has more than 200 millions of population, the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation. Jakarta is located on the northwest coast of the Java Island, at the mouth of the Ciliwung River on a Bay which bears the same name as the city. The northern part of Jakarta is constituted on a plain land but the southern part is constituted on 13 hills.Climate of Jakarta - Do you love hot climate?
There is not much to say about Jakarta's climate since it is located next to the equator. Jakarta has a hot and humid equatorial/tropical climate (Af) according to the Köppen climate classification system. Humidity is generally high, averaging about 80%. The city is humid throughout the year with daily temperature range of 25°C to 38°C; Absolute maximum is 43.8°C and absolute minimum is 21.5°C.Since I was born and raised in the hot Climate of Bangkok, I do not fancy hot and humid climate of Jakarta at all.
('What and where is Jakarta?' and 'Climate of Jakarta - Do you love hot climate?' are quoted from my Hotel Ambhara Jakarta review)The National Monument Tower (Indonesian: Monumen Nasional - MONAS)
This MONAS tower is a 450 ft (137 m) tall tower located in Central Jakarta, symbolising the fight for Indonesia's independence. Construction of the tower began in 1961 and finished in 1975. On its top, there is a shape of flame. The design of the monument is meant to combine elements of masculine and feminine. The design based on Lingga-Yoni, the symbol of fertility in ancient Hindu-Javanese belief. The phallic shaft comes toward the ground and is engulfed by square base meant to symbolise fertility. The monument body was made of steel and concrete covered with Italian white marble. On the top of the tower there's a square terrace that can be reach by visitors by elevator. From here visitors can see an aerial view of Jakarta.The monument is crowned by 35 kg gold-coated flame, right on the top of the peak terrace. This golden flame is intended to symbolise the spirit of freedom and the struggle for independence of Indonesian people. (Credit: Wikipedia)
The tower is located in the heart of 'Medan Merdeka Park'.I found out that the Indonesians are quite familiar with the name "MONAS". If you have some problem going there, ask local people by calling this place "MONAS".
My experienceI went to MONAS with my 3 colleagues in the evening, after my training session was ended. I took TransJakarta which worked very well in the heavy traffic jam of Jakarta and this is my recommendation route for visiting this tower. From information I had, the tower is closed at 6 pm. I arrived at the gate just after half past five but the guard, dressed in police-like uniform, did not let us in. He said in almost unrecognisable English that the tower was already closed. I confirmed to him that this is not 6 o'clock yet but he confirmed that it was closed. It was before I started to argue, the guard said to us that okay, we can enter, and he said something to another guard in the post in Indonesian.
The guard led me and my colleagues inside. When we walked pass the post, I looked for the entrance rate. I could not read what is stated because it is in Indonesian but the biggest number was 15,000Rp (at that time, 9000Rp equal to 1USD) and I thought the fee is acceptable for foreigners. The guard confirmed again that we could not enter because it is really closed. He really felt sorry for it and then he offered us an outside trip for free and we accepted. It was better than nothing.When we started walking, the guard in the post shouted something in Indonesian and the guard who was leading us hurried back to the post and they started talking. After the talk, the same guard led us to the back of the post and said that he can now bring us in but because it is closed, we have to pay him 50,000Rp per person. Then I knew exactly what was going to happen to us...WE WERE IN THE TRAP…
I and my colleagues discussed about this heavily. I told them about the 15,000Rp rate in the front gate. Before long, the same guard pressed us again that it is already closed and this time he is right, it is 6 o'clock (Oh my god!!). He has done a really big play. In the end (as it should be), we took the bait and paid him 200,000Rp due to no chance to enter normally today and we think we could not find any day that our training finish earlier than today.After receiving money, he led us back to the check-in table station...I almost kicked him or killed him when I saw many people queuing to enter the monument. He stopped us 10 metres before the check-in table and went to talk with the guard and then, waved his hand to us as a signal to move in. We had not gone into the queue but enter at the 'EXIT' route. When we all entered he followed us and put a 100,000Rp note into the hand of the guard at the check-in station… Well… ENOUGH... I know how the whole system work now, dude!!!
One good thing was that he did a good job describing things inside the MONAS and show us some important things that normal visitor couldn't see. We started from the basement (I still find some visitors out there) which is the brief history of the Republic of Indonesia in pictures, models and text displays. The wicked guide explained us very long in each figure… I knew it's important but it is full of wars, losses and at last…victory.The next very important thing that our guide led us to was at the dark 2nd floor where he claimed that this place is normally open for VIP guest (but I know he let some people in everyday, right?): the Indonesian Declaration of Independence, 1945. I have heard recorded Soekarno voice and the original letter. It is well kept. The detail of Indonesian Declaration of Independence is in annex 1 of this review.
After seeing a letter in the dark, I and my colleagues followed our guide to the deck of the tower. It's the open-air deck, so I could feel the wind and enjoy excellent sceneries even it was almost dusk. Since I was so tense, angry at the wicked guide, I felt cooler by the cool sight of Jakarta.Summary
All in all, I have got a mixed experience visiting MONAS. The park and the tower were nice but I felt frustrated with the guard, even though he led me to see that letter. I will recommend you to visit this place because of its beauty and history and I will pray for you not to meet the same guide I met.Scoring
Ease of access: 8 out of 10
Location of the tower: 8 out of 10
Architecture: 8 out of 10
Surrounding environment: 7 out of 10
Value to money: 2 out of 10 (may be only for my visit)
Annex 1: the Indonesian Declaration of IndependenceThe Indonesian Declaration of Independence was officially proclaimed at 10.00 a.m. sharp on Friday, August 17, 1945. The declaration marked the start of the five year diplomatic and armed-resistance of the Indonesian National Revolution, fighting against the forces of the Netherlands until the latter officially acknowledged Indonesia's independence in 1949.
This is the text in Indonesian:"PROKLAMASI
We, the Indonesian people, hereby declare the independence of Indonesia.
Matters concerning the transfer of power, etc., will be carried out in a conscientious manner and as speedily as possible.
Jakarta, 17th day of 8th month, year 05 (note: Japanese calendar year)
In the name of the nation of Indonesia
Soekarno - Hatta"
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