Sun, 23 Apr 2000

Directory takes snafu out of Jakarta's streets

Jakarta Street Directory; Periplus, Hong Kong, 2000; 144 pages; Rp 145,000 (US$14.95)

JAKARTA (JP): Any snippet of information on how to navigate through Jakarta's labyrinthian streets is at all times most welcome.

After having brought to the market countless guides on different parts of the world, Periplus Editions of Hong Kong has done us yet another favor by recently publishing one of the most detailed street directories of the Indonesian capital city which is considered a maze by many, and where names of streets as well as traffic regulations are in the habit of changing without warning.

Researched and updated by experts in Asian Pacific cartography, the directory has its facts as up to date as possible.

Jl Yun Hap, formerly the northern part of Raya Lingkar Kampus, the ring road that circles the heart of the campus at the University of Indonesia, is included in the guide.

The street was named just a few months ago in memory of Yun Hap, the student from the University's technical and electronics faculty who died in September 1999 after security forces fired on unarmed students demonstrating against the State of Emergency Control Bill.

Beginning with the city's airport, newcomers to Jakarta can bury themselves in the directory as soon as they arrive. This smart directory is a combination of two maps, the first covering the central city areas at a scale of 1:17,500 and the second one detailing the outer rim areas of Greater Jakarta at a scale of 1:65,000, from as far west as Tangerang to Bekasi in the east. Two other maps of West Java and the Thousand Islands in the Java Sea, northwest of Jakarta are also included, just in case the need is felt for a quick break, from the hustle and bustle of life here.

To help travelers locate the exact direction of their destination, a detailed street directory finder grid is included on the front page of the glossy guide book. After the city maps, a very comprehensive index showing the precise location of streets, districts, suburbs, parks, buildings, hospitals, schools, universities, embassies, government institutions, industrial complexes and places of interest running to another 33 pages, is very helpful.

Also very useful is the translation into English, German, French and Dutch of bahasa Indonesia terminology like gedung, kantor (office building) and taman (park).

Teddy is well used to the streets of Jakarta as he has been a chauffeur and driver with car rental companies for over a decade. He feels that the Falks Street Directory which he uses at present is easier to page through. He prefers the bolder color contrasts in the older book and the consistent use of the larger scale of 1:15,000 which is easy to read while driving at night time. Although the Periplus directory includes of a lot more areas of Jakarta, he thinks he would need a magnifying glass to recognize most street names contained therein.

"It is meant for a more literate group of people, while the older book has a simpler index that can be easily read, even by not very sophisticated drivers," said Teddy, who also prefers the plastic pages of his own copy of the 1994 edition of his directory.

-- Mehru Jaffer