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Jakarta, Java

There is no escaping Jakarta, Indonesia's overweight capital. At first glance, this hot, smoggy city, which sprawls for miles over a featureless plain, feels like nothing more than a waiting lounge for the millions queuing up to make their fortune. Beneath the veneer of glass fascias, concrete slabs and shabby slums, however, this is a city of surprises and a city of many faces. It's possible to rub shoulders with Indonesia's future leaders, artists, thinkers, movers and shakers, and to see first hand the deep-seated desire so many Indonesians have to rise above the poverty they were born into. Jakarta certainly isn't a primary tourist destination, but parts of the old city (Kota) offer an interesting insight into the capital's long history, and there are a handful of good museums scattered about.

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The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.
Rudyard Kipling