- Ronny Poluan leads tours of a Jakarta slum to show visitors the 'real' capital
- Tours cost about $34 -- half of that goes to Poluan, the other half to the locals
- Some critics say the tours exploit the poor and teach them to rely on handouts
- Tour covers a market, soy bean cake and tofu factories, meeting residents
Hidden in the alleyways behind Jakarta's fancy malls and in between the high-rise apartment buildings is what Ronny Poluan, a former film maker, calls the "real Jakarta."
It is not far from the glitz and glam that dominates the capital's skyline, yet it is a side of the city that few foreigners ever see.
"I want them to (have an) authentic view," Poluan, who runs "Jakarta Hidden Tours," said as he took a group of Australians through the winding maze of a central Jakarta slum.
"I'm running out of rice," an old lady mumbles in the doorway of her tiny dark home as the group passes by.
Further along, little girls push their faces into wire fencing, while another group of children draw 36-year-old Daniel Knott into a game of cards. Knott, a volunteer for various NGOs, and his wife, who works for AUSAID, live in Jakarta and have been to the slums before. But it is the first time their friends, Kerri Bell and her husband Phil Paschke, have been to Indonesia.
Knott said he felt it was important to bring the visiting couple here.
"I think Jakarta is a city of contrasts," he said. "There's a lot of shopping malls and kitschy stuff, but it's also a lot of normal people. And, it's fun to come and hang out with the locals, actually."
"It's fantastic," Kerri Bell said. "I've been in Asia once before and we didn't want to just gloss over the surface and see all the things you can see in a western country. It feels to me much more like the real Jakarta, to see what drives it. To see that is so much more valuable than coming and lying on the beach."
Book Jakarta Hotels Online