Last Sunday 24 July 2016, I have this opportunity to join walking tour with Jakarta Good Guide. I knew about this group tour from a friend of mine who has joined the walk a few weeks ago. And after I join the walk, now I am curious about people behind this tour… Thankfully, they are willing to spare their times to answer my (hopefully not) boring question.
Hi, can you tell me a bit about Jakarta Good Guide and when officially started their activities?
Jakarta Good Guide started as a simple idea to help visitors get to know the stories of interesting places in Jakarta. Rather than relying on guide books or internet, we want to tell the stories from locals’ points of view because we believe, locals tell the stories better. We started in September 2014, but for the first two weeks, no one joined our tour until one day in mid-September 8 people showed up with 2 foreigners.
I’m really curious about the founder and co-founders of this walking tour. Can you tell me about them?
The founder is Farid Mardhiyanto, he’s currently in Colombia, receiving scholarship from the Colombian government to learn Spanish. He’s native Betawi and he became a tour guide in 2012. His previous work as a news reporter that required him to travel around Indonesia inspired him to get to know deeper about his native city, Jakarta. The idea to do this walking tour came when he was traveling in London and was impressed by one of the walking tours he participated in. After doing a little research, he realized there hadn’t been the same kind of walking tours in Jakarta. So, he started one with the help of his longtime friend, Candha.
Candha was born in Jakarta but grew up in Surabaya. He is the one with the tourism background having graduated from University of Indonesia. But it wasn’t until joining Jakarta Good Guide that his tourism knowledge was put to use. At the beginning, he was only dealing with registration and administration in Jakarta Good Guide, but in 2015, he decide to join the guide training and received his license to guide in Jakarta. His enthusiasm meeting new people and exploring new things has helped him being a good guide. He’s actually the busiest guy behind Jakarta Good Guide, especially at the time being. J
What motivate you all to create this Walking Tour?
Simply, we want to make Jakarta as a friendly city for tourists. Therefore, we make this walking tour “pay-as-you-wish”, everyone can join without worrying about the budget upfront.
How do you all get the material like historical information and also photos during the old days?
Do you all have some kind of affiliations with government?
We’re not the first ones that execute walking tours in Jakarta. Other people had done it before. We joined them, got interested in the materials, so we dug more. We find books, interview historians, internets, etc.
All of our guides were graduated from the same training by Dinas Pariwisata DKI Jakarta, just not the same batches. So, we’re affiliated by the government somehow. The government knows we exist and we are always ready whenever they need help, especially in guiding.
I noticed that there are 9 options of these walking tours. I am totally curious about The Night Tour around old Town. Do you take the same route like the one in the morning?
We do. The route is the same; it’s the approach of the stories that has twists. The night walking tour was created on account of the high interests of Indonesian people towards scary stories, urban legend, superstitious, and everything in between. And apparently people like it because they don’t have to walk under the sun! :D
Why your foodie tour only available during the evening? *this is me personally protesting*
The foodie tour was created because of the high demand from tourists asking for it. We’re not experts in foods, so we decided to accommodate the needs by taking them to Sabang Street, the street that has complete foods from around Indonesia, though not all of them are the best in the market.
So far, most of them are impressed by our choices; therefore we decided to continue the foodie tour in Sabang. Why in the evening? Well, because Sabang Street is more appealing in the evening, the food sellers are crowded, and the restaurant’s lights look more inviting.
Will the foodie tour be expand to another area someday? *this is my stomach talking*
We have a friend that specializes in food tour, you should check them out: Jakarta Food Tour. Every month, they go on a food trip to exotic places to explore different kind of foods.
Ideally, how many people one tour guide can handle in one group?
We believe, 1 group should only consist up until 15 people, to ensure the comfort, security, and convenience both for participants and the guide.
What is the biggest challenge when having this walking tour? Unfriendly weather? Traffic jam? Surrounding? Like Jatinegara, is totally crowded there. Nobody ever get separate from the group?
There are a lot of challenges. Punctuality of locals, non-existing sidewalks, minimum zebra crossings, unfriendly walking paths is only some of them. But, we keep going.
What’s the most memorable experience between you and the participants?
Plenty. One American guy admitted that he didn’t have any money but wanted to have a guided tour, so we did. It turned out that he was making a video blog about his trip, we were really happy to be a part of the project. There was a man who has been visiting Jakarta for few times but never had the chance to explore, and after joining our tour, his opinion about Jakarta shifted 180degrees.
What’s your hope for the future of Jakarta Good Guide?
That someday we can be present in every major cities in Indonesia, doing the same walking tours with the same system to help people to explore Indonesia. So one day, we’ll find Jogja Good Guide, Semarang Good Guide, Medan Good Guide, Padang Good Guide, Balikpapan Good Guide, Makassar Good Guide, Menado Good Guide, up until Jayapura Good Guide. Amin.
Amin for that :) Thank you for allowing me to do this interview and wish you all the best for the future... Looking forward to participate again in one of your tours...hopefully the foodie tour ^_^
By the way, if you wish to contact them here are their details