The stifling heat and humidity of Indonesia can come as quite a shock to those not accustomed to the tropics. You'll most likely find air-conditioning a necessity in your car, home and office. Another thing to alleviate the heat and give some relief to your clammy body is a good soak in a swimming pool. Whether you just like lounging in the shallow end or prefer to swim for exercise, there are various options available.
If you are moving into an apartment or housing complex, chances are you'll have your own pool. To clarify that, the complex will have its own pool. You'll be sharing it with the other residents so expect it to get busy at times. A lot of smart houses in up-market neighborhoods also come with their own pool, definitely a plus.
HOTELS, GYMS, CLUBS
If you are one of the unfortunate souls who don't have a pool at your place, you'll be forced out into the city to find somewhere to splash. A good place to start looking for a nice pool is at one of the major hotels of whichever city you're living in. A four- or five-star hotel will inevitably have its own pool, and usually it will be open to non-hotel guests for a charge. Depending on the establishment, it will cost you between Rp 30,000 (US$3.30) to Rp 75,000 (US$8) per person to use the pool for a day. They are open from 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. to about 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. Towels are provided and you can sprawl out on one of the poolside chaise lounges ordering snacks and beverages all day long. Some hotels which have their own gyms will throw in the use of their pool as part of the package (see gyms).
Hotel pools, however, might not be the best option for the exercise-minded swimmer. They often come in all manner of exotic shapes replete with bays, coves, and inlets, all of which do not really lend themselves to doing straight back and forth lengths. There are some exceptions. The Jakarta hotels, Mulia, Sari Pan Pacific, Ritz Carlton, Grand Hyatt and Aryaduta all have regular shaped pools, good for exercising in. Most of these, as well as many other star-rated hotels, also have adjoining kiddies' pools for the very young ones.
There are various sports clubs around that include pools in their facilities. Very popular with expats in Jakarta is the International Sports Club of Indonesia (ISCI) in the south of the city, (021) 749-0540. It has a big pool for grown-ups as well as a toddler's pool. If you happen to be American, you can use the facilities including pool at the American Embassy Recreation Association or AERA, (021) 720-2439. People of other nationalities are also sometimes allowed to join. Cilandak Sports Center, in South Jakarta, (021) 750-4963, has an Olympic size swimming pool which costs just Rp 22,000 to use during the week, Rp 25,000 on weekends. There are also nice pools in the Kelapa Gading Sports Club in the north of the city, (021) 452-0740/2, Manggala Wanabakti Center, (021) 570-3246 in the west, and Taman Sari Persada Club in the east, (021) 865-0428.
Something to bear in mind if you're going to use a pool in a complex or one which is open to the public: If you value your space and a bit of serenity, avoid these pools in the late afternoon (say, from 4 onwards) and even more so on weekends. At these times they tend to get chockfull of screaming, whining, snotty kids often accompanied by over-attentive, white-clad nannies. You'll spot their mums, too, under the umbrellas where the sun won't tarnish their hard-earned white skin. It shudders to think what the little critters might be doing in the pool itself. You can forget about a relaxing dip, or even more so, about doing lengths of the pool as you'll be bashing into bodies left, right, and center. Then again, if you're taking your kids to the pool for a bit of fun, these times could be best as they'll be sure to find plenty of playmates. You can just read your book or doze off while they entertain themselves. Swimming pools in hotels and in sports centers have attendants keeping an eye on things so no need to worry there.
For a fun day out there are also some water parks, often known here as waterbom, to be found. They've got all types of slides, rides and wave pools in addition to regular pools for the less energetic. Try Waterbom Jakarta, Pantai Indah Kapuk, North Jakarta, (021) 5596-6666, Pondok Indah Water Park, South Jakarta, (021) 750-6750), Waterbom Lippo Cikarang in Bekasi, (021) 8990-7814, Dragon Water Park, Lippo Karawaci, west of the city, (021) 5421-3570, or Atlantis Water Adventure in Ancol, North Jakarta, (021) 6471-1512. There is also a Waterbom in Bali, (0361) 755-676.
For a list of some other good swimming spots in Jakarta, as well as in other cities around Indonesia, check out this Web site: www.swimmersguide.com, and choose the location you're looking for.
Contributor: Nick Aarons