Jakarta is not all about luxurious malls, tall skyscrapers, fancy restaurants and constant traffic. Jakarta is a city full of contrasts, where the modern meets the traditional, the towers meet the kampung, and the haves meet the have-nots. But it is also a city where you can find natural beauty and peace, including rivers and forests if you know where to look. The largest river, but also the most polluted and problematic one, is the Ciliwung River, which originates in the Puncak highlands and flows into the Java sea, passing active volcanoes and the major cities of Bogor, Depok and Jakarta along the way. We often hear about it in times of intense flooding between January and March, but very few of us ever think about visiting it. Negative stereotypes about the river itself and the slum areas surrounding it, and the rush of our daily lives prevent us from stepping out of our comfort zones and realizing that there is a whole world out there waiting to be discovered. But when we do so, we realize that there is so much to gain from the experience. Luckily, residents of the riverbanks of Condet, with the support of the government, have given us the opportunity to have an eye-opening experience without having to leave the city. Together with a local guide, visitors can hop on a boat, and enjoy the journey along the Ciliwung River, which contrary to stereotypes, is not a smelly one. The ride may be bumpy at times, as you commonly hit piles of trash, and sometimes get stuck on them for a minute or two. And the sights might also be hard to accept, making some feel uncomfortable, as you get to witness real urban poverty, but the trip is definitely worth it and the experience memorable. While riding the dirty waters of the Ciliwung River, you will get a glimpse of the reality of the residents of the riverbanks. The boat ride allows you to observe what is happening around as you pass by several settlements, while being immersed in nature. You see fishermen trying to catch fish, kids running around, swimming and playing in the river, women cleaning dishes and doing laundry, people bathing, and much more. But most importantly, wherever you look at, you see people smiling. They might not have much in life in financial terms, but they will show you that, no matter what, they too, can be happy. At the same time, these boat tours raise awareness about conservation issues as river sedimentation due to high levels of domestic, but also industrial and agricultural, waste production is one of the crucial factors increasing the intensity of floods. These rides thus help both visitors and the local community realize the value of keeping the river clean. Indeed, throwing garbage in public areas is still a habit for too many Indonesians, but with these kinds of initiatives, there is hope for a better future. So if you want to do some traveling, and see nature, but at the same time actively participate in improving environmental and living conditions, then the Ciliwung River is the place to go. How to join Drop by Jl. Ciliwung No. 1 in Condet on Sunday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., no need to make any booking in advance. There is no charge for the boat and the guide, but do feel free to tip if you enjoy the tour. In case you want to go at another time, you can book in advance by calling Pak Dayung on +62 21 91418485.