Jakarta: Trip Review

The trip to Jakarta was an impromptu decision initiated by mom after she watched an Indonesian documentary on TV. Not that she was enlightened by it or anything but it probably just reminded her that we should travel somewhere together after the wedding. The flight deals were good too about $700+ for 5 pax on Air Asia (excluding tax on the return flight- which was an unexpected fee for us like a surprise. Luckily still got cash.) The tickets were booked 2 days before leaving on Thursday morning.

We stayed at Ibis Mangga 2 which is located in North Jakarta. 2 nights and 2 rooms for about $280. It's located near some malls, or rather, Mal as they spell it there. Namely Harcomas, ITC Mangga 2, Pasar Pagi- these three malls are connected to each other via indoor bridges/links on different floors of each mall. Which was unsurprisingly confusing and we took about an hour to figure out a way back to the hotel. The first 'Mal' (one of the three I've mentioned but can't remember which name belongs to which) was somewhat like Sim Lim Towers in Sg- kinda ulu looking stuff. It is then linked to The next mall which is somewhat like Sim Lim Square with all the techy gadget shops and also Yogya which is a supermarket like Cold Storage. The next mall connected is where most of our last minute shopping for apparels were done. Highly advisable to start with the highest floor as that is where all the trendier clothes, shoes and interesting stuff are at, some at wholesale prices. Even beautiful wedding gowns are available for purchase at reasonable prices. However most of the fashion products are from Thailand Bangkok which I've been to and Bangkok is still unbeatable in terms of getting clothes at great deals- easier to bargain in Bangkok and cheaper of course AND Suan Lum night market is still my favorite spot for vintage apparels as the place is full of art-farts.

So if in Jakarta you'll probably get more of your money's worth at SOUTH Jakarta where there are more factory outlets selling original goods and trendier tourist places like pubs. We went to French Toast Premium Factory Store where prices were said to be up to 90% off the original. The products are either over-supplies or have minor defects which did not pass their QC tests. I bought formal shirts for Halim at abt Sgd25 each for brands like Donald Trump that were really great quality material. Other brands were like esprit, H&M, VS, etc. My bro and sis in law bought lots of cool looking thick jackets with furry hoods for wearing in Canada. The shop is located in Kemang 8, an area our hired taxi driver for the day was unfamiliar with. So navigating there required lots of asking around like totally random strangers. He would just wind down the window near any (and almost every) junction and ask a nearby person for directions despite the road being a single lane and the act will hog up drivers behind. But honks are a common thing on roads there, like almost every 5 seconds there will be a motorist honking to alert others of their presence as traffic is madness- a mix of pedestrians, sellers on foot (for random stuff like tiny Indon flags, floats, food), bajaj (tuktuks), push cart sellers (bakso mi). In Sg when someone honks at you it's almost as good as being given the middle finger.

There are also more art gallery shops selling paintings in the South in shop houses between those of furniture shops, bike shops, etc. The shops are simple ones, nothing designer-ish, nothing fancy, non-airconditioned stores. Just pure focus on the works. So it makes me wonder is the support for the arts there stronger there? (I think in Sg selling tissue paper in the street will be easier than selling artworks like really there is no support and I feel sad every time I hear people say that there is no talent in Sg and they go "What Arts?". Just my thoughts, yeah.) Not sure if they can actually make a living from those galleries but it's inspiring- it's not practical but it passion driven. The works are large sized pieces which looks like to took lots of time completing.

Grameda was a huge bookstore we visited specifically for my mom who just love to source out for recipe books. Boring for me except a saw a book titled "Sialan Bekham ternyata Yahudi".

It was raining quite a bit when we were leaving the bookstore and outside there were many barefooted children holding umbrellas offering to shelter people for donations. And the donations were then seen to be passed over to an adult standing nearby. I have no idea if it a syndicate kind of thing or if it was someone caring of the kids but poverty is pretty much a rampant scene there. Very pitiful sight of a thin mother nursing her baby by the roadside with her other small children nearby; a small child carrying a baby- helplessness is in every corner.

And in contrast, the several storied bungalow homes are for the wealthy... very beautiful architecture- with brick or stone wall textures, an envious sight from outside. We passed by the area where Obama went to school before- an area for the wealthy.

The people are extremely helpful it's an eye opener to a different culture. Like after asking for directions and realizing thy our driver needs to make a U turn or get back into a lane of busy traffic, the people will actually play traffic officer to help our driver ease back into the road. It happened not once or twice but almost everytime like probably around 10 times...  This is something I am really impressed by- a very polite friendly culture.

But I think we got burned by the driver cos the fees were EXPENSIVE. The hotel security officers brought him to us we we asked for a cab and just went with it out of convenience. RP 700k excluding RP100k of petrol. This is over sgd100 for a day. And another Rp 200k the third day to take us back to the airport. My dad overheard a conversation between the driver and the security officers negotiating how much their cuts should be. Well you see, by right taxis are not allowed into the hotel lobby but I guess they given a chance to do so if they are willing to pay the officers for the access and small portions of the fees for successful referrers. Transiting from the airport to the hotel costs RP 180k when we booked it from the counter in the airport.

As for food we mainly dined in at the hotel for breakfast and dinner. Good to see that McDonald is not the dominant fast food there but A&W is available everywhere. Street food prepared in push carts looks scary so we didn't try any. We tried Tony Jack's at the airport before flying back- the fries was nice and crispy, chicken is kinda like KFC's but with saltier batter and drier meat than our hormones filled chickens in Sg.

Well lots of learning points from this first trip. If I were to go to Indonesia again I'd probably explore South Jakarta or go to Bandung instead. Probably a guided tour will be good as well to get more knowledge and advice.

And it's good to know MALAY for easy conversing there though Bahasa can be quite confusing. Not sure if the sellers speak English but if a buyer (maybe a Singaporean or Malaysian Chinese) could stay, "Bargain like shit still only get 25," loudly within a 10 people radius and the seller is not insulted i suppose they don't.

No pics for this post sorry! 

Anonymous –   – (August 11, 2010 at 8:43 PM)  

hahahhah ur entry is always funny la, selamat berpuasa yerrrr~
- wani

Siti Sarah  – (December 13, 2010 at 5:33 PM)  

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