Jakarta Trip Report Card

“Macet” is the Indonesian word I learned during this trip, and it is an important word which you’ll likely hear much when you are on holiday in Indonesia. It means traffic jam. Yes, expect to be stuck in traffic jams for a significant portion of your travel. A very significant portion.

In my case, and I suspect for most people too, the worst jam would be the one enroute to the airport for your flight out. Departing at 230pm from the SCBD in Jakarta, we were caught in a one hour jam just to travel 5km to get onto the toll road. For the rest of our itinerary as well, we were also caught in jams to get past most little towns.

As much as “macet” is a part of Indonesian daily routine, “Sabar” (patience) is the common virtue among Indonesians. Forebearing, understanding. The Indonesian way of life is proof that you don’t need to keep raising productivity to make life work. As long as you have the patience to work at some thing, life works out, somehow.

Of course, you need more than just perseverance for survival. You need resources. And Indonesia has no lack of resources. Gifted with fertile soil, plenty of streams and river, the land yields enough for everyone to get by, so long as you’re willing to do some work, however menial it may be.

Two things attract me to Indonesia. Actually three. Firstly, the natural resources, in the form of the landscape, and produce (food). Secondly, the amazing artistry of Indonesians, manifested in works of art such as Batik, music and gardening. Lastly, the price and currency advantage I’m able to enjoy when spending in Indonesia.

So let me start reporting about my just-happened trip proper. It went really well despite having to trim the itinerary due to “macet”. Our flight arrived around 3pm, and the taxi driver whisked us to our hotel and happily exclaimed that we missed the “macet”. I decided it was not worthwhile going to Fatahillah Square as planned, given the peak hour traffic and the tired state we were in. We went, instead, to Central Park Mall, the next item on my itinerary. By the way, I deliberately chose to stay in hotels that were within walking distance to the malls I wanted to visit, and I would suggest that as the strategy you should adopt for Jakarta. You wouldn’t want to be wasting time on taxi rides.

Central Park Mall is a nice mall. It is one of the more upscale malls in Jakarta, and so, unfortunately, the eateries are more international than local. Our preference always is to go for local food, and Sate Khas Senayan was one of the few options available.

Obviously, you have to try the sate. Needless to say, it was very good, plus it comes with creamy peanut sauce which works for me because i hate chunky peanut sauce.
Obviously, you have to try the sate. Needless to say, it was very good, plus it comes with creamy peanut sauce which works for me because i hate chunky peanut sauce. Also pictured above are Iga Bakar (grilled beef ribs) and Tahu Telor (fried egg bean curd), which are among the most popular Indonesian dishes
Central Park mall necessarily has a park next to it
Central Park mall necessarily has a park next to it

After dinner, we proceeded to Carrefour which was also located at the basement level. One of the agendas I had for the trip was to bring home Indonesian coffee beans, and I was very happy to find an entire shelf stocked with various kinds of coffee bean. The most premium type of coffee bean as indicated by the price seem to be “Kalosi Toraja” which I have not heard of before. They do have Mandheling as well, plus other blends. They were pretty cheap, ranging from IDR 33000 to 43000 (S$3.40 to S$4.30) per 200g, which compares very favorably to the the pricing in Singapore, which is typically double the amount.

Rack in Carrefour offering coffee beans
Rack in Carrefour offering coffee beans
My loot, including Kopi Luwak and Blue Mountain blends by the well-known Indonesian brand Kapal Api
Part of my loot, including Kopi Luwak and Blue Mountain blends by the well-known Indonesian brand Kapal Api

After the supermarket visit, we headed straight to the Telkomsel shop at level 3 to pick up a prepaid data SIM card. Here’s an important tip for you: the official Telkomsel shop is probably the best place to pick up a prepaid data SIM card, because they sell these at the official pricing without any additional commission, and there’s absolutely no risk of you being quoted a “tourist price” which you may encounter elsewhere. They will also likely be able to converse with you in English, which was the case at the outlet in Central Park mall. The card they had on offer was priced at IDR 70000 (S$7.20) for 4GB and IDR 100000 (S$10.30) for 6GB. You will have to do a top up if you need airtime or SMS, starting from a nominal IDR 10000. I did the top up for ease of communicating with my rental car driver.

And we’re not done with our agendas at Central Park yet. I acquired my usual holiday souvenir here as well – a haircut. The entry level haircut at Double R salon was IDR 200000 (S$20.60), and it was very carefully executed.

Pretty good job
Pretty good job

Finally, we did some shopping, and my better half was able to pick up some Batik clothing from Batik Keris and Alleira, two Batik boutiques we were well familiar with. A fruitful night, we had.

The next morning, our rental car picked us up from the hotel and we headed to our lunch place, Cimory Riverside, two hours away. This was a place that handles large crowds, so the food was understandably not going to be fantastic, though it was still quite okay.

Cimory Riverside
View of the river from the restaurant
Chap Chay (mixed vegetables) is the Chinese influenced dish that would be found throughout South East Asia
Chap Chay (mixed vegetables) is the Chinese influenced dish that would be found throughout South East Asia
You can't go wrong when you order Nasi Goreng (fried rice). The Indonesian rendition comes with plump and soft rice and uses more spice than the Chinese version
You can’t go wrong when you order Nasi Goreng (fried rice). The Indonesian rendition comes with plump and soft rice and uses more spice than the Chinese version

The main program for the day was a visit to Taman Safari. It was not cheap by Indonesian standard, costing  IDR 300000 (S$31) per adult, but it probably is still one of the cheapest Safari in the region. Me thinks the novelty was worth the money. (Warning: spoilers ahead)

To see an elephant raise its trunks and grin at you is a wonderful way to start the Safari visit
To see an elephant raise its trunks and grin at you is a wonderful way to start the Safari visit
Camels lined up for your viewing
Camels lined up for your viewing
Peering through the windscreen, makes me wonder who's the subject
Peering through the windscreen, makes me wonder who’s the subject
Beware of this guy sticking his head into the car, he totally would do it
Beware of this guy sticking his head into the car, he totally would do it
Zebras after the carrots which you can buy from street side vendors on your way into the Safari
Zebras after the carrots which you can buy from street side vendors on your way into the Safari
One of the few places in the world where you can get a close-up shot like this
One of the few places in the world where you can get a close-up shot like this
Gifted with a convenient way to scratch an itch
Gifted with a convenient way to scratch back itch
The giraffes are placed such that you can see them at eye level
The Giraffes are placed such that you can see them at eye level
This smile makes my day
This smile makes my day
Close encounter of the feline kind
Close encounter of the Feline kind
Huge majestic cats
Huge and majestic cats
Baby Hippo. One word - cute!
Baby Hippo. One word – cute!
Cute, too
Cute, too
Probably for a cruel reason, these unconfined elephants don't step out of their designated space
Probably for a cruel reason, these unconfined elephants don’t step out of their designated space
The kids' train ran out of gas, literally
The kids’ train ran out of gas, literally

In order to visit Situ Gunung the next day, we travelled more than 2 hours to get to Sukabumi from the Safari park. Night time sets in by 6pm and I must say it felt rather depressing, especially when you’re still a long distance from your destination. I chose to have dinner at Bubur Ayam Bunut Siliwangi, and the chicken porridge was certainly comforting after a long ride.

Chicken porridge Indonesian style - silky smooth, with very tasty gravy dribbled around
Chicken porridge Indonesian style – silky smooth, with tasty gravy dribbled around the side and topped with crunchy bits
Buntut Bakar, our all time favourite. This was not as good as the famous one from Bandung
Buntut Goreng (fried oxtail), our all time favourite. This was not as good as the famous one from Bandung
Ayam penyet. Nicely marinated. Crispy on the outside while tender inside.
Ayam penyet. Nicely marinated. Crispy on the outside while tender inside.

Situ Gunung was meant to be the highlight of our trip, and indeed it was. It was made more exciting by the Ojek we engaged to ferry us to the waterfall as well as the lake. I had originally intended to get to these attractions on foot, but the terrain was more challenging than I had imagined. The path to the lake was covered with large pebbles and involved a steep slope, which would have taken a long time to climb on the way back. In the interest of saving time, I made the decision to pillion ride the motorcycle, with our kids sandwiched between adult riders. It was a very rough ride through muddy and bumpy tracks, but it was totally worth it. Otherwise, we would never make it to see the attractions.

Path to Curug Sawer
Path to Curug Sawer
Pretty from any angle
Pretty from any angle
A very voluminous fall. Waterfalls in Indonesia are unique in that they seem to appear out of nowhere, without a large river before or after the fall.
A very voluminous fall. Waterfalls in Indonesia are unique in that they seem to appear out of nowhere, without a large river before or after the fall.
I've never seen such a pretty Bamboo bridge! The ones we have are purely utilitarian
I’ve never seen such a pretty Bamboo bridge! The ones we have on our turf are purely utilitarian
My better half and kids with the Ojek riders
My better half and kids with the friendly Ojek riders who gave us a lift

After the waterfall, we headed to the lake. I knew beforehand that at this hour (around 11am), i will not be able to witness the pretty sight of the sun ray shining through the shrubs, like i’ve seen while doing research for the itinerary, but still, the lake was not to be missed. And i soon found out that, true enough, there was something magical about this place. It was truly worthwhile visiting this place.

The water is still enough to mirror hills. The hills are low enough to let light come through, illuminating the trees and shrubs in such a way as to bring up a contrasty and three dimensional feel to the place. The irregular types of trees by the lake makes it feel like it's a tended garden.
The water is still enough to mirror the hills. The hills are low enough to let light come through, illuminating the trees and shrubs in such a way as to bring up a contrasty and three dimensional feel. The irregular types of trees by the lake makes it feel like it’s a tended garden. Tranquillity.

Situ Gunung is quite out of the way from Jakarta, and it took almost three hours to reach our lunch place, Ah Poong. Nevertheless, the sights along the way were still captivating enough for repeat visitors like us.

Horse drawn carts, known as Delman, are still popular in Indonesia, even in Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia
Horse drawn carts, known as Delman, are still available in Indonesia
River scene typical of Indonesian towns. Perhaps the poor in Indonesia don't realize it, but often times the rich pay a hefty price to get a river view
River scene typical of Indonesian towns. The “poor” in Indonesia probably don’t realize it, but many of the “rich” elsewhere pay a hefty price to get a river view

Ah Poong is a food court offering various Indonesian food, and, uhm, Singapore chicken rice, of all things. In fact, it occupies the largest stall that takes centre stage. My guess is it’s due to investment capital from Singapore. Otherwise, there was a good variety of Indonesian food here.

Ah Poong, riverside dining
Ah Poong riverside dining
Cakwe, pronounced cha kueh, which is Hokkien for fried fritters.
Cakwe, pronounced cha kueh, which is Hokkien for fried fritters. Comes with sweet dipping sauce.
Ayam bakar - grilled chicken
Nasi Timbel Komplit which comes with Ayam bakar (grilled chicken)
Fried Gurame, a must-have-at-least-once when in Indonesia
Fried Gurame, a must-have-at-least-once dish when in Indonesia
Serabi Duren was a nice dessert. Made of flour and coconut milk.
Serabi Duren was a nice dessert. Made of flour and coconut milk, covered with Durian paste.

Ah Poong was just outside Bogor, which was included in my itinerary for factory outlet shopping. Sad to say, the Factory outlets were a little disappointing, and the only one worth visiting, in my opinion, was Blossom, which we were already familiar with because we have visited them in Bandung. Well, i didn’t visit all the factory outlets in Bogor, so don’t take my word as being conclusive, but the reason i like Blossom was because they stock real rejected branded items.

The peak hour macet in Bogor.
The peak hour macet in Bogor, which wasn’t too bad compared to Jakarta
A restaurant that goes by the name Singapore (no trademark infringement?), specializing in Chinese food
A restaurant in Jakarta that goes by the name Singapore (no trademark infringement?), specializing in Chinese food

Back in Jakarta, we went to Skye Bar and Restaurant for dinner. I had originally wanted to only have some drinks at the open air area, but they don’t accept customers wearing Bermudas. Anyway, the restaurant food was rather pretentious, though it was still okay, and quite reasonably priced for the overall experience. Half the customers were there for birthday celebration.

Nice ambience
Nice ambience
Flat noodles. A tad too sweet.
Flat noodles. A tad too sweet.
Duck confit. Taste and texture not quite what it should be, a little too sweet too.
Duck confit. Taste and texture not quite what it should be, a little too sweet too.
Beef short ribs. The beef could do with a bit more seasoning. The mashed peas was too coarse.
Beef short ribs. The beef could do with a bit more seasoning. The mashed peas was too coarse.
Kid's meal fried rice came in adult's portion. Cannot fault this one.
Kid’s meal fried rice came in adult’s portion. Cannot fault this one.
The view you get from level 56 of Menara BCA
The view you get from level 56 of Menara BCA. Note the nicely lit road lined with cars stuck in a jam.

The final half day of the trip was to be spent at Pacific Place, where Kidzania is located. The entrance fee was IDR 150000 (S$15.50) per kid, which is a small fraction of what Kidzania Singapore charges (S$55). The staff do try to speak in English when they know you’re not local. In any case, the activities are quite fun.

Convenience store shopping
Convenience store shopping
A Blue Bird taxi making its way around the town square
A Blue Bird taxi making its way around the town square

We had our final meal at Kafe Betawi. Like Sate Khas Senayan, they operate like a fast food restaurant, but the food was similarly decent. We had the usual favourite items.

Sate
Sate Ayam (chicken satay)
Sop Buntut (oxtail soup)
Sop Buntut (oxtail soup). The soup has a nice perk from the spices used.
Soto Betawi (Jakarta style beef soup)
Soto Betawi (Jakarta style beef soup). I like the savoury taste of this one.
Nice lantern deco at Pacific Place
Nice lantern deco at Pacific Place

It’s unfortunate that the majority of foreign visitors leave Jakarta with the final impression of the horrendous traffic jam to get to the airport. The consolation is that the taxi fare doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Had a go at Kopi Tubruk at the airport
Had a go at Kopi Tubruk at the airport
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