The final destination of our Java trip in 2010 and the final post. A short stay which didn’t allow much time to explore one of the largest cities in South East Asia. We heard about the wild raunchy parties but will have to save it for our next visit.
Jakarta is a melting pot which reflects its diversity and character in her people, architecture and history. As the Capital city of a country, Jakarta never stops nor slows down. At first glance, this hot, polluted city, feels like nothing more than another one of those soulless cities.. where people come from far and wide, to make their fortune. Jakarta’s infamous traffic jams, poor town planning and massive road labyrinths fails to impress but wait..! before you pass judgment on this city, you should pause to realize that it is actually filled with hidden gems. (One of them is the lady you are about to meet!)
Above the bronze sculptures built in the early 1960s during Soekarno reign to greet visitors attending the fourth Asian Games, wave to us as we begin the adventure at our final destination.
Over the last several decades, Jakarta has proudly developed into one of Asia’s most prominent metropolitan centers. With a current population of nearly nine million, Jakarta has undergone dramatic growth. Today, Jakarta’s skyline is covered by modern high-rises. The many state-of-the-art shopping centers, recreation complexes and toll-roads have become hallmarks of the city.
Jakarta, once considered as primarily a stop-over to more worthwhile destinations in the country, has become a major destinations in its own right. Visitors come for Jakarta” complete facilities and attractions that are in many ways unique and not available elsewhere. In the field of tourism Jakarta offers four and five star hotels on par with similar establishments elsewhere in the world, convention facilities, amusement parks, shopping centers, historical buildings, museums, tours, and many other tourist attractions. Too bad we had only so much time in Jakarta. We would have loved to have stayed longer, since we had such a lovely host, the sweet Selba who lives here (and is also an accomplished business woman and blogger), but after spending nearly 2 weeks in Java, it was time to go home!
We had such a lovely host, the sweet Selba who lives here..
Just stopping over for the night, we put up at the Banian Boulvard Hotel on Tanjung Duren Raya Kav. 1 Road, based on the advice of Selba, and what a cool hotel it turned out to be. Close to the action and food, she couldn’t have found us a better location to stay. After arriving in the heavy rain and drying off, we rushed down to the lobby to meet Selba. After informal introductions (we were meeting her for the first time, you see) we decided to head out for dinner and to explore Jakarta in waning light, as evening was fast approaching.
We then headed out to Plaza Indonesia and took a look around the super luxe mall. Selba introduced us to one of the more interesting confectionary shops called le Soho cupcakes. Here is Selba taking a bite out of it. She really likes her desserts.
Then, after walking around the posh mall, we decided to hit the streets where all the food action was. This famous street for food is called Jalan Sabang (but too bad that these days, the street food vendors on that street are not available as much as in the old days). We also passed by the Jalan Jaksa where many backpackers like to stay but the streets were unusually quiet. . .
On this street we see heaps of shops/restaurants selling all sorts of food. Many people say that Indonesian food is tasteful and spicy. Spices and hot chillies are the ingredients of most cooking. The staple food rice is served with vegetables, tofu/tempe and meat/egg/fish. The popular side dish sambal- a fierly hot blend of chillies, spices and sometimes terasi (belacan), lemon juice and tomato for extra flavour -comes to an endless variety. As the population of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, pork is usually not served except in Chinese restaurants, non-Muslim restaurants and places serving international cuisine.
The most popular Indonesian dishes are satay (skewered kebabs of meat or fish, grilled over a fire and served with spicy peanut sauce), gado-gado (half steamed vegetables salad dressed in a peanut sauce), nasi goreng (fried rice with shredded meat and vegetables and topped with a fried egg), bakmi goreng (fried noodles) and Nasi Padang (hot and spicy cuisine of the West Sumatra cooked in thick curry of coconut milk).
As the population of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, pork is usually not served except in Chinese restaurants, non-Muslim restaurants and places serving international cuisine..
Cumi finds all food portions in Java extremely small in size – similar to portions served in the food stalls of Penang Island. The small food sizes served could be attributed to high costs of meat and rent plus a weak rupiah. Nasi Padang/ Minang is probably the best value, or proper meal you will get in Indonesia. Similar to the Chinese ‘economy’ rice, you get to spoon choices of meat, tofu, herbs and vegetables to make up a hearty meal after a long day’s work. You can top it up high yet pay a relatively affordable price.
Baked goods in Java hasn’t reached the quality level found in Malaysia, Singapore or even Cambodia possibly due to the nations preference to consume rice and lack of quality raw materials. This taste test was done almost 2 years ago so new bakeries may have sprouted up since.
Then we chanced upon a famous Nasi Goreng kambing roadside stall, that was located on Jalan Kebon Sirih. Wow, this was one of the more impressive eating places we saw that night. The massive woks of food were just a sight for sore eyes!
It looked delectable but we wanted to walk around some more, to scout out the food, before we decided what to eat.
very impressive customized tshirts!
satay (skewered kebabs of meat or fish, grilled over a fire and served with spicy peanut sauce)
An auto rickshaw or three-wheeler (tuk-tuk, trishaw)
Our dinner was at one of the Bakmi GM outlet. Bakmi GM is the most famous noodle place in Jakarta which exist since 1959. Selba really wanted to try this so we ate here because she had heard so much hype about it. Apparently people travel from far and wide just to eat these noodles! Cumi and I found it OK, but not anything spectacular. The meatballs lacked the meaty taste, the noodles were too processed and the wantan lacked meat. Again, we can only surmised that it is due to the high cost of raw materials, rent and the affordability of the average Indonesian. It’s difficult to give good ratings when Malaysia has some of the best tasting street food in the world, not to mention, great variety.
Back out into the streets to hunt for desserts..
Fresh banana fritters. ‘Pontianak’ a female ghoul..!
After bidding farewell to Selba, Ciki stops for a rest and ponders over her challenging trip across Java. Java is large. It takes time to get around due to the unscheduled buses, long train rides and congested single lane roads (interstate or in towns). We might have mentioned this before and we will mention it again, the heaviest rainfall is found between January and March making it the worst time to enjoy Java because you will be caught in rain or stuck at a shelter waiting for the rain or floods to pass. A lot of patience is required as the pace slows down tremendously here. In many countries, you could walk around on your own to discover things but in Jakarta and many parts of Java, having a local friend to show you around is the best choice, as things are far and wide.
Cumi & Ciki Travels – The Java Series..