We were invited recently to experience a special themed KLM Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta. The flight carried a special passenger, Miffy, a cute white furry rabbit which had been traveling from Netherlands to several countries in Europe and Asia.
In Malaysia, Miffy had visited several places of historical and cultural significance. This flight would bring her on her last leg of her South East Asian journey, to Jakarta.
We were seated on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft which featured a brand new KLM cabin with the latest improvements in seat comfort and technology. It was definitely a lux journey seated in a brand new decor. What was an added bonus for this sold out flight was the Miffy themed meal tray, head rest, and a pillow case.
Honestly we weren’t familiar with Miffy until this flight came about. The cute bunny is the creation of Dutch artist Dick Bruna and is also known as ‘Nijntje’ – the shortened form of ‘Konijntje’, meaning ‘rabbit’ – in Dutch. Miffy was ‘born’ in 1955 during a vacation in The Netherlands where Mr. Bruna would tell his son a story about a white rabbit who would wander through the gardens of the holiday village in which they were staying at. This rabbit later became the inspiration for Miffy, who came to life through Mr. Bruna’s drawings. Miffy just celebrated her 60th anniversary recently – 20 years older than kawaii Hello Kitty.
Upon arriving Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, we were whisked off to the north part of Jakarta to Novotel Mangga Dua. Surprisingly, Jakarta’s infamous traffic snarls were kind to us so instead of a being caught in near stagnant traffic crawls for several hours, we reached the hotel in less than 2 hours.
Tekwan, a salty fishball dish with glass noodle. A Palembang dish.
At dinner, the hotel chef brought out several Indonesian dishes to introduce us to the local cuisine influenced by the country’s multi-ethnic cultures. These were of course hotel interpretations of street dishes therefore a lot different than the ones served by the ubiquitous push cart stalls across Indonesia.
Pempek or mpek-mpek, a fishcake. Another popular dish from Palembang.
Nasi Goreng Kebuli, a fried version of the steamed variety. Rice has been boiled in spices with stock. Middle eastern influences.
Mie Aceh, wet fried noodle of Aceh origins
Kwetiau goreng, Fried flat rice noodles with beef. A Chinese influenced dish.
We decided to go for a jaunt out to town since a weeknight meant there were much fewer cars on the road, and fewer people at the attractions, plus we were only staying one night in Jakarta. The drawback – no entry after the operational hours.
..what happens when you don’t have a fast low light lens..
Our first stop was the National Monument or Monumen Nasional which the Jakartan’s conveniently abbreviate to Monas. The 132 m (433ft) tower in the centre of Merdeka Square is located in central Jakarta.
Fried snacks just outside Monas
Selamat Datang monument at Bunderan HI
The Selamat Datang Monument at Bundaran Hotel Indonesia looked spectacular in the evening. With fewer cars circling the roundabout, we dashed across the road into the roundabout to join the locals marveling at one of their most beautifully sculpted national emblems.
Nasi goreng by a kaki lima (translated as five feet and the general term for Indonesian street vendors). An oil lamp is the only source of light as the cook whips up his version of fried rice.
Good morning North Jakarta!
The next day, we visited Ancol Jakarta Bay City, an extremely large private waterfront property of North Jakarta which is marketed as an ‘integrated tourism center’. It is one of the largest ‘resorts’ in South East Asia with several hotels, high-end residences, beaches, Dreamland (Dunia Fantasi) amusement theme park, oceanarium, arts and craft center, a marina and much more, sprawled around a 552 acre land.
A local joked that when a Jakartan wants to go to the beach, they have to pay for it. Rightly so, as we found out the IDR20,000 per person fee upon entry. Private vehicles were chargeable too. From observation, most of the facilities and grounds are rundown and faded. Definitely due for a major face-lift. Nevertheless this destination still attracted visitors, possibly because of the lack of alternatives.
Padlocks of undying love pledges at the Pier of Heart (Dermaga Hati)
Ancol, pronounced Un-chol, is very large. While one can rent bicycles to cycle around, a car is definitely the better choice. We only had time for a stroll on a boardwalk by the beach and to visit an arts & craft center. The arts & craft center was a delight to wander about to discover the local talents.
Mickey greets us as we were driven past schools, dilapidated buildings, railway tracks, and fading businesses
Jakarta History Museum
Fatahilah Square in West Jakarta is another key attraction of this densely populated city. Located in the old administrative center of the city when Jakarta was called Batavia, the area holds remnants of Dutch colonial architecture and several museums which archive Jakarta’s rich and tumultuous past.
We had our lunch at the popular Cafe Batavia, a two-storey eatery with a bar on the ground floor. Before even reaching the dining table, we were already marveling at its antiquated decor, and the crowded portrait lined walls of famous local and international figures of yesteryear. One could just wander about the whole establishment for at least 30 minutes scrutinizing, admiring and guessing the famous persons on the walls which even extended into the restrooms.
Elizabeth Taylor loves an Old Fashioned kinda guy and Cafe Batavia sure makes a stud-ly one!
Sate with smoky peanut sauce is always a popular option
Sop Buntut or Oxtail Soup. Not bad but meat wasn’t fall-off-the-bone yet.
Fatahillah Square was a hive of activities on a weekday with skateboarders doing tricks, street vendors, and young Indonesians and tourists wandering about on foot and bicycles. We weren’t sure if it was always this busy or whether it was because there was a film shoot going on. The area wasn’t cordoned off so maybe we were among the extras, walking around the square.
We had another KLM flight to catch after lunch, making this Jakarta jaunt a really short trip. There was definitely so much more to explore in this city of over 9 million residents. We will be returning to Indonesian soon so we hope to see more, eat more and talk to more Indonesians, the next time round.
Ah.. yes, we definitely are not done with beautiful Indonesia and its people yet!Follow us on Instagram : @ccfoodtravel
Please show us some FB LOVE, thank you!