going to jakarta - need some help

Jun 29th, 2004, 08:46 AM
  #1  
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going to jakarta - need some help

I am going to be in Jakarta in sept because my husband has to be there. i am a little nervous because i am american of chinese race. i know I should stay away from crowds and i will but i want to make the most of my trip. Can someone tell me what are the fun stuff to do? Where are good place to go shopping? I was told there are real cheap export surplus like adidas etc . where can i find them? where are the good local restaurant and jazz places and good hangouts?
thanks,
mohan
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Jun 29th, 2004, 09:24 PM
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mohan, I'm an American who has lived in Jakarta for 9 years. All I can say is that it's a great place to live but I wouldn't want to visit here!

Seriously, Jakarta is a big, dirty, hot third world city. It can be fascinating, but also extremely difficult. There are several million people of Chinese descent in Jakarta so I wouldn't worry too much about discrimation. It happens but it is rare.

As you may know Indonesia is having a presidential election next week. If no one gets over 50% there will be a runoff on September 20. You should stay in touch with the US embassy and watch this event carefully. So far, the campaign has been 100% peaceful, but in Indonesia things can change quickly.

You'll probably be staying at a wonderful hotel with a wonderful pool area. This will be your oasis.

Shopping can be lots of fun in Jakarta but requires stamina. The shopping malls are modern and fine. The individual neighborhood stores are infinitely more interesting but are spread out all over and are difficult to access. Kemang is a good starting place.
There are some great outlets for bargain shopping, Mangga Dua (a whole complex) and Millenium (a chain of stores) are two of the best known. My favorite place for arts and crafts are is the department store Pasaraya. Don't miss the batik floor.

If you can get someone from your husband's office (or maybe another spouse) to accompany you, you'll be more successful.

Kemang is also a good place for restaurants and night spots -- though the quality varies widely. I think the best restaurant in Jakarta is the "C" restaurant at the Grand Hyatt. There are many, many great Chinese (Cantonese) choices as well. For latenight music I would stay with the hotels; there are certainly local jazz places but these can get raunchy so it's best to go with a local.

You will need a car and driver at all times! No one walks in Jakarta (or shouldn't). Most likely your husband's company will provide you with a car; if they don't arrange one through the hotel. They're fairly inexpensive. Avoid taxis. They are unsafe, very little English is spoken and at best the driver will not know how to get where you want to go.


In short, Jakarta has a lot of jewels, but they're not immediatly apparent. Take it slow -- it's really hot! -- spend a lot of time at the pool and enjoy the incomparable Indonesian hospitality.
marmot is offline  
Jul 1st, 2004, 05:22 AM
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mohan,

How long are you going to be in Jakarta?

I understand why you feel nervous because I too am American Chinese. I was really concerned when I found out my husband and I were to relocate to Jakarta last year. Reading about what happened in '98 was horrifying. You can still see burnt buildings and broken windows in some parts of Jakarta. Generally I feel safe here but you need to stay alert. Most people are friendly and I find the best way is to keep a smile on your face and you'll be fine. Indonesians don't like confrontations. Complaining or losing your temper will get you nowhere. They usually just ignore you when that happens.

C's Restaurant at Grand Hyatt is one of my favorite too. I love their seafood platter for two. If you like Cantonese dim sum, I recommend the Ah Yat Abalone Forum Restaurant located in Mid Plaza 2, lower ground level. It's a chain with restaurant in HK, Singapore, and other countries in Asia. They use pork in their dim sum so it taste like the real thing. Most dim sum restaurants here use chicken as a substitute. Buffet dinners at large hotels (Grand Hyatt, JW Marriott) are good. Sunday brunch at the Regent is very nice (champaigne included) but a bit pricy. Can't help you with local food since I always get upset stomach when I try them. Indonesian food tend to be lukewarm. I prefer my meals hot or cold.

"Untitled" at the Marriott was a good place to hangout at night, but I haven't been back there recently. There are few places to go at night and it's not a good idea to stay out late.

It is necessary to have a driver and car to get around. There are no pavements, no cross walks. Don't take taxis but if you must, use ONLY Silver Bird or Blue Bird taxis.

travelmug is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 08:32 AM
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Thanks Marmot and Travelmug for your generous advise.
I probably wait to see how the election turns out before i book the tickets. I usually stay about 7-10 days and can't wait to go to bali or anywhere. I have actually been to Jakarta several times and yet I don't know anything about the place. We usually do all the socializing and eating in the hotels. They are all good restaurants and serve good food but they are formal and business-like. I really would like to try the good local hangouts and i will try all the places as suggested by marmot and that dim sum restaurant suggested by travelmug. i prefer enthic food in asia. i probably try to stay away from the big hotel chains too if i could.
Someone told me chinatown has interesting shops but my husband said that area is not safe. Would you know anything about that?
re: hiring a car+driver. Is there a company that you would recommend?
Last but not least, do you need anything from here? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]

mohan
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Jul 2nd, 2004, 10:24 PM
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I love Indonesian food -- the hotter the better! -- but I usually don't go to Indonesian restaurants unless I'm with a local person. There are zillions of choices. I wouldn't know where to start. My Indian friends say the Indian food here is very good as well.

You can get a car and driver from your hotel or you can call Silverbird. The service will be good, but the driver may not have much English and surprisingly may not know how to get to where you'd like to go. Jakarta can be very confusing even to people who live here.

At this point I don't think Chinatown is especially unsafe. Like all of Jakarta you're just better off going around with a person who knows the local language. It's not particularly dangerous but it can be bewildering.

Indonesians are so accomodating. I'm sure you could ask someone from your husband's office (or a spouse) to take you shopping. One of my US customers came to Jakarta with her husband, a coroporate lawyer. I asked our office manager to take him shopping and to some of the museums. He said it was a wonderful experience, both to see the city and to spend some time with a "real" Indonesian.

After Bali, the other fascinating place to visit in Indonesia is Yogyakarta and Borobudur Temple in Central Java. Yogya is the ancient capital and still the center of Javanese arts and crafts. Borobudur is a marvelous Buddhist temple from the 9th Century -- one of the architectural treasures of the world.
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Jul 3rd, 2004, 10:57 AM
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marmot, thanks again. I will have a local person with me for communication. From my previous experience, local people usually don't know where to take me. They don't understand why i would want to choose a local joint over a luxurious restaurant. Why take a walk in the local market instead of sogo. They don't understand their culture is so unique and i am so fascinated. That's why I need to know where is what and where i want to go. I will try out all your suggestions. Do you know of a restaurant that serves jet fruit ( a savoury dish)? It is a regional speciality. I am also a fan of indian food. I was told that the hawkers serve the best food actually. I will need a lot of reaurrance to go that far.
thanks,
mohan
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Jul 7th, 2004, 11:55 PM
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mohan, can you please tell me more about the jet fruit dish you mentioned? I've never heard of it and is interested to try. Got a photo?

I don't go to Chinatown often because of the constant traffic jam there. I go there to get Lychees and other Chinese stuff. One restaurant I go to is "Restaurant TIO CIU". It's a small restaurant serving Chiu Chow style Chinese food, porridge, seafood and shabu shabu (hot pot). I always do shabu shabu with the fishballs. Very bouncy and delicious. The owner speaks Mandarin. Jl. Mangga Besar Raya No. 19 Tel 6294887
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Aug 19th, 2004, 02:37 PM
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travelmug: sorry that I didn't check back the forum and reply so late. it seems that you and I share similar taste. i totally understand 'bouncy' fishball. Chiu Chow is famous for that and deep fried fish skin and fish-skin dumpling also. i have planned to go to HongKong for that stuff. But I'll definitely try out the one you mention in chinatown.
re:jet fruit. No i don't have the photo of it. It is a savory javanese cuisine called 'Gudeh'. it is very hot and spicy. i like to try everything. It is an acquired taste.
I went to the Asian film festival and watched a delightful indonesian movie called 'Arisan' . I met the director and spoke briefly with her. She is young and talented.
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