Ideas for Jakarta in May?

Old Apr 14th, 2011, 06:54 AM
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Ideas for Jakarta in May?

Since I will be in Jakarta in May with several (6 or 7) free days on my own, I am looking for inspiration on how to find some culturally interesting things to do.

This will be a second trip. The first time (July 2010), I enjoyed multiple visits to the National Museum that included conversations with knowledgeable docents from the Indonesian heritage Society. I spent a good long while at the Puppet (Wayan) Museum and checked out the nearby Cafe Batavia. (An attempt to walk in the nearby harbor area proved rather dismal though.) I am not a particularly ardent shopper, but I did browse quite a bit at the Plaza Indonesia (Alun Alun) and the Pasaraya. I enjoyed drinks with a friend at the splendid Dharmawangsa and trying kopi luwak at a cafe. Our hotel (Grand Hyatt) had a gorgeous pool so I enjoyed spending time there.

If circumstances were different, I would go off to Yogyakarta, which I have been eager to visit, but family circumstances will keep me in Jakarta. I learned on my first visit that Jakarta isn't an easy city to navigate and discover on one's own so I greatly appreciated the wonderful advice that I got here, particularly from marmot and kuluk. I saved marmot's restaurant and theater recommendations. I have been checking the Indonesian Heritage Society website but their May calendar isn't up (or accessible to me).

Some specific questions:

1. Is Taman Mini recommended?

2. Is a tea plantation day-trip recommended?

If either or both of these are worthwhile, are there group excursions or would I be advised to book a car and driver on my own? (I would prefer something more social.)

3. Are there other ways of learning about (English language) lectures, performances, tours and other cultural activities? Last time, you advised me to check the Jakarta Post so I do have that in mind.

4. Are there specific recommendations in the area of our modest hotel (the Grandkemang)?

Many thanks.
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Old Apr 14th, 2011, 07:00 AM
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Oh, wrote too fast. I do realize that Alun Alun is across the way from the Plaza Indonesia in another shopping mall called the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town or something like that.
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Old Apr 14th, 2011, 06:22 PM
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I’ve never actually been in the Grand Kemang, though I regularly drive past it. The Kemang neighborhood is a relaxed and friendly place for browsing and eating. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s good for walking, but it’s walkable, if you’re careful to watch out for potholes and those murderous motorcycles.

Kemang has dozens of shops of all kinds, on the main street and the surrounding streets, especially Kemang Timur and Kemang Utara. You’ll be able to keep yourself occupied there for days. The residential neighborhood is nice for early morning walking/jogging.

There are many many restaurants in Kemang. My current favorite is Koi. Huiz van Wely (a little pricy but wonderful dessert), Shy for rooftop cocktails (also dinner if someone else is paying) There are ethnic restaurants from all over the world, coffee shops (including Starbucks!), pizzerias and too much American fast food.

For clothing I’d recommend Biasa. There are tons of others, plus furniture and handicrafts. Several yoga studios that welcome walk-ins. I like Periplus for books.

Mil-Mat for manicures and that delightful Indonesian custom of the combination hair wash and long, long scalp and back massage -- all while sitting in a chair. It’s a friendly neighborhood place, popular with expat women from all over.

Duta Fine Arts is a serious gallery in a lovely setting. Also a charming little museum with a fine collection of island ethnic arts and artifacts, Gedung Dua8. Both are in Kemang but better to take a taxi.

I’d suggest that you contact the American Women’s Association as they often have excursions that you could tag along on. Though both AWA and IHS may be already closed down for the season.
http://www.awajakarta.org/

You might be able to arrange a week’s pass to the American Club (also called the AERA American Embassy Recreation Association). Not posh, but a good gym and pool. Someone you know will be a member.

I am NOT a fan of Taman Mini, but maybe it’s improved in the 15 years since I vowed never again. I’ve never actually been on a tea walk, but the area is lovely, especially the Botanical Gardens.

These are a good websites for what’s going on:
http://kemangbuzz.com/
http://www.whatsnewjakarta.com
http://www.expat.or.id/
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Old Apr 14th, 2011, 09:27 PM
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Marya: I'm glad you will have a second visit to Jakarta. It is an interesting city, but it does take time to see, due to traffic and so on. If you are interested in historical Jakarta (Batavia), try to pick up the excellent book "Historical Batavia" or something like that, by Adof Heuken. (sorry, have the book at home but forgot title and name spelling) It details several of the old homes and official buildings from the 17th and 18th century Dutch colonial era. You can use this to do a self-guided tour around old Kota...lunch at Cafe Batavia, tour Fatihillah, (old city hall), the Maritime Museum,and more. (although I haven't been there since the remodel I am not sure if it's interesting or not. But, the building itself is one of the old gudang warehouses from the old spice trade.

I'm pretty sure the Heritage Society has a library somewhere in Senayan, so if you have time, you might check them out in person.

Taman Mini is ok, the aviary is fairly interesting. It's very spread out and hot so be prepared. I took my brother there a few years ago and he was underwhelmed. Next door to Taman Mini is the Ibu Tien museum which houses gifts that were given to former President Suharto during his 38 year reign by heads of state from around the world. It's grandiose and full of mind-numbing bric-a brac, but there is a bed made of jade and some other interesting items.

Kemang puts you in the perfect place for a foreigner to browse. It's a nice suburb with a lot of expat and wealthy Indonesians so lots of nightlife, cafes, shops and so forth. You can spend a lot of hours getting nice massages and spa treatments, too! The long back rub/hair wash mentioned above is called "creambath." You must do that of course.

There are also some places to visit just outside of the city...on day trips you can check out the lovely National Botanical Gardens in Bogor, and see if the Taman Safari animal park is still operational or not. You can even drive out to Banten and see Carita Beach and look at Krakatoa!

Hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing time, whatever you do!
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Old Apr 15th, 2011, 11:15 AM
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Marmot and Kuluk:

Thank you for this wealth of information! I am going to read your postings again at my leisure a bit later to digest the specifics and see if I have any questions about any of it. I appreciate your generosity in providing this detail.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2011, 03:43 PM
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Can anyone recommend any cooking classes in Jakarta? I am looking for classes taught in English. They would preferably be one- or two-day small group classes. Thanks.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2011, 04:48 PM
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There are cooking classes all over Jakarta. All kinds of food, all kinds of levels. If you do some research on line you'll find several. Most of the hotels and restaurants offer them, but the timing is irregular.

Some are listed in Kemang Buzz
http://kemangbuzz.com/content/whatson.php

Also What's New Jakarta
http://www.whatsnewjakarta.com/web3/...hp?cboGroup=37

A few more chosen at random:
http://www.alilahotels.com/alila_jak...cooking_series
http://jakartabedandbreakfast.com/ja...oking-classes/
http://www.momcancookjakarta.blogspot.com/

I believe Pantry Magic (which is quite near your hotel) also offers classes but you'll have to e-mail for more information as they're not listed on the website. They may be one in the same with Momcancook.
http://www.pantry-magic.com/jakarta/
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 08:42 AM
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Thank you, marmot. I am following up on these recommendations. My prior on-line research was confusing rather than clarifying because there is so much on offer and it is very difficult to determine quality from this distance and with my limited knowledge of the culture. I have learned through trial and error how cooking classes vary in quality. I recently took one in Hanoi that I loved whereas one of the classes I took in Beijing was more of a front-row seat watching the teacher browbeat her staff. I also would really enjoy a good market tour but those too vary in quality.

The earlier recommendation to contact the AWA sounded like an excellent one. I have written twice with no results yet but I remain hopeful.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 08:05 AM
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Once again, creative suggestions from Asia board contributors have made my travel so much better. Thank you to marmot and kuluk for inspiring suggestions that led me to some highlights of my brief visit to Kemang, Jakarta, in May.

Marmot's idea of contacting the American Women's Association led to a charming set of experiences. The AWA was building their leadership team for the following year and not offering any activities during my visit, but marmot's idea led me to contact the British Women's Association as well. Having one Scottish grandfather is an awfully slender claim, but the British, American, and ANZA groups are quite open to English speakers from other countries.

The monthly coffee hosted by the British group was very engaging. I enjoyed sitting for a couple of hours talking with a fascinating group of women who have lived all over the world. What a lovely group!


In addition, I was invited to attend their monthly book group meeting at which they discussed Hella Haase's THE TEA LORDS, recently translated into English from the Dutch original. Since they had kindly given me advance notice of the title via email, it was possible to read the book in advance and participate in a stimulating conversation. I still haven't visited a tea plantation, but reading the book and discussing it with people living in Jakarta will make an eventual visit all the more interesting.

Marmot's and kuluk's advice to go for an affordable but pampering "creambath" (combination shampoo and head/shoulder/arm massage) was more great advice. The recommended Mil & Mat was conveniently located right down the street from my hotel. Anyone planning a trip to Java should definitely look into sampling this treat.

Mil & Mat was so close to my hotel that I decided to walk -- always an...er...exciting proposition in Jakarta. Getting there posed no problem. While I was luxuriating during the creambath,
however, the heavens opened with a very dramatic thunderstorm. When I emerged from the salon and tried to walk the short distance back to the Grand Kemang Hotel, the roads were remarkably flooded and nearly impassable. When the water rises to knee level and you know that the underlying pavement is pockmarked at best, it makes picking your way over even the shortest route surprisingly challenging.

A reference to the Magic Pantry (above) also proved very productive. Luckily, Indonesian celebrity chef William Wongso was scheduled to give a cooking demonstration during my stay so I participated in that. Arriving early, I had the chance to chat with the personable chef ahead of time. Since we had both recently been in Sichuan, we had a chance to connect on the topic of Sichuan spices about which he is very enthusiastic.

I did decide to give Taman Mini a miss and don't regret it.

Thank you for great guidance that made my short second visit to Jakarta all the better.
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