Part 1: Jakarta
Upon arrival at the airport, I had a confusing walk to the Immigration counter; moving walkways for the locals, and either left or right hand side of it for foreigners – follow the sign, “Foreigners”. Just before the Immigration counters (not very prominent either), there’s a counter for the purchase of “visa upon arrival”. Malaysians, please just proceed to the Immigration queue as quickly as you can because the service is really really slow, so you do wanna be in the line as soon as possible!
I queued up for an hour before it was my turn to have my passport stamped. Bag collection was really quick, maybe just 5 mins. In the Arrival hall, there was a line of airport taxi services, offering IDR200,000 for a ride to the city or hotels in the Central area. I was pondering on taking it, but decided to risk it with the taxi services outside.
As I did find out, it was definitely cheaper outside. I hired a taxi from the Blue Bird company; most tourists or expats would advise the same, and it cost me less than IDR200,000 for a 1.5 hr ride to my destination. It would have taken a mere 35 mins on a magical day/time when there’s no traffic congestion, or as how my local friend would say, “macet!”
Yes, macet – one of the things Jakarta is famous for; the number of vehicles on the road – be it the peak hours, or even random hours during the day – can be more than sustainable by the road.
Driving in Jakarta in a macet wouldn’t be on the top of my to-do list, unless it’s on a dare list. I’m really amazed at the taxi driver who’s ever so calm in such conditions. I was the one flinching when a car drove past literally millimeters away from my face which was stuck near the window; or when a motorbike snaked its way through the tiny alley which was congested with non-moving cars, with barely enough space to fit a pedestrian – I wonder why I was the one worried for the taxi being scratched or hit by anything, or hitting anything, for that matter. It was a full-on adrenaline ride for me the moment we touched the city; in a dense city full of cars of all sizes, mostly big, waiting in their lanes and moving along slowly (most of the time not moving) in an orderly fashion while being stuck in this horrendous traffic for aeons.
The hotel: Marriott Serviced Apartment @ Indofood Tower along Jalan Jenderal Sudirman.
My, was I glad to be out of the traffic and to a nice comfy environment. Good view from the room, as I can see how the traffic is (and be glad that I was finally out of it, for now) and in which direction the congestion is, before deciding when to make my way out of the apartment. Helpful.
Dinner @ Bogor Café.
Dinner would definitely have to be at Bogor Café @ Borobudur Hotel for its legendary “Legendary Sup Buntut“. So legendary that it’s claimed as the best sup buntut in town (or Indonesia?). The dinner buffet was a pretty good spread for only IDR260,000.
Verdict: 9.5/10. It was indeed good, for me, at least. Full of body and flavour. Full of goodness too! I had a generous serving of the oxtail cutlets, which were so tender they literally fall off the bones once I took a bite. Just remember to request for a bigger bowl for your sup buntut. mMmm…~
Roast lamb Indonesia-style; served with garlicky sweet soy sauce infused with chopped chilli.
Verdict: 9/10. As a person who’s used to having lamb with mint sauce, and would probably only take it if there’s mint sauce, I’m loving this new version! The sweetness of the thick sweet sauce (kecap manis), with the fragrant aroma of the garlic, and the slight hint of spiciness from the chilli really complemented the lamb well. It was really good. Thumbs up!
White-fleshed passionfruit! Mild sweetness, fragrant, and juicy. I definitely do prefer this version than the yellow-fleshed sour-tasting passionfruit variety found in M’sia. But, still, this can’t be compared to the awesome passionfruit found in Australia.
Overall verdict: 9.5/10. I will definitely come back here again if and when I’m in Jakarta.
The Awesome Spa Experience: IrwanTeam Kérastase Hair Treatment @ Grand Indonesia.
This shopping complex is pretty new, but big enough to have an adventure and keep one busy for many hours! The taxi ride to Grand Indonesia cost about IDR 13,000, with fair traffic and a friendly yet polite taxi driver. First stop was of course, the hair salon, as per recommended by a good friend, who was recommended by another good friend. I went in there and booked a spot.
Verdict: It was awesome!! 9.5/10. The Kérastase Hair Treatment/Cream Bath comes out to be IDR400,000. The package includes a pot of hot tea (I chose ginger tea – really soothing and great), hair treatment and hot stone massage which lasts for 2 hrs. I added in a pedicure; pretty expensive at IDR190,000, but it was all so good. True pampering. Totally worth all or more of the money. Go for it!
There was a myth that the KFC in Indonesia is much better than the ones in Australia, Singapore, and even Malaysia (according to a friend who grew up with KFC). So, I decided to test it myself. Into a KFC outlet I went and ordered something. Nothing out of the ordinary, just chicken, with rice.
Well, the rice part was actually extraordinary for me, ‘cos I’ve never had KFC with rice; it has always been the chicken, with the mash/fries, the occasional coleslaw. I had wanted to try how it was like, but what I didn’t know was that I should use the wrapper to hold the rice, just as how one would eat a burger, but I asked for a fork! I couldn’t understand why I got “question mark” faces from the staff, until the locals start to pour in, and showed me the “right” way of eating the rice. This is how to do it: dip the chicken into the chilli sauce, take a bite, and then take a bite of the rice, and continue until it’s all gone. The fries here were skinny, not the big fat chunks that I was used to and they weren’t sprinkled with chicken salt.
Verdict: 5/10. The chicken does taste like real chicken, though I’m not used to having it with rice, but then again, the rice was bland. Prefer chunkier fries rather than skinny dry fries, too.
After a couple of hours of walking around, it’s time to make my way back to the hotel; to avoid macet in this holy month of Ramadhan, travel before 4pm, and after 7pm.
I bought some groceries in a supermarket and guess what I found?! One of my favourite fruits – mango. This one’s a local mango.
Verdict: 9.5/10. I bought two to share with friends, but I ate them all up – too hard to resist these yummy and juicy little devils! Especially when it had been a hot day, and these little devils have been in the freezer for like 30 mins to chill.
Dinner @ Te Sate, Plaza Senayan.
There are many shopping complexes in Jakarta. But, in Plaza Senayan, there’s an awesome restaurant where one would probably want to go to for a nice dinner.
To drink: Es Wadeng Asem.
Verdict: 9/10. Little did I know that this would be the best tamarind drink that I’ll ever have in my 4-days journey in Indonesia.
Verdict: 8/10. Who could miss out on a gado-gado when in Indonesia? This one came with a fusion twist; it had salad leaves. The crisp salad leaves really add to the freshness of this dish that would otherwise be composed of assorted blanched vegetables.
Another local fare would be Ayam Kalasan. It looked and smelled good.
Verdict: 7/10 was what I would have given the Ayam Kalasan, but serve it with the awesome condiment, i.e.: the chilli paste in kecap manis drizzled with calamansi, it becomes 8.5/10. Ah, so good! Mix it all in with rice to give the rice some oomph!
Verdict: 8/10. The Lamb Shank was nice to have with rice; awesome gravy with lamb so tender you wouldn’t have to chew it; falls right off the bone, and so smooth on the palate.
How can we be in a “Sate” place and not have sate?
Verdict: 8.5/10. Coming from a sate town, I can tell you that this Sate Ayam was good! The peanut sauce was really good, too! (Note: it wasn’t fishballs up there in the pic).
Verdict: 7/10. Not sure what I didn’t like about this dish. Perhaps I was getting too full from all the other stuff, but it was really spicy, tho’ the fish was cooked just nice.
Verdict: Will be back for sure!! Love this quaint restaurant. Total bill came up to be ~IDR600,000. The food and the ambiance here’s good for foreigners and the locals🙂
We soon found out that just below this Plaza is another cool place. Carpark café mall!!
It’s a section in the huge carpark area constructed into a great idea: a café strip. It’s like a tunnel of bars and cafés. Beautiful, but we didn’t have much time to linger around for too long. Plus, people were starting to stare at us. Ha ha..
Really awesome idea, and this place actually looked like a cool hangout place that I’d like to be in everyday, perhaps even in the morning for breakfast!
Jakarta, I will be back! Awesome place for total pampering and satisfying food experiences! Definitely have to try more foods and venture out into the street foods one day.