Attempting to be a tourist where I grew up – Jakarta

I was going to save my Jakarta post and combine it with Yogya – but I took far too many photos that I want to share. So here comes Jakarta. I grew up in Jakarta from when I was 5 years old. I went to international schools, had a driver, maid, cook and gardener, and went to the American Club for macaroni and cheese. It was definitely a different kind of upbringing.

Jakarta has changed so much though – Kemang (where we lived) has grown so much and new malls are being built everywhere. I was last here in December 2011, and so much has changed since then! A huge Indonesian middle class has grown, so most restaurants are actually full of Indonesians rather than expats, which is very different to what I am used to. This is evidenced by going out to a club in Kemang, which was packed full with a line outside to enter, and being the only bule there (a foreigner/white person). This actually proved quite handy when I lost El, and although I knew a lot of Indonesian when I lived here, I have forgotten quite a lot by now. So I ended up asking some girls in the bathroom whether the occupied toilet had a bule in it – they said no, she had already left. I then enlisted two guys trying to chat us up to find her – “saya hilang lagi bule”. Literally this means “I lost the other foreigner”. They found her within a few minutes!

Anyways, background done, our first day in Jakarta started with a walk down the back streets of Kemang (where my Dad lives) down to the local shopping mall Hero. And, because it was a warm day and we had walked 5 minutes, we decided to cool off with a margarita at the one and only Amigos. (Actually I lie, there is another Amigos in Jakarta now, but the Kemang Amigos is the original and the best). Amigos used to be the best Mexican restaurant ever. Then I worked at Flying Burrito Brothers in Christchurch for three consecutive summers. I am now biased towards both and they are equally as good. FBB has better fajitas. Amigos has better margaritas. Sorry Jimmy. They are just much more alcoholic there, and you can get them in massive jumbo glasses. Which we later returned to Amigos for that evening…

Also due to Cinco de Mayo, they gave out a free tequila shot with every margarita…this led to quite a lot of alcohol being consumed.

The next day we decided to have a north Jakarta day out. We went to the bird market, to  Fatahillah Square, Cafe Batavia and Sunda Kelapa.

The bird market is where I bought my frog, Mango Tango, back in 6th grade for our science class. We had to get an animal of some sort, look after it and take notes on it. It was a pretty awesome lime green and orange (the color of a mango!) frog, that we let free after it was no longer required to be in captivity. The market hasn’t changed much – they still sell lots of rabbits, birds, cats, and other weird and wonderful (and some endangered and therefore illegal to sell!) animals. I just love some of the cages for sale, even without the animals inside.

We then went to the Istiqlal Mosque – the largest Mosque in South East Asia and the 3rd largest Mosque in the world. It was actually very interesting, we had a guide and were able to walk all around. We learned all the meanings behind the design of the mosque – 7 gates to enter the Mosque represent the 7 heavens, the 12 columns supporting the dome represent the birthday of Muhammad and the 5 floors represent the Five Pillars of Islam.

We were allowed to step on the prayer carpet, after being told that Obama is the only Westerner allowed, apparently we were special enough to stand just on the edge of it – for a photo opportunity of course! The inside of the Mosque itself wasn’t overly beautiful, however it the hallways and the building itself was rather beautiful.

Our visit to the Mosque was followed by trying to navigate the streets up to Fatahillah Square – with Dad driving and me reading the map, I still can’t believe we found it! Cafe Batavia. It is housed in a 19th century Dutch colonial building opposite the old Dutch City Hall. It is a reminder of Jakarta’s luxurious albeit oppressive colonial past. It has a salon upstairs, a bar downstairs, and a lot of photographs all around. The photographs in the bathroom are particularly…interesting…yet not quite appropriate for a PG rated blog.

Then after exploring Fatahillah Square, we drove to Sunda Kelapa – the marina. We took the mandatory boat tour, after saying no to a guide who wanted to show us around, tell us the history and take us on a boat. I am fine with guides, but he talked far too much and was going to be annoying, especially when I prefer to just walk around and take it all in. I enjoy learning, but I also enjoy peace and quiet. Something I inherited from my father. Many boats were loaded with concrete or oil drums, and were very sunken. Others were trying to get out to sea, yet very slowly. Our boat however was a small sturdy motorized boat – much better than the one we had last time. Although the motor did stop several times due to getting caught up in trash. You definitely didn’t want to fall in…

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