There were a few days in between our Borneo trip and our Bali trip, and then between the Bali trip and the Jogja trip, where we stayed at Sam’s apartment. As it was the work week, Sam, Vriz, and Grace would leave us in the morning, and we were on our own. The first day after the Borneo trip, we just kind of relaxed and watched downloaded Netflix episodes. But we didn’t want to miss out on some of the things Jakarta has to offer, so we made a plan (with Sam’s help, of course) to go out and explore the next day… by ourselves.
The plan was to wake up, eat, and head to Kota Tua or Old City, and then meet Sam in the Starbucks in her work building and go to dinner. The idea of going out alone was pretty intimidating, but I knew we could do it. Sam gave us some pretty fool proof instructions, and armed with my very limited Indonesian language knowledge (hello, thank you, here, I would like [insert food here], I need to pee, can you speak English, wait a minute) we were ready to go!
We gave ourselves a pep talk and headed out of the apartment. Alone! Ah! The first challenge, it turns out, was getting out of the complex… we got off the elevator and then tried to exit the doors that said ‘pull’ but wouldn’t open. We struggled for a minute and then some nice guy came buy and pushed a button next to the doors that allows them to open. COOL thanks dude! We hoped this wasn’t a sign of how the rest of the outing would go. Next step was getting a taxi! Which was pretty easy – there is a taxi pickup/drop off loop right outside of the lobby, and there was an employee who snagged a taxi for us. We hopped in, told the driver where we needed to go, and were off! It was a pretty long drive and Jakarta is sooo massive and densely populated = heavy traffic. We drove by Sam’s work, the national monument, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, all three things we would end up visiting. The ride was fine except for the taxi driver who legitimately kept falling asleep… 🙄 I didn’t think we would make it, but we did! We arrived at Kota Tua, paid the driver and went to explore. Kota Tua, ‘Old City’, is comprised of the remaining buildings from the Dutch Colonial Era. The buildings in the square now are various museums, art, History of Jakarta, etc.
It was so hot! The square was really cool – lined with colonial style buildings, and paved with cobblestone. There were a bunch of brightly colored bikes with hats available to rent and a lot of vendors selling toys, drinks, and snacks. There were various street performers, including living statues. The living statues were great and hilarious – in the US, the living statues that I’ve seen rarely move.. but these statues were on their phones and relaxing until someone paid to take a photo. Then, they took the photo and went back to their business. It was awesome. There were also a lot of students there; many asked to take selfies with us, and some interviewed us to practice their English. They were all so sweet! Although it’s still pretty intense to be asked for selfies with strangers frequently here.
We decided to hit the art museum first. We paid 10,000idr ($0.75) each and went in. There weren’t a lot of people there at all… and all of the lights were off. We walked through and tried to look around but couldn’t see much because the lights… were off. We walked by some maintenance/employee guys who didn’t seem to be worried about the lights.. so we just kept walked. We saw a lot of cool pottery and some pretty weird but awesome paintings. We went back into the square and decided to go to the History of Jakarta Museum next. We paid another 10,000idr each, and went in. Grace/Sam thought we might be able to get an English speaking tour guide there, because without a guide we wouldn’t be able to know what a lot of the stuff was, but we couldn’t find where one would get a guide and entered the museum but didn’t see anyone with a guide. So we wandered around by ourselves and read what we could. The museum was mostly furniture, but it was cool!
We decided to head over to the Bank Museum, which was basically a telling of Indonesian history but from the perspective of the banking system. We had to cross the street, which sounds easy but is actually super dangerous and terrifying! There is sooo much traffic and you just kind of decide when to cross, stick your hand out and pray that no one squashes you. We found some local people that were waiting to cross and tagged along with them and made it safely! We approached the museum and saw that there were chains on the set of doors we were in front of… and while we were thinking, a group of teens got up and starting coming toward us shouting in Indonesian so we ran away 😂. we couldn’t find another entrance to the museum as we were sooooo hot and sweaty, so we decided to grab a taxi and head to Starbucks to wait for Sam. The taxi driver drove us to Sam’s building where we had to go through security twice to get to the Starbucks. Fancy fancy Embassy Sam.
We had some drinks ( fun fact: Starbucks is just as expensive here as in the US) and waited for Sam to be done with work. We were there for a little more than an hour when she came down to get us – YAY! We told her all about our Jakarta adventures while we walked to a Sulawesi restaurant where we would have dinner. The restaurant was really good! We had a lot of new and different foods, including this soup that was called tinituan, which was a porridge with cassava, sweet potato, rice, and vegetables. It was delicious!! We got a ton of food After the meal, we tried to get an Uber home but it was taking forever, so we decided to get a taxi. Sometime between getting a taxi and walking down the street, we decided to take a bajay which is kind of like a petty cab but it is powered by a Motorbike. Now, these things are small and probably best for two people… but we stuffed ourselves into the back and were off. It was fun/scary but also hot and there was so much traffic, we were stuck in the bijay for 45-60 minutes. I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did!
And that was our first outting alone in Jakarta!! We felt much more confident when we went out alone two more times after our trip to Bali. One day we took a taxi to the mall (we were also supposed to go to a cool cafe Sam reccomenddd so that we could blog/dissertate but we woke up too late both days so we skipped it). The malls here are so biggggg – 5+ floors and any kind of store you can think of. We had been in this mall earlier in the trip, where we had the sushi, but didn’t walk around very much. Liane and I decided to go alllll the way up. There was so much food and many stores! We found a bubble tea cafe and treated ourselves to some a delicious tea – then met up with Sam when she got off work. We were going to a store where Sam got a really cute kimono style cardigan that I wanted to buy… but when we got there, I tried it on and hated how it looked. FAIL. Why didn’t I try Sam’s on before going to the store to buy one? No one knows. We left the mall and headed to get ‘Bebek Goreng’ which is fried duck. This meal was one of my favorites that I had on my last trip, so I was excited to have Liane try it. I ordered duck that is smashed and then flash fried – you get the meat and all of the bones and anything you can bite with your teeth, you can eat! So bones, organs… whatever is in there. It’s so good I want to cry. So crispy and salty!! Ah! Liane got fried duck breast and it was sooo juicy and amazing. Ughhh I could live off of bebek goreng. Oh, and for Liane and I to both get duck with rice was only around $4.00 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼.Sam had the same thing that I did, and ordered some to take home to Vriz. So. Good. I think we will try to get it again on our last day here. After duck, we walked back to Sam’s apartment. BUT on the way, we stopped at a Bakso stand to get some meatballs for the next day. Which, of course, turned out to be amazing.
The last outing that we went on by ourselves was to a fancy mall to a store called Tulisan, where I got a beautiful hand made wallet! It was a pretty uneventful trip- just there and back!