Jakarta Suggested Itinerary Day 1: North Jakarta
If you’re hungry upon arrival, eat at Bakmi GM, a chain noodle shop, at the airport terminal 3. If not, take the Blue Bird taxi to your hotel and rest a bit. If you come with family and kids, you may want to visit Taman Impian Jaya Ancol (Ancol Dreamland), which includes several cafes and theme parks including Sea World (9am-6pm).
Bakmi Spesial Pangsit Goreng from Bakmi GM (noodles with mushrooms, chicken and fried wanton)
But since Singapore has Resorts World Sentosa and Wild Wild Wet, I guess you can give Sea World a miss. Instead, take a taxi to Kota for lunch. The bakmi ayam at Bakmi Orpa (Jl. Malaka II, no. 25; t: +62-21-691-2450 or +62-21-707-6738; 6am-3.30pm) was especially delicious. Because it’s owned by Chinese, each strand of noodles was evenly coated with lard oil. About 35 000 rp per pax.
You can rent these lovers’ bikes at Taman Fatahillah. One cycles around the square and the one sits behind. The sun hats are included in the rental.
From Bakmi Orpa, take a 5 minutes’ walk to Taman Fatahillah (Fatahillah Square), where executions and torture were held, a part of 1620s walled town modeled on Amsterdam. Surrounding the square are a few museums. Take a look at Museum Serajah Jakarta (Jakarta History Museum; closed till 2014). The building was built in 1710 and at the back, you can see dungeons where prisoners stood waist-deep in shit for weeks.
Innovative and environmentally friendly ferris wheel.
Beside Jakarta History Museum, there is a cannon called Si Jagur “The Robust One,” seen as a fertility symbol because at the end of the cannon, there is a fist with a thumb between the index and middle finger, an obscene gesture to Indonesians.
Beside Jakarta History Museum, there are Museum Seni Rupa (9am-3pm), a fine arts museum displaying paintings, sculptures and ceramics, and Museum Wayang (9am-3pm), a collection of shadow puppets (wayang kulit).
Tip: Visit Fatahillah Square on weekends to have a festive display of busking and concerts.
If you’re tired, you can take a break at Cafe Batavia, the second oldest building at Fatahillah Square. The cafe is decorated in a colonial style and while the food was not bad, it was quite costly.
After Fatahillah Square, take a bajaj to Mall Mangga Dua, the biggest wholesale complex in Jakarta (the ride should cost about 10,000-15,000rp, bargain before the trip). It was insane. The mall was so huge, electronics in one wing, and clothes in another. And each stall is tiny, like those shops at People Complex in Singapore, so there are easily hundreds of shops. (You can get A&W rootbeer float here! More a symbol of a Singaporean’s nostalgia than taste.)
If you want to skip Mall Mangga Dua, which I should have, you can go straight from Fatahillah Square to Glodok, Jakarta’s Chinatown, via the bus line #1. Walk along Jalan Pancoran to see skinned frogs and live bugs.
Colorful Snack Shop at Glodok
For dinner, if you don’t want bakmi goreng (fried noodles) at Bakmi Gang Mangga (Jalan Kemurnian IV, No. 38B, after 5pm) at Glodok, take a cab to near to Monumen Nasional (National Monument), affectionately known as “Monas.” Go to Dapur Babah Elite (Jl. Veteran 1, no. 18-19, Jakarta; +62-21-385-5653) for Peranakan food.
The decor is amazing, an eclectic mix of Chinese and Indonesian styles. The ceiling is high so that it accommodates very, very tall Indonesian idols. The trouble I find with Jakarta is that it is so crowded that at the end of the day, I just wanted to go to an atas, quiet restaurant for dinner. But the food was so-so. We over-ordered but the waiter didn’t warn us. We had to ta-bao (takeaway) the leftovers, half a duck and an entire gado-gado. But the price was reasonable at 450, 000rp (S$70) for two. The bebek goreng (fried duck) is recommended.
But don’t eat too much at Dapur Babah because just two doors away is Ragusa Es Italia (Jl. Veteran 1 No. 10; 4-11pm), an ice cream establishment since 1930, a landmark of Jakarta. Outside the ice cream shop, you can buy the famous chicken sate (or satay), very tender but the dip could be more peanuty and spicy.
After dinner, either go back to your hotel to rest or to fresh up for clubbing. The two hippest clubs are Dragonfly (Graha BIP Building, Jalan Jend Gatot Subroto Kav. 23; location; +62-21-520-6789) and X2 (Plaza Senayan, 4th & 5th Floor, Senayan Square Complex, Jl. Asia Afrika no. 8; location; twitter). These two clubs have 90% straight with 10% gays (well, it should be a given that cool clubs have gay men). The difference is Dragonfly has no entrance fee and more angmohs (or Indonesians call them “bule“, pronounced as boo-lay) while X2 has more locals but has entrance fee.
We picked to go Dragonfly, which is beautifully decorated, and has great music. The average age there was about 30 and up? Order the Tiramisu cocktail, about 150, 000rp.
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Written by A. Nathanael Ho.