Xia's Journey

Going Gaga in Jakarta – Day 1 : Jakarta City

on November 18, 2013

Jakarta has been a “so near but yet so far” destination on my list.

I have not had a chance to visit it until recently, when my friend, Darren had a media invite from Russell Cheong of Winsemius Consulting, organizer of the trip representing Jakarta Tourism Office.

With my friend’s suggestion, they had very kindly extended the invite to me too, which I am immensely grateful for.

At 1.5 hours away from Singapore, Jakarta has often been perceived as a destination for business travels. Little did I know that, there was much more to it than that!

Stepping onto its soils for the first time, I was paralysed by the colossal of culture, heritage, nature, gourmand, business and retail therapy all rolled into one at this location.


Goody Bag from Jakarta Tourism Office during event launch prior to Jakarta visit. How nice…!!

Jakarta is basically split into 5 segments; Central, North, South, East and West Jakarta with each segment having a distinct flavour of its own.

For this trip, we focused mainly on Central, North and West Jakarta.

Jakarta Map

5 segments of Jakarta

Day 1 : 1 November 2013, Friday

Flying into Jakarta on its national carrier, Garuda 823, on an early Friday morning flight, we were uberly eager, excited and looking forward to the adventures awaiting us.


Jakarta, here I come…!!

With a 1.5 hours flight time and a one hour time difference, we arrived Soekarano Hatta International Airport at 9am and were greeted by Hertin and a cheerful, bubbly Irawati or affectionately known as “TinTin’.

During the journey to the city, these two ladies vivaciously shared with us the city’s culture and heritage.

Ragusa Es Italia Restaurant and Ice Cream

We arrived the city and came to Ragusa Es Italia Restaurant and Ice Cream, an old-school coffeshop obscured amongst lavish modern cafes and bistros along Jalan Veteran.

Established since 1932, this modest coffeeshop smelt everything of nostalgia from its layout to furnishings and displays.


Ragusa ES Italia

Here, we met up reknowned Malaysian blogger; Sock Peng and her hubby Kuen Hoong who shares their love for food and travels via mylovelybluesky. (What a beautiful name for a blog site! LIKE! )

After some intros, we got ourselves comfy and ordered some ice-creams to share.


Meets Malaysian reknowned blogger, Seok Peng and her hubby Kuen Hoong who shares their love for food and travels on mylovelybluesky.com

We had a Spaghetti ice cream, Tutti Frutti, Cassata, Banana Split and a Special Mix, of which, Spaghetti Ice Cream intrigued me the most.

Initially, I had thought that the ice cream would be served on Spaghetti hence, the name Spaghetti ice cream.

When it was served, Spaghetti ice cream was as per what it was ~ ice cream that looked like spaghetti !

Topped with gummy bits, crushed peanuts and chocolate syrup, did I say heavenly was an understatement ?


Shared some ice-creams amongst us.

Planted outside the restaurant were roadside stalls selling Gado Gado and Rojak Juhi.

We had a go at the Gado Gado and it was yummy with a sweet thick peanut sauce and noodle-like cracker.

The rice was round-shaped and in bite sizes. Hmmm… Sedap!


Gado Gado with sweet peanut sauce and noodle-like cracker

Ragusa Collage

Name of Eatery : Ragusa Es Italia Restaurant & Ice Cream
Location : Jalan Veteran I, No. 10 Jakarta Pusat (Central Jakarta)DKJI Jakarta 10110
Contact Number : +6221-384-9123

Dapur Babah Elite

Washing down the appetizers, we did a short stroll around the city before we embarked on our next gastronomy experience at Dapur Babah Elite.


Dapur Babah along a line of cafes and bistros.

Owned by Tugu Hotels & Restaurants Group, this restaurant will blow your mind off with its antiques, beautiful art pieces, tea sets, jars of cookies, rustic housewares, teak furniture, strong and bold colours of red and green, black and red, purple and blue.

Around the restaurant, you will find gods, particularly, Buddha statues and Goddess of Mercy, peering over you as you dine.

The dark, cozy and intimate atmosphere was nothing but charming, relaxed and comfortable.


Cozy and Dark settings to really put one into a relaxed and comfortable mode

We were totally awed by how exquisite this place is and our cameras went clicking non-stop, turning over every single stone in this restaurant.


Such a photogenic restaurant – can’t really blame us for being cam-whorers

Seated in Angela’s room, we had a medley of Peranakan cuisines from Nasi Tjampoer Babah (rice served with marianated beef, chicken, fried shrimp) to ox tongue stew to mocktails.

There was so much to eat, drink and be merry that we had totally forgotten that time existed.


Had such a medley of Peranakan cuisines to indulge in

Name of Eatery : Dapur Babah Elite
Location : JL Veteran I, No. 18-19,Jakarta Pusat (Central Jakarta) DKJI Jakarta 10110
Operating Hours : 11am to 10pm (Daily)
Contact Number : +62 21 7060 2256
Website : http://www.tuguhotels.com/restaurants/jakarta/dapurbabah

City Tour

National Monument of Indonesia / MONAS

By the time we were done with lunch, it was past noon and we were getting all sleepy from the delicacies swimming in our tummies.

What better way to wake us up than a stroll through the city ?

We alighted at Merdeka Square and came to the National Monument of Indonesia also known as MONAS.

Built in 1961, the National Monument (Monumen Nasional) is 132m / 433ft tall, symbolizing the fight for Indonesia and to commemorate the struggle for Indonesian independence.

At the top of the MONAS sits a 14.5 ton bronze Flame of Independence.

Initially, the bronze flame structure was covered with 35kg of gold foil.

During the 50th anniversary of Indonesian Independence in 1995, the gold foil was recoated and increased to 50kg.


National Monument of Indonesia also known as MONAS.

Name of Attraction : The National Monument of Indonesia (MONAS)
Location : Medan Merdeka, Jakarta Pusat Indonesia.
Operating Hours : 8am to 3pm daily (except for the last Monday of each month).
Contact Number : +62 21 3822255
Admission Charges : Rp 5,000 Musuem Rp 7,500 Observation Deck (costs separately)

Kota Tua / Old Jakarta / Old Batavia (Oud Batavia, in Dutch)

Within minutes of drive, we got to Kota Tua, also known as Old Jakarta or Old Batavia (Oud Batavia, in Dutch).

Stemming its roots from the Dutch colonial era in the 16th century, it was then an urban center and the center of commerce in Asia due to its strategic location and abundant resources.


Kota Tua, also known as Old Jakarta or Old Batavia (Oud Batavia, in Dutch).

Over the years, the city began expanding down south and away.

In 1972, the Governor of Jakarta declared Kota area as a heritage site in an attempt to preserve whatever that is left of the city’s architectural roots.


A reflection of one of the heritage buildings in Kota Tua

Today, the Old Jakarta is still home to several important historical sites and buildings, in which we visited three during our cycling tour.


Frozen by a Freeze Artist

Adrenalin-Pumping, Heart Stopping Cycling City Tour

From across the Fatahillah Square, our eyes caught sight of a row of colourful Ontel bicycles with matching colourful hats.

The guides were encouraging tourists to take on a bicycle tour to go around the heritage sites of Old Jakarta.


Colourful ontel bicycles with matching colourful hats

I thought to myself, “How in the world does one cycle around Old Jakarta with such ferocious traffic ? There were no road shoulders, no well-defined lanes, traffic was coming in all directions, beside and against you.” (Little did I knew that, I shall soon find out!)

When Darren suggested going for the 1 hour cycling tour, I thought I heard my breath stopped.

I was both apprehensive but yet desirous to do so, especially since we had just surmounted an 82km cycling feat the weekend before our Jakarta trip.

Picking up my guts that had spew onto the ground, off we went on the 1 hour cycling tour on the Ontel bicycles (Grandfather bicycles; big, high with no gears).


I thought I felt my heart stopped when Darren said to go on the 1 hour cycling tour

We filtered from ‘Lane 1’ to ‘Lane 4’ with our guide waving his hand at the vehicles behind, requesting them to give way to us.

We snaked and meandered through lanes of moving vehicles.

Vehicles; cars, motorbikes, trucks, bus, vans – seemed to be coming in all directions.

I could no longer feel my heartbeat whilst cycling as I think it had stopped the moment my feet tread onto the first pedal.


Braving the ferocious traffic against monstrous trucks

Toko Merah

Our first stop was Toko Merah – a red brick building (that seems like the perfect backdrop for some really awesome photography!).

Built in 1730, it is one of the oldest building in Jakarta.

It was first built as a residence for the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, then served as a Navy Academy, residences to few other Governors and then a hotel.


Toko Merah – Red House

In 1851, the building was bought over by Oey Liauw Kong, Kapitein der Chinezen of Batavia as a residence and shop.

He painted it red and hence named Toko Merah (Toko means Shop and Merah means Red in Malay).

Today, it has been restored as a conference hall and a commercial gallery.


Interior of Red House – Beautiful chandeliers, walls and pillars

Kota Intan Drawbridge

We navigated our way across bustling roads precariously, crossed some back lanes and arrived at Kota Intan Drawbridge.

At first glance, this bridge didn’t seem to draw any eyeballs as it looked very much as like any other bridge.


Kota Intan Drawbridge

First constructed in 1628 by the VOC (Dutch East India Company / Dutch: Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), this bridge underwent several name changes and reconstruction.

In April 1938, the bridge was reconstructed as a draw bridge so that ships and boats can pass through and to prevent flooding which was prevalent at that time.

The bridge is no longer in use but serves as a heritage site as the only draw bridge that the Dutch Government had ever built.


The only Drawbridge that the Dutch Government had ever built and the last of it

Menara Syahbandar, Syahbandar Tower (Port Tower) 

We came to a road junction, got off our bikes and pushed them across this road with huge monster trucks coming at us in both directions.

Looking up, we saw what looked like a clock tower.

Fronting the tower were a couple of canons.

This Syahbandar Tower was a former bastion (tower of defense) built in 1645.

It takes 77 steps to get to the observatory level and back then this was the tallest building in Old Jakarta, whose main function was to monitor the incoming and outgoing ships at the sea port.

The observatory gallery not only offered us a bird’s eye view of the old city, the red atmospheric walls and floors did made for some very interesting shots.


Syahbandar Tower – tallest building back then monitors the incoming and outgoing ships at the seaport

By now, we had spent close to an hour battling the roads and Thor seems to be coming after us in fury.

We turned on Fear Factor gear 10 and hurried back to Fatahillah Square where we started.

At the end of the cycling tour, we retrieved back our hearts and were just so glad that we had challenged the roads and survived them.

Within minutes of getting on-board our vehicle, it stormed.


Back to Fatahillah Square – We survived cycling the ferocious streets of Jakarta !

Please see below video of our one-hour cycling tour.

Grand Mecure Jakarta Harmoni

It stormed so heavily that we decided to go check in our accommodation prior to having our dinner.

Situated right in the city central and opposite a shopping mall, this international 5-star hotel has all that we needed; comfort, convenient location, modern design and facilities, fitness centre, spa, swimming pool etc.


Grand Mecure Jakarta Harmoni – right in the city central

As we stepped into our cot for the night, we were greeted by a huge pastel blue headboard for our twin beds, carpeted flooring and a glass shower which could be drawn with curtains (*Peek-A-Boo*, as I stuck my head out from the curtains to frighten my room mate! Haahaa… 🙂 )

Peek-A-Boo Glass Shower facing the bed room

Street-Stall Dining at Jalan Pecenongan

What better way to immerse ourselves in the culture than to be out on the streets, doing what the locals were doing and eating what the locals were eating ?

We got to Jalan Pecenongan and settled for a Chinese eatery.

We ordered a number of dishes; sweet and sour fish, deep fried frogs legs, fried rice, fried noodles and stir fried vegetables.


Chinese Street Stall for dinner

I had refrained from eating frog’s legs for a number of years after witnessing how cruelly the sellers snipped off the frogs heads and limbs whilst they were still alive, at a local market in Ipoh some years back.

This deep fried frogs legs broke my hiatus and had me eating frog’s legs once again!

I have not seen or sampled deep fried frog’s legs and decided to put my tastebuds to the test.


Look at the fire go !

As we were having our fine-dining, all sorts of vendors came by.

We saw vendors selling titbits, electronic products, souvenirs and just about anything.

Some even dabbled in singing and we also saw a Lion Dance troupe perform to solicit funds.

It was such an eye-opening experience for us!


Deep Fried Frogs Legs that broke my hiatus

Street Dinner

Dinner to wrap up Day 1

Check out my other adventures in Jakarta… 🙂

Day 2 : Putri Island & Sepa Island

Day 3 : Retail Explosion

With sincere thanks to Jakarta Tourism Office for hosting us.


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