An April 2005 trip
to Jakarta by shaunandtrish
Quote: Hmmm, one minute you're in Manchester, planning to spend a slack few days in the office when you get back, and then you get a message from your boss combining details of an interesting assigniment and a lame excuse why he can't go himself.
People-wise, the Indonesians are friendly and hospitable, with a slight paranoia about how their country may be perceived in the West following the Bali bomb. Most will be keen to point out that it was a very isolated incident and not at all typical of their country. There are regions, however, where it’s not advisable to go due to the locals' fondness for knocking seven bells out of each other over long-standing local race/tribal or religious issues. East Timor is one such place for example.
I think certain jabs might be advisable if you're travelling outside Jakarta - Indonesia is definitely a developing nation.
Oh, and follow the normal rules on eating and drinking (no ice, only well-cooked food, peel your fruit etc. etc). Not that it made much difference to me. Three times I've been to the tropics, and three times...
It’s situated at the edge of the Golden Triangle on a busy street. Its neighbours include some major financial and telecom business headquarters and some government buildings. Depending on traffic, it could be a 25- or 90-minute drive from the airport (CGK).
The first thing you'll notice at this hotel, and all others, is the airport-style security. Vehicles are searched on entry to the car park, including underneath the vehicle, and you'll also be asked to pass your bag through a scanner on entry to the hotel lobby. If you look Western, this will be a fairly cursory affair. In reality, I suspect that these highly visible measures are more for confidence-building than proportionate to the actual degree of risk at present.
Like many hotels, the lobby is quite a grand affair: pillars, marble, etc. Access to your room is by lift. You'll need to swipe your room access card to use them. Rooms are well equipped, spacious, and clean. Facilities include a mini-bar, tea/coffeemaking facilities, a TV with some international channels, and complimentary toiletries and bottled water.
Breakfast is self-serve, except for the excellent coffee. Choices include fruit salads, pancakes, eggs, cheeses, and Japanese options – it’s quite extensive and served on the first floor, just up from reception. Room rates at about $70 are quite high for Jakarta, but worth paying for the additional peace of mind you get, mainly on the hygiene front.
Other hotel facilities include a Japanese restaurant on the ground floor and a leisure club. I had time to sample neither, unfortunately, so I can't comment on them.
Here's the website.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 23, 2005
Crowne Plaza Jakarta
JL GATOT SUBROTO KAV 2 3
The hotel offers a very tasty and varied help-yourself hot buffet at lunchtime. This consists of a wide variety of Indonesian meat, fish, and vegetable dishes; rice; noodles; soups; fruit; salads; and desserts, all nicely presented and very tasty. The lobby area also contains an interesting assortment of little boutiques selling bits and bobs and, occasionally, a fortune teller.
All in all, I could recommend this place for a meal with one slight reservation. Despite following all the rules whilst in Jakarta, I still ended up with my customary bout of tummy trouble. The timing of this "episode" pointed to something at lunchtime, so I have to be a little wary in my recommendation. None of our 20 associates, however, were affected, so maybe it was just me. Hotel security was highly visible and tight. This particular establishment is next door to a slightly rundown Planet Hollywood, about 200m along the same road as the Crowne Plaza.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 23, 2005
Kartika Chandra Hotel, Jakarta
Jl. Gatot Subroto
Restaurant | "Sarikuring Restaurant"
In actual fact, there's not one single Indonesian cuisine. It’s a complex society consisting of a variety of regional and ethnic groups, and the cuisine reflects that mix. The menu of the Sarikuring represented a few regional specialties apparently.
The dining process was quite interesting. First came the drinks. Although palatable local beer is widely available, most Indonesians don't drink, so my associates chose different fruit- and coconut-based drinks, polished them off quickly, and then ordered another. If they were thirsty, they would also have a tall glass of lukewarm black tea. Food was ordered as a group. People shouted out to the server (whose job it was to keep pace) what they wanted on the table. I took no part in this and decided just to eat what came.
After a short while, dishes started arriving: satays on skewers, whole spiced fried fish, fried rice, noodles, chilli prawns, chilli sambal to spice things up even more… after awhile, the table was more or less full of stuff. Then the dining began. Indonesians tend not to stand on ceremony, and the various dishes were quickly demolished by all present, mainly using only their right hands, sometimes with a spoon in the left. If you wanted a piece of fish, you just reached over and wrestled a bit from it. Some people would have soup, which seemed as though it could be taken at more or less any time of the meal.
Overal,l the quality of the food was very high. You'll generally not be faced with anything that you don't recognise (eyeballs, slugs, or whatever), but you won't get pork. Hygiene appeared good, and there were no tummy upsets within 24 hours of this particular meal. The premises were large with high ceilings, informal and cafeteria-like. Just the thing for after work.
So, if you want a taste of the real Indonesia at a low price and no tummy troubles, come here.
The restaurant has an unreliable website if you want to look at some of the menu options in pictures.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 24, 2005
Sari Kuring Restaurant
Lt. G Jl. Kelapa Gading Boulevard Blok M
Jakarta, Indonesia 10120
(021) 384 3737
Attraction | "Golden Triangle by Day"
Entering Jakarta from the airport, your first impression may be that you are very definitely in a third-world country. The outer perimeter of this huge, sprawling city consists of a thick layer of self-constructed ramshackle dwellings, presumably with few or no amenities. After a couple of miles, a bit of development creeps in. As you draw closer and closer to the heart of the city (the Golden Triangle,) the 21st-century development becomes more and more dense, to the extent that, by the time you hit the 2 square miles or so in the centre, you could be in somewhere like Seoul, the only reminders being the presense of people who live and sleep on the street, which tells you that you are definitely in something of a developed oasis.
The Golden Triangle contains some very impressive and beautiful constructions. There has obviously been an effort to promote the city through, among other things, a series of showy fountains and monuments. Some things like the Mosque, Buddhist Temple, and Christian Cathedral have religious links, while others like the Monas (a national monument) and the Welcome Fountain exist more to promote national pride and international interest. You'll also find that the vast majority of Jakarta's up-market hotels are here, and some are very, very up-market.
I've found a couple of websites that give a bit of history and detail of the centre. I won't even try and pretend that I took in the historical details of the sights I photographed (some through the open sunroof of the car). I’m sorry about the superficial nature of it all, but in 45 minutes, what can you do?
Official City Info Website
Indonesia Info website
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 23, 2005
Attraction | "Jakarta by Night"
What does that mean? Creative and beautiful illumination mostly. You'll find those lovely fountains, statues, and monuments are transformed by night into something quite different, worth visiting again as a separate sight in their own right.
The Monas, for example, changes colour every 3 or 4 seconds from purple to yellow to lime green. The Welcome Fountain becomes a far more striking centerpiece, as do all manner of commercial premises and tower blocks.
Taking a photo tour of these sights is not the easiest thing in the world. The traffic in Jakarta subsides only slightly after nightfall, and pulling over is not that easy. Maybe you could do as I did and poke your upper torso out of the sunroof and snap as you go. A bit like an urban safari.
Here are a few of the better photos I managed to grab in this fashion.
Attraction | "Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta"
Alongside the shops, you get fast-food restaurants, including Indonesian options, bars, and clubs and even an open-plan gymnasium. It gets busy, and parking outside can be a bit of a trial, but once you're inside, you could be in Tokyo. It's the place to go for your more expensive gifts. Shops tend to be better stocked, so you'll get a better range of the latest fragrances and cosmetics here, for example. What you tend not to get here is local. It definitely leans heavily toward a Western or Japanese shopping model, but I suspect that as the country becomes more prosperous and developed, you'll get more of these.
The bars are flashy, and there are girls with flyers out front trying to lure you in. Perhaps the only thing that reminds you that you are in Indonesia are the low levels of alcohol consumption. Is that a bad thing?
Here's the website.
Jalan M.H. Thamrin Kav. 28-30
Jakarta, Indonesia 10310
+62 21 390 3728
Durham, United Kingdom