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This post is quite late. But like they say, better late than never.

It has been almost a month since I went to Jakarta but I can still vividly remember how wonderful the Indonesian capital was. The people were friendly the capital itself was vibrant.

I arrived in Jakarta on the 20th of March, details of which are written in a previous journal entry of mine entitled Journey to Jakarta. I originally planned to go to some of the tourist spots in Jakarta on my first day but it rained really hard so I opted to stay in the hotel and rest. At around 6 PM, the rain stopped and I decided to go out and have dinner in Plaza Indonesia. By the way, there are two malls in front of Mandarin Oriental Jakarta: Grand Indonesia Shopping Town and Plaza Indonesia. Both malls are huge and upscale. I went to Plaza Indonesia since it’s the mall nearer the foot bridge.

Plaza Indonesia, the most luxurious shopping mall in Jakarta

The first thing I noticed when I saw the mall was the unbelievably large and expansive Louis Vuitton store at the entrance of Plaza Indonesia. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t invest in a store this big if there are no customers. Man, there must be a lot of wealthy Indonesians.

LOUIS VUITTON. In your face luxury.

I roamed around the mall a bit before looking for a restaurant to eat in. The layout of Plaza Indonesia was very confusing, I was going around and around finding myself in the same spot again and again. One thing I noticed while going around was that most of the shops there were for luxury brands. I never felt so poor in my entire life.

I saw a Periplus bookstore so I went there to check out some Indonesian phrasebooks. I realized while I was going around the mall that trying to converse in English in Jakarta was near pointless since only a few Indonesians speak English fluently. The fact that Filipinos and Indonesians look similar made matters more complicated since they would keep talking to me in Indonesian even though my facial expressions were already shouting “saya tidak mengerti“. I memorized some basic Indonesian phrases but I forgot them as soon as I landed in Jakarta. There were three Indonesian phrasebooks available but I chose Berlitz since it has the most logically organized content.

Berlitz Indonesian Phrasebook. This saved my butt, big time!

After an hour of window shopping, I finally looked for a restaurant to eat in. Sadly though, it took me more than an hour before finally having dinner since most of the restaurants there are expensive. Terlalu mahal! I just got tired and gave up. I went to Shabu Nobu, a Japanese restaurant somewhere on the first level of Plaza Indonesia.

Shabu Nobu

At first I thought it was an affordable restaurant, boy was I wrong. My meal in Shabu Nobu would be the most expensive meal I’d have in my entire stay in Jakarta. I ordered a Chicken Teriyaki meal which includes a serving of chicken teriyaki, rice, kani salad, miso soup, and peach iced tea.

Yummy, yes. But its terlalu mahal!!!

My meal was 85,470 Indonesian Rupiahs. That’s around 430 in Philippine Pesos. Again, terlalu mahal! You can just imagine how shocked I was when I converted the amount. I hardly spend north of 300 PhP for a meal. Yes, I’m cheap like that.

When I was eating my meal, I noticed that a group of diners two tables from mine were smoking. I really don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke and I was wondering why it was permitted to smoke inside a mall.

I felt like going around after eating so I strolled around the mall a bit more. I really can’t help but feel like I’m drowning in poverty when I was going around the mall. As I mentioned earlier, everything there was expensive. Thank God I saw the Snack Zone!

Cashews! HEAVEN.

As you can see in the photo above, Snack Zone is like Candy Corner for nuts and whatnot. I’m a sucker for nuts, especially cashews. I was going around the place checking out each snack item available. In the end, I bought a 100g bag of lightly salted, roasted cashews for 20,460 IdR, roughly 105 PhP. Not bad for cashews. Oh, when I asked the cashier how much the cashews cost, he said the price in Bahasa. “Dua puluh ribu empat ratus enam puluh“. After he said that, my mind became blank and I think it showed in my almost-emotionless face.

At around 9 PM, I was still going around Plaza Indonesia. I was feeling a bit tired and my taste buds were screaming for dessert. I headed straight to the atrium of the mall since there’s a cafe there called La Moda. La Moda is a cafe run by Grand Hyatt Jakarta so I expected everything to be expensive.

La Moda Cafe by Grand Hyatt at the heart of Plaza Indonesia

I was checking out there pastries when a gleaming display right smack at the middle of their display case caught my attention. Macarons! Mouthwatering macarons! I asked the pastry chef what flavors they had and he gladly showed me each flavor. I chose Durian, Strawberry, and Coffee. Yum!

Macarons from La Moda. I really loved the Durian-flavored macaron.

Their macarons cost 8,000 IdR a piece, which is around 45 PhP. Not bad. The iced tea I ordered was a different story. At almost 45,000 IdR (almost 230 PhP), I couldn’t even imagine why I ever ordered a glass. It was very refreshing though.

After having dessert, I walked back to Mandarin Oriental. Walking around Jakarta at night was a wonderful experience, something that I enjoyed all throughout my stay there. One not-so-wonderful thing about it though is that Indonesians walk on the left-hand side. I ended up bumping into people because I walked on the right.

The next four days of my stay in Jakarta would be pretty repetitive. I would wake up early, check some mails, turn on the television and listen to the news, take a bath, have breakfast, go to my training, go back to the hotel, go to a mall and have dinner, go back to the hotel. Pretty boring routine if you ask me but I actually enjoyed each day. Here are some of my daily photos…

Breakfast at Cinnamon Restaurant, Mandarin Oriental Jakarta

Just from the photos of the food I ate everyday for breakfast you can already conclude that I gained a lot of weight. And yes, I really did gain weight. My friends noticed that when they saw me again after my trip to Jakarta. Crap.

Lunch and snack boxes provided during training

I loved the lunch and snack boxes that they served us. First of all, they were paper boxes not like the ones here in Manila which are usually Styrofoam. I also get a little excited every time I open the box since I don’t know what to expect. Each box was always a surprise. I particularly loved the tempeh, a soy product quite similar to tofu. I wonder if Indonesians usually eat on-the-go since there’s a huge variety of food boxes.

Reka Piranti, Wisma Aldiron

Of course, I shouldn’t forget about my training since that’s the main reason why I went to Jakarta. I was initially confused with the lessons since that was my first stab in IBM FileNet P8 Java API Programming but I got the hang of it after developing some programs. I would always do the “Challenge” exercises and thankfully all my solutions worked. Our instructor was Michael Pomponio who happens to be the lead of the ECM Practice in IBM ASEAN. In short, he’s my boss. I liked the way he handled the class since he focused on the more frequently used features of FileNet P8’s API.

Mandarin Oriental Jakarta

Those are some of the photos I took while in Mandarin Oriental Jakarta. I really loved the hotel. The staff were unbelievably friendly and the facilities and amenities were top notch. Sorry for the last photo, that’s one of the few photos I took of myself while in Jakarta. Oh, there’s a photo of the chocolates the hotel gave me as a promotion of their visiting French chef. The chocolates were absolutely delicious. I particularly loved the peanut butter filled dark chocolate piece. Yum! I also enjoyed reading the Jakarta Post, an English newspaper.

I went to three other malls aside from Plaza Indonesia. My favorite mall would have to be the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town which is just across Mandarin Oriental Jakarta and Plaza Indonesia. It is a seven (or six?) level shopping mall with a good mix of shops.

Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, another luxury mall in front of Mandarin Oriental Jakarta

The mall is connected to the historic Hotel Indonesia, Indonesia’s first five star hotel. I found Grand Indonesia better than Plaza Indonesia since the shops there are more pocket friendly. Even though there’s still an abundance of luxury brands there, there are also shops for the average shopper a.k.a me.

What I really loved about Grand Indonesia was the Food Louver. The Food Louver is a food court located at the bridge connecting Grand Indonesia’s two gigantic buildings.

Entrance to the Food Louver

Yes, thats their food court.

Saboga Komplit? Haha. This is very good and its just 35,000 IdR which is around 175 PhP.

Java Kitchen at the Food Louver

Another "Komplit" meal, this time from Java Kitchen

Shake from the Java Kitchen.

While walking around Grand Indonesia, I saw this:

Toys Kingdom in Grand Indonesia Shopping Town

Toys Kingdom? The font looks the same as SM’s Toy Kingdom. I wonder if it’s a franchise. They also have an Ace Hardware shop.

Dessert lovers would be spoiled silly with the choices in Grand Indonesia. I opted to go to The Cream & Fudge Factory, an ice cream shop that is similar to Cold Rock here.

The Cream & Fudge Factory

I was craving for ice cream that’s why I went here. I ordered one of their ice cream concoctions. I forgot what it’s called but it was really good. It had banana slices, chocolate chips, and caramel syrup.

Bananas, caramel, ice cream. Perfect.

It’s a bit expensive though. At around 58,000 IdR which is around 300 PhP, that has got to be one of the most expensive desserts I’ve paid for in my entire life.

On my last night in Jakarta, I decided to eat somewhere a little more special than the Food Louver. I went to The Taste, a restaurant that offers authentic Indonesian cuisine.

The Taste. Mmmm.

I hardly have any clue about Indonesian cuisine so I asked the waitress which one should I get. As usual, there’s a huge language barrier. Good thing I already memorized some Indonesian words and I was getting used to listening to the language. I can communicate in Bahasa a little, hooray!

I got another “Komplit” meal. I chose their Ayam Goreng meal which is basically fried chicken. I also ordered a strawberry shake.

Ayam Goreng at the Taste

The meal I had in The Taste was delicious. The chicken was a bit dry though most of the fried chicken I ate in Jakarta were like that. I really loved the soy-based cracker. I wasn’t a big fan of the rice but it was okay. I also had Naci Pecel as an appetizer. It’s another cracker type of dish with nuts.

Nasi Pecel

Yum. It would make a good snack while watching television or whatnot.

Venture Magazine featuring Ilocos. Nice!

One other mall I went to in Jakarta is Sarinah Mall. It is quite popular because of the huge selection of batik products it offers. I went there since I had to buy souvenirs for my friends. Though it’s along the same road as Mandarin Oriental, it’s a bit far so I rode a Blue Bird Taxi.

The Blue Bird Group is the most trusted name in public transportation in Jakarta.

The Blue Bird Group operates the biggest taxi company in Jakarta. They also have an upscale taxi company known as the Silver Bird. How I wish that there’s something similar here in Manila. Blue Bird Taxi drivers are awesome! Whenever I give a tip, they’d be asking me if it’s really okay that I give them a tip. Here in Manila, the drivers are the ones asking for extra.

Anyway, back to Sarinah Mall.

If you want a one-stop-shop for Indonesian products, go to Sarinah Mall

Sarinah is actually a huge department store. One thing that I didn’t like about the place was that it’s a tad too hot. I’m not sure but I think their air-conditioning units weren’t working. Still, the place is perfect for shopping. I was able to buy a lot of souvenirs there and the prices weren’t bad.

Souvenirs galore from Sarinah Mall

While I was browsing through their items, I saw a rack filled with long sleeved batik dress shirts. I just had to get one so I checked out the designs. I was torn between a purple shirt and a green shirt but in the end, I got the green one.

I shouldve bought more Batik shirts. Theyre really cool!

This costs 550,000 IdR which is around 2,700 PhP. A bit expensive but the quality is really good. I do have to get the shirt altered since it’s a bit big towards the bottom.

My tummy was already screaming for food when I finished shopping. I ended up going to the McDonald’s in front of Sarinah Mall. I went inside and ordered my food in straight Bahasa. Hah! I was extra hungry so I ordered a Big Mac meal.

Big Mac from McDonalds Jakarta

I didn’t know if it was just me but the Big Mac in Indonesia is much better than what we have here. The vegetables were fresh and the burger patties were juicy and flavorful. Just look at the photo and compare it with the Big Mac we have here.

Also, I loved the ambiance of the McDonald’s there. Look:

Goodness, their McDonalds has computer stations. Cool!

Another mall popular for its huge selection of Indonesian goods is Thamrin City. The mall is five minutes away by foot from Grand Indonesia Shopping Town.

Thamrin City Mall

Sadly though, the mall closes early. Darn. I wasn’t able to go inside. My co-trainees told meΒ  that the best deals for Indonesian products can be had here.

Random photos from Jakarta

The entire skyline of Jakarta isnt as impressive as Manilas but individually, their buildings are more beautiful.

Another skyline shot of Jakarta. I can see Shangri-la Jakarta!

Indonesian Rupiahs. I bet Indonesians are good at math. Computing by the thousands everyday mustve sharpened their math skills.

The streets of Jakarta are flooded with luxury vehicles. Heck, they use E-Class Benzes as taxis. This ones an Aston Martin DB9. Woah!

On my last day in Jakarta, I went to the IBM Office and to the Monumen Nasional. I woke up pretty early since Yessy, one of the people of IBM Indonesia Education, told me that I can pick up the training manual at around 7:30 in the morning.

My last shot of the Monumen Selamat Datang.

I asked the hotel if I can be brought to the IBM Office by the hotel concierge. Guess what? They gave me a free ride!

Silver Bird Taxi. Wow, E-Classes there are just used as taxi cabs.

Actually, I could have walked to the IBM Office since it’s just located in The Plaza, the tower beside Plaza Indonesia. But it was a little hot that day and I didn’t want to be all sweaty so early in the morning.

The IBM office in Indonesia looks so good!

Reception desk of IBM Indonesia at The Plaza

I asked the receptionist if Yessy’s already there so she checked. A few moments later, Yessy arrived carrying the huge training manual for IBM FileNet.

Yessy told me that Eno, one of IBM Indonesia Education’s people, wanted to meet me. She was the one who organized the training. She brought me to their work station and introduced me to Eno.

Photo with Yessy and Eno. I know, my smile looks fake.

They toured me around the IBM office in Indonesia. The office is relatively new, they just moved here about a year ago. Their pantry is equipped with an LCD television and they have free coffee.

After touring me around the office, I told them that I had to go ahead since I only have a limited time to go around the Monumen Nasional. I told them that I’d be trying the TransJakarta Bus Way since I was very fascinated about the concept of a Bus Rapid Transit system. Yessy accompanied me to the Bundaran Hotel Indonesia station which was in front of Plaza Indonesia.

A TransJakarta Station. This one is the Bundaran HI station.

A ride costs 3,500 IdR (around 17 PhP) regardless where you will go. That’s pretty affordable though it’s more expensive that the LRT or MRT here.

TransJakarta ticket. 3,500 IdR isnt bad.

The interior of the bus itself was laid out to be like an MRT. It was a bit hot inside but it wasn’t that bad. The ride was a bit shaky since it’s a bus, not a train. I still like the idea though. I wish they could implement this in the Manila. Having this along C5 would be great… I think.

Inside a TransJakarta bus.

The travel time from the Bundaran HI station to the Monumen Nasional station of TransJakarta was less than 15 minutes. It was a bit quick but I bet it would’ve taken less time with an MRT.

Monumen Nasional station of TransJakarta

What I really loved about the streets of Jakarta is that they are very wide. Imagine, the center island can accommodate a bus station like the one shown above. Also, the wide center islands are filled with plants. It’s very refreshing to see a sea of green along major thoroughfares.

The Philippine Flag! Thats either an ASEAN office or the Philippine Embassy.

It was a long walk from the station to the entrance of the Merdeka Square, the park where the Monas is located. I was already sweating when I reached the entrance but it was worth it. Seeing the Monas made it all worth it.

I immediately noticed that there were many photographers inside the area. They had with them portable printers so that they could print photos on the spot. Business was good, I guess.

One of the photographers at the Monumen Nasional

The walk from the entrance to the Monas itself was very long and tiring! To make things worse, the signs pointing to the entrance of the Monas wasn’t too intuitive. It seemed like they were pointing you to go around the Monas. I was able to go around the entire structure already yet I still wasn’t able to locate the entrance. Out of frustration and desperation, I asked someone for directions. Apparently, they got lost as well and they were pointed to an underground entrance across Monas. Gaaaah.

The REAL entrance to the Monas

Underground path to the Monas

Entrance fee is 2,500 IdR which is around 12 PhP

Some sculptures outside the Monas

The Monumen Nasional.

This is the Hall of Independence inside the Monas.

Ticket to ride the elevator to the observation deck of Monas

Inside the Museum of National History

Keluar

Tour bus outside the Monas

I had a really good time looking around the Merdeka Square. The expansive park was a breath of fresh air from the city life in Jakarta. Sadly though, my time to look around was limited and I had to go back at around 11 AM.

I rode a Blue Bird Taxi and went back to the hotel to prepare for my flight. I have already prepared my things the night before so I didn’t had to do much. The bellboy went up to my room to pick up my luggage. I went down and said goodbye to the hotel staff who were very friendly. Haha, feeling artista.

Silver Bird Taxi service to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

Good bye, Mandarin Oriental Jakarta.

Airport Toll Gate. Cengkareng is where SHIA is.

Entrance to the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Outside Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

Immigration

Gate where my flight was.

My planes waiting for me. Haha!

Inside the airplane. Sigh, good bye Jakarta.

Why am I always seated at the emergency exit row? Seriously, for the past 6 flights Ive had, I was seated at the emergency exit row.

Stopover at Singapore Changi Airport

In flight meal.

Hello Manila! Its nice to see you again.

Ive repeated this for quite a number of times but NAIA Terminal 2 is the best in my opinion.

Waiting for my luggage.

So that wraps up my story about my 6-day adventure in Jakarta. I do hope I can come back to Jakarta in the future. Fingers crossed that I’d get a project there! Terima kasih, Jakarta! πŸ™‚

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