CAR-FREE SUNDAYS IN JAKARTA

If you ask anybody who’s been to Jakarta, he would most likely say that one of his unforgettable (or maybe forgettable) experience in this city is the heavy traffic.  On a typical day, frustrated  people get stuck in Jakarta’s infamous macet (traffic jam) praying to high heavens that they make it to their appointments, or that their bladders won’t explode in transit, or that they won’t choke on the fumes from the vehicles.

But once a week, the main thoroughfare transforms into a people-friendly zone and virtually becomes a park of sorts.  Every Sunday, from 6:00-11:00 AM, Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin are closed to private and public vehicles (except for the TransJakarta).  Jalan Sudirman is Jakarta’s counterpart to our Manila’s EDSA so imagine that whole stretch being closed to traffic, what a bliss!  What started as a once-a-month environmental drive in 2007 garnered support and encouragement from the public that it became a regular Sunday  pollution reduction program in 2012.

And because Jl. Sudirman is a stone’s throw away from our building, it has become our family’s Sunday morning exercise to run/walk/bike along Jakarta’s busiest street.  So if you happen to be in the city on a Sunday,  enjoy a short escape from the bustling macet and head on to Jl. Sudirman for a morning of fitness, fun, food, and people watching.

Sharing with you some car-free Sunday scenes below…

people.joggers.bikers

The TransJakarta is the only motorized vehicle allowed in Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

The TransJakarta (bus rapid transit) is the only motorized vehicle allowed in Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

people.skateboard2

Little Boy at the most popular Jakarta landmark, the Sudirman Roundabout (Bundaran)

Little Boy at the most popular Jakarta landmark, the Sudirman Roundabout (Bundaran)

Enjoy leisure or serious biking in front of the perennial bottleneck, Grand Indonesia.

Enjoy leisurely or serious biking in front of the perennial bottleneck, Grand Indonesia.

Car-free Sundays are perfect recreational time for family and friends.

people.KOREANS

people.family

people.father & daughterspeople.friends

Also a preferred day and venue for various programs, promotions and causes…

cause.2

cause.1

Save Our Sharks!

Save Our Sharks!

cause.dance

Flash mob!

Flash mob!

The traditional Indonesian "Ondel Ondel" or folk puppet performance

The traditional Indonesian “Ondel Ondel” or folk puppet performance

Don’t worry about getting hungry and thirsty along the way ’cause you won’t.

food carts

food cart 2food.siopao

food.people eating

Water station in almost every corner

Water station in almost every corner

Coffee to go! Anon'ng sabi ng Starbucks? :)

Coffee to go! Ano’ng sabi ng Starbucks? 🙂

If you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon some free sampling treats for freeloaders like me hehe…

food sampling 1

Free fruit cups for everyone!

Free fruit cups for everyone!

I always know where to find Little Boy when he gets lost in the crowd :)

I always know where to find Little Boy when he gets lost in the crowd 🙂

HOME RUN!

HOME RUN!

“A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content.”

Happy Sunday everyone!!!

sites.blue sky & bldg

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THREE YEARS OF JAKARTA JOURNEY… and Counting

Three years ago today, I came to Jakarta, Indonesia with only a suitcase and a heart full of dreams and anxieties.  I left my family, friends and career back in Manila to start a new life with Dear Hubby and Little Boy.

It felt like only yesterday when this great big adventure began (click here for the story).   Three years hence, I am now promoted as the CEO of this house making sure that all household operations run smoothly… never mind if I burned some toasts.  And speaking of promotion, I have leveled up from  the Little Boy’s “cockroach playmate” to a hostaged princess!  My greatest achievement so far if you ask me.  Yes, Little Boy and I have already established a real mother-son bonding ever since I decided to take on this new “career path”.  No more earthworm and insect roles for me on our playtime!

The prospect of moving to a new country where you don’t know anybody could be quite scary but Indonesia has been good to us, we felt right at home.  While other foreigners would complain about the pollution, traffic, corruption, etc. we would shrug them off and move on to the next challenge.  Thank you Manila for preparing us for the tough times :)! It’s been a fun roller coaster ride and I have come to appreciate our host country’s culture, people, language and food.  I’m still discovering a lot about this city, this country, about me and about ourselves.

Thank you to all our new friends who took us in as their own family.  Thank you to the Pinoys who have been here before us and welcomed us like old friends.  Man, the Pinoy hospitality is insanely alive anywhere in the world.  Mabuhay! 🙂

Those clothes on that suitcase from three years ago can hardly fit anymore and my dreams certainly got bigger and grander.  I still get those anxiety pangs once in a while but (to borrow a line from a movie) “I’m a lot braver, bolder and fiercer now” ever ready to head to where ever this adventure would take us and make wonderful memories out of it.

Cheers to all of us and may we always be eager to face a new day, a new month, a new life ahead!!!

This photo was taken on our first morning in Jakarta.

This photo was taken on our first morning in Jakarta.

PORKGASM IN JAKARTA

Living in a Muslim country has somehow made us shy away from pork for a while, something our arteries have to thank us for.  Out of respect to our help’s religious beliefs, we never serve pork in our household or if ever we do, it’s got to be on a weekend when she’s on a day off.  There would be times when  we would go to any Chinese resto and break this self-imposed pork fasting just to satisfy our sinful cravings.

So when our Pinay friend Phoebe invited us to a Lechon Lunch for only 250,000 IDR which includes lechon, drinks and desserts, my reply was “You had us at LECHON”.  Who can say no to a chance to see our Filipino friends and of course the authentic Pinoy lechon  which was prepared by a Pinoy chef!  So off we trooped to Alex’s in Kuningan to taste the three little pigs.

I GOT YOU BABE!
The superstars of the lunch were three little suckling pigs slow-roasted in the oven at 75°C for 16 hours(!) then re-roasted in wood-fire oven just minutes before serving.  The latter is the essential step in making that crispy skin layer good enough to give you multiple porkgasm. The crackling skin and the tender succulent meat seasoned with just the right herbs and spices just melt in your mouth. It was so good I think I died and went to swine heaven.  Okay, a little exaggeration there but any lechon lover will get what I mean.

And the FUN begins...

And the FUN begins…

This little piggy went straight to our tummies

This little piggy went straight to our tummies

THE CAST OF THE FOOD PORN
saladside dishpizza

Thanks to the gorgeous Phoebe of Asian Tigers Mobility for the overflowing wine!

Thanks to the gorgeous Phoebe of Asian Tigers Mobility for the overflowing wine!

 

THE COMPANYfriendsnew friends1new friends2

THE BIG BAD-ASS WOLF
I’ve always known Raj Abat as a New York-trained Filipino chef who is now based in Jakarta.  He’s a cool guy who warmly accommodates us when we dine in his previous resto posting.  He would join us and the other Pinoys for some beer and potluck and would watch the Manny Pacquiao fights with us.  He and his lovely wife are expecting their first baby soon.  This was all I knew about Raj until I Googled him for some info in this blog entry.  Whoah, I didn’t know there was a rock star in our midst all along! Check out an excerpt of what I found.

“At a glance, Raj Abat’s lean, austere and tattooed appearance might trick us into thinking that he’s chief of some gangs. Well, a bunch of gangsters indeed, but these are experts with knives, laddles and forks, and their territories are not the streets, but the kitchens. If you didn’t know Raj Abat, you would probably never guessed that he is a Filipino-born New Yorker and is a Corporate Chef who has a long list of experience working in some of the most desired celebrity chefs’ kitchens like Jean-Georges in New York City and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. ”
Culinary Bonanza

If you’re a Pinoy in Jakarta or a pork-starved food lover, or all of the above, it’s a shame not to sample Raj’s specialty.  He’s currently a Corporate Chef at the Alila Hotel (of the Alila Chain of Properties) but you can visit his Facebook page, RAJ ABAT COOKS to check out what’s cooking and when his next Swine Feast will be.

Unassuming cool guy.  No toques and uniforms, just a bandana.  No bad temper, just badass tattoos.

No toques and uniforms, just a bandana. No bad celebrity chef temper, just bad-ass tattoos.

ONE NIGHT IN JAKARTA

What would you do if you have twenty-four hours to spend in Jakarta?  I had to answer this recently for a visiting friend.

I’ve known Mike for almost two decades now, we met at a small advertising agency where we both had our first jobs. We eventually  left the company and have not seen each other since, he moved to Dubai while I took on two more jobs before I got based here in Jakarta.  Last week, Mike took an Indonesian holiday and went to the famous Bali and Borobudur.  And even if Jakarta is not exactly a popular tourist destination, he extended his stay to the city just to see me.  Well, he sort of didn’t have a choice after my constant  F.O. (Friendship Over) threats. Never mind if it was only an overnight stay, just having someone around thrilled me big time.

I met up with him after I dropped the Little Boy to school and Dear Hubby to his office on Thursday morning.  It was nonstop chatter and laughter since then. Here’s what we did for the next twenty-four hours:

LUNCH AT KOI KEMANG
Koi is a chic restaurant in the Kemang area, South of Jakarta.  Aside from its great food and ambiance, Koi is conveniently located near the Little Boy’s school. This made us maximize our brunch time and saved us travel time when we did our school pick-up later on.

SCHOOL PICK-UP
Yes, Mike obliged to accompany me to my mommy duties and sat through Little Boy’s soccer trial that afternoon.  We laughed at how we never imagined we’d be babysitting a child together eighteen years ago.

Goofing around after school

A brief timeout from all the chatter

DINNER AT FOOD LOUVER, GRAND INDONESIA
My first restaurant of choice for dinner was at Social House but there was an ongoing event that night and they couldn’t accept table reservations.  We went to Grand Indonesia’s food court, The Food Louver,  instead which had elegant interiors that’s unlikely of a regular food court in a Philippine mall. Since Mike is into design, he appreciated the design details and found it interesting.

The entrance to the food court

The hallway that leads to the food stalls

Hand wash area

And the food selection begins

Wall art

The eating area that’s been witness to our juicy stories that night

DRINKS AT SOCIAL HOUSE

Dear Hubby met up with us later on that evening.  We went back to Social House (the event was done by that time) so he could have dinner while Mike and I have some drinks.  There were more catching up stories between Mike and the Hubby.  I went to bed that night exhausted from all the talking but couldn’t wait ’til morning for our next chika session.

The vast selection of wines at Social House

MORNING SKYPE

Pardon the poor photo quality but this was the highlight of the day

The next morning, Dear Hubby was kind enough to bring the Little Boy to school so I could spend time with Mike who’s leaving after lunch. We just stayed at home and Skyped with another good friend, Jurizz.  She worked with us in the same company and is now based in New York. It was a R-I-O-T, just like the old times!  I swear I can’t remember when I last laughed that hard, the kind that makes you tear a little and hurts your rib cage.  It was an entire morning of laughter, banter and reminiscing.  Too bad we had to say our goodbyes as Mike had to catch his flight and Jurizz had to put her kids to sleep.

Aahh, I miss my friends! I miss being crazy with them.  I love how we haven’t seen each other in a long time and things haven’t changed.  Thank you, Jurizz (and husband Oliver), for staying up late to chat with us.  Thank you, Mike, for including Jakarta in your itinerary, even for just one night.

***

Directory:

KOI KEMANG
Jl. Kemang Raya No 72 – Jakarta Selatan
Phone +62 21 719 5668,
kemang@koiindonesia.com
next to Pertamina Petrol Station

FOOD LOUVER
Grand Indonesia Shopping Town,
Sky Bridge, 3rd Floor (Jalan Mohammad Husni Thamrin No. 1),
Jakarta Pusat, DKI Jakarta 10310, Indonesia

SOCIAL HOUSE
Grand Indonesia East Mall
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No.1
Jakarta, Indonesia 10320
Phone +6221 235 81818; +6281 3877 02008
info@ismayagroup.com

LOLLIPOP’S PLAYLAND, SENAYAN CITY

It’s been raining recently here in Jakarta that’s why an indoor playground is a welcome treat for us.  We have been to Lollipop’s Playland in Senayan City Mall quite a number of times and all of those visits have been because of birthday parties being held there.  Just recently, we were invited by one of Little Boy’s classmates to another Lollipop’s experience.

It’s got the usual kiddie favorites like the giant slides, net balls, rides, inflatables, etc. but it also has many interesting attractions. One of them is the Mechanical Bull where one can modify the “speed” or “level of difficulty” to suit your kids.  There’s also a fish pond where kids can catch the fish and can actually take them home as pets.  Side story:  The first (and only) time we took home about five of them (all of whom had been “baptized” with names), we had to deal with fish after fish gone belly up in the makeshift tank.  I felt sorry for them (oh the stress that they go through when the kids try to catch them!) and for my son for dealing with the loss of “friends”.

Other alternative activities could be 3D movie viewing which runs on regular showing schedules much like a real movie house.  There’s also a Wii area for bigger kids and a painting/drawing area for smaller kids to enjoy.

But the runaway winning attractions for me are the Trampoline and the Kiddie Zip Line!  I would have tried both if it weren’t for the weight limit.  Ouch! 🙂

Food kiosks are available so it’s a guarantee that you’ll never get hungry.

Parents and nannies have a seating area too.  This is where me and my co-mommies catch up :).

As mentioned earlier, Lollipop’s is also open for birthday celebrations. This is an ideal venue, I must say, for kids who are not in the mood to join the birthday fun games because they can just sneak out from the party and in to the play area.  You can tell I’m talking from experience here, huh :).

The view from the seating area which clearly indicates when it’s time to go or stay a little more to let the traffic pass.

Lollipop’s Playland Locations
Senayan City
6TH FLOOR
Jl. Asia Afrika Lot 19
Jakarta 10270
Mal Kelapa Gading 3
2ND FLOOR
Jl. Bulevar Kelapa Gading Blok M
Jakarta 14240

Gandaria City
2ND FLOOR
Jl. Sultan Iskandar Muda, Kebayoran Lama Utara
Jakarta Selatan

DOMESTIC DIVA’S DAY OFF

I know, I know…  A mother never takes a day off  but because last Sunday was so special it merited a “birthday leave” from my domestic duties.

I declared that I was going to make banana pancakes for breakfast even if I’ve never tried making some 🙂  Heck, there’s the instruction on the box, what could possibly go wrong?  Besides, it’s just pancake. Easy peasy!  But you know, things happen…  There had been some difficulties… It’s Murphy’s Law, really…  Okay,  I’m not really gifted with kitchen skills haha!  I started making some but they didn’t taste exactly like I wanted them to. Thank God Dear Hubby took over the stove and salvaged our special Sunday breakfast!  He managed to make it like a crepe to wrap the banana AND strawberry slices with.  While on the pan, he put peanut butter on top of the fruit slices then wrapped the whole thing before the peanut butter completely melted.  They were sooo good they got totally wiped out before I could even take a photo.

Then I said I was going to make spaghetti for lunch but Dear Hubby insisted he’d do it.  He made Spaghetti meatballs and served it with red wine!  How many men would spend their Sunday getting their hands smeared with ground beef?  Did I mention he also washed the dishes that day?  And while my Sunday chores were being covered, I replied to all incoming birthday messages and Skyped with my family back home in Manila.  See?  Day off! 🙂

I didn’t have a fancy party or a cake to slice and candles to blow, but I got everything any girl could ask for.  I have a family who loves me unconditionally (Translation: they love me whatever outcome my cooking brings 🙂 )   and thoughtful friends whose warm messages never fail to soothe my homesickness bug.  There’s so much to thank God for and that much needed day off was one of them.  Can’t ask for anything more really… except for that ceramic hair iron I’m gonna be saving up for hahaha 🙂  Celebrate life everyday, my friends!

Front and back page of Little Boy's birthday message

Dinner was at Otel Lobby in Rasuna Said, Jakarta

With Pinoy friends who happen to be dining in the same resto that night

My best birthday gifts ever!

DISCOVERING THE STREETS OF JAKARTA

They say that to fully experience a different country, you must explore it by taking its local transportation. Let me take you for a ride to the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia and share with you one of my first Diva Discoveries.

BLUE BIRD TAXI
Owned and operated by the  Blue Bird Group,  the Blue Bird taxi is a common fixture in the streets of Jakarta and rightfully so because it comes highly recommended by everyone in town. They’ve earned their good reputation of being safe, honest, efficient and reliable.  You can get picked up anytime anywhere too! I mean, the kind of pick up where you make a call or send SMS then they’ll be at your doorstep. They also have the posh Silver Bird Executive Class,  the black Mercedes Benz E-Class series.  Wish I could try it someday… when I do my groceries maybe? 🙂

TRANSJAKARTA BUSES
In lieu of a metro train,  they have the TransJakarta which is a Bus Rapid System (BRS) launched in 2004.   It works as our regular MRT (Metro Rail Transit) i.e.  it has  designated pick-up and drop off stations (shelter) where the tickets can be bought too.  The seats face the aisle to accommodate more passengers and are likewise equipped with built-in speakers announcing  the shelter names in Indonesian and English languages.  The buses run on special lanes separated by concrete blocks.  I have a feeling these special lanes are only special on specific time of the day,  I often see other cars (including our own) navigating through these designated lanes.

image by: wikipedia.org

MOTORCYCLES
I’ve never seen this much motorcycles in the streets before, they literally swarm the Jakarta roads!  The first time I saw them I thought there was a motorcycle parade or something 🙂  And unlike in the Philippines where I see mostly men ride them, EVERYBODY uses it here.  Women executives, mothers bringing their kids to school,  a very old man buying his meds, a young boy on his way to deliver lunch packs, an entire family  of five who has gone shopping (well, this one is a common site in Manila too hehe).  And as a sheer display of  multi-tasking,  they can do other tasks while riding their motorcycles i.e. smoking, texting, and talking on the phone.

OJEK
I guess by now you’ve heard about the infamous traffic situation in Jakarta. Well, where there’s a problem lies a solution.  Ladies and gentlemen…. Presenting, the motorcycle taxi also known as the Ojek! Everyday you’ll see  students, executives, locals and foreigners take this mode of transportation.  Oh the convenience it gives.  You know how motorcycles can “fill in the blanks” weaving through the roads, right?  I bet you’ll make it to your appointment on time, dead or alive.  Just a few tips should you decide to ride one:
1. Avoid wearing white.  Unless  you can pull off that I-attracted-all-of-Jakarta’s-smog look.

2.  Bring some cologne.  You still would want  to smell fresh when you get to your destination, wouldn’t you?

3.  Bring your own helmet.  Go figure 🙂

Ojek stations are found in every street corner.

image by: jakarta.usembassy.org

BAJAJ
Once in a while you’ll chance upon one of Indonesia’s traditional transportation vehicles, the bajaj.   Equally popular in India, the bajaj is Indonesia’s counterpart to Thailand’s Tuk-tuk and the Philippines’ Tricycle.  It can seat up to five passengers… well, depending on their sizes of course.  They can operate on designated areas  only and are not allowed to  use the main roads.  Hence, the ride may be circuitous at times but could be great if you’re up for an adventure.

I hope you enjoyed the ride.  Stay tuned for more as I make more discoveries in this amazing city.

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