The quintessential bits and pieces of life in Indonesia’s capital as shared by the people who know it best.
Living in Jakarta is one big adventure, moment by moment. Walk around the city and you will see street cart vendors pushing their mobile shops around, cars squeezing between lanes and three-wheeled passenger pedicabs called bajajs manoeuvring their way in the busy roads. To live among all these is both exciting and bewildering.
“You can feel a whole gamut of emotions in one day: crazy, intense, frustrating, exciting, fun, warm and welcoming,” shares Simone Baldwin, an Australian who’s now a resident of Jakarta.
“It requires a special kind of resilience, a positive energy and a sense of compassion to live and enjoy life here.” As far as lifestyle goes, it is hard to beat Jakarta. Day to day living is very comfortable; getting around the city is never a problem. As taxis are inexpensive and very reliable, most people prefer to hire Silver Bird taxis – black Mercedes or Toyota saloon cars – all day.
“Where else in the world can you enjoy the services offered to you in this city? You take a Silver Bird taxi and you are treated like a queen. You can even have your own personal driver,” says localborn Dita Carey, a Pilates studio owner.
The same comfort that Dita enjoys lures thousands of expatriates into the city. As they settle down, they feel right at home in no time. A large number of expatriate clubs and societies are open for membership; many of which are popular with families and include large swimming complexes and sports facilities.
Expatriate Bernie Geddes offers some great advice to those who want to slip into the Indonesian way of life: “I have travelled to many countries and have not found anywhere in the world that matches the Indonesian Heritage Society. To be an active member is an experience that will exceed your wildest dreams. It’s a group that welcomes newcomers, takes them by the hand and shows them the real Indonesia.” The society lets its members feel the local culture; it organises trips to pottery villages, kite factories, various cottage industries and guided treks to nearby mountains and waterfalls.
Another notable aspect of Indonesian life is its food, according to expatriates who consider Jakarta home. There are a lot of affordable wine and dine options in the city. Five star hotels offer Sunday Brunch deals. It’s like nothing you will ever see: Alaskan crab, US prime sirloin, fine cheeses and melting chocolate fountains alongside the local fare.
A sumptuous feast would not break the bank, as most buffets with free flow champagne, beer and wine cost around US$50. Kids’ clubs also operate in these hotels. Indeed, it’s hard to match this standard and affordability anywhere in the world.
Jakarta is also a massage and spa heaven. Beautifully designed spa palaces and salons abound. Bernie’s favourite haunt is Jamu Spa. “If you have never had a cream bath then you have missed paradise! The girls at Jamu Spa know how to make you relax and experience complete ecstasy. A cream bath is not only a head massage but also involves caressing your arms and massaging your back. It leaves you wondering why you have not ever done it before. It’s a guarantee you’ll be back.”
Praises also go to complexes and malls, which takes shopping into another level. Several high-end, luxurious malls houses top-notch restaurants and premier theatres. These malls stay open until 10pm every day. The fun does not stop at 10pm though, as the city comes alive at night. Some great nightclubs include Blowfish, Dragonfly, Bibliotheque, Immigrant and the iconic B.A.T.S.
JAKARTA AND BEYOND
Any Indonesian experience would not be complete without visiting the country’s tourist attractions, like Sunda Kelapa Harbour where old Bugis sailing ships unload at the port. It’s like a scene from hundreds of years ago.
If you’re in wanderlust, Jakarta serves as a perfect jump off point to adventure areas in the country. Bali and Lombok offer beautiful beaches while Sulawesi has some of the world’s most pristine diving spots. Sumatra has its unique and fascinating culture. In Kalimantan, you can come up close with orangutans.
With all these leisure options, you will never run out of things to do in and around Jakarta. It is an alluring city in spite of its idiosyncrasies and a comfortable life is within reach. So how do you ease into Jakarta? New Zealander Vicky Keenan explains, “Take your time. Observe the differences and don’t expect the way of life here to be the same as where you come from. Go with the flow, learn the language, practise gentle communication and always smile.”
JAKARTA’S COOL RETREAT
Fraser Residence Sudirman Jakarta ensures a stress-free stay in Indonesia’s capital.
With its superb location in the Golden Triangle within the Central Business District, it’s close to almost everything – medical facilities, commercial establishments and government offices. Jakarta’s premier shopping malls Grand Indonesia, Plaza Senayan and Plaza Indonesia are just a short drive away.
Each of the 108-Gold Standard units of one-, two-, or three-bedroom apartment is an epitome of contemporary living. Minimalist furniture and fittings adorn the apartments, creating a relaxed atmosphere inside. The full-length windows bathes the living room in natural light.
Recreation options are equally impressive as each apartment’s design. A comprehensive home entertainment system – LED TV, DVD player, audio system and satellite, cable and local TV channels – means you have hours of amusement at your fingertips. Keep fit with a variety of sports facilities, including an Olympic-size swimming pool and squash and tennis courts. Hot and cold dip pools and sauna rooms are also available.
With the excellent facilities Fraser Residence Sudirman Jakarta offers, your trips in the thriving metropolis will never be the same again.