August 23, 2015

Kota Tua, Jakarta's Old Town

This is probably the second most mentioned tourist destination of Jakarta (after Monas). It lies on the northern part of Jakarta, but quite easily reachable if you are adventurous enough to take the TransJakarta bus. If you get on the BlokM-Kota route (Corridor 1) which goes through Jakarta's main street Sudirman Thamrin, you should get off at the very last station: "Kota".

The Old Town has European-styled buildings, a reminder of Indonesia's past being under Dutch rule. Most of the buildings are now turned into museums, so this is why I think the Old Town is quite interesting to spend a whole day at.
Jakarta History Museum
At the main square, you can easily explore:
- Jakarta History Museum (also known as Fatahillah Museum)
- Wayang Museum (houses a large collection of Javanese puppets)
Its website:
Its website:

And then there are also a few others in the neighbourhood:
This museum is located a bit farther than the others. Its website:
Bank Indonesia is Indonesia's central bank. I have never been to the museum before, but my friends all think the museum is quite entertaining. Opening hours info can be found on the Bank Indonesia website:
Mandiri is one of the government owned banks. 

After exploring all the sights, you can have a nice meal at cafe Batavia, just opposite of the History museum. The interior here has a colonial feel to it. Many people come in just to take pictures because the prices are a bit high for us locals. For more affordable cafes, I prefer the few cafes near the side entrance of the square: Kedai Seni Djakarte, Historia Food Bar, Bangi Kopitiam.

Another great thing to do in Kota Tua is to take a bike ride. Bikes can be rent independently or with "driver" who acts as a guide as well, telling the history of the neighbourhood.
Colorful bikes for rent

Sadly, I must mention one thing: 
Beware if you go to the Old Town during the weekends/holiday season. It can get verrryyyy crowded and veryyyy littered as well :(
Best to explore it on a weekday.

September 7, 2014

Bogor Botanical Garden (Kebun Raya Bogor)

Last week I went to the Botanical Garden in Bogor (in Indonesian: Kebun Raya Bogor). Bogor is just a one-hour drive from Jakarta so it is a nice alternative if you want to get away from Jakarta during the weekend. 

The Botanical Garden is hugeeeeee. Coincidently, the presidential palace (Istana Bogor) with its famous deers roaming around the ground can also be found here, although you need special permission to enter. Besides that, the Orchid House is also one of the places people come to see. There is even a Reflexology Path.

With a lot of ground to cover, walking around can be tiresome. Luckily, you can also bring your car. 

We entered through Gate 1 (there are many gates). The entrance fee was IDR 15,000 per person & IDR 30,000 for the car (August 2014). You can also join the mini tour carriage to help you navigate around this huge garden (since there seems to be a lack of signposts!). 

For this trip, we wanted to have a cup of coffee at the cafe which lies inside. It used to be called "De Daunan", but has now gone through some management changes and is called "the Grand Garden". 

In front of the cafe, there is a pond which is very serene and man-made looking, but just straight ahead you can enter back into the "wild forest" with tall trees and large roots crawling above the ground. I loved it!!

Pond in front of the Grand Garden Cafe


Some cute myths:
- The red hanging bridge. Legend has it that if you cross the bridge with your lover, your relationship will not last. 
- Pohon sejodoh (meaning: soulmate tree). Two trees standing side-by-side form "pohon sejodoh". They say anyone single should sit on the bench in front of it and pray so that they will soon meet their soulmate. Beware, those already with a partner should never sit on this bench! 

For more information, please go to its website:
A general map is also there to print out (seriously, there is a major lack of signposts in the garden!): 

If your timing is right, you might catch a glimpse of the giant flowers blossoming (Rafflesia patma, Amorphophallus titanum).

July 2, 2014

Surabaya Heritage Track

As I mentioned in a post wayyyy bacckkkk, if you're in Surabaya, you should visit "House of Sampoerna museum". And while you're here, you should check out its Surabaya Heritage Track (SHT) program.

SHT is a free short tour around Surabaya. The tours are held regularly 3 times a day, every day except on Monday. For the detailed schedule, please follow this link:
The starting and end point is at House of Sampoerna.

SHT tour bus
Last week, I got the chance to join this tour. It was unplanned, so luckily there was still a seat available on the tour bus. I would recommend that you book a seat in advance especially if you are going in a small group, or on the weekends. For reservations, please contact the following number: +62 31 3539000 ext. 24142 or e-mail: 

Once you've entered the House of Sampoerna complex, you should go to the Tracker Information Centre (TIC), which is the room in front of the cafe, to get your ticket. 

The tour I joined was the weekday morning tour and we went to two places. A guide was also on the bus, pointing out and explaining to us some of the historical buildings we passed along the way. At the places, we stopped for 10-15 minutes to explore and take some photos. All in all, it was a great way to spend time in Surabaya!!

December 30, 2013

Galeri Indonesia Kaya

Last week, I went to Galeri Indonesia Kaya which is located near the Blitzmegaplex movie theatre at Grand Indonesia mall. Basically, it is a place where you can know more about Indonesian culture.

The venue is a bit small but there are a few fun interactive attractions. 

From the moment you enter the location, you are greeted by screens of couples wearing traditional clothes. And then you get the chance to "try on" these clothes and even upload it directly to your facebook page.

Further along, there are touchscreen monitors which hold information on the typical cuisine, musical instruments and landmarks of various areas in Indonesia. 

You can also play some traditional games such as the congklak or more modern ones with augmented reality features.

Overall, it was a nice place to stop by - Nice alternative to spending hours at the mall ;)
Btw, Galeri Indonesia Kaya has an auditorium room with free performances on the weekends. I have seen them being advertised on Kompas newspaper.

December 26, 2013

Tex Saverio: Indonesian designer behind Katniss's wedding dress (The Hunger games)

I must admit, I didn't see the Hunger Games when it was in theatres, so I wasn't excited when its sequel came out : the Hunger Games - Catching Fire. But I had some spare time, so I decided to watch it this time. 

Maybe it was because I didn't have any expectations, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie!! And of course, Katniss's wedding dress caught my attention - how can it not, it was so beautiful!
Source pic:
And to my surprise, this wedding dress was from an Indonesian designer named Tex Saveriowho presented a similar dress at Jakarta Fashion Week in 2010.
Source pic:
This was not the first time he had international exposure. In 2011, Lady Gaga wore one of Tex Saverio's design for Harper's Bazaar. I think this was also absolutely gorgeous.
Source pic:
And these are the latest design by Tex Saverio at Jakarta Fashion Week 2014.
Source pic:

Source pic:

Source pic:
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