February 21, 2008

Textile Museum (Museum Tekstil)

Address : Jl. Aipda K.S. Tubun no.4, Jakarta Pusat

If you want to know more about batik & Indonesian textile in general, than please visit the Textile Museum.

They also offer courses on how to make your own batik!

This museum is situated in the busy & cluttered area of Tanah Abang, but as you walk into its grounds, you will find a different atmosphere.

The museum consists of several old houses from the colonial times surrounded by many trees and plants. A beautiful place to take photographs!

Blenger Burger

Address : Jalan Lamandau IV, Blok M

With all the commotion of Burger King re-opening in Jakarta, I'd like to ask you : Have you ever tried Jakarta's own local grilled-burger? Have you ever even heard of any?

If you answered no, please try "Blenger Burger", located in the Blok M area (which so happens to be conveniently near my house :) ). This burger is quite famous. Considering you can already buy one for around Rp. 10.000,-, it is very value for money. The size is quite big with lettuce, kyuri & onion to add more flavour + .... melted cheese (my favorite...yummyyy...). Besides burger, there is also a choice of hotdogs & juice to quench your thirst.

The only downside is that there are only a few tables to sit down, making this burger best enjoyed if taken home.

Word of Caution :
Blenger Burger opens a bit late : from 12.00 (noon), except Fridays when it opens after the Friday Moslem prayer (13.30).

Respecting an Elder

Indonesians are taught since a young age to respect their elders. One manifestation of this is the way we greet our elders. We do not shake an elder’s hand, but we put their hand to our forehead. There are variations to this, such as putting the hand on your cheek or take an elders hand and “kiss” the hand.

Of course, you do not have to do this to all elders, only to those in the family and friends of your parents. And as you grow up…..it’s ok to drop this habit :)

Wedding - Padang Style

Last month, Surya, my friend from college, got married. Her wedding reception was in traditional Padang style. What you may want to know about Indonesian traditional weddings are that the customs can be very different depending on what ethnic group the bride & groom celebrates it.

The wedding reception may be held in a hall, hotel or at home.

The typical Indonesian wedding reception goes something like this :

- If you come early, you may see the beginning of the procession as the bride & groom enter the wedding reception hall. Traditional dances may be carried out & speeches containing advice may be given to the bride & groom by someone elder in the family.

- We, as a guest, must bring a gift. Nowadays, the gift is usually in the form of money that you put inside an envelope. Goods or flower bouquets are not favorable anymore. However, when the bride/groom are your close friends, it is still acceptable.

- This gift is then given at the entrance where some family members are behind a desk & you write your name in the guestbook. Sometimes, your envelope/gift is numbered according to your number in the guest book so that the bride/groom knows who gave what & can send a thank you note later on. I personally think doing this is rude.

- Inside the building where the reception is held, the bride & groom stand on a podium in the centre of the room. On their left & right side, stand the parents. The rest of the room is filled with food stalls.

- First you congratulate the happy couple & their parents, and after that you are free to roam around and eat ! :)

- A typical reception usually lasts about 2 hours. At the end, there are photo sessions.


The existence of modern trade channels (hypermarket, supermarket etc.) has shifted Indonesians’ shopping habit. Traditional markets (wet markets called “Pasar”) are no longer favoured because supermarkets offer the convenience of shopping in an air-conditioned, odourless (a pasar is usually smelly) environment. However, one shopping alternative that still flourishes is the “warung”.

Warung is basically your neighbourhood store. Usually it is part of a person’s house transformed into a store that sells daily consumer products such as shampoo, soap, softdrinks, chips etc in small pack sizes/sachets. Because it is part of a house (the owner lives there), the size is usually not so big and you cannot enter a warung. All you need to do, is ask the owner for the product that you are looking for. However, there are bigger warungs that you can enter. These warungs sell a more complete range of products such as rice and other staple food.

During these hard economic times, opening a warung is an alternative to get some extra money. Therefore, it is not unusual to find 3 warungs in one street.

So remember, whenever you run out of something, don’t panic, just pop out and check, maybe you can get it at your warung!


“Macet” is a word you’ll often hear in Jakarta. Macet means “Traffic Jam”.

Traffic jams occur daily in Jakarta. During the weekdays, you will encounter a traffic jam at least 2 times a day : in the morning when everyone goes to work & during the evening when everyone rushes home.

My typical trip to the office takes 1 hour which normally, without any traffic jam, would only take about half an hour. Therefore, many people prefer to go to work at 6:00 to avoid the rush hour and then go home after 8 o’clock.

Besides these traffic jams, also expect to be caught in traffic during & after heavy rain. After it rains, due to poor drainage system, puddles of water gather on the side of the road making it difficult for cars and motorcycles to pass by thus creating bottlenecks.

But the main reason traffic jams occur daily in Jakarta, is simply because there are too many cars/motorcycles on the road. Jakarta is a major city with an estimated population of 8 million people. However, during the day, this number swells because of all the people commuting from the surrounding cities (Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi), which is why greater Jakarta is often called “JaBoDeTaBek”. The population of greater Jakarta is around 18 million people.

The officials are very aware of this problem and have tried several remedies.

Since 1994, a 3-in-1 policy was implemented for the main roads in Jakarta’s central business district (Jl. Sudirman, Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Gatot Subroto – “Jl.” is the abbreviation for “Jalan”, which means “Street”). This policy states that a car passing through these main roads, must at least carry 3 passengers. Currently, this policy applies only weekdays from 07:00 – 10:00 in the morning and 16:30 – 19:00 in the evening. This seems to be a good idea, however, it actually flourised an informal market of mainly woman and children who offer themselves to be passengers by charging a fee of Rp. 5.000,-. This “occupation” is called “Joki”. You can find a joki near the entrances to the 3-in-1 area.

Another effort of the government, is by fixing Jakarta’s public transportation system by building Busways. Public transportation in Jakarta is not convenient yet, the busses are mainly not well-maintained and not air-conditioned, alienating those who would otherwise want to swap their personal vehicle for public transportation.
The first Busway was officially launched in 2004 from Blok M bus terminal to Kota. Since then, several routes have been added with a few more in progress.

This is a step forward, although to date, the busways seem to have little impact in solving the macet problem. So, what should the government do then?

I’m not going to answer here, otherwise this blog is turning out to be too serious!! What I personally can recommend to you, is to always have your favorite CDs in your car as company during macet and to always calculate encountering macet when you are going to make an appointment. In Jakarta, be a little tolerant when someone is a bit late, even the ones who are very punctual will find themselves at least once late because of “macetttttttttttttttttttt”…….
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