March 31, 2008

Tax Time!

Just submitted my tax report the other day.

Starting last year, the government implemented a new program where each citizen must have a tax number. Before, the ones that need to have a tax number were only individuals who run a business, while employees’ taxes were handled by the company where you work.

As usual, you always have this negative impression when it comes to anything dealing with the government. So, I intentionally took 1 day leave to submit my tax report, because I thought it would take long. But it actually exceeded my expectations!

The tax office where I had to report to (Pratama Kebayoran Lama) had around 8 dedicated lockets to serve just those who wanted to submit their tax report. There were plenty of seats so you didn’t get tired while waiting for your turn & they even provided water as refreshment (a friend of mine told me that the office where she went to even served coffee & tea!).

I only waited about 1 hour for my turn, which in my opinion isn’t long considering that when I first got there, they were serving customer 585, while my number was 623, i.e. only 1,5 minutes per person.

Now, let’s hope that the tax money is used appropriately! ;)

March 28, 2008

Museum Taman Prasasti (Inscription Museum)

Address : Jl. Tanah Abang I/1, Jakarta Pusat

This museum used to be a cemetary (!) called Kebon Jahe Kober, which was actively used from 1795 - 1975.

Because of this, it is of course not indoors. It is an open-air museum, exposing you to a very nice, serene surrounding. Not that spooky, considering the background. But still, I wouldn't want to be stuck there at night :P

You can see all things related to "the dead"...many cool tombstones and equipments used up to the burial service.

(First Photo - cannonball & signage - is courtesy of Bambang Aroeng Binang)

Please check out his site for more cool pics on Museum Taman Prasasti :

March 23, 2008

Annoying Indonesian habits that get on my nerves!

To give you a more rounded picture of life in this country,
below are some things that I needed to get used to when first living here.
They are small things…but they just drive me crazzzyyyy !

1. Throwing litter from your car window

The floods in Jakarta are often associated with people not throwing away litter properly. These people are usually ill-educated because they lack the money to go to proper schools.

But it just furiates me when I see someone throwing litter from the window of his Rp. 300 million car. I often see this in particular at the toll booth or parking booth in the mall. They would just throw away the ticket to the ground.

Hellooo…there’s a trashcan right under the toll booth window. Or even, you can buy a small trashcan for your car.

Yeah…you don’t mind spending hundreds for foreign branded clothing, but buying a trashcan is impossible for you to do!

2. Queuing in public toilets

It always makes me uneasy about the way Indonesians queue at public toilets.
If there are many stalls, they would queue up for each toilet stall, which leaves you at the mercy of the person inside the stall you’re waiting on.

This is different compared to when I was living in Europe. There you queue before the stalls (just 1 line), so that when one of them opens, the first person that was queuing will automatically be the first to go.

It annoys me when I have been waiting long, but then someone after me goes earlier because the stall she is waiting on finished quicker.

But then again, it is nice if I am the one that can go earlier because I luckily picked a faster queue

3. Hold the door please

OK, western foreigners are often not associated with friendliness, but I think that they have a certain politeness that Indonesians lack.

When I was abroad, it was custom to hold the door until the person behinds you can take it. Here…they just slam it in your face!

I sometimes hold the door (out of habit), but what do I get? The person behind me would just walk through….& leave me there still holding the damn door.

I’m not a bellboy! I’m still holding the door open so that you can take the handle from me without having it slam in your face!!

March 21, 2008

International Jazz Festivals in Jakarta

If you are fond of jazz music, you will be quite spoiled in Jakarta, since we have 2 annual festivals in this music genre : JakJazz & Java Jazz. Both festivals are usually a 3-day event.

What's the difference between the two?


JakJazz vs Java Jazz

- Founder :

Ireng Maulana (Ireng Maulana is a famous Indonesian jazz musician) vs Peter F. Gontha (Peter Gontha is well known for his business sense. He owns one of Jakarta’s top jazz avenue : JAMZ)

- When held :
Annually (around November/December) vs Annually (first Friday-Sunday of March)

- First time held :
1988 (Although the first JakJazz was in 1988, it only has been held 9 times, the latest in 2007) vs 2005 (Has since consistently been held annually)

- Music Genre :
Mainly Mainstream Jazz vs More variety : Jazz, R&B, Hip-hop, Pop, Rock, Latin etc.

- Type of Event :
Outdoor/Indoor (The last couple of times, it has been held at Istora Senayan) vs Indoor (So far, it has been held at Jakarta Convention Centre)

Last Friday I went to the Java Jazz Festival. Frankly I’m not a big jazz fan. That is why Java Jazz suits me better than JakJazz.

Actually, this is my second time going to the Java Jazz Festival. Last year I went to the festival because I wanted to see what the hype was about. And after going last year, I didn’t intend to go to any other, but this year, the festival conveniently took place on a long weekend (Friday was a national holiday in celebration of Saka New Year). Rather then staying at home or just going to the mall these 3 days, I thought it would be nice to hangout for a day at the festival.

The ticket is a bit expensive for my taste, eventhough if you think about it, it is value for money since with that amount, you are able to see many musicians, both local as well as international. You can choose between buying a daily pass (for 1 day only) or multipass (for all 3 days). The multipass is of course cheaper compared to buying 3 daily tickets. Java Jazz also has special shows. This year it was Bobby Caldwell, James Ingram, Babyface & The Manhattan Transfer (Most of them are not really jazzy, huh?). To see a special show though, you still have to buy a daily pass first & then buy a special show ticket.

Compared to last year, this year the festival was very crowded. (I guess I wasn’t the only one thinking that it would be a good way to spend the long weekend). I actually found it a bit difficult to move from one stage to the other & for some shows, I think the organizer miscalculated the audience’s enthusiasm, because they were so full-packed you can’t even get in to them! Another downer, it was so much more commercial than last year. The organizer rented quite a huge space for businesses to sell their products. It just didn’t seem like the spirit of a music festival.

Overall though, I had quite a good time. I saw shows by Incognito, Lee Ritenour, Renee Olstead & Ron King Big Band, Joe Sample, Kurt Elling and Earth, Wind & Fire Experience feat. Al McKay All Stars. Meanwhile for the local musicians, I saw Glenn Fredly & Syahrani.

To get more info on Java Jazz, please check out its website :

Or for the more serious jazz lover, please have a look at JakJazz’s website :


BatMus is the abbreviation for “ sahaBAT MUSeum ”, which means “Best Friend of the Museum”.

It is a community that arranges excursions every third Sunday in the month to museums and historical places in Jakarta (this activity is called "Plesiran Tempo Doeloe", which means "Trip to Old Times"). A few times, the excursions even have taken place outside Jakarta, to cities such as Cirebon, Semarang etc.

The BatMus community was founded in 2002 by Ade Purnama. There is no membership fee, everyone can join. All you need to do is to register for the upcoming excursion, which is announced through their mailing list. Although this activity is not conducted to generate profit, this is of course not a free event. There is a fee which will be used to pay for the museum tickets, among others. The amount differs depending on the place that is going to be visited on the particular excursion, but usually it is quite cheap.

Even though every month I get the info through e-mail about what the next excursion will be, I have only gone once (These excursions start early in the morning, while I just love to sleep in on Sundays!).

Last week though, I decided to join a BATMUS trip with my friend. This particular trip entailed a visit to the Inscription Museum (Museum Taman Prasasti) & the National Museum (Museum Nasional) which lies in walking distance of each other in Central Jakarta. For this trip, the fee was Rp. 30.000,- per person.

The meeting point for this excursion was in front of the Inscription Museum. We had to be there between 07.30 – 08.00 to re-register. While waiting for the tour to start, there was free hot tea & we were given “roti buaya ", which is a traditional bread in the form of a crocodile. The major advantage of going to the museum with the BatMus community, instead of just going on your own, is that BatMus provides a guide to explain the history behind the museum & its artifacts. Museums in Indonesia are usually not well-maintained & information about the artifacts is sometimes scarce. Therefore, it was quite nice that there was someone who could explain and answer our questions about the museum.

The last time I went to a BatMus excursion, we were divided in groups with a guide for each group. The guides were at that time volunteers, consisted mainly of students. This time, we weren't divided. We all just followed one guide who was a historian. The man was (of course) quite knowledgeable, & although the group was large, there was a microphone so we could hear his voice quite clearly. With everyone just hurdled up in 1 group, those who weren't that interested in hearing his explanation (i.e. those who were more interested in taking photos) felt free to do so. I remember my previous experience when we were divided in small groups, we were a bit reluctant to leave the group. And because we were really “photo shy ;)", we eventually couldn't resist not taking pictures & ended up falling behind our initial group… :P

After going around the Inscription Museum, we had a small break where we were shown a short movie about Jakarta in the old days (around 1900). After that, we moved on to visit the National Museum. Those who didn't bring a car (like me) did not have to worry. The National Museum was just walking distance away & there were many others who also didn't bring their own transportation or who just preferred to walk.
The volunteers of BatMus were there to lead the way & also to help us cross the street etc.

Although nearby, we were a bit exhausted & I guess they expected this, so we were given drinks & traditional snacks. However, because these refreshments were not handed to us (we had to get them ourselves), some of those who weren't quick, didn't get any. Maybe next time they should find a better way for giving them out.

After having some time to rest, we continued with a tour of the National Museum. Again, they provided a guide & we were free to choose either following the group or exploring the museum on our own.

At about 12 o’clock the tour ended & so did the BatMus excursion. Overall, I found the excursion quiet nice & enjoyable, the only downside for me was waking up early on a Sunday morning!

Nowadays, Sahabat Museum also has an activity called PinTong (short for Pindah Tongkrongan, which roughly means "shifting of hanging out places"). This is more of an informal gathering of the BatMus community. PinTong is not scheduled regularly & can be anything such as watching a movie together or just eating out.

Interested in joining an excursion? To receive info about upcoming trips, just subscribe to their mailing list : or send an email to

Galeri Nasional Indonesia

Address : Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur No. 14Jakarta 10110

To see the "artsy" side of Indonesia, check out Galeri Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Gallery).

Under the administration of the Ministry of Culture & Tourism, this gallery has a vast collection of paintings, statues, photography and other forms of art from Indonesian artists such as Raden Saleh, Affandi, Basoeki Abdullah etc.

Besides the permanent exhibition, it also hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions.

Did you know that .... ?

Just some cool facts about Indonesia....

- Kopi Luwak is the most expensive & rarest coffee in the world.

It is made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). The civets eat the berries but the beans inside pass through their system undigested. This coffee is called Civet coffee in english.

- Indonesia is made up of more than 17,000 different islands, making it the world’s largest Archipelago. Only around 6,000 of them (35%!) are inhabited.

- Indonesia consists of around 300 different ethnic groups with their own language. Therefore, there are about 300 different languages in Indonesia. Unfortunately, these languages are gradually disappearing since they are often no longer spoken by the younger generation.

- The world’s largest flower is found in Sumatra. The name of the flower is the Rafflesia arnoldi. This is a rare flower that lives as a parasite on the Tetrastigma vine. It produces no leaves, stems or roots. The bud itself takes many months to develop, and once it blossoms (spreading an unpleasant smell) , it only lasts for a few days.

- The Borobudur Temple in Central Java is the largest Buddhist monument in the World.

- The world's largest lizard is the Komodo dragon, which can only be found on Komodo Island in Indonesia.

- Since volcanoes have been documented, Indonesia has been home to two of the world’s most biggest volcanic eruptions based on VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index) :

  • Tambora, 1815: VEI=7, Tambora's volcanic cloud lowered global temperatures by as much as 3 degrees celcius, creating climate anomalies even a year later (1816), which in the northern hemipshere became known as "the Year without Summer".

  • Krakatau, 1883: VEI=6, Krakatau's explosion generated the largest sound historically reported. Its explosion was heard as far away as Perth, Australia.
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