Tuesday, 3 August to Thursday, 5 August 2010
I went for a short holiday with my mum and sister to Jakarta from 3rd August to 5th August 2010. I had a few days of leave to burn hence the short notice travel. Getting the tickets was easy as AirAsia’s website (AirAsiaGo) was really user friendly. They also offered amazing rates hence I chose the best hotel offered, the Mandarin Oriental.
Our flight departed at 7AM and we arrived some 1 hour 55 minutes later. My first impression of the Jakarta airport was that it was exactly how I had it in mind, a similar version of the Subang airport back in the 90s but slightly more dull. What I didn’t anticipate was the power outage. Yes, there was a blackout just as when we were passing Customs for 5 mins.
Our transport to the hotel from the airport was smooth as there was somebody waiting for me there. The taxi system was efficient (we took the Silver Bird) and it’s meter based. The trip to the hotel took us nearly 1 hour and the cost was 270,000 Rupiah (~RM90).
The Mandarin Oriental was superb. It was the only thing throughout the whole trip that exceeded my expectation. The service was top class, the room was amazing with a fantastic view of the city. The restaurant had an excellent choice of ala-carte menu and a mouth-watering breakfast buffet. If there was something about the trip I was pleased about, it was the hotel. Definitely worth the money.
In the afternoon (on the same day we arrived), we took a cab and went to Plaza Senayan. Apparently it’s similar to KL’s Star Hill. I wasn’t there to shop but I had to accompany sister & mum as they had things they wanted to check out. After that, we went to Senayan City, which was right in front of Plaza Senayan.
On our way back, I noticed they have a dedicated busway for buses in the CBD, which I find is a really smart way for people in the CBD to escape the macet (Indonesian: traffic jam). The busway is dedicated, as there’s a divider on the road to prevent cars on the other lanes from hijacking the busway. Good idea!
I also noticed a lot of mobile stalls on the streets. These stalls are everywhere, from a small street to right in front of a big mall. Apparently it’s standard daily food for the majority of the working class here, as it’s cheap and easy to eat. This also leads me to notice the wide income gap between the upper class and the lower income group. In the malls, you hardly, actually, you don’t see any middle income shoppers at all. Apart from Plaza Senayan and Senayan City, I visited Grand Indonesia Shopping Town and Plaza Indonesia, and these observations hold true. Hence, I believe the middle-income shopper goes to other venue for shopping. Whereas, in Malaysia, something like Senayan City or Grand Indo Shopping Town is comparable to 1 Utama, The Curve or Megamall, and these malls are jam packed with the middle income group.
The next day we went to Bandung. People keep saying Bandung is a place to shop but then I thought isn’t that the same anywhere? The tour guide was explaining to us how Bandung is well known for its factory outlet and how these things are “original” and yet it’s very cheap. Upon arriving in Bandung, he took us for lunch at a really nice restaurant. It’s traditional Malay Bandung food, which later I found out, it’s quite different to the standard Malay food from the Malay Peninsula (i.e. Malaysia).
As I mentioned earlier, their Malay food is different. To me, it seems that the Malay food here is in its original form before the influence of Indian cuisine in Malaysia (in Malaysia, the Malay food comes with curry and lots of spices). After lunch, we went to Pasar Baru Bandung, which turned about to be jam packed with people everywhere, and we were stucked in a ridiculous traffic jam (unproportionate to the size of Bandung town) for nearly 40 minutes before getting there.
After that, we went to check out some factory outlets. In summary, I wasn’t impressed. Mainly because I’m not a shopper but also because I’m not convinced these “original” factory outlets are “original” to begin width. I initially thought of going to Tangkuban Perahu Volcano, but it’s quite out of the way (around 1 hour from Bandung town).
On our way back, we went to the famous Rumah Mode for tea time. They have a few factory outlet shops, and some nice cafes. The food and ambiance is relaxing and is definitely what you need after going through Bandung’s macet (traffic jam). On our way back to the city, we were stuck in a 4 hour + jam (it took hours 2 hours 30 mins to get to Bandung from Jakarta city). It was absolutely ridiculous. We left bandung at 5:30PM and we only reached Jakarta nearly 10PM! Thank god the hotel’s restaurant was still open and we had a satisfying dinner. Check out the Nasi Goreng below.
The next day was spent enjoying the hotel’s facilities and doing some light city shopping in the nearby malls. Our flight out from Jakarta was at 5:20PM. I was relieved to be back in Kuala Lumpur. Away from all the macet and the crazy driving. Did I mention that they have this thing where they honk each other on the streets? They use the honk to tell the other guy that they’re approaching, and they also use the honk to ask the other guy to give way. At night, they use both the high beam and the honk. Imagine that. One major factor contributing to the macet is how they disregard the usage of lanes on the street (not all streets, usually the small ones). A 2 lane street normally becomes a 3 lane with all the cars being around 1 inch away from each other.
While there are things that Malaysia can learn from Indonesia, Indonesia requires a lot of work before it can be at par with its nearby neighbours. They need to fix their driving habits (which I believe will help them improve the macet) and increase their middle class. With all the FDI pouring in lately, they might be able to, give or take 10 years.