Showing posts with label Jakarta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jakarta. Show all posts

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Indonesia: Roti Tape Pisang Special at a warung kopi in Kelapa Gading

In a previous trip to Jakarta, I had a hawker food overload in Kelapa Gading. There was a lot of stuff I really enjoyed. So during this trip, after dinner with SSEAYP friends, I made sure to drop by again.

Unfortunately, on the way there, it started to rain really hard. So by the time we arrived in Wisma Gading, the warung were closing shop much earlier than schedule (it was a Friday night even) since the rains had prevented people from trooping over for yummy servings of warung food.

Good thing there was one warung open which served dessert roti. The warung kopi served roti panggang or grilled bread. Yes, you heard me right, grilled! It's the basic loaf bread sandwich with fillings that include chocolate, pineapple or strawberry jam, peanut butter, egg, corn or cheese or a combination of these. Then the sandwich is grilled to a toast over hot charcoal.

We chose the Roti Serikaya which is grilled coconut custard sandwich, and Roti Tape Pisang Spesial. Tape is fermented cassava while pisang is banana. They grill the tape and bananas first before placing them between the bread together with butter, cheese and chocolate sprinkles called meises (influence from the Dutch chocolade hagelslag). Then they grill the sandwich and slice it into bite-sized pieces.

It's damn good! And you could really taste the fermented tape. Eating tape is actually an acquired taste. So if you're not an adventurous eater, you're better off with the safer choices.

Anyway, since I was frustrated that we didn't get to binge on more warung food, we tried to look for hawker stall or food outlet that was still open. And we saw two across the street. One was a Chinese restaurant which served food very common in Medan. Contrary to popular belief, they do serve pork in Jakarta, particularly in areas where there is a high concentration of Chinese.

The restaurant is called Kaca Mata. We had a sampler plate which included Bebek Panggang Peking (grilled Peking duck), Siobak or Babi Panggang (roasted pork belly which tastes more like lechon kawali) and Chasio Garing Madu (honeyed barbecued pork which tastes like tocino) and Chasio Biasa. Cha sio or char siu is barbecued pork which is very popular in Medan.

Thanks to Ron Rada for this food adventure in Kelapa Gading and the previous one in 2007! For an even more comprehensive feature of food in Kelapa Gading, check out Indonesian food trip.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Indonesia: Sate overload at Jakarta's Jalan Sabang hawker street

Three years ago, when I first visited Jakarta, I was introduced to the sate stalls of Jalan Sabang, a popular hawker street in Jakarta. For the lack of a better way to describe the peanut sauce that accompanied the sate ayam (chicken skewers), it tasted like heaven! I have had a lot of sate in my various trips around Southeast Asia. And nothing comes close to the peanut sauce I had in Jalan Sabang.

So I made sure to visit Jalan Sabang again during this trip. Unfortunately, I could not remember which stall we ate at previously. So I picked two stalls, one recommended by my friends and the taxi driver himself at the street corner, and another along the street where I saw a lot of customers.

The sate ayam along the street costs Rp16000 for 10 sticks which includes glutinous rice called lontong (something like suman) which they cut up into small pieces and include with the sauce. It was really good. But I remember it being richer the last time I had it.

At the street corner of Jalan Sabang, I got ten more sticks of sate ayam at Rp14000, and ten sticks of sate kambing (mutton skewers) for Rp30000. They serve nasi putih (plain rice) here. But I decided to forgo on the extra carbs.

That was worth the trip. Unfortunately, food in Indonesia is surprisingly more expensive than in the Philippines. I spent Rp68000 for that street food meal which is about Php340. Well most things are.

Anyway, for an even more comprehensive feature of food in Java, Indonesia, check out my previous post Indonesian food trip.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Indonesia: Around Jakarta's old Kota District and Sunda Kelapa Port

I'm back in Jakarta, Indonesia. And one of the first places I visited was Jakarta Old Town (Kota Tua Jakarta), also known as Old Batavia (Oud Batavia), the seat of government of Indonesia under Dutch colonial rule. It's a heritage district which is very much intact, having been saved from any WWII bombings which devastated Philippine cities like Manila. Sadly, most of the buildings are unused and in a state of decay. But a visit to the old Kota District makes an interesting walking tour.

I asked the taxi to drop me off close to Taman Fatahillah (Fatahillah Square) where the former Stadhuis (city hall) of Batavia still stands. This structure built in 1710 houses the Jakarta History Museum (Museum Sejarah Jakarta), which is also called the Fatahillah Museum or Batavia Museum.

Among the items you'll find in the museum are objects from the Dutch East Indies Company, historic maps, paintings, ceramics, furnitures and archeological objects from the prehistoric era. Entrance to the museum is Rp2000.

Also around Fatahillah Square are two other museums namely the Wayang Museum and the Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum.

The Wayang Museum is a showcase of Javanese wayang puppetry. The current building is located in a site previously occupied by the Old Dutch Church built in 1640. The church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1808. The garden of the Wayang Museum is the former yard of the Dutch church, the burial place of Governor General Jan Pieterszoon Coen and other governors general.

The current building dates back to 1912, initially functioning as a warehouse of the Geo Wehry and Co. The building got its current look in 1938 when it was adjusted to Dutch colonial architecture.

Inside the museum are various kinds of wayang, such as wayang kulit and wayang golek. Entrance to the museum is Rp2000.

The Fine Arts and Ceramic Museum (Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik) is a showcase of paintings of local artists and ceramics of Indonesia. The building where it is currently housed was completed in 1870, and was used as the Court of Justice. Entrance to the museum is Rp2000.

I took an ojek (motorcycle for hire) to Sunda Kelapa, the old port of Jakarta which has been in continuous use since the 12th century. It was the main port of Sunda Kingdom of Pajajaran. The old Sunda Kelapa port only accommodates pinisi or Makassarese schooners, a traditional two masted wooden ship. There are guides in the tourist information office who can take you up the boats. But you'll have to haggle for the guide fee.

Nearby is the old Uitkijk Lookout Tower which offers a great view of the Sunda Kelapa Port.

I took an ojek back to Kota (Rp10000) and was dropped off at the Jakarta Kota Train Station, another heritage landmark. The station, completed in 1870 and renovated in 1926, is a combination of Western Art Deco and local architecture styles.

Outside you'll notice some of the traditional modes of public transport in Jakarta, the bajaj (pronounced as bajay, their local tricycle) and the mikrolet (the local version of the multicab).

Walking around, you can see a lot of the buildings still standing. In 1972, then Jakarta governor Ali Sadikin issued a decree that officially designated the Jakarta Kota area a heritage site, as part of efforts to preserve the city's architectural heritage. Slowly, the different buildings are being restored. But the slow progress has left many of the buildings in a state of decay.

At least Indonesia is lucky it still has something to restore. For Manila, not much is left. Which is why we fight hard to preserve the little that is left. It's close to impossible to bring back what is no longer there.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Indonesia: Sunrise on top of Borobudur

When I arrived in Jakarta, the city had several greeting arches which read "Hari Raya Waisak." It was obviously a big festival. Little did I know that it was a holiday the day before I arrived. Although majority of its citizens are Muslim, Indonesia also declares holidays on important Christian, Hindu, Chinese and Buddhist days.

June 1st this year was Waisak in Indonesia, a festival which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and demise of Buddha. The celebrations center around the largest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere, the Buddhist temple of Borobudur in Central Java.

After a nine-hour train ride from Jakarta, I arrived in Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogjakarta) at about 6 a.m. I'll write more about Yoyga when I get back and continue exploring this Javanese city. But I'll go fast forward and talk about my surreal experience in Borobudur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Friends in Manila had tipped me that there was a hotel within the grounds of the park itself and that by staying there, I would be able to explore the temple long before the crowds were allowed in. So after doing some research, I finally found the Manohara Hotel's contact numbers and asked my friends in Jakarta to book a room for me. It was good that the Waisak was over since that meant rooms would be easily available.

I took a one-hour bus from the Jombor Bus Station to Borobudur which cost me Rp10,000 (US$1.15). The good thing about booking in Manohara was that the entrance to the park was free for two days. That meant close to Rp200,000 (US$24) in savings since foreigners paid hefty amounts to enter. All I had to say at the gate was that I was booked at Manohara and my reservation number.

Manohara Hotel was a sprawling complex of guest rooms, conference rooms and restaurants that followed a distinctly Javanese architectural style which blended well with the surroundings. From the hotel, I could see Borobudur perched on top of a hill. Before climbing up the temple, I checked-in to drop off my bags. The room was Rp351,000 (US$41) a night. While you had to pay an extra Rp102,500 (US$12) per person to be able to enter the temple at 4:45 a.m. the next day. It was most definitely worth it. I didn't take too long in the room since I was raring to climb up this gargantuan structure which, together with Angkor Wat and Bagan, ranks among the great monuments of Southeast Asia.

Sometimes, I ponder how man was able to construct these masterpieces with the little technology they had at that time. Decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 statues of Buddha, this great temple, when viewed from the top, takes the form of a tantric Buddhist mandala, and is thus said to be the biggest mandala in the world. If we Catholics have the Fourteen Stations of the Cross, Buddhists who made the pilgrimage to Borobudur were said to reflect on each of the 1,460 narrative panels which depicted various scenes from the life of Buddha and his teachings. I finally reached the top after several rounds appreciating the reliefs at various levels.

Since Borobudur is the only temple inside the park, I decided to make my way back to the hotel to take a nap, waking up just in time for an early dinner. This was one of the few legs of my journey where I really made sure I maximized my vacation. Later in the evening, I watched an educational video about Borobudur in the hotel audio-visual room. I guess I was just too excited to climb up early the next morning so I had a difficult time sleeping. But I was able to get up thanks to the 4 a.m. wake-up call.

A van took me and two other hotel guests to the back entrance. It was still dark when we got there and the entire temple was lit by strong spotlights on every side. I first took some photos from below then made my way up the stairs to the top of the temple to wait for the arrival of the sun.

It finally made its way up, slowly enveloping the sky and the surrounding mountains with its radiance. The experience was indeed one of a kind. As I absorbed this heavenly scene, the silence around me was broken as I heard the noise of school kids down below. The first regular visitors for the day were making their way up the temple. I had it all to myself, well almost. But it was now time to give way to the droves of tourists which were climbing up the stairs.

I started to walk back to the hotel for my complimentary breakfast. After a quick meal, I was back to bed to get more sleep. By 11 a.m., I was on my way back to the bus station to rush over to Prambanan, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. More photos in Central Java Indonesia 06/06 and Central Java, Indonesia 06/05.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Indonesia: Walking around old Jakarta in Kota

Kota Tua Jakarta (Jakarta Old Town) or Old Batavia is a 130-hectare special region in the province of Jakarta (contained in the cities on North Jakarta and West Jakarta) that was declared a heritage zone by Jakarta's governor in 1972. It stands today as a legacy of Indonesia's Dutch colonial past. Although a bit neglected, what's important is that the buildings were not demolished and there are concerted efforts from both government and private groups to restore the area and rejuvenate Old Jakarta. Kota was therefore on top of my places to visit in Jakarta.

I arrived in Jakarta close to 9 p.m. My AirAsia flight was an hour delayed. But it wasn't too much a bother considering I paid so little for it. From the airport, I took a Damri bus to Blok M for Rp15,000. Taxis would most definitely cost you a fortune so ask around which Damri bus stops closest to your destination.

The plan was for me to meet up with my SSEAYP batchmate Wira at his office and I was instructed to take a cab from Blok M. I didn't take much notice to the detail which said I should take a Blue Bird Taxi. I would later learn that in Jakarta, taxis are branded and it's the passenger who refuses the taxi and not the other way around as is the case in Metro Manila. And they stick to safe names such as the Blue Bird Group (be careful because not all blue taxis are Blue Bird taxis) and Express. It turns out, there have been a spate of taxi holdups where drivers are in cahoots with the crooks, picking them up at designated places to rob their hapless passengers. Good thing nothing happened to me. Here's a detailed safety guide to taxis in Jakarta.

I met up with my other batchmates the next day. After a late lunch, we trooped to Kota. On the way there, we passed by the business district and I was impressed by the wide and well-landscaped avenues, grand fountains and monuments which one can find all over Jakarta. And there were so many trees... many, many trees! It seems Manila is the only Southeast Asian capital without tree-lined roads, aggravated further by MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando who declared an all-out war on trees in Metro Manila, with an Inquirer article once saying "MMDA chief Fernando: We'll cut more trees." Add to the fact that he churns out some of the ugliest infrastructure in the world (same goes for the DPWH). Those pink and blue pedestrian overpasses are plain and simple ugly! And he expects the Metro to look nice? He should fire his designers and consultants for lack of taste!

As we neared, there were already a significant number of grand colonial buildings. And I was quite happy to see an entire area of Dutch colonial architecture, many abandoned or dilapidated, but still standing. How I had wished the Americans had not carpet bombed Intramuros during the liberation.

Anyway, we walked towards the Taman Fatahillah, which was the old town square. The focal point of the square is the old city hall (stadthuys) of Batavia built in 1710 which stands on one side of the square. On the opposite side is one of Jakarta's chic bars, Cafe Batavia, named one of the world's best bars by Newsweek in 1994 and 1996. The bar is housed in an 18th century building, the second oldest in Fatahillah Square. As they say, the bar's authentic decor, celebrity visitors, fun parties and fine food have become world famous and it had thus become a must visit when in Jakarta.

All over the cafe, bathroom included, is an impressive collection of photographs and paintings of movie stars and celebrities, generals, royalty, and world leaders from days gone by to the present. And despite its celebrity status, prices are not as expensive as most 5-star hotels. Their best drinks include award winning cocktails Borneo Sunset and Marry Me.

From Kota, we took a bajaj (pronounced bajay) to another historic area known as Sunda Kelapa, which is Jakarta's picturesque 17th century harbor. It was getting dark when we arrived so I was not able to check out up close the magnificent Makassarese schooners which still dock in the port. Although the watchtower was locked, we were able to request the caretaker to open it for us. And we climbed up several wooden flights of stairs to the top of the tower which gave us a great view of the port.

We then took a cab to the 450-foot Monumen Nasional, or Monas for short, which was built to symbolize the fight for Indonesia's independence. Jakarta has a plentiful supply of monuments left by Sukarno, most in the Russian "heroes of socialism" style. Many of them have acquired funny and descriptive nicknames. And the Monas is called "Sukarno's last erection" (check out the photo to find out why) since he was overthrown before it was completed.

For dinner, we headed to Jalan Sabang, Jakarta's street food haven and sate center. There may be sate (satay) all over the Malay region. But none of them can match the heavenly delicious peanut sauce which accompanies the sate ayam we ate in Sabang. I want to try making peanut sauce to partner the pork barbeque we have here.

Anyway, the next day was mostly rest since I took a two-hour motorcycle ride from North Jakarta to South Jakarta early in the morning and got a feel of Jakarta's rush hour traffic. But it also gave me a window to check out Jakarta, the landmarks and the city's daily life. I'm off to the Gambir Train Station for my trip to Yogyakarta which is about nine hours away. I spent Rp190,000 (US$21) for an eksekutif class ticket. More photos in Jakarta, Indonesia 06/03

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