23 December 2008


I know. It's a bit late. But what the heck!.....

Selamat Tahun Baru 1430 Hijrah & Selamat Tahun Baru 2009!!!

The last update was last year. Been busy with guests and the long holidays. Two "hari terjepit" in two consecutive weeks!.

A lot of interesting things happened within the two weeks before the new year.

One of them is related to Pasar Blok A Tanah Abang. Those who have been there know the sheer size of this mall (errr ... if you can call it that).

A fortnight ago, two friends of mine were in Jakarta. One of them brought along his parents, an older sister and a 18-month old niece. All on their first visit to Jakarta.

On their request, I took them to Pasar Blok A, Tanah Abang. We arrived at noon and I straight away took them to the B1 floor.

By the way, let me tell you how they name all the levels starting from the lowest floor - B2, B1,LG, SLG, G, 1, 2, 3, 3A, 5,6,7,8,9,10,11 and A.


B1 & B2 - the B stands for the standard Basement, of course.

SLG - Semi-Lower Ground - it's the floor between lower ground and ground floor. They could simply name it LG (then the current LG becomes B1, followed by B2 and finally B3) but then simplicity is not a norm here. I once asked a friend what does SLG means, he simply said it stands for - Sikit Lagi.

A - is for Atap. Talk about inconsistency! You have Basement, Ground, Semi-ground floors, and then all of a sudden they decided to name the rooftop in Bahasa Indonesia!

Ok. You might ask why in the world would I waste my time observing the way they name all their floors.

That unfortunate day, I had to be part of a small search team.

This was due to the disappearance of the father in that group. He wandered off by himself. Strayed away from the rest in the group who were busy looking at kebaya, batik and mukena.

My other friend, moments after realising the father of his friend was missing, started to search around the nearby area. Then the daughter of the missing father said,

"Don't worry about my bapak. Let's find the kebaya first."

I was mad. Fuming mad! I went to her and slapped her on the left cheek. Another landed on her right cheek. Then I looked straight into her eyes and said " Kebaya lebih penting dari Bapak ko sendiri!?? Dasar anak derhaka!! Sedar tak apa yang ko cakap??!!" before giving a final slap on her forehead.

Ok. I didn't actually do the above. But the scene played over and over again in my head. I had a mild sinetronesis attack. I seriously have to cut back on watching sinetron.

So, without showing an ounce of concern, the whole family went on with their shopping spree. And I thought to myself - if they couldn't care less about their father, then why should I?

For the next 3 hours they only did 2 floors - B1 and SLG. Throughout the entire time, not even once we bump into the father. Still, it was not enough to make them worried.

Until 4 pm.

That's when they were exhausted from shopping and headed to the 8th floor foodcourt. They tried calling the father's mobile a few times. No ringing tone. Now, they had the worried look on their faces.

My friend (the son), another friend of mine and myself went on searching different floors tasked between us. While the ladies stayed behind at the foodcourt.

We even asked the lady at the information counter to make an announcement through the building's P.A system. However the volume was too low to be heard over the speakers.

Before we knew it it was already 5pm. Most of the shops were already closing for the day. Still no sign of the father.

By then, all the other exits, except for exits to the left and right of the main door entrance, were closed. We took our position at both doors. Hoping that the father would eventually come out through one of the doors.

The building's security personnel have been alerted to be on the lookout for a 60-year old Malaysian man who might look confused (seriously, that's what one of them said over the walkie-talkie).

6 pm. The father was still not in sight. Now, the family was getting really worried.

I, on the other hand, was getting restless.

Then the mother approached me and asked me to check my apartment. I called the apartment's receptionist. She sent someone to check the lounge area just opposite my unit's entrance. No one was there.

So I told the receptionist to call me immediately if she sees my missing guest.

It was almost 7 pm when we left Pasar Tanah Abang. The mother again asked me to check the apartment. I called. Asked the receptionist to send someone to check the lounge area. This time, the father was there. My missing guest had found his way back to the apartment.

Everyone was relieved. Yeay! Happy ending!!

When we finally arrived at my apartment, the family members gathered around the father and was instantly in a high pitch "discussion".

First time ever in my three years of hosting guests such a thing happened.

Anyone know where I can get one of those homing devices where I can track the movement of my guests on the Sat Nav systems?

18 December 2008

Blast From The Past!

Life has been quite hectic lately.

Blame it on the school holidays in Malaysia. If you think school holidays in Malaysia do not in any way affect my life in Indonesia, then, you're wrong.

'Tis is the time when relatives and friends in Malaysia take their family on holiday. Most of them are bored with the tiny dot down south of Peninsula Malaysia.

Jakarta is the new Singapore!

I do what is expected from a good host. Take them around places of their interest (read: malls and pusat grosir).

Please don't mention Tanah Abang or Mangga Dua. Merely typing those names makes my hair stand on end. I think, no, I believe, I've been to those places more than I've been to Thrifty in PJ all my lifetime.

Those in PJ who do not know Thrifty, then you have not live in PJ long enough. Ijal, kalo ko tak tau Thrifty, ko bukan le penduduk aborigine PJ Old Town.

Thrifty is equivalent to present day Carrefour but on a much, much smaller scale. Anyone remember Weld's Cold Storage? Hock Choon? Fairtrade?

Did you know that we even had Printemps in Damansara? (Nottytomato pakai lampin gamaknya masa tempat ni baru bukak... ke ko belum lahir lagi?) Next door was Kimisawa.

If any of those places do not sound alien, then, lets face it... korang dah tua!!!!

Speaking of being tua, recently, I chanced upon a website which has a vast compilation of Malay song lyrics. In no time I found myself singing and tapping my feet to Andainya Aku Pergi Dulu (Alleycats), Ku Petik Bintang-Bintang (Kenny Remy Martin), Suraya (Headwind), Kamelia (Sweet Charity) and Joget Kenangan Manis (Sudirman, best woo lagu ni!!) before my boss's face appeared just above my PC's monitor.

Sepoil sungguh mood aku. Baru nak ber-Mekar Sejambak.

To my Indonesian friends, those songs are from jamannya Emilia Contessa, Broery Pesulima, Bob Tutupoli and some from era Endang S. Taurina ngetop.

Yes. We Malaysians love Indonesian songs from way back then. We even know who Benyamin S. is and watched his films too (or am I alone in this?).

Anyway, I'll be a tourist guide again this weekend. That's three consecutive weekends. I long for the Sunday when I can wake up at 10am.

Happy weekend everyone!

11 December 2008

Be Wary At Secluded ATMs

Two Saturdays ago, running out of cash, a friend of mine stopped by at an ATM machine nearby Hero Permata Hijau.

He inserted the ATM card. It went in but suddenly it purged halfway. He tried retrieving the card by pulling it out of the card slot but failed.

Then he saw what seemed to be the bank's notice placed right above the ATM machine. The notice gave detailed instruction on what to do should the ATM card be stuck in the card slot.

This friend of mine followed the instruction. He punched in the keys in the exact sequence as stated in the notice. It said do to it three times and if the card was still stuck then proceed calling the bank's customer care line at the number displayed at the bottom of the A-4 sized notice.

He tried three times and still the card did not budge. He then called the customer care number.

My friend explained to the Customer Care Executive (CCE) his predicament. The CCE sounded very pleasant and professional and asked my friend to repeat the procedure as stated on the notice again.

Still nothing.

Then the CCE said from the online computer system, he could free the card from the slot. The CCE then asked for identity verification. Full name, address, mother's maiden name and PIN number.

Innocently, without sensing anything dubious , this friend of mine gave away all the information requested from him including his PIN number.

The CCE asked him to wait a few minutes and try the procedure on the notice again and hung up.

Barely two minutes after the phone call ended, a man came by the ATM machine and ripped the notice above the ATM machine. When asked by my friend why he did that the man said the notice was a hoax. He looked angry and said he wanted to show the security guard the notice. He then walked off briskly.

A little panicky, my friend called another friend who then gave him THE bank's customer care number. To cut it short, my friend lost Rp6,000,000. Withdrawn from an ATM machine in Senayan.

Ok. Granted that this friend of mine was foolish enough to give away his PIN number which is the number one, big, No-No! But then again, it could happen to anyone. Sometimes, when faced with such a situation, our concern is to get it resolved quickly and in the process we tend to momentarily lose the ability to think in a calm and rational manner. We blindly trust everything given before us.

These robbers getting smarter or just us getting more negligent?

Yupp. I suspect the person who took away the notice on the pretext of wanting to show it to the security guard was an accomplice.

So, please, please, store your bank's customer care numbers in your mobile/palm/or whatever gadget you own. And do store your bank account numbers too for they will ask for it when you call the customer care line should you need to block your ATM card. Do the same for your credit cards.

Be extra careful when withdrawing cash from secluded ATMs.

Have you ever noticed, at some ATMs, there are cameras right above those machines, pointing toward the screen and keypad? I never trust those cameras. I always cover with my left hand whenever I key-in my PIN number.

Call me stupid - it's better be seen stupid but safe than sorry and Rp6 million poorer.

04 December 2008

Selamat Hari Raya Qurban


I'm now residing in the new serviced apartment. The whole moving process went smoothly. I adjusted easily because Kintamani Apartment (my first dwelling of two years) is just a stone's throw away. So, the area needs no familiarisation.

Next monday is Eid ul-Adha. My third in Indonesia, fifth away from family. I might be going to Istiqlal for the Eid prayer - depending on how easy I can get a taxi on that morning. Otherwise, I'll just walk to the nearby mosque.

Last year I had my Raya meal in Starbucks. This year I will do the same thing. If there was a Oldtown Kopitiam I'll definitely head there instead. Of course, there will be a jamuan raya at the Malaysian Embassy. But I think I'll skip that. And the one at my boss's too. Don't feel like socialising this coming long weekend. I need to recover from the strenuous packing and unpacking last week.

Anyway, I wish all muslim a happy and meaningful Eid ul-Adha. Cherish this joyous moment with your family and loved ones. To the non-muslim, enjoy the extended weekend!

30 November 2008

Ready To Go

I spend the whole Sunday packing. The third time this year. I'm getting so good at it that I am considering a business in packing.

Once the boxes reach my new temporary residence, I don't think I will unpack them. Except for those which are really necessary, the rest will remain untouched.

This is in anticipation of another move come February or March next year. See, my life revolves around moving from one place to another. I'm a nomad, remember?

This time around, I catalogue what goes in where. I numbered each box and know exactly what goes in them. My best friend says I'm crazy. Well, Josh, trying to recall where the green pitcher is and rummaging through all 28 boxes isn't exactly fun.

Yes. This time around there are 28 boxes. 13 more than in August. Not because I accumulated more stuff within the span of 4 months. It's just that I have more of those cardboard boxes at my disposal. My target is to make it a "clean move" - if there is such a term.

No loose items such as plastic bags or small boxes. Everything, if their size permits, goes in the large cardboard boxes. The uniform, standard, cardboard boxes. Then the whole moving process will look, "pretty".

I know. I'm mad.


In the midst of packing :
After :

27 November 2008

Free Baths, Anyone?

I had one of those days when I felt like screaming. Instead, all I could muster was just an insincere laugh.

You see, I went through the Lease Agreement for my serviced apartment. The agreement laid out all charges which a tenant has to bear :
  • Telephone
  • Electricity
  • Laundry
  • Mineral Water
  • Cooking Gas

The list was pretty normal. You pay for what you use or consume. Fair enough.

But then I noticed that water charges was missing. I flipped to the next page. And it read-

Water Supply - Water supply costs Rp300,000/month and will be invoiced monthly with additional 5% administration charge.

Rp300,000 is equivalent to RM88. I asked the serviced apartment's marketing executive why weren't they charging based on consumption.

"Udah management tetapkan begitu Pak". When you couldn't give an intelligent answer, do the next best thing - blame it on others. She would excel being a Malaysian cabinet minister.

"Mahal ya. Di rumah saya di Kuala Lumpur Rp300,000 bisa buat bayar bill air bagi tempoh empat bulan. Ada 5 orang dan setiap orang mandi paling kurang 2 kali sehari." Ok.. Didn't know how that blurted out from me but I needed something to point out that their water charges was exorbitant for a single person's consumption.

"Wahhh.. murah ya." And she giggled. Couldn't care less about the issue at hand.

And that was when I gave up on getting a decent answer and gave out an insincere laugh. You know the kind of laugh you give when someone just told you a stinking joke.

Since I'd be paying Rp315,000 (plus the 5% admin charge) for water every month, you bet I'd soak myself in the bathtub every other day. I'd force my guests to try the bathtub too.

My showers would be 10 minutes longer. Guests are encouraged to take a bath before leaving. Or soon after they arrive. Or both. I don't care. Bring your own shower gel. Hehe.

If I can have it my way, I'd purchase a long rubber hose and supply free water to the roadside stalls just outside the serviced apartment.

Or maybe I should get one of those jet spray thingy and start a roadside car wash business. Maybe that could cover not only my water bills but also my electricity and telephone charges.

25 November 2008

Obama's Visit to Jakarta

The Indonesian daily,Kompas, today front-paged the news on the phone call received by SBY from US president elect, Barack Husein Obama.

The call lasted about 5 minutes. It may seem short. But receiving a call from someone who will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America, every minute is priceless.

SBY invited Obama to visit Jakarta after the APEC summit in Singapore next year.

During the short conversation, Obama told SBY how he misses among other things, nasi goreng (fried rice) and bakso (meatball).

I can imagine, SBY summoning the presidential chef to cook up the best nasi goreng and bakso for the distinguished guest should he be able to make that visit next year.

Now, no prize for guessing what'll be on the menu for the state banquet:

  • Nasi Goreng USA,

and on the side, of course,

  • Baksobama

Temporary Accommodation


HQ have approved my temporary accommodation. I was quite apprehensive when submitting the list of serviced apartments which I had painstakingly searched via the internet. I was worried my CFO would jump upon seeing the rates.

Well, she didn't. She sent an SMS at 10 pm on the same day asking me to proceed with the cheapest on the list.

You know what? Sometimes I feel like I'm in the U.S of A. All serviced apartments quoted me in USD. Although I did speak to them in good Bahasa Indonesia. When asked for the rupiah rates, they simply convert them based on current exchange rate.

I seriously think that some Indonesians "worship" USD a bit too much. For instance, I was at a PC fair the other day. Most laptops were sold in USD. Have you seen the travel agency ads for overseas tour packages? They're in USD. My two previous accommodations were charged in USD.

It's as if they have no confidence in their own currency.

Did you know that rupiah depreciated almost 35% against the USD since September? Whereas, currencies of some ASEAN neighbours fell between 3%-9% during the same period. Ehmmmm........

Anyway, remember my utter frustration with Air Asia? I finally got to speak to their customer care personnel. She said the plane which was scheduled for the morning flight had some technical problems and had to be repaired. That's why morning flight passengers that day had to be moved to the afternoon flight.

I never bought her explanation. I remember telling PB that I suspect Air Asia deliberately cancelled the morning flight that day because too few seats were sold which had made that particular morning's flight to Jogja unprofitable.

And this morning, I checked Air Asia website and clicked the flight schedule for Jkt-Jogja route. Surprise! Surprise! The morning flight is no longer there!!

I reckon I was a victim of Air Asia's trial period. At the time, the Jkt-Jogja route was newly introduced. So, after initially offering the morning flights to only find out from the bookings that they're not profitable, Air Asia decided to scrap the morning flight and fly only once daily to Jogja from Jkt. And during the whole trial process, I believe they've screwed up a lot of people.

My boss said this morning that Air Asia X has started selling the KL-London tickets.... I'd say let them screw up others first before I decide to purchase that ticket.

To my dear university mates - thinking of having a reunion at Albert Road's Bombay Express? Goshhh!! ... how I miss their Chicken Tika Massala.

24 November 2008

VIP Gym and Atmostfear

Last Sunday I was feeling a bit rajin than usual. Actually, I wanted to be away from home as long as possible because my housemate's family are here on holiday.

So, I thought, why not check out the new VIP Celebrity Fitness gym at FX Lifestyle X'nter (how to pronounce this ??? And what on earth is X'nter?). FX is the latest addition to the many malls in Jakarta. Offering much of the same things.

Except for Atmostfear. More on that later.

Firstly the VIP gym. The things the VIP outlet has that others don't - a salon in the men's locker (I guess they have one in the ladies section as well). Digital keylock system for the lockers. Exclusive showers with marble tiled walls. Fancy seating areas.

Errr... that's it. For them, it's enough to be given the VIP tag.

When I was there, the instructors (about 7 of them) were all sitting comfortably in the lounge area - chatting and having a jolly good time as though they're at Starbucks. None seemed to be interested to walk around and be of any assistance to the members.

I saw one lady who was struggling with the touch-screen panel on the treadmill. She looked around for assistance but no staff was near enough for her to wave to.

They're all at their own "Starbucks", remember? Makan gaji buta sungguh deme ni.

Well, the gym was nothing to shout about. I was expecting state-of-the-art equipment. Only the treadmills are better than other outlets. Other equipment are basically the same.

A total disappointmet. For something being labelled as VIP has to offer.

Anyway, the main attraction at FX is a tube slide called Atmostfear. For Rp50,000 (Rp75,000 on weekends), you can slide from the 7th floor all the way down to the 1st floor in roughly 12 seconds.

It's just like the giant waterslides at water theme parks only that this one is err... dry and indoors.

PB, the whole gang should try this in January. Make sure all are paired in the same coloured attire as you'd be given a free ticket each pair.

The area before one takes that "plunge"

19 November 2008

Kampung Daun

If you're in Bandung, you definitely wouldn't want to miss this kampung.

Kampung Daun is located in the hills north of Bandung city. On a smooth traffic day, it takes about 45 minutes to reach there from the city centre. Kampung Daun is actually a restaurant set in natural surroundings. Instead of the ordinary dining tables and chairs, here, you'd find gazebos/huts with low tables and cushions.

From the huts, you can gaze out to view the cascading waterfalls, the small stream and lush trees around the area. Simply an amazing experience.

I was there recently with my mother and grand aunt. It was drizzling and made the air a whole lot cooler than normal.

We ordered soto Madura, Betawi and Soto Ayam. I know, sooooo tak adventerous kan?

We were there almost 90 minutes. Well, the gazebo was so comfortable that we just sat and enjoyed the fresh air and cool breeze.

Then we headed to the souvenir shop to find the teapot similar to that used by Kampung Daun to serve their tea in. There's also a nursery. My mother bought two pots of garden plants which is now in our small front garden in KL. She managed to hide those plants in her suitcase. In May, it was orchids.

Anyway, Kampung Daun is surely a place not to be missed. If you're there on weekends, it is better to call ahead and make a reservation. A good place to relax those feet after a whole day of F.O hopping.

14 November 2008

Third Move

I'm now officially a nomad.

Kintamani to Pondok Indah to Bellezza to somewhere not known yet.

This will be the third time I'm moving - this year alone. 3 years in Jakarta and four residences. Great huh? Yeahhh... if I have only two suitcases of stuff with me.

At the last count, I had 15 boxes of personal belongings accumulated over the past three years. Tu belum masuk one 3-seater sofa, two single seater sofa, side tables, cabinet, table lamps, rugs and other stuff whichI categorise as needed-junks-which-must-not-be-left-behind.

Tomorrow I'll be on a apartment finding mission. Since my remaining stay in Indonesia is less than 2 quarters, I have no choice but to narrow down my next residence to serviced apartments. They offer short-term stay rental. FYI, private properties with a lease period of less than one year is almost impossible to find.

I have to vacate my current residence because the guy replacing my housemate would be bringing his family (wife & four children) to Jakarta - unlike my housemate who opted not to bring his family when he was assigned to Jakarta 3 years ago.

You see, since I am single, the onus is on me to move out from the huge apartment (which btw is owned by the company I work for).

Kalo the top management in KL ikut nasihat aku extend rental rumah kat Pondok Indah tu dulu, idak le aku kena pindah lagi. Sekarang sapa yang susah. Ada deme yang susah? Idak... aku jugak yang susah.

Now, not only I have to move, the company would have to incur higher rental cost compared with that of the Pondok Indah house. Serviced apartments don't come cheap in Jakarta, you know.

The irony is, the reason I was asked to move out from the house in Pondok Indah and occupy the company's apartment at Bellezza was - to save cost. Banyak le kome punya save cost measure. See what happens now?

Doa-doakan le aku dapat cari yang murah (kalo mahal kang tak approve pulak) and dekat and also banjir-free (since musim hujan pun dah sampai).

13 November 2008

Ole-ole Bandung

Whenever I take my guests to Bandung, I would never fail to stop by at one of the shops selling local snacks along Jalan Cihampelas.

I always favour Bandung's sale pisang (pisang salai goreng or smoked banana fritter). They taste better than those sold in Jakarta.

Odjolali is one of the better snack shops. Their sale pisang is fresh and crisp. Once you enter Odjolali, you'd be amazed at the variety of snacks available. From dodol garut to kerupuk kulit. There's even freshly made pecel.

These snacks make perfect gifts to be given away to friends. Tak payah susah2 pikior nak beli key chain, fridge magnet, atopun bookmarks. Tabur je makanan ni kat opis. Berkerumun le deme datang nanti.

12 November 2008

Paintings - Bandung

My grand aunt who was recently here for a holiday told me that she wanted to get a few paintings. Coincidentally, a week earlier, my housemate had brought his guests to a place south of Bandung and they bought ten rolls of paintings.

So, last Saturday, I told Yanto (my housemate's driver) to take us to the exact same place. We left Jakarta at 7.00 am and two and a half hours later, we arrived at a village south of Bandung city.

The first stop was at the same shop where Yanto had taken my housemate's guests a week before. My grand aunt was looking for paintings of paddy fields and flowers.

"Udah gak ada ibuk. Minggu lalu udah di beli semua sama tamu dari Malaysia ."

Ok. I think I knew who the "culprit" was.

So, off we went to another shop nearby. The shopkeeper was nowhere to be seen. We wandered around the shop. Not many paintings on display. Certainly none which my grand aunt was looking for.

Suddenly a middle-aged man literally sprung out of nowhere. Well actually, he was lying behind a desk.

We told him the types of paintings we wanted.

"Ada banyak. Di rumah saya ada banyak. Yang pemandangan sawah padi. Yang bunga. Ada banyak di rumah. Ayo kita ke sana aja ya?"

"Jauh gak?" I asked.

"Gak. Di depan itu aja" while pointing to a narrow road nearby.

"Boleh jalan kaki?" I asked.

To which he did not reply and he positioned himself next to the front door of the car. Well, ok. I took that for a no.

Bad feeling number 1 - tadi kata tak jauh, tapi kena naik kereta.

So he sat himself in the front seat of our car navigating Yanto to his house. 5 minutes driving through the narrow road, he asked Yanto to stop.

And I thought we had stopped right in front of his house. But no. We had to walk further into the narrow lanes between the houses.

We finally reached his house. We were greeted by a 30-something lady who we thought was the old man's wife. Then came out a 30-something man.

"Ini suami saya. Dia pelukis" said the lady.

"Terus ini rumah siapa? Bukan rumah bapak?" I asked the old man.

"Bukan, rumah saya di depan sono." he said while pointing to somewhere.

Bad feeling number 2 - kata nak gi rumah dia. Tapi di bawaknya ke rumah orang lain.

So we told the younger man we wanted paintings of paddy fields and flowers. He said he has many of those paintings and immediately excused himself and went off on a motorbike.

Baffled, I asked the wife. She said the husband went to the "bengkel" to get the paintings.

Bad feeling number 3 - tadi kata ada banyak kat rumah. Kalo ada banyak kat bengkel, baik pergi bengkel je tadi.

To cut the story short, after waiting for almost 10 minutes, the husband came back with only 5 rolls of paintings. Ini le yang dia kata banyak tadi. Apa lagi, instantly my blood went upstairs but managed to calm myself down. Didn't want to make a scene. Afterall, we were in their territory.

We excused ourselves. Truly disappointed and felt cheated. I had a feeling that the guy didn't have a bengkel. The 10 minutes he was gone I suspect he went scouting for those paintings from nearby shops.

So, Yanto took us to another shop, by the main road. It was there that my grand aunt found what she was looking for. Eventually she bought 5 rolls of paintings at very, very, very low price.

In Malaysia, you wouldn't be able to get the paintings at the price offered by the shops here. Once you frame them, I assure you the paintings would look like really expensive work of art.

11 November 2008

Mangga Gedong Gincu

Just like in Bahasa Indonesia, mango is called mangga in Bahasa Malaysia. It is also popularly called mempelam in some states in Malaysia.

In the east coast state of Kelantan it is pronounced as pelae. So, when someone offers you pelae in Kelantan and not knowing what in the world a pelae is, my advice is don't turn to your trusted English-Malay dictionary. You'll find "bananas" instead.

Anyway, I took the pic above in a minimart nearby my residence. Though this variety of mango has a very odd name, they're deliciously sweet. However, they are smaller compared to the other varieties. The price is a lot cheaper if you get them in hypermarts.

Still on mangoes, the next time you're in Jakarta, do try the mango juice. They're really thick and sweet (unlike the diluted version you'd normally get at "gerai makan Siam" in KL).

But, I have to admit though, nothing beats the taste of a glass of Indonesian jus alpukat.

10 November 2008

UNESCO's World Heritage Sites - Entrance Fees

Above are some of the World Heritage Sites and their respective entrance fees. The Renminbi conversion to USD is based on the exchange rate on 10/11/2008.

I will blog about the humiliating experience I had at Borobudur.

04 November 2008

Jalan Sabang

Jalan Sabang is located in central Jakarta. For easier guidance, it is the road behind Hotel Sari Pan Pacific Jakarta.

Jalan Sabang is famous for its restaurants and hawker stalls. The hawker stalls would only operate at night. They would occupy the wide footpaths along the entire stretch of the road.

At night, stalls, benches and tables would fill this footpath.

However, if you happen to pass by during daytime, there are plenty of restaurants you can choose from.

Personally, I've not tried the hawker stalls yet. I've dined at Natrabu and Garuda. Both are Padang restaurants.

Garuda Restaurant

When it comes to food, I'm not quite the adventurous type. I'm nowhere near Anthony Bourdain. Therefore I'm unable to recommend what's the best dish you must try at Jalan Sabang.

If you happen to be in Jakarta and yet to set foot here, do include Jalan Sabang in your itinerary. A word of advice - come at night. It's merrier.

03 November 2008

Jakarta - Jogja on Air Asia

As I'm typing this, I'm listening to the voice messages on Air Asia's customer care line. I've been trying to speak to a living person on their line for almost 30 minutes now.

"All our sales agents are busy. We'll be with you shortly."

"Sorry to keep you waiting. All our sales agents are still busy. We'll be with you as soon as possible."

"Sorry to keep you waiting. All our sales agents are still busy due to overwhelming response from our sales promotion. We'll be with you as soon as possible."

You know what I think? All BS. Especially the part where they say "We'll be with you as soon as possible".

Oohh.. and also the part where they claim the lines are busy due to overwhelming response from their promotions. Sure or not? More like angry people (like yours truly) calling - trying to get a decent explanation on flight cancellation and delays.

I've just put down the phone. Blogging about Air Asia takes some of my frustration and anger away.

So let's continue, shall we?

Have I told you that I bought 3 Air Asia return tickets to Jogja?

My mother is here for a 10-day holiday. She's here with my grand auntie. Since none of us have been to Jogja before, I suggested that we fly over to Jogja for a 3-day visit.

So, last Friday, for the outgoing flight - I booked the first flight at 6.00am. Estimated time of arrival - 7.00 am.

I deliberately booked the morning flight so that we would have one full day to explore the city on the first day. Then the 2nd day we could go to Borobudur. And the 3rd day we could just relax before taking the 4.30pm flight back to Jakarta.

But now, no thanks to Air Asia - my supposedly 2 full days in Jogja has been reduced to only one day. I received an SMS yesterday informing that my flight has been cancelled and moved to the 3.05pm flight.

I will not stop in my quest to get a decent and logical explanation from Air Asia.

They do this (delays and re-scheduling flights) frequently. Most of my friends who came to Jakarta on Air Asia were affected by flight delays. Don't believe what they say on their website about their high punctuality rate. This, my friends, is another big BS.

You see, flight delay is an alien term in Air Asia. They call them "re-timing". Lets say a flight scheduled to depart at 4.00 pm is delayed to 8.00pm. To Air Asia, this is not a delay but a re-timed flight.

So when the re-timed flight departs exactly at 8.00pm, Air Asia is, voila! - on time!. Hence the high punctuality rate as they claim on their website.

True, like what PB said. They should do a re-branding exercise. From Air Asia to Air A-sialan.

The new tag line?


27 October 2008

Jakarta Ink

There are many tattoo artists in Jakarta who turn the sidewalk in the city into their tattoo parlors.

Understandably, it is a far cry from the ones you see on Miami or London Ink. Nevertheless, their level of artistry is quite impressive.

I come across the above in the grounds of Monumen Nasional. The tattooist offers both permanent and temporary tattoos.

You can choose from the many designs in his catalogue folders or bring your own design. Notice the pair of legs on the top left hand corner in the pic above?

They belong to this guy.

I was expecting some grimaces of pain. But he appeared to be nonchalant about the process. A picture of absolute calmness. That's not a temporary tattoo mind you.

However, there are of course many proper tattoo parlors in Jakarta. Go to one of these if you have reservation about the sidewalk tattoo artists. Particularly on their hygiene practices.

26 October 2008

Car Free Sunday

In Jakarta, every last Sunday of the month is a car free day. On this day, two main roads i.e Jalan Sudirman and Jalan MH Thamrin are closed to all vehicles from 6am until 2pm - with the exception of TransJakarta buses which operate as usual on the designated lanes.

The road closure starts from the roundabout nearby Senayan City all the way to the small roundabout just before Monumen Nasional.

The objective of the car free day is to reduce the air pollution in the city. Some argued that it is not effective as the pollution would only be diverted elsewhere.

Anyhow, the car free day gave the people of Jakarta the chance to utilise the two main roads for various activities.
So, last Sunday morning, 7 am to be precise,I managed to force myself out of my cosy and comfortable bed and headed for Plaza Indonesia. I arrived at Bunderan HI half an hour later.

Bunderan H.I (Hotel Indonesia Roundabout). Hensel & Gretel waving Welkam! Welkam!

It'll be heaven if this is how it is everyday!

Ko baring atas jalan pun orang idak langgor. Lainle kalo badan ko kecik sikit dpd jengkaut Tadano

Surprise! Surprise! The whole place was alive with a hive of activity. By the way ... Ijal ko ingat tak video aku buat aksi2 bangang ala2 Cilla Black kat residence hall QEQM? Boleh selamatkan video tu tak?.

Many were brisk walking and many more were cycling. Nampak best pulak. Fully geared with bike helmet, cool shades and the cyclist outfit. I'm sooooo going to get myself a bike.

Riang ria deme. Ada lari slow2, ada jalan fast2. Tapi ramei yang naik beskal.

L-R - Raja Man, Mish, Syuk & Steve. Steve... tetap over ngan helmet karer merah.

Pakcik ni sanggup pinjam beskal kompeni.....

On the pavement just outside Plaza Indonesia you could see a congregation of people with old bicycles. Some attired in old styled clothing complete with hats (like those worn by the British during the colonial era in Malaya).

A section of road right in front of Nikko Hotel was transformed into three futsal pitch. A tournament of some sort was being held.

Looking around I noticed there were many shutterbugs with DSLR camera. Jeles. Jeles. Ok. Forget the bike. I'm sooooo going to get myself a DSLR camera.

Ok-lah. Since I was already on Jalan Thamrin, lets see the hotels and shopping malls located along this road.

First is the Mandarin Oriental which is still closed due to major renovation works.

Plaza Indonesia. Directly opposite is the Grand Indonesia. Both are high-end malls.

Above Plaza Indonesia is the Hyatt Hotel

Ascott serviced apartments - located next to Grand Indonesia

Across the street from Hyatt is Nikko Hotel

Another view of Nikko Hotel from Hyatt

The multi coloured building above is EX Plaza where Hard Rock Jakarta is located

This is not a Pencawang Masuk Utama. It is the Japanese Embassy. The architect must have designed the building on an uninsprising day

Just a short walk from EX Plaza is Sarinah. One of the earliest malls in the city. Within this building there are plenty of cafes. There's also a 24hr Mc Donald's.

Ibis Arcadia Hotel. Three minutes' walk from Sarinah. Quite reasonably priced.

Further up from Ibis Arcadia is another Ibis hotel. Ibis Tamarind. It's the building on the right in the above pic. In addition to these two Ibis hotels, there are many small hotels along this road (Jln KH Wahid Hasyim)

Ok. Back to Jln Thamrin. You'll find Sari Pan Pacific. Next to this hotel are Starbucks and the Oh La La Cafe. Both are open 24hrs. Also, there is a Burger King which closes almost midnite.

So there you go. A short tour of part of Jln MH Thamrin. Visitors to Jakarta must take note of the last Sunday of each month. You don't want to get caught unaware which could disrupt your travel plans for the day.