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.

Abdul & The Coffee Theory

I bought a new CD last weekend. By an unknown band called Abdul & The Coffee Theory (unknown to me anyway....was told Abdul had previously released a solo album).

The album is titled Loveable.

Went through the songs. You know an album is good when the first five songs gets you immediately.

Among my favs are Tiada Batas (Menunggu), Ku Cinta Kau Lebih Dari Kemarin, Mr Perfect, Loveable, Cahaya, Bodoh Untuk Setia and Beauty is You.

Abdul sengih2 manja tunggu kopi.

In general, most of the songs are pop R&B and with a bit of jazz thrown in. Except for the song Beauty Is You which is in swing.

Oh.... I have one thing to say to Persatuan Karyawan Malaysia on the 90:10 proposed quota - Stop being crybabies! Go and learn how to make good music!

Saya bukan mendewa-dewakan produk luar. It's just that I only go for the best!

Happy Deepavali

Happy Deepavali to all Hindu friends.

Indonesia tak cuti. Korang semua seronok le makan muruku sambil tengok reruns of bollywood movies yang ke gazillion kalinya.

22 October 2008

Robbed by Shell

The weather has been scorching hot the past one week. Which made my daily walk to Pondok Indah Mall (PIM) for lunch a rather wet affair. You see, by the time I reach PIM, I'd be drenched in my own sweat. Which leave patches of wet spots on my light coloured office shirt. Which in turn would draw stares from the people at the mall.

We Asians just don't consider it rude to stare at others do we? Maybe they could make out the face of SBY (Mr. President) from the patches on my shirt. Or Elvis. Or a map of Java. Beats me.

Today, to avoid from being on the receiving end of the evil-looking stares, I wore a dark coloured office shirt. Now they won't be able to enjoy the sweat patches on my shirt unless of course for some strange reason, my glands produce white coloured sweat.

And what do yo know. It rained and the weather is so much cooler.

Ok. Straight to the reason of this entry.

I am really upset. Shell has robbed me of my pedestrian walkway. It wasn't a nice walkway to begin with, but hey, at least it made my daily walk to PIM safer.

But yesterday, Shell has denied me that. They're constructing a fuel station and blocked the stretch of pedestrian footpath in front of the site.

Now, I have to walk on the street and be cautious of the busy traffic.

Ok.Ok. Long before I was robbed by Shell, there have been other equally guilty parties as well.

On a different note, feel free to drop by Betty's blog here. She's an Australian expat who had just recently moved to Jakarta. And she takes exceptionally beautiful photos.

19 October 2008

Jalan-Jalan Jakarta Weekend

I had a group of guests from KL over the weekend - a colleague from HQ with her husband and twenty something son and daughter. And I had to play the role of Jakarta's unofficial tourist guide - something which I do at least once every month.

Because of the calling of my unpaid job, I had to skip Jakarta's first Soulnation Festival at Istora Senayan. Luckily, I didn't fork out my own money for the ticket. I got it free from AXIS (the main sponsor) who happen to be our major client.

So, on Saturday, relucting to join their parents to Pasar Grosir Tanah Abang and Pasar Baru, the daughter and son asked me to take them to places where they could find things which were more suited to their young tastes.

First, I took them to Plaza Senayan because they wanted to check out Lacoste's outlet. We then crossed over to Senayan City where the Oakley outlet was having a big sale.


I said "we poor pedestrians" because I know some rich people who prefer to be chaufferred across instead of walking just a couple of hundred steps to cross to Plaza Senayan. Afraid your Prada or Ferragamo sole might wore out is it?

I guess that's the reason why the local authorities couldn't be bothered with providing good pedestrian walkways - because the people that matter most to them (i.e the rich) don't use it.

I bet the same rich people of Jakarta don't mind walking along Oxford Street, Fifth Avenue, Orchard Road or even Bukit Bintang. I think they would rather be dead than be seen walking from Grand Indonesia to Plaza Indonesia.

Ok. Moving on.

After grabbing a few items at Oakley's, we headed for Polo Ralph Lauren outlet in Kemang. Lucky us, they were having a 50% discount on selected items. In the end, dia orang tak beli apa2, aku pulak yang terjebak beli 2 helai baju. Ni yang kekadang malas jadi tourist guide nih.

Then I took them to ITC Kuningan and Ambasador Mall. There's a factory outlet store called Premium in Ambasador Mall. Those on holiday in Jakarta and do not have time to squeeze in a trip to Bandung, a visit to Premium would be good enough.

Again, aku terjebak beli sehelai baju. Nasib baik murah.

Since they wanted to see Hard Rock Cafe Jakarta, I took them to EX Plaza. We made a quick tour of the adjoining Plaza Indonesia and crossed to Grand Indonesia where I showed them the upper floors where all the restaurant and cafes were.

And they were really impressed. If Starhill Bukit Bintang has only one floor of the tastefully designed restaurant and cafe area, Grand Indonesia has two entire floors divided into American, European, Oriental and Middle Eastern districts. Each with its own distinct decor.

In the photo above, the guy next to me is my colleagues' son. If you had met this chap in February this year, chances are, you'd never recognise him.

You see, in February this year (a mere 8 months ago), he was tipping the scale at 85kg and had a 38 inches waistline. According to him, he'd been obese since his early childhood days.

He then embarked on a weight loss mission. He was doing it not for others, but for himself.

His secret? No. Not gastric bypass surgery.

Proper diet which he religiously stuck to (he's a chef so he cooks his own healthy meals) and a minimum of 3 times weekly cardio sessions (he jogs about 5km every session at Tasik Titiwangsa).

And now, he weighs 62 kg (dah naik sikit lepas raya, kalo idak 59 kg) with a 30 inches waistline.

My respect and admiration goes to this guy.

Jakarta's Latest Premier Taxi

If Kuala Lumpur is still struggling to improve the image of its infamous taxi service, Jakarta on the other hand has gone up a few notches.

Presenting you, the most luxurious taxi I have ever set my eyes on (in this region)......

Yupp. Don't squint your eyes. That is a Toyota Alphard.

Very convenient if you're on holiday in Jakarta and travelling in a group of 5 or 6 people.

So to my friend Steve, you can now realise your dream of getting off from an Alphard at all the malls in Jakarta.

15 October 2008

An Evening In Bukit Bintang

It has been 2 years since I last set foot in Bukit Bintang. 2 years might not be long enough for Siti Nurhaliza to bear a child, but it is long enough for YTL to deliver us a new mall.

On what was previously Bukit Bintang Girls School, now stood an ultra modern shopping mall (as if Bukit Bintang needed a new one) called Pavilion.

Peanutbutter was my guide for the evening.

Ini malam lu ikut wa jialan2.

Actually, we didn't plan on eating but since we entered Pavilion through its foodcourt, we felt hungry instantly.

Foodrepublic - Pavilion's foodcourt

ToastBox came to the rescue.

The cost for 2 person Rp35,000. I bet you could not get it this cheap in Jakarta's overpriced foodcourts.

They serve delicious kaya on toast and soft buns. Not to forget my all time (recent) favourite white coffee.

We then crossed over to the adjacent mall. Starhill. Peanutbutter took me to the lower ground foodcourt (actually calling it a foodcourt is an understatement). Malay, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Western, Vietnamese and fusion cuisine can be found here.

And it was snap happy time. I swear I looked like a hillbilly. Jakun giler.

We went back to Pavilion where we were joined by Steve who seemed to have grown at least 5 inches taller. He said it was the visual effect from his slim cut trousers. Tipoo. Ko gi buat treatment panjangkan tulang femur kan?

Steve showed us around True Fitness in Pavilion. The place where Steve seldom works out but pays in full. I think True Fitness has a lot of members like Steve. That's why they can afford to buy state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

Touch screen treadmill. A host of other equipment use touch screen lcd panels too.

Then it was off to Starbucks to cuci mata. We chose a strategically positioned table. Not that we have many subjects to cuci our mata on. Afterall, we were in Kuala Lumpur. Where beautiful people are a rarity. If we were in Jakarta we could all go blind staring at the stream of pretty faces passing by.

"You know or not I had an affair when I was in China?"

"Itu cilita lama la.... manyak suey.. wa balu plan mau pigi lu sulah balik"

After the not so exhilarating cuci mata session we headed for the foodcourt again as Steve was feeling hungry. As we were deliberating on where to have our dinner, Misha and Syuk arrived and suggested the famous Bukit Bintang chicken rice. If you happen to be in Bukit Bintang I strongly recommend you to try this place out. Can someone help me with the name? Lupa la pulak.

So from Pavilion we walked in the slight drizzle to the chicken rice restaurant which was about 500m away. But not to worry. Kuala Lumpur has good pedestrian footpaths all over the city (which Jakarta sadly is lacking. Beyond the stretch between Plaza Indonesia and Monas, good pedestrian footpaths is almost non-existent).

Syuk (berpaut pada railing untuk menyeimbangkan badan yang dah kurus) dan Peanutbutter (pakei payung walopun hujan turun 3 titik p/square meter per minit) sedang khusyuk mendengar dakyah2 daripada Mish.

Along the way, we were greeted by masseurs offering reflexology massage. A word of caution - if you do not want to be mistaken as one of the masseurs, NEVER wear orange coloured shirt in Bukit Bintang. Yours truly did. Peanutbutter said I blended in perfectly among the masseurs. She had the photo to prove it. And it was disturbingly true.

We had a good chicken rice meal. I took only the chicken and tofu. Oprah says no rice after 7pm. Occay.. she didn't say that but I had to watch my diet after having no-holding-back-eat-all-I-can week.

Mish & Syuk had to continue painting their new house and excused themselves while Steve had to be in bed by 11pm (your bed or someone else's bed?).

Since it was still early, Peanutbutter and I kidnapped Raja Man who was attending a friend's open house in Keramat. We then headed for NZ Curry House in Wangsa Maju.

Raja Man dengan pose berjudul Ku Angin Pelamin Angan Ku Musnah

It was there that Peanutbutter coined the term "orang bisu gagap". And it was also where we foresaw a glimpse of how we would look like 20 years from now. It was however a not so tasteful version of our future story. Macam sial je orang yang kome pilih jadi aku tu.

Thanks guys for a truly delightful evening. Looking forward to your visit in January.

Sampe sekarang aku terbayang bahasa isyarat gagap tu.