Not Just Jakarta
Happy April, everyone! Some might notice that there has been a short halt in content up my website. The reason being I had to fly to Jakarta, Indonesia for a work & vacation thing this week with my family. I was initially planning to whip up couple of posts while I was there but it seemed impossible due to extremely slow wifi. It would’ve taken me hours to upload all these photos.
So I thought, instead of the other posts I had in mind, let’s have some travel talk! A short summary of my trip there could be interesting for those who have never been to Jakarta, or who have not been there in a while.
Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, a hot southeast asian country that is made up of thousands of islands and have hundreds of different cultures and societies within it. Jakarta is the metropolitan city where businesses tend to go, where most people who live in the outskirts commute to work. Temperatures are hot, hot, hot! Right around 32 Degrees Celsius. However, it is different from Singapore, because the air is much drier and less humid. Hence, it isn’t the cloying, moist heat I was used to. Dry heat is infinitely better. But be sure to pack lots of light clothing.
With the heat and smog of the city, the outskirts are actually much cooler in temperature. We went to ‘Puncak Gunung’, which is a pretty long drive to the countryside just outside Jakarta. This area is a mountainous region where tea plantations surround the entire base of the mountains. The weather there was cool and foggy, such a nice change from the city. It is a more rural side of Indonesia with more slums and poorly built housing, but in the midst of all that, there are tea factories and hotels to accommodate to the tourists that visit this area.
Here, we stayed at the Royal Safari Garden Resort & Convention. It’s a villa cum hotel that is affiliated with the Taman Safari (Safari Garden), close to that area. It’s a huge place with Safari themed rooms. Some rooms are more chalet like, others are more like apartments, with kitchens and a living room. We stayed at the “Giraffe Suite”, which was huge and comfortable. Plus, we had a great view of the mountains, during the day.
Puncak Gunung is a great place for hiking. The cooler air allows for a variety of plants and flowers to flourish. Which is why the mountains are covered with tea plantations. It was really cool visiting the gardens with gorgeous flowers and then going through rows and rows of tea plants. The whole area smelt like tea! For the daredevils out there, you can also parachute down the top of the mountain peak, sailing over all the plantations and greenery.
When in Indonesia, it’s good to note that Wifi is easy to find, but most have very weak signals and are not very fast. Hence, why I couldn’t upload any posts, nor even watch Youtube videos whilst I was there. It’s better to purchase a SIM card with data as that data signal is often faster than the ones provided by wifi. I bought a SIM card that had 4GB data for just SGD$10, which more than suffice. I barely even used 1GB after 5 days. It’s completely worth it. I would suggest using “Telkomsel” as the service provider, as I managed to get 3G signal everywhere, even in the mountains. Whereas, my sister who chose a different service provider, though it had a larger data, had a much weaker signal.
The main Jakarta city is a great place to shop and enjoy some relaxation. Lots of massage parlours that offer amazing massages for only SGD$20, using high grade essential oils. Or you could opt of a salon wash and blow dry for just SGD$10. I would recommend trying out the new coffee places that are popping up everywhere, very similar to the ones in Singapore, only much much cheaper and with very distinct coffee beans.
I was so surprised at how Jakarta has evolved over the years. Shopping malls are not only huge, they are revamped and looking more chic than ever. They housed every brand you can think of under the sun. And the best part is that they are rarely crowded.
It seems that shopping is a tourist activity. Locals tend to indulge in shopping trips overseas, but not so much in their own malls. Indonesians tend to prefer exclusivity and foreign products that other locals can’t get their hands on. The malls that I visited such as the ‘Grand Indonesia’ was gigantic and rather empty, which felt like we had the mall all to ourselves.
Here you will find many cool coffee places. My favourite being ‘Djournal’, with its super cute interior and amazing coffee. One of the best I have tasted, with a large latte being just SGD$3.70, I almost couldn’t believe it. I also visited ‘Blacklisted’, which was my least favourite but still very good and ‘Gambino Coffee’. Gambino has one of the BEST cold brew coffees I have EVER tasted in my life. So rich and smooth. UGH, I am obsessed! Needless to say, I had several cups in a day. Couldn’t get over the great quality and affordable price.
I was honestly surprised at how “hipster” Jakarta had become. There were fairs at the mall atriums by young fashion students that were starting out their own clothing business with super cool, funky designs. Amazing cafes and restaurants. Plus, the shops were huge with large variety of items. Even when I stepped into Forever21 or H&M, there were so many designs I had never seen before, in full sizes, no lines in the fitting rooms and everything was cheaper!
And don’t even get me STARTED on the food!! In Jakarta you can eat like a GOD, and still the bill would amount to less than SGD$50. Everything is so delicious, from the fancy restaurants to the cheaper street food.
Jakarta is, in my opinion, an underrated shopping destination. Most would go to Bangkok or Hong Kong. But these places have become rather expensive compared to the past. Right now, Jakarta is where it’s at. Much cheaper than Bali and a lot more satisfying, if you are looking for great shopping with well-known brands, amazing food and a buzzing coffee scene!