Home > Countries > Countries Factsheets > Discovering Jakarta

Here, all team members and members of the community of Expatclic, can keep a diary of their first discoveries in their new host country. No big details, just some quick tips, news, discoveries, embarrassing situations… In the end we’ll have a lively, useful and thick fact sheet that could be useful to newcomers. If you have relocated recently and would like to share the first few months of discoveries, please get in touch with us.

  • I am about to share an amazing resource for expats in Jakarta. A friend of mine who lived here before told me I absolutely had to go and check it, which I did a couple of days ago, and I must admit I was fascinated, and immediately joined. Well, I have not tried any of their activities yet, but they promise to be a lively, interesting and resourceful group. I am talking about the Indonesian Heritage Society, an organisation formed by Indonesians and foreigners alike, that promotes the knowledge of the Indonesian artistic, historical and cultural heritage, through activities of various kind. They have study groups (Indonesian literature, ceramics, art and much more), exploration tours to over 30 interest points in Jakarta, Rumahku (which means my home or your home I can’t remember), that are get together anyone can organise at their place on a specific theme, plus museums guided tours, trips outside Jakarta, conferences, movies, and a beautiful library where you can borrow interesting books that you would not necessarily be informed about. This is their website, and it’s absolutely worth a visit: https://www.heritagejkt.org/

    Heritage socitey

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    This morning I went to the monthly meeting of Jakarta Accueil, the welcoming association of the francophone community in Jakarta. I have always enjoyed the “accueils” in the world, and this group did not disappoint me. They celebrate their two years of existence and assistance to the expat francophone community here. I was welcomed by a group of enthusiastic and interesting ladies of different nationalities. Take a look at their website – https://www.jakarta-accueil.org/ – they are very active!

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    Jakarta Accueil

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    I could not take a picture of the place when I went to see them this morning, because they do not advertise it (it’s just known to the members), but I can assure you that the welcoming point of the AWA (American Women’s Association) in Jakarta, is a lovely and cozy one. AWA is very active in organising things for its members, and seems to be a great place to meet new people (not only Americans!). What made me immediately excited is that they have this shop that collects second-hand clothes and books, that are then sold at a very low cost to keep their social programmes going. And the books…oh my God!!! If you are passionate about reading, as I am, I promise you’ll want to become a member and spend a looooong time through the shelves… Here is AWA’s website: https://awajakarta.wildapricot.org

    Jakarta AWA

  •  If you want an evening in style, I discovered a wonderful restaurant in Menteng: it’s called Kunstkring Paleis (https://www.tuguhotels.com), and it is in a colonial house and very Dutch with Indonesian grandeur. It has a wide and stunning hall where people seat at elegantly set tables. The menu is mostly Indonesian and the quality high. The Palais also hosts an art gallery, a crafts shop, and several charming halls, including a Suzie Wong lounge and rooms with historic photographs.

     

    Kunststring palais

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    I have been away for a long time. I went to Italy first, and then to Singapore for an operation. Back in Jakarta, no discoveries because I was (actually, I still am) recovering. Today, though, I looked at my list of discoveries that still need to be shared, and decided to start again. So here it goes: I discovered a loooooovely place! It’ called Paviliun 28, and (because I am lucky) it’s close to where I live. As they say on their website, it is “creative social responsibility culinary cinema”. It is basically a shared space, with a medium-sized room where you can eat and drink, and some cubicles used by young entrepreneurs: one hosts an agency for movies promotion, one a barber shop, a third a clothes brand. Besides the main room there is a small cineforum (which seats about 30 people). The screen is large enough to enjoy a good movie. Movies change everyday, they are mostly Asian but all subtitled. Upstairs there is a meeting room that you can rent, and while you are there, you can have a look at the kind of plants they grow on the roof. Not to miss. Paviliun 28 is in Jalan Petogogan 25, Gandari Utara, tel. 021 9528 3244, and this is their website: https://www.paviliun28.co/

    Interno

    Paviliun

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    Here’s another place well worth a visit. 1/15 coffee is a bar where you can taste the best coffee in Jakarta (or so I am told. I admit the coffee I tried there was not bad). But it’s not only the coffee which makes this place interesting. It is a very minimalist open space, where you can sit with your computer and work in total piece. The staff is young and welcoming. No big news in Jakarta, but always good to know.

    1:151:1521:153

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    This is a place I discovered for the farewell party of a friend – it is on a big avenue full of traffic and noise, but secluded enough to guarantee a beach-like experience 🙂 It’s called the Beehive Cafè Jakarta, and it is in Jl. Fatmawati Raya 39. Huts, a billiard, live music, with a bit of an effort you might think to be in Bali or another beautiful island… This is a dark picture, but maybe gives the idea of the fun:

    Beehive cafè

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    I realise now that I have not yet shared one of my favourite (and an expats’ favourite!) restaurant in Jakarta. It’s called Koi and has several locations, though the one in Kemang seems to be the most attended and has the plus of having a furniture exhibition (where you can also buy and rent very nice pieces of furniture) on the third floor. The menu is international with a touch of Indonesian, the place spacious and the prices reasonable.

    DSCN9182

    Once you have eaten, you can cross the street and pop in at Chic Mart, a boutique in front of Koi, which sells furniture, accessories, clothes, boxes, decorations and lots more.

    DSCN9185DSCN9184

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    This is a lovely place for coffee lovers but also for those who want to spend a quiet moment in a great place with free wi-fi and a yummy cake: Anomali Coffee has several shops in town, and apparently offers one of the best Indonesian coffees. I went recently and had a coffee cupping class – great fun! A young and dynamic environment.

    Anomali cafè

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    Today I want to share with you the name of a restaurant where I went the other night to celebrate my husband’s birthday – Seribu Rasa (one thousand flavours) has three restaurants. I am told the best is in Menteng, with a lovely garden. We tried to reach it, but it was Saturday night and we were quickly caught up in the crazy traffic, so we opted for the same but in a shopping mall (just for a change 🙂 ). The place, though elegantly furnished, was a bit noisy, but the food – oh my God!!!  absolutely delicious, the waiters embarrassingly kind and the price totally reasonable.

    Seribu Rasa

  • Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the BOLT. First let me tell you that internet connection is generally not premium in Jakarta – it can be slow, intermittent or simply disappear for a whole day. One thing you can do if you absolutely need the connection, is to buy a BOLT:

    Jakarta bolt

     

     

    You can get the Bolt in most malls, but there are only two assistance points – one in Lippo Mall Kemang, one in Plaza Semanggi. You will probably need assistance at some point, unless you are really a pro and understand immediately how the whole thing works (and a bit of Bahasa, of course 🙂 ). Anyway, the tool costs about 500,000 IDR (33 euros), you top it up as you do with your phone, and then you go to the Bolt website (also in English) and chose your package: https://www.boltsuper4g.com/ It works pretty well all over Jakarta.

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    It is very easy to add credit to your portable here in Jakarta. You just go to a 7/11 (there are almost more of these than motorbikes), and have two choices: either you buy a scratch card or you use this lovely screen:

    Jakarta ricarica cell

    You just chose your provider, add your number, how much you want to charge, and give the ok before paying at the cashier (cash or credit card). Topped up!

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    Yesterday it was a Sunday and a glass of water fell on one of our computers, which contained very important documents. I let you imagine the tension. We checked the internet with all possible combinations “pc+repair+urgent+jakarta”, “sos+computer+jakarta”, “computer+technician+jakarta”, etc. It was just when my husband had the idea of using the word “24 jam”, which means 24 hours, that we got a (modest) list of websites that seemed to get close to our needs. We called one of the guy who appeared on one of these websites, and quickly realised that we had absolutely no common language to explain the intricate problem. This time it was him who had the brilliant idea to say “address sms” – and once we sent him our address, he wrote back in Bahasa, but at that point we used Google Translator (how have we survived before???) and were able to entertain a complex conversation which included data like expected time of arrival, skills level, anguish level, urgency, etc. etc. Then he arrived (they were two, actually, but I had the feeling once was more for moral support), opened and dismantled the computer, dried it, and it was functioning again and even better than before. Ah, and it was Sunday (this I already said), he came to our place and spent two hours, he even cleaned another computer of ours which was functioning slow, and he only charged 400,000 rupees (26 euros). So, if you ever find yourself in Jakarta and have a problem with your pc, call Hay – Smartcom, tel. 021 96371994 or 0857 19368300 – not only will your computer be fixed, but your Bahasa will dramatically improve!

     

    Jakarta pc repair

  • I am sure this discovery won’t make only the Italians happy…There is an Italian restaurant in Jakarta, Convivium (Jl. Panglima Polim 9 No. 1, Kebayoran Baru), which sells Italian ham, bacon, speck, and cheese (like Gorgonzola and Brie). The restaurant itself offers nice Italian dishes, but you can also go only to buy a piece of cheese or a slice of delicious prosciutto crudo. You can see the prices in the picture (1 euro: 14 rupees):

    Jakarta Convivium

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    I finally came face to face with the notorious durian! The durian is a terribly stinky fruit that is forbidden in some places because of the horrible smell it produces. And I have to confirm that even from afar, the smell is unbearable. I don’t know how some people find the courage to eat it (there is a funny story about durian in Forced to Fly, the book we discussed last month…). Anyway, it is important to know the existence of the fruit, because it has given Jakarta its most popular nickname: the big Durian (guess why…). Here it is:

    Jakarta duran

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    A chilly discovery: Kinder bars are nowhere to be found in Jakarta! You can find Kinder eggs, though…

    Kinder

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    I am puzzled. At the supermarket yesterday I saw this:

    DSCN8987

    At the beginning I thought they were sweets, but quickly realised they were frozen. Then I read the sign “Fish snacks”, and I realised they are cute little faces and balls made of fish. I only hope they maintain their shape and colours when fried!

  • A brilliant idea for the city that tweets more than any other city on earth – seen at domestic flights of Soekarno-Hatta Airport:

    Carica telefoni

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    Just to give you an idea of how important drivers are in Jakarta’s day to day life, and how spread is this profession, some malls have a special room with TV, where they can sit and wait their employers finishing their shopping…

    Stanza autisti


    Stanza autisti2

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    You find the funniest things on questionnaires here…look at this: they ask you for your nickname!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Nickname

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    I don’t know whether this is the expression of a macho society that thinks that women are so unable to park that they need their own space, or a sign of politeness towards us, but I find it comforting that there is space reserved to ladies in the parking lot. Now, the thing to discover would be: are we allowed to park anywhere else, or do we have to find a spot in the three reserved to us? I’ll let you know when I find out, or you are welcome to tell me, if you know…

    Ladies parking

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    Today I simply want to share two ideas I saw here, that are very much local…the first one is this:

    Jakarta

    and it’s used mostly, but not exclusively, on public transportation. It consists in hanging a perfumed bag where the flow of cold air of the air conditioning comes out, thus diffusing a lovely (though sometimes a bit strong!) smell in the shared environment.

    The other one is this:

    Jakarta2

    Hand hygienizer gel is vastly used here – it’s sold in little bottles and you find it everywhere: in offices, on cars, at home and in women’s bags. Hygiene is very important in a humid environment like the one of Jakarta. This supermarket has conveniently placed a gel dispenser at the cashier, so that after touching and handling a variety of products, you can have a go and get out of the place with clean and disinfected hands!

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    Ok, due to technical problems with the site, it is the third time I post this:

    Tubles

    This machine, or spot or place, whatever you want to call it, inflates tyres (all sorts of), and can be found all over Jakarta, in different shapes, colours and structures. Some Tubles (that’s what they are called) are more sophisticated, with big signs and some sort of roof to protect from the sun. This one is at the bottom of my street, and I love it. Since I discovered what they are, I am passionate about spotting as many of them as possible. Isn’t this a clever business???

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    Yesterday I went to the immigration office for my Kitas (the Kitas is something magic, something every foreigner in Indonesia must have, something once you get, you never want to let go): they had to take a picture, my signature and fingerprints. All very organised and smooth. The only thing that made me smile is that after I went through security and into the main hall, my “agent” (the guy who is following my procedure, sent from my husband’s office) ran after me with a long sweater (certainly of one of the guards), and told me that the guards at the door were asking me to wear it. My dress, otherwise decent, actually showed the whole of my arms. I took out of my bag the little “cache coeur” I always have with to cover my shoulders and told the guy I would wear this, instead. But then, when I sat down in the outrageously freezing waiting room (more on air conditioning in Jakarta in future posts) I regretted not having accepted that thick, long and manly sweater they were offering me…

    Immigration

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    Today it’s Friday. The social norm here wants it that men have to wear a Batik to work on Fridays. I have not found out whether this is a requirement for women, too, but I will. In the meantime, I enjoy seeing my men going out to work in their Batiks

    Friday Batik

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    I have been away for a few days because we were organising our housewarming party (quite a number of discoveries were involved in the process :-). Now I am back, with lots of things to share. Let’s start by this one: I have discovered that when you ask for sugar (gula) in restaurants, this is what you get:

    Gulu

    Lovely! The only places where I have seen granulated sugar so far are the modern, American style cafes that you find all around Jakarta…

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    I know this is done in other countries, of course, but I had never seen the machine (it’s to recharge your printer cartridges…):

    Ricaricacartucce

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    Ingenious 🙂

    Jakarta domenica

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    This is not a real discovery…or maybe yes. I discovered that Indonesians have a creepy taste…

    DSCN8998

    DSCN8999

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    Ever since I arrived, every morning I wake up when I hear the gentle but determined brushing of the streets:

    Pulizia strade

    They start as early as 5am, and they dominate the neighbourhood because at that time there is no noise of motorbikes and cars. It does not bother me…in fact I quite like it!

  • If you ever happen to need a physiotherapist in Jakarta, please go to Lia at EastWest, in Darmawangsa Square. She is super. The whole staff is actually great, and the place is clean and well equipped. This is their website: https://www.eastwest.co.id/ Really highly recommended!

    Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 4.33.38 PM

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    I had to undergo a medical check-up to get an health insurance while I stay here in Jakarta, and this morning I went to SOS International, which was unanimously recommended by all expats. Indeed, I was impressed. The clinic I went to is in Cipete. The staff is warm (but this is nothing new here), professional and caring. They received me immediately and guided me through the whole procedure – and I had quite a number of tests to do – impeccably. I had been fasting since the previous night, so after the blood test the nurse asked me if I wanted some breakfast, and offered fried rice or something else I didn’t catch. I told her I would be happy with fried rice, and she looked delighted – she certainly did not realise that I chose that because I had not understood what the other was (imagine, maybe it was lemon pie, my favourite!!!). Anyway, I did all the required tests, and I was seen by a very nice woman doctor who visited me thoroughly. They’ll call me when they have the results and I can chose to go and pick them up or have them scanned and delivered in my inbox. By the way, together with the Puri Santi Spa I talked about earlier, this is the place where I have seen the highest concentration of expats in Jakarta so far.

    Sos internationalSos international2

  • Oh my!!! Ten days without sharing my discoveries!!! Well, I have a good reason, no, two: first, I started driving my little car, and that’s a whole adventure (I’ll share it another time), and second, I started my Bahasa classes, and I would like to recommend my school – it’s great! I know it because apart from attending their classes myself, my husband and son are also studying Bahasa, with a different teacher but from the same school. So, two teachers we already know to be fantastic, plus the overall organisation is great (and prices accessible). SIB School of Languagehttps://www.sibschool.com/

    Jakarta SIB

  • I actually discovered this a while ago, when I was still adding the last touch of furniture to my home. Informa (https://informa.co.id) is a furniture and house equipment store, where you can find lots of useful things for your home at reasonable prices. Ok, some of them are a bit…kitsch
    , but they have an extensive department for chairs, tables and sofas, for instance, where there really are products for all tastes. It is a sort of little IKEA, which saves you the trip because you can find Informa in lots of shopping Mall in Jakarta.

     

    Informa

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    Something I really appreciate in Jakarta, is the fact that they always check the products you are about to buy before you pay them. They not only check that all pieces of a product are into the box, but also that it actually works. If you buy an iron, they connect it to the power and wait for it to get very hot before putting it close to your hand. If you buy a phone cable, they open the packet and connect it to their phone to show you it works. And so on. They also always double-check your order at the restaurant, by repeating one by one all the dishes and drinks you want. To be completely truthful, this does not always work – something can go wrong from the waiter to the kitchen, and it often happens that they give you a different plate, or forget something you had ordered. But it is a good system and I really like it.

    Controllo prodotti

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    For movies lovers, there is a place where you can find a satisfactorily choice of dvds. It’s called Ratu Plaza, and it is besides Senayan City – don’t get intimidated by all these names that create a lot of confusion at the beginning. Asking around makes it very easy to find directions, Indonesians are always keen to help. Go up to the last floor and go always right to get to the dvd department. You can spend as long as you want browsing through the different categories. The choice is not complete, but you find new movies, tv series, children’s movies…at 7,000 rupees each (half a euro).

    Ratu Plaza

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    I am very lucky because without knowing it, we picked one of the best neighbourhoods in Jakarta in terms of services and shops. My latest discovery is Papaya, a Japanese supermarket in Little Japan, very close to where I live. Its address is Jl. Melawai Raya 28, Kebayoran Baru, and it’s right besides Block M. It is a little supermarket full of Japanese products (if I were a Japanese, I’d be very happy to have a place like this!), but also fresh vegetables (the best ginger I have seen so far), good meat, and very nice baguettes.

    Jakarta Papaya

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    If, like me, you love stationery items, I warmly recommend Paperclip in Jakarta, a chain of stationery products, where you find everything, from a pen to a printer, and in a wide variety of products. You find it in a variety of malls, of course, but in some it’s bigger than in others. My favourite (so far) is in Gandaria City Mall – it’s huge, and they are lovely – good English spoken.

    Paperclip

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    Pasar Santa (Jalan Cisanggiri II, Kebayoran Baru) is a very special place in Jakarta, which I discovered thanks to my beloved friend Colm, whose suggestions are always great. It is a market packed with very small stalls, many of them selling records, t-shirt and vintage objects, and interspersed with food stalls. Lots of young people, I would almost say that I have never seen so
    many young in the same place. The atmosphere is lively and cosy. Stands open mostly in the afternoon. You can see many beautiful pictures here: https://www.fashion-stylist.net/

    Pasar santa3Pasar santa

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    I have been away for many days…getting a taste of what Christmas and New Year mean in Jakarta…but I did not stop discovering. So I am back with lots of tips and infos that I’ll share little by little. Let’s start by this one: I found a bookshop that so far is the best furnished I have seen in this city. It is a Japanese run bookshop called Kinokuniya, and you can find it on the 5th floor of the Senayan City Mall (the most luxurious one, the green one, which is smaller and right in front of the huge Senayan City Mall with all the signs and panels). They sell quite a number of English books (classics and modern), art books, a good selection of travel guides, plus gadgets and Moleskine products.

    Libreria Jakarta2Libreria Jakarta

    After the bookshop, if you are a tea lover, go to the ground floor and visit TWG Tea, a luxurious tea shop with an incredible variety of teas from all over the world. Prices are mostly unaffordable, but you can smell all different kinds of tea and enjoy the beauty of the display:

    Te Jakarta

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    This morning I went to the supermarket and remembered that I wanted to share this with you: oftentimes here, when you pay by credit card, you are required to sign twice – don’t ask me why!

    Firma due

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    Yesterday I went with my son to the hairdresser and I saw this:

    Jakarta parrucchiere

    You can chose whom you want to cut your hair – it specifies name, local or international stylist and the price. Isn’t this fun??

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    IKEA opened in Jakarta recently. This is the floral sign used to inaugurate a new place:

    Ikea

    I had heard horrible reports from people who went and told me that the crowd was so thick that it was impossible to look at the products. When we went, we decided to be there a bit before opening (it’s open 10am to 10pm every day). It is a quick ride if you go on Sunday. We arrived twenty minutes before opening time and we were shocked to see how many people had already gathered at the door. In fact, when they opened, people dispersed nicely, many went straight to the restaurant, and we were able to stroll through the exhibition and buy what we needed without any stress. Ikea website: https://www.ikea.com/

    Ikea2

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    If you like shopping for clothes, I strongly recommend you face the traffic and the confusion to reach Pasaraya Grande, in Block M (one of the many shopping malls in Jakarta). It is a one floor, immense store full of “batik” (if I got it right, batik here means all sorts of textiles). You have got clothes for women, men, children, old and young people, in all sizes, varieties and degrees of elegance. Everything is colourful, and you just go nuts picking out what could suit you best. There are at least five shop assistants per client, and they let you quietly chose and try everything you like. Stunning:

    Pasaraya grande

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    Today we went furniture hunting; we knew that there are many furniture shops in Kemang (a neighbourhood appreciated by expats), so what we did was to actually explore them one by one. One of them was particularly great: it’s called Tamaida Frame and is in Jl. Kemang Timur Raya 72/11. It has very nice pieces of furnitures plus art crafts and antiques. The owner, Nudin (tel. 0852 133 888 77), is a lovely, cheerful man, speaks good English and is ready to assist in any way he can. We bought a cupboard and a desk, and were very happy with the price. Highly recommended!

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    Discovering JakartaI arrived yesterday night, and guess where I went this morning? To the shopping mall, of course! I had to buy some stuff for my cat, who supposedly arrives in the afternoon, so I took a taxi and went to the closest mall, Gandaria City Mall. I am shocked by the number of shopping malls in Jakarta. They are everywhere, huge, and mostly luxurious. I was told by my husband that there is a nice supermarket in Gandaria, so I started looking for it. I walked and walked, and went up and down, and after twenty minutes, still no supermarket. I felt stupid, humble and small. How easy it is to lose your arrogance when you abandon the certainty of your cultural protection. I ended up asking, and I was immediately directed to the supermarket. By the way, I discovered that even in Jakarta Halloween is profusely celebrated…


  • Three things I have discovered about traffic lights in Jakarta so far:
    1) if you see a flashing orange flash, you must turn in its direction even if the light is still red
    2) even if there is no flash, you are supposed to turn – if you don’t do it, you’ll trigger the indignation and rage of the whole group of drivers behind you
    3) some traffic lights in Jakarta last forever. Seriously, they can last up to 5 minutes! Take a book or something with you…

    Jakarta semaforoJakarta semaforo2

  • This is a very important piece of information for you ladies. I discovered a great hairdresser in Jakarta. His name is Roberto, he is Italian and has worked extensively in Milan before moving to Jakarta 21 years ago. He has a beauty salon in Kebayoran Baru, Jl. Panglima Polim 9 No 1, tel. 021 7220416, and it’s a delight. He and his staff will pamper you in ways you might not have discovered yet. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, and you can do everything you fancy, from just a shampoo (with a great massage), to dye and cut your hair to mani pedi (also with massage). Call for an appointment.

    Roberto2Roberto

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    I just had the best massage in the world – at home, on my bed, for two hours and at a really affordable price. The masseuse name is Yayan, and she is super. Get in touch with me if you want her number.

    massage

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    Very important discovery yesterday!!! Following the instructions of such a nice Expatclic member who lived in Jakarta in the past, I went to have a massage at Puri Santi Spa. This is an amazingly peaceful and gentle place, where you are surrounded by beauty  and can enjoy a wonderful massage (and many other treatments, check their website) in a relaxing and soothing atmosphere. And at a very reasonable price! If, like me, you like massages, this is definitely a place worth to put on your list!

    Puri Santi

 

 

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