Category: Jakarta

Surabaya Street and other Jakarta Shopping Tips

Jakarta is chocked full of places to shop. Besides the glut of modern malls, there are enough specialty markets in Jakarta to keep a dedicated market Rambo engaged for months.

If you’re really wanting to explore Jakarta’s markets in detail, Gagus Ulung recently published, Pasarnye Jakarte, 100 Tempat Belanja Barang Khas & Grosir Di Jabodetabek. In English – The Markets of Jakarta – 100 Special Places to buy Goods & Groceries in Greater Jakarta. It’s in Bahasa Indonesian, but there is plenty of pictures, so it’s easy to understand what each market is all about; addresses are also included. Most of the bookstores around town have it.

I have my favorites too, but there are not nearly 100 of them.

First on my list is Surabaya Street – a combination antique and flea market. On Surabaya street you can buy a old cannon, a steering wheel from a 18th century schooner, heirloom body armor, traditional handicrafts (carvings, puppets, musical instruments, art) jewelry, or a suitcase – pretty much anything.

One word of caution though – if you’re really looking for antiques, they are there, but there are also plenty of replicas.

Surabaya Street Jakarta

Surabaya Street Jakarta

Surabaya Street Jakarta
Alfin Com, Jl Surabaya 182 Ph:0858 85548425

One of the friendlier shopkeepers, Alfin (photo above) is a really nice guy, and his English is good. Look him up while you’re there – he may be able to help you find what you’re looking for. I cannot vouch for his business practices though, as I have not bought anything from him.

Surabaya street is in Central Jakarta in an area known as Menteng. It’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. everyday. Every taxi driver should know where it is.

Other Noted Markets

Pasar Baru is one of the oldest markets in Jakarta. It has shoes, textiles, clothes, household goods, sporting goods, and a number of other things at very good prices. Located in Central Jakarta.

Sarinah Department Store was the first department store in Jakarta. In addition to the variety of modern goods, it has two floors of traditional items from all over Indonesia. Located in Central Jakarta.

Pasar Tanah Abang features all things imported from Arab countries. It’s located in Central Jakarta near Plaza Indonesia Mall. Its huge, lime green building is hard to miss.

The artists of Pasar Baru Lukisan Potret will sell you original artwork, or accept a commission, and paint something just for you. It is in Central Jakarta on Jl. Gedung Kesenian. Another place to find all kinds of artists is at Pasar Seni Ancol in North Jakarta in the Ancol Recreation Complex, where you’ll also find a traditional Shadow Puppet Workshop.

Coin collectors congregate at Pasar Baru Uang Kuno, on Jl. KH Samanhudi, in Central Jakarta.

Pasaraya Grande is a huge, modern department store where you can find all kinds of things. Of special interest to travelers is the two floors of traditional handicrafts. It’s located in South Jakarta in an area known as Blok-M.

Pasar Rawabening Batu Akik is one of the regions largest precious stone markets. It’s located in East Jakarta on Jl. Bekasi Barat, Jatinegara.

Jakarta is a city of specialty markets where entire streets are dedicated to one product. I probably could not find them again, but as I was sitting in a taxi, I have spotted streets of wheel chair shops, BB gun shops, dolls, car upholstery, and just about everything else you can imagine.

For the urban shopper, Jakarta is certainly a mecca of opportunity. The American Womens Association has published 30 years of Jakarta shopping wisdom in The Jakarta Shopper’s Guide, available at Kinokunia bookstore in Plaza Indonesia, or at their center. Call 021 718-1877 for directions.

Enjoy your Jakarta shopping experience!

Puyang Gadis Theater at Taman Mini Jakarta

Puyang Gadis Stage Taman Mini Jakarta

Saturday night was an interesting evening at Taman Mini, or Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park, in Jakarta. The South Sumatra pavilion hosted a special performance of Puyang Gadis Theater – a theater performance about a legend in South Sumatra in which a girl whom has the favor of a powerful Sultan, chooses to marry her brother instead; ultimately losing her life.

Taman Mini has 26 pavilions that culturally represent much of the diversity of Indonesia. They hold regular performances of traditional theater, music, and dance from all around Indonesia – highly recommended!

The evening began with delicious dinner of traditional South Sumatran food like Beef Randang – a very unique and delicious curried beef, and Sumatra Chicken Curry. Yep, Sumatran food is very spicy. If you like curry, chili, ginger, coriander, and lots of garlic, you’ll be right at home in Sumatra.

Following a few opening songs from some very talented singers…

The story begins…

Once upon a time in the small South Sumatran village of Kupang Lama, there lived a beautiful girl named Siti Lam Jenah. Siti was from a very poor family, so she had to live with her oldest brother Bujang Juaro, who was very famous.

One day Siti, and the other girls from the village went to the river to bathe and to wash clothes. The traditional bathing bowls are called Takuk Labu. Siti was not very attentive, and she allowed her Takuk Labu to float out into the river where it was picked up by a passing merchant ship.

It was a very fine Takuk Labu, so when the merchant ship reached port, the sailors turned it over to the boat’s owner, the Sultan of Palembang. The Sultan asked his Shaman to examine the Takuk Labu, and the Shaman said the bowl had been owned by the most beautiful girl in all of Sumatra.

Intrigued, the Sultan decided to visit Kupang Lama to find the girl and marry her. The villagers were quite surprised the day the Sultan arrived in his fine boat. The Shaman demanded to know where the owner of the Takuk Labu was, but they would not tell him. The Sultan said he would return in three days, and the girl must be handed over him then.

Fearful that the Sultan would not marry her, but make her a concubine, she decided to marry her brother, Bujang Juaro, who loved her very much. But there was the problem of the Sultan coming back. They hatched a plan – they would bury Siti alive so the Sultan could not find her.

When he arrived three days later, the Sultan was furious the villagers would not tell him where Siti was. He ordered his men to search the village, but to no avail. Ultimately he challenged Bujang Juaro to a fight to secure the whereabouts of Siti. Unfortunately for the Sultan, Bujang Juaro defeated him.

But, tragically for Bujang Juaro, after he defeated the Sultan, he remembered he had forgotten to give Siti a flute to breath through. Frantically, he dug where they had buried her, but could just find clothes, and jewelry.

The entire village was grief stricken. Then they heard Siti’s voice, “In the future there will be other beautiful women from Kupang Lama, but their years will never be long in order to prevent this from happening again.”

To this day, the villagers of Kupang Lama believe that beautiful young girls will die young, before they have a chance to marry.

Puyang Gadis Stage Taman Mini Jakarta

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
Siti bathing by the river.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
The Sultan and his Shaman arrive by boat, to look for Siti, the most beautiful woman.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
The Shaman examines Siti's Takuk Labu.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
The Shaman wants to know where Siti is.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
The Sultan departs, and will return in three days.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
The villagers bury Siti alive to hide her from the Sultan.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
Bujang Juaro, Siti's brother, fights the Sultan and defeats him.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
All Bujang Juaro can find is Siti's clothes, and some jewelry. Then he remembered he forgot to give her a flute to breathe through and realizes Siti has died.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
There is much grief.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
Much grief....

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
Siti descending from heaven with the words - In the future there will be other beautiful women from Kupang Lama, but their years will never be long in order to prevent this from happening again.

Puyang Gadis Theater Taman Mini Jakarta
The Final Dance

Puyang Gadis Cast
Me With the Puyang Gadis Cast

Taman Mini is a nice place to go to get a glimpse of what Indonesia is all about. For some more information, my previous posts, Taman Mini Indonesia, and Yogyakarta Classical Dance Performance at Taman Mini, are interesting. Also, we have a full page on Taman Mini on our website –

Getting There

Taman Mini is located in East Jakarta. It’s easiest to get there by taxi. It will cost roughly Rp. 70,000 in a Blue Bird taxi or about Rp. 50,000 in an Express taxi, if you’re going from Central Jakarta. The driver will ask if you want to use the toll road, which will cost an additional Rp. 8,500 in tolls but it’s well worth the time savings.

Operating hours – The park is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Admission fees – At the main gate (built in the traditional style of a Javanese split gate), visitors are charged Rp. 9,000.

Enjoy Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park – Taman Mini!

Cilincing Village Jakarta and The Red Nose Circus

Located just minutes away from Jakarta’s glistening skyscrapers – the beacons of Indonesian wealth – lies the seemingly hopeless slum of Cilincing, but Red Nose Circus is working to change that. They’re using circus to teach the children of this slum essential life skills, and in the process giving its children a vision of hope for their future.

Officially, Cilincing is uninhabited. It’s in the flood plane into Jakarta bay, and is zoned industrial agriculture. However, thousands of people do live in the shadow of Tanjung Priok Harbor, the busiest port in Indonesia.

Cilincing Village - Jakarta
Cilincing Village - Jakarta

According to an abstract published by Hendro Prabowom, Heri Subrapto, and Teddy Oswari of Gunadarma University in Jakarta, the waters of Tanjung Priok, where untreated sewage and industrial waste freely flows, contain some of the highest levels of lead and mercury poisoning in the world.

Yet, it’s in these very waters that the people of Cilincing spend their days…

the adults fish…

Cilincing - Green Mussel Cultivation
Fisherman carries bundle of Green Mussels.

…and the children play.

Cilincing Jakarta
Cilincing children swimming in Jakarta Bay

Green mussel cultivation is their major source of income, as is fishing. As it was explained to me during my visit, the fishermen do not actually own what they catch – it’s more of a sharecropping arrangement in which one party owns the equipment and fishing rights in Jakarta Bay, while the people of Cilincing supply the labor.

And labor they do! The day I was there, I watched as the men carried load after load of fish and mussels to the women and older men who would then spend the day processing them. Some would clean the mussels, while others dried the fish in the sun.

Cilincing - Fish Drying
Cilincing - fish drying tables seem to stretch on forever.

Cilincing - Fish Drying Workers
Workers find ways to shield themselves from the hot sun.

Cilincing - Processing Fish
Processing the daily catch.

Cilincing - Processing Green Mussels
Group Processing Green Mussels

When I arrived in Cilincing, the first thing I noticed was the complex smell of oil, saltwater, sewage, and fish mingling in a way that strained my senses.

Then there was the constant barrage of smoke from the mussel boilers stinging my eyes.

“This might be a long day, but if they can live here for a lifetime, I can surely manage a day,” I thought, as my friends and hosts for the day, Dan Roberts and Renny Antoni led me through the twisting alleys of the village, paved with mussel shells, to the Red Nose (Hidung Merah) Circus Project.

Cilincing Red nose Circus
Red Nose Circus Classroom

They worked hard to raise the funds to build the facility. There is one large room downstairs equipped for circus training, and two rooms upstairs that are used for teaching English. The walls of the circus training room are adorned with murals that the students designed.

cilincing red nose circus
Intense Concentration

Red Nose Circus is a Social Circus, envisioned by Dan as a tool to help children develop essential skills.

For example, learning to juggle develops perseverance, acrobatics develops teamwork, and clown develops self confidence.

It also gives children something positive to be a part of, a place to belong to, and an environment in which to prove to themselves that they can do, they can learn, and there is hope for the future.

cilincing red nose circus
Careful with those knives!

As I watched the children perform what they had been taught, I was impressed by their enthusiasm, and their energy. They clearly had come to see Red Nose Circus as an integral part of their lives and this center as their home.

cilincing red nose circus jakarta
Dan Roberts teaching the Acrobatic Ladder.

Dan spent his high school years in Jakarta and wanted to give something back to the country that he felt significantly impacted his development as an individual. So, in 2008 he returned to Indonesia with $2000 and a dream.

Today, after a lot of sweat, tears, stress, courage, and persistence, Red Nose Circus is a success and widely recognized by influential NGO’s and government agencies as being an organizing worth noticing, and more importantly, worth funding.

Cilincing is a squatter’s village that has been there for 40 years. But, one day the government bulldozers may arrive to clear it away, as happens in Indonesia. I’m sure that insecurity rests in their hearts but you’d never realize it by watching the hum of activity in the village.

When I left around 4:00 pm, the fish were still drying in the sun, the mussel pots were still boiling, and people were still sitting in groups processing the mussels. That’s the way it was yesterday, and the way it will be tomorrow.

With the help of Red Nose Circus these children may have a different future – perhaps that gleam I saw in the children’s eyes was a vision of a new, more exciting possibility for their future – maybe it was the gleam of hope.

cilincing red nose circus jakarta
The Children of Cilincing and Red Nose Circus.

Additional Web Resources

Red Nose Circus Blog

Circus Stances, an article by Time Out Jakarta.

Red Nose Circus on Facebook

Slum Kids Juggle Learning and Fun, an article by The Jakarta Globe.

Favorite Jakarta Restaurants

The challenge is not finding something good to eat in Jakarta – it’s deciding what to eat. Jakarta restaurants are as diverse as Indonesia itself. From basic, traditional food served by street vendors to 5-star luxury hotels, Jakarta has it all. As you spend some time here, I’m sure you’ll develop your own favorites, but in the meantime, here are some of my favorite places to eat in Jakarta to get you started.

Everfresh Fish Market - Jakarta
Everfresh Fish Market - Jakarta

If you love fresh seafood, head over to Everfresh Fish Market. They have a wide range of fresh seafood, both on ice and in their live aquariums. You begin your dining experience by selecting what you want from the aquariums, or from the displays. Then, they ask you how you want it prepared. After that, it’s just a short wait at your table until your fresh seafood arrives, cooked just the way you wanted it. Be careful though, sometimes one’s eyes can be bigger than their stomach.

The bill usually runs from Rp.50,000 to Rp.100,000 per person.

Locations: Jl. Penjernihan 1 No. 8, Jakarta Pusat. Phone: +62 21 5790 5524 Fax: +62 21 5723 802
It’s easy to find – just head west on Jl. Karet Pasar Baru Timur; about one km. past the Shangri-la Hotel you’ll see a big sign on the right that says, “Polisi.” You’ll have to pass it and make a u-turn – they’re right next to the police station. There’s plenty of parking.

Mall Artha Gading, Ground Floor – Lobby China, Kelapa Gading – Jakarta. Phone: +62 21 3300 1468
Fax: +62 21 4584 3493 Email:
I’ve not been to this location, but being in a major mall makes it easy to find.

Traditional Javanese Food

For Traditional Javanese food, it’s hard to beat Warung Mbah Jingkrak. Their slogan is: “When great taste and exotic ambiance meet,” something I think they achieve quite well. Your table is in a traditional Javanese garden, complete with pools and wooded bridges. It’s a bit dark, traditional music is playing, along with the sound of the water fountain – a very nice atmosphere.

Try the Rawon Klewung – a spicy beef stew with a broth created from sautéing a variety of spices in oil and blending them into the simmering soup. The rich black color comes from the main spice – keluak, which is a black nut. Price: Rp.18,000

Location: Jl. Setiabudi Tengah No. 11, Jakarta Selatan. Phone +62 21 525 2605 Fax: +62 21 529 06544
Email: Website: (Bahasa) Warung Mbah Jingkrak
(Near The Four Seasons Hotel)

Traditional Sundanese Food

Dapur Sunda,jakarta restaurant,gurame
Dapur Sunda - Gurame Cobek Bakar - Grilled Gurame fish smothered in chili sauce. Shown with Tahu/Tempe Tepung.

Gurame (Gourami) is a freshwater fish native to South East Asia. Tahu/Tempe Tepung is tofu and tempeh rolled in flour and deep fried.

Dapur Sunda - Tahu Telor
Dapur Sunda - Tahu Telor - stir fried eggs with tofu, tomatoes, and chili. Shown with La Lap, a traditional Sundanese salad, Sambal (chili sauce), and red rice.

Dapur Sunda is my favorite for traditional Sundanese food. The Sundanese people are from what is now West Java. Their food is the spiciest of all Javanese food. They mix many more varieties of spices into their food, than do their Javanese neighbors. The Sundanese have traditionally eaten lots of salads and fish.

Dapur Sunda is a chain restaurant, so it’s not much on ambiance, but the food is great, and the price is reasonable.

The location I have eaten at is on the second floor of Setia Budi One (the middle building of a three building office and restaurant complex) on Jl. HR Rasuna Said. Any Taxi driver will know where it is.

Chinese Indonesian Food

Ta Wan,jakarta restaurant,kakap tausi
Ta Wan - Kakap (Sea Bass) Tausi (Black Pepper Sauce)

Another great choice, also on the second floor of Setia Budi One on Jl. HR Rasuna Said, is Ta Wan – A Chinese Indonesian restaurant that specializes in porridge. It not only porridge though – everything is fantastic, and reasonably priced.

If you’d like to explore the village (kampung) near Setia Budi, Matahari Restaurant has very authentic Chinese Indonesian food, at very reasonable prices. It’s a bit tricky to find, but if you’re adventurous, and in the mood for a 10 minute walk, go out the back of Setia Budi past the fountains. When you get to the street, turn left, walk to the curve in the road, and go up the hill to the first intersection – turn right, walk to the next intersection, and turn left, walk to the next intersection, and turn left again. Follow that road about 200 meters and Matahari will be on your right. If you get lost, just ask. Everyone will be happy to point the way. Address: Jl.Anggrek III No.5 Karet Perbanas – Phone:021 98209128/021 52900167

Matahari Restaurant Jakarta
Matahari Restaurant

Matahari Restaurant Jakarta
One of my Matahari favorites - Ayam Kung Pau, Tumis Kacang Panjang + Tempe. and Juice Jambu.

If you get tired of the local food, it’s hard to beat Ya-Udah Bistro. Their food is really good, and reasonably priced. They have steaks, pasta, sandwiches, salads, burgers, and some Indonesian food too. The restaurant is open on the front – there’s no air conditioning so it can be hot during the day, but mornings and evenings it’s a comfortable place to eat, or hang out while taking advantage of their free wi-fi.

Jakarta restaurant Ya-Udah
The Swissmans Breakfast - Hashbrowns with ham, peppers, and onions - with eggs, sausage, bacon, roasted tomato, toast, and bottomless coffee.

Ya Udah Bistro Menteng
Quality…..? An Understantment…..!
Jl. Johar No.15 Gondangdia, Menteng, Jakarta Pusat
Ph 021 3909010 or 021 314 0343 Website

Traditional Food Courts

If you want to eat a bit cheaper, have the flavor of street food, but eat it in a more hygienic environment than on the street, all the malls have food courts serving every traditional dish imaginable.

The food court at Ambassador Mall has nearly 50 food outlets at prices similar to what you would find at street level. It’s good, basic, and cheap eating. Ambassador Mall is on Jl. Prof. Dr. Satrio, in Kuningan.

If you’d like a great view of Jakarta while enjoying some pretty average food, Plaza Semanggi has a food court on an outdoor patio on the 10th floor. There is often live entertainment in the evening. It’s located at Jl. Jenderal Sudirman 50.

Street Food

The best place I have found to eat street food in Jakarta is set-up every evening in Menteng Plaza, next to the Hotel Formula 1, on Jl. Cikini Raya. It draws a huge crowd of Indonesians every night of the week, so it must be good. I’ve always had a great meal there. Just tell the taxi driver, “Plaza Menteng.”

Enjoy your Jakarta food experience!