Tagged: Jakarta

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
Email: everfresh_fish@yahoo.com
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: everfresh_fish@yahoo.com
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: info@mbahjingkraksetiabudi.com 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
email: info@nusaglobal.com

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!

Monas Festival – Jakarta

It was a weekend of food, music, Layang-Layang (kites), and cultural performances at the annual Monas (National Monument) Festival in Jakarta this weekend. The annual event is part of Jakarta’s anniversary celebrations and is intended to highlight Betawi culture.


Monas Festival Jakarta
Cheerleaders from around the city performing their routines.



Dangdut Music Performance Jakarta
Dangdut Music (traditional Indonesian music) Performance



Kite Festival Jakarta
Kites fill the sky



Kite Festival Jakarta
Kite Chain



Monas - The National Monument - Jakarta
Monas - The National Monument

Fatahillah Square – Jakarta

Fatahillah Square (Taman Fatahillah) was the town square of the Dutch settlement of Batavia, and is where the most well preserved buildings from that era are located in Jakarta. Today, Fatahillah square is a busy place – it has a constant carnival atmosphere created by the Jakartans who gather there to hang out with friends and enjoy the variety of traditional food available. Three of Jakarta’s best Museums are located here.

The Wayang (Puppet) Museum is on the west side of Fatahillah Square has an excellent collection of leather and wooden Indonesian puppets from all over the country. Wayang theater is an inherent aspect of Indonesian culture. There is a regular Wayang performance on Sunday mornings. . It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

Jakarta Historical Museum - Fatahillah Square - Jakarta
Jakarta Historical Museum

The Jakarta Historical Museum is on the north side of the square. Completed in the early 1700’s, it is in the former City Hall of Batavia. It has 37 rooms plus some dungeons below. Furniture, artwork, maps, memorabilia,and other artifacts are on display that document the evolution of Jakarta. . It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

Si Jagur – a Portuguese cannon sits in front of the Historical Museum. It was believed to bring fertility, so women hoping for a child would sit on its barrel.

The Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics - Jakarta
The Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics

The Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics is on the east side of the square. It has over 400 exhibits of rare paintings, sculpture, Batik paintings, and ceramics. It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

The Great Canal is a couple of blocks west of Fatahillah Square.

Kali Besar - The Great Canal - Jakarta
Kali Besar - The Great Canal



Dutch Architecture - Jakarta
Dutch Architecture along The Great Canal



Dutch Architecture along The Great Canal - Jakarta
Dutch Architecture along The Great Canal



Batavia Hotel - Jakarta
Batavia Hotel


Old Dutch Mercantile Houses along The Great Canal - Jakarta
Old Dutch Mercantile Houses along The Great Canal

Fatahillah Square is located in North Jakarta (Kota). It’s easiest to get there by taxi – cost about Rp.40,000 from Central Jakarta.