7 Things about New Normal at The Mall in Jakarta

After 2 months of Large Scale of Social Distancing (PSBB) in Jakarta, as we don’t do lock down, the phase of New Normal (the governor prefers to call it PSBB transisi (Large Scale of Social Distancing in transition) finally begins this June. The number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia’s capital is far from of slowing down. Yet at the same time, financial recovery has to be done immediately.

Reopening activities with strict health protocols to lessen the virus spread seems to be the best option to balance health and economic concern. After places of worship, outdoor activities, stores and restaurants in shophouses re-operate from the first week of June, shopping malls finally get their turn starting from June 15.

The first shopping mall I visited after PSBB is Pondok Indah Mall in South Jakarta. Its reopening signifies that life will never be the same as that before the pandemic, at least until the vaccine is available for public.

The are 7 things I notice about new normal at the mall in Jakarta:


Those days, checking visitors and their cars with a metal detector is a common practice for safety against terrorist attacks. Nowadays, thermogun is a new tool for decision making as anyone with a body temperature over 37.3 degrees celcius is not allowed to enter the mall.

If you are behind the wheels, security officials with even “shoot” you twice: before taking a parking ticket and entering the building. The practice occurs in Pondok Indah Mall, but it probably doesn’t happen in other shopping malls.

Metal detectors are still in their hands, but their role tends to be just a formality, not as strong as thermoguns. Mostly I get shot (with a thermogun) and scanned (with a metal detector), but sometimes I skip the scan part (simply because the security skips it, not that I get rid of it) and only get shot.


wash basin with a foot pedal

Yep, hand sanitizer and wash basin are partners in crime with thermogun. Shopping malls are more hygienic in the midst of pandemic than hospitals prior to pandemic. Speaking of which, the basin has a new version that no one would ever think of unless COVID-19 strikes, where the main switch is on the foot pedal.


This probably reminds you of a sci-fi movie. Simply wave your hands in front of the light sensor to open the door. How cool is that? Nonetheless, the interior remains the same since you still need to press, aka touch, the button to the destined floor. I’m expecting to see foot pedals inside the elevator, but they’re not available at Pondok Indah Mall. This probably a silly obsession, but I hope I can find them somewhere in Jakarta.


In fact, we are facing 2 types of terrorist: human and virus. Although (human) terrorists haven’t been a distant memory yet, it is proven that we fear virus much more than terrorists. After terrorist attacks, public places are usually more quiet for a day or 2, then it will be back to normal. Nonetheless, COVID-19 threads last much longer (only God knows when they will end) and people think twice before blending with the crowds.


make a guess… am I smiling at you or not?

There’s a saying that eyes are the window of the soul. And from now on, you need to count on this even more, especially when everyone in the city must use a face mask in public places. You won’t see whether someone is smiling or grumpy by looking at his or her lips, but the eyes won’t lie.


escalator marked with foot and cross sign

It is compulsory to put cross signs on chairs, tables, escalators and arrow signs on the floor in all retail stores to remind visitors to keep the distance. The occupancy of each store is only 50% from its actual capacity to avoid more spread of the virus. In some way, this new normal habit is a blessing in disguise for introvert and anti-social people.

In line with avoiding more crowds, operational hours at the stores have changed a bit, as they are closed 1 to 2 hours earlier than normal. Some stores operate from 11 am to 8 pm, some from 10 am to 9 pm.

tables with cross signs


new normal uniform

Once you pass the (mall) entrance door, enter any shops and restaurants, the staffs will greet you with new uniform standard, face mask and face shield, as it is part of the new SOP from Pondok Indah Mall. I believe that other shopping malls have more or less the same regulation.

I guess the only thing we can do is to get used with new normal life until there’s a cure for covid-19. Stay save and healthy!

What changes do you notice after new normal life in your city, especially at shopping malls?


7 Facts You Need to Know about Virtual Tour

Kepulauan Natuna, Mutiara di Ujung Laut yang Diperebutkan!
Natuna Islands (Kepulauan Natuna). Source: pegipegi.com

No doubt, Covid-19 pandemic hits tourism really hard. Nonetheless, some tour operators refuse to give up just like that and decide to launch virtual tours. Atourin, a tour operator offering destinations within Indonesia is one of them.

I wasn’t interested at first as I believe the sensation won’t be the same as I do the trip myself. Nonetheless, there were several members from my Whatsapp traveler group who wanted to join as they miss traveling so badly that it can’t wait until the pandemic is over.

The destination I joined was Natuna Regency in Riau in the province of Sumatera, which is famous for nature lovers offering spectacular views of sea, beaches and waterfall, presented by a local guide living there.

I’m not here to tell you stories about Natuna, but rather tell my experience in virtual tour for the first time and some facts you need to know before taking it.


source: unspash.com/andrewneel

Remember, when the tour is on, you’re at home in front of the computer, laptop or smartphone. So, for sure the meeting point is not on the island. Instead, it was on an app, like Zoom, that you can download on Playstore. Otherwise, choose join through browser. I did the second.


The guide showed the island on Google Map, from marking some stops we will (virtually) visited until the close up looks on each destination with 360-degree panorama view. Just like how tours should be presented, he explained the history, points of interest followed by related images.


By joining a virtual tour, you can (virtually) see who’s talking on the small square on top right side of your screen. On a TV program, you may see the narrator or not. Except if the program is presented by a particular host owning his or her own show.

The best part is that you can ask questions on the chat box on the right side (depending on your setting and app you use), that will be answered on Q&A session after the tour.

On that day, a tour member asked very good questions about the internet connection on the island and which provider works the best. Sometimes, a guide may forget telling you this.


When a real tour can take days, a virtual tour can finish within a couple of hours. Of course, you don’t have to walk, take a bus or plane, take pictures on nice spots, sleep to continue the journey next day etc.


The cost of the tour with Atourin is in a shoestring, 2 persons for Rp. 50.000 and 5 people for Rp. 100.000. As you can see, the more the better deal. Finally, a group member could finally persuade 5 people to join, so I only paid Rp 20.000. No harm at all. The money you need to spend in real life is more than Rp. 5.000.000.

I don’t know how much a virtual tour in your country, but it must be cheaper than a real one.

May be some of you ask why not for free. Here I remind you. Virtual tour is made to survive financially during the outbreak and feed freelance tour guides while not having flow of income. Moreover, it takes an effort and time to set up a virtual tour, create a script, etc.

In the eye of tour operators and travel agencies, it’s a very good way for brand awareness and promote their programs in the future.


By paying some (little, I think) amount of money to participate in any virtual tour, you are helping tourism industry and their teams to survive during the outbreak.


It doesn’t take a genius to know that the joy of virtual tour won’t be the same as the real tour on a chosen destination. You can’t bathe under the sun, swim in the ocean and feel the breeze.

But it gives you ideas where (not) to go next. Images and words on brochures or the story from mouth to mouth can be so tempting that sometimes you ignore about reality you could face when you’re on location. May be, you love the picture of the sea view but you don’t like swimming in the ocean and there’s nothing much to do other than that. Therefore, you can decide whether you take it as your next holiday trip or skip it for other destinations that suit you better.

In the end, you have your own taste and are not obligated to like what other people like.


group photo of Natuna virtual tour. Should be 41 people, but many left after the session is over, not realizing that would be group photo as a closure

As a traveler, I won’t be obsessed with virtual tours, yet I may take it for the second time and on to kill the time. But not within a few days or next week. It gives me broader knowledge from a legitimate source, which is a licensed tour guide, and it’s a great way to gather and get new acquaintances while being at home, though I still can wait until we’re all free from this virus.

However, I’m not saying that virtual tours don’t sell well. On virtual tour to Natuna, there were 41 participants. So, basically people are pretty excited about it. An added value of joining the tour? No other than you’re doing a good deed.

Have you been joining virtual tours and what do you think about it? Will you be a regular customer in the future or just wait until Covid-19 is vanished from mother earth?