Situated in Tabanan Regency between Denpasar and Singaraja, Bedugul has its own uniqueness that sets it apart from other areas in Bali. Instead of beaches and sea, Bedugul has beautiful lakes and mountains, that attracts many tourists every year, both local and international. For me, personally, Bedugul is a perfect getaway every time I want to get rid of blazing sun and sweat on the beach. Besides lakes and mountains, there’s also a recently opened flower garden, called The Blooms Garden.
Operating since 2019, The Blooms Garden is a 4.5 acres garden, providing several attractive facilities, from rabbit garden, archery, picnic area, camping area, fishing pond until paintball game. These facilities, however, are separated from the flower garden and you need a shuttle to reach them. And I think it would be much more fun to explore all of them with your boy or girlfriend, bunch of friends or family members.
So, what if you’re travelling alone and don’t have much time to spend in one place? The Blooms Garden is just right for you! All you need to do is to focus your visit on the main garden itself, like I did. I can guarantee that within an hour or less, you have all the time you need to walk around without feeling rushed. Besides, the entrance fee is also affordable, Rp. 30.000 ($ 2.20) for international tourists and Rp. 20.000 ($ 1.20) for locals.
Gardens at The Blooms Garden are divided into 7 main themes, such as Garden of Love, Dutch Garden, Oval Garden, The Goddess of the Lake, Peacock Garden and Topiary Barong Garden. Canna, begonia, daisy, zinnia, cosmos, kenikir and lavender flourishing in the garden are derived from different continents and regions. For instance, kasna flower is a local flower from Karangasem, Bali, zinnia from South America and amarilis from South Africa. I also saw strawberry plants near the exit gate as well, yet they were still covered with polybag plastic.
Each theme has its own signature look. When you see a windmill and a canal replica, obviously you’re visiting Dutch Garden. No tulip, unfortunately, but still an amazing photo spot. Passing through the heart-shaped gate, then finding yourself taking some selfies next to giant heart statue and L.O.V.E letter means you are at the Garden of Love. Peacock Garden can be easily recognized by the appearance of peacock-shaped giant shrubs. And so on.
The largest statue in the garden is the mascot of The Blooms Garden, which is The Goddess of the Lake (Dewi Danu), known as the symbol of fertility in Hinduism. Located at the center of the garden, the Goddess stands gracefully facing Lake Beratan, that you can see from the distance, and a mountain view on the other side. Just take the stairs to the top to witness the magnificent overall view of the garden.
The other scenic view is from Marina Bay Sands. Come again, Marina Bay Sands?? Indeed. The Singapore’s luxury hotel, famous for its infinity pool, appears in a very modest version at the garden. Never mind about its modesty, though, since it has an observation deck offering an alternative angle for beautiful landscape, merely by spending another extra Rp. 5000 or $ 0.30 to get there. I recommend you this. I believe it’s the best view that Blooms Garden can offer.
If you have all the time in the world, staying at one of the villas on the higher ground could be a great idea. Imagine that you wake up in the morning on the following day, inhaling some fresh air while enjoying fantastic landscape right before your eyes…
When I visited The Blooms Garden in the end of 2021, the villa project was postponed for months due to pandemic effects and the restaurant near the exit gate remained closed until further notice. But fear not. By the time this post is written, restrictions are much less than before and all facilities are (re)opened for public.
Last but not least, good news for plant lovers. You may find some plants you love in the garden to take home at the shop near Peacock Garden. Not only does it sell decorative flowers, but also plants for cooking spices, fertilizer, packs of soil and vases. Or, if you prefer to get “regular” souvenirs, such as keychains, clothing, handbags etc, there are kiosks by the parking lot outside the garden.
Overall, The Blooms Garden is a wonderful destination for avoiding hustling and bustling in the city with picturesque view of nature and fresh air that makes you feel more relax, as well as energized. Undoubtedly, there are many great photo spots to show off on social media.
And of course, just like what I previously said, it won’t take ages to enjoy this garden. I only spent about 45 minutes to visit the entire place and I found many interesting photo spots peacefully and no rush at all.
Perhaps it sounds a little bit strange to make Starbucks as my travel bucket list, where I can find its branches in every shopping mall, shop in shop inside big supermarkets and even there’s one nearby my house in Jakarta.
Nonetheless, Starbucks Reserve Dewata in Bali is exceptional because it’s the biggest Starbucks outlet in Southeast Asia and the second biggest in the world. Operating since January 12, 2019, it has become one of the most happening places to hang out. In the same year, it was the last time I came Bali, yet somehow I didn’t a chance to visit Starbucks Reserve Dewata. Then, as you know, COVID-19 pandemic strikes.
I finally returned to Bali in December 2021, a few days before Christmas. The virus was still there, though, but at least travel restrictions were less intense than before. The situation was under control before Omicron screwed up everything we’ve been fighting for. To be honest, it was my first time to travel outside Jakarta since pandemic strikes in Indonesia and the rest of the world. So yeah, I was more than excited to spend a Christmas holiday far from home.
Having arrived in Ngurah Rai International Airport, we directly headed to Starbucks Reserve Dewata on Sunset Road no. 77 because it’s not too far from the airport, approximately 15 to 20 minutes by car.
COFFEE SANCTUARY, NOT JUST CAFE
The wave-patterned red brick façade with Starbucks logo looked eye-catching, but it didn’t show enough how gigantic Starbucks Reserve Dewata was until we walked into the store. As the reception desk official greeted us, it felt like being in an exclusive lounge.
Luxury is part of the charm, that’s for sure. However, the main added values lie in the concept of coffee sanctuary and local wisdom in the details of the store design. Starbucks also would like to educate their customers on where their favorite coffee drinks comes from and how they are made, as well as informing them about its participation in sustainability in fun and entertaining way.
The reception counter was linked directly to the courtyard with 10 by 10 sqm arabica coffee plantation, representing an example of coffee plantations owned by farmers in Indonesia that usually come in that exact size. Starbucks doesn’t harvest coffee from the plantation inside the store, though, especially coffee doesn’t grow well in hot weather places.
Make sure you don’t miss the bright-coloured mural of farmers harvesting coffee plants and and a zoetrope, an animation device showing phases of the growth of coffee tree, situated in the middle of the plantation. If you love being surrounded by something close to nature, the courtyard will be the best spot to sit down and zip some coffee. You can sit on a rattan swing, too.
Since we were looking for an aircon room, we preferred being inside the two-storey glass building with very high ceiling. Not only does the American-based coffee house look lavish, extravagant, modern and hype that attract visitors around the world, but also the infiltrated traditional elements make it unique, distinctive and unforgettable.
Among others, the impressive 9-meter-high wooden sculpture on the wall depicting coffee culture and coffee producing regions in Indonesia, a giant woven bamboo hanging decoration representing fragrant coffee smoke, a terracing rice field shape bar table made of teak wood, wooden cart and a wooden door handle with the engraved mermaid’s tail, which is part of the Starbucks logo.
There’s also a digital wall, showing the process of making quality coffee, by pressing, turning and sliding buttons. Suppose you can’t get enough with coffee plantation, go to the 2nd floor to see coffee seedling under the glass roof showing coffee trees from 1 month old until 1 year. Additionally, there’s a theater specifically giving information about Starbucks Farmer Support Center, emphasizing on how Starbucks collaborate with farmers in Indonesia.
Well, even though coffee lesson wasn’t my main intention of visiting Starbucks Reserve, I was glad to know that Starbucks doesn’t only focus its business on profit, but also helping farmers to reach more prosperity by purchasing their coffee beans, providing farming tools, education and high quality fertilizer.
Basically all food and drinks are just the same in both varieties and price as those at other Starbucks outlets, except Dewata Latte or Pear Tea, that are only available at Starbucks Reserve Dewata. We finally tried a grande cup of Dewata Latte, simply described as coffee milk with original Balinese brown sugar or “kopi gula aren” in Indonesian. It was pretty good, we loved the bittersweet balance between coffee, milk and brown sugar.
Polo shirts, umbrellas, mugs, tumblers, teddy bears with either printed or embroidered lotus logo and the word “Dewata” are typical Starbucks Reserve Dewata souvenirs you won’t get in any other Starbucks branches. They are nice memorable things to go, all you need to have is a willingness to spend more. I personally think it’s pricey for local standard, like a polo shirt over Rp. 500,000 ($ 37) per piece. But I think it’s quite normal for develop countries’ living standard.
THE REVIVAL OF TOURISM IN BALI?
It was almost 5 pm when we got there, and nearly all seats were full despite its huge capacity. We were expecting to get comfortable sofa seats to chill out longer, yet we didn’t get any, as everybody at the store thought the same way. The situation was understandable, though, considering it was coffee hour in high season. Only an hour later did we finally get our turn to occupy the cozy sofa.
Considering that COVID-19 still strikes and has made tourism industry tumbling down, it seemed that tourism in Bali has started back on its feet. However, I noticed that there was a slight different kind of crowds compared to the last time I visited the island in 2019.
Since the spread of the virus is usually more intense during holiday season, the government made travel restrictions to keep the situation in control. Bali postponed accepting international flights at the airport. Indonesian tourists had a difficulty to travel overseas due to restrictions and quarantine policies in destination countries.
Therefore, the result of this situation was obvious. The crowds we saw were dominated by local tourists from different cities in Indonesia. Only less than 10 percent of visitors were foreigners under specific conditions, either have a temporary residence permit for foreigners (KITAS), married with an Indonesian spouse and have a family or can’t return to their homeland due to multiple times of lock down.
A senior waiter, who has been working since the first days of Starbucks Reserve Dewata opening, mentioned about a Russian guest he served who once told him on how he can survive financially when he can’t go back to his hometown and work for unexpectedly longer period. From what I understand, it turns out that the recent policy related to pandemic in Russia gives him an opportunity to work online for the government.
I thought to myself that Putin has made a great job about this policy. At that time, he had not started the war with Ukraine. FYI, long before pandemic strikes, there have been a lot of Russian people doing business, working or spending their retirement time in Bali.
ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE MATTERSTHE MOST
When luxury and relaxation collide, that’s how I felt when I was hanging out at Starbucks Reserve Dewata. The grandiose store has mesmerizing local wisdom implementations with modern atmosphere to awe you (and very instagrammable), but there’s no need to be intimidated because it’s still Starbucks, that basically a coffee house for everybody in relatively affordable price, so you can be yourself and no certain dress code needed to be there. It’s also sort of a cafe museum oriented where you can learn something out of it if you want to with interactive tools. In short, it’s an edutainment destination.
Final verdict? It was a wonderful experience and I didn’t regret making Starbucks Reserve Dewata as a travel destination.
When I heard about Secret Garden Village, it reminds me of a classical novel called Secret Garden (adapted into a movie several times) about an orphan girl who unlocks her uncle’s hidden garden with tons of flowers blooming everywhere in his estate. Nonetheless, the Secret Garden I visited in Bali is not literally a garden.
Situated in Luwus Village in Bedugul, the mountainous province in Bali, Secret Garden Village consists of beauty store, cafe, restaurants and rice field under one roof, with an added value: educational-oriented destination, focusing on introducing Indonesian heritage in beauty products and coffee.
The building facade of Secret Garden Village wasn’t something I expected at first, blending contemporary and minimalist style with elements of nature, such as some shrubs on the roof, palm trees, grasses and fish pond. But it still impressed me in some way.
Founded in 2016 by Billy Hartono Salim, the entrance ticket to Secret Garden Village was Rp. 50.000 ($ 3.50) on weekdays and Rp. 100.000 ($7) on weekends, including Beauty Tour. Overtime, the management found out that there are only a small percentage of visitors who really want to spend time for the 20 minute Beauty Tour in reality. Therefore, the policy has changed into free of charge entrance. An additional Rp. 25.000 ($ 1.70) per person is available for anybody interested in joining Beauty Tour. Well, that sounds more flexible and fair, I think.
As the first timer, I believe there’s no harm to take the Beauty Tour. Beauty tour is a guided tour of basic knowledge of beauty product ingredients of Herborist, a Balinese brand of face and body care, including coffee cupping at Black Eye Coffee Shop.
The first part of the tour is the Beauty Heritage Museum, exhibiting some best-selling Herborist products, followed by benefit of the plants used to create the products, among others are lemongrass, olive, frangipani, rose, aloe vera and many more. Nearly all the plants harvest in many parts of Indonesia, some of them from its own plantation. Olive is the only imported ingredient because it doesn’t grow well in Indonesia.
Apart from that, there are displays of traditional tools used for processing and storing spices and plants, such as scale, mortar, pestle, vase etc, merely for aesthetical purposes and not used for Herborist production process. A rickshaw and an old bike at the corner of the museum are nice photo spots, too.
The second part is watching the production process at the factory, where all guests must use a lab coat, shower cap and shoe coverings provided. This is where the curiosity goes the most, yet unfortunately its not allowed to take pictures inside, except on the photo spot with chemistry-themed background. The factory at Secret Garden Village is the smaller scale of the bigger one in Semarang, Central Java, since it’s only to fulfill the needs at the store. From weighing, mixing ingredients, soap moldings until placing products in bottles are by machine, except labelling, which is still by hand. Instead of using paraben, Herborist uses sodium benzoate as a preservative, which is saver.
The last but not least is the 5 minute theater explaining the history of Herborist products and Secret Garden Village facilities. A soap making class is also available for another Rp. 125.000 ($9) per session.
SHOPPINGAT OEMAH HERBORIST
Trust me, don’t skip this part if you love skin care and beauty products! Oemah Herborist beauty store is huge, offering multiple brands from PT Victoria Care Indonesia, Tbk., from Herborist, Miranda Hair Care, Victoria, Nuface to CBD. There’s also Secret Garden, although it’s doesn’t belong to the corporation. Of all the brands, my attention went to Herborist and Secret Garden.
Herborist has a wide range of beauty products, from skin care, body care, essential oils massage oil, bath salts etc, with various scents, such as olive, frangipani, rose and lemongrass offered starting only from Rp. 20.000 ($1.50). Moreover, there are fancy shape soaps from fruit to flower shapes, that are nice for gifts.
On the other hand, Secret Garden is the more premium brand for body care products, such as soaps, scrubs, hand lotion, body butter, body mist perfumes and room fragrance, yet less variety of (facial) skin care line, except fresh face masks. Compared to Herborist, Secret Garden contains more natural ingredients and the scents tend to be more natural. For instance, the honey body lotion smell is pretty much similar to natural honey in supermarkets. The frangipani body lotion from Secret Garden has more subtle smell than that of Herborist. For sure, the more premium the products, the more price they have. The lowest price starts from Rp. 60.000 ($ 4.30).
Since Covid-19 strikes Indonesia and the rest of the world, Oemah Herborist sells hand sanitizer and disinfectant in many sizes and fragrances, from travel size to large bottles whose contents are more than a liter.
I ended up buying 7 soap bars, shampoo, traditional body scrub (lulur), 3 bottles of body lotion and 2 shower gels. Most of them were on sale, some were even half price. So why not? Now I have more than enough stock to bathe all year long.
The coffee cupping session is unguided and feel free to go to bar section inside Black Eye Coffee Shop if you want. The barista will give you some basic knowledge about coffee. When it comes to tasting, I chose Bali Kintamani coffee. It was lightweight, not too bitter with fruity after taste. I’m not a coffee drinker myself, except lattes, but I still could enjoy it.
Apart from coffee, it also offers approximately 20 flavours of ice cream, croissants and cakes. The vanilla ice cream was pretty good and not too sweet, anyways. There are souvenirs as well, from whole bean coffee, t-shirts to wooden cutlery. But for me, the number one reason why you should hang out in this coffee shop is the picturesque view of rice field right in front of you. Zipping a cup of coffee doesn’t only awaken you, but also peaceful and relaxing by just looking at the greenery.
Yes, the real “secret garden” is the rice field, where you can see it from Black Eye Coffee Shop. The best way to enjoy it is to explore on foot for about 15 to 20 minutes walk. The path is super easy, comfortable and safe for all ages. There’s no way to get lost because it starts and ends from the same spot. It is of course instagrammable in every angle and a lot of fine spots for selfie.
The only thing I didn’t have a chance to experience is the dining part, except ice cream at Black Eye Coffee Shop. The specialty is bebek timbungan at Bebek Timbungan restaurant (yes, the restaurant is named after the food), the aged-duck traditionally cooked for 12 hours with lots of spices. This is one of the rarest food you can find in restaurants on the Island of Gods because the cooking method is complicated and time-consuming. Half a day for one dish, are you kidding me? However, just to remind you that bebek timbungan is enjoyed best when you can handle (very) spicy food. Since I know I can’t stand spicy food, I decided to take suckling pig nearby instead prior to the visit. As an option, you can try Indonesian food buffet for more variety at The Luwus inside Bebek Timbungan restaurant.
Both Bebek Timbungan and The Luwus Restaurant are situated on the same row as Black Eye Coffee Shop, although in a different building, where you can see the rice field. There’s also a juice bar on a separate counter close to Bebek Timbungan.
INTERNATIONAL BEAUTY STORE DESTINATION?
Overall, Secret Garden Village is relaxing, entertaining tourist attraction with educational value at the same time. On educational thing, however, I would say that it’s up to visitors. To be exact, you have a freedom to create a purpose of your visit. Completing a guided tour to the heritage museum means you have made it an educational oriented destination. The more you ask, the more knowledge you get. Tasting the rare cuisine of bebek timbungan and zipping a cup of coffee means you want to achieve ultimate culinary experience, and so on.
It’s a bit unfortunate that most visitors tend to skip the educational part, unless you have visited the place for more than once. Although the beauty tour entrance fee doesn’t generate the income that much compared to dining at Bebek Timbungan restaurant and shopping at Oemah Herborist, I believe the tour is a great opportunity to popularize Indonesian products, to both local and international tourists, by introducing the richness, diversity of Indonesian spices and how they benefit health and wellness when used in products.
Somehow it reminds of my holiday to Korea years ago, where buying Korean skin care and cosmetics were my main purpose of the visit because the collection are much more complete and they cost 50% cheaper than those in Indonesia. I mean, it’s not really about price comparison in the end. It’s more about how Korea promotes their local beauty brands to the world, that their products are not only more internationally known, but also trigger western beauty brands to launch K-beauty inspired products, such as BB cushion, lip tint, cooling eye stick balm etc.
It’s still a long way to go, but as an Indonesian citizen, I really hope that someday Indonesian brands will be able to follow Korean footsteps in the sense of popularity and inspiration for major players in beauty business, as well as others types of industries. Secret Garden Village could be a starting point to make it happen!
Remember about the first part of my culinary adventure in Gloria Alley in the oldest Chinatown in Jakarta, Glodok? The saga continues to the second part of the food tour, which is in Kalimati Alley.
Situated about 300 meters from Gloria Alley, Kalimati Alley is reachable on foot. Nonetheless, a newbie (like me) will have a difficulty to find one. Leaving Gloria Alley, my fellow tour members and I passed through winding streets that didn’t seem to have any single clue where it ended. Fortunately, we only only needed to follow wherever our tour guide lead us without thinking too much.
Finally, we found Santa Maria de Fatima Church, the only church with a Chinese influence architecture, and Strada Ricci School, where my mom used to study when she was a child. Then, we headed straight to the dark alley in the end of the street. I was wondering whether it was another winding path to our destination or…
“This is Kalimati Alley!” the guide said enthusiastically.
Okay, so the dark alley was indeed Kalimati Alley. Assuming that Gloria Alley was already narrow and busy, it was nothing compared to Kalimati Alley. Kalimati Alley was so narrow that only a motorcycle can fit in the lane. Shophouses on both sides had canopies almost “touching” each other. As a result, the sun has a difficulty to shine our way and the alley looked dark from the distance. Nonetheless, the real temptation remained from free smells and curious appearance of the food everywhere we went.
PD. Jaya Abadi
PD Jaya Abadi is the oldest convenient store in the area, whose building is still well-maintained in its original design since 1907. The original name of the store is Tjang Thjang Sen, referring to its first owner, now run by the 4th generation of the family. It sells a lot of things, including various imported snacks, sauces and spices from China and dried plants for medication purposes. If you take a look at the rear side of the store, you’ll see imported eels commonly used for unagi sushi in Japanese restaurants and turtles for pioh (turtle meat soup). These animals are sold alive to guarantee their freshness. Honestly, I just don’t have the heart to watch the turtles chopped alive for customer’s order.
Cempedak Goreng Cik Lina
In western countries, cempedak is considered an exotic and rare fruit with pungent smell, although the intensity is less than that of durian. Being similar to jackfruit, cempedak has stronger smell, yellowish skin when ripe, smaller size fruit and softer meat texture.
Cempedak is no strange for Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, but it’s not very easy to find compared to jackfruit. How about fried cempedak? Yep, it’s even harder. If fried bananas and jackfruit chips are everywhere, cempedak isn’t. Suppose you want to try one, make sure you get it from the best, like Cempedak Goreng Cik Lina (literally meaning Sis Lina’s Fried Cempedak).
The process of making fried cempedak seems very simple and nothing more than deep fried with flour. Nonetheless, the secret weapon of the great taste lies on the preferred cempedak fruit itself, that has to be ripe, soft texture, orange color and sweet taste. Cik Lina inherits the business from her mother who started it in 1990s. Sold for Rp. 15.000 ($1) per piece, the size is as big as your palm. The crunchiness and sweetness of the fried cempedak is addictive, I’m telling you! No wonder there are many loyal customers (and still counting) after more than 30 years in the business. Watch out, as you may be the next “victim” after tasting the mouthwatering fried cempedak!
Pia Lao Beijing (Lao’s Beijing Style Pia Cake)
Pia is originally a Chinese-style cake made of mung bean and sugar wrapped with dough. Nowadays, pia cake has more varieties of filling. At Lao’s, pia cakes are available with choices of durian, cheese, chocolate and red bean. Lao referred to the owner’s name, who comes from Beijing and now an Indonesian resident.
What I love the most from Pia Lao Beijing is the cake is served fresh from the oven, so the dough is warm and crunchy while eating on the spot. However, the main reason why it’s baked directly at the stall is to prove that the pia is halal and doesn’t use lard in the baking process. This tactic works very well, especially in the Chinatown situated in the country whose 94% of its inhabitants are moslems.
The best seller is the mung bean flavor, yet I prefer the cheese one because I like cheese much more than any other flavors. The filling is abundant yet balanced with the amount of dough covering the content. The shape and size of Lao’s pia is easily recognizable because it’s wider, flatter than any pia in other stores and sprinkled with sesame seeds (while others aren’t). It’s so affordable as well, only Rp. 6000 ($ 0.40) per piece.
Vegetarian Ko Handi
Not far from Pia Lao Beijing, Ko Handi Vegetarian restaurant is the only vegetarian food at Kalimati Alley. Rendang (Padang-style stewed beef in coconut milk and spices) and roast pork are the most wanted ones. Using mushroom and flour as main ingredients, the taste is surprisingly very similar to the original meat flavors. The only difference is vegetarian meats aren’t as fibrous as real meat, therefore they lessen the chance to stuck between teeth when chewed. That’s what I love the most about fake meats, anyways. And the price? No worries, its just Rp. 8000 ($ 0.50) per piece.
Mie Baskom means “noodle in a big bowl”. The stall is called that way because the fried noodle as the main menu is placed in a big stainless steel bowl, which choices of fried kwetiau (wide-shaped noodle) and fried vermicelli. It also offers deep fried snacks. The big bowl noodle business has been running for 2 generations and my parents were one of the main customers during their childhood. For Rp. 18.000 ($ 1.30), it’s served in quite a large portion and fit for 2 persons when not too hungry. The taste is pretty good and the noodle is in the right al dente texture that I like. Apart from that, my parents said that the distinctive flavor hasn’t changed since 1960s.
Operating since 1980s, Lao Hoe restaurant is famous for its Belitung style noodle and laksa (vermicelli in coconut milk soup). I instantly chose Belitung style noodle because I didn’t have any clue of what it’s like. Belitung style noodle consists of noodle, prawn, bean curd, potato, cucumber and prawn crackers. The soup was thick and tasted a bit sweet, that reminds me of another noodle soup called lo mie. One day, I’d like to try the famous laksa!
Anyways, there was something really special about the prawn cracker. Not only because it’s home made, but also has an intense savory taste of prawn, thin dough and very crispy. To be honest, it’s the best prawn cracker I’ve ever tasted! Offered for Rp 25.000 ($ 1.50), the portion was not that big. Very suitable for those who want to take it as a “snack”. Don’t skip the big-sized deep fried snacks in front of the restaurant looked very eye-catching as well, sold for Rp. 10.000 ($ 0.80) per piece. Last but not least, Lao Hoe restaurant never uses MSG and preservatives in their cooking.
Of all the abundant choices that you may not be able to try all of them at once, which ones you wanna try in the first place? Suppose you don’t have all the time in the world to return and its too much for your tummy, you can have some of them to go as well. I guarantee, you wont be sorry!
The largest Chinatown in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, is Glodok area. Situated in the west side of Jakarta, to be exact, Glodok has been the silent witness of cultural diversity and long history of Chinese ethnics settlement since the 18th century. The name Glodok is derived from the sound of shower from a small building in the Townhall courtyard, whose sound is like “grojok… grojok”. Then, the locals pronounce it as “glodok” since they have a difficulty in pronouncing straight and sharp “r” sound.
Not only is Glodok a melting pot for Chinese descendants’ community, but also foodies’ favorite spot. Although culinary business is very competitive nowadays and Glodok is not as busy as it used to be back in the 80’s and 90’s (aka the year of my childhood), it doesn’t mean that the oldest Chinatown in Jakarta completely lose its vibe because it offers unique food varieties in a shoestring.
Therefore, I decided to join Glodok Food Tour organized by Wisata Kreatif Jakarta, a walking tour specifically for culinary experience in Glodok area. Although I live not very far from Glodok, it doesn’t mean I know everything about it. To be honest, I seldom explore the area by myself and I feel like being a total stranger in my own city. I’m not only bad at road directions in general, but also I become worse when I have to memorize a winding road with densely populated shophouses along the way. So there I was with 2 other participants and a licensed guide.
There are 2 main alleys to get mouthwatering Chinese street food: Gloria Alley (Gang Gloria) and Kalimati Alley (Gang Kalimati). At first, let’s take a closer look at Gloria Alley. When you walk around Gloria Alley, you need to be aware that most transactions are cash only and don’t accept credit cards. If you’re lucky, you can use a debit cards, though not always. Besides, you need to share the lane with workers bringing huge and loaded goods for the stores or stalls. It’s also a public secret that narrow and crowded streets are usually a place where pickpockets do their job as well.
In my opinion, these are culinary spots worth to try:
The pork dumpling are sold on an old-fashioned bike so-called sepeda ontel without a permanent stall and brand. Using peanut sauce as a dressing, the dumpling is offered for Rp. 20.000 ($ 1.50) for 10 pieces, with the choice of dumpling, potato, egg, bitter gourd and pork skin. Since most buyers consume it on the go, there’s a satay stick so you can eat it easily without making your hands dirty. I love it for its balanced taste of the meat and flour altogether without draining my money.
Literally meaning rice flour in Hakka dialect, Mi pan is a snack from Kalimantan (Borneo) made of rice flour, garlic oil, fried minced garlic and sweet black sauce for merely Rp. 7000 ($ 0.50) per piece. My fellow foodies advice me to ask for more fried minced garlic to make it more fragrant and savory. They’re completely right about this as fried minced garlic also harmonizes the sweetness of the black sauce. Just like the pork dumpling seller, he doesn’t have his own stall and just sitting in front the wall separator of shophouses.
Kopi Es Tak Kie
Established in 1927 oleh Liong Kwie Tjong, Kopi Es Tak Kie (Tak Kie Iced Coffee) is nowadays managed by the third generation of his family. I tried the iced milk coffee, for Rp. 25.000 ($ 1.70) and I think it has an old-fashioned taste by only using a dark roast robusta coffee and condensed milk without creamer. It’s definitely a strong coffee to keep you awake.
Although it’s called kopi es (iced coffee), Kopi Es Tak Kie also has its signature mixed pork rice, consisting of cha sieuw (roast pork), crispy pork, lap chiong sausage and Javanese style braised egg. You’d better come in the morning, because the coffee house will run out of it instantly after lunch. For a Rp 55.000 ($ 4.50), it’s not very cheap but still worth it for a great taste.
Nowadays, Kopi Es Tak Kie has some branches at the food court in some shopping malls. It also participates in culinary bazaar events, yet unfortunately, the portion is not as big as that in Gloria Alley for the same price, most probably because it has to compensate with a quite large amount of revenue sharing or expensive rental cost.
Sek Ba 77 Bek Tim
There are several food stalls selling sekba and bektim, steamed pork innards immersed in soup made of Chinese herbs and sweet soy sauce, in Glodok. The difference between 2 of them is that sekba is served dry. On the other hand, bektim is served with the soup. Sek Ba 77 Bek Tim, situated in front of Kopi Es Tak Kie is one of the popular stalls. Despite selling in a modest cart, the business has been running for 2 generations and still counting. Sold for Rp 20.000 ($ 1.50), the herb soup tastes amazing although I don’t like most of the contents, except intestine, tongue and the meat attached in pork belly and skin.
Pioh Tim Tauco
Suppose you are adventurous enough and feel lie trying something unique, pi oh could be perfect choice for you. Pioh is steamed turtle meat (so-called bulus in Indonesian, to be exact) served with soup made of turtle broth. Still situated in front of Kopi Es Tak Kie, there’s Pioh Tim Tauco, whose soup is mixed with tauco, fermented soybean, resulting with more savoury taste. This is the only food I haven’t tried since I’m usually not really a fan of soft and chewy meat. I feel so pity for the turtle, anyways.
Assorted sweets from chocolates to candies, snacks, dried fruits, sweetened fruits sold in giant glasses jar is the signature look of snack shops in Glodok, that I think they are instagrammable enough to capture. Besides, it has old-fashioned and less known candy and chocolate brands not provided in modern supermarkets. I can guarantee that binge eaters will have a lot of fun exploring this shop. You can purchase them in a small quantity since the price is per 100 grams.
Apart from culinary experience, Gloria Alley also offers Chinese New Year attributes, Buddhist related prayer tools, accessories, convenient store, fruit market and butcher shop. Our tour didn’t just end there because we were about to visit 2nd alley: Kalimati Alley (Gang Kalimati).
It’s getting more excited, I promise you. So stay tuned for my next post on culinary adventure in Kalimati Alley!
Situated on Jalan KS Tubun, Central Jakarta, Indonesia, Petamburan Public Cemetery is not only the last resting place of Jakarta residents, but also houses the largest mausoleum in Southeast Asia and the silent witness of cultural diversity in Indonesia’s capital.
OG KHOUW MAUSOLEUM
OG Khouw, whose originally name was Khouw Oen Giok, was the landlord from Tambun, an entrepreneur who owned cane sugar plantation, Than Kie Bank and a philanthropist. He once donated his wealth to Jang Seng Ie Hospital, now Husada Hospital, and 40,000 Dutch Guilders for Dutch Red Cross. Therefore, he earned Dutch Citizenship from Queen Wilhelmina and his name was written in Western style, OG Khouw.
After OG Khouw’s passing in 1927 in Switzerland, his wife Lim Sha Nio built a 9-meter high-mausoleum made of imported black marble and statues from Italy to keep the ashes of her husband. Designed by G. Racina from Ai Marmi Italiani, an Italian architecture firm, the foundation cost extremely high, about 500,000 Dutch Guilders and finished in 1932.
The luxurious mausoleum even has a bunker below it to accommodate mourners and a room in the middle, which is permanently closed by the family. The last OG Khouw’s family visit to the mausoleum was in 1980’s.
Nonetheless, the wealthy couple didn’t have any children. Therefore, after Lim Sha Nio passed away in 1957 and buried next to her husband, nobody took care of the mausoleum, whose luxury beats that of Rockefeller, the king of oil from the US at that time. Many years of neglection results in vandalism, theft and aging condition, e.g. broken nose on the angel statue in between the tombs, cracked marble inside the bunker and pillars.
And that’s not it. A couple of high school students were also suspected of doing indecent acts inside the bunker. Since then, the mausoleum has an additional metal door in order to avoid similar incident.
Nowadays, Petamburan public cemetery management and Love Our Heritage community take care of the biggest mausoleum in Southeast Asia. However, both parties still need government support to finance the renovation expenses. If OG Khouw mausoleum is a cultural heritage, government will pay more attention to it, leading to an initiative of the renovation project. One of the reasons why it is not stated yet as the cultural heritage is probably because OG Khouw was a Dutch resident. Too bad.
OTHER KHOUW FAMILY MEMBERS BURIED IN PETAMBURAN
Those days, the land of Petamburan Public Cemetery was owned by Khouw family, who rented it for 80 years. But in fact, only 4 members of Khouw family were buried there, such as Khouw Kim An and his wife Phoa Tji Nio, WS Khouw and Khouw Kok Lie. Their graves are also mausoleums, although not as grandiose as that of OG Khouw.
PUBLIC FIGURES AND BLACK MARBLE INSPIRATION
Black marble used on OG Khouw mausoleum was a “fashion trend” for other tombs. For example, the tomb of notary Djojo Muljadi uses black marble on the entire surface. On the other hand, Ibu Aju Agung’s tomb, the wife of Gunung Agung bookshop owner, only applies it for the name plate.
FROM JAPANESE COLUMBARIUM TO JEWISH GRAVE
If you wander the old complex of Petamburan Public Cemetery, situated on the front side a few meters from the entrance gate, you’ll find more varieties of grave. Traditional Chinese tombstones and European style graves with angel statues are some of the proves of cultural diversity that still stand gracefully and beautifully among modern ones.
There’s also a columbarium housing the ashes of Japanese government officials during Japanese occupation in Indonesia. It is forbidden to take pictures inside and not all visitors are allowed to enter. Each year, members of the staff from Japanese Embassy have a visit to pray for their souls.
From all the graves, Jewish graves are the most uncommon ones in Petamburan with a triangle shape and engraved in Hebrew letters. I don’t think the history lesson in my high school has ever mentioned about Jewish settlement in Indonesia. Those days, Jewish people came to Indonesia for trading. But the locals often wrongly identified them as Arabic people because of their look.
Unfortunately, most of Jewish graves are not treated and and vandalized. Since families of the deceased don’t visit those graves any longer and don’t pay any maintenance fee, they are replaced by others graves. From 25 graves when found for the first time, now there are only 7 left, thanks to the renovation for the sake of cultural preservation. Otherwise, they will be completely gone forever.
I believe it’s time for government to see the potential of Petamburan Public Cemetery as a historical and cultural destination to boost tourism in Jakarta, starting from financially support the preservation of the luxurious OG Khouw mausoleum. Besides, it also diminishes the local’s stereotype about cemeteries as a dodgy and haunted place to visit.
Could upside down world on earth happen for real, or nothing more than just Hollywood movies? Actually, if you go to Upside Down World, you don’t have to be out of space to experience the world without gravity.
ABOUT UPSIDE DOWN WORLD
Upside Down World is a photoshoot destination, using a residential house as its main concept. Just like houses in general, it consists of rooms aka studios with various themes, such as bathroom, living room, bedroom, study room, dining room, pool room, kitchen, yard and warehouse in upside down position. In other words, all furniture and its attributes are hung on the ceiling.
Inspired by Upside Down World movie starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess in 2012, a Malaysian entrepreneur visualizes the idea into life. Finally, Upside Down World opened for the first time in 2016, having flagships in Bandung, Bali, Medan, Alam Sutera and Yogyakarta. At that time, it was a big hit following the emerging trend of posting selfies on social media and craving for more “likes”. Nowadays, unfortunately, most of them are already closed for good, except those in Bali and Bandung. In Malaysia itself, Upside Down World operates in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh.
To be honest, a photo studio is definitely not my first choice to be a travel destination no matter how instagrammable it is. Nonetheless, I decided to make it as a meeting point with an old friend of mine since its close to Dipati Ukur station, where the Jakarta-Bandung mini bus I took parked there. I was pretty sure that we would like to take pictures together after not seeing each other for years. Upside Down World seems like a unique location to do that.
The entrance fee to Upside Down World is Rp. 80.000 ($6) on weekdays and Rp. 100.000 ($8) on weekends for adults, and Rp. 50.000 ($3) for kids. For Indonesian standard, the rate is quite high, especially the building is not that big and has lack of lighting, in my opinion.
However, hiring an experienced interior designer for a challenging project and the difficulty in executing the project to ensure the safety of its visitors contribute higher construction costs. Heavy furniture, a bed for instance, requires an additional thick and very strong rope to attach properly on the ceiling.
LET YOUR IMAGINATION RUN WILD
Situated on H. Wasid No. 31, Lebak Gede, Coblong District, our visit started with doubts when we arrived at 10.30 am and no one was around. Well, there were a couple of foreigner entering the studio before us, but moments later they left. Fortunately, the ticket counter staff managed to convince us that the best visiting time is when it’s still quiet because there’s no need to be in line to move from one studio to another. Also, there will be plenty of time to improve our poses to get good results without being distracted by other visitors, who may impatiently wait for their turn.
It took some creativity to create poses that match various scenes. We could have used the same pose for different spots, yet it wouldn’t turn out as dramatic as we expected. And honestly, we started running out of ideas after the 4th scene. Fortunately, the reference from previous visitor’s pictures placed on wall helped us finding suitable poses. We also asked for an advice from the staff to orchestrate more poses other than what they normally do.
I was happy with the final results of the photoshoot, as they look unconventional and surreal! To achieve such results, you only need to do some simple editing before posting them on social media by using basic features, such as rotate, crop, brightness, contrast and saturation as a finishing touch. No worries about my remark that the studio has lack of lighting because you can make a few adjustments as easy as one, two, three into perfection.
Upside Down World provides photo printing service, mirrorless camera and costume rental, e.g. a kimono to match with the Japanese style dining room as a background, with additional price apart from entrance fee. I personally don’t think you need a specific costume to get good pictures. On the other hand, you really need the studio’s camera if you have a pretty bad (smartphone) camera.
It’s recommended to keep all your personal belongings inside the locker provided during the visit, which is free of charge, so you don’t have to watch them all the time. It’s also can safe you from theft when it’s crowded inside. FYI, you need to take off your shoes prior to entering the studio and put them in a designated shoe rack.
THE MORE THE MERRIER
Although posing in front of camera is not really my thing, I had a great time during the photoshoot. It gave me freedom to be as playful as I can, using my imagination of what I could do if I lived in the house without gravity. With a little help from the staff, who served us sincerely, and a close friend, who lighted up my day with laughter, anything’s possible.
All I can say is that Upside Down World is one of the destinations which is not so fun and memorable to visit without friends and family. And there’s no need to fly to the moon to experience zero gravity, at least in pictures.
Wanagiri may not be the first place popping up in your mind when you’re talking about Bali. Especially, it’s merely a small village in the mountainous area of north Bali, situated 2 hours from all-time tourist destinations on the island, such as Kuta, Seminyak and many more, where all of them are located in the south.
Yet believe it or not, the news about the picturesque view of Wanagiri village has widely spread overseas. There are even more foreign tourists than local ones. Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is one of the must-to-see destinations in the village.
4 WATERFALLS IN ONE PLACE
The best part of visiting Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is that by paying merely Rp. 10,000 ($ 0.80) for locals and Rp. 20,000 ($ 1.50) for foreigners, you automatically have an access to 4 waterfalls since all of them are located close to each other.
NON-TOURISTY, PRESERVED NATURE
If you embrace tranquility and purity, Banyu Wana Amerta Waterfall is the right place for you. You won’t feel any touristy atmosphere, from overcrowded traffic to loud chit-chats, shouting and all that. Another advantage for not being a touristy place is that there aren’t too many trashes and less chances for nature destruction.
Moreover, there’s no such thing as burning heat in Wanagiri. If hot and sun is the first impression about the weather in Bali, it’s time to broaden that perception. Generally speaking, the afternoon temperature in Wanagiri is approximately 25 degrees with the real feel of 22 degrees because of the breeze.
I personally love the mild weather in Wanagiri, that affects me for not being too sweaty and too exhausted during the hiking activity, thanks to the refreshing mountain breeze.
PERFECT FOR DEBUTANT HIKERS
The way to the waterfall is quite steep and narrow, but still safe for cars and motorcycles to pass by. The asphalt street has a very good condition with an even surface. What you need to do is to control the speed while driving.
If you love to explore the beauty of nature but afraid of falling, getting slipped, getting lost and ending up in the middle of nowhere? Fear not! The trails are suitable for all-level hikers. The safety is pretty good, too.
At first, you will pass residential houses after passing the ticket counter. This confused me in the beginning, thinking that I took the wrong way to the villagers’ house complex. Nonetheless, a wooden board saying “waterfall” with an arrow sign implied that I was on the right track.
You will step on paving blocks along the way to the main destination, surrounded with greenery and some flower. It’s completely an easy and save trail for everyone.
Within 20 minutes walk, you’ll find an intersection with a big board mentioning the direction and duration spent to all 4 waterfalls. Each waterfall are simply named “BWA Waterfall”, “One Waterfall”, “Two Waterfall” (without “s”, probably because of grammatical error) and “Spray Waterfall”.
Starting from here, the trail starts to be “closer to nature”, aka a bit challenging, and no pavements like the previous one. But still, it is suitable for those who are not used to hiking. There are some slippery paths you need to pay attention, though not too many. The risk of being slipped is lessened by used tires implanted on the soil. Steep surfaces are modified into stairs in accordance with the contour of the soil, completed with handrails made of bamboo, wood or twigs to support safety, while maintaining the original landscape as it should be.
BWA WATERFALL AND ONE WATERFALL
If you don’t have all the time in the world, just visit One Waterfall and BWA (abbreviation of Banyu Wana Amertha) Waterfall. Both waterfalls are on the same location that takes only a minute walking distance from the intersection, separated by a wooden bridge. The difference between them is that One Waterfall only has 1 spring water, whereas BWA Waterfall has several sources of spring water in one place.
The view is not only magnificent for taking pictures, selfie or wefie, but also great for swimming and bathing. So don’t forget to bring a swimsuit to enjoy the fresh and unpolluted water. It will re-energize your body and mind to continue your journey. Not far from the waterfall, there’s a changing room that looks like a hut at a glance.
TWO WATERFALL AND SPRAY WATERFALL
These waterfalls are also spots you should not miss during the visit. Starting from the same intersection, it takes 5 minutes to Two Waterfall and 7 minutes to Spray Waterfall. Bear in mind that these waterfalls are in the opposite direction of BWA and One Waterfall.
Most visitors love capturing themselves standing on the wooden bridge with a waterfall background in Two Waterfall. On the other hand, there’s no bridge in Spray Waterfall and the water stream tends to be heavy. You also can bathe and swim in both waterfalls, however they are more popular for photo spots and no changing room provided.
TIPS FOR VISITORS
The best time to visit is in the morning because it often rains in Wanagiri in the afternoon, and the paths are getting more slippery as well. Bringing a raincoat to anticipate the weather is highly recommended. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and non-slip shoes or sandals. To maximize the experience at the waterfall, bring a swimsuit if you wish.
There’s only one traditional food stall or so-called warung inside the area with limited options, such as Indomie instant noodle, coffee and snacks. It’s completely a traditional warung, nothing commercial and very cheap. Just $ 0.30 for a cup of coffee, who can’t afford that?
The other warung is outside the waterfall complex, facing the street. Selling more or less the same thing, they have an $ 0.80 rice noodle with meatballs, that unfortunately the meatballs are not good and too floury. So, I suggest you to get an Indomie instant noodle instead, since it already has a sort of “standard” taste regardless who cooks it. Though still, some say that eating Indomie at any warung tastes better than you cook it at home.
If they don’t suit your taste, bring your own food and don’t litter. I advise you to bring a paper or a plastic bag to collect trashes and throw them away after returning to the hotel.
Bali has so much more than just beaches and sun. To feel the new sensation of Bali with waterfalls and colder weather, that could be 10 or even 6 degrees at night, it’s time for you to visit north Bali that includes Banyu Wana Amertha waterfall on your bucket list.
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:
METAL DETECTOR VS THERMOGUN
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.
HAND SANITIZER AND WASH BASIN
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.
SLOWING DOWN TRAFFIC
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.
NOBODY’S SMILING AT YOU
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.
KEEP THE DISTANCEAND 50% OCCUPANCY
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.
EMPLOYEES WEARING FACE SHIELD AND MASK
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?
It is quite a wonder that in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital surrounded by shopping malls and tall buildings, still has a few hidden green areas left delivering a piece of Indonesian history during Dutch colonization era. Situated in South Jakarta, Ereveld Menteng Pulo, the honorary cemetery, is one of it. Those days, Menteng Pulo was a suburban area of Menteng, somewhat isolated from the crowds. Once you walk in and pass the gate, the common perception about cemeteries in Indonesia, which is often filthy and frightening, will soon fade away.
Speaking of which, there’s an interesting story behind Menteng itself. Menteng is a luxurious residential area in South Jakarta where high rank government officials live, as well as the place where the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, spent his 4-year childhood in Indonesia. If there’s no traffic jam, from Menteng to Menteng Pulo takes about 10 minutes by car.
Now, let’s go back to our main topic.
HISTORY OF EREVELD MENTENG PULO
Ereveld Menteng Pulo is the resting place for over 4000 war victims of World War II (1939-1945), especially who died from a Japanese concentration camp, and the revolution after that (1945-1949). The honorary cemetery was inaugurated on December 8, 1947, managed by Netherlands War Graves Foundation or OGS (Oorlogsgravenstichting).
Between 1960 and 1970, war victims from Ereveld outside Java Island, such as Manado, Tarakan, Makassar and Palembang, were relocated and reburied in Ereveld Menteng Pulo. Therefore, from 22 Ereveld cemeteries nationwide, now only 7 left. All of them are in Java Island, including 2 in Jakarta. Besides in Menteng Pulo, which is the biggest and the most beautiful of all, there’s also Ereveld in Ancol, North Jakarta.
Those who are buried here are Dutch and Indonesian soldiers under KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger) or Royal Netherlands East Indies Army. However, what makes Ereveld Menteng Pulo is particular is that only 25 percent of the victims are actually from military services and the rest are civilians, including children.
There are unwritten house rules applied at the honorary cemetery. While walking around it, you should start from the foot part of the grave in order not to step on the head part. Another important thing is that the names of the deceased should be blurred before publishing the pictures in any (social) media. Otherwise, take pictures from the rear side of the graves, so the names won’t appear.
MEANING OF GRAVE MARKERS
Take a closer look at the graves and you will immediately notice that there are 6 grave markers defining the victim’s religion. The round shape is Buddha, the 3 petal-shaped is Muslim, the David star is Jewish, the huge shield shape is a mass grave and the cross shape is Christian.
For Christians, there are 2 kinds of cross to distinguish the gender. The plain cross is male and the one with 3 petals on the edges is female. Suppose you see smaller and shorter cross graves, they belong to Christian children with no specified gender. It’s breaking my heart to see the war victims include babies aged 3 to 6 months old.
And more more thing. When the graves are written ontbekend, meaning unknown in Dutch, they stand for unidentified victims.
Although Simultaan Church is a “church” having an altar, a big Dutch language bible and a cross, it actually holds memorial services and other ceremonial events for various religions, not specifically for Christian Sunday services.
A huge cross monument made of wooden railroad in Burma on the right side of the altar was built to commemorate Dutch, Australians, American and British soldiers who died from forced labour by the Japanese during the construction of a railroad in Burma.
Apart from graves, Ereveld Menteng Pulo also houses 754 ashes of Dutch soldiers, who died in the Japanese concentration camp during World War II, in the columbarium situated outside Simultaan Church.
Thanks to Robbert CJM van de Rijdt, the director of Ereveld, who has a fond of plants and flowers, the largest honorary cemetery in the country has varieties of flower, including lotuses in the pond, that makes the environment within the complex more beautiful and serene.
Fresh flowers or garland placed on the grave or the columbarium prove that there are still families who visit their loved ones at the cemetery, not only tourists for a place of interest.
BRITISH CEMETERY COMPLEX
Inside Ereveld Menteng Pulo, there’s also a special cemetery complex managed by the British Kingdom. To distinguish its territory, the land position is slightly higher and a small fence as a border.
One of the prominent British military figures buried here is Brigadier General Mallaby, who died during the shootout in Surabaya, triggering the Battle of Surabaya, because Indonesian troops ignored the British ultimatum to surrender unconditionally. Nowadays, the battle’s commemoration is held annually on November 10 nationwide.
Besides, there are also war victims from other Commonwealth countries, such as Australians, Canada, American, Pakistani and Indian.
EMBRACE PEACE AND APPROPRIATE MANNER
As a silent witness of World War II and Dutch occupation in Indonesia, Ereveld Menteng Pulo reminds us that war is not the solution in any cases and has killed a lot of innocent people, especially there are more civilians that soldiers buried here. To pay the last respect of the victims, embrace peace and love in any situation.
The visit to Ereveld Menteng Pulo is free of charge, opening from 7 am to 5 pm. Anyways, I heard that the sunset view is magnificent. Ask for a permission if you want to stay longer to enjoy or immortalize the moment since sunset occurs after 5.30 pm.
Despite its historical value, I receive complaints from the security that there are certain visitors having bad habits, from littering, making noises, until dating in inappropriate way as if the place were their own backyard. Gosh, I hope they know what they’re doing to this wonderful place!
Tanjung Priok, Off-The-Beaten Path Tourist Destination?
Tanjung Priok is the district in North Jakarta, which is identical with Port of Tanjung Priok, the busiest seaport in Indonesia. Perhaps, thinking about Tanjung Priok as a tourist destination doesn’t always cross people’s mind.
But let me tell you what, suppose you are searching for somewhere off-the-beaten path places in Jakarta, Tanjung Priok and its surroundings could be a great choice. Not because it’s a quiet and less known, but the locals mostly have a very slight idea about things to do when foreigners land their feet in this district.
Here are things you can do in Tanjung Priok:
Visit Instagrammable Railway Station
The closest railway station is Tanjung Priok Station, one of the oldest stations in Jakarta. Initially built in 1885 next to the harbour, the station was moved 1 km away to its present location and opened on April 6, 1925. After being neglected for 10 years, the art deco style building re-operates in 2009. It has been one of the most favorite photography hunting and shooting scenes for video clips, movies, pre-wedding shots and more.
The best part is the station still maintains its original look, including the steel construction of the 6 gates like those in Europe. There are certain rooms not functioned properly and remains empty, but we hope that someday the government will have a funding to maximize its potential.
Shop in Pasar Ular
Pasar Ular, literally means snake market, doesn’t actually sell snakes. Some say it’s called that way because the market has a long and winding alley like a snake. Yet some others say that since it sells smuggled goods (in the past), thus merchants have to be as tricky as a snake. No matter which opinion you believe, for sure it’s not a pet shop at all.
There are 2 Pasar Ular markets in the area. Pasar Ular Plumpang sells both original (yes, you definitely need good eyes to notice them) and knock-off fashion goods.
On the other hand, Pasar Ular Permai offers ceramic goods, from tea sets, chandelier to giant vases imported from Europe and China, that cost you from Rp. 100.000 to Rp. 250.000.000 ($6.5 to $16,000). Surprisingly, you can find souvenirs from European countries, such as fridge magnet with the picture of Berlin landmarks, Dutch Delft Blue plates, can opener carved with pictures of Barcelona landmarks, and many more that cost much cheaper than those in Europe. Yes, you can get an €6 (Rp. 80.000) Euro fridge magnet for only €1.5 (Rp. 25.000) in Pasar Ular Permai. Believe it or not!
Dine in Kampung Warteg
Kampung Warteg is a 24-hour food stall village on Ende Street, housing over 20 stalls selling various traditional Indonesian food and beverages in a shoestring and I can guarantee its cleanliness. So, there’s nothing to worry about.
For instance, I went to Warung Nabila and got a beef rib soup with rice sold for only Rp. 23.000 ($1.5) per portion and chicken soup for only Rp 15.000 ($0.90). Usually, these stalls give you quite a lot of portion of rice since they are used to serve harbour and cargo ship workers.
Church and Mosque Sharing the Same Wall
What’s so unique between Masehi Injil Sangihe Talaud Mahanaim Church and Al-Muqarrabien Mosque? The 2 buildings are not only side by side, but also share the same wall as well. Yes, so this is not about 2 different walls attached to separate them. Both places of worship were built by sailors to serve those who need to pray. The church was built in 1957 by Christian sailors, then the mosque was built a year later by Moslem sailors.
The story of religious tolerance maintained for over 60 years in both places is well-known locally and internationally, starting from sharing parking lots to one of them while celebrating huge religious events until Al-Muqarrabien Mosque protected Masehi Injil Sangihe Talaud Mahanaim Church when rioters almost burn the church in 1984.
Visit Maritime Museum
Maritime Museum is located inside the Port of Tanjung Priok complex, introducing the history of maritime in Indonesia, from the kingdom of Majapahit until the era of the Dutch colony.
It’s the first modern and international standard museum in Jakarta, performed with high quality diorama, improved lay out (which is for sure, instagrammable), facilities from library, cinema, souvenir shop, rooftop view of the biggest harbour in the country and simulator of the ship’s behind the wheels area.
Visit Mbak Priok’s Tomb
Mbah Priok’s Tomb is one of the most visited place of Moslem pilgrimage in Indonesia. Mbah Priok himself was an Islamic missionary from Palembang, South Sumatra, who died on his way to Tanjung Priok, and buried on the seashore with the pot he always carried in his journey.
During the Dutch conquest, his tomb was moved to Koja, a subdistrict in North Jakarta. In 2010, the eviction of his tomb triggered a riot between thousands of municipal police and 80 tomb caretakers who against the plan. Suddenly, the municipal police lost the battle because they saw a mysterious spirit when the tomb demolition was about to began. Finally, they were scared and the eviction was cancelled. The incident confirms people’s belief that the tomb is sacred.
The visit to the tomb, which is now a cultural heritage inaugurated by the former governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, is free of charge. There is a drinkable spring water, which is believed to bring luck and blessing, that never stops flowing.
Oh well, do I manage to convince you that Tanjung Priok is pretty interesting and more than just a port?
At first, it is crucial to understand the meaning of the English word “temple” could be either “vihara” or “klenteng” in Indonesian. So, what are the differences?
Simply said, “vihara” is the place of worship for Buddhist. There are not many statues inside the “vihara”, except the statue of Buddha or Goddess Kwan Yin. On the other hand, “klenteng” is the place of worship for Konghucu. The amount of statues representing each god or goddess to worship are many, even can be over 100 pieces.
New Order Regime and the Sentiment of Chinese Elements
In 1967, The New Order regime forbid all Chinese elements exposure in public. That included the alteration of Chinese language-based temple names. Many of them ended up into Indonesian with Sanskrit influence. Also, all “klentengs” needed to be registered into “viharas” to continue their operation.
Chinese ethnics finally regained their freedom to perform rituals and expose all Chinese elements as it should be in year 2000 after Abdurrahman Wahid, the 4th president of Indonesia, abolished the President’s Instruction (Inpres) No. 14 / 1967.
Some temples either return into their original Chinese name, maintain the Indonesian one or combine both names.
Nonetheless, confusion between “vihara” and “klenteng” remains until today, as many people still consider that they both are just synonyms.
5 Oldest Temples You Need to Visit in Jakarta, that Originally are “Klenteng”
Vihara Dharma Jaya Toasebio
The 265-year temple is situated in Petak Sembilan area, Glodok, the biggest China Town in Jakarta. The word “toasebio” derives from 2 words, “toase” means message, “bio” means temple (klenteng). Before being inherited to Dharma Jaya Foundation, the “klenteng” was owned by the Tan clan until its 4th generation. There are 18 altars inside the temple to worship gods for different purposes.
The foundation name is finally used to alter the original Chinese name during New Order regime, which is Vihara Dharma Jaya.
When the genocide of Chinese ethnics in 1740, VOC (The Dutch East India Company) did the search and burned down residential areas, shops, including temples like Toasebio. After the riot, the temple was rebuilt in 1754.
There are original parts remain there, such as red ornaments outside the temple and the green dragon statue wrapping around the pillar.
Vihara Dharma Bhakti
Still situated in Petak Sembilan, not far from Vihara Dharma Jaya Toasebio, the oldest temple in Jakarta was initially called Guan Yin Ting, built in 1650 by Lieutenant Go Xun-Guan.
Just like Toasebio, Vihara Dharma Bhakti was burned down by The Dutch East India Company in 1740. Later, Captain Oey Tjie reconstructed the temple and changed its name into Kim Tek Ie. Due to the prohibition of “klenteng” during New Order regime, it was renamed into Vihara Dharma Bhakti and never experienced any changes ever since.
In 2015, the fire struck again because of electrical short circuit and burned down the main altar and houses nearby.
Every Chinese New Year celebration, beggars from Jakarta and other cities queue up in the outdoor area of the temple to get “angpau”, the red envelope with donation money inside.
Klenteng Sin Tek Bio (Vihara Dharma Jaya)
Passing the narrow alleys and sandwiched between tall buildings, Klenteng Sin Tek Bio is a hidden gem in Pasar Baru (literally mean New Market) area, yet pretty well-known overseas because of its historical value.
Sin Tek Bio was built in 1698, probably by Chinese farmers living on the riverbanks around Pasar Baru, on Jalan Belakang Kongsie no. 16. In 1812, it moved to its present site on Jalan Pasar Baru Dalam Pasar no. 146. In reaction to the sentiment of Chinese names at that time, it changed into Vihara Dharma Jaya on May 12, 1982.
The temple consists of 2 buildings. The main building’s god is Hok-Tek Cheng-Sin, the god of earth and fortune, whereas the other one is goddess Kuan Im, who is believed to help people in difficulties. Inside the temple, you will find hundreds of statues from different ages, from 17th century to 20th century.
Vihara Bahtera Bhakti
Vihara Bahtera Bhakti is situated in an exclusive residential area, Perumahan Pasir Putih in Ancol, North Jakarta.
Its long history began when Admiral Cheng Ho landed on a riverbank in Ancol called Kota Paris (though it literally means The City of Paris, we’re not talking about Paris in France, just to remind you). Sampo Soei Soe, the chef who worked for Admiral Cheng Ho, married Siti Wati, a traditional dancer and the daughter of a famous Moslem scholar, Embah Said Areli Dato Kembang and his wife Ibu Enneng, and finally resided in Ancol.
Since the news about Sampo Soei Soe was spread widely in Mainland China, people from the country sailed away to Jakarta to meet him in person. Unfortunately, he was found dead. Therefore, the temple was build to honour Sampo Soei Soe. Like many other “klentengs”, it underwent name changes for 3 times, from Klenteng Da Bo Gong, Klenteng Ancol until Vihara Bahtera Bhakti.
Inside the temple, there’s a secluded room to pray for Sampo Soei Soe and Siti Wati on the right side of the main altar and Siti Wati parents’ grave behind the altar.
What’s so special about Vihara Bahtera Bhakti is that the pilgrims are not limited to Buddhist and Kong Hu Cu, but also Christian and Moslem.
The gazebo with golden stupa, just like that in Borobudur Temple, and the only one pagoda (and the oldest, too) in Jakarta are distinctive characteristics of Vihara Lalitavistara, that other temples in the city don’t have.
The early name of the temple was Sam Kuan Tai Tie back in the 16th century, discovered by sailors on the beach close to Cilincing. The history began from the stranded black board on the coast of Cilincing, saying “Sam Kuan Tai Tie”, the name of an old temple in China. The black board was widely believed to grant wishes and prayers, urging seekers to search the magic board.
Nonetheless it was once lost for years, until someone found a dead body, that happened to be a burglar, not far from the famous Sam Kuan Tai Tie black board.
In 1957, Vihara Lalitavistara was built on the site where the board was discovered. It was restored and inaugurated on October 7, 1989 by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The chosen name “Lalitavistara” is referred to a Buddhist bible, telling the story of the birth and death of Siddharta Gautama.
Apart from the place of worship, there’s a dormitory for the monks, columbarium and Buddhist school.
Helpful and Friendly Staffs
Generally speaking, the staffs who take care of these old temples are friendly to serve curious visitors with bunch of questions, as long as there’re not too busy, from the temple history, gods until Buddhist teachings.
Make sure you don’t miss these temples on your visit to Jakarta!