Something I’m Gonna Miss this Chinese New Year 2021 Part 2: Lion Dance

In 1967, The New Order regime in Indonesia forbid all Chinese elements exposure in public, that made us have to celebrate Chinese New Year in hiding for decades. I remember visiting my grandparents to celebrate and my parents always reminded my sister and I not to tell out loud what we were about to do because we were afraid that one day nasty neighbors would report us to the police and screwed up everything.

Thank God, Chinese ethnics finally regained their freedom to perform rituals and expose all Chinese elements as it should be in year 2000 onwards after Abdurrahman Wahid, the 4th president of Indonesia, abolished the President’s Instruction (Inpres) No. 14 / 1967. Since then, many shopping malls invite lion dance performers each year to merry the biggest celebration for Chinese ethnics. It’s fun, really.

Until Covid-19 strikes worldwide provoking lockdowns and all crowds oriented activities are not allowed regardless race and nationality.

In 2020, I captured lion dance performance from Kong Ha Hong lion dance group performers, the two-time gold medal winner for international lion dance competition. Usually, they are invited annually to Pondok Indah Mall, one of the most popular malls in South Jakarta, performing for one month prior to the new year until the d-day.

Miss the crowds, miss the fun… Stay safe and healthy, everyone! Happy Chinese New Year for those who celebrate it.

lion dance
acrobatics

Something I’m Gonna Miss this Chinese New Year 2021: Acrobatics Performance

Its confirmed. It’s said on the news that Chinese New Year gathering (lunch, dinner whatsoever) with (extended) family members is highly not recommended. Especially, the highest Covid-19 cases in Indonesia come from family cluster recently. The pandemic is far from over. The upcoming Chinese New Year won’t be as merry as before. I believe attractions attracting crowds will be forbidden this year.

I’m glad that I managed to watch and capture Chinese acrobatics performance in February 2020 at Pondok Indah Mall, South Jakarta, a month before case no. 1 appeared in Indonesia. These performers are for sure from China and have been performing in some other countries, too, among others Barcelona and Dubai.

As seen from the results, I realize that I still need to learn a lot to capture moving objects with a mirrorless camera. Nonetheless, I finally decided to post them as a remembrance of the joy of being with crowds for the last time before semi lockdown in April 2020.

The acrobatics are basically divided in 4 acts: Contortionists, Rolla Bolla, Monocycle and Aerial Silk Duo.

CONTORTIONISTS

Her head should be strong enough to support her friend’s weight. But the girl on top is very slim, anyways.
Wish I could bend like this!
Hmm… table top?
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Envy the flexibility

ROLLA BOLLA

Rotating 360 degrees needs concentration, strength, stability and patience
Handstand
The bowls finally land safely on the head

MONOCYCLE

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Stack of bowls in the air is about to land. Cool, huh?
What a kickass!!
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Can you see what they’re trying to do from the distance?
A busy background may distract you. Taking a closer look, she’s kicking the bowl to pass it to her colleague.

AERIAL SILK DUO

Hand in hand
Lift my feet up
Don’t let me fall
The neck… does it hurt?

Let’s pray the pandemic will be over this year after most people on the planet get vaccinated, so we can go back to (the old) normal. Hate this new normal, but we need to be strong and safe to get through this.

A bit early to say, but Happy Chinese New Year for those who celebrate it!

tpu petamburan

Petamburan Public Cemetery and the Overlook Cultural Legacy

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

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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.

Besides, he was also the cousin of Khouw Kim An, the last Majoor der Chinezen (Major of the Chinese) of the Dutch East Indies and the owner of the mansion called Candra Naya on Jalan Gajah Mada in West Jakarta, which is now a museum.

OG Khouw and Lim Sha Nio’s graves

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.

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inside the bunker
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praying table with engraved images of OG Khous and his wife
additional metal door to the bunker

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.

an angel with broken nose

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.

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Khouw Kim An and his wife’s mausoleum

PUBLIC FIGURES AND BLACK MARBLE INSPIRATION

Djojo Muljadi’s grave

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.

Ibu Aju Agung’s grave
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not a black marble, but this Asian Games athlete’s grave is kinda unique

FROM JAPANESE COLUMBARIUM TO JEWISH GRAVE

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traditional Chinese tombstone

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.

European style grave

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.

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Columbarium
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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.

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Jewish grave

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.

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:

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

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.

TOUCHLESS ELEVATOR

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

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.

KEEP THE DISTANCE AND 50% OCCUPANCY

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

EMPLOYEES WEARING FACE SHIELD AND MASK

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?

ereveld menteng pulo

Ereveld Menteng Pulo, Historical Honorary Cemetery in a Concrete Jungle

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.

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entrance gate

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

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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

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mass grave

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.

SIMULTAAN CHURCH

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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.

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the altar

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wooden cross memorial

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.

COLUMBARIUM

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columbarium

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.

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“In our thoughts, Wil and Rens”

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

ereveld menteng pulo

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.

https://travel.tribunnews.com/2019/09/11/melihat-ereveld-ancol-saksi-bisu-perang-dunia-ii-di-jakarta

Besides, there are also war victims from other Commonwealth countries, such as Australians, Canada, American, Pakistani and Indian.

EMBRACE PEACE AND APPROPRIATE MANNER 

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the canopy and unknown victims

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!

pasar ular

6 Attractions in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta

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

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Tanjung Priok 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.

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Tanjung Priok Station

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.

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Pasar Ular Plumpang

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.

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Pasar Ular Permai

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.

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beef rib soup with rice

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.

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tanjung priok

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.

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maritime museum
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rooftop view of Port of Tanjung Priok

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.

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Mbah Priok’s Tomb

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.

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spring water

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?

5 Oldest Temples in Jakarta

Temple: Vihara vs Klenteng

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.

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Vihara Toasebio in Chinese New Year

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.

vihara toasebio

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.

vihara dharma bhakti

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.

vihara dharma bhakti

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.

vihara dharma bhakti

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.

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laughing Buddha

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.

sin tek bio

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.

sin tek bio

Vihara Bahtera Bhakti

Vihara Bahtera Bhakti is situated in an exclusive residential area, Perumahan Pasir Putih in Ancol, North Jakarta.

chinese new year
Chinese New year celebration

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.

vihara bahtera bhakti

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.

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Siti Wati parents’ grave

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.

Vihara Lalitavistara

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.

vihara lalitavistara
golden stupa and pagoda

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.

vihara lalitavistara

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.

vihara lalitavistara

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!

Indomen: Blurring the Line between Instant Noodle and Instant Ramen

INDOMIE: BEST INSTANT RAMEN?

I completely agree that Indomie is the most delicious instant noodle. What surprises me is that LA Times awarded it as the most delicious instant ramen in their Instant Ramen Power Rankings. But I, just like the food columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson, don’t care about how on earth LA Times categorizes it as ramen as it is actually instant noodle, because it tastes really good, anyways.

HOW INDOMIE GETS ITS PLACE IN RESTAURANTS

The popularity of the Indonesia’s leading instant noodle brand is probably beyond imagination of its producing company, Indofood, especially the growing amount of “warung Indomie” or Indomie food stalls in the country, simply described as noodle stalls using Indomie as their noodle base.

In the beginning, Indomie stalls were rather simple just like how “warung” should be. Either in the shape of wagon or hut, Indomie stalls serve these noodles exactly the same way as you cook them yourself with very limited varieties, such as additional poached egg, corned beef or veggies. They sell pretty well, though, and suitable for those who want to to eat cheap (Rp. 5000 or $ 0.30 per bowl) with familiar taste. Especially while hanging out in the middle of the night far from home.

Entrepreneurs see this as a great business opportunity. To win the heart of consumers, they create fancier version of “warung Indomie” in shop houses and develop totally brand new soup and spice recipes. Despite the restaurant look outlets, they still call themselves “warung Indomie”, applying the golden rule: using Indomie noodle, no others.

EYE-CATCHING INDOMIE STALL

Not long ago, I was looking for a Japanese ramen restaurant at Kosa Kasablanka, a shopping mall in Kuningan area, South Jakarta. Nonetheless, there was a restaurant on LG floor managing to grab my attention, called Indomen, with its eye-catching design.

indomen

From the font type of the 3D Indomen logo until the use of red and blue colours in furniture and decoration remind me of a Superman comic book. The main counter’s façade is the combination of Japanese ramen shop and local Indonesian “warung” style, shown by the use of wooden counter and colourful stickers of food and drink list with images, that nearly cover the entire windows.

indomen

indomen

There are some interesting parts when you take a closer look at the illustration surrounding the outlet, from local version of super hero until some words of joke or parody.

illustration

Finally, all those unique elements dragged me to Indomen and I officially stopped searching any Japanese ramen on that day.

INDOMIE RAMEN

At first, I assumed that Indomen means Indomie men, or people who love Indomie. Yet, having asked about its frequently requested menu, the waiter simply said, “Indomie ramen.” Ha! Now I get it. Indomen stands for Indomie Ramen.

The ramen version of Indomen is divided in 2 types, spicy and non-spicy. The spicy menus, as usual in many Indonesian restaurants targeting younger consumers, use provocative names, such as “ranjau” (landmine), “nuklir” (nuclear), “gila” (crazy). Of all those challenging names, “ranjau” is the most preferred one because it has everything in it, from chicken chasiu (chicken in Chinese food style sweet red sauce), meatball, chicken skin skewer, homemade chili and egg. There are 5 levels of spiciness, from 1 the mildest to 5 the hottest.

For those who can’t even stand level 1, like me, just get the non-spicy options, such as “telur asin” (salted egg), original, creamy milk and “bakso” (meatballs). I chose creamy milk, which is like the original soup but mixed with milk.

In seconds, I forgot that what I had before me is Indomie instant noodle. The presentation was so Japanese ramen look, from the sliced chicken that tasted like teriyaki, hard-boiled egg with medium done yolk, until the hooked spoon that could hang in the edge of the bowl. The only thing that was absent is the seaweed on the side of the bowl, just like how it was pictured on the menu.

indomie

Basically, creamy milk is the modification of the original version of umami soup with milk and hints of sweetness. It was pretty good, unless you mind the slightly sweet soup, and one of the best sellers for the non-spicy Indomie ramen.

I didn’t think that Indomie noodle will do great for ramen, but in fact, Indomen proved me wrong.

OTHER THAN INDOMIE RAMEN

Suppose you feel like trying other than Indomie ramen, Indomen offers Indonesian style fried noodle, from “sambal matah” (Balinese style chili), “saus rendang” (Padang style beef in coconut sauce) to “keju telur” (egg and cheese). There’s no harm to try the street style rice dishes, such as the customer’s favorite “ayam geprek mozarella” (spicy smashed chicken with mozzarella cheese) and some toast bread, where ovomaltine cheese oreo is the most preferred one.

Customization of existing dishes are possible, thanks to the additional topping options, from sunny side up, “rendang”, “sambal matah”, to cheese starting from Rp. 5800
($ 0.45) per plate.

What if heavy meals are not your choice? No worries. Light snacks, from “sate taichan” (chicken skewers), chicken skin skewers, popcorn chicken, french fries to calamari fritters are available. Even some are served with choice of flavours, such as chili, mozarella cheese and barbecue.

LYCHEE YAKULT

lychee yakult
lychee yakult

lychee yakult
take the Yakult bottle off and pour it on your drink

It is pretty common that Yakult, the Japanese probiotic milk drink brand, becomes one of the main mocktail ingredients, and Indomen is not an exception. My favorite Yakult drink concoction is lychee, as it brings refreshing and sweet taste simultaneously, harmoniously. It costs me Rp. 24.800 ($ 1.50) per glass and I think it’s worth it.

There are 12 categories of drinks you can choose, among others fresh juices, local tea, Italian soda, Yakult and sparkling soda, starting from Rp. 9800 ($ 0.70).

indomen
drink illustrations

INDOMIE SHOULD BE AFFORDABLE

The other golden rule of “warung Indomie”, no matter how you want to bring it to the next level, is this: it has to be affordable!

indomen
eye-catching menu cover design

I spent about Rp. 60.000 ($ 5) for creamy milk Indomie ramen and lychee Yakult, which is still considered normal in shopping malls, but a bit pricey for instant noodle. FYI, Indomie ramen is the most expensive menu at the restaurant, which is almost Rp. 30.000 ($ 2) per portion. Other than that, you can get the lowest main course starting from Rp. 12.800 ($ 0.90), like the original fried Indomie. Thus, you can have it your way to reach your budget.

Overall, the experience I got at Indomen opens my mind that creativity is endless and rules are made to be broken. Nothing wrong with Japanese ramen made of Indonesian instant noodle. If it’s mouthwatering, so what?

Most Beautiful Murals in Ismail Marzuki Park

BEFORE IT TURNS INTO ISMAIL MARZUKI PARK

Taman Ismail Marzuki (Ismail Marzuki Park) is a Jakarta art and cultural center situated in Cikini area, Central Jakarta, Indonesia. The locals call it TIM, pronounced as team.

The name “Ismail Marzuki” derives from a music composer and songwriter for films and numerous patriotic songs. Since November 10, 2004, he has been awarded as a national hero.

TIM
mural of Ismail Marzuki, the composer

Originally, Ismail Marzuki Park was Taman Raden Saleh (Raden Saleh Park), the first  public zoo and park in the city owned by Raden Saleh, a famous painter who lived in Europe for 20 years to pursue painting study and career. The establishment of zoo in the city center was probably inspired by those in Europe, where several of them are built in downtown areas instead of the suburban ones. The park also hosted a dog racing competition, a cinema, Garden Hall and Podium. Since 1966, the zoo has been relocated to Ragunan, South Jakarta, called Kebun Binatang Ragunan (Ragunan Zoo).

WHAT ISMAIL MARZUKI PARK OFFERS

TIM was officially inaugurated on November 10, 1968 by the then governor of Jakarta, Ali Sadikin. The 8 hectares park houses a planetarium, Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ), an exhibition hall, 6 performing art performances theaters, archive building and a gallery.

Cultural events are shown regularly, from performing arts, such as drama, dance, music performances, poetry reading, painting and sculpture exhibitions until film screenings.

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the big theater TIM

The Planetarium and Observatorium is also a highly-visited destination within the park, especially for groups of students who are on study tour program. I remember, slightly, did this with schoolmates when I was on elementary school. It’s been ages and that’s when the last time I visited Ismail Marzuki Park.

There used to be XXI Cinema, which is demolished in mid-August 2019, and the extension of Graha Bhakti Budaya, a big performing art hall, will replace the cinema spot. This results in disappointment from the cinema’s regular customers, including students from Jakarta Arts Institute. Yet it happens anyways.

The revitalization of Ismail Marzuki Park is still an ongoing project and will be completed in 2021. I truly hope something great is coming out of it and the dream of becoming the park as one of the world’s cultural center will come true.

MURALS

Finally, after more than 25 years, I returned to this park with a group of people from Wisata Kreatif Jakarta, a walking tour service holding one of their routes, Cikini Food Tour. I couldn’t believe that this place has become more artsy than just being the location of an art school. Without watching art performances and attending exhibitions, the murals has already had their own spot to accentuate the art element at the complex. And yes, you can enjoy them for free.

It was not so crowded on Sunday afternoon and no school activities, except some people chill out, chit-chatting and practices skateboarding. Immortalizing these wonderful artworks with a camera couldn’t be more comfortable. The murals are created by several different painters, portraying faces of the nation’s most notable artists, including Ismail Marzuki himself, as shown above.

taman ismail marzuki
the look of Raden Saleh

Raden Saleh didn’t only owned the zoo those days, but also had a mansion nearby. As Cikini is an Arabic settlement in Jakarta and he was an Arabic-Javanese painter, he is one of the most influential figures in Indonesian painting history.

taman ismail marzuki

The murals make an ordinary building looks extraordinary from this angle. The black mural is the poet Chairil Anwar, nicknamed binatang jalang or bitch taken from his “Aku” (“I”) poet, known for moving and controversy lyrics. One of his statements that the nation hard to forget is that he wanted to live for another thousand years, nonetheless the faith told otherwise. He passed away at only 26, probably from tuberculosis.

taman ismail marzuki
mural of Chairil Anwar

huriah adam mural, the choreographer
mural of Huriah Adam, the choreographer who used to perform at TIM multiple times

The colorful mural of a Colombian artist Diana Ordonez symbolizes a close relationship between the local government and Colombian embassy in Jakarta.

taman ismail marzuki
the work of Diana Ordonez

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closer look of the mural

taman ismail marzuki

taman ismail marzuki

Look around slowly and you’ll find more murals on the façade of Jakarta Arts Institute. I heard that in certain period of time, these murals could be replaced with other images. So enjoy them while they last.

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Jakarta Arts Institute

taman ismail marzuki

taman ismail marzuki

taman ismail marzuki

taman ismail marzuki

taman ismail marzuki

MORE MURALS OUTSIDE THE COMPLEX

When you leave Ismail Marzuki Park, don’t forget to spot other murals outside the the park. They are seriously instagrammable as well! I only captured a few of them, yet I guarantee you’ll see more of them along the way.

For sure, this is a kind of art exhibition you can visit for free and you can visit anytime before dark. Sunday could be the best day as the street is not too crowded.

taman ismail marzuki
mural by Harry Darsono

mural
“I love Indonesia Korea”

mural
“Jakarta gives, never asks for return”

mural

museum taman prasasti

Museum Taman Prasasti: First Public Cemetery Turned into a Museum

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WHAT IS MUSEUM TAMAN PRASASTI

Museum Taman Prasasti or Inscription Museum, formerly known as Kebon Jahe Kober, was the first modern public cemetery in the world built in 1795 in Tanah Abang district, Central Jakarta, Indonesia. The land belonged to Halventinus van Riemsdijk, a landlord and a businessman, before he inherited it to the Dutch colonial government.

It provided a new burial site to replace that in Hollandsche Nieuw Kerk (Dutch New Church), now Museum Wayang or Wayang Puppet Museum, since the cemetery was already full. The cemetery area was once 5.5 hectares, but now it’s only 1.5 hectares left due to the city expansion.

Known for the terrible traffic jam and the biggest textile market in Southeast Asia so-called Pasar Tanah Abang (Tanah Abang Market), Museum Taman Prasasti delivers the tranquil side of Tanah Abang district situated just 7 minutes drive from the hectic area, free from honks and overcrowded street vendors.

museum taman prasasti

But nothing eerie and haunted about this place. The cemetery operated until 1974 and closed a year later. Before turning into a museum on July 9, 1977, the remaining bodies were brought back to their families and some others are cremated. In other words, no bodies under the tombstones ever since.

That’s why it’s no longer called a cemetery, but a museum instead. Nowadays, it’s one of the popular places for photography spots and video shooting.

THE BURIED ONES, MEMORIALS AND STATUES

Those days, it was a Protestant cemetery, the last resting place of Dutch government officials and prominent people.

museum taman prasasti
Marius Hulswit’s tomb

Among others Marius Hulswit (the architect of Cathedral Church in Jakarta), Olivia Marianme Raffles (the first wife of Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant General of Dutch Indies during the British conquest), HF Roll (the founder of STOVIA, School of Medicine during Dutch colonization era), Van Riemsdijk Family (General Governor of Dutch Indies whose son, Halventinus, inherited one of his lands to build Kebon Jahe Kober cemetery) and many more.

The only Indonesian people buried here were Miss Riboet (famous theater actress in 1930’s) and Soe Hok Gie (student activist movement in 1960’s).

museum taman prasati
Olivia Mariamne Raffles’ tomb

Various shapes of tombstone definitely define the beauty of the open air museum, that also have meaning and purpose behind them. The tombstone of Olivia Mariamne Raffles made of andesite stone was considered luxurious at that time. The broken menhir shaped tomb, like that of Dr. Jan Laurens Andries Brandes (and some others), is the symbol of unfulfilled wishes. The Hindu temple look is a remembrance of his merit as an ancient Javanese literature expert.

museum taman prasasti
Dr. Jan Laurens Andries Brandes’ tomb

The most lavish tombstone is the green cathedral monument of Major General Johan Jacob Perrie, a highly respected war hero who earned the title of nobility from the Dutch Kingdom.

museum taman prasasti
Major General JJ Perrie monument

museum taman prasasti
Kapitein Jas

Of all tombs, I personally think that the story behind Kapitein Jas tomb is the most interesting and funny in particular way. Until today, local and international visitors believe that visiting his tomb can make their wishes come true although some say that Kapitein Jas doesn’t exist.

It is said that Kapitein Jas was a name of an extended land next to Jassen Kerk, a Portuguese church outside the Batavia old town, to accommodate the deceased from a malaria outbreak since there was no longer enough space in the cemetery behind Jassen Kerk.

So, I wonder if there was a body buried under the tombstone of Kapitein Jas those days.

Apart from tombstones, Museum Taman Prasasti also houses memorials and statues revealing the situation at the time they were built. The caskets used to bring bodies of Indonesia’s first president and vice president, Soekarno and Hatta, are sheltered by metal-roofed hut decorated with Indonesian flag.

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housing caskets of Indonesia’s first president and vice president

The crying lady statue illustrates a very sad newly wed woman left by her husband who died from malaria when he was abroad. She finally hung herself.

museum taman prasasti
The Crying Lady

The replica of R. Breveld monument with the skull stabbed by a spear is a memorial of R. Breveld, a Dutch, German and Thai descendant who was a traitor for Dutch Imperialism and sentenced to death because he planned to kill government officials.

museum taman prasasti
Pieter Erberveld monument

A Japanese-inscripted stone in front of AJW. van Delden family funeral home, not far from the president’s caskets, is a memorial of Japanese troops against allied forces.

museum taman prasasti
Japanese troops memorial

THE STORY BEHIND THE ANGELS

Somehow, the abundant of angels in the former cemetery triggers a question why the Protestant cemetery looks like the Catholic one.

museum taman prasasti

In fact, the angels didn’t exist until the first public cemetery in the world stop operating and turned into a museum to beautify the environment inside the open air museum. Unintentionally, it shows a lack of understanding the differences between Protestant and Catholic, although they both are Christian and have the same bible.

Most probably, whoever has the idea of adding the angels is inspired by a lavishly decorated church with many statues and paintings, that are more obvious in Catholic churches than the Protestant ones, but he or she doesn’t notice that.

Additionally, even the broken hands were made on purpose to give the impression of old and vintage. They are not that old, though, at least not from the 18th or 19th century. Regardless the accidental mistake, the angel statues are my favorite as they are beautifully carved and accentuate plain graves and cemetery surroundings. I just don’t really care about the reason and the misunderstanding.

museum taman prasasti
intentional broken hand

By accessing Museum Taman Prasasti for only Rp. 5000 ($ 0.5), it is a great place to relax, refreshing your mind and eyesight with artworks carved on tombstones and memorials, as well as to learn about the important people once buried there, who shape the history, influence the present life and future of the next generation.

It is undoubtedly one of my favorite places to enjoy Jakarta outside shopping malls. Hopefully you’ll feel the same.

Museum Taman Prasasti 

 Jl. Tanah Abang I No.1, RT.11/RW.8, Petojo Sel., Kecamatan Gambir, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10160

Opening hours: 9 am to 3 pm

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jakarta

Happy Anniversary, Jakarta!

Just a very short post this time. Happy 492th Anniversary, Jakarta!

jakarta
Jakarta mural in Cikini

Today, Jakarta citizens and visitors can enjoy all routes provided by Transjakarta buses for free. Tonight, the street party will start in Hotel Indonesia Roundabout or Bundaran HI. CNN Indonesia is having a special anniversary report in the historical Kota Tua area. Picnic and bazaar in Banteng Square, or Lapangan Banteng are held for 2 days starting from now until Sunday.

In short, the city is having a huge party everywhere this weekend!

tugu kunstkring paleis

Tugu Kunstkring Paleis: Art Gallery Revival with Fine Dining Experience

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HISTORY OF TUGU KUNSTKRING PALEIS BUILDING

Tugu Kunstkring Paleis is situated in Gondangdia, an administrative village in Menteng district in South Jakarta, Indonesia. Menteng itself was designated to be a middle to high end residential area in Jakarta during the Dutch colony era developed between 1910 and 1918 by a Dutch architect Pieter Adriaan Jacobus Moojen from NV. Bouwploeg, the first property and architecture firm in the capital city of Indonesia, whose building now has been functioning into Cut Meutia Mosque since 1987.

mosque
Cut Meutia Mosque, formerly NV Bouwploeg HQ

Suppose you notice the word “Boplo” used in the neigbourhood of Gondangdia, such as Pasar Boplo (Boplo Market) and Gado-Gado Boplo restaurant, actually it has something to do with Bouwploeg. “Boplo” is a local way of saying Bouwploeg (of NV. Bouwploeg) since it is too hard to pronounce for most people.

PAJ Moojen’s next project was to build a Dutch rationalist architecture style building called Bataviasche Kunstkring (Batavia Circle of Art) in 1913. Inaugurated by Willem Frederik Idenburg, the governor of Dutch Indies in 1914, it signified the first property building ever created by NV Bouwploeg after its own head office.

tugu kunstring paleis
Tugu Kunstring Paleis

The building held several art related exhibitions, from paintings, music performances, until a gathering spot for art lovers. It reached a higher reputation after exhibiting finest works of Van Gogh, Chagall, Picasso and Gauguin between 1939 and 1943.

After 1942, the function changed into The Islamic Council of Indonesia main office, Central Jakarta Immigration Office, until Buddha Bar that brought a controversy. Since 2013, Tugu Hotels and Restaurants Group renamed it into Tugu Kunstkring Paleis and transformed it into a fine dining restaurant that simultaneously becomes an art gallery like how it used to be.

NOSTALGIC DINING ROOMS AND GALLERIES

Exhibiting antiquity inheritance from Oei Tiong Ham, a sugar trading tycoon, the old glory of Bataviasche Kunstkring has returned. Not only did a courteous waiter instantly welcomed us once we stepped in a century-year-old heritage building, but also opulence and prosperity, accentuated by gold and red colours used in many objects.

Passing the gracious golden gate with “MN” initials, that belonged to one of the Surakarta Kingdoms, Mangkunegaran, we headed to the dining rooms, bar, wine tasting, gift shop, ballroom and a balcony. Also, don’t miss the cozy coffee and bread corner situated on the left side of the entrance door before the golden gate. It’s simply a perfect place to get light snacks and zipping coffee, tea or traditional hot drinks like wedang jahe (ginger drink), for instance.

tugu kunstkring paleis
coffee and tea corner

kunstkring
Diponegoro Room at Tugu Kunstkring Paleis

The biggest dining room in Tugu Kunstring Paleis is Diponegoro Room. The 9-meter-painting of “The Fall of Java” painted by the restaurant owner, Anhar Setjadibrata, is the most sought object in the room. The Fall of Java is the 3rd version of “Submission of Prince Diponegoro to General De Kock” by Nicolas Pieneman, whose 2nd version is “The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro” by Raden Saleh. Other Surakarta Kingdom treasures are golden crown-shaped canopies with “PB” initials, that stands for Pakubuwono, placed above the paintings on sides of the room.

tugu kunstkring paleis
Suzie Wong Bar

Go straight ahead to the giant Diponegoro painting and turn left, then you will find an oriental style lounge so-called Suzie Wong Bar. The bar name is inspired by a famous novel by Richard Mason in 1957. The love story about a prostitute named Suzie Wong with Robert Lomax, an American architect, was a hit when it was filmed in 1960’s. The original movie posters from a theater in Menteng is displayed on both sides of the bar. It felt homey at the lounge as if we visited someone’s peranakan house with an intense Chinese atmosphere, from lanterns on the ceiling, wooden partition, engraving, until a Hong Kong style rickshaw. I personally love this lounge so much!

tugu kunstkring paleis
Suzie Wong Bar

tugu kunstkring paleis

The next room on the right side of Diponegoro Room is brighter than any other rooms since the sunshine can pass through the windows and glass roof. Apart from dining tables, it displays local souvenirs and artworks for sale, such as accessories, pillows, pottery and many more.

tugu kunstkring paleis
souvenirs

Also, check out the 3-tier rack dedicated to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, aka Ahok or BTP, a former Jakarta governor known for his straight forward, strong-willed attitude, honest and once jailed for blasphemy case for 18 months.

ahok
BTP family spot

Besides communal dining rooms, Tugu Kunstring Paleis has 8 other private rooms, occupying from 4 to 25 guests. Each room has its own name, mostly inspired by prominent people in Indonesian history (Soekarno 1950, Raden Saleh and Multatuli Room), legendary Greek God (Hercules Room), and a popular classic movie (Darna Room), which is also one of the owner’s favorite movies.

tugu kunstkring paleis
Soekarno 1950 Room

Of all the beautifully-decorated rooms, the most impressive one is Soekarno 1950 room. Depicting a small part of a great man’s life, a large painting of Soekarno surrounded by Balinese dancers and clippings of his burial procession are some memorabilia of Indonesia’s first president that are well-kept in the room, occupying up to 25 guests.

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Soekarno 1950 Room

To access these private rooms, we took an elevator to the 2nd floor. Taking pictures are allowed, as long as you don’t use any professional camera with a tripod. Lights and air conditioner are usually off unless the rooms are used to save electricity and to protect the paintings from colour fading.

tugu kunstkring paleis
Darna Room

There’s also a painting gallery on the 3rd floor, which is also a ballroom available for bookings, including the balcony.

tugu kunstkring paleis
the stairs

Indeed, we were mesmerized by every detail put in the interior of the paleis, a Dutch word for palace. Nostalgic feeling is inevitable, dragging us to the glory of the old times long before we were born. The invaluable treasures are not only heaven for art lovers, but also become part of human civilization. They also remind us that we can learn a lot from the history behind them, especially someone (important) once owned and used them.

When you go down, take the stairs instead of the elevator, observe the red walls along the way as it displays pictures of the heritage building from time to time dated 100 years ago.

Additionally, I advise you to visit all the rooms after finishing your meals, since you may be carried away by its beauty that you forget that your orders could be already cold after returning to your table.

IS THE FOOD AS GOOD AS THE GALLERY?

The lavishness and precious antiquities inside the building that ceaselessly amaze me only left one question. Is the food and beverage quality as good as the majestic palace? I mean, it’s not my first time to dine in a fancy restaurant with so-so or even lousy taste.

Serving Indonesian, oriental and western cuisine, we decided to try the Indonesian food to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Keluwak Fried Rice (Rp. 78,000 / $6) is one of the menus I recommend. Keluwak is a black fruit with sweet taste used in popular East Javanese cuisine, rawon (keluwak beef black soup). Inspired by rawon, the fried rice is mixed with keluwak, turning it into dark brown colour. The condiments, such as prawn crackers, raw bean sprouts, chili and beef, are the same as those in rawon, except cucumber and fried egg. I love the savoury taste with hints of sweetness and spices.

fried rice
Keluwak Fried Rice

Gulai Iga Kambing or mutton rib curry (Rp 108,000 / $9) is definitely my favorite! The meat is soft, tender, and the intense smell of the mutton is successfully lessened to the minimum. The curry taste itself is just right, not too thick and not too light. Moreover, the veggies and baby potatoes are served in generous amount. The price is considered affordable, as it is not much different compared to those mutton meals at the malls with such a quality.

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Nasi Lemak Kunstkring

tugu kunstkring paleis
Mutton Rib Curry

Although I think the Keluwak Fried Rice is more unique, the Nasi Lemak Kunstkring (Rp 88,000 / $7) is worth to try as well. It’s savoury rice mixed with salted fish, fried chicken wings, kangkung belacan (watercress with shrimp paste sauce), omelette, cucumber relish and black baby squid. I love the baby black squid, by the way, as the black sauce from squid ink completely rocks!

lemongrass tea
lemongrass tea

From mocktails, tea, coffee, cocktails, smoothies, traditional iced drinks until wines and beers, Tugu Kunstring Paleis has it all. In my first visit with Wisata Kreatif Jakarta, I tried Meik Wei Meik Wei (Rp. 45,000 / $3.5), one of the best-selling mocktails with concoction of fresh lime, strawberry, sprite and brown sugar. A great choice for those who search for refreshment after dealing with hot weather.

I was curious with the home made Lemongrass Tea (Rp. 42,000 / $3.5), especially it’s made of  freshly boiled and smashed lemongrass. Therefore I took it in my second visit. I think a simple drink will do best for heavy and strong taste meals. The lemongrass tea didn’t disappoint me at all. It tastes tangy, lemony, earthy and refreshing at the same time.

I heard from another guest that the Pisang Goreng Raja or Raja banana fritters (Rp. 48,000 / $4) is very good because the bananas are carefully selected and tastes naturally sweet. I haven’t tried this, but perhaps you can prove it in your next visit.

In general, it costs approximately between Rp 150,000 and Rp 200,000 ($13 to $18) per person, which a bit costly, yet still makes sense. Tugu Kunstkring Paleis has great quality of food and beverage with service excellence, where all guests are treated like kings and queens. Moreover, the grandiose, lavish interior, surrounded by precious antiquities that could grab a lot of attention makes your visit unforgettable.

Tugu Kunstkring Paleis

Address: Jl. Teuku Umar No.1, RT.1/RW.1, Gondangdia, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10350

Phone: (021) 3900899

Opening Hours: 11 am – 12 pm