Category Archives: The people you meet

House beer | Resident yeast lord shares mad brewing skills


Spacious sublease for expats avail. in Kuningan/Menteng (house)

Yes, we have vacancies.

Monthly lease rates range from Rp 5 – 6 million with minimum 9-12 month lease including unbeatable location near Four Seasons, wifi broadband, newspapers and coffee on breakfast table, clean laundry in your wardrobe, hot showers, good pressure, cold AC, full kitchen, CCTV and on-premises security, and a microbrewery!


Instant Expat bluffing, holds single pair of unsolicited Internations endorsements (Malte Zeecke & Simona)

OK, I admit it. I’m an amateur blogger, I never read other people’s blogs, I can’t  optimize my own — not even the blogroll  using WordPress.

And when I  post — which is rare —  it’s stuff that would seemingly  appeal to only the most  severely limited subset of who’s online:  people who actually can’t read or use the Internet but would still like to see some antique photos of Jakarta back in the day, junior high fans of  Indonesian reggae, and people  interested in what a 19th century Java-based German mushroom expert  who published in Dutch had to say about atheism.

So let me just apologize in advance to readers (if any) for the Internations stunt. I know it was unfair and unattractive. In fact, I’ve never been to Brussels and they never asked me to be Internations 2013-14 Blogger Partner or help on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 or 5.  Those  times I did make it mid-week schmooze-and-booze?  I just walked in. They did not waive the specially-negotiated Rp 300,000  per-event fee one pays (unless one has already paid Internations membership fees, in which case its Rp 250,000 ).

Meanwhile, back on the farm in Madura . . .

What I’m holding is a single pair of unsolicited endorsements, to wit:

  •  “Most Captivating  Read,” for our “About” tab (from Simona, June 2012);  and
  • “Most Convincing Quality” [no laughs], (from Malte Zeecke), for our  March 2012 post titled ” Instant Expat Phenomenon — why Jakarta is such mad fun and how to get a piece. “

Thing about expats these  days — you know, those  oddballs  who abandon baby, best friend and bathwater  to live weird  in different places — well they’re  spoiled when it comes to  a shot at community and a chance to misfit-in even better.

Example: it’s Expat Blog, a self-explanatory, interactive channel providing society action for the socially challenged. Here you’ll find some 50 pages of Jakarta listings, each with links to 30 blogs, for a grand total of nearly 1500 Jakarta-based expat bloggers representing 75 nations and including the Instant Expat (running on the Puerto Rican ticket ; )

So what does three-of-a-kind beat?

Expate, outsource, automate and disappear: how to spend less and live more in Indonesia

Here’s what we’ve heard over the years about why single expats find that sharing a house near the business district with other expats makes sense in a city like Jakarta.

“I like the fact they’ve got a micro-brewery on board. It’s social, but in a focused way. The Jakarta serviced apartment thing was convenient, but ultimately alienating and boring. There’s just not that much going on in Jakarta on the 26th floor.”

— Development consultant, Madrid

“The kost thing was fun for a while. Sure you meet a lot of people, including Indonesians. It’s almost like a family experience. But then if your boyfriend comes to Indonesia or something . . . or you want to throw a Halloween  party, you may as well be in a hotel . ”

— Tech journalist, Palo Alto 


“My company offered me a big kontrakan [rental house]. But there were a lot of questions about who was going to look  after it. I’d just as soon not have a pool if I have to clean it.”

— Expatriate GM, Melbourne 

“I’m having enough trouble with my driver so I wasn’t really keen on having more people [maid] to manage.”

— Hydro engineer, Montreal

“Once I got the gym membership and located a few good swimming pools, there was really no reason to stay in the apartment.”

— Intern, Helsinki 

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Sharehouse Garbage Team Featured in BBC’s “Toughest Place to be a Bin Man” Docu

Remarkable: a UK journalist moves into a rubbish heap on the corner (the exact spot where I shot a few pictures of the tukang sampa or garbage guys couple months ago) and we don’t notice.  We didn’t notice him. We notice the garbage at the end of Guntur. That’s why we never go there. It’s a massive civilizational failure. (Technically he’s not a journalist, but a London bin man. No matter, he’s doing research in Jakarta — comparative garbology in fact.)
The report is well researched and well timed — coming just now as the Bakrie’s and Rothschilds’s team up to mine coal,  Indo prospers generally and Jak grows filthy rich.
We’ve got super high-quality poverty here and it makes life so easy — the garbage gondoliers unclogging the river, petrol vendors that bring subsidized fuel into the ‘hood so we don’t ever have to queue at the pump, fishmongers at the filthy market where the maid shops , and cheaper than Carrefour . . . . what would we do without them?

Fitness First @Oakwood (S. Jakarta) Costs Rp 500,000/ month

The reason I mention it, is because I just signed up for another four months and I’m looking at the receipt. Also, fitness is serious business here in new Jak city and FF is a no-nonsense outfit. Folks are nice and they don’t fast talk you. You can let your membership expire and sign up again at the same rate and they won’t even pretend that you can’t. They accept your cash at — you know — cash value. No card games.

The views aren’t quite as good as Grand Indonesia but they’re less cluttered, too.

As for Plan B, would you rather be surfing, sailing, jogging in Jak?  A shame really that Jakarta isn’t located in British Colombia, New South Wales or California. It would be a perfect fit as people in Jakarta are relaxed and even mildly outdoorsy.

Fact is, Jabotabek (ugly name but Jakarta/Bogor/Tangerang/Bekasi’s all jammed together crazy like that) is sandwiched between a volcano and the port of Sunda Kelapa.  And as we approach 30 million souls, we’ll be catching up with Canada.

So you can say that you’re going surfing — and you might. But in Jakarta, even the likes of Timothy Ferris (4-Hour Work Week/4-Hour Body) may find his/herself logistically weak-kneed having to rely on anything that tricky as a primary source of exercise. (Mountain biking, on the other hand, is fairly practical in Jak as long as its not too hot.)

Jak just isn’t your in-and-out type of place. As such, even “going out for some fresh air” or “taking a walk” may or may not be feasible. First go downstairs and check out the weather.  (Today it was lovely. Jakarta can be a real charmer — for example , when the smog blows out to sea and you notice all the brand-new shiny buildings that have gone up since the last clear-weather day.)

Keep your walking shoes handy, learn the roads and study maps, traffic and weather. Then work it baby (an article by a journalist formerly in residence @Sharehouse), cuz you’re gonna get some looks.  (Honestly, there’s almost nothing I find as exhilarating as mountain biking Jak and it has something to do with the people contact.) On the other hand, you could end up like one Sharehouse woman (yep, the one who went for a swim in the big ol’ fountain at the Plaza Indonesia roundabout on her last day in town) who got a large pointy piece of metal stuck in her foot on one of her very first freestyle Jak-abouts. Extra points for bravery, ’cause she was actually jogging down the railroad tracks. But she got a terribly nasty infection, too, that had her on crutches for a week or so and in a lot of pain.

So what does that leave . . . Yoga and the gym, pretty much. Use the free gym at your apartment? Yep, that’s always convenient. Conveniently located near your frig, your couch, and your wifi. So you may as well be hunting for activity partners on the Internet.  Or, better yet, at the bar! Drinking has been the official expat sport in this city since day 1.

I mean, if you want to spend all week (except for those 4 working hours) at Red Square or BATS, I think that’s fair.  But what I don’t get (I used to) is reasoning like “I just hate gyms” and “I just can’t see paying 60 dollars a month for the gym.”  That’s nothing if it keeps you healthy.

Because the Susan Waine fitness joint at Bellagio, across the street from Oakwood, is less than Rp 100,000/month. (A bit grotty and best for the heat-resistant types as they can’t be bothered to keep the AC very cold. I was cool and the gang with it, but my wife got a bit itchy and so we worked that membership on out, and let ‘er expire natural-like, easing across the street to join the in-crowd upstairs from the ever-popular Loewy and the ever-happening Bux.)  But we’ve also done a couple of Gold’s, Elite, Fit by Beat, pretty much every gym around. At a place like FF you’ll find brand-new equipment, hyper-convenient locations, awesome views of Jakarta, a pool (the one at Grand Indo, even though it was too small and somehow more uptight last time we tried it).

The money is the least of it. You’ll have tons of it left over after you quit all your dirty Indonesian bad habits, like smoking, dodgy street food, carousing, etc.

Complaints? Sauna’s really small and the music used to be really anemic; but it’s gotten better lately.