Tag Archives: flatmate Jakarta

Wake up, it’s night in Jakarta

Night time is basically the right time in Jakarta — because it’s cooler, quieter and less congested. You can get a lot of stuff done at night. A night watchman can help set the tone.

Yes, we have vacancy.

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Halimun House

Friendly expat guesthouse in a classic Batavia-style neighborhood adjacent to the Jakarta business district

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

Serviced housing for Jakarta expats https://sharehouse.wordpress.com/faq/%5B/caption%5D

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!

Email: sharehouse.jakarta@gmail.com 

Serviced Apartments in Central Jakarta

So today I took the trip down memory lane/gang to check out current prices and services at Take’s Mansion and Menteng Prada,  both popular with people in town on business for a few months at a time.

Both serviced apartments are located in Central Jakarta. Menteng Prada, which is hideous from the outside and a hassle going in and out, is located across from the street from the Cikini train station in a bad corner of a decent part of town. I still like the area. If  you’re careful about how you tell the story, everything will think you were at Executive Menteng (technically “Eksekutif Menteng“), and wouldn’t that have been lovely.  Anyway, Prada has plenty of space, sunlight and marble and always something bizarre going on — a movie shoot, church, etc.  Once, a few weeks after becoming moving in I became an unintentional extra for a soap opera shoot (“Kisah Kasih di Sekolah”); and later watched myself on television at Menteng Prada at Menteng Prada.

I lived at the Prada more or less happily for many months until my flatmate took off to surf Eastern Indonesia and I couldn’t afford the rent. Sharing the same exact un-modern but otherwise OK two-bedroom today would cost you around Rp 15 mil/month each. Gnarly views of Monas at night and even the port and the mountains on a clear day. However, I do remember my flatmate (after I kicked him out) commenting that it was better being broke in Kupang or suffering dengue in Sanur than “fighting like caged animals in Menteng.” (In fairness, he said he missed Tiga Kuda and “the blame game.”)  So despite OK views from the pool, the Hero supermarket downstairs, and friendly security, I suppose there really was something missing. Probably privacy, independence and trees. The pool and weights area is too small to be relaxing although the wide angle lens does help. (If you don’t live in the apartment the pool is kind of fun and relaxing. It costs 25 thou and there’s a cafe.)

Meanwhile, Take’s looks a lot better on the outside than it is. It’s next to a marginally OK-looking old Dutch canal sandwiched between Tanah Abang and Monas. Not a boring area and the building is unique and funky with the only parking garage in Jakarta that I know of painted white with floral details. So, I imagine some people are quite happy there for relatively short periods. A studio with a tiny window and balcony will cost you Rp 6 mil/month. For comparison, that’s nearly a 50% savings on paying the daily rate at Marco Polo hotel for 30 days, but pool is easily 4 times as big and Menteng Huis area is right there.  (From Take’s you can walk to Sarina Thambrin shopping center, but you’ll still be on the wrong side of the street. ) Just depends on what you want. If it’s just a solid two-room base camp for a week, then walk your 6 mil back to Menteng Prada and that’s what you’ll get — 7 days.

How solid is solid? Well, at Marco Polo you can have a small refrigerator and cook noodles in the coffee pot.  At Take’s you’ll have a decent frig, a sink, and someone assigned to do your dishes every couple of days. But the studio is so small that you don’t want to live with those dishes for very long. Also, dishes not included. At Menteng Prada you’ve plenty of crockery; someone to wash them every once in a while; and bedroom so you can get away from the whole thing.

And that’s it. Wash, ironing, Internet, breakfast? They’re not included at any of these places. Take’s, sure enough, does has Wifi. And it will cost you just under Rp 300,000 each month you wish to use it.  I would assume that Prada (which is still under the same management) is still charging a premium for attempts to connect with the world outside the pink witch’s with the Disneyland ripoff logo. We used to get hit with luxury hotel-type dial-out rates for unsuccessful attempts to connect to the Internet. (This was a few years ago before Indonesia had affordable DSL).

And what about laundry? Well, the very friendly front deskman at Take’s shook his head vigorously and smiled wide at the thought of that service. “You’d have to talk to housekeeping,” he said in excellent English. “I wouldn’t have any idea.”  Once encouraged, he found himself able to spell out the metrics, but stopped short of hazarding a guess at prices. They have weekly, monthly, per item and per kilo prices, he said.

Flashback to checking off the tiny boxes on the Chinese take-out laundry list at Prada. Now — you see — is the time to find, smell, pair and count your socks. And now is the time to call housekeeping and report to them your dirty laundry. Now is the waiting time, the public recounting time, and the tipping/ refusing-to-tip time. When you suspect your stuff is clean, it will be time for more calling, waiting, public inspection, recounting and reconciliation of formerly dirty laundry. In order to reach the paying time and final tipping/denial once again of time to tip. No hiding in your bedroom.

Tropical vines really tie things together at Jakarta sharehouse

Dude, here’s a post about the view from our rattan planter’s chair and the chair itself. Rotan (the original Malay word), like Indonesian furniture in general, is a bit of a mystery to me. A sad one, I suppose, since it involves palms.

Human genome research will eventually corroborate the Western weakness for things like bamboo and palms. Theo Meier, Paul Gaugin and a century of tropical tourism have already proven this. Meanwhile, a vine-like palm seems to defy Google pictures . Of course if you hang around these parts very long, you learn that wine, ethanol, books, music — pretty much anything — can be made from palms.

All I know is there used to be tons of nice rotan baskets at Cikini Train Station, a colorful place this time of year anyway, since the Indonesian version of the Christmas stocking is a rotan basket of goodies called a parcel. But a few years ago I noticed a Pier 1-type feeling of futility while trying to pry the smallest waste paper basket from its owner — three bucks maybe.  What’s the bind? Indonesia has 70-80% of the world’s rotan production. It can be grown on a farm.  And a certain percentage of humanity can’t seem to live without it.  (The rest hate it, by the way).  It’s hard to tell, but that much potential, I suppose vested interests are just weaving a big mess out of it, like the furniture question and wooded things in general here in the East Indies.

Anyway here’s the link to the translated Rotan Indonesia page which has good information. They make a seemingly good point: let’s not become the world’s largest provider of fake natural furniture.

Various members of the piper family pictured here. Medicinal red sireh (on the trellis) is another stringy thingy with roots deep in human (and ant) history. It’s potent enough but — like rotan — probably not living up to potential. Here at the Sharehouse it’s used mostly for female hygiene and garden-variety jamu. But you’ll find this same piper creeper genus deeply implicated in your favorite black pepper beef & broccoli; kava drinks from the South Pacific; and Ritlan, Demerol and several anti-psychotics (via chemical reagent piperidine).

However, hot, cold and lukewarm peppers — extremely prominent in the Sharehouse crisper — aren’t pipers at all: they belong to genus capsicum, a member of the nightshade family. The common name for this lovely edible depends on where in the world you are. In Indonesia or Holland the Google picture monster produces results like the one below when fed with the word paprika.

Paprika = pepper

Book Review: Leonard Lueras’ Jakarta Book

Living in Jakarta

Packed with color photos and a few essays Jakarta, Jayakarta, Batavia [2008, pp. 288] is more compact, contemporary and quirky than a traditional coffee table book. It’s like a cross between a big fat Nat Geo article and a juicy ‘blog.

It is the work of a band of scholars, writers, and artists, among them a microlight photographer, a go-go dancer-turned designer, and a Jesuit priest. Led by gypsy book wizard and author of Surfing Indonesia, Leonard Lueras, they’ve come from elsewhere and everywhere with peculiar dreams and visions.

Stylish but easy-going, Jakarta is highly imaginative, like Yogya on My Mind and Ubud is a Mood, other books in the series. Lueras would rather show than tell and the text merely illustrates the artwork.

According to one contributor, “the history of expatriates in Jakarta spans … a period of nearly five centuries [and] is an immense and chaotic collection of colorful tales and astonishing anecdotes.” In that case, Jakarta, Jayakarta, Batavia is a microcosm.

(A personal but sad note: Pak Ahmad Fahmy’s chapter on the enduring legacy of the Tanamur disco had not been completed by his untimely death in 2008. His friend Jeremy Allan gracefully closed the door on that chapter.)

If you’ve been there, you know Jakarta looks shabby, but only for a while—and then it brightens up fast. The metropolis is strange, not ugly; and never boring. In his Life in the Dome essay Simon Pitchforth wonders whether the urban planners who managed to get Kuala Lumpur and Singapore off the ground took “magic mushrooms at some intergovernmental management seminar during the 60’s” before coming over to lay out Jakarta. The traffic is magic alright. Walking would be faster than driving, except for the cars. And the colors are wild—“wisma blue,” “Bajaj orange” — and pink for apartment buildings, of course.

Jakarta’s gnarly place names come from fruit and flowers. But judging from the photos in this book (hundreds of them, nicely reproduced), architecture, art and advertising are what drive Jak city’s unique looks today.

In addition to Canadian surrealist Ken Pattern’s intricate and inspired stone lithographs, I like best Jez O’Hare’s shimmering aerials and Lueras’ portraits of Jakartans from all walks of life just doing what they do.


Jakarta is supposed to be age-old. So why are all the cars new? Father Adolph

Heuken’s elegant, warp-speed tour of Jakarta-the-first’s 40,000 years provides the visually missing link between present and ancient past.

It is illustrated with photos of artifacts and documents that I found stunning: a massive stone inscribed with mystical Hindu runes by 5th century canal-digger priests, and a legible 1522 treaty between princes of Java and Portugal. In a few pages, Heuken tells the mind-bending story of all the empires, kingdoms and religions that have at some point pitched up at the port of Sunda Kelapa .

Bruce Carpenter’s Batavia, Batavia article is a chiaroscuro portrait of “naïve or dogmatic migrants” seduced by a “steamy, exotic eastern environment.” Even those who usually skip the history channel will be taken in by the 19th century Woodbury & Page photography the Dutch with their native servants, soldiers and entertainers.

And Carpenter’s story has a moral: Jakarta keras (Jakarta’s tough.) With supplies of “irrational bureaucracy, inflated egos, moral temptations, and culture chasms” holding up well over the centuries, expat life still is. Moreover, argues Carpenter, while society is still very much top-down, due to a “sobering karmic reversal in roles,” whitey’s no longer on top.

Continue reading

Sunday Afternoon in Menteng, “Indonesia’s First Garden City”

We offer walking tours of historic Menteng in Central Jakarta every afternoon at 4:00 PM. Cost: Rp 100,000 per person.

Please Email sharehouse.jakarta@gmail.com for more information.

Christopher Silver wrote:

The prestige of Menteng within the context of colonial Batavia would eventually be transferred to the indigenous urban elite of Jakarta in the post-colonial period. Whereas many emblems of the colonial past were shunned, Menteng as a neighbourhood of prestige persisted. It provided a residential anchor for the central core of the city that remarkably withstood the pressures of commercial encroachment in later years. This should be attributed, in good measure, to the quality of the community’s original plan, which effectively incorporated elements of interconnectedness with adjacent areas while preserving the area’s spatial integrity through an ingenious system of streets and boulevards and contiguous structures that conformed to the system. [p.60]

The initial development of Menteng took place between 1910 and 1918, based on a plan by Dutch architect, P.A. Mooijen . . . . Mooijen’s original plan bore a striking resemblance to the [utopian] garden city model of the English reformer Ebenezer Howard, in that it combined wide cross- cutting boulevards with concentric rings of streets and a central public square. . . . Although Menteng was originally intended to be an exclusive community, there were, in fact, many modest houses built along its edges, perhaps to serve as a buffer, but also ensuring occupancy by a cross section of the European community of Batavia. [p. 57]

Not only in size but also in style, Menteng was the most important neighborhood in the city and introduced into the urban landscape a diversity of traditional and modern structures that changed and enhanced the look of the  city. Traditional Indisch style one-storey villas were intermingled with two-storey structures. There were three types of small villas, the Tosari, the Sumenep, and the Madura, all of which were designed with facilities to accommodate automobiles and hosue servants but were kept under 500 square metres. There was a sprinking of Art Deco style houses and also innovative roof designs, including widespread use of the mansard roof. [p. 59]

Although escalating city centre land values exerted pressures on the edges of Menteng to convert to more convert to more intensive non-residential uses in later years, the core of the community became the focus of preservationists and re-greening advocates in the 1990s. The community plan of Menteng, and the lifestyle that it was intended to provide, endured as the city around it changed drastically. [p.60]