Tag Archives: jakarta sublet

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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Get meds in Jakarta 24/7 — pharmacy user’s guide

Viruses and their friends are happening all around us. Give them some credit for that, then ruthlessly purge.

Time is of the essence, friend. So here’s a top-9 list for longer life and better performance in the heart of Jakarta:

1. Consult an Indonesian pharmacist and then Google after prescription/ before purchase. It’s OK to ask pharmacist to break down Rx estimate per-item price. If you know the generic name, maybe you’ll get it. (Generics are new here and and pharmacies use that against you.)

2. Instead of buying everything the doc orders from him or her directly, try paying Rp 100,000 to 200,000 for the office visit and take then take the Rx to the pharmacy for further evaluation

3. Buy what you need, consume what you buy. In Indonesia, you don’t have to fill whole entire scrip — not even close

4. Call the pharmacy/apotik ahead of time. Pick a shopping area (of Jakarta) that has lots of pharmacies, like the Salemba medical complex near the University of Indonesia medical faculty. Note that Bali has very few hospitals and thus poor selection of meds.

5. Go to the pharmacy/apotek after midnight so you can get fixed up pelan-pelan (in an unhurried manner). Or, train the maid/ driver to fill prescriptions

6. Here’s is a list of 24 hour Jakarta pharmacies. In addition, almost any big hospital sells drugs 24 hours.

7. Here’s OK info about obtaining medications in Indonesia from http://www.expat.or.id

8.  Don’t overuse or under use antibiotics

9. Century delivers, Melawai has good service, Guardian doesn’t always ask for a prescription, Titimurni has the best selection (for Central Jakarta) and newcomer K-24 seems to be pretty good, too.  

Smile for the Indonesian women & men police

Just remember this one — instant expat — you always gotta smile for the cops.

On the way to the gym yesterday I got in a hurry and forgot my wallet. Afterward, I got sucked into a nasty traffic vortex and popped out again in the wrong traffic lane.  As usual, the cops took it very “personally.”

After the first round of threats (haul me in, impound the vehicle) you naturally feel a little stressed. But here’s what I did right: just as it began to dawn on me that I was a sweaty, undocumented bule riding a bike with Jogya plates down the car lane, the sun-damaged skin that sheathes my elongated upper fangs retracted for a split second. And bingo — I was back in the mix.

So just pretend that every cop you see looks like the examples here. And forget those feckless surveys each year in the Jakarta Post — to the effect that Indonesian law enforcement is misguided and insensitive. All those corrupt surveys are actually sponsored for by the military, the Islamic groups, the parliament, civil society organizations, anarchists  — who knows. But they’re really sick, biased cop haters.

Sharehouse Jakarta

Indonesians divide teachers and cops into two flavors -- smiling and not.

Bright & Spiffy

Hope you get stopped by a (friendly) cop!

Polisi Indonesia

Indonesian police women are appreciated for their people skills

Polisi Senyum

Great police work

Polisi Indonesia Cewek

Small Indonesian woman on large Indonesian police motorcycle.

Indonesian Police Woman

Would you give her your (real) number?

Very Bright Future

Would she give you her number?

Cewek Polisi Mantap

Looks deceive?

Hot Cop

Arresting Indonesian peace officer

Polisi Cewek Indonesia

Another candid photo of a friendly Indonesian police officer

Cop for a Day

Nadine, former Puteri Indonesia, models the short skirt and tight blouse worn by female police officers in Indonesia

Meanwhile, with more and more Indonesian women joining the work force daily as police officers in Indonesia , the picture couldn’t be rosier.

Let’s be frank. The best thing about Indonesia — as far as guys are concerned — is the Indonesian women. No matter how bad you screw things up, there’s almost always a women who can — and does — walk in and fix it. Almost instantly. No guy ever could, would or will.

Just remember 1) people matter more than rules here 2) you mustn’t forget to smile. No matter how innocent you are, it’s critically important to tell *all* cops and authority figures you’re really sorry for ruining their greatest FB shot ever or whatever they were doing when you washed onto the scene and wrecked their day.

Pak  . . .


. . . You’re free to go.

High rise fitness in Jakarta — gyms, gems, gyps

Month to month sucks. If you share a house you can go almost a year without paying bills. But what about the gym/fitness?

This is a classic hassle. In some countries you need five credit cards and a law degree to use free weights. Indo’s not there yet in terms of hassle, though you may find the monthlies steep.

However, unless you’re a golfer or religiously get out of town every weekend, you need a gym in Jakarta. The instant expat thing is fine. But IMO survival, revival and thrival in Jak depends on getting out regularly — in some way, shape or form. It’s so easy. There easily two dozen full sets of exercise equipment within easy walking distance, most of which offer new equipment, exotic scenery and yoga classes. 

Jakarta Fitness Centers Compete for Corner Office

  • Apartment fitness/gym – Pretty good idea (pictures). But where are the options for people who don’t want to live in an apartment? One is to use the facilities at your friend or boss’ apartment. You can even ask us.
  • Jakarta hotel fitness/gym – This works and here you can visualize it. Jakarta has tons of posh fitness centers (pool, sauna, steam, jacuzzi the works) and many offer semi-affordable pay-per use or monthly rates. Gran Melia used to offer non-weekend options. Mandarin and Nikko are popular. Hyatt has a great pool.
  • Jakarta fitness center chains – Ask first: Monthly membership? (assume 3 month min. but they routinely throw in an extra month)? Annual membership? (at least 13 months) Plus, how many fitness centers will I have access to? Fitness in Bali? Fitness in Singapore?

Cheapest fitness chain is Gold’s Gym. This McD approach may put independents out of business. Blogged prices at Gold’s (monthly plan) are around Rp 400,000 /month. And that’s exactly what they offered me the other day (access to two centers). Some people pay about the same even for the annual plan. However, for a “Gold’s Express” (small) gym or at a just-opened location using the right credit card (HBSC) / right package you’re closer to Rp 200,000/month for annual plan or Rp 335,000/month for monthly plan.

How does Gold’s Gym suck? In my experience at no less than four Jakarta locations (many of them no longer there), it adds up to an ass-pain chasing the fast-talkingsales reps and complex discount rates around town. On the other hand, as Tavina at Female Daily Indonesian-English blog suggests, you don’t want to be locked into anything:

For sure you can pay less if you go for a a full year. But, hey, I could lose interest anytime : )  . . . why risk it

Anyway, I highly recommend Andi (0852 6300 0556) at Fitness First (FF) in Central Jakarta.  I met him yesterday at the Grand Indonesia location, 10 minutes from the Sharehouse. It was just a complete relief to cut through the package-my-ass mumbo jumbo to the monthly plan price – Rp 500,000/month. Very different feeling from Gold’s. Facilities are also better in this case.

And that leaves only Celebrity Fitness (AKA CelFit), plus or minus, uh, the celebrity appeal which seems to appeal mostly to Indonesians. Maybe it’s a few extra bucks a month more than FF, even if you bargain hard. Any club costs more if you don’t take a good hour or more to bargain ’em down (not including driving time because you need to do it in person).

So in a city where the gym is the main way that foreigners unwind, the Celebrity Fitness and Fitness First chains cost about 40 Euros per month while Gold’s Gym is closer to 32 Euros per month.

Instant Expat -- Get in Get out

As always, you gotta read the fine print. Tavina raises one pertinent question as regards the month-to-month fitness lifestyle:

My sis has a Celfit (Celebrity Fitness) monthly plan and she pays with her debit (not credit). There’s an upfront and then it’s monthly. GG (Gold’s Gym) wouldn’t do that for me . . . so who knows what happens when my special promo months run out.

By the way, most Jak locals get massages, not gym passes. It doesn’t occur to them to pay a one-month salary to gather for a moment of communal, high-rise perspiration. Which means that Indonesian health clubs are totally Western and exotic, an escape from escape. You’ll meet unusually toned, health-conscious Indonesians and also a lot of bule types (like me) who don’t go to the gym back home. Your Jak exercise solution should add a bit of cool, clean, scenic, orderly and convenient color to your Jakarta day.

How to Hang in the Teng — Menteng and therabouts

Share a house in Menteng












In addition to this list of malls and shopping centers near Menteng/Guntur/Kuningan, I would certainly add Ambgassador Mall and City Walk and — as a last resort or just for fun — Senen Atrium and Sarina Thambrin. Because these are key pieces of the gotta-by-stuff puzzle here on the border between Central and South Jakarta.

Menteng was “Indonesia’s first garden city.” So at the top of the list of outdoor hangouts include the Dutch colonial parks — Taman Suropati, Taman Lembang and Taman Menteng.  Lembang has a large tranquil pond but is closed at night. The others seem to rock 24/7. Here’s a Menteng walking tour (that needs to be translated and verified) and a picture of me at the park.

In Cikini/Raden Saleh area you’ve got TIM Arts Center, once a Dutch zoo and “pleasure grounds” where you could catch a polka most Sundays at 7:00. TIM has movies, artsy stuff and cafes so chill you’ll need a sweater. A lot of big and small countries still have embassies located in Menteng, which tons of cultural centers (Indian,  German forget the others), which means foreign films. Also museums and antiques in Menteng, some in private collections. Some of the antiques on Jl. Surabaya have the unique advantage of also being relatively inexpensive and brand new ; )  Good place for a photo of you posing with a seemingly ancient Javaense dagger (kris).

Restos include Lara Djonggrang — that seems like it’s one of a kind, even though it’s actually a popular restaurant theme.  And then there’s other stuff — like Barack  Obama’s grade school on Jl. Besuki near Taman Suropati — which really is.

I also wouldn’t discourage anyone from having a hot beer and a popped eardrum at the warm, intimate speakeasies at Pasar Manggis.  But you’ll need a small penlight to keep up with the roach scene, since it’s dark .  There’s something inexplicable about the Manggis scene — and some of the others street-type scenes nearby, including the electrified but unlit hobo raves out on the tracks next to Latuharhari.

Until 1934 this far edge of  the ‘Teng was where Dutch civilization (such that it was ; ) ended — or was swallowed up by the kampung. The Dutch cavalry once parked here and now the lady-boys do. Up and down the Bandjir Kanaal you’ve got legal and illegal honky tonks, including Blora. Maybe it historically acted as some type of buffer zone, protecting the decadent from themselves. There are countless other thangs in the Teng, a place which — in all laissez faireness — ought to remind anyone of Mos-Eisley Cantina from Star Wars.

Just north of Menteng there are tons of popular restos and cafes in Wahid Hashim/Sabang/Jaksa area. Many offer late hours and radical racial, ethnic and religious diversity. Ya Udah Bistro offers all that plus all-you-eat German food and great prices.

History of the Dutch builders in Menteng

If you’re interested in Dutch East Indies architecture this is your wide-ranging, comprehensive website. Or, to purchase a copy of either Menteng: Indonesia’s Original “Garden City or  Historical Sites of Jakarta then here’s your link to author Adoph Heuken.


Jakarta wasn’t designed for modern traffic.  And much of it wasn’t designed at all. So it’s a shame that visitors’  first impression — depending on arrival time since night driving rocks  — is that the city’s somehow ill or damaged.

By contrast, visitors to colonial Batavia often gave “baby Jakarta” fairly high marks for design and layout, especially for gardens.   Most Dangerous Places’ travelogger Captain James Cook in October 1770 ‘logged that:

The environs of Batavia [now Jakarta] have a very pleasing appearance, and would in almost any other country be an enviable situation. Gardens and houses occupy the country for several miles. (Jakarta, Jayakarta, Batavia aka The Jakarta Book).

My coming to Jakarta experience was right along the lines of veteran Asia correspondent John McBeth:

Coming from a country where buildings had barely risen above the second floor, I was in thrall of [the] size and the air-conditioning [at then ultra-cool Hotel Indonesia]. But more startling was the contrast between the modern, luxury hotel and the slum that sprawled out under its shadow. That and the canopy of trees lining the then-quiet streets of neighboring Menteng were to become enduring fixtures of my mind.

Much of the Jakarta, however, was laid out in line by regionally and internationally known urban planners in line with the avante-garde “city science” of the day.  Moreover, there’s evidence that some of the most successful planning incorporated local forms /ideas extensively,  blending them with foreign ones (Dutch, Spanish, English and Islamic).

Among the success stories — as far as the central part of Jakarta is concerned — you will find Menteng and New Menteng (where the Sharehouse is located). Menteng, was laid out by PAJ Mooijen a Dutch architect whose interests in Indonesian form ranged from Balinese dance to painting. He was the president of the Jakarta Art Circle whose headquarters now houses Jakarta’s Buddha Bar.

Christropher Silver in his invaluable book, Planning the Megacity: Jakarta in the Twentieth Century (2008), says that Mooijen’s original plan “bore a striking resemblance to the 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.”

Silver says (p. 60):

Whereas many emblems of the the colonial past were shunned, Menteng as a neighborhood 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.

Sadly, precisely as in Tom Hanks’ Ember, the Builders took the source code for the city back to Belanda with them after WW II, leaving the colonists and colonized in the dark : )

nd much of it wasn’t designed at all. That part is, has been and may forever be the “as is” product of happenstance and history. Howev

er, vast swaths of a city that is massive in terms of geography and population were constructed as per the meticulous plans of the leading East

Indies’ architects and planners of the day. Most but not not all of them were Dutch.